Reporting Marcia Kramer
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Is it a genuine gesture or an attempt to buy the city’s good will?
The question was posed to Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo as the giant retailer pledged $4 million to the New York City’s summer youth employment program. Restivo said there are no strings attached to the pledge.
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Walmart is seeking approval to build its first New York City store in Brooklyn.
“[It's] no secret that we’re looking for locations across the five boroughs — store sizes small, medium, and large. We don’t have any announced projects yet. We don’t have any leases signed in the city,” Restivo said.
Later, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer attempted to get Walmart representative Michelle Gilliard to answer the following question: would the retail giant’s generous pledge to create summer jobs for city kids soften resistance to its stores being built here in New York City?
That set Mayor Michael Bloomberg off and what followed was an at times terse back and forth with Kramer.
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“It won’t with me. This city’s open to everybody, period, end of story,” Bloomberg said.
Hizzonor was so agitated that he at first wouldn’t let Gilliard answer the question.
“I answered it for you. We’ve had enough,” Bloomberg said.
And away they went:
Kramer: “Mr. Mayor, I don’t understand why you’re not allowing Michelle …”
Bloomberg: “I’d be happy to allow Michelle … she says no.”
Kramer: “This is a press conference. We would like an opportunity …”
Bloomberg: “If Michelle wants to speak she’s welcome to speak.”
Kramer: “But you’re basically answering the questions.”
The mayor eventually let her take the floor, but Kramer couldn’t get an answer to the question.
Kramer: “Do you think that this donation of $4 million will help you or help your company on its attempt to build a store here?”
Bloomberg: “Let me answer that. I hope so. Why would anybody not hope so? You’re telling me that your company’s philanthropy doesn’t look to see what is good for your company?”
Walmart’s $4 million pledge should allow the summer jobs program to expand by up to 3,400 jobs.
“We’ve given close to $13 million in the last four years alone. So, today’s announcement really was a continuation of what our foundation has done over the past several years,” Restivo said earlier.
Walmart has been tight lipped about where it wants to build. One potential site is on Gateway Drive in Brooklyn. The location is just a few miles from the Pitkin Avenue Business District where local store owners are worried about their survival and furious at Mayor Bloomberg.
Mark Tanis, the general manager of Shopper’s World on Pitkin Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, told Kramer it’s clear to him why Walmart made the donation.
“I feel that Walmart is trying to buy its way into the community,” Tanis said. “I don’t know why the mayor would want to infringe on the small businesses. We are everyday small businesses, mom and pop trying to make it.”
Walmart said the city donation is part of a $25 million program to help kids have a better summer.
Do you think Walmart is trying to buy its way into NYC? Or do you think its intentions are genuine? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.