Written by Tito Jackson
Congratulations to the People of Boston on GE’s Decision to Decline a Taxpayer-Funded Helipad
This past Valentine’s Day, General Electric sensibly stepped away from part of their sweetheart deal with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth that would have provided them with a taxpayer-funded helipad. I suspect that Boston’s taxpayers were not heartbroken.
I agree with General Electric. Boston’s talent and resources make it one of the best places for any business to move to. Google and Microsoft greatly expanded their presence in our metro area because they appreciated Logan Airport’s proximity to the center of Boston, as well as the well-trained and hard-working workforce that we have in Boston and beyond. I commend GE for reaching the same conclusion.
Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t hold anything against GE for trying to cut the best deal they can. Instead, I hold the City and the State firmly responsible for such dismal financial recklessness with our money.
I have stood together with the residents, businesses, and community groups of South Boston, the Fort Point Channel, and beyond, in opposing such a helipad from the beginning, and am thrilled they were finally heard by GE itself. All of Boston should be sincerely grateful for their amazing advocacy. So imagine my dismay when I learned that the Mayor’s Administration still wants to pursue a publicly-funded helipad, even when GE itself said no thanks! I ask the Mayor plainly to stop. We have spent too much time and treasure already. The Olympics, IndyCar, a secretly-planned soccer stadium in Dorchester, a helipad for corporate executives. The Mayor seems almost incapable of protecting taxpayer money when a project is put before him that would mostly benefit economic elites.
We have better things to spend our tax dollars on. I call on the Mayor to instead fund the students of forty-nine Boston Public Schools that face $11.4M in funding cuts next year. They are our future.
We need to focus our energy, resources, and time in training more of our residents to participate in an economy that requires computer science, coding, and STEM skills. Clive Johnson in a recent article in Wired Magazine entitled, “The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding,” implores us to develop and train a workforce of the future.
The data about the Massachusetts economy shows us that we are not at a loss for great companies here, but of the talent to fill the companies that we already have. Let’s use the savings from the helipad and use them to train the workforce of tomorrow.
Boston was built by working families and small businesses. We need to prioritize their needs as part of the Boston we are building. Our greatness as a city must not be measured by how high we can build our multi-million dollar condo skyscrapers, but by how high we can lift up our ordinary residents. We will all be better off when we champion all Bostonians, not just the ones with helicopters.
Tito Jackson is the District 7 City Councilor. He is also running for Mayor of Boston.
Is a helipad really that expensive? These NIMBY’s need to move to the burbs. I would love to know the demographics at these hearings. Imagine if all the Yuppy’s actually cared and went to these meetings…there wouldn’t be a resident over 50 left in the neighborhood in a few years time.
Jackson starts out talking about GE ( which has pledged $50MM for Boston Public Schools), but his real agenda is attacking the Mayor with false charges. The Olympic bid group was in place long before this mayor was sworn in. When it became apparent that the Olympic Committee sought the assurance public funds, Walsh said emphatically, “No”. So the Committee rejected Boston. The Indy fiasco was the result of a ethically-challenged, slippery, phoney promotor who couldn’t meet deadlines nor satisfy permitting requirements. So, Walsh terminated the project. But it was this ridiculous statement by Jackson that shows he’s clueless about the City’s finances: “The Mayor seems almost incapable of protecting taxpayer money when a project is put before him that would mostly benefit economic elites.” I don’t know who or what “economic elites” are, but putting a guy like this mayor in such a category shows Jackson is simply, and desperately, trying to malign Walsh for his own personal and political gain. Under Walsh’s leadership, Boston has been upgraded to AAA status for the first time in decades. He also settled a number of labor contracts, thereby protecting taxpayers from arbitrations that have in the past cost residents dearly. Property taxes have decreased as a result of Walsh’s prudent fiscal management. What exactly has Jackson done that qualifies him to be the Mayor? About the only memorable thing was Jackson’s organizing and leading school children to walk out of classes and attend Jackson’s Budget hearing at City Hall. Using kids for his own publicity, taking them out of school, and using City Council time and resources is not public service. It is showmanship.
You claim that “When it became apparent that the Olympic Committee sought the assurance public funds, Walsh said emphatically, ‘No.'”
That is flatly untrue.
The requirement that the host city guarantee cost overruns is a standard IOC requirement that has been imposed on every host city other than LA in ’84 (because no other city was willing to host the Games). Walsh knew that from the moment he took office and was a vigorous booster nonetheless. He signed a joinder agreement promising that the city would execute the standard host city contract, including the financial guarantee.
In late May 2015, Boston Magazine and the Boston Business Journal published the unredacted version of Chapters 1 through 4 of the bid book, which proved that Boston 2024 had lied when it said it wouldn’t require public money. Walsh didn’t blink. Not only that, his administration point-blank refused to demand the remaining two chapters from Boston 2024.
That’s when Tito Jackson stepped in and filed a motion seeking to have the Boston City Council subpoena the final two chapters. When Boston 2024 was forced to release those final two chapters, it was revealed that the bid team had projected a $400+ million deficit to the USOC, which it then converted to “other revenue” in the public version, in order to project a balanced budget.
Sensing the writing on the wall, the USOC refused to commit to Boston and started making overtures to LA. As a result, Walsh got pissed and decided to go the “you can’t break up with me, I’m breaking up with you” route.
The Boston Globe’s morning-after article demonstrates very clearly that Walsh’s rejection had nothing to do with protecting city taxpayers. In Walsh’s own words, he would have signed the financial guarantee if the USOC had committed to Boston:
“The seeds of the breakup had been planted about three weeks earlier, Walsh said, when he sat in his City Hall office with USOC officials. Upset at reports the committee was considering dropping Boston for Los Angeles, the mayor said he demanded a letter from the USOC assuring him the panel would stick with Boston.
In turn, he said, the USOC started pressuring him to declare that he would sign the International Olympic Committee’s host city agreement, which would include a guarantee that Boston would step in with public financing to deliver the Games if the organizers ran out of money.
‘They were asking me to sign the document and I was asking them back, “Will you sign the letter?” and “Let me see the letter saying we are the actual chosen host city,”‘ Walsh said. ‘That letter never came.’
The standoff would eventually give the mayor a politically popular reason for backing away from the bid, before the USOC could embarrass the city by axing the project.
USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun and other USOC officials declined to comment. But they may have had reason to be frustrated with Walsh for his reluctance to publicly endorse the guarantee.
In October, the mayor signed a letter to Blackmun stating he would sign the host city contract. A separate ‘joinder agreement’ between Walsh and the USOC also states that ‘the city shall execute and deliver the Host City Contract. . . as the IOC shall require.'”
I agree with and appreciate Tito’s stance.
GE is valued at ~$250 Billion. They have come to Boston after avoiding taxes for years and having HUGE environmental catastrophes in CT (http://www.cleanupge.org/gemisdeeds.html). GE is not just moving to Boston, it’s running from CT where it did not pay “substantial taxes” according to the Governor (http://wtnh.com/2015/06/05/malloy-g-e-has-not-paid-any-substantial-amount-of-corporate-taxes/ )
It’s time to realize that BILLION DOLLAR companies should not get tax breaks when are schools and public infrastructure are crumbling.
GE “avoids” taxes the same way any individual or corporation does, legally. If you want “BILLION DOLLAR” companies to move to Boston and contribute to the tax receipts here, yes, you may have to make some concessions.