In the Shadow of Walmart

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  August 31, 2011

"I'm not sure that having a public hearing in this chamber at this point in time is a good thing," said Murphy, who expressed concern that an inquisitions could scare off the retail giant. "I know that they're reaching out, and those conversations should continue in the venues that they're in . . . If we do hold a hearing, and it doesn't turn out well, I might be in a position to say 'I told you so.' "

Jackson, whose district is rumored as the most likely to be targeted, sees things differently. He's taken a hard line against the company, and, along with Arroyo, is pushing for a hearing (the resolution is currently tied up in committee). At the same time, both councilors are in close contact with Jobs With Justice, as well as labor unions and a host of others whose willingness to negotiate with Walmart is fast eroding as the company withholds details, and as the council stalls a hearing. In Washington, DC, the company held more than 60 open community meetings after announcing the construction of four stores. Some Boston stakeholders aren't willing to wait that long.

"I know what I'm up against here," says Arroyo, who describes his resolution as a "fairly innocuous" device to get Walmart to talk about its plans publicly. "I'm up against the richest, largest, and biggest corporation in the world. The Walmart line is a good one — that they can bring products at cheap prices, and that they bring jobs to communities of color. But for people who have been working on Dudley Square for years, and are now finally seeing progress, it's not so easy to watch someone come in and benefit from that, if not jeopardize everything that they've been striving for." ^

Follow Chris Faraone on Twitter @fara1. David Eisenberg assisted with the research of this piece.

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