Skip to comments.Voters go to the stumps in bitter Wal-Mart referendum
Posted on 04/06/2004 8:00:05 PM PDT by El Conservador
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Voters in a southern California city went to the polls in a bitter referendum to decide if retail behemoth Wal-Mart will be allowed to override planning laws to open a giant new super-store.
Residents of the Los Angeles area city of Inglewood are sharply divided over the plan by the world's biggest retailer to build a new commercial centre in town that will be equivalent to the size of 17 football fields.
Wal-Mart, frequently the focus of rows over its intensely low-cost discount stores that are accused of destroying local business and exploiting workers, has employed a new strategy in the battle over Inglewood.
The chain has taken its plans directly to voters in a ballot initiative that could sideline local officials and allow the sprawling complex to be built without the usual traffic studies, environmental reviews and public hearings.
"There is in Inglewood today a legitimate fear -- a fear of being wiped out by a Confederate economic Trojan horse," said US politician and labour activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, who is campaigning against Wal-Mart.
"This in an international crisis wherein one globalises capital but does not globalise worker standards and health care standards, environmental standards, standards for women," he said.
The ballot measure came after Wal-Mart successfully fought efforts to keep its super-centres -- that combine low-cost department store items with groceries -- out of towns in other California cities where the chain is planning to open 40 new giant stores.
Last year, the Inglewood City Council effectively blocked Wal-Mart from moving into town, prompting the chain to navigate a course around officials by gathering about of 10,000 signatures to put the plans to a vote.
The measure needs a simple majority of its estimated 50,000 registered voters to pass.
"They will undercut (their competitors)," said Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters at a rally. "They will under-sell them and when they are all gone, then they will raise the prices again," she claimed.
But supporters of the plan insist that the enormous development will prove an economic boon to the depressed area of Los Angeles, creating about 1,200 jobs.
"It's important that Inglewood consumers have the same shopping that many of the neighboring communities have had for years," Wal-Mart spokesman Peter Kanelos told the Los Angeles Times.
"Wal-Mart and our customers are tired of being bullied by the unions. If the unions and the local politicians they put in office want to attack Wal-Mart, they can rest assured that we'll fight back."
Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn said the Wal-Mart, which would be part of a 60-acre retail complex, would generate three to five million dollars a year in sales tax revenues in the city of 112,000 people.
Wal-Mart's expansion in California has drawn fire from labour unions, some politicians and business owners worried about what effect the stores will have on local economies and workers' rights.
Labour groups accuse the non-unionised company of paying employees as little as half the hourly wages of union stores in order to maintain its low-cost sales. Smaller businesses have a very tough time competing with Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart's low wages and sparse benefits for its employees were behind a nearly five-month-long strike by more than 70,000 southern Californian unionised supermarket workers.
The unionised workers were outraged by their employers' decision to reduce their health benefits in order, they said, to compete against Wal-Mart's regional onslaught.
The strike was settled in February with a two-tier system under which the stores will pay new hires less in wages and benefits than veteran workers.
The California city of Oakland, near San Francisco, last year banned Wal-Mart from its communities.
But the store has overcome opposition by officials in other cities, including Contra Costa and Calexico on the Mexican border, by getting voters to repeal prohibitive ordinances.
Wal-Mart operates more than 3,000 stores with more than 1.2 million workers across the United States.
Poverty pimping. Race pimping. Ahh, the joys of being Je$$e Jack$on.
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
This never happens, but the skank Waters never let truth get in the way of her bullshit.
Confederate, eh? Jeezus, why isn't Jesse home raising his bastard child?
America's Fifth Column ... watch PBS documentary JIHAD! In America
http://12thman.us/media/jihad.rm (Requires RealPlayer)
NY Times article: Stymied by Politicians, Wal-Mart Turns to Voters (FR Link)
While Wal-Mart has turned to the ballot in a number of cities and towns to win the right to build its giant emporiums, the Inglewood initiative is significantly different. The proposal would essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules. Wal-Mart has hired an advertising and public relations firm to market the initiative and is spending more than $1 million to support the measure, known as initiative 04-A.
Should Wal-Mart be exempt from the laws their competitors have to follow and the other businesses in Inglewood?
I'm not saying they are good laws... but why should Wal-Mart get a pass?
Ahhh... I wondered where the good reverend had gotten off to.
Labour activist my ass, Je$$e's just a shucking jiving scam and shakedown artist. Slimy is his middle name.
That's right. And the thing is, by the time they start raising their prices, the owners of all the competitor stores, as well as all their employees, will be dead. And with them will die all knowledge of how to operate a retail outlet, leaving only Wal-Mart in control. Just as they have planned from the beginning.
Those local businesses close because consumers freely choose Walmart over the mom-and-pops. Why should the interests of local businesses be more important than the interests of consumers?
Update for all:
Inglewood Voters Rejecting Wal-Mart
Bid by the retailer to bypass environmental review and public hearings is opposed nearly 2-to-1 with all but two precincts counted.
LA Times, April 7, 2004, 10:34 PM
A bid by the world's largest corporation to bypass uncooperative elected officials and take its aggressive expansion plans to voters appeared headed for failure Tuesday, as vote results showed Inglewood residents rejecting Wal-Mart's proposal to build a colossal retail and grocery center without the environmental review or public hearings.
With all but two of the precincts counted Tuesday evening, 2,674 Inglewood residents had voted in favor of Wal-Mart's plan, while 5,108 had voted against it. About 3,000 absentee votes had yet to be counted.
So what's to stop to someone from simply adopting the Wal-Mart model of operating a retail outlet? If Wal-Mart starts "price-gouging," someone else can come in and undercut them just as Wal-Mart supposedly undercuts local businesses.
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