Residents in Albuquerque, New Mexico have been bought off with a few trees and design changes to a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. But one City Councilor was paid directly by a Wal-Mart developer — and locals want the Councilor to step down from the case. Sally Mayer, a City Councilor, accepted a $450 contribution from Bohfam LLC, a company connected to Wal-Mart developer Ron Bohannon. According to the Albuquerque Tribune, Mayer said the contribution “slipped through and should not have been accepted.” Opponents to the Wal-Mart plan want Mayer to step down, and not take part in the City Council’s review of the Environmental Planning Commissioners report on the superstore. The EPC has approved the plan, but neighbors say the plan is too big for the location. “All we’re asking for is for them to look at the case. It is just too big and too intense for that site,” one opponent said. The Wal-Mart will be 200,000 s.f., and would take over an existing shopping mall location, moving some stores to the periphery of the mall. Neighborhood associations have signed an agreement not to oppose the plan, as long as several conditions are met, such as requiring the developer to plan young trees, not saplings, in the landscaping, no tire and lube center and a Southwestern-style facade. For these minor concessions, the neighbors have thrown in the towel. “In other places, when people opposed it (Wal-Mart) entirely, they didn’t succeed and ended up not getting anything,” one neighborhood leader explained. “We thought we had gotten the best deal possible.” But some opponents who had not given up, say they are willing to file a civil lawsuit if the council does not look into their case.
It is pathetic that neighbors think a few trees and a “southwest” facade on a Wal-Mart supercenter is the “best deal” they could cut. Fortunately, some neighbors are still fighting this plan. The contribution by developers to elected officials are more common than not. In New Orleans, the developer paid civic leaders to testify in support of a Wal-Mart. In more ways than one, we get the best Wal-Marts that money can buy.