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2002-11-26
New Orleans, LA. City Council Gives Wal-Mart Project $20 M in Corporate Welfare

Activists fighting a Wal-Mart supercenter project in the historic Garden District of New Orleans have filed a lawsuit against the project, but in the meantime, the developer continues to seek a hefty public subsidy in the form of tax incremental financing. Here's a report filed by sprawl-busters in the Garden district: "The New Orleans City Council unanimously voted to approve the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that will divert sales tax from the proposed Wal-Mart-on-the-River to build market-rate housing on the former site of the St. Thomas Project. After listening (sort of) for three hours to speakers opposed to this use of public money, it took just 40 seconds for the Council to wrap up the Wal-Mart/St. Thomas issue and divert $20 million in tax revenue to help finance it. None of the members spoke before the vote. From New Orleans East to Treme to the Garden District˜rich, poor, black, white, ministers, social workers, lawyers, moms, small business owners, and relocated St. Thomas residents -- the "coalition of everybody" -- filled the Council chambers with pleas to not pour more of their tax dollars into a development that is already costing more money per unit than any federal HOPE VI project in the entire country. Yet, it has been calculated that only 10% of the new housing will be truly affordable, thus denying most of the former residents of St. Thomas a chance to return home. Fewer than a half dozen people spoke in favor of the project. The process has gone as far as it can within the city government. Wal-Mart-on-the-River may be what happens to the prime site between downtown and the Garden District. It may happen that, unlike any other city in America in the 21st century, New Orleans will build a parking lot and a discount store on the waterfront -- and leave her poor dispersed. While this may be a post mortem message on the unsavory process, the end is not yet reckoned. Next step -- the federal courts. 

What you can do: For additional information on the New Orleans Wal-Mart proposal and its unlikely link to public housing, visit the Urban Conservancy website at http://www.urbanconservancy.org. For history on how Wal-Mart got approved in New Orleans, search this database by the words "New Orleans".










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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