The City of Newport razed nearly 100 homes in the Cote Brilliante Neighborhood. The Reason? Blight!
City officials argued that nearly 10 percent of the homes in the neighborhood were vacant. Remarkably, the 10 percent vacancy rate was actually below the citywide average of 10.9 percent (according to census data).
Another reason the city argued the area was blighted was from poorly maintained streets. I still can’t rationalize why crumbling public streets have anything to do with the homeowners.
If the streets were a problem, the city should have repaired them, because it’s their responsibility.
The city is merely stealing from those with less and giving to those with more.
As Newport officials become further and further emboldened by their new doctrine of economic development, they seek to finalize one of the most absurd subsidies that would make even the airline industry jealous. The latest scheme includes sticking a Super Wal-Mart in the 55-acre Cote Brilliante tract that, until a couple of years ago, was a thriving, working-class neighborhood.
First, the city absorbed all the costs of property acquisition, demolition and related legal fees.
The acquisition and demolition cost the city roughly $9 million, not to mention legal fees resulting from long, drawn out battles over the use of eminent domain in the acquisition of real estate.
The city also issued $90 million in industrial revenue bonds to the site’s second developer in nearly three years. The original developer and the city abandoned their deal stating the city’s impatience in acquiring the property. (Due process, who needs it anyways?) .
Not to mention the lost real estate and school taxes that were once generated by the homes that used to occupy the property.
As is customary with industrial revenue bonds, the city will hold the title on the property, thus exempting Super Wal-Mart from property and school taxes.
According to Forbes.com, 5 of the 10 richest people in American are heirs to the Wal-Mart empire.
Newport officials are catering to the very rich, not the middle class. Furthermore, city officials have said to hell with the 30 percent of families and children that live below poverty in Newport.
This is no surprise from a administration that contends tenants of a 202-unit public housing complex are too poor to live on the riverfront.
I can hear city officials scrambling now, “Well, Wal-Mart will bring jobs to Newport.”
Yes, it will.
Wal-Mart will bring the jobs that keep hardworking individuals forever in poverty. The average full-time employee at Wal-Mart lives below the poverty level.
The company’s decision to pay meager wages has left taxpayers to foot the healthcare costs and provide public assistance for nearly half of its workers.
Wal-Mart has also been found in violation of federal child labor laws.
There are currently several major lawsuits against the company, including one that could play out to be the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history.
Another class action lawsuit claims Wal-Mart employs sweatshop labor, and it encompasses plaintiffs from four continents.
I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear about Cote Brilliante or Wal-Mart.
What kind of city administrators would make unfair and financially unsound development deals to get human rights abusers and robber barons to build a new store in their city?
City administrators who are unfit for office, and they make me ashamed of our leadership in Newport.