Friday, June 29, 2018

Rushing Waters

The hysteria over Amazon establishing a second headquarters sent many cities into a bond issuing frenzy to meet the criteria that Amazon set up for cities as a type of prospectus of qualities they would need in order to bring great riches and promises that Seattle has experienced first hand, such as bro-culture, bizarre buildings for employees only, excessive housing costs, transportation issues and a descent upon a city by other businesses to poach employees due to the churn and burn of staff.  Yes it is glorious.  No the public schools nor the colleges did anything different to their curriculum or philosophy of education as this was a city in the shadow of Bill Gates and Paul Allen whose names adore many buildings on the University of Washington Campus and the private school where both attended received more than ample checks to fund its existing work so no that did not change.  The one STEM school, Cleveland, did that years ago to save the school from collapsing and Amazon as a the good neighbor it is to the community has done little but finally open a property for the homeless. Charity always begins at home and this is a company that has done little for its home city but ensure that the head tax levied against it and other companies similar in size died a quick death.

But that has not stopped most cities from begging for the great Bezos of the sky to bestow upon them the promised wealth and riches that they say will happen when many exchanges and gifts are made upon him to allow him to render a decision that will make the cities happy places and the politicians secure in their jobs for decades to come.   HUZZAH!

Amazon second headquarters contest jumpstarts languishing transit, education projects
Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY Published  June 29, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – By definition, 19 cities on Amazon’s list of potential homes for its second headquarters won’t make the cut.

But even if they don’t win the golden ticket — up to 50,000 tech jobs and a $5 billion investment — Amazon may have left its stamp. In many of the sites, the bid has given a push to housing, transit and education projects that had languished, sometimes for years.

Cities that might not have listened to “fancy urban planner talk will listen when it’s Amazon,” said Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council. The group helped craft Sacramento’s bid after Amazon in September announced it would pick one metropolitan area to build its second headquarters, setting off a North American feeding frenzy for the high-tech jobs and bragging rights that would come with the placement.

But even though California's sixth-largest city failed in January to make the second round of headquarters potentials, the prospect jump-started transit and education efforts in the area. It plans to launch a digital initiative to train young adults, said Broome.
The Sacramento skyline with the G1 indoor arena in

The Sacramento skyline with the G1 indoor arena in the foreground. (Photo: Greater Sacramento Economic Council)

It's common for states and cities to make promises about infrastructure upgrades and to move projects forward to entice companies to relocate, but "I’m not sure we’ve ever seen it on the same scale as the Amazon HQ2 search," said Sean Slone, director of transportation and infrastructure policy at the Council of State Governments.

In Georgia, where Atlanta is still in the running, Governor Nathan Deal told local reporters he’s updated Amazon on progress on a $100 million bus rapid transit system being built along a highly congested corridor that runs through Atlanta.

Known for horrible traffic and an under-developed transit system, it was only in May that the state created a unified regional transit system, to be called the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.

Further north, the three regions near the nation's capitol vying for the bid have finally pushed through a long-stalled transit initiative. D.C., Maryland and Virginia — all still in the running for the headquarters city — have each agreed to provide a share of the $500 million a year for the region's well-used but aging Metro system, the first dedicated funding since it went into operation in 1976.

It wasn’t until March that Maryland governor Larry Hogan, previously a holdout, agreed to support the funding push in his state.

The cities' initiatives were all in the works long before Amazon first announced the bidding process and all deal with long-standing problems. But in the effort to pass needed projects, their supporters are using the lure of Amazon to bring naysayers to their side.

“Cities will use all kinds of strategic and initiatives to increase the importance and urgency of projects. When you can create a sense of urgency or some kind of imperative you can heighten the importance of projects that public usually rejects,” said William Riggs, a planning strategist and professor at the University of San Francisco.

Amazon's influence over a city, which played out in a raucous and unusual fight with Seattle's city council over a proposed "corporate head tax" to support affordable housing, could be seen in these initiatives. Good transit and transportation, ample housing and access to a highly trained workforce were all prerequisites to a winning city, Amazon said in its request for proposals.

And that sway has pushed some cities to prioritize particular efforts, particularly in transit and education,.

These efforts raise questions about whether the features Amazon wants will be of interest to other companies that cities might be looking to entice.

"There are plenty examples where cities build custom infrastructure or make counterintuitive investments to woo companies or events — one of the best examples being attempts at hosting the Summer Olympics where un-needed infrastructure investment has led to massive cost overruns," said Riggs.

