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Garcetti, Greuel and Perry announce they won't be accepting Walmart campaign contributions

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, at 04:50PM
Walmart

The inside of a Walmart Neighborhood Store similar to the store proposed for Chinatown.

A Walmart protest planned for Saturday in Downtown L.A. recently gained the public support of three LA mayoral candidates, Councilman Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Jan Perry, and City Controller Wendy Greuel -- as well as their promise to not accept any campaign money from the retail giant.

"Over the past decade, I have worked tirelessly to create well over 90,000 new jobs to help grow our economy and put Los Angelenos back to work," Perry said. "I understand the importance of creating new jobs, but what is equally important is that we ensure that these new jobs offer our workers the opportunity to have a reasonable quality of life. This is why it was an easy decision to sign the pledge not to accept donations from Walmart."

In a statement put out by Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy(LAANE), Greuel encouraged Angelenos to attend this weekend's protest in an effort to promote "responsible development" and help build the city's middle class.

"For far too long corporations like Walmart have been getting special treatment, while middle-class families have been struggling in this tough economy and bearing the brunt of the tax burden," she said.

Garcetti seconded her sentiments and said L.A. needs to work on creating middle-class job opportunities.

"Los Angeles loses if we run a race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions," he said.

These public declarations come a month after labor leaders including Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, asked L.A. officials to deny contributions from Walmart.

"It doesn’t take campaign finance reform to prevent Walmart from wrapping its tentacles around our political system in L.A. County,” Durazo said, according to the LAANE release. “Elected officials and officeholders can simply return Walmart’s campaign contributions.”

James Elmendorf, the deputy director of LAANE, told Blogdowntown Thursday that a number of officials across the country have pledged not to take money from Walmart, including some politicos in New York that have returned money to the retail chain.

He added that now, Garcetti and Greuel have "stepped up" to say that Walmart "isn't good for L.A.'s economy," and Elmendorf said he hopes other officials will follow suit.

"Our message is always that we want to see good jobs created in Los Angeles," he added.

LAANE has been critical of Walmart's expansion in Los Angeles and released a map earlier this week claiming that the retail chain had plans for more than 200 new stores throughout the county.

Although Walmart has already announced plans to open neighborhood grocery stores in Chinatown, Panorama City and Altadena, Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo told Blogdowntown that LAANE's report is not supported by any facts.

"We only have 181 stores in the entire state of California," he said Wednesday. "That number took us 15 years to achieve, to put in context."

The protest scheduled for this weekend has been deemed the "largest rally ever held to protest Walmart's business practices," according to LAANE, who also said they're expecting as many as 10,000 people to participate.

Guitar hero Tom Morrello of the L.A. rock group Rage Against the Machine, and singer-songwriter Ben Harper are scheduled to perform at the event that starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The rally will be followed by a march through Chinatown to the location of Walmart's future neighborhood grocery store, on Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.

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