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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — “Who’s city? Our city,” protesters have chanted.
The refusal of officials to make public their special incentives for Amazon to locate its second headquarters here has prompted repeated protests.
“When Bill Peduto ran for mayor, he promised us the most open, transparent city government you will ever see. Where’s that promise now?” asked Prof. Jules Lobel, a Pitt Law professor, at one protest on April 26.
In June, the Office of Open Records ruled officials had to release their Amazon bid proposal, but now the state’s Department of Community & Economic Development has appealed that decision to Commonwealth Court to keep the bid sealed.
Mayor Peduto supports the secrecy, saying this is a competition with other cities.
“Our opportunity and our chances would be very limited if we were to flip all of our cards over and allow each of the other 19 cities to see what we’re saying we want to do as a partnership with Amazon,” Peduto told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Delano: “So you’re worried that other cities would match the deal?”
Peduto: “Match or better the deal.”
Besides tax breaks, Peduto says it includes other creative incentives they don’t want others to copy.
Delano: “Can you appreciate why some taxpayers are concerned about what that deal is, particularly given issues of housing, and affordability, and displacement?”
Peduto: “Yep. Absolutely, and those were all the same issues that we had in the discussions putting together the applications.”
But Peduto insists secrecy helps, not hurts, the city’s chances.
Delano: “Does it bother you that you’re hiding information from taxpayers?”
Peduto: “I don’t feel that we are hiding information from taxpayers as much as negotiating to see if we can land a company. If we land the company, then all that information has to be made public.”
If Amazon comes here, says the mayor, the deal would be subject to approval by other lawmakers.