$30 million shakedown

James Briggs writing for the Indianapolis Star:

The City-County Council in November choked down a rare retention incentive for DowDuPont, approving it by an 18-7 vote, despite a sense of bewilderment among some who supported it. The deal, as well as the urgency surrounding it, came as a surprise to many council members — even though Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration negotiated it nearly three years ago.

The deal cost the City $30 million. Counselors on both sides thought this a lousy deal, and yet only 7 actually voted “no”. The argument seems to be Dupont existed in Indy. Then it merged with another company, and the new company was thinking of moving (maybe), so we made a deal with the new company.

If you squint, yeah, I guess it’s a new company. About like if your neighbor got married and their spouse moved in with them. It’s not the same old person, it’s a whole new couple!

Cities across the US are tied up with issues like this all the time. Frankly, private companies have cities and states over a barrel. At least we’re not a border city like Chicago, Kansas City, or Louisville. Goodness knows how much squabbling would go on then.

I’d rather see Indianapolis do nothing in approval of TIFs and flimsy abatements to private developers. But if we’re going to do these kinds of deals, then we have to open it up to everyone from small grocers to barbers and consulting agencies. But we don’t, so let’s stop the corporate handouts. At some point we’re negotiating like it’s ransom.

The only way it stops is if we collectively grow a spine and say no. We’ll have to deal with the loss when a company does decide to move, but for all we ever know they may have decided to move regardless. 

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Justin Harter for District 12