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Thread: Voters in Inglewood reject Wal-Mart measure

  1. #1

    Voters in Inglewood reject Wal-Mart measure

    Praise the lord. This is a pretty big victory.

    By Alex Veiga
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    10:33 p.m. April 6, 2004

    INGLEWOOD – A ballot measure supported by Wal-Mart so it can build a giant Supercenter store in this Los Angeles suburb was rejected Tuesday by voters.

    With 27 of 29 precincts reporting, Inglewood voters opposed the initiative, with 65.6 percent voting 'no' and 34.3 percent voting 'yes,' said Gabby Contreras of the city clerk's office.

    That amounts to 5,108 votes against the initiative and 2,674 in favor. Contreras said there are about 40,000 registered voters in the city. Absentee ballots also remained to be counted.

    "This is very, very positive for those folks who want to stand up and ... hold this corporate giant responsible," said Daniel Tabor, a former City Council member who had campaigned against the initiative.

    Residents of the working-class community went to the polls after days of debate over the measure, which opponents said would clear the way for Wal-Mart to build its planned Supercenter store next to Hollywood Park racetrack while skirting zoning, traffic and environmental reviews.

    The City Council last year blocked the proposed shopping center, which would include both a traditional Wal-Mart and other stores, prompting the Bentonville, Ark.-based company to collect more than 10,000 signatures to force the vote.

    In a statement, the company said the decision was unfortunate for Inglewood residents, who will now have to go elsewhere to shop at Wal-Mart.

    "We are disappointed that a small group of Inglewood leaders together with representatives of outside special interests were able to convince a majority of Inglewood voters that they don't deserve the job opportunities and shopping choices that others in the LA area enjoy," the company said.

    Wal-Mart has argued in Inglewood and elsewhere in California that its stores create jobs and said residents should be able to decide for themselves whether they want the stores in their community.

    But opponents say the Supercenters amount to low-wage, low-benefit job mills that displace better-paying jobs as independent retailers are driven out of business. They also fear the super-sized stores will contribute to suburban sprawl and jammed roadways.

    Objections to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have surfaced elsewhere around the country, including Chicago, where the City Council recently stalled a measure to approve the first Wal-Mart inside city limits because of concerns about the company's labor practices.

    The company succeeded in lobbying residents in Contra Costa County, in suburban San Francisco. Residents there voted last month to allow a Supercenter, but Wal-Mart also lost a vote that day to allow it to open another store near San Diego.

    Wal-Mart officials have said they have not decided what they will do if the Inglewood initiative fails. The company spent more than $1 million in its campaign, according to campaign finance records, while opponents have spent a fraction of that amount.

    The opposition, however, enlisted public figures, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson to rally voters to its side.

    On Monday, Jackson and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., urged residents to vote against the Supercenter.

    But their message was lost to Inez Scott, who voted in favor of the ballot measure Tuesday in hopes that the Supercenter will bring jobs for the city's youth.

    "They don't live here," said Scott, 72. "I voted 'yes' so the young adults and youth will have some place to work, to keep them off the street corners and out of gangs."

  2. #2
    I heard on the radio that they were going to use this tactic in any city that denied them. My guess is that they will turn to other tactics (i.e. lawyers) now that this failed.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    How on earth did they think they would WIN? The NIMBYs are the ones that go out and vote not your poor I need a low paying job people. Seems they and baseball are delusional together.

    Thank god this town was bright enough to send Wal-Mart packing.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    It's confusing why the opposition quoted in the article claiming that "we have to hold this corporate giant responsible." Why is Wal-Mart to be held responsible...and for what?

    It's true that Wal-Mart severly undercuts competition, drastically alters traffic patterns and volumes, and comparitivley, underpays employees. If the law allows Wal-Mart to run its business this way, it's not legally responsible for anything. (Moral responsibility is another thing.)

    Wal-mart is a company that knows what it has to do to remain overwhelmingly dominate and to satisfy consumer demand. They need to get their products produced cheaply, buy them in bulk, and pay less than the average going rate to their employees to run their model.

    But who's fault is it that Wal-Mart utilizes those practices? The consumers demand one stop shopping. The consumers demand low prices. Consequently, the consumers demand Wal-Marts.

    Inglewood showed Wal-mart, even if it wasn't a complete picture of the towns opinion, that they do not want the benefits of a local Wal-mart at the expense of their established local economy. The consumers of this town showed Wal-Mart what it demands and values.

    Too often, small towns not unlike my hometown, look towards Wal-Mart as the saving grace. They believe that Wal-Mart will provide the much needed jobs for a community (which it will, even if low paying). They believe that they'll save money (which they may, Wal-Mart is not always the cheapest). And for some reason, everyone believes that Wal-Mart will dramatically increase the amount of sales tax entering the community. (unfounded conclusion)-> If anything, it seems that the addition of a Wal-Mart to a small town economy will only result in the shifting of sales tax dollars and not necessarily an increase in those dollars for a community. I don't believe that small towns could expect an increase in sales tax dollars unless their is an increase in population. This is not true of only Wal-Mart, but of any large, department store.

