By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — Walmart executives are refusing to attend an upcoming City Council hearing on the possibility of their store coming to New York City, claiming that the Council has chosen to pick on them but not other stores, a spokesman for the company confirmed.
The hearing, "When Wal-Mart Comes to Town: The Effect on Small Businesses and Communities: A Historical and Prospective View," to take place Wednesday, was scheduled amid buzz of a Walmart opening within the five boroughs, possibly in Manhattan.
Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo confirmed in November that the retailer was considering locations within the city, but declined to comment on rumors that they were looking at sites in East Harlem and on Ladies' Mile in Chelsea.
In his letter announcing that no Walmart executive would attend the City Council hearing, Philip Serghini, of Walmart Community Affairs, accused the council of unfairly targeting the chain.
"The joint hearing…does not appear to consider the impact of the hundreds of N.Y.C. stores operated by [other large chains, like Target, Kmart and Home Depot]; rather it focuses solely on Walmart," Serghini wrote.
"For these reasons and more, we respectfully decline participation in the January 12th hearing."
Council Speaker Christine Quinn had a different view of Walmart's reasons for not attending the meeting, which will investigate the potential economic impact of opening a Walmart store in the city, according to the New York Daily News.
"If they don't show up it's because they don't have anything to say to refute the arguments that my colleagues and myself have put forth," Quinn told the paper.
"If they did...why wouldn't they come and rub my face in it?"