As if he wanted to demonstrate just how much the Amazon deal will not benefit most of Chicago, Mayor Rahm sent in a crew of graffiti cleaners to freshen up some of the richest parts of town.
Then he brought in William Shatner—Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame—to narrate a promotional video for the deal.
Just another week on the Amazon beat. Man, it’s exhausting keeping up with the mayor’s propaganda machine.
First, the graffiti busters. Ahead of last weekend’s visit from Amazon’s site-selection team, the graffiti crews zipped through several sites in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in and around the Loop that have been offered as potential headquarters to the world’s richest company.
Let’s take a break to think about Amazon’s site-selection crew. Talk about a cushy job—they fly from city to city, wining and dining at the host city’s expense.
Apparently, Rahm sent in the graffiti crews to convince Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that Chicago really is like something he might read about in a mayoral press release—clean, neat, and filled with happy, friendly campers who love the mayor.
As for the rest of the city—which is everything else—who might want a little cleanup service for their neighborhoods . . .
Shut up and pay the bill!
Hey, Rahm, how about trying to woo Amazon by doing something that would benefit the people who actually live in Chicago. Like hiring more school counselors, or reopening the mental health clinics, or hiring more cops. Or—oh, you get the idea.
By the way, while we’re at it—the graffiti crew painted over a valuable work of art that was on the side of the Cards Against Humanity headquarters.
Amazon hasn’t even come to town, and it’s already more trouble than it’s worth.
Now to the video presentation . . .
It opens with a royal suck-up to Bezos, as Shatner intones, “1994. A garage piled high with books. Soon to be a vision beyond the earth’s orbit. And with each new chapter, new skeptics because the skeptics never stop. They tried to count us out too. Maybe you heard about the fire. Did we cry uncle? No.”
All right. Enough. As one of those skeptics, I can take no more. You want to watch it—here it is. But a few things to think about if you do.
Captain Kirk, Dr. Spock, Scotty, or anyone else associated with the Enterprise crew won’t be paying for Amazon’s second headquarters, if it comes to Chicago.
You will—with your tax dollars.
That’s why you should know what you’re buying and how much it will cost before you agree to pay for it.
But even now, months into this nationwide competition, you don’t know the answer to either question because the details are a secret.
Amazon says the second headquarters will create 50,000 jobs. But it insists on the right to keep claw-back provisions out of the contract. That means we can’t force the company to pay back some of the money we give it should it fall short of its job promises. So, really, we don’t know how many jobs we’re going to get for our billions.
Moreover, we don’t know exactly how much Mayor Rahm and Governor Rauner have offered Amazon in state and city taxes. Sources have said it’s as much as $2.25 billion. Beyond that—no specifics.
Good luck wrenching any info from Rahm’s crew—they wouldn’t even say where Amazon’s site selection committee would be visiting when it came to town last week.
When Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman asked deputy mayor Bob Rivkin for specifics about the visit, he replied: “Amazon wants to do this on a very confidential basis. Everybody is under strict nondisclosure. So, I really can’t talk about it.”
When she pressed further, Rivkin said: “What about, ‘I can’t talk about it’ don’t you understand?”
Hey, Rivkin: Does the job description for deputy mayor require being a wiseass, or does hanging around with Rahm just turn you into one?
As for Shatner’s enthusiasm for the deal—he doesn’t pay taxes here. He lives in California. Just goes to show you—the farther you are from having to pay for this thing, the more likely you are to support it.