    Edit: I agree with otterpop, no development should circumvent the established process.
    Last edited by boiker; 07 Apr 2004 at 10:18 AM. Reason: add comment.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I was happy to see WalMart failed in their attempt to get around traffic, environmental and zoning review. That was what concerned me regarding this matter.

  6. #6

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    I'm guessing it's a case of imperial over-reach. If they had simply asked for a rezoning, they may have won. But, they were asking for complete exemption from ALL of the rules, including environmental, and IMPACT fees.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    Too often, small towns not unlike my hometown, look towards Wal-Mart as the saving grace. They believe that Wal-Mart will provide the much needed jobs for a community (which it will, even if low paying). They believe that they'll save money (which they may, Wal-Mart is not always the cheapest). And for some reason, everyone believes that Wal-Mart will dramatically increase the amount of sales tax entering the community. (unfounded conclusion)-> If anything, it seems that the addition of a Wal-Mart to a small town economy will only result in the shifting of sales tax dollars and not necessarily an increase in those dollars for a community. I don't believe that small towns could expect an increase in sales tax dollars unless their is an increase in population. This is not true of only Wal-Mart, but of any large, department store.
    But Inglewood's not a small town. It's a working-class ghetto in LA county. It's a 'hood that gets namedropped in Dr. Dre songs. It's not exactly "Anytown USA." I think this is a different situation. Wal-Mart's not gonna bring new goods or services to the community that they don't already have, it only has the possibility of depressing wages and stealing business from the (already established) local economy. This is mainly about groceries too... there are already standard Wal-Marts all over LA. The supercenters are in danger of putting regional grocery chains out of business. This one in Inglewood was planned to be 17 football fields! It would be like a town in its own right, with all profits shipped back to Arkansas.


  8. #8
    I'm wondering if Wal mart putting the issue on the ballot isn't a response to what happened in my city, 140 miles south of Inglewood. People here put "not another Wal mart" on the ballot and won the election.

  9. #9
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Boiker, you rule.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I generally support the wal marts of the world--at least I don't oppose them. But it sounds fishy to me that they chose this route to circumvent established standards that everyone must follow.

    Even though they pushed the ballot initiative, scares me that 19% turnout and 12% of registered voters made this decision. Site specific land use decisions cannot be made by referendum.

  11. #11
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    California is currently run by ballot propositions. I wouldn't be surprised to see a constitutional amendment that forbids denial of uses with 5 or more acres under roof.

    More and more, the local decisions are being given up to higher powers. California cities cannot set local taxes, must approve affordable housing projects, cannot deny church projects, have no power over casinos -- by either state law or ballot propositions. I saw elsewhere that Ky requires cities to allow gun stores by right.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    California is currently run by ballot propositions. I wouldn't be surprised to see a constitutional amendment that forbids denial of uses with 5 or more acres under roof.

    More and more, the local decisions are being given up to higher powers. California cities cannot set local taxes, must approve affordable housing projects, cannot deny church projects, have no power over casinos -- by either state law or ballot propositions. I saw elsewhere that Ky requires cities to allow gun stores by right.
    Yep. A "tribe" is now looking at "returning to their home lands" in the agricultural Suisun Valley. I hate casinos.

  13. #13

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    Horray! Finally, One That Didn't Go To The Dark Side...

    I'm so glad those heavy handed types finally had one handed to them......does this mean that Inglewood will pursue small-scale retail instead of the big box?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally posted by Miles Ignatius
    I'm so glad those heavy handed types finally had one handed to them......does this mean that Inglewood will pursue small-scale retail instead of the big box?
    Probably not. We are not talking a yuppie enclave.

  15. #15
          freewaytincan's avatar
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    About time! And if Wal-Mart has a problem, then they'd better try and remember the free market capitalism they grew fat upon. See, the truth is, Wal-Mart, like a small number of very large companies, seems to think that capitalism is fine, until they dominate a market. Then it's curtains for whoever messes with them. Fighting with Wal-Mart is like fighting a combination of the Mafia, the Kennedys, and Donald Trump. Y'all know that I'm a "right-winger", so this may come as a surprise, but I really am very happy about all of this. For once, our version of democracy actually worked, as did the freedom of choice in a free market!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by freewaytincan
    About time! And if Wal-Mart has a problem, then they'd better try and remember the free market capitalism they grew fat upon. See, the truth is, Wal-Mart, like a small number of very large companies, seems to think that capitalism is fine, until they dominate a market. Then it's curtains for whoever messes with them. Fighting with Wal-Mart is like fighting a combination of the Mafia, the Kennedys, and Donald Trump. Y'all know that I'm a "right-winger", so this may come as a surprise, but I really am very happy about all of this. For once, our version of democracy actually worked, as did the freedom of choice in a free market!
    I don't believe that it's Wal-Mart's thinks that way at all. As the company became more successful and expanded they generated more economic dominance. They could demand lower prices..buy in larger quantities from distributers. It's compitition can't; it hasn't grown like Wal-Mart has.

