Walmart Calls for Community Input Everywhere But New York [Updated]

110903 004 walmart in nyc Walmart Calls for Community Input Everywhere But New York [Updated]

Can a smiley face even stand up? (Courtesy of Consumerist)

Oh, Walmart. Your time might be running out, but your efforts are no less persistent. The boxing gloves have been long thrown to the side, but New York’s bare knuckles have delivered some blows lately.

The problems aren’t limited to New York, either. Walmart is facing resistance in the Chinatown district in Los Angeles. The LA Times reported that City Council outlawed big box chains from opening up in the neighborhood last week.

But Walmart responded, quite shockingly, by saying that “it speaks volumes that the community was not consulted in the writing of the motion.” Riding the wave of input outcry, Walmart even called for community input in Aspen Hill, Md. last October.

But community input in New York? Walmart wants nothing of the sort.

“Funny that in Los Angeles, Walmart wants ‘community input’ while in New York they hold closed door meetings with a hand-selected audience and refuse to participate in Council hearings,” Maritza Silva-Farrell, Senior Organizer with ALIGN, told The Observer in response to the LA reports. “Our communities want to know how Walmart will ensure that the jobs they ‘create’ won’t simply destroy local businesses.”

There’a laundry list of meetings that Walmart and Related Companies have skipped around the city, according to the Walmart Free New York coalition:

- Walmart skipped multiple public hearings held by the New York City Council in 2011

- Related Companies agreed to discuss its Gateway II proposal with the East New York Community Board, only to cancel 20 minutes before the meeting was slated to start.

- Related Companies refused to meet with community leaders on multiple occasions – not responding to multiple requests via letter and in-person visit.

- Walmart held a secret meeting in Brooklyn and refused to allow councilmembers and members of the community board to attend.

- Walmart CEO and company board members won’t grant a meeting with their own associates, even after asked multiple times by OUR Walmart members.

New Yorkers are, once again, disappointed and angry at Walmart.

Wandra Salaman, Executive Director of Mothers on the Move, commented that “Yet again Walmart is showing its true colors—it talks a good game, but that talk rarely matches reality.”

“Will the real Walmart please stand up?” questioned Nieves Padilla, playing on Eminen’s The Real Slim Shady.

Had Walmart opened in New York, you could have saved $11.98 (71%!) on the CD in store.

Update: Walmart takes issues with a number of the contentions made by Walmart Free New York and released the following statement to The Observer:

While we don’t yet have a site to announce in New York City, we have gone to great lengths over the past 18 months to engage with New Yorkers and share facts in all the ways people get their information.  From local community outreach and one-on-one meetings with stakeholders to earned, paid and social media initiatives, it’s clear that these discussions have resulted in more informed opinions about our company.

Consider this: more than 100,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition in favor of a store, more than 60,000 people have “liked” our local  Facebook page, our community web site is a growing resources for those seeking facts and every recent, independent poll has shown overwhelming support for our stores and what they can deliver.  At the same time, New Yorkers are visiting Walmart stores OUTSIDE the city more than ever.

As for our efforts in Los Angeles, we have secured the necessary permits to move forward on a new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown and enjoy a similar level of support from the community.

All across the country, we’re working hard to be part of the solution when it comes to creating jobs, stimulating economic development and expanding access to affordable food.  Los Angeles and New York City are no different.

 

mewing@observer.com