The fairy tale of Amazon and Philly | Stu Bykofsky

BYKO21
Mayor Kenney has said that “Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon.”

There’s no denying it: The way the city applied its makeup for its date with Amazon, on paper we look pretty good.

I like how Mayor Kenney went all pre-K by saying, “Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon. Just right.”

He engaged in fairy-tale reasoning when he said, “We’re going to win this” — the “this” being the monster company’s second headquarters, something sought by dozens of cities.

The only way to be sure “we’re going to win this” is to kidnap the children of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and I don’t think we are going there.

Winning would be huge for Philadelphia. I hope we succeed, even while I am repulsed by cash-starved cities lifting their skirts to offer tax-break inducements to the $84 billion corporation.

Many cities are competing, and on some handicap sheets Philadelphia gets good ratings. 

Philly put together a creative promotional package with real and imagined celebrities, regular people, and even Sixers star Joel Embiid warning Amazon that Philly will be tough on you. That's a bit scary.

Anyway, when you prepare for a date you put your makeup on with care and make sure your fly is zipped.

So the city talked about several sites ready to go, its affordability and walkability, even bike lanes.

Here’s what it didn’t say: The most off-putting elements of doing business in Philadelphia are the onerous business and wage taxes. They are expenses that can be avoided by crossing City Avenue or the Delaware River.

You think Amazon doesn’t know about the soda tax? You think Bezos doesn’t wonder what will happen if Kenney wakes up one morning, decides Amazon makes too much money, as he did with soda manufacturers, and decides to drop a specially designed tax on the Big A?

The city touted an educated workforce that is more aspirational than operational, and that brings us to underperforming schools. Amazon is one of those companies that shower benefits on its workers. Why would it choose a city in which its workers will be forced into private schools for their kids to have a good education? What’s more important to young parents — schools or bike lanes?

We have the highest poverty rate among big cities, and that means the city has trouble raising money and spends too much on social services, which it often delivers poorly, as we see with DHS.

Don’t get me started on the Parking Authority.

We have tensions between the police and some communities and tensions between neighborhoods, not as bad they were once, but still not good.

Our infrastructure is in bad shape, and although we do have an extensive mass transit network, that’s little comfort when buses and trains are chronically late — or crashing.

This isn’t just Negadelphia, it’s reality.

Luring Amazon, and its jobs, inside our city limits would help fix these problems while creating others.

Such as? Attracting tens of thousands of new Philadelphians would drive skyward our now-low rentals and home prices.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Since Kenney used the Goldilocks metaphor, let me remind you of how the bedtime story ends: Goldilocks goes running out of the house of the Three Bears.