Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News about City Council Wal-Mart showdown, a panel discussion and an editorial on Wal-Mart

The zoning committe vote that was to take place this Thursday has been postponed until May 7 according to the Sun-Times:
A City Council showdown that could break the stalemate that has prevented Wal-Mart from building as many as five Chicago super-centers has been put off until May 7.

The decision to postpone Thursday’s Zoning Committee vote on Pullman Park, a Far South Side commercial development anchored by Chicago’s second Wal-Mart, was made by local Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th).

Beale insisted that he “has the votes” to win approval in the Zoning Committee and on the City Council floor. But, he argued that two more weeks of lobbying and behind-the-scenes negotiating wouldn’t hurt.

“It gives us a little more time to work on some things we’re working on,” Beale said, refusing to reveal specifics.

“There are a lot of [other] items on Thursday’s agenda. The May 7 meeting will be exclusive for this one item. It won’t be rushed. It gives us an opportunity to have more testimony. I have the votes. But, May 7 is a better opportunity.”

Solis said he postponed the day of reckoning, in part because some of the Zoning Committee’s 14 members were unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.

The chairman said he also wants to give Wal-Mart a last chance to negotiate with union leaders, something the world’s largest retailer has refused to do so.
The video below aired last week on WTTW's Chicago Tonight Week in Review a panel discusses for just over four minutes the continuing debate over Wal-Mart. This video is courtesy of Progress Illinois which in it's post regarding this segment believes that this panel failed to discuss the angle with regards to Wal-Mart's employment practices.

Also on this tact another editorial in favor of Wal-Mart from the Tribune:
This time we're talking about a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for an empty lot between 103rd and 111th streets next to the Bishop Ford Freeway. Wal-Mart is the critical element in an ambitious development called Pullman Park, which would bring thousands of jobs to the Far South Side.

Pullman Park would transform a 180-acre wasteland that once housed the Ryerson steel plant into a thriving business center for neighborhood stores and restaurants, 800 homes, a hotel, a recreation center, a park … and a Wal-Mart.

This impressive project sailed through the Chicago Plan Commission last week. It goes to the Council's Zoning Committee on Thursday. So will the aldermen try to stuff this one too? Can they really keep up this campaign to prevent Chicagoans from getting jobs because union bosses hate Wal-Mart?

The neighborhood around Pullman Park is a food desert. That is, it's very difficult to find groceries that stock fresh food there. The Wal-Mart Supercenter would sell fresh food.

And it would do so much more. This neighborhood is beyond a food desert. Heck, it's a flat-out retail desert. "We don't have a place to buy lunch or even a pair of socks," said David Doig, president of Park Bank Initiatives, a nonprofit community development group focused on low- and moderate-income Chicago neighborhoods. It's owned by U.S. Bank, which has committed financing for Pullman Park. "Without Wal-Mart, this doesn't happen," Doig told us. "Wal-Mart drives the traffic that drives the other retail development."
It's outrageous enough that the aldermen have sat on the Chatham development that would include Wal-Mart. Pullman Park ups the stakes. It's an even larger project, with even more jobs at stake.
Read the whole thing!

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