Mega misses — or wins?
With no Olympics or Amazon, we’ll just have to do our jobs
Like a high school kid working to move past an unrequited crush, Boston told Amazon it just wasn’t that into the e-commerce giant anyway.
Mayor Marty Walsh said he was proud to have made it to the “short list” in the HQ2 sweepstakes, but added, “our future will not be defined by a single company.”
Gov. Charlie Baker was on board with the effort to bring Amazon here — but he was not willing to shower the company with the billions of public dollars that New York and the Washington, DC, areas evidently have nothing better to do with.
Then there was yesterday’s Globe editorial, which questioned whether Boston was ever really a serious contender, or just part of a massive, cynical PR move by Jeff Bezos to amp up the bidding war. Of the switch from a search for a enormous single second headquarters to the news that the second headquarters would be divided into two locations, the paper said, “Does anyone believe Amazon only recently made up its mind on the scope of the project?”
There were plenty of people arguing that an Amazon win would be a loss for those struggling on economic margins here — or stuck in worsening commutes. Now the decidedly mixed blessing of hosting the mail-order behemoth is someone else’s.
Seattle native Alaric Dearment, in an op-ed in yesterday’s Daily News, offered a less-than-glowing preview of coming attractions. “The insipid pseudo-culture of affluence and skyrocketing housing costs that now engulf Seattle testify to Amazon’s effect on the city and are ill omens for New York, especially Queens,” he wrote.
The photoshopped front page of yesterday’s New York Post showed a laughing Bezos holding bags of money as he looks out the open door of a helicopter over New York. Local elected officials in Queens were hardly forming a welcome wagon, as they ripped the news that Amazon was landing there. A Post editorial finds little to cheer about in the deal, with the city and state ponying nearly $3 billion in grants, credits, and other incentives to lure a company headed by the richest guy on the planet. “Sure looks like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just fleeced Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio as rubes,” it says. The Times may not employ the same colorful tabloid talk, but its conclusion in an editorial today is the same: While the two leaders made good on their vow to land Amazon, “they seem to have done so by overpaying.”
In the Washington area, the company’s arrival is viewed with many of the same hopes — and fears — that attended the Boston bid. The hopes include a redoubled commitment to improvements to region’s Metro subway system. But any faltering on transit upgrades, reports the (Bezos-owned) Washington Post could push the thousands of new tech workers to embrace an already-exploding transportation mode that only exacerbates area traffic — Uber and Lyft. Meanwhile, the influx of thousands of new high-paid tech workers can only have one effect on the DC region’s already soaring housing costs.
As for Boston’s Olympic dream, which looked a lot more like a public-debt nightmare, it increasingly looks like we were onto to something when decided (at the 11th hour) to take a pass on that honor — complete with its required “public guarantee” to cover all cost overruns. Calgary voters this week turned thumbs down in an advisory vote on that city hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics. With that, the CBC reports, competition has dwindled from eight would-be bidders to two.
Whether the Olympics or Amazon, the goal always seemed to get regions sucked in by the bright, shiny new object — without worrying about all the potential downsides of the deal.
“Just as with the Olympics, this was a ‘gift’ Boston didn’t really need in the first place,” Jon Keller said yesterday of the Amazon sweepstakes.
Globe columnist Adrian Walker offered a novel thought yesterday to those banking on an Amazon win to force a reckoning with transit and housing needs. “[I]nstead of waiting for a powerful corporation to push us to fix problems, we should, instead, do what we know we need to do,” he wrote. “With the chase over, we can get back to the business of making Boston even better for the people who are already here.”
