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City Council Zoning Vote On Wal-Mart Delayed

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 22, 2010 4:00PM

Photo by el neato.
The Battle Over Wal-Mart in the City of Chicago has been delayed. For a few weeks, anyway. A vote by the City Council's Zoning Committee over a proposed new Wal-Mart in Pullman Park that was to happen today has been postponed until May 7. The vote was slated as a follow-up to last week's approval of the store by the City's Plan Commission but was postponed by Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th). Beale has been an ardent supporter of the new Wal-Mart, saying last week, "We want to get people out of their homes and back to work. And if we don't find a new source of revenue here in the City of Chicago, we're going to be forced to lay more people off in the years to come." Beale claimed that he has the necessary votes to pass the plan, so why ask for a delay? He told the Sun-Times earlier this week:

“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, though, claimed the postponement was due to some members of the committee not being able to attend, but also to buy time for Wal-Mart and unions to hammer out some sort of wage agreement: "This gives Wal-Mart and the unions time to negotiate. If they need more time to talk it over, they’ve got it. If they need time for folks to show up and be heard, they’ve got that, too.” Several aldermen, including Freddrenna Lyle (6th) and Ed Burke (14th) want to hold large retailers like Wal-Mart to a standard that guarantees certain wages, such as requiring businesses with 50 or more employees that receive $250,000 or more in direct or indirect city financial assistance to pay wages of at least $11.03-an-hour. Wal-Mart, however, doesn't appear to be willing to budge. Earlier this spring, Wal-Mart spokesman Steve Restivo said, "We obviously feel as though our average hourly wage in Illinois as well as our Chicagoland average wage are both competitive, so we are at a stalemate."