Accused of Hypocrisy – Letter to the Editors

(original letter below)

July 30, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

In a democracy, one should always appreciate opinions that engage the debate, are well articulated and offered with passion, even when in opposition to one’s own. And I do. In the July 30th issue of the UDJ, I am taken to task for being hypocritical for opposing the Masonite Monster Mall while at the same time being “in favor of the City of Ukiah spending redevelopment money to purchase the remaining acres of land out near the airport” for retail development. This, he wrote, had him “rolling on the floor in laughter.” Thereafter he went on at great length, taking up two full columns, describing my positions and how wrong all my letters to the editor are.

However, he misinterpreted a letter that simply pointed out that the argument for the Monster Mall so we could have a Costco was a false argument and took that to mean that I supported having another Big Box store. Not true. He can get up off the floor now.

He failed to include letter(s) of mine that could have saved him all that effort. For example, in response to the UDJ supporting the purchase of that land, I wrote “This seems like nothing but dumb growth based on dumb oil… which is destroying nature and community.”

Back on May 15th, another writer accused anti-mall folks of hypocrisy, and I wrote in response: “Citizens oppose bad projects for many different reasons. Some of us oppose any big-box or chain store to save our local economy and downtown merchants; others oppose the Monster Mall at the Masonite site to save our best industrial land for good-paying jobs; and still others oppose it because there is land already set aside for retail stores in town.”

And finally, in early May I wrote: “Personally, I do not support any more big box stores in our area for all the reasons I’ve stated [in other letters]. But, please. Can we put the Costco canard to rest?”

There used to be a weekly letter writer in the Anderson Valley Advertiser that always closed with: “Pay Attention!”

Dave Smith



Ukiah Daily Journal

To the Editor:

In Monday’s paper, we saw yet another letter from Dave Smith regarding that Mega Monster Dinosaur, Purple People Eating GMO producing Mall of destruction. To quote his most recent letter, “This is the old Big Lie tactic of repeating falsities over and over, hoping to win over those who are not paying attention.” I think Dave is spot on with that, but I don’t think he understands that he is the subject of that statement. He might want to search his own book store to find that age old story about the boy who cried wolf. But that would take time out of his letter writing crusade.

All of a sudden these No Mega Monster Mall people, including Dave and his buddy Janie, are now in favor of the City of Ukiah spending redevelopment money (meant to fix up blighted areas of our town) to purchase the remaining acres of land out near the airport. This one has me rolling on the floor in laughter. Let’s see, out at the airport mixed use development, we already have several large box stores, hotels, a bank, office supplies, furniture store, car dealership, tire center, offices, a gas station, fast food, etc… which has to be approaching Janie and Dave’s version of Mega Monster Mall status. And now you two are in favor of the city of Ukiah getting into the commercial real estate speculation game in hopes of adding 240,000 square feet to this development. Just a few months ago, these people were telling us that Ukiah did not need more retail, preaching if it’s not here already, we don’t need it. They preached that additional retail on the outskirts of town would kill downtown stores. I guess they like Mega Monster Malls now. I think there is a word for that… It will come to me. Oh, yeah… Hypocrite. It looks like they just threw the downtown merchants under the bus.

Dave tells us yet again, that he has all the facts, and everyone else is wrong. “OK, I’ll counter it again.” he says. I guess we should have all just listened to him the first time. As part of Dave’s facts, he says “that (airport mall) is where retail for Ukiah and surrounding area belongs, with its appropriate requirements of environmental, design, and traffic impact reviews and requirements.” Really Dave? I seem to remember a group of people fighting that development when it went in, just like you and your friends are doing with Mendocino Crossings. Now all of a sudden, it’s environmentally good to add 240,000 square feet to the airport shopping mall? And what about traffic out there? Maybe you were not aware, that the City of Ukiah is not doing an EIR on the land they are purchasing, stating they can use a “Negative Declaration” on all the impacts. But it’s somehow morally wrong for anyone else to skirt the system? There is that word again, Hypocrite. By the way, where did the money go that the city collected from the developers to improve traffic out near the airport mall? I see that Talmage is still one lane down by the car wash, and the Waugh Lane bridge is still one car at a time.

Dave finishes his 432nd letter to the editor with this comment. “The Masonite site should not be rezoned for retail because it is properly zoned green industrial, for better paying jobs, which the Obama administration is intent on helping us create.” This goes back to Dave’s earlier comment about the “Big Lie tactic of repeating falsities over and over, hoping to win over those who are not paying attention.” First of all Dave, the old Masonite site is not zoned “Green” industrial, it is zoned “Heavy Industrial.” I guess if you say green over and over, people might buy it. But there is nothing in the zoning that says it is green. Better paying jobs? Where are they? Maybe if you stopped writing letters long enough to catch some news, you would understand that businesses have been fleeing California for years now for places like Texas where it is cheaper to operate a business. Take a look at the industrial manufacturing jobs up in Willits. Their work force has been dwindling for over a decade – even while the economy was doing great. Some have even gone out of business due to global competition. Let’s be realistic about our chances to attract some high paying jobs here. First California is a mess and one of the worst states to do business in. Second, we don’t have a trained work force here any longer. Most of those people have moved out of the area in search of work. I have statistics to back that up. Any business that would move here, would bring in most of their management and high paying jobs from the outside. And Third, we don’t have affordable housing in the Ukiah area any longer, which is a must to attract new industry.

These businesses who provide high paying jobs are not coming here. And besides, our county has over 400 acres zoned industrial that are sitting there ready to be used, as well as several empty logging mills. These mythical high paying jobs could have come here any time. The truth is, they haven’t. And if they tried to, Dave and his group of friends would fight it unless it was the most perfect green technology on the planet. Let’s stay in reality.

As for the Obama Administration helping us, all you need to do is sit down with some local government officials and ask them about the massive amount of red tape and restrictions that come with that stimulus money. It’s pretty eye opening, How is that going in other parts of the country? That dream as well as your dream about high paying jobs showing up are about as real as your mythical green Mall Monster devouring our town.

On a side note, I find it very upsetting to read that the City of Ukiah is spending millions to buy up commercial real estate because they understand the importance of retail sales tax revenue, and our county leaders don’t get it. The county continues to lay people off, cut hours, cut services and yet fight a project that will provide a few million dollars a year in sales tax revenues to the county general fund. Our county leaders might want to take an economics course at the college.

Of course my letter is going to mean that Dave will be at his computer again, tapping out yet another letter to the editor correcting me, and proving to the rest of us that he is the only one who really knows the truth. For this, I apologize to the readers of the UDJ. And can someone tell me what financial or economic degree Tom Anderson has? He has written several letters regarding the death of retail, and the collapse of DDR. I would love to know what qualifies a law librarian to speak to economic issues.

In closing, don’t let bullies like Dave keep you from speaking your mind in this paper. His intimidation tactic of attacking the letter writer for being wrong on their “opinions” is getting old. I am tired of Dave, Janie, and our old friend Judy Pruden preaching to us about how to live and think like them. Maybe the UDJ can make some extra income by charging advertising space to the people who feel the need to write preachy weekly letters to the editor. In this economy, we need to start thinking outside the box.

Name Withheld by UB