Telling Amazon a good story
The countdown clock is ticking for delivery of proposals to host a second Amazon headquarters.The plans are due two weeks from today, and there is wide agreement that Boston is a serious contender.
At stake is the prospect of landing some 50,000 jobs and 8 million square feet of development to house them as the e-commerce behemoth looks to build out a huge operation to complement its Seattle headquarters.
Today’s Globe has a round-up of the Boston area sites that are under consideration as the city finalizes its proposal, including the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston; the South Station and Seaport area; Beacon Yards in Allston; and Widett Circle, the warehouse area that suddenly came into redevelopment view during the city’s ill-fated Olympic bid. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is also pitching a string of sites along the Orange Line from Somerville to the North Station in Boston.
Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker’s chief economic development official, Jay Ash, was addressing business leaders yesterday on the North Shore, where some officials also harbor dreams of Amazon glory. Ash seemed to strike a very politic pose, telling them they “need to be realistic about what the possibilities are,” but suggesting it might be good for the region to make a play for Amazon even if the company doesn’t bite at the offer.
That’s language that seems to follow the script laid out in a Globe op-ed by Tom Leighton, the CEO and founder of Kendall Square-based Akamai, the world’s biggest cloud delivery platform provider.
“Boston will never compete with other regions based on low costs, so we must play to our region’s strengths,” he writes. “That means fueling the pipeline of talented workers attracted here from around the world and making the most of our region’s high quality of life.” He touted the human capital being offered in a region where his company, and many like it, have been spun off from research at MIT or other incubators for the area’s knowledge economy.
Ash, too, focused on those elements of the “Massachusetts story,” boasting that we are the first state where more than 50 percent of the workforce has a college degree.
That said, it’s hard to imagine that the proposals won’t come with some financial incentives that leaders hope will serve as the icing on the cake.
Leighton says nothing about incentives or tax breaks the city or state might offer.The two tangible things he suggests government do to win the Amazon prize are push for more housing, at various price points, within reasonable commuting distance of a headquarters site, and make “a sustained public financial commitment to bring our transit infrastructure into the 21st century.”
The housing riddle is the more complicated nut to crack. Upgrading the timeworn MBTA will simply take money. Some of that money could even be forthcoming if residents vote next year to add new taxes on to incomes over $1 million to help fund transportation needs. On the other hand, that prospect might not be highlighted prominently in the pitch to top Amazon executives who could land here to helm a second headquarters.
The Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee grilled MBTA officials about efforts to privatize three bus maintenance garages, with a particular focus on a vote by the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board stating a preference for collaboration with the union on finding savings. (CommonWealth)
Roderick Ireland, the former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, is advising House Speaker Robert DeLeo on criminal justice reform. (WBUR) Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, who previously opposed tinkering with the state’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, is now indicating he’s amenable to doing away with some of them. (CommonWealth)
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is sending 69 police officers to Puerto Rico. (MassLive)
Rep. David Linsky of Natick files a bill to ban bump stocks in Massachusetts. Bump stocks can be used to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute. The Las Vegas shooter reportedly used bump stocks. (State House News)
The House overrides $320 million of Baker spending vetoes; so far the Senate has gone along with $40 million in overrides. (State House News)
The Lawrence City Council voted unanimously to ban pot shops and to require panhandlers to register with the city and be off the streets by sunset. (Eagle-Tribune)
One of three Stoughton selectmen who are the targets of a recall abruptly resigned in the middle of a board meeting because he said he was unable to control his temper over the tone of the debate, though he later said he would take some time before deciding to quit. (The Enterprise)
The town of Brookline is looking to seize via eminent domain several acres of land on the campus of Pine Manor College in order to build a new elementary school, but the college is not taking the news sitting down. (Boston Globe)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied he was on the verge of quitting but refused to comment on the report that said he called President Trump a “moron.” (U.S. News & World Report)
Some Republicans say they may be open to banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” used by Las Vegas spree killer Stephen Paddock to refit his semi-automatic weapons to fire continuously. (New York Times)
A staunch anti-abortion Republican congressman from Pennsylvania said he will not seek reelection after text messages surfaced of him suggesting to his mistress that she consider an abortion when she thought she was pregnant. (New York Times)
Lawrence state Rep. Juana Matias joins the Democratic race for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Niki Tsongas. (Boston Globe) Dan Koh, the former chief of staff to Boston mayor Marty Walsh, says he’s raised more than $800,000 in the first month out of the gate in pursuit of the seat. (Boston Herald)
WBZ-TV has canceled a scheduled mayoral debate next week between Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his challenger, Tito Jackson, after both candidates said they would not attend after a union at the station asked them to boycott the event until a deal is struck between workers and the station for higher wages. (Boston Globe)
Uber’s board of directors approved governance changes that reduce the power of some influential stockholders, including founder and ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, in order to smooth a large sale of stock to the Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank and ready the tech company to go public by 2019. (New York Times)
The American Red Cross is once again under fire for collecting millions of dollars in donations after Hurricane Harvey but frustrated Texas officials say the nonprofit failed to come through on its promises. (ProPublica and Texas Tribune)
The Food and Drug Administration sends a letter to Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord saying the store can’t list love as an ingredient on the label of its granola. “Love is not a common or usual name for an ingredient,” the FDA said. (Associated Press)
Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang gets a “mostly proficient” evaluation for his second year on the job. (Boston Globe)
Police swarmed Wachusett Regional High School and arrested two people after a social media exchange in which a shooting was discussed. (Telegram & Gazette)
Health insurance premiums could spike by 24 percent next year for the 80,000 state residents who get insurance via the Health Connector if the Trump administration follows through on talk of eliminating subsidies for the exchanges. (Boston Globe)
Harvard health policy guru John McDonough explains why he’s very skeptical of the new push for single-payer health care — even though he’s sympathetic to its goals. (Health Stew)
Several hundred service stations are still unable to generate state automobile inspection stickers three days after a the rollout of a new testing system that is riddled with bugs. (Boston Herald)
The Steamship Authority is considering banning trucks 40 feet or longer from the early morning ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard in an effort to address noise concerns from area residents. (Cape Cod Times)
MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville is in line to receive a $25,000 bonus if the system hits certain performance benchmarks. (Boston Herald)
Paul Levy raises an issue that appears to be on the minds of energy regulators: With renewable forms of energy gradually becoming less expensive, could electricity become too cheap to meter? (CommonWealth)
Entergy has reversed its decision to shut down one of its nuclear power plants in Michigan, raising questions on whether the company will follow through on its plan to close Pilgrim in 2019. (Cape Cod Times)
Scituate selectmen are considering a plan to shut down the town’s wind turbine at night after years of complaints about noise and shadow flicker. (Patriot Ledger)
A bill on Beacon Hill would restrict the use of a pesticide environmentalists say is killing honey bees which are essential to many crops in the Bay State. But farmers say limiting the use of neonicotinoids, the addictive chemicals found in tobacco, could lead to the use of more dangerous bug killers. (State House News Service)
In an unusual move, the US attorney’s office in Manhattan emailed the Boston Globe, saying it is investigating the billing practices of a surgeon who regularly double books patients and conducts “concurrent surgeries” and asking the paper for information from its Spotlight series on the issue. (Boston Globe)
Brockton police say a drunk and dope-sick driver triggered a fatal crash when she was texting her drug dealer to buy heroin. (The Enterprise)MEDIA
Politico provides a good tick-tock about how its reporters determined that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was riding charter planes and military jets to events at a high cost to taxpayers.