That said, Sacramento's Broome is convinced that pushing job training opportunities to include tech skills is helpful because of the ways the digital revolution is disrupting everything from retail to distribution to farming.

"There is very little separation in skills going forward from a basic competency perspective. .... The skills gap is what we are looking to fill in order to become more inclusive and equitable," he said.

In Kansas City, Missouri, which didn't make the Amazon cut, the state is changing rules covering computer science courses, helping increase the home-grown talent in the area, as well as providing funding to train computer science teachers.

“You can draw a loose line between Amazon and the legislation that just passed,” said Ryan Weber, president of the KC Tech Council, a regional advocacy group.

“I think it was made a priority because of the Amazon response,” he said. But effort will pay off no matter what types of businesses the area lands, he said. The governor is expected to sign the bill this week to allow Kansas students to get math and science credit for taking computer science, instead of treating it as an elective as schools now do.

The governor is expected to sign the bill this week which will allow Kansas students to get math and science credit for taking computer science, instead of treating it as an elective as schools now do.

"Strong tech skills are commonly seen as the key to becoming employable. In Kansas City, only 31% of the region’s tech workforce are technical workers at tech companies and a significant amount are spread out amongst non-tech employers like hospitals, law firms and banks," Weber said.

In education, the Greater Washington Partnership in the D.C. area is creating a plan for a college credential that will be available to tech graduates at 13 universities in the region highlighting their competency in data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity.

In Sacramento, the council pushed to shift local job training programs towards tech and away from semi-skilled programs such as health care and construction.

The prospect of winning the Amazon investment wasn't a rocket booster for all costly transit and education projects.

Some of the shortlisted cities may have had their chances for Amazon hurt by recent political developments that have stalled out transit initiatives, said Slone.

For example, in May voters in the city of Nashville in Tennessee resoundingly defeated a $9 billion plan that would have built a regional transit network anchored by light rail.

An effort to overturn Indiana’s ban on light rail failed in the state’s senate in March. City and business leaders had argued that they needed all mass transit options on the table to attract Amazon.

"This isn’t about Amazon, but it is about opportunities like Amazon, certainly, where we would be able to compete for a lot of great paying jobs and reinvesting in our community," Mark Fisher with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce told the Indianapolis Star Tribune.

Well what is neglected to mention are the laws and other issues that dominate the skyline that flows above the great river and that is the Gay hating, Anti marijuana and women not choosing ones that enable the great Evangelicals in the sky (the few collective idiots that try to convince you they are the majority) happy as despite smallness in size they are the loudest in the voices so it works the same.  Plus they come bearing the worship plates cash.  They are less about God and more about Politics and remember all politics are local and irony that is was the Black Churches that started the idea of from the pews to the polls.  Those whom you hate are those whom you envy and then promptly copy.  And that goes without saying in both life and business.

Amazon is the new Standard Oil, Carnegie Steel, Ford, Rockafeller, Getty and others who in 25 years will have an FX series named after it about the founder called -  Bezonia - which will expose the truth about the founder and his sad losses and rages that led to his isolation and loneliness.   Or what.ever.  I can't see one on Bill Gates it would be as boring as shit.  We need Oligarchs like the old timey ones, despondent, decadent, dangerous and duplicitous and that is just the D words.

Tennessee made a half seated effort to give a shit about Amazon and I have not heard word one since the original announcement and likely no one here cares unless they continue to believe that 100 people a day are moving here, that Diane Black would be Governor and the illiteracy rate would be less than 25%.  The actual number is 13% but add functional illiteracy, the ability to comprehend, compose and structure a well thought out essay, letter or critical analysis is way higher.  At the Harpeth River where one goes to boat or swim there is a sign that says "IF YOU ARE STUPID AND CANNOT READ THIS DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER." 

This is Tennessee and stupid is as stupid does and it does plenty here.  If Amazon was that misguided and insane to locate a headquarter here they are stupid as well.  The schools here would have to do a massive sea change to meet the needs and they are targeting wisely the health care trade which is well established here.   But again this is a low wage, right to work state with few if any labor protections and in turn no desire to change the status quo and now the Supreme Court has enabled that to become the law of the land.  As a result expect more OSHA failures, a decline in labor organization among the lowest paid workers as those in the food services industry but let us not forget those that desperately need it - such as Teaching, Technology and other trades that skirt the white collar but are clearly blue.  Welcome to third world America, I live in it and it is not pretty in the least.  All we need here in Nashville is another big rain and the rivers will overflow and being smart won't save us in this case.    Amazon is just another big river in which to drown us and they know more about us than anyone realizes. 


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