Masport promises to look beyond the usual suspects in hiring a new CEO. (Boston Globe)
Charlie Baker’s team is rolling out plans for his inauguration — and $25,000 will get you two seats to a candlelight inaugural dinner plus other perks. (Boston Globe)
Many western Massachusetts towns are discovering that homelessness is no longer just a big city issue. (CommonWealth)
Quincy city councilors approved hiring a consultant to study the city’s housing stock amid the ongoing construction boom in order to retain neighborhood character and create more affordable housing, which they termed “inclusive housing.” (Patriot Ledger)
Freshman Democrats in the House are facing their first test: Choosing sides in the intraparty battle to be speaker. (Boston Globe)
US Rep. Seth Moulton and a Republican ally are pushing for changes in the way the Department of Veterans Affairs handles medical marijuana issues. (State House News)
A new fire sparked in southern California, taxing firefighters already battling the deadliest blaze in state history. (U.S. News & World Report)
Michael Avenatti, the California lawyer for the porn actress who had an affair with then-businessman Donald Trump, was arrested on charges of domestic violence, though he denied he has ever assaulted a woman. (Washington Post)
Geoff Diehl is considering a bid to lead the Massachusetts GOP. (Boston Globe)
Thousands of mail-in ballots in Florida were rejected because the signatures did not match those that officials had on file, many of them scratched out on electronic signature pads. (New York Times)
A New York Times investigation has found that Facebook leaders, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, ignored warning signs about Russian exploitation of the site and exposure of users’ personal data and then launched an effort to deny and cover it up to avoid public backlash and government regulation.
Marian Wright Edelman, the legendary children’s rights activist, will step down as president of the Children’s Defense Fund, the organization that she launched 45 years ago. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
The presidents of 15 Massachusetts community colleges signed a joint letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to change course on a trend to limit transgender rights on college campuses. (The Enterprise)
The Lowell School Committee voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui. (Lowell Sun)
Reading Memorial High School has been plagued by racist graffiti. (Boston Globe)
A Fitchburg State University basketball player has been suspended and barred from campus — and could face criminal charges — after he clocked an opposing player. (Boston Herald)
Parents and civil rights leaders call on the Boston Public Schools to put the brakes on its school closure and renovation plans. (Boston Globe)
Gov. Charlie Baker is taking heat over the gender imbalance in top posts in the state’s public higher education system. (Boston Herald)
A new internal report uncovers more problems at the Brockton VA Hospital. (Boston Globe)
Officials in the tobacco industry indicated they may fight a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, which are popular among young people and African Americans. (Wall Street Journal)
Sen. Eric Lesser says state officials may have to renegotiate terms of a contract with CRCC for new Red and Orange Line cars if the Trump administration fails to exempt the Chinese company from its tariffs. CRCC is assembling the vehicles in Springfield. (MassLive)
Framingham officials have granted a two-year license to Boston startup Zagster, a hybrid dockless bike-sharing company. (MetroWest Daily News)
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority grants a 4.5 percent raise to its top administration. The pay hike follows close on the heels of a fare hike. (MassLive)
People are lining up to sue Columbia Gas, but language buried inside its tariffs suggest the company may not be liable for the gas fires and explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley. (WGBH)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released a draft plan to lease out four potential offshore wind plots in a region called the New York Bight Call Area, a prime scallop fishing area for boats out of New Bedford and Fairhaven. (Standard-Times)
Voters at Falmouth Town Meeting rejected a moratorium on solar array permits. (Cape Cod Times)
For Joan Vennochi, the mass is over. (Boston Globe)
Wayland voters at a Special Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved a ban on recreational marijuana, the first step in the process to keep pot out of the community. The ban next goes to a town-wide referendum in April. (MetroWest Daily News)
A Nevada judge will rule on Monday on a filing by Steve Wynn’s lawyers seeking to bar the release of information on Wynn by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that he says is protected by attorney-client rules. (Boston Herald)
President Trump says he will back a bipartisan bill in Congress to reform criminal justice and the prison system. (New York Times)
The Cape Cod Times has put together an ambitious interactive presentation using FBI data to track violent and property crimes since 2008 in the 15 towns over the bridge.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is suing the Boston Police in a bid to gain access to the department’s gang database, which is increasingly being cited in immigration hearings. (WBUR)MEDIA
Fox News backs CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump. (Variety) The Justice Department argues in a court filing that President Trump can decide which reporteras can gain access to press conferences the same way he can decide who can interview him. (CNN Business)