Councilman Rick Roelle in Apple Valley, California, says that Wal-Mart “blackmailed the town.”
Blackmail is no small matter. So, what did Wal-Mart do, specifically?
Wal-Mart worked with citizens of Apple Valley, including supplying money, to gather enough petition signatures to place a measure on the local ballot for voters to decide whether Wal-Mart could build a store.
“The initiative process was an opportunity that allowed voters to voice their support for the benefits that Wal-Mart would bring their community,” a spokesperson for Wal-Mart argued, “including jobs, affordable groceries, increased tax revenue, and infrastructure improvements.”
Aside from the fact that there are many issues the majority has no right to decide, including whether a law-abiding business can open its doors, why not let the people decide? At least a vote of the people is a clearer expression of the public will than a city council decision.
Some complain that even when a local petition qualifies the voters often don’t get a vote. Under state law, if 15 percent of the electorate signs a petition, the matter must be placed on a special election ballot . . . unless the city council enacts it, instead.
Special elections cost big money. Cash-strapped city councils have voted to allow Wal-Mart development, simply (they say) to save the expense of holding an election.
But such “caving in” doesn’t seem like blackmail in light of Menifee’s experience. The Wal-Mart measure there won with 76 percent of the vote.
Unless, like some politicians, you think doing the electorate’s will is “blackmail.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.