Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baez Beware

In an exclusive story in today's Daily News, the paper is reporting on the initially baffling about face done by Bronx Councilmember Maria Baez. Last February Baez had voted with the unanimous land use subcommittee in its 13-0 rejection of a BJ's Warehouse Club for Brush Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

We had previously commented on this curious shift and pointed out that the rationale for the store's rejection, its labor policies, traffic impacts and effect on local minority-owned stores, had not changed in the few short months since the Council's vote. Now it appears that, absent any other compelling explanation, the drive being spearheaded by Baez is fueled by all of the people who stand to personally benefit from the store’s successful navigation of the land use process.

What makes this situation even worse is that the Baez-led effort excluded all of the original opponents of the store. She and some of her colleagues met with the BJ's team on at least four occasions and never reached out to those opposed to the store. In addition, the area in question is now represented by Councilmember-elect James Vacca who campaigned vigorously against the proposed store. His colleague and neighbor, Councilmember Palma, is also opposed which further complicates the situation.

The Alliance, independent supermarkets, and the effected unions of the UFCWand RWDSU will be vigorously mounting an opposition to any BJ's application whether on Brush Avenue or on the BTM site. This is a store that, much like Wal-Mart needs to do an extreme makeover before it should be welcomed into the Bronx.