Surprising Veto by Jerry Brown – SB 469

B-DaddyB-Daddy 6 Comments


I was alerted by a tweet from my councilmember Lorie Zapf that Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed the anti-Walmart legislation sponsored by Juan Vargas, SB-469. Despite any rhetoric to the contrary, this bill was designed to make it harder for cities to approve Walmart supercenters that sell groceries, in direct competition with the largely unionized grocers like Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. Labor’s support of the legislation is the key indicator that this bill was all about protecting union jobs from competition. From the U-T:

“We are disappointed but not surprised that we couldn’t defeat the millions spent by Walmart against this bill,” said Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. “We will continue to do more to work with small businesses and local decision makers to find a solution that protects local economies from supercenters.”

Protects local economies from supercenters? As long as the supercenters aren’t given sweetheart tax deals, like say, sports franchises, then they will generate sales tax and property tax for local government, while saving shoppers real dollars due to increased competition. With the NY Times reporting that household incomes are continuing to drop, despite the “end of the recession,” why wouldn’t we want to help those hardest hit by getting more competition in the grocery business.

As an additional item that I find offensive, we have Juan Vargas explicitly using state legislation to meddle in local affairs.

The measure was introduced statewide after the San Diego City Council rescinded its ordinance that would have required superstores to undergo an extensive economic impact analysis as part of the permit process.

Despite all the rhetoric about how this is about transparency, it was not. It is commonly understood that adding bureaucratic layers of review is the best way to kill a proposed business project. Walmart’s supercenters should enjoy equal protection under the law, and face the same scrutiny as any other land use proposal in any city. Is equal treatment for all businesses too much to ask?

Jerry Brown’s second governorship is proving interesting if nothing else. He has vetoed legislation to allow card check to ease union organizing of farm workers, as well as legislation limiting paid signature gathering for petitions. On the other hand he signed the California Dream act legislation giving in state tuition rates to illegal aliens. He is certainly proving hard to predict. Exit question: How would a Meg Whitman governorship been substantially different?

OK, one more question, what do #OWS types think? Do they believe in equal treatment for all businesses?


Comments 6

  1. As I said back in November, Jerry Brown is not going to be a lockstep Democrat like Gray Davis. Unpredictability is the norm with him.

    Here’s why I think he vetoed the bill. He knew what Walmart would then do. The company likely would have either referended the law via the petition process, or put a statewide prop on the ballot to ban such anti-Walmart legislation.

    The results would have been a slaughter of the Democrats, with many of their allies voting for Walmart. Moreover, once that prop/referendum was passed by the voters, the local politicians would be in receipt of a CLEAR voter mandate to cut the Walmart crap. Finally they’d be hearing from someone besides the labor unions and some businesses trying to ban Walmart competition.

    Frankly I kinda hoped that Brown would NOT veto the Vargas measure I really looked forward to that political battle. Indeed, I suspect that the unions thought better of it when they realized that Walmart would likely take them down as a result.

  2. “We are disappointed but not surprised that we couldn’t defeat the millions spent by Walmart against this bill,” said Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

    That appears to imply Walmart’s spending caused Brown to veto the bill.

  3. Post

    Richard, we need some wins like this to keep the state of California from total collapse. The math on pensions and entitlements is inexorable, the need to trim the budget is not lost on Brown. So we will need to have a full range of successful businesses in the state when we finally get serious about our problems.

  4. Ya gotta love Lorena Gonzalez playing the poor little labor union girl with her excuse that Walmart spent money opposing her pet bill. Walmart spent millions opposing the bill? Not likely — at least not more than $2-$4 million — chump change in the CA statewide political arena.

    I recently roughly penciled out what the CA labor unions spend on political causes and candidates. It comes to about $220 million annually.

    As a result, this affluent union minority pretty much owns and operates most governments in CA. They are not used to being opposed by a well-funded opponent. Wahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. According to a well-funded left wing Sourcewatch anti-Walmart website, this inherently evil corporation “spent $2,480,000 for lobbying [nationwide] in 2006. Of this total, $1,355,000 went to 13 outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists.”

    It would be fun to see what the labor unions of our nation spent on politics that year. It’s likely we would find the total figure exceeded a billion dollars by a comfortable margin.

    While these are the Walmart lobbying figures from 5 years ago, it’s hard to imagine that Walmart spent a ton of money opposing SB 469, as Gonzalez infers.

  6. B-Daddy, I concur. But I have never felt that the state Walmart ban would not be overturned. I think we missed an opportunity to kick some union ass in the resulting statewide prop election sponsored by Walmart. IMNSHO, THAT would have been worth far more than having Jerry Brown simply veto the bill.

    Of course, Walmart wanted no such battle. And, after all, I’m blithely encouraging the contest while it’s WALMART who would have to foot the bill.

    But in the long run such a fight might have worked better for them to do so on a statewide basis, rather than fight this same battle over and over on the local level (too often losing in the uber-liberal areas).

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