This Week (and Last) in Walmart News
Time for another Walmart roundup! Things have been relatively quiet on the Walmart front, but here are a few news items you might have missed in the last few weeks. (For a more global perspective, Walmart Watch has their own roundup from around the country).
- A FRIEND OF YVETTE'S IS A FRIEND OF MINE: Ward 7 Councilmember and Walmart fan Yvette Alexander ended up with a little bit of egg on her face after the Washington Times found that her campaign manager, a fundraiser, and campaign treasurer are all now either consulting or lobbying for Walmart. Shady? Hard to say that ethical rules have been broken, exactly, but it's certainly a strategic move on Walmart's part to hire people who have Alexander's ear. The Respect D.C. campaign is asking for all councilmembers to disclose the ties their advisors, employees, or close associates might have with the retail giant. If they told the truth, what would we find? Walmart has eyes everywhere.
- SPEAKING OF YVETTE: It appears that one of the reasons Ward 7 ANCs have coordinated so well around putting together a community benefits agreement for the Capitol Gateway location (powerpoint now available here), and pressing the councilmember to get a city-wide agreement on labor conditions, is that they know Alexander is up for reelection soon–and not universally loved in the ward. "She's going to respond to us because she doesn't want to lose her job," says Villareal Johnson, chair of ANC 7A. Johnson says he's agnostic on whether Walmart was a good or a bad thing, but wants to see a process in place to capture as much cash for the neighborhood as possible from new developments coming in.
- FAST TIMES IN WARD 4: Walmart spokesman Keith Morris keeps talking about how dramatically the Georgia Avenue location has improved with community input, but as of earlier this week, they weren't quite ready to share the new version. Foulger-Pratt's Adam Davis says they expect to submit the Large Tract Review application to the Office of Planning this month.
- THROWING CASH AROUND: Walmart continued its charm offensive yesterday by announcing a gift of $400,000 for "equipment, training, and technical assistance" to increase participation in D.C. school lunch programs, to be administered by D.C. Hunger Solutions. Here's a happy picture of Harry Thomas at the press event.
- ON THE DOCKET: Next Wednesday, the Greater Washington Urban League will hold its 39th annual Whitney M. Young Memorial Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, with tickets starting at $350 and going up to $25,000 for a platinum sponsorship. The honorary gala chair? Alex Barron, Walmart regional general manager. Wonder how big of a donation that got the Urban League.