Open Letter to Alderman Kris Povlsen, 12/1

Mr. Povlsen:

At last Monday’s City Council meeting, when the Council voted to approve tax abatements and fee waivers for the newest 3M project in town (“Project Oak”), you commented that some people misperceive such incentives as corporate welfare, whereas you would encourage us to think of these incentives as investments in our future.

Mr. Povlsen, such incentives might be either one. You know me as a person who has been opposing the new DeKalb Business Center warehouse project in a big way, yet you’ve not heard a peep from me or any of the Smart Growth-DeKalb group regarding Oak/3M. Why is that? It’s because we know the difference between a good deal and a bad one.

With all the “homework” that I’ve done on the logistics industry in the past few months, I’ve reached the conclusion that the city has indeed given away too much on occasion, especially when it comes to warehouse and distribution. With growth in this industry running 12-15% per year in the region and speculators grabbing up all the land they can in spite of a current vacancy rate averaging 17%, these projects should give us pause for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the absurdity of give-aways under these circumstances.

Nevertheless, I believe that tax incentives might have a place in achieving our long-term objectives as concerns our industrial tax base and Comprehensive Plan, and I believe that the Oak/3M project meets several criteria or at least preferences when it comes to those ends:

• The scope of the project will not overwhelm our current infrastructure;
• They are using existing industrial space instead of contributing to sprawl;
• 3M is a proven “good neighbor” in DeKalb; and
• The newest building will help them to consolidate current operations, not speculate (i.e., gamble) on logistics trends that may or may not come to pass.

In short: 3M scores 4 points, Business Center 0.

3 thoughts on “Open Letter to Alderman Kris Povlsen, 12/1”

  1. Ha! That letter will appear in the Star, Monday not today, sorries… I cant believe the Chronicle wont publish this stuff, whats the point of letters if not to spur debate?

  2. If you compare coverage between Chronicle, Midweek & Star, you’ll notice that the most complete presentation of the warehouse issues pro & con is in the Star. The Chronicle has a serious bias towards building this newest warehouse, not surprising as they have come out openly in favor of it. Also not surprising because many newspapers, especially corporate-owned, tend to be pro-business.

    But the biggest problem in this case is that the publisher is on the board of the DCEDC & is their fundraiser this year; this makes DCEDC untouchable I guess. The editors must also be personally angry with me regarding the the conflict of interest/full disclosure thing, though, because they won’t print anything I say on any subject anymore. Kind of an asinine display of power. The Wrath of Chron.

  3. Well I gotta tell you, as Metro Editor I strive to instill non biased reporting. Next semester I am Editorial Editor, I assure you I hide any biases well, it’s important in democracy for the press to ensure that all sides of the issue are heard. Also props to Mike Swiontek for his government reporting which is getting better with each story, we try Lynn, thanks.
    Also I linked to your site on my blog, maybe you could do the same for me. I am basically trying to do some independent investigative work over break and into the spring so any help as far as passing along my link to your readers or Yahoo! group would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again, hope you saw the letter in the Star.


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