So, I'm trying to make sense of the latest complication in the ongoing Neiman Marcus muddle ...
The Contra Costa Times reports that a Superior Cour judge ruled Tuesday that the Walnut Creek City Council gave "an unfair advantage" to the pro-Neiman Marcus side. The city council did this, according to the judge, by putting the supporters' initiative on the November 3 ballot, while putting off voter consideration of two referenda, supported by opponents. These referenda would have blocked the upscale retailer from coming into Broadway Plaza.
My first head-scratching moment: Isn't this the same judge, David Flinn, who wouldn't, at the behest of a last-minute lawsuit filed by opp0nents, stop the council from voting August 4 to let the pro-Neiman Marcus initiative go forward?
Seems like Flinn--or whoever the judge was back in August--could have, at that point, said, wait, hold on, there are some problems here, guys.
Because, evidently, this judge had some reservations, enough that a ruling came today that the city council's actions on August 4 were "unreasonable." That's a pretty harsh thing to say. But Flinn used more scolding phraseology. He said that the council's failure to act on the two anti-Neiman Marcus referenda, and its willingness to consider one ballot measure and not the others, violated a "a fundamental precept of this nation's democratic electoral process" because, as he said, "a government cannot take sides."
Really?!? Governments don't take sides?!?
Since when in my lifetime? Or in the lifetime of any human civilization on this planet?
Okay, okay, let's allow that Finn, as judges in legal rulings tend to do, operated from the lofty ivory tower of legal principle. And, he thought the council's decision to go forward with what the city is now calling Measure I was unfair and unreasonable.
But what a (f-bomb alert) a f------ waste of everyone's time.
The result of this ruling is that, once again, this muddle goes back to the City Council for further discussion. On September 15.
Can I pull a Sylvia Plath? Or at least, run out to Trader Joe's and scoop up one of their big pound bars of dark chocolate with almonds?
Okay, it's not like I am that personally vested in whether or not this department store comes to Broadway Plaza. But, I am feeling supremely annoyed from the lofty principle vantage point:
This is a waste of time. The time and energy of everyone on both sides. And the time of city staff, who, yeah I know are not supposed to take sides, but probably have, and ... that's life?
And I'm sorry, but Selma King, what are you talking about when you speak for the "little people"? Who are these little people? Walnut Creek Munchkins or something?
Ms. King tells the Times that the ruling "shows that the little people, if they have the assistance of a nice big company, can rise up "... and win."
The "nice big company" she's talking about is Taubman Centers, which has spent $234,000 on two referenda aimed at blocking this project. And, to be fair, Macerich, the owner of Broadway Plaza, poured $217,000 to support the initiative.
Back back to King's "little people" comment. Ms. King, what a condescending thing to say.
The little people.
You know what? The Munchkins right now are dealing with losing their jobs or pay cuts (moi!) and the reality that they probably can't put any money aside now for their kids' college fund, and their retirement is, as Margaret Mitchell said, Gone with the Wind. Or, they have car maintenence bills (moi!). Maybe their home is being foreclosed. Or, among those who have lost jobs, their unemployment coverage is running out, or they still have unemployment benefits coming in, but it all goes into their health insurance payments...
The little people, whom you say you are speaking for, really don't give a flying fig whether or not Walnut Creek gets a Neiman Marcus--because they won't be shopping there any time there in the future. However, they might see secondary benefits from the store, if it generates sales tax revenues, from the "big people" who shop there. Those revenues might pay for city services on which these Walnut Creek Munchkins might rely. And, maybe one of those Munchkins might get a job there.
Or maybe not. Still, their time, energy, and finances are strapped, and they perhaps don't want to see their public agencies--city government, courts, county elections departments--weighed down by an ongoing battle over a development of a department store.
Need I say it again? It's just a department store. All this fuss over just a department store.