News Roundup › Wal-Mart
Nov 1 2010
A TIF or some sort of public subsidy would also be necessary to pull off the new mixed-use retail district, Kabacoff said. “No major catalytic project in the U.S. can be accomplished in this economy without fed, state and/or local subsidy,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that “public subsidy should be made available for those projects that will stimulate revitalization.”
Jun 9 2008
Now that’s changing. Flaherty, a former grass-roots organizer for Ronald Reagan, argues that conservatives have been slow to recognize that today it’s corporations, not government, that drive many big social changes. That’s been true recently on issues like gay rights, health-care costs and the environment.
May 27 2008
So what are intelligent responses to our predicament? First, we’ll have to dramatically reorganize the everyday activities of American life. We’ll have to grow our food closer to home, in a manner that will require more human attention. In fact, agriculture needs to return to the center of economic life. We’ll have to restore local economic networks — the very networks that the big-box stores systematically destroyed — made of fine-grained layers of wholesalers, middlemen and retailers.
May 14 2008
May 8 2008
“Last week, I had to get a part for my kitchen overhead vent,” said Dan Rubchinuk, 26, of Putney, shopping for gloves and a coffee press Friday at Brown & Roberts. “I call here and they spend five minutes on the phone with me. I call Home Depot and spend 15 minutes on hold while the person tries to figure out what I’m talking about.”
Apr 19 2008
Jan 10 2008
National homebuilder KB Home has scrapped 35 planned market-rate homes in River Garden, the mixed-income development that replaced the St. Thomas housing project in New Orleans … . New Orleans may not be ready for mixed-income development, said Szubinski, who has worked with a mixed-income project in Dallas.
Jan 4 2008
Dec 7 2007
“Ultimately, we need to make the connection at the policy level of what these commercial corridors and micro-businesses mean to the economy,” Eness said.
“What would happen if the large government grants awarded as part of the recovery effort had been broken up and given to these businesses? What kind of transformation would we see then?” Eness asked.
Nov 21 2007
Today, though, Wal-Mart’s influence over the retail universe is slipping. In fact, the industry’s titan is scrambling to keep up with swifter rivals that are redefining the business all around it. It can still disrupt prices, as it did last year by cutting some generic prescriptions in the United States to $4. But success is no longer guaranteed.
Rolling Back Property Tax Payments: How Wal-mart Short-changes Schools And Other Public Services By Challenging Its Property Assessments
Oct 11 2007
Yet what Wal-Mart does not disclose in site fights—but is revealed for the first time in a new report by Good Jobs First—is the extent to which the company later in effect concedes the point about reduced property values. Once a store has been in operation for a while, Wal-Mart frequently challenges the assessed value that local officials assign to it for tax purposes. In an effort to cut the property tax it pays to local governments—revenue that pays for public education, police and fire protection and other vital services—Wal-Mart routinely tries to belittle the value of its own facilities.
Apr 18 2007
Between 1990 and 2005, the amount of store space per capita in this country doubled, while consumer spending grew at less than half that rate. The predictable result is that the U.S. is now home to thousands of dead malls and vacant-strip shopping centers. City planners are not the only ones alarmed. “The most over-retailed country in the world hardly needs more shopping outlets of any kind,” advised PricewaterhouseCoopers in a report to real-estate investors.
Jan 17 2007
Oct 18 2006
Wal-Mart’s specific approach to reducing the growth of its health insurance costs centers on providing disincentives for less healthy workers to take a job at Wal-Mart in two ways: by incorporating physical activity into all job functions (the benefits memo suggests, for example, that cashiers should gather carts) and by providing health benefits that expose workers to much more cost-sharing for medical expenses than their wages suggest they can reasonably afford.
Aug 9 2006
May 17 2006
And when the developers revealed that a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam’s Club were going to be a part of the project, heated and emotional opposition erupted, led by Covington-area residents who continue to wage an unprecedented battle to stop the development.
Unable to derail the center before the Zoning Commission, the Parish Council and state courts, the residents have turned to the St. Tammany’s home rule charter, which allows citizens’ initiatives to repeal parish ordinances.
It’s the first time a citizens’ initiative has been attempted in Louisiana to reverse a rezoning ordinance, parish officials said. And the Parish Council has filed suit, questioning whether the process can be legally used to repeal zoning ordinances. The case, which could have repercussions in other parishes with similar provisions in their home rule charters, is scheduled to be heard Thursday in state district court in Covington.
Dec 14 2005
An agreement that will be discussed at this week’s WTO
ministerial meeting in Hong Kong poses a serious threat to state and
local authority over land use policy, according to Public Citizen. Big
box retailers such as Wal-Mart are pushing for new provisions in the
WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services that could further
undermine local zoning and other land use and development policies.
Among the local laws threatened by GATS rules are those that impose size and height restrictions on big box stores; limits on hours of operation; economic needs tests before stores can be approved; and limits on development to protect the environment or protect historic and cultural sites. No state or local group has yet recognized the threat posed to land use laws and local sovereignty by the WTO’s one-size-fits-all rules for service firms. One group that has recognized this threat is major
“Major big box retail corporations have been eyeing the GATS as a way of gutting local zoning and land use laws that have kept them out of
communities in Europe and the United States.”
