Mayoral candidates denounce Walmart, one more strongly than the next
A negative report about the business practices of Walmart, combined with fierce opposition from organized labor to Walmart's longstanding attempts to open up an outlet in New York, have produced what amounts to a contest among Democratic candidates to denounce the corporation in the most memorable possible terms.
At a press conference outside City Hall this afternoon, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, who is running for mayor, said that the reported bribery scandal involving Walmart could be an indication of a much larger problem.
"That's only where they've been caught," Thompson said.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is also running for mayor, referred to the company's board room as a "crime scene."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, another mayoral contender, said Walmart is directly responsible for the plight of the middle class in America.
City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said point-blank the company "should not be allowed" to open a store in New York City. (When a Daily News columnist asked, "Period, end of story?," she replied, "Pretty much.")
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who is running for Congress, said, "I think the Justice Department should examine very very closely those who have accepted contributions from Walmart," and that the company's "charitable giving in New York and the rest of the United States" should also be examined.
After the press conference ended, I asked de Blasio what officials could do to prevent Walmart from opening a store here, aside from the denunciations.
"First of all, Walmart in some cases is going to want city and state land in order to develop," de Blasio said. "Second, Walmart inevitably needs any number of other permits in order to its work, and in a lot of cases they get subsidies ... There's any number number of levers the government can use to keep Wal-Mart out, and we intend to use all of them."
UPDATE: Steven Restivo, Senior Director for Community Affairs at Wal-Mart, sent us the following statement:
As we seek to open new stores across the U.S., we will continue to act with integrity, provide good jobs, expand access to low prices and lead on issues that are important to our customers like sustainability and nutrition. Our track record as a good corporate citizen is well known and in large cities like New York, residents continue to choose to shop and work at Walmart. As a result, we continue to evaluate opportunities here to make access to our stores more convenient for customers.