Opinion

Bouquets and Brickbats: Walmart saga drags on and on

It’s apparently over between Walmart and the Rottman Group; closed-door negotiations couldn’t save the marriage between the behemoth retailer and the Santa Barbara-based developer. The two had collaborated on a shopping complex in Atascadero, but now the City Council has opened the door to a Walmart-only option.

The nasty breakup was triggered by a disagreement over who would pay for traffic improvements estimated at $3 million to $4.5 million. Now, there will be more studies to look at the effects of a (possibly) revamped project.

Meanwhile, all this haggling is only dragging out a project that’s already threatening to become the next Los Osos sewer. For that, we’d toss Walmart and Rottman a brickbat, but they’d probably bicker over who would get custody.

Instead, we’ll redirect that brickbat to Tom “Grover Norquist” Comar. He’s afraid the city may allocate taxpayer dollars to the traffic improvements in an effort to woo Walmart, and he asked council members to sign pledges promising they wouldn’t do any such thing.

We agree with Comar’s position, but we’re creeped out by his tactics. Sorry, Tom, but those no-new-taxes pledges have left a bitter taste in our mouths. We’d much prefer to see all politicians take no-new-pledges pledges.

Drunken driving deaths drop

Here’s cause for sober celebration: Deaths related to drunken driving were at a record low in California last year. There were 791 fatalities blamed on drunken driving crashes in 2010, compared to 950 in 2009. What’s more, drunken driving deaths have dropped annually since 2005; they had previously risen every year from 1998 to 2005.

Obviously, there is still a way to go; 791 needless fatalities are far too many. Nonetheless, the downward trend is encouraging, and we present lifesaving bouquets to California drivers who contributed to the decline by following a simple rule: If you drink, don’t drive.

Warming centers a hot idea

We toss helping-hand bouquets to the congregation of Father’s House church in Atascadero for hosting a “warming center” in the North County, as well as to the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) for providing food, supplies and staffing for the center.

Located at 2100 Ramona Road, the warming center will be open at night when it rains or when the temperature dips 32 degrees or below. The center is an alternative for homeless people who may not want to stay in a traditional homeless shelter, or may not meet shelter requirements.

This is the second warming center to open in the county since the cold snap began. Prado Day Center in San Luis Obispo is also keeping its doors open on cold and/or wet nights.

That means Atascadero and San Luis Obispo are covered, but how about the rest of the county?

If there are efforts in other communities that we aren’t aware of, please let us know and we’ll help spread the word.

If not, we strongly urge churches, nonprofits and government agencies to join forces and come up with a plan to ensure no one has to spend a wet, frigid night out of doors.

Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.

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