SGV Trib's Editorial

This is taken from the August 13th SGV Tribune, the Opinion page. My opinon follows, in the comments.

Supervisor offsides

SUPERVISOR Gloria Molina showed up in the San Gabriel Valley last week. She wasn't here on a county business -- to apologize, say, for her role in the county seal debacle. No, on one of her infrequent stops in the region, she came to interfere in the redevelopment plans of a local city.

Clearly Molina overstepped her bounds when she set up a special meeting prior to an expected Sept. 7 Rosemead City Council vote on bringing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to town. We're appalled by this move. There has been no scarcity of informational meetings, hearings or opportunity for public input on the matter both officially and unofficially as pro and con groups have squared off.

What about those in Rosemead and in the unincorporated area of South San Gabriel (Molina territory) and Montebello and Pico Rivera and Monterey Park who want the Wal-Mart center? Perhaps they can't afford the tab for Molina's attention. The union, that has bankrolled opposition to other supercenters, can.

And while Molina said she could understand Rosemead's need for sales-tax revenue, she said Wal-Mart, expected to bring in up to $636,000 in annual sales tax proceeds, wasn't the answer. Huh? Is county backfilling the preferred resolution? To date Molina has offered no alternative. Nor is she likely to do so.

Rosemead is doing its job in informing the public. Molina ought to do the same for those residents likely to be impacted by retail development in county areas, such as a Kohl's department store proposed at Rosemead Boulevard and Huntington Drive.

Molina has plenty of such undone business to attend to in her role as supervisor. Stirring hornets nests ought to be left to vector control.

I sent this to the Trib right now.

The editorial opinion "Supervisor offsides" was way off-base. Molina had, for a long time, taken a hands-off stance on the Rosemead Wal-Mart issue. This meeting was put together only after a group of neighbors from Save Our Community went to the County Supervisors' meeting and requested that she support our side. She deigned to commit, but the result of the effort was the meeting. This meeting was called, I think, to "run interference" for the folks at Rosemead City Hall. The plan was to give them an opportunity to explain the mitigations to the project, which they did.

There was no period of public comment. Only the pro-Wal-Mart side had an opportunity to present their side. Critics had to submit their comments on index cards.

If the meeting was a plan to defuse the conflict, it failed, because the audience was overwhelmingly opposed to the Wal-Mart, and vocal about it. I'd estimate the opponents outnumbered the supporters 300 to 10. When it became obvious that the audience would not be placated with the City's dog-and-pony show, Molina stepped in to be the middleman in the conflict, and stop neighbors heckling the City employees. That's when she chose a side: the side with votes.

Frankly, if she represents for me at the two city meetings, I'll vote for her. It's as simple as that. This is a decisive issue for me, as it is for hundreds, probably thousands, of voters in the neighborhood. I hope she's the kind of politician who sides with the votes, rather than money, because no retailer has more money than Wal-Mart.

As for saying "there's no scarcity of meetings," there have only been two meetings regarding this Wal-Mart plan so far. The first was last November. The second was Molina's meeting. The City of Rosemead will do the minimum three meetings required by law to legally approve the project. The other two were put together by representatives.

That's it. There have been no other public meetings where the different sides can comment. There hasn't been a public stakeholders meeting. There hasn't been a public meeting to get feedback about the Development Agreement contract. There hasn't been a moderated public forum to discuss the issue. The project proponents are barrelling ahead, public opinion be damned, it seems.

John Kawakami
SOC Member