Council members: Charities should give money from Walmart charity back
A coalition of labor groups and City Council members gathered Wednesday to decry charitable donations tied to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., saying that local organizations should return the money they received.
“It is tainted, dangerous money,” Bertha Lewis of the Black Institute said in front of City Hall. “Non-profits need funders. But for this — the price is too high.”
Queens City Councilman Danny Dromm called it “blood money.”
Dromm accused the Walton Family Foundation of using the donations as an underhanded way to ease Walmart stores into the five boroughs.
“That’s not charitable money,” he said. “That’s really a business investment for them, because they don’t do this stuff out of the goodness of their heart. They’re doing because they’re doing it for the future and how they can come into this city.”
Dromm read off a letter signed by 27 fellow Council members, in which they accuse Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Walton Family Foundation of “running a stealth campaign” counter to “the progressive agenda we support.”
“We are all familiar with your efforts nationally to fund anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT and anti-democratic policies and politicians,” the letter read.
Many of the speakers, which included Brooklyn Council members Inez Barron and Carlos Menchaca, as well as Stuart Applebaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, also made reference to donations from the Walton Family Foundation in support of the charter school movement.
Marc Sternberg, director of the foundation’s education reform program, defended its donations to the city organizations, which inluded a $1 million donation to the Success Academy Charter Schools founded by Eva Moskowitz.
“Our grantees are running some of the best public schools in New York City serving families that for decades did not have access to high-quality schools,” Sternberg wrote.
“We’re proud of the work they are doing to transform the public education landscape,” he added, “and proud to have played a small part in their success.”
Another recipient of funds from the foundation, the New York Historical Society, was unaware of the demonstration and protest at City Hall. The group has received $4,185,000 from the foundation since 2009.
A spokesperson was unable to respond to requests for comment or response to the Council members by the time of publication.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria