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Wal-Mart's cynical tactics


An initiative in Inglewood, Calif.is an end run around regulations

Anyone keeping a close eye on Wal-Mart's efforts to open two super-sized stores in the Rogue Valley would be justified in reacting with alarm to news of the company's latest move in Inglewood, Calif.

Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter in Inglewood, but the city council there is less than enthusiastic about the idea. So the company is appealing directly to city residents through an initiative petition.

Even if you are among those who love Wal-Mart and would welcome a Supercenter in your town, this tactic should give you pause. Especially the language in the initiative that would require building permits to be issued without a public hearing or an environmental impact study.

Yes, you heard right. Wal-Mart wants to use the initiative process ' designed to let ordinary citizens enact legislation directly ' to evade laws enacted to protect ordinary citizens.

Maybe Wal-Mart executives figure if Californians are loopy enough to try to recall their governor and replace him with one of 135 marginal candidates, they'll buy anything. Beats us.

— But we know one thing for sure. This is a cynical perversion of the initiative process.

If the citizens of California want to pass an initiative to scrap environmental reviews of any commercial development and deny themselves the right to comment on it in public hearings, we'd say they're foolish, but more power to them. But that's not what's happening here.

What's happening here is a corporation deciding that the rules that apply to any other development shouldn't apply to its development. Wal-Mart wants the voters of Inglewood to give it a free ride.

We hope the citizens of Inglewood recognize this ploy for what it is and give it resounding no at the polls.

Slow down for kids

Now that school is under way in most local districts, it's time for motorists to use extra care when driving in school zones or in close proximity to school buses.

Here are some simple rules:

State law says you must slow to 20 mph in a school zone anytime children are present. This rule has caused considerable confusion among motorists, judging from letters to the editor and questions sent to our Since you asked column.

The safest way to avoid a citation ' or, much worse, a tragedy ' is to assume that children are always present. What's more important ' a few seconds of your precious time or a child's life?

As for buses, here's the rule:

When a school bus's red lights flash, all traffic must stop, whether headed in the same direction as the bus or in the opposite direction. The only exception is on a multi-lane road where traffic lands are separated by a barrier.

The bottom line: Better safe than sorry.