Friday, October 21, 2005

The Marino Organiztion, Wal-Mart and the BTM

In an excellent piece on the Bronx Terminal Market rent strike, the Bronx Times Reporter highlights the role of the public relations firm the Marino Organization (MO) in this affair and by doing so underscores the real and present danger of Wal-Mart being included on the site. The MO represents both the Terminal Market's new developer Related and Wal-Mart and is currently engaged in a campaign to bring the world’s largest retailer to the 5 boroughs. It seems logical to us that these Wal-Mart flaks would be encouraging their other client Related to sneak in a Bentonville box store after the mall receives its approvals. This is why we are emphasizing the need for a legally-binding agreement that will preclude a Wal-Mart or similar store from anchoring the site. As we’ve stated, assuming the City Council votes yes on the project, Related can sign leases with any retailer it wants.

What’s also sad is that the Marino Organization is run by two guys, John and Frank Marino, who were actually brought up in the neighborhoods of the Bronx. Apparently the lure of the developer dollars has expunged whatever nostalgia the brothers may have retained from their youth.

What the Marinos haven't lost is their mordant sense of humor. In the Times Reporter piece, Frankie Marino tells us that the BTM merchants who are trying to prevent their own annihilation are really part of some "desperate" but unnamed cabal "working to deny Bronxites choices in where they shop." Hey Frank, Isn't it Related that is trying to deny Bronx retailers a shopping venue they have come to rely on?

And since when can an illegal execution be characterized as "progress?" But Marino saved his high humor for the description of the relocation plan offered to the merchants, one that Frank called "very generous." Well if Marino still lived in the Throggs Neck neighborhood he grew up in and the city came in to take away two dozen small homes, including his family's, we think that his definition of generous would be dramatically altered.

We're waiting for the Marino Organization to meet us on the playing fields of Staten Island where, in their effort to ennoble the Wal-Mart colossus, they will engage and disparage the kinds of civic groups they grew up defending. They will drag out their bogus opinion surveys and depict the overdeveloped South Shore as a deprived retail desert. We can't wait.

We also can't wait to see the Marino brothers surface, as they are probably angling to do as we speak, in Willets Point. Here they will, once again, defend the powerful and belittle the efforts of the WP merchants (standing in the way of "progress") to protect their property and their livelihoods. Their depiction of the benefits of eminent domain will continue to highlight just how far the brothers have come from their Bronx roots. Which is progress of sorts we guess.