18 July - 6 August 1996

Each week McSpotlight will bring you the latest news on worldwide protests and campaigning events against McDonald's and other multinationals.

Protests on Iowa State University campus against McDonald's

18th July 1996

I thought some of you might be interested in the fight we've been putting up against McD's and our university. The following article came from the Iowa State Daily--our student paper. The press release came from the University homepage. The scoop on the story is that the owner of the local McD's franchises (he owns 3 in town) chaired an ad hoc food study committee a few years ago (92-93). While the committee was meeting he recognized his conflict of interest by saying that he would not recommend putting a McD's on campus. Since that time, he donated more than $150,000 to the university. Now the university is pushing to put not just one, but two McD's on campus--one in the student union, the other on central campus. To the tune of $3.5 million going to the university over the course of 5 years.

Anyway, a rally and public forum have apparently delayed their plans. The university announced a few hours ago that they would "postpone further action until the fall." It's not over yet, but we've dealt a blow to their style of ramming decision through.

I have a feeling that franchise food is going to become an issue on most campuses around the country--if it hasn't already.

You are what you eat--and that goes for big fat administrators too.

Protesters condemn new McDonald's in hub

Tuesday, July 16, 1996
Iowa State Daily, USA

200 campus community members voice complaints about McDonald's and the university's decision making process

Two hundred participants gathered at the steps of Beardshear Hall Friday to protest the placement of a McDonald's restaurant in the Hub.

The protest began at noon with the sound of Credence Clearwater Revival's song "Fortunate Son" playing in the background and students waving colorfully decorated picket signs.

The signs displayed such messages as: "No McUnion," "No McISU," "No McHub," "People before McProfits $$$," "No we don't want fries with that," and a depiction of Ronald McDonald with ISU President Martin Jischke's face uttering the phrase, "Want cheese on that degree?"

The protesters then began a series of speeches where their main grievances against Iowa State's placement of a McDonald's in the Hub became clear.

"Our main grievance is the lack of student, staff or faculty involvement in the increasing commercialization of Iowa-so-called-State University," student protester John Scriver said.

Scriver served as the master of ceremonies for the protest, introducing each speaker as he or she came forward. The first of the speakers was Tony Smith, a professor in the philosophy department.

"We are here today to protest. We should hold the university accountable to the standards it itself proclaims," Smith said.

"The university has wrapped up a captive consumer base and handed it to McDonald's. Sixty-five percent of all deaths in the United States are a result of diet-related illnesses. The type of food they serve, with a few exceptions, is exactly the type of food that is killing us," he said.

Smith also commented on McDonald's environmental impact and advertising practices, calling them "the last socially acceptable form of child abuse."

Smith compared the Hub issue to "walking by a closed McDonald's trash bin and smelling something. There is a chance there isn't something rotten there, but there probably is."

Other speakers followed Smith to the podium to express their views toward a McDonald's in the Hub.

Pete Sherman, a professor of statistics and engineering, compared the university administration's response to the protest to Marie Antoinette's saying "let them eat cake or perhaps a fried pie."

Milton McGriff, member of the September 29th group, drew connections between the university's actions in the Hub and its actions toward the naming of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall. He said students were not contacted on either issue and that ISU was putting corporate interests first. He said both issues affected all students at the university.

"How come they didn't contact the students? Follow the money," McGriff said.

McGriff also mentioned a potential conflict of interest within a committee for improving food on campus.

"Several years ago they put together a committee to decide a way to improve food on campus. Their answer was fast food. The head of that committee was John Dasher, the owner of the Ames' McDonald's. They're putting corporate interests before student interests," he said.

Kathleen MacKay, dean of students, has a different view of the amount of student input in the decision to place a McDonald's in the Hub.

"I was at a meeting of the Student Fees Committee where this was discussed. A special meeting had been called to get student input on food service in the Hub. There were a number of students there including members of the GSB and the Graduate Student Senate," MacKay said.

"The McDonald's proposal was viewed very favorably. Not all the students might want a McDonald's, but most of the student representatives there viewed the idea very favorably," she said.

