Take Action, Ukiah: The hidden costs of Wal-Mart’s plans for expansion

Guest Opinion: Robert Eyler

[The Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park wants to expand by 35,000 square feet primarily for the purpose of selling groceries. On April 22, the plan was rejected by the Planning Commission on a 4-0 vote.]

On the surface, the expansion of Rohnert Park’s Wal-Mart into a supercenter is alluring.

This expansion adds a grocery component, and the Rohnert Park’s City Council, which will soon review the plan, will likely focus on the assumed sales tax generation and job creation such an expansion will provide.

It is important to recognize that an expansion of mainly grocery items will not generate a large amount of additional sales tax revenue, and the assumed loss of Pacific Market could lead to fewer jobs, reduced tax revenues, less consumer choice and create a significant vacancy problem at Mountain Shadows Plaza.

The issue for Rohnert Park decision makers is whether the environmental impact report has adequately assessed the cost/benefits of this expansion. Our evaluation shows there will be many hidden costs.

A New Deal for Local Economies: The Good News

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A New Deal for Local Economies: II. The Birth of Corporations
A New Deal for Local Economies: III. Bigger Is Not Better
A New Deal for Local Economies: IV. The Value of Community
A New Deal for Local Economies: V. Keeping Money Local

Let me begin by sharing some good news. Scattered here and there, in my country and in yours, the seeds of a new, more local and durable economy are taking root.

Locally grown food has soared in popularity. There are now 5,274 active farmers markets in the United States. Remarkably, almost one of every two of these markets was started within the last decade.(1)  Food co-ops and neighborhood greengrocers are likewise on the rise.

Some 400 new independent bookstores have opened in the last four years.(2) Neighborhood hardware stores are making a comeback in some cities. More students graduating from pharmacy school report that they would rather open their own drugstore than work for chain. In April, even as Virgin Megastores prepared to shutter its last U.S. record emporium, more than a thousand independent music stores were mobbed for the second annual Record Store Day.

Small Business News from the New Rules Project


Misrepresenting Small Business
In this commentary for Business Week, the New Rules Project’s Stacy Mitchell argues that the two groups that have traditionally spoken for small business in Washington often push an agenda that only big business could love . READ MORE

Grassroots Financing is Underwriting a New Crop of Neighborhood Businesses
Securing a loan to open a new independent bookstore in Brooklyn looked like a long shot even before the financial crisis. After the meltdown, it seemed downright impossible.

Then business partners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting hit on an idea: they turned to neighbors and future customers to help finance the business, raising $70,000 in small loans in a few months.

Although no hard data exist, the number of businesses relying on their customers and neighbors for financing appears to be on the rise. Just as CSAs have played a key role in the rebirth of small-scale farms, so too may these new community-supported enterprise models help launch a new generation of independent grocers, bookstores, and other neighborhood businesses.   READ MORE

Shut Up and Eat Your Sugar

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Manufacturers of processed and fast food for kids are throwing a fit over stronger industry standards

OK, children, homework time.

Let’s see if we can handle this little lesson in logic. One, America has a rather huge child obesity problem. Two, major food corporations constantly pitch ads to children for such stuff as sugar-saturated breakfast cereals and fat-laden “Happy Meals.” So, how does fact No. 2 relate to fact No. 1? Yes, No. 2 is a cause of No. 1. It’s really not that hard to grasp, is it?

Not unless you’re a lobbyist for a food manufacturer. Last year, Congress directed four federal agencies to work together on new standards for commercials that food giants run on cartoon shows and other TV programs for children. This intervention was necessary, because the industry’s own voluntary program to push healthy choices for kids was, at best, loosey-goosey. For example, such sugar bombs as Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes were nutritionally A-OK by industry standards–as was a candy named Yogos, the main ingredient of which is sugar.

So, the agencies came up with nutritional requirements that were at least strict enough to prevent the marketing of candy as a healthy food. Ah, progress! But–oh, mercy–the howl of pain from industry lobbyists was piercing. One shrieked that the new proposal “would virtually end all food advertising

Book Review: Star Island, Carl Hiaasen

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An expert fisherman and passionate environmentalist, Hiaasen uses a sunny combination of satire and outrage to expose the greedy, crooked creeps that make Florida such a weird place. He’s been doing it as a reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald for almost 35 years and has brought his wicked wit and true moral compass to a series of popular novels. Success hasn’t softened his sharp eye or caused him to pull his punches (although he did write a humorous golf book). Like John Grisha and Stephen King, Hiaasen uses his fame to speak up for what he believes and supports worthy causes. He is one of the good guys.

