We are now five days and two explanations removed from the revelation that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook had a picture of a man in Klan robes standing next to a man in blackface, and my man still refuses to step down. Even in what has to be the darkest moment of his life, though, Northam somehow found the time and energy to put his signature on a bill promising one of the richest companies in the world up to three-quarters of a billion dollars in incentives if they meet hiring goals.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that Northam quietly signed an incentives bill for Amazon called the “Major Headquarters Workforce Grant Fund.” The bill promises up to $750 million to Amazon if it creates 37,580 jobs at its new headquarters in Arlington County. (The Arlington site is one of two new headquarters the company is building on the East Coast after a long, drawn-out process in which Amazon encouraged cities and states to prostrate themselves for the honor of getting some Amazon Jobs.)
The Times-Dispatch explains how the deal works (emphasis mine):
The legislation establishes a fund to receive and disburse $550 million in incentives for the creation of 25,000 jobs by Amazon in the first phase of its HQ2 project. The incentives equate to $22,000 per job and would not be paid until four years after the jobs are created and begin to generate additional income tax revenue to pay for them.
The agreement that Northam and Amazon announced on Nov. 14 requires that the jobs average $150,000 in annual pay, not including benefits. It also limits the number of jobs tied to federal government contracts to 10 percent of the total, as Virginia officials try to wean Northern Virginia and the state economy off federal spending.
The legislation would provide an additional $200 million if Amazon chooses to build a second phase that would create 12,850 more jobs, at a cost to the state of $15,564.
Yes, that’s right, a U.S state is subsidizing jobs for a company that made $72 billion dollars in the last quarter of 2018 alone.
Northam has been denounced by just about every Democrat in America at this point following the publication of the racist photo. In a batshit Saturday news conference, he denied that he was in the photo, but admitted to using blackface a different time. He’s now reportedly considering becoming an independent in an attempt to save his governorship. Northam was elected in 2017 and has just under three full years left in office, so it’s curious why he wouldn’t just go ahead and join the party he has he repeatedly voted for in the past and which has shown itself to be totally open to racist dumbasses.
In the meantime, though, Northam is happy to do what’s proving to be the most bipartisan work of all: Jumping when Amazon tells him to jump. “This is an investment in the growth of Virginia,” Amazon spokeswoman Jill Kerr told the Times-Dispatch. “It will help diversify the economy and serve as a catalyst for drawing in other businesses and sought-after jobs.”
While Amazon has gotten some good news in Virginia, things in New York—where it’s building another headquarters in Queens—are looking a bit more tenuous. The new Democratic legislature doesn’t exactly share Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vomit-inducing enthusiasm for the project, and earlier this week, Democratic Senate leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed state Sen. Michael Gianaris—a critic of the state’s proposed $3 billion deal with the company—to a state board that could kill it altogether.
Here’s to hoping that maybe—just maybe—Amazon’s ability to bend local governments to their will is coming to an end.