By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Franklin came in first but ended up in a runoff with community activist Mike Stevens. Franklin prevailed in a June 2003 runoff. Johnson, who by this time had become sympathetic to Wal-Mart’s position, was out. Or was she?
Johnson sued to overturn the election, claiming Stevens should never have gotten in the runoff because he didn’t really live in the district he was running to represent. A judge agreed. Since Stevens wasn’t eligible, he ruled, the whole election had to be redone. Johnson sought to stay onboard until the new election, but by this time she had worn out her welcome on the council and her three remaining colleagues refused to reinstate her.
The Wal-Mart issue loomed over the new election, which pit UFCW’s Franklin against Johnson. In the end, Franklin won handily, and the anti-Wal-Mart forces were ecstatic, believing Inglewood voters had shown their clear preference on the issue. But in August, three residents formed the Citizens Committee to Welcome Wal-Mart to Inglewood and began collecting signatures for a new ballot measure. Not a referendum, this time, but the initiative, worded with such — the only possible word is chutzpah— that it would remove forever the ability of the council or the city administration to block, or even shape, the development.
The council debated the proposal, even though its only option was to decide when to put the matter on the ballot. The obvious date was the March 2 presidential primary. But the council continued putting off the matter so many times that it finally was too late, and they were forced to set a costly special election.
Members of the Coalition for a Better Inglewood lobbied the council to take its time and study the issue more fully before putting it on the ballot. But several community members — including Johnson — came to a council meeting in December and urged members to put the matter before the voters.
Franklin then moved to at least have the wording changed, to let residents know what they were getting. What Franklin wanted was: “Shall the Homestretch at Hollywood Park ordinance be approved, allowing a 650,000-square-foot, permanent retail/commercial development with 22,000 parking spaces with no environmental review, denying the city’s right to impart any changes to the plan?” The motion angered Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, an attorney and former judge.
“You set this council up for a lawsuit that this council cannot win,” Dorn said. He also took off after Franklin for what he said was a conflict of interest.
“I am appalled that this council will sit here and not represent the people but represent some other entity,” Dorn said, glowering at Franklin. “You aren’t representing the people. You’re representing 770, I’ll make no bones about that.”
The council passed Franklin’s motion, 3-2. But a day later, with no explanation, the council called a special meeting, reconsidered the motion, and reversed itself. Now the original language has been reinstated: “Shall the ordinance regarding the proposed development of the ‘Homestretch at Hollywood Park,’ a retail commercial project adjacent to Hollywood Park Race Track, be adopted?”
That’s what voters will have before them on April 6. That, and 71 pages of detail that confused a Superior Court judge.
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