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Trib editorial: Other firms seeking what Amazon’s offered give taxpayers more reason to demand answers

April 2, 2018 GMT

As taxpayers wait to learn whether a court will uphold their right to know the details of the Pittsburgh/Allegheny County bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, another possible motive for secrecy by PGHQ2, the private company formed to develop the bid, is emerging. And rather than bolstering PGHQ2′s anti-transparency stance, it shows a major pitfall of joining this bidding race in the first place.

Simply put, PGHQ2, Mayor Bill Peduto and county Executive Rich Fitzgerald probably want to avoid what’s happening in some other Amazon HQ2 finalist regions, where companies with existing presences are demanding tax breaks and other incentives like those offered to the online retail behemoth.

The Wall Street Journal reports that’s what some tech companies told D.C.’s mayor in a recent letter about HQ2 incentives that reportedly include a Maryland package worth $5 billion. And Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. — which has thousands of workers in HQ2 finalists Dallas, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio — recently said he’ll demand a similar deal for his firm from the governor of the state with the winning region’s bid.

Whether the PGHQ2 bid succeeds or fails, once its terms are known, other firms surely will cite them to demand “artificial sweeteners” of their own. Thus, there’s even more reason for taxpayers to demand answers to the question of what pursuing Amazon’s HQ2 is going to cost them.