A Superior Court judge in California has brushed Wal-Mart back from its legal attempts to interfere in a San Marcos ballot referendum, saying the huge retailer can appeal the decision after the voter’s have decided the matter. “It is usually more appropriate to review constitutional and other challenges to ballot propositions or initiative measures after an election,” the judget wrote, “rather than to disrupt the electoral process by preventing the exercise of the people’s franchise, in the absence of some clear showing of invalidity.” According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that Wal-Mart’s suit was premature and that the referendum to overturn the City Council’s vote to approve a Wal-Mart supercenter can proceed. Wal-Mart lawyers had tried to stop the referendum, charging that the referendum petition was invalid because 1) the petitions were circulated by people who were not registered voters in the 2)the petitions did not contain the proper information; and 3) the City Council’s decision approving the store was not subject to a referendum. Instead of responding to these 3 charges, the judge simply said the Wal-Mart lawsuit was “not ripe for adjudication at this time.” A Wal-Mart spokesman complained that the “suit was dismissed without considering the merits of the case.” Randy Walton, one of the San Marcos residents in Citizens for Responsible Growth named in Wal-Mart’s lawsuit, told the newspaper:
“This was just an attempt by Wal-Mart to thwart the will of the people.” The City Council now must decide either to rescind their 3-2 vote in favor of the Wal-Mart, or put the referendum on the March 2nd. ballot. Meanwhile, one of the City Councilman has already indicated that he might change his vote and oppose Wal-Mart when the matter comes back to the Council on November 18th. Desite this court setback, Wal-Mart is still cocky about its chances to prevail in San Marcos: “We’re still optimistic and confident that the majority of residents in San Marcos support this second store,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said. “We believe it is just a small minority of opponents, funded by union money, that is opposed.” Wal-Mart opponents point to the fact that they collected nearly 5,000 signatures of San Marcos voters against the retailer. Wal-Mart is already building a store on the eastern side of San Marcos, and residents say one Wal-Mart is one more than enough for the city.
Anyone who ever opposes a Wal-Mart should resign themselves to being called part of a “vocal minority”. Wal-Mart, stealing a page from the late Richard Nixon, always considers its supporters “the silent majority”. They’re out there — you just can’t hear them. All across America, vocal minorities are raising their voices to stop the saturation of big box retail stores like Wal-Mart. A national movement of “minorities” is challenging Wal-Marts from coast to coast. For more background on the San Marcos case, search this database by the city’s name.