GEe, what will Amazon do?
Just as GE is set to move into Boston, word comes that the multinational conglomerate that city and state officials wooed here with a multi-million dollar package of tax breaks and incentives will look nothing like the corporate anchor that was envisioned to launch the Seaport into the future.
Everything coming from GE CEO John Flannery seems dark. Since he took over in August from Jeffrey Immelt, Flannery has cut the company’s portfolio and slashed costs to try to right the ship. But stockholders are having none of it. On Tuesday, he announced a $6.2 billion write-off that triggered a 3 percent drop in the stock price, which is down more than 40 percent over the last year in a bull market. That’s not the kind of stability Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker foresaw when they put their collective heads and purses together to beat out other contenders.
It now raises the question of what will happen with the city’s bid to draw Amazon to build its $5 billion HQ2 project and bring 50,000 new jobs. GE’s woes will likely not impact Amazon’s decision but they could trigger a rethinking and reproposal by Walsh and Baker. But what will that entail? More money to win the current crown jewel of American capitalism? Fewer breaks out of fear of being burned again?
There is some historic context for this but what it shows is that past is prologue only in a willingness to commit public funds for promises that aren’t binding. More than 20 years ago, the state passed a series of tax credits to keep Fidelity Investments and other mutual fund companies from moving out of state. The incentives were tied to job growth but the employment mandate was set to sunset after five years and after that, mutual fund firms had carte blanche to take the credits whether they expanded or contracted.
There’s not a lot of information available about how the incentives are tied to GE’s growth. But if we learned anything from past tax credits, it’s always more conducive for the company than for taxpayers.
Amazon has announced its search for up to 1 million square feet of space in the Seaport, leading to speculation that Boston has moved into top-tier contention to land HQ2. Will it change how city and state officials reengage with Amazon as it nears its decision? Jeff Bezos probably hopes not.
Gov. Charlie Baker wants to give emergency room clinicians more leeway in forcing suspected opioid addicts into treatment, but many in the medical community don’t like the idea. (Salem News)
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer was hit with her first setback when the new City Council rejected one of her five nominees for the Licensing Board, citing concerns over his background of representing restaurants, bars, package stores, and hotels seeking liquor licenses. (MetroWest Daily News) Spicer recently sat down for a Conversation with CommonWealth prior to her inauguration as the first mayor of the state’s newest city.
West Bridgewater police pulled over 55 cars over the long weekend, more than three times the normal rate over a four-day span. (The Enterprise)
A Herald editorial expresses disgust with the sudden outbreak of hearing loss among Republican senators and the US homeland security secretary, who claimed they didn’t hear President Trump refer to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole” (or “shithouse”) places in an Oval Office meeting last week. The National Review wonders what’s the point of calling Trump a racist, even though he admittedly makes racist statements.
A former CIA employee has been arrested and charged with giving the Chinese government the identities of agency informants, which resulted in the disappearance and murder of many of them. (New York Times)
Democrats in Congress are considering the politically risky move of forcing a government shutdown over inaction on DACA. (Boston Globe) But a Globe editorial says any blame will rest with Republicans, who control both houses of Congress and the White House.
Jeff Jacoby says the GOP tax cut is already paying dividends to the beleaguered middle class whose cause Elizabeth Warren says she champions — and the Democratic darling has gone notably quiet about it. (Boston Globe)
The White House doctor says Trump is in excellent physical and mental health, although he could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds. (Time) Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, says the numbers from the medical exam prove Trump has heart disease.
Nearly all members of the National Park Service advisory board resign in frustration. (Washington Post)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 21 states and the District of Columbia in suing to block the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. (MassLive)
Gabriel Gomez leaves the GOP and is not ruling out an independent run against US Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (CommonWealth)
Scot Lehigh has a quickie assessment of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez, who does not emerge unscathed. (Boston Globe)
A Berkshire Eagle editorial urges officials in Lenox and at the State House to come up with regulations for short-term rentals. CommonWealth recently did a deep dive on short-term rentals in the Boston area.
A study by a UMass Dartmouth marine science professor concludes more than 300 jobs in the fishing industry have been lost in the past two months as a result of the federal groundfishing ban imposed in the wake of the conviction of Carlos Rafael, the so-called New Bedford “Codfather.” (Standard-Times)
Three finalists were named for state education commissioner. The list includes Jeff Riley, the state receiver for the Lawrence schools, and two out-of-state candidates. (CommonWealth)
Salem State University reports a new racism incident. (Salem News)
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the charity founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, is awarding a $5.5 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop an artificial intelligence tool to make medical and scientific research reports easier to track. (Boston Globe)
Never mind student achievement and academic programs. The real pressure on school superintendents revolves around when to call a snow day. (Boston Globe)
Nurses at Berkshire Medical Center authorize their union to order another one-day strike. (Berkshire Eagle)
New England power generators burned nearly 2 million barrels of oil over the 15-day cold snap to keep the lights on in the region. (CommonWealth)
Haverhill is near a deal with a solar developer for a 4.4 megawatt project on the town’s capped dump. (Eagle-Tribune)
Websites advertising prostitution services that engage in human trafficking are common — but prosecutions are rare, law enforcement officials say, because it’s often difficult to build solid cases. (New England Center for Investigative Reporting)
US Attorney Andrew Lelling wants noted Boston attorney Howard Cooper kicked off the defense team for former state senator Brian Joyce, charging that Cooper has made “false representations” to state ethics officials on Joyce’s behalf. (Boston Herald)A state trooper who is suing higher ups who he says pressured him to change the arrest report for the daughter of a Worcester County judge is nervous about further repercussions, his lawyer says, after he helped a fellow trooper with booking a Worcester County assistant district attorney on OUI charges on Monday. (Boston Herald)
The former president of a small private Falmouth college is barred from serving as the head or on a board of any charity as a result of a settlement he reached with the state attorney general’s office over allegations of financial improprieties with school funds and public bonds and grants. (Cape Cod Times)