In its recent plea for a portion of the new Amazon headquarters that might be fleeing for New York, the Crain’s editorial board said that the “grumbling in some quarters about corporate incentives” shouldn’t be enough to dissuade the corporate giant from relocating here.
Consider this a quarter from which there is a grumble.
While the public never was told the full contours of what they were going to be on the hook for in Mayor Emanuel’s sweetheart package for Amazon, one need only look at the last eight years under this administration.
We’ve built shiny new arenas in areas already on the upswing while vast swaths of our city, particularly on the South and West sides have remained mired in blight. We’ve seen TIFs hyperactive in areas like Lincoln Yards and in the new “78” mega-development, while at the same time we’ve closed scores of neighborhood schools and mental health clinics.
If Amazon was unwilling to take Chicago’s first lucrative bid, what will we have to give away to attract the second?
Chicago is in the middle of a fiscal crisis of which it hasn’t seen in generations and the wave hasn’t even hit yet. We are in no position to hand over scarce resources with so little scrutiny so long as our unfunded pension obligations are unmet.
And now that unfolding scandals are casting suspicion on the entire zoning and development process of our city to a new degree (who knows what scandals are forthcoming?), we are ill-equipped to vet and examine a huge new development of this order. The public deserves total transparency and it has received none.
We have to commit to development from the ground up and that starts with our neighborhoods, where a commitment to public safety and good neighborhood schools will build a firm base that will compliment the hyper-development we have seen in our city’s center over recent years.
Amazon, you’re welcome in Chicago. But we’re not covering your tab anymore.