Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Good news, for a change

Thanks, nevsky. I'm going to go ahead and put this up here, even though I know everyone knows about it already. I'm so glad to see this when it seems the whole thing in Iraq is turning into chaos. Inglewood, just a hop and skip down the freeway from us, said no to Walmart. I'm glad to see that a local coalition of activists got together to educate voters.
    In the referendum, voters decided whether to let the chain bypass ordinary government oversight of its development. The idea was soundly rebuffed by a coalition of business, education and religious activists. "The last thing we wanted was for a corporation which is not a democracy to come in here and act like a sovereign nation," said volunteer Rachel Morris, who walked the city streets educating voters about what was at stake.

    The measure called for a complex the size of 17 football fields to be built without the usual traffic studies, environmental reviews, and public hearings required by state and local laws. "They were trying to tell residents that Wal-Mart is so big that they don't have to follow state and local laws. That is a nightmare and we didn't buy it," says Morris.
One new factoid to me: Walmart is the country's largest private employer.
    The negative vote reflects what several national experts say is increased scrutiny of Wal-Mart as it expands across the country. The chain now has 3,000 outlets and 1.2 million employees, the largest private employer in the US.
Local newspapers (LA Weekly with a great one, and the Pulitzer prize winning LA Times articles) actually covered the Walmart invasion, which I'm sure helped. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether Wal-Mart will continue with their efforts to build a store in Inglewood. Their second attempt to get in by trying to get around local and state laws, it didn't help that they were all together too smart for their own good, as covered in this LA Weekly article.

If Inglewood can get Wal-mart to comply, why can't other communities around the nation learn from this as well. I'd like to see this type of community activism going all out for the vote in November in other areas of our country because this is one national election that will make a difference locally.