Wal-Mart flexing initiative power

November 24, 2011

Tired of opposition to its expansion, Wal-Mart is exploiting California’s initiative system to intimidate elected officials with threats of costly special elections, and to sidestep lawsuits originating with environmental groups. [CaliforniaWatch]

Using paid signature gatherers, the Arkansas-based retail giant plans to secure signatures from 15 percent of eligible voters in any given area. State law then will tie hands of city council members, who will be forced to either approve the store construction proposal, or put the question to a special electoral test, often at substantial cost to the community.

Wal-Mart officials have grown weary of constant civic combat, which comes from those who worry about existing small businesses, and unions, who are critical of the retailers’ low employee pay .

The company also utilizes the initiative process to fend off environmental lawsuits; once their ballot initiative qualifies, litigation regarding inadequate mitigation is off the table.

San Diego city officials this year repealed the city’s own superstore regulations when confronting an election that could have cost as much as $3.4 million.

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Here is an interesting mash-up of Walmart effects and Occupy Wall Street methods. It is a little annoying, but if its statements are correct, They are pretty disturbing.


Perhaps those who think that Wal-Mart funding paid signature gatherers is an okay thing don’t recognize that in a democracy or even in a democratic republic, no person or company or corporation should be more equal than anyone else. How is someone or something more equal? By having the funds to spend to attempt to change public opinion about a political issue. If Wal-Mart spends millions of dollars to qualify a ballot measure that allows them to side step environmental requirements and local building codes, it seems like they are attempting to “invest” in the initiative process for purely financial gain; should that be a function of making of laws, to benefit one company alone? Sure doesn’t seem like that is a good use of trying to pass a law to me, but that is just my opinion. Does Wal-Mart have the legal “right” to attempt this initiative? Yeah, but that does not mean it is “just” or morally right. Hopefully the masses will recognize that this another attempt by a corporation to override the will and wishes of communities that do not wish to have Wal-Mart run roughshod over local controls and either the initiative will fail to qualify or it will go down to defeat as a ballot measure.

You know, I have felt this way about signature gatherers over the years. If they are getting paid, it is ‘bought and paid for democracy’ in action. Only those groups with enough money to hire the gatherers get to have their positions voted on.

This is not just a Walmart problem.

While you are correct that Wal-Mart is not the only company or corporation that has paid for signature gatherers to try and qualify a ballot initiative, about the only other one that was attempted that would have benefitted only one company only was defeated when the voters turned down a ballot offering sponsored by P.G. & E.. As I said before, having a ballot measure that benefits only one company is a prime example of attempting to be more equal than everyone else. Although this is not “just a Wal-Mart” problem, this attempt is a Wal-Mart problem since they have just about the deepest pockets of any retailer. Doesn’t matter if other companies have tried or will try, this initiative is a bad idea, it deserves to fail due to the blatant attempt to do an end run-around around existing environmental laws and local zoning ordinances.

Thanks Bob , well put ! Thanks to CCN for running this story . Have you noticed that the Tribune has not mentioned much if anything of what’s going on with wally-mart in Atascadero . OH heaven forbid , they would lose an advertising dollar from the wally-mart Death Star .

I see the anti-aircraft guns from the Death Star Mother Ship have been hitting my dislike button , GOOD !


The initiative process that politicians and public unions have been using to their advantage for decades has been turned against them and they are squeeling like stuck little piggies.

More please.

“Politicians and public unions”? Most propositions are from moneyed or save us from people we don’t like interests. Don’t see many helping unions or allowing government to function properly.

Notable propositions

Proposition 6 (1978) on barring homosexuality in the public school system

Proposition 13 (1978) on property tax; imposing 2/3 requirement for budget vote, tax increases

Proposition 65 (1986) on notification of hazardous materials

Proposition 98 (1988) on school funding (requires minimum percentage of budget to be directed toward education with increases based on inflation)

Proposition 187 (1994) on denying illegal immigrants eligibility to receive public services (immediate stay was imposed; still in effect)

Proposition 209 (1996) on banning affirmative action in public sector (employment, education, etc.)

Proposition 215 (1996) on legalizing medical marijuana

Proposition 22 (2000) on a statute banning same-sex marriage

Proposition 8 (2008) on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in order to override the In re Marriage decision earlier that year that legalized same-sex marriage

Proposition 14 (2010) established non-partisan blanket primaries in place of closed primaries

Proposition 19 (2010) on the legalization of marijuana

I shop at Wallymart for my case-lots of pepper-spray so I can make sure Black Friday goes my way.

I also have a kiosk at the Koch Bros. estate and make a pretty penny selling CN & CS gas for the attendees who worry about keeping the rabble at-bay.