Thursday, April 12, 2007

TAKE ACTION! Let Garden Grove's New Council Member Know How You Feel About Wal-Mart

"It's too early to decide... I dare not express any opinions until after I see the environmental impact report on that project."
(From OC Register)

So what is newly appointed Garden Grove City Council Member Steven Jones talking about, and why is everyone paying such close attention to it? And why is everyone looking at Garden Grove as if what happens in this town may change everything for working people in Orange County? Follow me after the flip for the answers, and much, much more...

So what's the big news? Wal-Mart's coming to town... And they want it "Super-sized"!
Here's what was said in The LA Times about Wal-Mart's proposed Supercenter back in December (via Topix):

While other Southern California cities pass laws to prevent Wal-Mart Supercenters from opening, Garden Grove appears to be all but holding open the front door for the big-box retailer.

Pressed for money and looking for a way to revive a tired commercial district in central Garden Grove, city officials see a Supercenter as a potential savior. 'This is going to enhance the quality of life of our residents, and it will be an anchor to a blighted area,' said Councilwoman Janet Nguyen. Twenty-one Supercenters, which combine a regular Wal-Mart with a discount supermarket, have opened in the state, most in north Los Angeles County and outlying areas of the Inland Empire.

However, this proposed project would mean the very first Wal-Mart Supercenter in Orange County. Now, many local officials and business people are quite excited about this. They are excited about the prospect of increased tax revenue from Wal-Mart. They are thrilled about all the new customers flooding into Garden Grove to do business. Basically, they can hardly wait to see Wal-Mart revive this under served and largely ignored part of town.

But wait! Is everyone all that excited about the new Wal-Mart Supercenter? And does everyone really think that Wal-Mart will be a great boon for Garden Grove?

Wal-Mart critics argue that the retail giant would depress wages, especially compared to the pay of unionized workers at grocery stores that would be the Supercenter's main competition. Ismail Majoo, who owns a discount variety store in neighboring Santa Ana, is a member of the Main Street Coalition, a small group of clergy, labor leaders and small-business owners concerned about a Supercenter's impact on small business. 'The Supercenter will wipe out the small-business owner because of the store's aggressive pricing policy,' Majoo said. 'I'm not really worried about my business, but I do worry about the whole neighborhood.' The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, rector at St. Anselm Episcopal Church in Garden Grove, has been the religious leader most outspoken against the Supercenter, attending two anti Wal-Mart rallies and raising the issue three times in recent Sunday sermons. 'It's a bit frustrating,' Benitez said. 'It's territory a lot of pastors won't go into on Sunday morning. But we all have the moral imperative to stand on the side of the poor and those who would be exploited.' 'We don't want that Supercenter here,' he added.

Actually now that they mention it, Wal-Mart does have a nasty record of hurting the community that it comes into. They've been known to rely upon taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to artificially "lower prices" and cut down their honest playing competition. They don't exactly have the best record of keeping bigotry and discrimination out of their business. Well basically, Wal-Mart isn't the type of company that cares about the diverse, working-class community in Garden Grove.

So what can you do about it now? Well, why not sign the Courage Campaign's petition asking Garden Grove City Council Member Steven Jones not to allow Wal-Mart to hurt the small businesses in Central Orange County. He may be the key deciding vote in determining whether or not Wal-Mart is allowed to come in and change the entire dynamics of doing business in Garden Grove and Central Orange County. The future of our small businesses and our working-class communities is on the line, so we need to let Council Member Jones know how we really feel about what may potentially be a VERY RAW DEAL for the people of Garden Grove.

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