Wal-Mart and used cars Wal-Mart, the country's largest retailer, has had a six-month plan to lease space at five Houston Texas area super center stores, to a new used-care chain planned by Asbury Automotive, Inc. Used cars will be sold out of modular buildings, on land adjacent to Wal-Mart for less than the Kelly Blue Book value.
If the six-month Houston pilot test does well, the two companies will consider expanding the concept to stores nationwide, according to Kenneth Gilman, Asbury's chief executive. He states that eliminating the high overhead - showrooms, sales commissions - the company will be able to sell vehicles for low prices. The test, calling itself Price 1 Auto Stores will include 70-100 vehicles, between 1 and 4 years old, fewer than 75,000 miles, average price about $15,000. They will be sold with five-day, money-back guarantee. Within 30 days vehicles can be exchanged and Price 1 will offer a 90-day limited warranty with no deductible. Automotive News, a trade publication, reported this in April 2002.
Advertising? Not an issue. "The whole idea with Wal-Mart's traffic; you don't need to do much advertising," Jay Allen, a Wal-Mart spokesman states.
Allowing a super center into our area, opens the door to eliminating may locally owned businesses. This is a specific example of the potential ruin that would impact many people in our area. Livelihoods and a variety of choice would be vastly reduced. Look through your phone book, drive down our streets and see the number of locally owned dealerships. See the services they provide to the cars sold. The people who own these businesses, live in our community. The Waltons of Wal-Mart do not.
Living wage in central Minnesota is about $13.25 an hour, plus adequate benefits. It is important we keep quality businesses and jobs in our community.
Judicial races are important
Today I call upon all Minnesota media and in particular, the state's daily newspapers, to expand their coverage of judicial elections.
The media's role in providing citizens with important information about all candidates for elected office cannot be overstated -- it is integral. Without the diligent attention of the Fourth Estate, elections for any office in government can suffer a sort of democratic atrophy from lack of information and interest.
Minnesotans are among the most active and knowledgeable voters in the country. In making their decisions, they depend on thorough reviews and accurate reporting on each candidate's record and background and they often rely on endorsements by editorial boards.
Judicial races are important. Judges are called upon not only to resolve people's most troubling disputes, but to interpret pivotal questions of law and to guard constitutional rights. Their decisions touch our citizens' lives in thousands of ways each day.
In the wake of the United States Supreme Court's recent decision about appropriate judicial campaign speech, it is eminently clear that the voters need to learn more about the individuals who seek a judgeship. The media has an essential role to play in gathering and disseminating this information.
In 2002 and beyond, I challenge you to provide Minnesotans with the coverage that will enable them to make informed decisions about judicial races.
A.M. "Sandy" Keith
(Keith formerly served as chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court lieutenant governor.)
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