Tag Archives: Rosemead

Holding Wal-Mart Collaborators Accountable

[Update: Looks like we lost this battle.  The recall was defeated.  Wal-Mart spent over $200K on this race.  Still a fight WELL worth picking. Rosemead residents sent a clear message just for having launched this campaign, and they’ll have another chance to replace these Wal-Mart stooges in the regular election next March.]

The results are not yet in, but polls just closed in Rosemead, California, where two city council members face a recall election as a consequence of their roles in inviting Wal-Mart to town.

Rosemead is a suburb just outside of Los Angeles.  Wal-Mart set its sights on the town after being denied entry into nearby San Gabriel in the 1990s, and after being routed in a 2004 referendum in the South L.A. working class community of Inglewood.  Though over twice as many Rosemead residents signed a petition in opposition to the superstore as signed a Wal-Mart-commissioned store-friendly one, the company assiduously courted council members’ favor and managed to pull together a consensus in favor of construction.  (This is the inverse of the tactic Wal-Mart failed to execute in Inglewood, where the company tried to bypass a hostile City Council by going straight to the voters with a referendum that was defeated by a 3-2 margin.)

Wal-Mart is much like a notoriously bad drunk who tries to crash his way into every party in town.  Now that everyone knows how obnoxious he is, nobody will let him through the door.  His only salvation is that he’s as rich as he is unpopular, and there’s always a couple bouncers somewhere he can bribe his way past.

Two such bouncers, Council Members Gary Taylor and Jay Imperial, faced the music today: a recall election, and a challenge from anti-Wal-Mart candidates Polly Low and Victor Ruiz.  Today’s recall election is Round 2 of Throwing the Bums Out in Rosemead.  In an earlier election, two of three pro-Wal-Mart incumbents were given the toss.  If Taylor and Imperial are defeated at the polls, only one of the original Wal-Mart Council will remain in office.

It is a measure of Wal-Mart’s international disrepute that a small, low-turnout, local election has garnered quite a bit of press attention (front of the California section of today’s L.A. Times).  As if to add to the melodrama, the election was overseen by federal election monitors: The anti-Wal-Mart petition that brought the recall into being was printed only in English, and was challenged in federal court by Taylor and Imperial as a violation of the Voting Rights Act (Rosemead has large populations of Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish-speaking residents).  The election was scheduled for February, injoined, cancelled, dis-injoined, reinstated, and scheduled for today with election observers.

However this election turns out, the message from Rosemead to city officials all over the country is clear: Wal-Mart is politically toxic.  Jump into bed with it and risk finding yourself out of a job and asking for an application at the wage slave-driving superstore whose groundbreaking ribbon you just cut.