Attorney General Bill Lockyer Files Amicus Brief

California's Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Save Our Community's suit that challenged Wal-Mart's sham environmental impact report of last year.  The case is currently pending before a California state appellate court.

That's big news for us because now it means that the travesty perpetrated on Rosemead residents when our city council ratified a flawed and incomplete environmental impact report has now been recognized at the highest levels of California's government.

The AG's brief focused on air quality issues.  Specifically, it notes that Wal-Mart basically threw up its hands at the air quality issue.  Wal-Mart's eir basically said that the air was already bad, so there's no sense in trying to do anything to mitigate the additional air quality effects of a store that will bring 12,000 cars and a dozen or more trucks a day to within fifty yards of residents and students living and learning near the proposed Supercenter site.

Rosemead's city attorney, Peter Wallin, called Lockyer's brief "political," noting that the AG has filed three briefs against Wal-Mart.  Of course, there's an alterntive explanation:  Maybe Wal-Mart has a pattern of ignoring the law and refusing to abide by the conditions of approval.  Maybe Wal-Mart has a pattern of refusing to follow up on mitigation measures that were agreed to as part of the process of getting the project approved.  And maybe THAT'S why the AG has had to intervene three times in cases involving Wal-Mart.

Given our own experience with Wal-Mart (our count on the Rosemead Wal-Mart construction project is now up to over 140 documented violations), I'd tend to think that my interpretation of the AG's motivation is more likely to be true than the city attorney's.

If anything, the city's own attorney is the one engaged in politics.  He prepared the city's response without any consultation with Mayor Pro Tem Nunez and Councilman John Tran.  He may or may not have consulted with Councilwoman Clark, Councilman Imperial, and Mayor Taylor.  Either way, this is inappropriate.  The city's attorney should be representing the entire city council, and not just the ones that support Wal-Mart.

The city's attorney should also take care in preparing his response to make sure that his statements are actually true and not simply rehashed Wal-Mart propaganda.  Mayor Pro Tem Nunez called Wallin on one issue, and Councilman Imperial inadvertantly supported Nunez's concern.

Yes, the revelation of the AG's amicus brief is very good news for us.  That, coupled with the meticulous job that SOC volunteers have done in documenting and photographing the repeated violations of conditions of approval and mitigation requirements, really lays the foundation for the appellate court.  More than ever, those judges will be able to see that the original and revised eir were both rushed through without proper consideration.  Because, if the pro-Wal-Mart city council majority really did care about the health and safety of Rosemead residents, they would have weighed the air quality effects more carefully.  And they would actually have taken the time to proactively MONITOR AND ENFORCE the conditions of approval and the mitigation requirements that they "imposed" on Wal-Mart.

So, ironically, the fact that our city council majority has been so blatant in its disregard for the health and welfare of our southern Rosemead and South San Gabriel neighbors, and the fact that our city council majority has been so blase and biased in allowing Wal-Mart to flaunt the mitigation and conditions of approval, will now come back to bite them in the butt.

How about that?  Poetic justice may now lead to actual legal justice!