A big check (not even a donation) from Ratner is fine, according to Lewis. A big check from Wal-Mart is toxic.
Once upon a time, in 2005, the Forest City Ratner "publication," the Brooklyn Standard, promoted a rather meager gesture, the developer's decision to deposit--not give--$1 million in the black-owned Carver Federal Savings Bank, calling it "investing in the community."
Beaming along with Bruce Ratner and a giant oversized check was Bertha Lewis, then of ACORN, along with two other Community Benefits Agreement signatories, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and James Caldwell.
Forest City not only supported the CBA signatories but bailed out national ACORN at Lewis's behest, before it declared bankruptcy.
Now, a protest
Now Lewis, along with many others, has been protesting checks written by a less accommodating (and partnership oriented) corporate charity.
From the 6/5/14 Capital Real Estate newsletter:
BLOOD MONEY — Walmart trying to ‘buy influence’ in city, council members claim: Twenty seven City Council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, signed a letter that accuses Walmart of using philanthropy as a way “buy influence” in New York. Several held a press conference outside City Hall to say so. It’s clear to them Walmart will renew its effort to open stores in the five boroughs. They wrote to the company that it’s apparent they have “gone underground and are running a stealth campaign.” But Walmart denies not only that it is courting influence with charitable contributions, but that it has any interest in New York. “This foundation support is entirely apart from any effort to locate stores,” Bill Wertz, a Walmart spokesman, said Wednesday. “We are not trying to locate stores in New York City.” http://goo.gl/p8k3uxMore coverage, from WPIX/11:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “They tried to bribe their way into Mexico. They were caught. They're doing the same thing here in New York City, only they don't call it a bribe, they call it charitable donations.” —Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute
They vocally and visibly showed their opposition to the wealthiest family in the world, by chanting slogans and making speeches, all of them critical of the world’s largest retailer, and some downright hostile.
“Walmart,” proclaimed Bertha Lewis, founder and president of the Black Institute, “sucks!”
The protesters then lifted a three foot by six foot facsimile of a check from the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart to the people of New York, and councilmember Daniel Dromm, the head of the council’s education committee, wrote the word “void” across it.
|Photo: Epoch Times|
In the past year Wal-Mart donated $3 million dollars to NYC organizations, and anti-Wal-Mart advocates allege that Wal-Mart’s act of charity is nothing more than a ploy to gain access to the NYC market. They also want the organizations that received the donations to give the money back.Skepticism from Crain's
“It is tainted dangerous money. They didn’t care about you before. So question yourselves why are you suddenly giving me all this money now,” said Bertha Lewis, founder of The Black Institute.
In an editorial headlined City Council attains whole new level of stupid, the business-oriented Crain's New York Business opined:
What made the gifts objectionable, the politicians said, was their association with a company that might someday try again to open its first store in the city. Activist Bertha Lewis even deemed the gifts "a bribe"—a questionable subject to bring up at a gathering of New York politicians.
...The elected officials called the gifts "dangerous." But what's dangerous here is the council's message to city charities and the executives who manage them. Should Lincoln Center cancel a $100 million theater renovation funded by David Koch because his politics differ from the council's? Should the Central Park Conservancy make a statement about inequality by returning the $100 million it received from hedge-fund titan John Paulson?