Nov 28 2005
A leaked memo shows Wal-Mart plans to open or expand 484 stores in the U.S. this year. That’s about 100 more stores than the company had previously disclosed and totals about 90 million square feet of retail.
Earlier this year CEO Lee Scott asked the company’s executives to speed up the siting and construction of new stores in anticipation of more communities adopting zoning ordinances that restrict big-box development.
“We could be three or four times bigger in the U.S. In our five-year plan, we don’t reach saturation,” Scott told reporters, explaining that the company will continue to put its resources into opening supercenters for now, returning later to blanket areas between supercenters with its 45,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market stores.
Jun 29 2005
Apr 13 2005
“We can blame big corporations, but we’re mostly making this bargain with ourselves. The easier it is for us to get great deals, the stronger the downward pressure on wages and benefits. Last year, the real wages of hourly workers, who make up about 80 percent of the work force, actually dropped for the first time in more than a decade; hourly workers’ health and pension benefits are in free fall. The easier it is for us to find better professional services, the harder professionals have to hustle to attract and keep clients. The more efficiently we can summon products from anywhere on the globe, the more stress we put on our own communities.”
Apr 13 2005
“Small-business advocates declared victory after the decision was made public, but predicted that the battle would resume in other neighborhoods. “Vornado saw the writing on the wall and responded the way a developer needs to when he knows he’s holding a losing hand,” said Richard Lipsky, a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, an anti-Wal-Mart coalition in New York. “We stopped Wal-Mart this time, but they are going to continue their efforts to open in New York and we will be sure to meet that with significant opposition wherever else they try to locate.”“
Mar 30 2005
“With Friday’s vote, Wal-Mart can continue to say that not one of its 1.2 million American workers belongs to a union. Support for organizing dissipated here after the company repeatedly showed workers videos about what were portrayed as the shortcomings of unions, and transferred into the shop six new workers who, Mr. Noble said, had been screened by the company to ensure their antiunion sentiment.”
Feb 16 2005
WARNING: NAUGHTY WORDS AND SUCH (Really. Not for everyone…)
“Believe it or not, the interview process for Wal-Mart was pretty goddamned thorough, especially considering the job paid 6 dollars an hour and entailed wearing a blue schmock, cleaning up after dullards and answering, for the 100th time in an hour, the exact same questions that should be common sense. I cannot count the number of times this exact exchange would take place on a given day:
“Excuse me, do you have a Toy Department?”
What I was thinking:
“What??? Do we have a TOY DEPARTMENT??? What the hell kind of question is that! This is WAL-MART, flapjack. The toy department is only the biggest department in this store! Does that extra chromosome impair your vision, too? Can you not see the gigantic blue and yellow sign hanging up when you walk in the door that says ‘TOYS’?!?”
What I actually said:
“Yeah, it’s down there.”
No, I wasn’t at ALL bitter.
Jan 12 2005
“Similar to St. Thomas as a whole, not all of his customers were fondly remembered, as conducting business next to a housing project can be a hazardous way of life. “I miss some of them. But some of them was bad, I’ll be honest with you, I was glad that they left. The ones dealing with the drugs.” He also added that he survived two robberies in 30 years. Asked if the neighborhood was now safer, he replied sarcastically with a smile, “Yeah, nobody here.”“
Dec 18 2002
“A Stewartsville woman’s Christmas nightmare may have a happy ending. Tara Osmun, 20, was fired Monday from the Pohatcong Township Wal-Mart for using her employee discount to benefit the Harmony Township Volunteer Fire Co. She bought almost $1,000 worth of toys to be raffled off by the fire company, and saved $108 in the process. Wal-Mart policies prohibit employees from using their discounts to benefit anyone except themselves or immediate family members. If Osmun doesn’t pay back the money, Wal-Mart documents say that she could face criminal theft charges.”
Apr 26 2002
“We’ve never built a store like this,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Davis Moore. “We’ve had to use specially designed escalators that allow you to take your shopping carts on them.”
Aug 1 2001
State and Local Policy Edition
August 8, 2001, Vol. 3, Issue 5
In a victory against big-box sprawl, the Chestertown, Maryland, Planning Commission voted June 19 to reject a proposal by Wal-Mart to build a sprawling, 107,000 square-foot store on the outskirts of this small historic town in Kent County. The vote came after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the prior ruling of the Kent County Circuit Court, which had remanded the Wal-Mart application back to the planning commission for reconsideration based on issues relating to traffic and economic impacts on local businesses. After hearing testimony on how damaging these impacts would be, the commission denied the proposal in a 5-2 vote. The decision was based on the proposal’s violation of the Kent County Comprehensive Plan, which prohibits projects that have certain negative effects on the community.
Kennedy Smith, director of the National Trust’s Main Street Program, had testified at a planning commission hearing that economic assertions regarding the project’s economic benefits were overly optimistic and that the development would have an adverse effect on Chestertown’s Main Street. The National Trust had filed an amicus brief in support of Chestertown.
Wal-Mart has appealed the decision.
Local governments should scale back the amount of retail-zoned land to reflect a realistic assessment of the size and strength of the market, advises the Urban Land Institute in its latest publication.