In an earlier post regarding the petition in Walnut Creek to stop Neiman Marcus from joining Broadway Plaza, the financial backer of the signature gathering effort has been revealed. Unsurprisingly, it's the Taubman Group... owner of nearby Sunvalley Mall in Concord.
According to Elisabeth Nardi, the reporter at the Contra Costa Times covering the issue, Taubman spent nearly $95,000 to fund the petition (Nardi, 2009).
Taubman filed a campaign statement with the city on the 2nd of February. The statement showed nearly $80,000 was paid to Al Abrams, a public relations consultant, who misrepresented himself to Walnut Creek residents by claiming to be a real estate journalist when trying to persuade residents to reject the project (Nardi 2009). The sticking point was the popular "parking issue" that Neiman Marcus would bring to downtown Walnut Creek.
The campaign statement went on to state Taubman's new reason for stopping the project was due to, "fundamental fairness" (Nardi). Taubman claims that it "wanted to make sure it was a level playing field for all local development interests and were concerned about a bad precedent being set by the special approvals Broadway Plaza received in Walnut Creek" (Nardi, ¶ 6).
Mayor Gary Skrel is optimistic about the project and has faith in Walnut Creek resident being "smart enough to know what is really going on" (Nardi, 2009, ¶ 9).
Taubman, possibly encouraged from the recent election that demonstrated out-of-state special interest groups can use the intiative process to determine California's future, is sending a powerful message to Walnut Creek residents. Simply said, Michigan-based Taubman, who has no business in Walnut Creek, has decided it has the moral authority to decide what Walnut Creek should do and believe. The recipe is simple. Add one part deception (misrepresentation), a heaping of fear ("parking will get worse!") and a liberal dose of secrecy to manipulate voters to seal the deal.
Unfortunately for Taubman, Californians are an educated bunch that ultimately learn the truth and do the right thing.
Nardi, E. (2009, February 02). Rival mall company financed campaign against Neiman Marcus. Contra Costa Times. Retrieved February 05, 2009 from: http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_11611447?source=rss