The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart used payoffs to get its way in Mexico

By DAVID BARSTOW and ALEJANDRA XANIC von BERTRAB / Published: December 17, 2012

Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited, an examination by The New York Times found.

A preview of a New York Times investigation revealing bribery by Wal-Mart as it sought to build in the shadow of Mexico's most revered cultural landmark, the pyramids of Teotihuacán.

SAN JUAN TEOTIHUACÁN, Mexico — Wal-Mart longed to build in Elda Pineda's alfalfa field. It was an ideal location, just off this town's bustling main entrance and barely a mile from its ancient pyramids, which draw tourists from around the world. With its usual precision, Wal-Mart calculated it would attract 250 customers an hour if only it could put a store in Mrs. Pineda's field.

One major obstacle stood in Wal-Mart's way.

After years of study, the town's elected leaders had just approved a new zoning map. The leaders wanted to limit growth near the pyramids, and they considered the town's main entrance too congested already. As a result, the 2003 zoning map prohibited commercial development on Mrs. Pineda's field, seemingly dooming Wal-Mart's hopes.

But 30 miles away in Mexico City, at the headquarters of Wal-Mart de Mexico, executives were not about to be thwarted by an unfavorable zoning decision. Instead, records and interviews show, they decided to undo the damage with one well-placed $52,000 bribe.

The plan was simple. The zoning map would not become law until it was published in a government newspaper. So Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. Sure enough, when the map was published, the zoning for Mrs. Pineda's field was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart's store.

Click here for the complete story

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
Read more

Lower Greenville post office in East Dallas making way for new townhomes

By Steve Brown / Dallas Morning News / 10:55 am on December 17, 2012 | Permalink

The former post office was put up for sale this summer. (Photo from DMN files)

Custom builder LeComte Group has bought the vacant post office on Belmont Avenue near Lower Greenville Avenue. The post office has been closed for several months and was for sale this summer. The building that was constructed in the early 1990s will be torn down for a new townhouse development.

Builder Josh LeComte said he plans to construct 15 homes on the tract that is right across the street from the Vickery Towers seniors housing community. LeComte and other builders have been ramping up construction in East Dallas recently as the housing market has rebounded.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
Read more

Skillman-Oram framing store booted for coffee shop

East Dallas Advocate, December 11, 2012

Austin-based coffee shop Houndstooth is set to open at the southeast corner of Skillman and Oram, replacing the custom framing store, Gallery Central, which is currently leasing that space.

Stephanie Smith, the owner of Gallery Central, says she found out she had to move from a letter she received the day before Thanksgiving. The letter wasn't a complete shock since the whole area has been a "beehive of rumor" for the past year, she says. Plus, potential renters have been coming in and out of her store for the past several months, checking out her space.

Originally, she was afraid she would have to move to a completely different location, but she says Stonelake Capital Properties, the developer that recently bought that entire shopping strip, is setting up a place for her in the back, behind the coffee shop. They also gave her a few extra weeks to get moved, since Christmas time is her busy season.

"They were nice enough, but it was obvious this is a numbers game," Smith says.

Click here for the complete story

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
Read more

Dallas police say they're 'investigating circumstances leading to injuries sustained' by comatose Dallas attorney

Dallas Morning News / Travis Hudson / 5:37 pm on December 12, 2012

Update at 5:37 p.m: Moments ago, Dallas PD tweeted a brief note concerning Damien Falgoust. It also refers to the attorney as an "injured person," and says, in full:

The Dallas Police Department Crimes Against Person's Division is investigating a report that involves Mr. Damien Falgoust. Detectives are investigating the circumstances leading to injuries sustained to Mr. Falgoust on December 7, 2012, at 2:30 am, in the 1900 block of Greenville Avenue. Detectives continue to keep Mr. Falgoust's family abreast of the progress of the investigation. Anyone having information concerning this case should contact the Dallas Police Department – Detective D. Singer at 214-671-3854 or 214-671-3603.

Update at 5:24 p.m. by staff writer Robert Wilonsky: A search of Dallas Police Department incident reports shows the assault on Damien Falgoust has been classified as an "injured person." The report says Falgoust was "apparently assaulted" by unknown suspects, and that Dallas Fire-Rescue "received [an] unconscious person call" at 1914 Greenville Avenue at 2:31 a.m. Friday. It also notes that Dallas police "were not contacted."

Click here for the complete story

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Lower Greenville
Read more

Board of Adjustment tells BACD and homeowners - Call us in two months with a compromise!

After a nearly two-hour Board of Adjustment hearing, the panel voted to not make a final decision on this case. BD's head is still spinning around trying to put his arms around not only the decision, but the steps that led up to it. We promise a longer post after we've had time to figure out how to properly explain it to you.

BD can tell you much of the discussion centered on how much consideration is given to the claims by any CD over construction and design issues versus the property rights of the homeowner, how much the City allegedly ignored the rules to approve the property, or how much the homeowners were actually and truly in compliance with the code and damn the opinion of some aggressive residents.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
Read more