Friday, March 16, 2018

Raging down the Amazon

I was relieved to read that there is a backlash to the bizarre antics that resulted from the bidding process by cities to get HQ2.0 from Amazon.

I was done with Seattle once, returned and finally left as I had enough. Enough bullshit to last whatever is left of my lifetime.  I needed to just get out and like the movie of the same name I should have been more diligent in my research about where to relocate.  In all sincerity I did and the reasons I did are working out fine but not as well as I would have liked.  I don't know if that is my expectations or that things here are fucked up beyond belief.  I go with a combination of each.

The Slattern who was the Mayor is still sadly in the news and I do think some of the Cities issues can be tied to her desperation to be a Clinton style  DINO (Democrat in Name aka Neoliberal the bookend to Classic Liberal which means Old School Republican) or a Whore.  I go with a combination of each.  When Nashville's new Mayor decided to return Fort Negley back into a park made the New York Times you know that is a coronation, The Queen is dead long live the King.

I have heard nothing about the absurdity of Amazon relocating here and the passive remark by the Governor that was in true Seattle style - passive aggressive - I knew then that absurd notion was at end.  I am not sure what will happen with the MLS Stadium or Transit as we move forward in the new city that is less "it" and now more "sports" as the City is focusing on being a place to host varying competitive sporting events that still focus on the largest industry here, hospitality.  We are a great place to visit but you really don't want to live here.  So Stadium on buses to get there - probably no.  They are delusional to think that Tennessee is a car culture city, that is America unless in densely packed city with existing aging transit in midst of being upgraded, no you are not alone in that.  You just are with pretty much everything else such as sidewalks, crosswalks, a downtown core and well stuff that actually makes you a city.  Right now it is Las Vegas without gambling.

Yesterday a car crashed into the long term problem adjacent to the train tracks causing a four hour blockage.  The Police arrived after a trucker stuck decided to help move traffic and yelled at me for helping him and giving directions to lost people.  He spoke to the drivers like a dirtbag, spoke to me like one and then promptly informed me I was to speak to the Council about why it took over four hours for Police to come to direct traffic which irony and per usual the same time frame the CSX people and a tow truck had fixed/moved the vehicle and were ready to move out of the intersection.

I did inform him to quit speaking to people like they were dirtbags and that included me and then I told him I had, I have correspondence, records of meetings, letters and other documentation that I have spoken to everyone including the Department of Transportation, The Mayors Office, the Railroad Division and others about the ongoing problems.  That this is not the first nor last problem with this intersection but our conversation is ended now and do not speak, look or address me again and I went back to freshening up my patio.   This is where I live where anyone can speak to anyone like they are shitbags as they believe you are nothing more than what is used to collect waste from humans when they can no longer actually use their assholes.

And the irony was that while I watched the cars sit idle before the fat trucker who kept saying to people asking for directions, "I am not from here keep moving"  as if this was a national disaster on his hands, I noted one bumper sticker:  Not from Nashville? Get the Fuck out.  It reminded me of Seattle's own KBO - Keep the Bastards Out from long ago and that it had the "F" bomb.  Again the contradictions of Nashville will rage on regardless of who comes or goes and they really want you to go but like Vegas, leave tons of money behind. 

So raging down the Amazon will be the barge and I think it will land elsewhere as this new Mayor does not have the charisma, the star power or the desire for too much of "it."  But he is not alone as many municipalities are wanting to pull up that welcome mat.

'Not welcome here': Amazon faces growing resistance to its second home

As cities vie to host second campus, local activists say the ‘Hunger Games’-style competition is a bad deal for everyone – except Amazon

Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco
The Guardian UK
Thu 15 Mar 2018

What do you get for the man who has everything? When it comes to Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world with around $130bn to his name – many US cities competing to host Amazon’s second headquarters have an answer: billions of dollars in tax incentives.

That proposition has united an ideologically diverse group of dissenters to Amazon’s grand HQ2 competition, ranging from rightwing organizations linked to the Koch brothers to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Groups and individuals that would normally agree only to mutual disdain and distrust have somehow come around to the same conclusion: that Amazon’s decision to pit 20 cities against each other in a fight to host a future hub is a bad deal for everyone except

In Atlanta, an anonymous group of activists with roots in the Occupy movement has set up, a website that compares the HQ2 process to “something like a televised Hunger Games death-match”, and has designed anti-Amazon flyers that have been plastered around town.

