Why is Ama­zon rob­bing tax­pay­ers?

The Star Democrat - - OPINION - Elec­tion Day is one more op­tion for public com­ment JIM HIGHTOWER OtherWords colum­nist Jim Hightower is a ra­dio com­men­ta­tor, writer, and public speaker. He’s also edi­tor of the pop­ulist news­let­ter, The Hightower Low­down. Other Words.org.

The Tal­bot County Com­pre­hen­sive Plan’s stated goal is “to pro­mote a high qual­ity of life, to pre­serve the ru­ral char­ac­ter of County and to pro­tect the health, safety and well-be­ing of its cit­i­zens in a re­silient com­mu­nity.”

The Next Step 190 web­site notes that the Tal­bot County Coun­cil de­cided to up­date Chap­ter 190 of the County Code (the of­fi­cial doc­u­ment that reg­u­lates growth, de­vel­op­ment and preser­va­tion within Tal­bot County) “specif­i­cally to en­sure that the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan is im­ple­mented in an ef­fi­cient man­ner.”

So how did we end up with a code re­vi­sion that per­mits more de­vel­op­ment, more and louder am­pli­fied out­door mu­sic and un­lim­ited short-term rentals — even af­ter an ex­tra­or­di­nary level of public com­ment that over­whelm­ing re­jected those changes?

Why were amend­ments to limit new event venues with am­pli­fied out­door mu­sic, main­tain our cur­rent 55db noise level, limit or oth­er­wise con­trol short-term rentals, and cur­tail de­vel­op­ment re­jected without se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion?

I can only spec­u­late as to the rea­sons why a con­sis­tent ma­jor­ity of the cur­rent coun­cil chose to vote as they did. But the end re­sult is leg­is­la­tion that is in­con­sis­tent with the stated goals of the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan, the ob­jec­tive of the Chap­ter 190 code re­vi­sion and the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of those who at­tempted to have a voice in the fu­ture of our county.

While I don’t al­ways agree with Ms. Price and Mr. Bartlett, as it per­tains to 190, I want to com­mend them for their ef­forts to serve their con­stituents and the stated goals of this process in the face of un­re­lent­ing op­po­si­tion.

The op­por­tu­nity to in­flu­ence the out­come of these de­lib­er­a­tions is over, but there is one more op­tion for public com­ment, and that is on Elec­tion Day. If this is not the fu­ture you seek for Tal­bot County, make your wishes known at the bal­lot box on Nov. 6.

Eas­ton Naomi Hy­man is a can­di­date for Tal­bot County Coun­cil.

How much are you pay­ing Ama­zon?

I don’t mean how much you’re shelling out for stuff you bought. I mean how much you and your neigh­bors are sim­ply giv­ing to this huge and uber-rich on­line re­tailer.

If you live in In­di­anapo­lis, Austin, Chicago, At­lanta, or 16 other lucky cities, con­grat­u­la­tions! You’re a fi­nal­ist in the “Throw-Your-MoneyAt-Ama­zon” Sweep­stakes!

It’s like Bon­nie and Clyde, but in­stead of rob­bing banks, Ama­zon has en­ticed city and state of­fi­cials to rob their own cit­i­zens — then hand over the loot in the form of tax breaks, land, and other bribes to Jeff Be­zos, CEO of Ama­zon. The lo­cal­ity that of­fers the most booty “wins” the grand prize of hav­ing this thiev­ing cor­po­rate be­he­moth be­come its new neigh­bor.

At least un­til Be­zos gets a bet­ter of­fer. So, again I ask: How much are your of­fi­cials of­fer­ing?

Sh­hhh, that’s a se­cret. Nearly all of the 20 con­tes­tant cities won’t tell city coun­cil mem­bers (much less tax­pay­ers) how many bil­lions they’re throw­ing at Be­zos. Many cities even turned their ne­go­ti­a­tions over to busi­ness groups like the Cham­ber of Com­merce, let­ting this hand­ful of un­elected, self­in­ter­ested, pri­vate elites se­cretly make bind­ing prom­ises that would af­fect all res­i­dents without con­sult­ing them.

In the few places that did re­lease in­for­ma­tion, it’s amounted to an un­funny joke. Mont­gomery County, for ex­am­ple, made public a 10-page doc­u­ment list­ing “in­cen­tives” it was of­fer­ing, but every word on every page was blacked out!

This whole flim-flam is abom­inable and ought to be crim­i­nal. Ama­zon will rake in a quar­ter-tril­lion dol­lars in sales this year, and Be­zos is sit­ting on $166 bil­lion in per­sonal wealth. Shame on him for de­mand­ing public hand­outs, and shame on lo­cal of­fi­cials for rob­bing the public till to fur­ther bloat his ego and for­tune.

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