Duck call?

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it?s probably a duck.

Unless, of course, it?s a chicken.

The duck idiom still applies to the identity of the ?mystery business? that may be coming to Hillsboro?but so does the caveat. The property deal that appeared to be a dead duck less than two months ago is alive and well and making noise at city hall. While many local observers see a Wal-Mart Express flapping its wings on the horizon, the fact remains: Mayor Delores Dalke still is the only local official who knows for sure.

Our effort last week to find public documentation through reliable sources in other central Kansas communities that have experienced a similar scenario came up short of absolute proof. The identity of the mystery business is an issue because most local observers believe the arrival of a Wal-Mart Express would threaten several existing local businesses because of the corporate giant?s inherently unfair economic advantages.

That said, knowing the identity of the business is all but irrelevant in regard to the deal itself. As our Page 1 story explains, as long as a legal business submits a purchase contract that is substantially consistent with previous property deals, the city of Hillsboro, as a public-sector seller, cannot reject it?without facing the possibility of a lawsuit that it would almost certainly lose.

As we wait for this latest scenario to play out, consider this: City government may not have the power to keep a legal business from coming to town, but the power that determines the economic impact of any business rests in the hands of community customers. We determine the economic destiny of our community?and each business within it?every week through the power of our patronage.

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