On December 22, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart had spent a King’s ransom to elect a Mayor in Rosemead, California. They Mayor was a supporter of a Wal-Mart supercenter, and Wal-Mart reciprocated by helping to finance his re-election. When the Rosemead City Council voted to approve the Wal-Mart on September 13, 2006, the Garvey School District filed suit, charging that the company’s environmental impact report, which studied the store’s effects on nearby Rice Elementary School, was flawed. The Whittier Daily News reports this week that residents in Rosemead who don’t want the supercenter have also sued the city, saying that the council violated state open-meeting laws when it granted permits for the store to open early. The group Save Our Community filed the lawsuit in Pasadena Superior Court. When the city council voted in September to let Wal-Mart open early, they did not have the item posted on their agenda, and unless Wal-Mart was considered an “emergency” item, the discussion should not have taken place without prior public notice. “The majority of the City Council passed a resolution without the prior finding that there was even an emergency or an urgency,” a Save Our Communitiy representative told the newspaper. “This stinks.” According to Save Our Community, the council clearly violated the Brown Act in California, which is that state’s open meeting law.
The Save Our Community lawsuit is the second suit filed by the group. The first suit, and the suit filed by the school district — both of which dealt with the environmental impact report — have not stopped the project. So this is the third lawsuit filed against the city for its actions surrounding Wal-Mart. With City Council elections coming again on March 6th, the local newspaper, the Whittier Daily News, recently editorialized in favor of two pro-Wal-Mart councilors. “For the last four years,” the newspaper wrote, “the Rosemead City Council, which voted unanimously to allow a Wal-Mart Supercenter (with a full- fledged grocery component) to be built, has been under siege. Opponents are backed by unions, namely the United Food and Commercial Workers, and by union-backed, Democrat lawmakers who came from Sacramento to rally supporters in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Wal-Mart and its non-unionized workers from establishing a supermarket foothold in this city.” Whatever happens to these lawsuits, Wal-Mart will not come out of Rosemead smelling like a rose. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by “Rosemead.”