Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lancaster selectwoman misleads on Wal-Mart

The Times and Courier published a story in Thursday's edition looking at the impact 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenters have had on their communities. Lancaster selectwoman Jennifer Leone, an opponent of the proposed Supercenter in Lancaster was contacted for a comment, and she provided this whopper:

Selectman Jennifer Leone, a former member of Our Lancaster First, a group of Lancaster and Leominster residents opposed to Wal-Mart's plan, doesn't believe a 24-hour store in Lancaster is necessary.

"I don't think the town gains anything by having a 24-hour store," Leone said. "Other stores have tried and failed; I mean, how many people need to buy Pedialyte at 3 a.m.? I do think a town needs a 24-hour pharmacy, but we have the CVS in Leominster that is 24 hours, and is closer to most Lancaster residents than the proposed Wal-Mart." (emphasis added)

While I appreciate Mrs. Leone's passion on this issue, she has to know that her contention that the CVS in Leominster is closer to most residents than the proposed Wal-Mart is an outright falsehood. In fact it's not even close to being accurate.

Look at the simple map I've put together here. The only 24-hour CVS in Leominster is at the green arrow. The proposed Wal-Mart is marked by the blue dot. My rough outline of the Lancaster town borders are marked by the blue line. Any way a Lancaster resident tries to get to the 24-hour CVS (assuming they take routes 2 or 190, and avoid all the stoplights in the center of Leominster), they have to pass within a mile of the Wal-Mart. I'd suggest that there is not one Lancaster resident that would have a shorter drive to CVS than to Wal-Mart.

I do not support the Wal-Mart in Lancaster, and certainly don't think we need two Supercenters with in three miles of each other. But the opposition to the project should be based in fact. There are plenty of reasons to oppose this project without making them up.

It also would have been nice if the Times and Courier had fact checked or qualified Mrs. Leone's statement. While the paper has a responsibility to report the positions of town officials, just because a selectwoman says something doesn't mean it's true. If a public official (or anyone being quoted in the paper) presents something as fact it should be verified and either omitted if it is false, or contrasted with the truth.

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