The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper. They get the award for their article on a Wal-Mart consulting firm that sent out a letter to landowners threatening them with eminent domain unless they sold their property to the corporation. Wal-Mart wants to put a distribution center in Putnam county.
There's a couple of problems with the article. It starts right at the top, the headline.
Wal-Mart tells landowners: Sell or else
It wasn't Walmart. It was a consulting firm the corporation uses. The article even says as much.
Putnam County Administrator Rick Leary said the county hasn't agreed to use its powers of eminent domain for Wal-Mart.
"Some people might think these individuals [the Wal-Mart representatives] are agents of the county, and they aren't," Leary said. "We haven't talked about using eminent domain, and it hasn't been anything the county has practiced."
Keith Morris, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said that despite the letter from the consultant, the company does not plan to ask the county to use eminent domain to acquire the properties.
Morris said he did not know why the consultant had written that the properties might be acquired through eminent domain.
"It sounds like there is a miscommunication somewhere along the way," he said. "We have instructed a consultant to negotiate on our behalf [for the right of way], but beyond that, we have not given any instructions to say that if that doesn't work out, we should look at eminent domain. I can't tell you why they wrote that."
Mike Mullis, the consultant who wrote the letter, would not answer questions about the possible use of eminent domain.
The county says Wal-Mart hasn't approached them, Wal-Mart says they don't want to use eminent domain, and the consultant is unavailable. Sounds like you're guilty till proven innocent doesn't it?
I'm a big opponent of eminent domain. If Wal-Mart does try to use eminent domain here, I will knucklehead them.
Right now the facts don't show that. The Orlando Sentinel headline is both wrong and mis-leading and that's good enough for me. For mis-informing the public, The Orlando Sentinel is today's knucklehead of the day.
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Cross posted to Bullwinkle Blog