The Rich Get Richer

El Monte, a city that is so broke that it imposed an additional .5% sales tax on its residents (and neighbors who shop in El Monte), just found $7.7 million to give to a developer to get Wal-Mart to bring their noise, traffic, and exploitive practices to El Monte.

Where would a city that's broke find $7.7 million? That's the redevelopment law for you. If the proposed store wasn't in a redevelopment zone, this giveaway of taxpayer dollars wouldn't make any sense. Wal-Mart would either build or not build on its own merits. Instead, because the land is in a redevelopment zone, if Wal-Mart (or developer builds for Wal-Mart), the increased taxable value of the property flows into El Monte's coffers instead flow into the coffers of the school districts in El Monte. El Monte gets a bigger slush fund and local school children get zilch.

Incidentally, that's how El Monte got the money to offer the Wal-Mart developer in the first place: By stealing money from local schools and funneling it into its redevelopment agency. City council members are also able to divert some of that redevelopment money into their own pockets by paying themselves to call themselves Redevelopment Commission members as well as city council members, and to hire additional city bureaucrats to oversee the diversion of money from schools to developers.