On Sunday, The New York Times made international headlines when it published an investigation that found executives from Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary reportedly used systematic bribery to receive expedited building permits across the country.
Now community leaders in Los Angeles say they’re suspicious of how Wal-Mart received building permits just hours before the city council voted unanimously to block the retail giant from building in Chinatown.
“Walmart fueled its rapid expansion in Mexico with millions in bribes paid to get building permits and land use approvals through quickly. Last month, Wal-Mart suspiciously received building permits only about 12 hours before the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to temporarily block those permits,” James Elmendorf, Deputy Director, of LAANE told Colorlines.com.
In 2004, Elmendorf’s group LAANE led the defeat of a Wal-Mart sponsored initiative that would have exempted the company from zoning and environmental restrictions in nearby predominantly black and Latino Inglewood.
In March the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion to ban chain retail stores from Chinatown. But the evening before Robert “Bud” Ovrom, general manager of the city’s Building and Safety Department, told the council that Wal-Mart had just obtained the construction permits to renovate the ground floor of a building in Chinatown. [read more]
image: mel melcon for LATimes