We understand politics, and it is politics alone that has Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson questioning the wisdom of Boston pursuing retail behemoth Amazon as it searches for a second U.S. headquarters. If Mayor Marty Walsh says recruiting Amazon is good, then Jackson, who is campaigning to unseat Walsh, must say recruiting Amazon is bad.
The thing is, when you’re running for mayor it’s bad policy and bad politics to wave off a possible $5 billion investment in your city that could bring with it 50,000 jobs. In doing back flips to separate himself from Walsh, the contrarian councilor raises doubts about his own competence.
“It is critical that we actually pull back, and not be moved by hype — the hype that got us into the IndyCar race — and actually look at what’s best for the people of Boston,” Jackson said on Boston Herald Radio Tuesday. “I think that we need to measure several times before we cut. This has to be about the long term and not the short-term reactions.”
Of course it is perfectly reasonable to question how much Boston would be willing to offer in the way of public subsidies — whether the cost to compete in the Amazon sweepstakes would be too high.
But keep in mind, Amazon is no Evergreen Solar.
And questioning whether Boston should be in the mix at all — comparing the pursuit of the company’s second headquarters to Walsh’s (yes, regrettable) pursuit of a weekend car race is just — well, it’s mindless.
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rooney had it right when he said “any mayor in America would not be doing his or her job by not looking seriously at this.”
No city competing in the global marketplace should be “pulling back.” Ignoring “the hype” is not how Boston made its promising match with GE.
While Jackson is busy with his measuring tape Amazon will be reviewing initial offers, which are due Oct. 19. The company should be aware that on this issue Tito Jackson is speaking for no one in Boston but himself.