    In simple analysis, Wal-Mart has grown and dominated exactly as the market and laws allow them to. When you work with economies of scale of their magnitude, the small discount retailers can chip into Wal-Marts market about as well as you can put out a forest fire with spit. Wal-Mart isn't out of control, as long as economic law says they aren't monopolistic or performing unfair competition practices, Wal-Mart is benefiting only from consumer demands for the lowest possible prices.

    Slightly OT, I did an economic census check of inglewood vs. my blue-collar hometown and noted that median incomes (and type of employment) were very similar. My hometown is so desperate for a Wal-Mart (or any economic development), they'd conduct a public execution if it meant Wal-Mart was coming to town. I'll continue to give kudos to Inglewood's small sampling of voters for preserving the process.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  17. #17

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    Boiker's right. Under current laws and the way the current American/world economy works, WalMart is not doing anything wrong. I choose to boycott them because they don't have much I want to buy and I find their practices distasteful, but...

    Now, if you don't LIKE the side effects of WalMart, then time to think about those underlying laws and rules of the "market."

  18. #18
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    I was just in LA last week. This was such a hot issue. What hasn't been said during this discussion is that the proposed Wal-Mart complex would have an 'autonomous' authority over their design without any regard to the current zoning code, the City of Inglewood or its residents. The Mayor of Inglewood was saying that the Wal-Mart was needed to spur econ. dev in the city because 6 or 7/10 dollars earned by Inglewood residents were being spent outside of Inglewood. Another thing that hasn't been said that the former Great Western Forum is now owned by a church which pays no taxes of course. Why couldn't Inglewood approach the Lakers or whomever to take the Forum off their hands and turn it to a 'town center' development. That's what Prince George's County, MD did for the old Capital Centre (Wash. Caps and Wizards). From what I heard so far, it's labeled a success.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Boiker's right. Under current laws and the way the current American/world economy works, WalMart is not doing anything wrong. I choose to boycott them because they don't have much I want to buy and I find their practices distasteful, but...

    Now, if you don't LIKE the side effects of WalMart, then time to think about those underlying laws and rules of the "market."
    I think there are a couple of levels of debate going on here, and one is being lost. Boiker alluded to it. There's the debate of Wal-Mart as the uber-corporate behemoth, whose anti-union stance and beyond-aggressive cost-cutting policies have driven prices and wages down. That's the Wal-Mart most of us have responded to as they tried to do an end-around on the review process in Inglewood. As mostly middle-class people who don't work in low-wage jobs and can exercise choice in our retail decisions, we can take the position that what Wal-Mart is doing is wrong. BTW, I'm glad Wal-Mart had their a$$ handed back to them, because they cannot be bigger than the process. But, as BKM says above, changing how Wal-Mart does things means looking at how the "market" works.

    Hmm, how the "market" works. That's the other level of debate. I live on the South Side of Chicago, where the retail choices -- and job opportunities -- are miniscule compared to the North Side, the Loop and the suburbs. The same dilemma exists for the West Side. The South and West Sides lost nearly all their jobs more than a decade ago (one indicator: the 2000 Census showed that census tracts on the South Side had among the highest daily commute times of all census tracts in the Chicago MSA). It is on the West Side that Wal-Mart is looking to build its first store within the city limits. While the unions are talking to the Chicago City Council about how Wal-Mart crushes competition and lowers wages, there are individual aldermen (and a good number of residents) who want jobs of any kind in their ward, and want to expand retail choice at affordable costs in their ward. The alderman of the ward where Wal-Mart would locate is a strong supporter for those very reasons. Wal-Mart is a considerable upgrade in quality over what currently exists in most Chicago neighborhoods. And while a blue vest and $6.50 an hour may not be our cup of tea, there are many willing to accept it.

    There are those who see what Wal-Mart is doing to competition and wages, and there are others who are perfectly willing to roll the dice, take that Faustian bargain, and take whatever jobs and merchandise Wal-Mart can give them. I'm sure Wal-Mart counts on that.

  20. #20
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Interesting editorial on this subject in my local paper today...

    http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/p...404080329/1017
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  21. #21
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Want to hear something ironic? While I'm a city planner, my brother works for the Walmart Company as a Sam's Club manager. I greatly enjoyed calling him to gloat about Walmart getting toasted in California. He was actually happy it got rejected since he gets really angry when Walmarts "elephant walk" into towns and try to dodge regulations. Of course, he played by the rules when they built his Sam's because he wanted to be on good terms with his city. He'll be the first to tell you that he does not like many of Walmart's business practices and how they can adversly affect communities.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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