(Cross-posted at My Left Wing)
The cheap, Chinese-made shoe is now on the other foot. Wal-Mart was SERVED by the tiny town of Hercules, California, when city officials exercised their power of eminent domain and purchased the 17-acre site upon which Wal-Mart had originally planned to build a 142,000-square-foot super center:
A big-box store "is not what we had planned for this community," said Brenda Smith Johnson, who has lived in Hercules since 1992 and attended the Tuesday night meeting. "I'm proud to live in this community. Little Hercules, we really stepped up to the plate."
Wal-Mart bought the land in November, filed plans to build a 142,000-square-foot store and later revised its proposal downward at the city's behest. In March, the city offered to buy the land from the retailer for $13 million.
Last year, the Supreme Court broadened and reinforced
the power that jurisdictions may exercise when seizing property for purposes deemed by those jurisdictions to be in the public good.
"This resolution means that government agencies can use the really awesome power of eminent domain merely because they don't like the property owner's land use application or the property owner," [Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Loscotoff] said.
Yup. Heh. That old eminent domain stuff sure is a two-edged sword, ain't it?
Hercules's startling and courageous action against Wal-Mart may be the opening salvo in a new war over eminent domain law.
Harley Shaiken, a UC Berkeley professor who specializes in labor issues and has followed Wal-Mart for many years, called the city's action "Wal-Mart's worst nightmare."
And he said that, while this is the first time he has heard of a city taking such action, "it is not likely going to be the last time."
"Eminent domain we associate with a poor holdout homeowner in the midst of a freeway route," he said.
"Now it's America's largest retailer and employer getting property seized."
UPDATE: Thanks to jfern, who, in the comments, cited this article from a couple of weeks ago, wherein Wal-Mart played the eminent domain card to threaten small landowners:
Representatives of Wal-Mart have told the landowners they will ask Putnam County to use its powers of eminent domain if the families won't sell. The retailer needs about a half-dozen parcels to widen a road that would provide access to a proposed 800,000-square-foot distribution center just over the Volusia County line -- a project Volusia officials have gone to court to block.
A letter to the landowners gave them until 5 p.m. Thursday to agree to a deal with the company.
It’s called, Getting a Taste of Your Own Medicine, Mr. Wal-Mart. Live by the condemnation, die by the condemnation.