From NYTIMES City Room blog:
He called Wal-Mart “one of the great corporate citizens in this country.” He praised its efforts to conduct background checks before selling guns. He flatly rebuffed suggestions that the company was killing jobs.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took on the role of ardent defender of big-box America on Tuesday at a news conference announcing a $4 million donation by Wal-Mart to a city program that offers summer jobs to young people.
With Wal-Mart in the midst of an aggressive campaign to open its first store in New York City, was the donation simply a coincidence?
Michelle Gilliard, a representative for the company’s philanthropic division, said the money was part of an effort to help children across the country.
But when reporters pressed further, it was Mr. Bloomberg who took over as spokesman.
“You’re telling me that your company’s philanthropy doesn’t look to see what is good for your company?” the mayor shot back at a reporter.
When a reporter tried to follow up with Ms. Gilliard, Mr. Bloomberg grew impatient, saying: “She answered it. You’re just not listening.”
Mr. Bloomberg, a longtime defender of free-market principles, brushed aside a question about whether it was coincidental that the news conference, held at a recreation center in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was just miles from one of the company’s potential construction sites. “This is city is not in the business of promoting any more than it is in the business of discriminating against stores,” he said.
Wal-Mart has encountered opposition from some City Council members and labor advocates, who have criticized its hiring practices and expressed concern that its presence in New York would hurt small businesses.
But the company’s donation, which will help finance some 3,400 jobs, seemed to help win over some skeptics.
The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, who has expressed concern about Wal-Mart’s expansion in the past, praised the company at Tuesday’s announcement.
“This is a good, major first step,” he said.