Generation Opportunity, a conservative advocacy group for millennials associated with the Koch brothers, has launched a targeted digital ad campaign with a slickly produced, ominously soundtracked video that compares the HQ2 competition to – wait for it – the Hunger Games.

And a petition launched by the prominent urbanist Richard Florida and dozens of other academics calling for the finalist cities to unite in a “mutual non-aggression pact” on tax incentives has garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

The idea behind the pact is that rather than engage in a tax-break arms race, everyone should agree not to offer incentives. That would force Amazon to simply choose its new home by the merits of the locations, which Florida told the Guardian he suspects they will do anyway, and free up local governments to invest their tax dollars in the kind of improvements that make a city attractive to a corporation in the first place.

“I didn’t expect to ever write a protest letter,” said Florida, who was part of the group that organized Toronto’s bid for HQ2, where he advocated against tax incentives. “But one weekend I was so mad, I started emailing my friends across the ideological spectrum, and every one of them said they’d sign on in a minute.”

Are we going to give the richest man a tax break before we make sure homeless children have a place to sleep?

Florida called the tax incentives proposed by states like New Jersey ($7bn) and Maryland ($3bn) “obscene”, an assessment shared by the Washington-based advocacy group Fair Budget Coalition.

“Jeff Bezos personally has more money than the district’s budget,” said the group’s co-director, Monica Kamen. “Are we going to give the richest man in history a tax break before we make sure that homeless children have a place to sleep?”

The Fair Budget Coalition has worked with the local DSA chapter to launch “Obviously Not DC”, a campaign that takes its name from the district’s pro-DC hashtag campaign, #ObviouslyDC.

Asked how the group felt about ending up on the same side of an issue as the liberal bogeymen the Kochs, Kamen’s co-director Stephanie Sneed chimed in: “A broken clock is right twice a day.”

Brad Landers, a member of New York City council who signed the Florida petition, said that he would be happy for Amazon to move to New York, as long as it paid its fair share.
Jeff Bezos at the launch of Amazon Spheres, a new botanical garden that forms part of its Seattle headquarters.

“You’re not opening a second headquarters as a charitable project,” he said. “You are opening it to make more money, and that is going to impose all these costs that our city has to bear, especially around transit, infrastructure, schools, and housing. You’re not expected to pay more, even though you have some outsize impacts, but to ask to pay less is just appallingly bad corporate behavior.”

But some said they would oppose Amazon’s presence in their city, whether or not they were offered tax cuts.

“Right now in Pittsburgh, we’re losing three black people every day from the city to the surrounding area,” said Carl Redwood, a community organizer and professor of social work at the University of Pittsburgh. “Amazon coming won’t change that trend. It will accelerate the trend.”

“My view is that they should keep on walking,” he added. “Don’t come to Pittsburgh. Amazon is not welcome here.”

Anti-HQ2 activists in Atlanta and Washington shared Redwood’s concern about the displacement of black communities from cities, and the tech industry’s execrable track record for hiring black and Latino employees does not give them confidence that selecting a majority black city will change that.

Kamen said she expected Amazon would have “district residents work in the janitorial jobs and construction, and give all the high paying jobs to incoming white workers”.

Despite the breadth of the opposition to Amazon among academics and community activists, however, just four elected officials from finalist cities have signed on to the non-aggression pact.

Lander expressed disappointment that he had not been able to garner more support from a network of progressive elected officials around the country, but was also understanding of the intense political pressure that many feel to support their cities’ bids. “We have a lot of organizing to do or it will probably happen just like this the next time,” he said.

But Florida, who called the city councilors who signed the pact “heroes”, said that he believes the backlash to HQ2 is just getting started, and that politicians who feel pressured to support the bids are mistaken about how residents will respond once a winner is chosen and the details of the deal become public.

“If you win this thing, God help you,” he said. “The backlash in that community is going to be horrific, and the person who thinks they’re going to ride that to the governor’s house or the White House is going to ride it to being unelected.”

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