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wal-mart vs. trimet

Ever since plans were announced to wedge a megastore in between Sellwood and Milwaukie, residents have been fighting to shut the big box down. Protests at the proposed site along SE McLoughlin Boulevard and frenzied neighborhood meetings have thus far been the neighbors' weapon of choice.

But so far those complaints have accomplished little. Wal-Mart is poised to break ground on the seven acre site—perhaps even before year's end—and even letters from Mayor Tom Potter appear useless in the face of this corporate juggernaut.

However, if salvation is to be had, it may actually come from an unlikely source: the developer himself. Howard Dietrich, Jr., who owns the site proposed for the new Wal-Mart, is a longtime property developer around town.

Saying that he's willing to work with the community, in mid-September Dietrich offered the property to TriMet to build their new transit station there. That offers stands for 90 days (only about 60 remain). But, if TriMet doesn't bite on Dietrich's offer, he promises to move forward with plans to develop the site for Wal-Mart.

Visit www.NoSellwoodWalmart.com for more info, and to request lawn signs. PB

CLEANING UP

Last Sunday, October 2, the Portland Art Museum swung open its doors on its new building. Named after downtown developer Melvin Mark, the new wing houses both a ballroom and modern art collections.

However, not everyone was thrilled:About 40 labor union organizers showed up in the rain to protest benefactor Mark who donated a reported three million dollars for the new wing. While Mark made his money in real estate, representatives from SEIU Local 49 complain that Mark has also made a fair share from shortchanging laborers' fair wages.

"It's ironic that while donating millions, janitors cleaning up his buildings are making poverty wages," a spokeswoman from SEIU explained. "They don't have money left over to appreciate the museum."

SEIU claims that the cleaning company for Mark's buildings pays some workers only $28 a day and has refused to provide affordable health benefits. Those janitors have gone on strike twice within the last year. PB

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