Rahm & Rauner help Amazon play New York City and Virginia like a bunch of saps | Bleader

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Rahm & Rauner help Amazon play New York City and Virginia like a bunch of saps

Posted By on 11.20.18 at 06:00 AM

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click to enlarge SUE KWONG
  • Sue Kwong
As a longtime subscriber and avid reader of my beloved Sun-Times, I think it’s okay if I respectfully make two corrections to their recent story about Amazon’s decision to build its second headquarters someplace other than Chicago.

Thank goodness.

“Chicago’s dream of landing Amazon HQ2 and the 50,000 jobs that would come with it—is all but dead," read the lede in a recent story.

Okay, first correction: It’s not 50,000 jobs. Yes, Amazon promised to bring 50,000 jobs to the winning state or city, when they began their headquarters competition 14 months ago.

But they ended up pulling a fast one and splitting the headquarters in two, so that the “lucky” winners (New York City and Arlington, Virginia) only get 25,000 jobs each.

Man, the contest’s barely over and already Amazon’s broke its promise.

As for the second correction—it was never Chicago’s “dream” to land the headquarters.

Oh, hell, no—that was the dream of Mayor Rahm and his faithful sidekick Governor Rauner—both of whom will be leaving office shortly, thank you very much.

Most ordinary Chicagoans I know—and I know a lot of them—were okay with Amazon coming to town, so long as they didn’t have to pick up the bill to get Amazon to come here.

Unfortunately, picking up the bill was always part of this deal.

How much of a bill? We’ll probably never know—unless some enterprising reporter gets a copy of the bid details from City Hall or the state with a Freedom of Information Act request.

Cause Rahm and Rauner never told us—so much for transparency in government.

Actually, Rahm and Rauner were forbidden from telling us any details of their offer—estimated to be at least $2.25 billion—by a non-disclosure agreement they signed with Amazon.

That non-disclosure agreement apparently went so far as to prevent Rahm and Rauner from revealing such mundane matters as which locations Amazon’s site-selection committee visited on its tour of Chicago.

In fact, one of my favorite Amazon moments came when Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman tried to pry that site-selection info out of mayoral aide Robert Rivkin.

“Amazon wants to do this on a very confidential basis,” Rivkin told Spielman. “Everybody is under strict nondisclosure. So, I really can’t talk about it.”

When Spielman pressed further, Rivkin said: “What about, ‘I can’t talk about it’ don’t you understand?”

You know, it's too bad for Rahm the contest didn’t hinge on sarcastic city officials. Otherwise, Chicago would have won hands down.

In the aftermath of Amazon’s decision, Mayor Rahm waxed philosophically. “One of the things I do know about in life: You don’t succeed unless you try,” he said. “Sometimes your biggest lessons in life where you learn the most is if you don’t succeed.”

Meanwhile, ordinary New Yorkers are learning a few hard lessons from having won this contest.

It’s going to cost them at least $2 billion in various handouts to appease the egos of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who felt compelled to enter what is essentially a who’s-got-the-bigger-wang contest.

“Some Queens residents and many elected officials expressed anger that the costs—in crowded subways, rising home prices and state and city tax dollars—could far outweigh the benefits of at least 25,000 new workers, making an average of what the company said would be $150,000,” reads a story in The New York Times. “Local politicians were promising protests, objecting to the incentive package that could far exceed $2 billion, including existing city tax breaks.”

Newly elected New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, summed it up with this tweet: “We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this. The community’s response? Outrage.”

You know, for once I gotta say—it's not so bad living in the Second City.

Before all is said and done, just about everyone in New York City—as well as in Arlington—will realize they were played like saps in a con job devised by clever corporate hustlers who masterfully worked one city against another.

Between Arlington and New York City, Amazon will probably receive close to $5 billion in public subsidies—money for which there are undoubtedly far more pressing public needs.

Speaking of which, on the opposite page from the Amazon story, the Sun-Times ran an article about how the Chicago Public Schools still aren’t providing “all special education students with the services they need and are entitled to.”

So Rahm found billions for Jeff Bezos, but only pennies for our most vulnerable, at-risk kids.

Hey, Amazon, how about kicking back a little something for the special education kids that Rahm and Rauner left behind.

It’s the least you can do for using us to squeeze more millions out of those suckers in Virginia and New York City.

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