Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Home Depot and Day Laborers

From MSNBC article:

"Home Depot is tired of being forced by local governments to accommodate the day laborers who turn up in its store parking lots seeking construction work. So the Georgia-based company turned to Congress for help.

"The Senate could respond this week by attaching language to the immigration bill that would prohibit city councils from requiring home improvement stores to pay for shelters or other services to help maintain orderly day labor sites.

"The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, is designed to curtail a practice in the California communities of Mountain View and Burbank, where city councils recently have forced Home Depot to build facilities for day laborers onsite or elsewhere, hire security staff and offer bathrooms in order to get the permits necessary for its operations.


"Mountain View is considering a proposal to require Home Depot to pay $250,000 toward a permanent day labor center and to establish an educational outreach program for workers and contractors before building a store there. The city of Burbank required the company to build a similar hiring center at its store that opened last year and to provide the city with $94,000 to cover the costs of additional services.

Laura Macias, mayor of Mountain View, California] said local governments impose requirements on developers all the time based on specific, case-by-case needs.

"'Once you're part of a community, there are land-use responsibilities, whether it's a center for day workers or traffic congestion remedies or park fees,' she said. 'To have it always fall back on the cities, that comes back on the taxpayers and it just doesn't seem fair.'

"'If you want to build and make tons of money from our community, we're going to want something in return,' Macias said."
Elsewhere in the article, the tactics of the local governments in question are called "extortion", while government representatives say that Washington has no business meddling in local affairs (a point with which I almost if not always agree). Read the whole article for more.

One of the things that I find most egregious about this situation is the stated position of the mayor of Mountain View in the last two paragraphs. She seems to assume that these centers and programs must be funded and is saying that it is better to charge Home Depot for it than the taxpayers. She also seems to ignore completely the fact that, if Home Depot makes a lot of money by opening that store, they are, by definition, contributing to the community in the form of providing goods and/or services that people obviously value - to say nothing of the fact that Home Depot is paying taxes on all that money they're making anyway.


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