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Wal-Mart in Jefferson

From: Thomas C. Pinnow
To: 'Steve Lewis' ; 'Bob Coffman' ; 'Bruce Bierma' ; 'Chad Stelse' ; 'Cheryl Hansen' ; 'Chris Nash' ; 'Collin Stevens, Mayor' ; 'Dan Ludwig' ; 'Dave Knutson' ; 'Dev Traver' ; 'Jim VanLieshout' ; 'Kathleen Groskopf' ; 'Kevin Wenzel' ; 'Mike Swartz' ; 'Shirley Dempsey'
Sent: Friday, October 01, 2004 5:45 PM
Subject: First act for the JDC questions my role-help!

Hi Everyone: (Sorry for the lengthy email)

The J. D. C. was well represented at the Wal-Mart forum this week and the city planning session. Thank you for taking the time to attend. Some of you had conflicts and were not able to attend, but if you would like to learn more about the meeting the Daily Union's article on Wednesday did a pretty good job. Or contact me or someone else from the JDC. Information about the planning session will be forthcoming. It is a pleasure working with a group of people that show this kind of commitment to our community.

As the new president of the JDC it is my goal to be proactive and to act within my authority as given by you, the commission. At our next meeting we will discuss our plans and our role as well as my role as the president. There are going to be times when we need to act and we will not be able to wait up to month for another meeting. Bruce and I want to discuss establishing an executive committee for this purpose with you. The commission would outline the authority for the Executive Committee and I need to know my authority as president.

Some of you, perhaps all of you, have heard from Dave Lorbecki questioning a letter I sent to the Coalition through him on Wednesday, September 29th, 2004. The letter follows below for our information.

I have received two phone calls from commission members that were not happy that they were not informed that I was going to send this letter, or that I sent it without the approval of the commission. When I met with Collin and Bruce last week they both felt that the JDC would be asked to make a recommendation about the Wal-Mart proposal at the October 19th meeting which is less than three weeks away.

It was my goal to gather relevant information about the Wal-Mart issue, pro and con, and get this to you two weeks in advance of our meeting. This would have given everyone time to review it and do more research on their own. (I found out yesterday that our recommendation would not be needed on the 19th.)

At the forum on the 29th the Coalition for a Better Jefferson was given the opportunity to provide their perspective on locating a Wal-Mart in Jefferson. At that meeting they stated some information as fact. Wal-Mart officials stated that some of this information was not true and that some of it was baseless. My letter was simply asking the Coalition to provide their sources and information as to how they reached their conclusions, so that we could sort out what was true.

The Coalition has presented itself as a community coalition and they are trying to influence public opinion regarding this issue. To determine the credibility of the organization and its views I felt it was a legitimate question to ask who their members were. It would make a world of difference to know if this coalition is a small group of people, just competing businesses, or if it includes members who don't even live in the city, or hundreds of diverse city of Jefferson residents. Money has been spent for advertisements and inserts. Again, was this money from one source, from companies out of town, etc. I feel it is legitimate to question who is trying to influence our community. Whether you agree or disagree, this was my reasoning. There was certainly no malice intended. I was asked them questions. They can choose to answer them or choose not to answer them.

The reason I sent it before our meeting was because I thought we would need the information FOR the meeting. I take my new position seriously and I will never speak for the JDC or take a position without the JDCs approval. Even if I do not agree with a JDC position I will carry it out as I am directed to do. We will discuss my role at our next meeting. I am open to suggestions and criticisms and guidelines for what you want me to do and not do. I do listen. However, I certainly hope that you will trust my judgement and give me the opportunity to lead the organization.

As the president of the JDC, asking for information, on behalf of the JDC, does not seem unreasonable to me. So, if you agree or if you disagree please let me hear from each one you. I need to know where I stand, so that we can spend our time productively.

After I received the first phone call Thursday morning I called Mr. Lorbecki to see what questions he had, but he was not available. I did speak with him later this afternoon and explained why I sent the letter. I think he better understands the reason I sent it. He felt it would have been better if I had called him before I sent the letter. I agreed to do this in the future and he agreed to contact me directly in the future, so that I could answer any questions he had.

He did not feel it was appropriate to send this letter as though it came from the Jefferson Development Commission. I sent it this way because I was acting as the president of the JDC. Not unlike sending a credit union letter on credit union stationary and signing it as president. I am confused on this one.

He also felt that by using the terms “we and us” it implied that it was the groups decision. I use “we and us” routinely in business correspondence because I am speaking for the organization. Let me know if this is a problem.

Again, thank you for your participation this week. The planning session today gives us a good springboard for future discussion.


Tom Pinnow
“The new guy”