IT TAKES A BRIBE PROPOSAL
Long before Amazon set 20 cities on fire by announcing they were finalists for the site of its second headquarters, in November, Seattle’s The Stranger reported on some of the more, shall we say, coercive of the proposals. Chicago reportedly offered to give Amazon back all the employee income taxes it paid the city—to the tune of a cool $1.32 billion. Not to be outdone, New Jersey offered the company $7 billion in tax breaks. Fresno wasn’t willing to part with those rich, creamy tax dollars—but it was willing to let Amazon executives and a city committee together administer 85 percent of the tax funds it collected from the company. (So many parks and schools named Bezos!) Boston didn’t offer cash, but did offer to create an “Amazon Task Force” that would task city employees with negotiating on the company’s behalf.
Saddest of all, Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to CHANGE ITS NAME to Amazon. Incorporated in 2016, presumably for the sole purpose of selling its soul to the highest bidder, Stonecrest is a sleepy li’l town in Dekalb County that named itself—this is not a joke—after the local mall, which oddly makes us feel both better and worse for them. Chicago, Boston and Newark, New Jersey, made the cut. Stonecrest did not. T-T
CAN YOU FEEL THE BROTHERLY LOVE (HQ)2NITE?
In an effort to lure Bezos and co. into building Amazon HQ2 in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love went all the way out and spent nearly a quarter-million dollars on various tools of seduction. Philadelphia Weekly. reports that its bid, called “Philly Delivers,” was “unlike any the city had previously made to curry favor with a corporation.” Its romance package included a slick video and, most ingenious, bus wraps and a social media campaign—in Seattle! Best of all, none of the bus wraps or social media even whispered the words “Amazon” or “HQ2,” but were designed to “keep Philadelphia’s virtues in Amazon’s sightline.” Now we understand how the Eagles slithered into the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia Weekly also delivered more ’ssip on our neighbors to the north. Not only did Stonecrest promise to annex 345 acres for a new town named Amazon, Georgia, they offered to install Jeff Bezos as its mayor. Gag.
IS SELF-LOATHING No. 6?
On Jan. 23, our newest altweekly hero Ben Joravsky penned a piece in the Chicago Reader called, “Five unfortunate civic traits that make Chicago Bezos bait.” Noting that the Windy City was one of the 283 who survived the first, deepest cuts to become the site of HQ2 in what he deemed “its let’s-get-the-dumbass-public-to-pay-for-our-headquarters scam,” Joravsky posed an excellent question: “If Chicago’s so great, how come we have to pay Amazon to move here?” Buurrnnn.
He went on to list five characteristics that make Chicago a prime target for Billionaire Bezos: 1) It’s rich, with $550 million/year flowing into its “tax increment financing honey pot” that a “rubber-stamp City Council” pretty much lets the mayor do with what he will; 2) It’s gullible, believing the mayor when he says—inaccurately—that TIFs don’t take money from schools; 3) It’s docile, rolling over like a cute puppy whenever the mayor gives it a push; 4) It’s tribalistic, and therefore easy to play people off one another; and 5) It’s easily distracted, so much so, they probably didn’t even read to the end of this list.
BEST VIEW IN THE CITY
The only Florida city to make the finalist round has apparently offered Amazon some unconventional sites for its second headquarters. Side note: Is it just us, or is this starting to feel like an episode of The Billionaire Bachelor? According to our buds at Miami New Times, one such site is at the previously toxic Lake Carmen, a manmade body of water a landowner allegedly attempted to fill in with soil containing traces of “reclaimed asphalt, tile, lead, arsenic and petroleum.” Yum! The county Department of Environmental Resources Management says it has cleaned up the contamination. Another proposed site is right smack dab in the middle of historically black Overtown. ’Cause nothing brings minority communities together like transplanting 50,000 hipsters onto their block.