He’s also a brand-name author. The golf book and an enthusiastically received trio of young-adult novels have moved Hiaasen from slapsticky, mildly raunchy crime novelist to Big Time Author. Star Island, his new novel, is his first for adults in five years. It has all the usual Hiaasen elements — a sleazy developer, a level-headed heroine, a collection of lowlifes that makes the criminals in an Elmore Leonard novel look brainy, and a contemporary subject (in this case, celebrity culture) ripe for the satirical picking.

Star Island also has two recurring characters who are fan favorites: Skink, the touchy, roadkill-gobbling ex-governor of Florida; and Chemo, a former bouncer in a punk club who had a weed wacker attached to one arm after a too-close encounter with a barracuda in Skin Tight.

What about the founding principles?


To the Editor (UDJ):

Wait a minute, hold on a second here. Last time I got out of bed in the morning I was living in the United States of America, a land that was settled by people seeking freedom from religious persecution. These settlers eventually established a new and independent nation with founding principles stated in a written Constitution, and this written Constitution established religious freedom as its very first principle.

In fact this principle of religious freedom was stated in two different but complementary ways: First, that no religion could ever be established as the government-approved, government-supported faith, and, second, that no one could be restricted in the exercise of and expression of his or her beliefs.

And now all of a sudden it seems that this great principle, this great step in the history of freedom that we Americans were the first to take, this bold stroke that for 200 years and more has earned the esteem of people all over the world has suddenly fallen into disrepute and no longer interests us.

Politicians running for office and preachers who should know better and fops who act the role of journalist on cable TV are telling us

What’s your gut telling you?


Did you know that nine out of every 10 cells in your body are your intestinal bacteria? When they are healthy and happy, you are healthy and happy. And what makes them happy?

Let’s back up a bit and remember the compost pile. Compost is the source and destination of all life. Shakespeare knew that. The Friar in Romeo & Juliet says, “What’s nature’s mother is her tomb/What is her burying grave, that is her womb.” And what is compost? It’s the decomposed remains of what was once living tissue. And who does the decomposition? Soil bacteria, primarily, although other critters get in on the act, too. But it’s the soil bacteria that play the biggest role in actively decomposing organic matter.

Many of the soil bacteria that are the wrecking crew of dead tissue are the same or closely related to the bacteria in our guts. They have the same function–to actively tear apart dead tissue and release its nutrients for those creatures–plants and animals–currently alive. The atoms are eternal, but are endlessly recycled into living beings and then into dead tissue and then into constituent molecules and then back into living beings.

Now, the greater the biodiversity in an ecosystem, the healthier that ecosystem is. In a compost pile, all kinds of bacteria, fungi, worms, and what have you co-exist in a roaring furnace of life.

Seven Tips to Enhance Digestion… And Get the Most Out of the Food You Eat

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[“OMG! Dave is doing blog posts about digestion. He has hit geezer status for sure!”]

In our fast-paced, fast-food society we have totally lost the connection between our health and the foods we eat. My recent conversation with a client is a perfect example of this “disconnect.” With his permission he said I could share his story as long as I didn’t mention his name, so we’ll call him Bob. Like most of us, Bob has a very busy schedule. He works long hours, has three children and is very involved in their sports. In fact, he says he rarely misses a game. Bob skips breakfast or sometimes has a donut and coffee, mostly has fast food for lunch and eats it in the car while rushing back to work, has a snack out of the vending machine at work in the afternoon, and usually grabs a hot dog or something quick at the game for dinner. Bob’s symptoms include indigestion, “acid reflux,” gas, bloating, constipation, and painful hemorrhoids. He says that he practically lives on antacids and even wakes up to take them two or three times during the night. He went to the emergency room on two occasions for severe gallbladder attacks and had his gallbladder removed two years ago. The biggest problem with Bob is that he never made the connection between the foods he was eating,

The Foods You Shouldn’t Touch With a Ten Foot Pole

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[…] the importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be overestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed, “dead” foods.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food, but in recent years scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was.

For example, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defense system against ALL disease.

Therefore, it should come as no major surprise to find out that lack of beneficial bacteria in your intestines will also allow allergies, inflammation and autoimmune diseases to flourish where they might not otherwise.

Common signs and symptoms that you may need to address your intestinal balance include: