This Week (And Last) in Walmart News
Time for another Walmart roundup!
- NO CONSENSUS IN WARD 4: ANC 4B held a special meeting on Walmart last night in the wake of a report from the District Department of Transportation that criticized developer Foulger Pratt's traffic study. F-P's Adam Davis said it was all just a misunderstanding: DDOT hadn't requested an appendix that had most of the information they were looking for, and subsequent meetings have made progress towards smoothing things out. Also, Commissioner and would-be Norton successor Doug Sloan presented the findings of a survey taken by 210 people outside the Georgia Avenue Safeway over a five-week period in February and March. Methodologically sound or not, 64.3 percent of respondents favored Walmart coming in, while 26.2 percent were against, even though only 35.2 percent thought Walmart would have a positive impact on the local business community, and 45.7 percent thought it would have a negative impact. Finally, Commissioner Sara Green presented a draft community benefits agreement, including the provision that Walmart should dedicate 3.5 percent of pre-tax profits to local non-profit organizations, which Green says that Target has agreed to in other jurisdictions (I've found no evidence of such arrangements). ANC 4B will take a vote on the proposal by June; 4A has already made up its mind.
- THE BEST OFFENSE: Walmart has stepped up its rebuttals recently, deconstructing the oft-quoted Loyola study on Chicago's stores, linking to a NetRightDaily story dissing Respect DC's proposed community benefits agreement, and sending out mailers to Northwest residents (as far as Ward Three). Even if as many people support Walmart as the company believes, they're not taking it for granted.
- MURDOCH GETS INVOLVED: Speaking of that community benefits agreement: Fox News thinks it's socialist.
- UBIQUIMART: This has been going on for a while, but I hadn't noticed it until now: Along with America I Am at the National Geographic Museum, the Urban League's annual gala, and a host of other community organizations, Walmart is sponsoring the traveling warm-and-fuzzy "Choosing to Participate" exhibit at the Historical Society of Washington. They don't need to pay off politicians when they can buy the public trust.
- MEANWHILE: Crazy things are happening in South Africa! Shareholders in the grocery chain Massmart have voted to accept Walmart's $4.2 billion offer for 51 percent of the company, but unions say Walmart's international sourcing network will kill thousands of the country's jobs. The matter is currently before a national competition tribunal.