January 20, 2019
Pundits speculate why with bigger concessions offered by other competitors, Amazon chose to put half of HQ2 in Crystal City. Some ascribe the move to the area’s transportation infrastructure and highly educated workforce. Others think it’s the convenience of Crystal City to CEO Jeff Bezos’ new home in Washington, DC.
Still others point to Bezos’ proximity to the Pentagon, where Amazon Web Services is poised to win a $10 billion cloud contract. Roshan Abraham of Our Revolution Arlington (OR-A) declared at the January 8 Civic Federation meeting that it’s the access Amazon will have to federal officials.
Seattle City Council Knows Who’s Boss
Another obvious advantage to Arlington for Amazon is the ability to manipulate local government officials. Consider that in May, 2018, Amazon spearheaded a petition drive to oust the entire Seattle City Council after the Council imposed a head tax on companies grossing over $20 million per year to pay for housing for the homeless.
Within a month all but two Council members had capitulated, and the head tax was repealed. Evidently Bezos didn’t buy Seattle City Council’s argument that there’s a direct relationship between high priced tech jobs and inflated housing prices. What he did buy was Seattle City Council.
Because Bezos lives right across the Potomac, he knows that a head tax is not on the table here. The only Arlingtonians who will pony up for affordable housing are the middle class tenants who are evicted to make way for low income and/or luxury housing developments and the single family home owners whose real estate taxes will go up, up, up.
Bezos probably also knows that while Arlington County pays lip service to environmental causes, it routinely issues permits to pave over parks, demolish trees in vulnerable watersheds and build parking lots to satisfice a more car diet. With a strictly token commitment to progressive causes, Arlington County Board provides an excellent venue for corporate pirates.
People who are concerned about the impact of the Amazon deal on real estate taxes, schools and traffic have have been asking what they can do about it. Not much, given that the terms of the deal were negotiated with the Governor in absolute secrecy.
But that should come as no surprise. When Arlington voters constantly reaffirm one party government at the polls, secret deals are all but inevitable. The only way to leverage a better deal is to elect someone who insists on transparency.