Monday, April 05, 2004

Beware, O Boone, of The Evil Empire

Everyone's waiting to see what Wal-Mart will do about being turned down by the Boone Board of Adjustment for an expanded Superstore here. If the following example of Wal-Mart's recent activities in one California municipality is a bellwether, we might expect the company to make a move at taking over our Town Council.

In Inglewood, Calif., after the local city council said no to a Wal-Mart megastore complex on 60 acres (on the basis of environmental, traffic, labor, public safety, and economic concerns), Wal-Mart paid people (paid!) to gather 10,000 signatures on a petition for a ballot measure to be voted on tomorrow. If agreed to by the citizens, the ballot measure (known as "initiative 04-A") will "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." (New York Times story today here.)

Did you hear that quite clearly? ... "subject only to its own rules..."

O brave new world that hath such creatures in it!

"The company is blanketing the community [of 112,000] ... with mailers and telephone calls and is broadcasting advertisements on television stations...." The corporation has hired a public relations firm to manipulate the credulous, spending over $1 million to get the voters to buy into this particular fantasyland. What won't you give up, voters, for cheap dog food and toilet paper?

"...Inglewood will be a test case. If the initiative succeeds here, [opponents] say, it will become a model for Wal-Mart sovereignty across the nation and around the globe."

There is some hope, according to the NY Times, that even if the ballot measure passes, which it easily could, it might be ruled legally invalid: "The attorney general's letter to the Inglewood City Council states that while the initiative process may be used to adopt land-use and planning measures, the ballot cannot be used to usurp powers granted to elected bodies, like issuing building permits. The attorney general also said the initiative might be in conflict with state laws governing subdivisions and the environment.

"The initiative, which can pass by a simple majority vote, includes a provision requiring a two-thirds vote of the public to alter any of the terms of the development project. The attorney general said that provision also appeared to conflict with state law."

How blatant is this? If you can't make it under the rules, get the gullible voters to change the rules JUST FOR YOU, and then write it into the law that the rules made JUST FOR YOU can't be changed back without a super-majority of the public voting in favor. You're quite a credit to democracy, Wal-Mart! Quite a testament to where we're headed in this country ... the United States of Wal-Mart!

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