Christine Quinn told a rally of union members and community activists that Walmart was “lying” and hiding from the City Council to avoid answering tough questions about their plan to locate a store in East New York.
“Why are they afraid to answer my questions?” she said. “If you’re proud of yourself, you show up. If you’re proud of yourself, you tout what you have. If you’re not proud of yourself- if you know you’re lying- you hide in the background. And that is what Walmart has done today.”
Walmart representatives declined an invitation earlier this week to attend a council hearing today on the store’s efforts to locate to New York City, a decision that met with that Quinn pointed to as an admission of guilt.
City Councilman Charles Barron, whose district includes the proposed Walmart site in East New York, said that he had previously arranged a Walmart-free plan for the center with Related Companies, the developer of the site, that would create over a thousand permanent jobs in the area.
Today’s council hearing, “When Walmart Comes to Town- The Effect on Small Businesses and Communities: A Historical and Prospective View,” will explore the potential effects if the retail giant sets up shop in Brooklyn. City leaders have been vocal in denouncing the company’s history of discrimination and poor labor practices, as well as expressing concern about the effects it would have on local jobs and businesses.
Mayor Bloomberg has said that the legislature should not disallow any particular store from opening up its doors here.
“You should let the marketplace decide,” he said. “I will say that in most cities big box stores have not destroyed small businesses. If anything they tended to bring business customers into the neighborhood and a lot of small businesses–not all, but a lot of them–have thrived because of it. Some have gone out of business. But it is not for us to say that some people should pay more or go without a job because some small businessman may or may not get hurt. That’s up to the marketplace.”
As Crain’s reported, Walmart agreed yesterday to use solely union workers in the construction and renovation in any new stores the company may open in the next five years. City leaders, however, remain unconvinced.
“Walmart is that Trojan Horse,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, recalling a metaphor he made earlier this month. “And we will not allow that within the boundaries of New York City.”
with David Freedlander