Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wal-Mart Spares no Expense

Wal-Mart Execs, acting as if they are running an exploratory political campaign, continued in their meetings with reporters and editors around the city. Yesterday the Daily News printed its third article in yet another of its neighborhood sections. Each of the articles, however, was lacking in any real news content and merely reiterated the same theme: Wal-Mart is looking at sites all over the city.

In the News pieces Wal-Mart also claims not to have any signed deals and that they are being unfairly maligned. Yada yada yada. The only new news: according to spokesperson Mia Masten:

We are amenable to either redeveloping or building from the ground up
Watch For the Booty Capitalists

Our own point-of-view is that Wal-Mart’s best opportunity is to find a site in and around a low-income community of color and, once designated, hook up with a community group and, a la Ratner, incentivize the relationship with a lucrative community benefits agreement.

The ultimate model for this was the East Harlem Pathmark deal that allowed the supermarket to enter the neighborhood over the opposition of local, mostly Hispanic, supermarket owners. The key ingredient here was the utilization of the Abyssinian Development Corporation as the project’s developer. In one stroke Pathmark’s potentially carpetbagger status was converted into a home court advantage because of its partnership with a local African-American powerhouse entity.

The one difference, of course, was the fact that Pathmark is a solidly unionized employer and had the backing of the labor forces. In spite of that, the Alliance came within one vote on the Manhattan Borough Board of denying the developer the land to build on. That one vote belonged to one of this city’s most noxious quislings: Guillermo Linares. Good old Guillermo, unable to get elected dog catcher anymore, has actually been resurrected by Mike Bloomberg, getting appointed as the Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs. The then-councilman thought that by supporting Pathmark he would become the heir apparent to Charley Rangel’s congressional seat. Guillermo, do you still believe what Charley and Ruth told you?