MacKay said this meeting "wasn't a ninth hour meeting" and was held in a timely manner. She said the meeting was held for the sole purpose of gathering student opinion and that the meeting "would fit under the open meeting laws."

Doug Houghton, assistant dean of students who watched the protest, had no comment about the university's decision to place a McDonald's in the Hub.

One speaker at the protest, Neil Baumhover, compared his idea of the ISU campus to a state park with "squirrels and rabbits running around."

"I don't want to go to school in a state park when there's a damn McDonald's stinking up the place," Baumhover said.

Another student, Sundar Rajan, said he just wants the Hub to remain how it always has been.

"I don't want half a Hub. I don't want a McHub. I just want my good old Hub," Rajan said.

The microphone was made open to anyone who wished to speak about the McDonald's issue, either for or against it, but no pro-McDonald's speakers were in attendance.

Officials at McDonald's, including owner John Dasher and members of the managerial staff at the South Duff McDonald's, were either unavailable for comment or had no comment on the protest against placing a McDonald's in the Hub.

ISU postpones action on McDonald's in hub

Protests at Iowa State University against McDonald's
July 1996

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University officials said today (July 17) they will postpone further action on a proposal to locate a McDonald's in the Hub until fall.

Vice President for Business and Finance Warren Madden said the postponement will give the campus community and others more time to review and comment on the proposal. "We are trying to be responsive to university needs and concerns," Madden said. "There are a number of people who feel they did not have ample opportunity to comment on this issue, and we are going to give them that time."

Madden said officials from the Memorial Union and McDonald's both agreed to postpone a request to the State Board of Regents tomorrow (July 18) to locate a McDonald's in the Hub.

The regents will consider the remainder of ISU's proposed vending contract with the Memorial Union. That contract also calls for installation of new vending equipment throughout campus and food carts in Design, Veterinary Medicine and the Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

A food court that includes several franchises and outlets recently opened in the newly remodeled Memorial Union. A McDonald's will be located in that food court under a separate agreement between the Union and McDonald's.

Montpelier's anti-McDonald's Struggle

July 22 1996, Montpelier, Vermont,

This past Winter, McDonald's announced its plans for a franchise in the historic downtown of Montpelier, Vermont. The world's largest restaurant chain had just collided with the nation's smallest capital city, and the only one without Golden Arches.

Local opposition to McDonald's has been widespread and deeply felt. Residents do not want to trade the distinctive quirkiness of Montpelier's locally-owned businesses for a downtown colonized by corporate franchises. They also know that most money spent at chain restaurants is largely lost to the local economy, drained off to corporate accounts and stockholder portfolios instead of creating jobs and local prosperity. And while most Montpelier restaurants get some of their needs from Vermont farmers, no one can say where McDonald's food comes from.

At each of three Planning Commission hearings held to decide the restaurant's fate, the room was packed. People displayed signs reading "Local Economy, Not Corporate Hegemony", "We Deserve a Break Today", "McPelier?", and many others. Vermonters voice their concerns about the unhealthiness of the fat- soaked McDonald's diet, the tons of unrecycleable garbage and litter the restaurants produce, the company's policy of aiming their advertising at pre- school children, and the negative impact the restaurant would have on the local economy. Disappointingly, none of these fell under the narrow criteria the Commission could consider. Citizens were left with little more than traffic issues with which to fight the corporate giant.

But testimony from local residents, including an independent traffic study, helped convince a majority of the Commissioners that McDonald's would significantly worsen Montpelier's already congested traffic and parking situation. To cheers from the crowd, McDonald's application was denied.

Unfortunately, the celebration may be short-lived: the Commission's decision has already been appealed. The case will be heard in Environmental Court, where citizen input, already limited by the narrowness of the "relevant" criteria, will be further diminished in a setting dominated by lawyers and "experts". It is a format that favors those with deep pockets, and the outcome is still uncertain.

