Voters in California Turn Down Giant Wal-Mart

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Voters in Inglewood, Calif., have rejected a ballot measure that would have cleared the way for a colossal Wal-Mart in this Los Angeles suburb, according to an Associated Press report.

Activists who opposed the measure -- which would have allowed Wal-Mart to skirt zoning, traffic and environmental reviews -- said it would hurt the community by inviting the supercenter to drive out small business and encourage sprawl.

With all 29 precincts and absentee ballots counted late Tuesday night, Inglewood voters opposed the measure 60.6 percent to 39.3 percent, said Gabby Contreras of the city clerk's office.

The tally was 7,049 votes against the initiative and 4,575 in favor. Contreras said there are about 40,000 registered voters in the city.

Opponents said passage would clear the way for Wal-Mart to build a combination supermarket-retail store next to Hollywood Park racetrack. The City Council last year blocked the proposed shopping center, which would include both a traditional Wal-Mart and other stores -- prompting the Bentonville, Ark.-based company to collect more than 10,000 signatures to force the vote.

In a statement, the company said the decision means Inglewood residents will have to go elsewhere to shop at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart had argued in Inglewood and elsewhere in California that its stores create jobs, and said residents should be able to decide for themselves whether they want the stores in their community.

But opponents argued the supercenters amount to low-wage, low-benefit job mills that displace better-paying jobs as independent retailers are driven out of business. They also fear the super-sized stores will contribute to suburban sprawl and jammed roadways.

Objections to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have surfaced elsewhere around the country, including Chicago, where the City Council recently stalled a measure to approve the first Wal-Mart inside city limits because of concerns about the company's labor practices.

The company succeeded in lobbying residents in Contra Costa County, where residents voted last month to allow a supercenter. But Wal-Mart also lost a vote that day to allow it to open another store near San Diego.

In other Wal-Mart news, Reuters reported that Wal-Mart de Mexico (Walmex), Mexico's No. 1 retailer based in Mexico City, reported a higher than expected 33 percent rise in quarterly net profit on improved revenues and lower costs.

Walmex, majority owned by U.S.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said in a statement its first-quarter net profit was 1.312 billion pesos ($118 million) compared with a 983 million peso net in the year ago period.
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