Clean up on aisle ‘nope’
A King County Superior Court judge told grocery store giant Albertson Companies, Inc. to put the brakes on a planned $4 billion dividend payment that the company scheduled ahead of a proposed merger with rival Kroger.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued to stop the payment, which was scheduled for Nov. 7, arguing that it would exceed the amount of money that Albertson Companies had on hand by nearly $1.5 billion and that the payment would impact that company’s ability to compete while regulators looked into the deal. Six attorneys general from around the country joined in calling on Albertsons to delay the payout.
By reducing its available cash on hand, Albertsons might not be able to keep up on inventory orders, hurting customers who would be forced to find alternatives, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities and labor organizations sounded the alarm about the proposed merger when it first came to light. Kroger and Albertsons are two of the largest grocery store owners in the country, and, according to market data cited by the Seattle Times, the majority of Seattleites shop at one of four stores that are owned by the two companies.
If Kroger buys Albertsons, it could have far-reaching — but unknown — implications for Seattle. The two companies would have to sell off hundreds of locations to get the deal past federal regulators.
Veteran homelessness drops
Homelessness among military veterans declined 11 percent since 2020, according to preliminary results from the January 2022 point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness.
The drop represents the biggest decline in more than five years.
“The data released today shows we are closer than ever in ensuring that every Veteran in America has a home and challenges us to ensure that every Veteran — and every person in America — has a home,” said Marcia L. Fudge, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a press release.
Localities are required to conduct a point-in-time count at least every other year and report their findings to the federal government. The numbers represent a snapshot of homelessness in the United States, and methodologies on how the counts are conducted vary.
The King County Regional Homelessness Authority requested and received a “methodological exception” to count in order to collect more qualitative data. The organization found 13,368 people experiencing homelessness in 2022 but estimates that more than 40,000 people in King County experience homelessness at some point over the course of a year.
This is the first year since the pandemic hit in 2020 that communities have conducted a point-in-time count.
Read more of the Nov. 9-15, 2022 issue.