After reading the “unwitting pitchman” article from last week again, one of Mayor Bill Foster’s quotes really stuck with us, in part because of how false what he said was. Here’s the quote:
“There’s no way in the world I would ask people to invest in a for-profit company”
It’s not that we have a problem with him saying it, but if you are going to say something like that, shouldn’t it be true? The fact is that he has pushed for the use of taxpayer money and tax credits to invest in private for-profit companies many times. One glaring example is the lackluster “rock and roll half marathon” that we have covered before where the city gave $30,000 in services for free to a private for-profit company, and more recently there is the nameless for-profit company that the city is planning to spend money and offer tax credits to in an effort to lure them St Petersburg, then there is the latest example of Wal-Mart, asking for a special designation so it can get $240,000 in tax credits for it’s new Sam’s Club on 34th St.
So the Mayor is in effect saying that he wouldn’t possibly be a pitch-man for a company that rehabs houses in questionable neighborhoods of the city and tries to sell them for a profit, letting you the investor make the decision to put money in the venture or not, he would rather take you the taxpayer out of the decision-making loop entirely and just take your money and use it to enhance larger for-profit corporations that he likes.
Maybe what he said in the quote is true after all, he wouldn’t “ask” people to invest in for-profit companies, he would just do the investing without asking the people who are paying for it.