Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Wal-Mart Eminent Domain Twist

A small town in California aptly named Hercules is threatening to use eminent domain in order to acquire property Wal-Mart wants to build on. The City Council has already twice defeated the proposal and the general sentiment is anti-Wal-Mart but this hasn’t stopped the world's largest retailer from continuously trying to subvert the town’s wishes. Explaining why they are considering such a drastic measure, a Hercules resident remarks:

"We want something good to take that place," said Jeffra Cook, a Hercules resident since 1988. "There aren't a lot of good stories about Wal-Mart."
Citing destruction of small business and increased traffic, residents of this 24,000 person town don’t want to see their small town way of life destroyed by Wal-Mart. While threatening the use of eminent domain is definitely extreme, it’s a reasonable reaction to a company that doesn’t understand no. As a Wal-Mart Watch spokesman points out, considering Wal-Mart’s history, the Hercules’ decision to protect itself in this manner isn’t that drastic:

But Wal-Mart has been at least as successful at imposing its will on communities that are less than thrilled to host one of its stores, said Nu Wexler, a spokesman for the activist group Wal-Mart Watch.

In one instance, the company even raised the specter of eminent domain to get a store built in Florida, he said.

"Wal-Mart does not hesitate to employ scorched earth tactics to break into communities that don't welcome them," he said.