I submit this open forum to allow for "equal-time" concerning an AP article in the Friday, May 2, 2003, Brainerd Dispatch's religious section. This article discussed the growing numbers of girls becoming 'altar boys' within the Catholic church. The article highlighted an Atlanta Catholic church in which the person who trains and schedules the servers was quoted as saying "Altar girls may be a step toward the Catholic church someday allowing women as deacons or priests." After reading this article, I sent a letter to the archbishop of the Atlanta diocese informing him that this person's opinion, which is not representative of Catholic teaching, had reached us in Brainerd. The Archbishop of Atlanta, Most Reverend John F. Donoghue replied, "I deeply regret the comments made. I have asked the trainer's pastor to guide him to a proper understanding of the role of girls as altar-servers, as well as the teaching of the church that there is no authority, in tradition or Scripture, to permit the ordination of women." The archbishop asked to convey his opinion to our local newspaper in the interest of "equal-time".
Decision time is here for Baxter concerning the proposed Wal-Mart superstore. The Planning and Zoning Commission, and then, the Baxter City Council will soon be deciding whether or not to allow the project. Wal-Mart is spending tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers, public relations specialists, and consultants in an effort to persuade us to approve their project. All their money cannot hide some basic facts, this project will cost us good jobs, close local businesses, and concentrate more of our retail in the hands of one company from Arkansas. Superstores have had these negative impacts on other communities, there is no reason to think it would not happen here too.
As if this was not bad enough, Wal-Mart's project will also be very harmful to our environment. Baxter will soon be making a decision as to whether or not to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be required for the proposed project. An EIS can include economic impacts. Baxter will also decide whether an independent traffic study needs to be completed so we can understand the burden of this huge store on our highways, and the increased costs of road construction and maintenance the taxpayers will have to bear. The Baxter City Council should not rush this project through. They can require that an EIS be completed before they decide on the project. Even better, they can impose a moratorium on massive retail developments of over 150,000 square feet. This would give us time to decide what we want as a community with the input of all of our citizens.
Quality of life issues
Interesting to see in the Baxter comp plan, they talk about sustainable development. In order to have that kind of development, they talk about expanding, diversifying, improving the income, and job opportunities. Sounds good to me. Sure wish someone could tell me how the wages at a Wal-Mart Supercenter would improve the income base of our area. Diversify. How does that happen when we already have local businesses that supply what a Wal-Mart Supercenter wants to include in the huge building they want to put up? Easy to diversify if businesses are on a level playing field, and locally owned. Hard to compete with a store that has a reputation for predatory pricing to knock out local business trade ... there goes the diversity, and the good jobs that we already have -- replaced by Wal-Mart and the wages they offer. I suppose this is a way to look at improving wages and job opportunities but it looks like we're going down hill in the quality of life category.
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