Opponents to McDonald's, loosely organized into a group called MCORD (Montpelier Citizens Organized for Responsible Development), have found a lawyer whose experience includes fighting WalMart, another corporation which has invaded Vermont in recent years. Although she is doing some of the legal work pro bono, MCORD is trying to raise the additional funds that will be needed to continue the fight. We are fully aware that even if we win in Environmental Court, the case will be appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the costs of fighting this corporate giant may ultimately be beyond the means of local citizens.

Montpelier is still the only state capital without a McDonald's. MCORD and other local citizens hope to keep it that way.

For more information, contact
c/o Steven Gorelick
PO Box 841
Montpelier, VT 05601, or

McDonald's guilty of "lies, law-breaking and intimidation" - Camden licensing hearing to be told

Press Release
London, UK
30th July 1996

At a hearing at Camden Town Hall, London WC1, at 7pm on Wednesday 31 July, McDonald's, the multinational burger corporation, faces strenuous opposition to its attempts to obtain night cafe licences for two of its Camden premises.

Such applications are frequently uncontested. But following the many damaging (to McDonald's) revelations in the two-years-old-and-still-running McLibel trial, a concerned Camden resident has decided to oppose the granting of these licences.

Some of the grounds for objection relate to the specific premises concerned. But many of the reasons relate to the general principle that the applicant company is not, in the words of the relevant law, "a fit and proper person" to be granted a licence.

Evidence presented will show that the company burgles the premises of its critics, lies about the rainforest origins of some of its beef and about the recycling of its litter, immorally targets young children with its advertising, promotes a diet condemned as unhealthy by national and international authorities, sacks people wanting to belong to trade unions, and cheats in the running of its own promotional activities.

The objector, Albert Beale, said before the hearing: "McD tries hard to generate a squeaky clean image, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. McDonald's might not be the most wicked multinational in the world, but nevertheless, can there be any other company where there is such an immense disparity between image and reality?"

Camden's bizarre decision

London, UK
31st July 1996

Albert Beale and his supporters were tonight celebrating their victory. McDonald's Kings Cross cannot open (officially) late at night for at least a while longer, and McDonald's New Oxford Street cannot extend their late opening hours while McDonald's representatives go back to the drawing board. AND McDONALD'S ADMITTED BREAKING THE LAW!

Bizarre decision

In a bizarre decision, the Licensing & Control Sub-committee of Camden Council ruled that the applicant for
(a) a new night cafe licence at McDonald's Kings Cross; and
(b) a renewal and extension of the night cafe licence at McDonald's New Oxford Street should not be the company (McDonald's Restaurants Limited) but the managers of each store. This is despite the fact that the existing holder of the night cafe licence at McDonald's New Oxford Street is the company. Thus, McDonald's will have to reapply (or amend their existing applications) and go before the committee again at a later date. The sub-committee seemed at times to have a very tenuous understanding of the laws that it is meant to be operating under.

"Fit and proper person"?

McDonald's was represented by a planning consultant, Christopher Potts, and the manager of each restaurant sat beside him. Albert, who was very eloquent in making his submissions to the committee, came with four supporters. The Chair of the sub-committee and the Borough Solicitor baulked at the argument that objections could be raised to the applications on the basis of McDonald's "lies, law-breaking and intimidation" (as revealed inter alia in the McLibel trial). However, full argument was not heard on whether McDonald's is, in the words of the relevant law, a "fit and proper person" to be granted a licence.

Blatant disregard of the law

Albert informed the sub-committee that he has reported to Council staff the fact that McDonald's Kings Cross store has remained open after its licensing hours on numerous occasions. Mr Potts (for McD's) admitted that this had occurred and he unconvincingly said it was a mistake and misunderstanding, and said the store had apologised and stopped opening late. Mr Potts was berated by the Chair for his clients' blatant disregard of the law. Albert pointed out that the late openings have continued after the store's reprimand by the Council, and that he has lodged evidence to that effect with the Council.

What next?

So, the status quo remains in place and McDonald's must endure the indignity of a further hearing. Meanwhile, most of Albert's objections remain unheard, and tonight's hearing has raised the possibility of several more legal problems and objections that can be put in the path of the bulldozing multinational.

**The McLibel Support Campaign hopes to be able soon to help others to object to such applications in their own areas.**

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