Mayor Talks Wal-Mart's Somerville Plans on CNBC
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone addressed the retail giant's plans to open a store in Somerville in the wake of a recent Mexican bribery scandal involving the company.
A recent bribery scandal involving Wal-Mart's activities in Mexico does not seem to have affected the mayor's stance on the company's plans to build a grocery store in Somerville.
"We're really excited to learn more about Wal-Mart and more about [Wal-Mart's] Neighborhood Market," Joseph Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, said Tuesday morning on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" show. "Having access to quality, good and wholesome fresh food and produce in the urban core is something we strive for."
"We also will have questions, like we would with any community and business partner," the mayor said.
Curtatone was a guest on the show for a segment about Wal-Mart's plans to expand into urban areas in America and a recent bribery scandal that has sent Wal-Mart's stock falling.
Wal-Mart has plans to open a Neighborhood Market grocery store in Somerville's Assembly Square at the site formerly occupied by Circuit City, near Home Depot. The company has not officially applied for permits to open the store, but Curtatone said Wal-Mart representatives have "been engaged with us over the past couple months."
Somerville would be the first Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market grocery store in the northeast.
"We can't make decisions based on what happened in Mexico"
Carl Quintanilla, the CNBC host, asked Curtatone if the recent bribery scandal has affected the city's official attitude toward Wal-Mart. The New York Times reported Saturday that Wal-Mart officials in Mexico handed out nearly $24 million in bribes throughout the country and that corporate officials in the United States shut down an internal investigation into the matter. As a result of the scandal, Wal-Mart shares have fallen by almost 5 percent as of Monday.
Curtatone said, "I'm curious, and have some of the concerns over the allegations as to what occurred in Mexico."
"Yesterday I happened to have a meeting with representatives from Wal-Mart," the mayor said. "The first thing they brought up was the issues in Mexico, and they stressed they're taking the matter rather seriously."
Asked if the allegations related to Mexico would affect the city's decision about whether or not to allow Wal-Mart, Curtatone said, "We can't make decisions based on what happened in Mexico. That's not what the law allows."
Here in Somerville, "Wal-Mart has been very forthright about some of the concerns, recognizing some of the concerns that organizations and different labor groups have had with them, but they've worked honestly and openly with us over the last several months," Curtatone said.