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The score: Trader Joe’s 0, Portland Community Organizers -1.

I saw this yesterday, but forgot to write something about it until Glenn Reynolds reminded me. Short version: Trader Joe’s wanted to put up a store on some vacant lots in Northeast Portland. The people who lived there were largely happy about this; the Portland African-American Leadership Forum (whose membership apparently mostly does not live there) was not. The PAALF hassled Trader Joe’s about this until the chain threw up its hands and said Fine. We can take a hint and dropped its development plans. This left the PAALF holding a press conference in an empty lot, trying to explain to a bunch of aggravated locals about why the sudden loss of a job-producing anchor tenant wasn’t the worst thing in the world. When the PAALF wasn’t demanding pet projects that nobody was particularly stepping up to fund.

Ah, community organizers.

I should warn folks: Trader Joe’s is not entirely innocent in all of this. They did get a great deal on the land ($2.4 million less than assessed value), and they did hire a minority construction contractor who happens to have a sister on the Portland Development Council (the agency that set up the deal). But that’s, you know, business and stuff – particularly business that’s tied up with local government policy*. It’s frankly tolerable as long as the roofs don’t leak and local property taxes don’t take a drastic hike to pay for the kickbacks. What the PAALF did here was screw up the deal for everybody involved, including the locals. Which is just dumb.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*This Back to School clip is slightly politically incorrect, but it’s almost brutally accurate when it comes to discussing the difference between how business is done in theory, and how it’s done in practice.

You can not like it, but you do have to accept that it’s the default.

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