I hope I'm not making multiple posts... sorry if I am. Not sure of all the ins and outs of the diary system yet. Or even how to get my name on the byline :~)
From BlogWood: Norwood's Fair and Balanced Nattering: Scripps deal another swampy mess?:
Let me get this straight: Florida has no money for education, transportation, medical care for its citizens, or anything else, but Jeb is actually selling us on a deal which will guarantee 540 jobs in Florida, but not necessarily to be given to Floridians, for an average government subsidy of just $925,925 per job.($500 Million, 540 jobs...)
People who work full time in this state for minimum wage cannot put food on their own table, if they're lucky enough to own a table and have a place to put it, and we are going to give the world's richest research institute $500,000,000.00 to come and hang out for a few years?
All emphasis within quoted material is mine.
Gov. Jeb Bush boarded a plane July17 and headed to California with an audacious idea.
Behind closed doors, Bush told one of the world's largest private research companies that he was prepared to make a deal.
Open a facility in Florida, he said, and taxpayers will build you a brand new lab and spend millions of dollars on high tech equipment.
We'll even pay your employees' salaries for eight years, he said. The cost to taxpayers: at least $400-million.
The Scripps Research Institute hadn't seriously considered expanding, until they heard the offer. They quickly agreed.
But the Scripps deal stands out. The governor's economic development office could not cite another time Florida offered to pay the salaries for a company to move to the state.
Bush said the company's presence in Florida will ripple through the state's economy.
Scripps chose Palm Beach County for its new facility, and projected hiring 31 people the first year. The number would grow to 545 employees within seven years and 2,800 within 15.
The state projects another 3,700 jobs also would be created, such as research materials suppliers and waiters at local restaurants.
Bush expects other biotech companies to locate to Florida, creating 44,000 high-wage jobs.
The state of Florida is going to pay the salaries of the employees of a private research firm? Can anyone say "corporate welfare?"
Some lawmakers are trying to give the appearance of looking out for the public's money, but in the end they will bend over and squeal excitedly as Jeb has his way with them.
The deal to lure a major biotechnology center to South Florida with a $310 million tax giveaway is drawing scrutiny from Republican legislators, who say they want more assurances and details before going along with Gov. Jeb Bush.
Under the Bush-brokered deal, taxpayers would pick up the cost of a new building, equipment and employees for a sister facility of the Scripps Research Institute, based in La Jolla, Calif.
In return, the institute is required only to move in.
Though the governor has been vague about the origins of the deal, the Herald on Wednesday learned that an influential Orlando attorney with ties to Bush first suggested the governor look into wooing Scripps.
Bush first visited the institute in July when he was in California for a fundraiser for that state's Republican party, a visit arranged by C. David Brown II, chairman of the Miami-based law firm Broad and Cassel. Brown, who raised $100,000 for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, was a member of Jeb Bush's campaign team, visited the governor's daughter, Noelle, while she was in jail on a drug charge and was recently named by Bush to the influential Council of 100, a business group that advises governors.
Aware of Bush's interest in luring a biotech firm, Brown suggested a contact at the Scripps Institute last spring.
Brown became involved with the negotiations when his client, British billionaire Joe Lewis, offered land near Orlando to Scripps before the institute opted for Palm Beach County.
Now, Broad & Cassel is representing the state in its negotiations with Palm Beach County and Scripps. On Wednesday, Brown downplayed his role. He said credit goes to the governor for helping change Florida's destiny.
''It changes us from being a tourism state,'' Brown said. ``It's like Harvard coming to Florida. It will change the way the business and scientific community views Florida.''
Brown is working with Bush's legal team and the governor Wednesday defended the use of outside counsel to seal the deal, noting ``This is a big deal. It's a half a billion dollar transaction and there's a short time frame to get it done.''
Brown's contract was not available Wednesday, but the governor's office said Brown ``offered his services at a discount rate.''
So, Brown first wanted to broker a deal to enrich his landowning buddy. I wonder who owned the company that owned the land that Palm Beach County just purchased to seal this deal?
If Florida gives the Scripps Research Institute $310-million to open a campus in Palm Beach County, should Florida residents get first crack at the job openings there?
Scripps executives said earlier in the week that the biomedical think tank from San Diego couldn't guarantee jobs for Floridians because its goal was to attract the best scientific talent available anywhere. The state would nevertheless benefit from the blossoming of biomedical businesses, and jobs, that would cluster around the new facility.
A site for the new campus was revealed Thursday, when Scripps chose to build on what is now a 1,920-acre citrus grove in unincorporated Palm Beach County. The site was selected over several other options nearby.
Under the land deal, Palm Beach County will pay Lantana Farm Associates Inc. of Lake Worth $30,000 per acre, or $57.6-million, county administrator Bob Weisman said. Scripps will occupy just 100 acres of the tract. The remainder would be set aside for biotech companies, universities, venture capitalists and others that seek to do business with Scripps and for water-treatment facilities and other infrastructure.
Allen Zech, head of the agricultural section at the Palm Beach County property appraiser's office, said there is no easy way to tell whether the county got a good price for the land. Few tracts of that size, type and location have been sold in recent years.
In other developments Thursday, Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said he has asked an independent economist to review the Bush administration's claim that a Scripps deal would directly or indirectly create 50,000 new jobs in Palm Beach County by 2019. That estimate, which administration officials describe as conservative, was derived by Tony Villamil and Robert Cruz of the Washington Economics Group of Coral Gables. Villamil is chief of Bush's council of economic advisers and his former director of trade, tourism and economic development.
"Is it conservative, or highly speculative?" Gelber said in an interview. "Euphoria is a wonderful thing, but you never want to base a purchase on it."
Also Thursday, the Miami Herald reported that C. David Brown II, chairman of Orlando's Broad & Cassell law firm, was the person who first suggested last spring that Bush approach Scripps about a deal. The newspaper said the Bush administration has now tapped Broad & Cassell to handle its negotiations with Scripps. A Broad & Cassell spokeswoman said Brown was not immediately available for comment.
Uh, the property appraiser says he really can't tell if that land was acquired at a fair price, cause, uh, you know, it's really hard to appraise the value of something. It seems that this type of confusion is contagious:
...the demand for a quick decision left other commissioners less enthusiastic. Because Scripps kept its plans under wraps until 10 days ago, Commissioner Addie Greene feels she's being rushed without being given enough information. She was the only commissioner to vote against the proposal.
"I'm still lost as to why this is such a grand opportunity for Palm Beach County because I have not been informed," Greene said.
Lack of information also bothered environmentalist Cynthia Plockelmann.
"I think there's a lack of sunshine. I am appalled some commissioners were informed (and) others not. I don't think there's nearly enough detail as to expenses," Plockelmann said.
Commission chairwoman Karen Marcus (pictured, right) agreed they didn't have enough specifics, but still voted to spend the money.
"It causes you to pause with this kind of money we're investing, but if we didn't take steps today, we'd never know," Marcus said. (ed.note: Marcus is obviously confused, but at least she's curious! $210 million is a small price to pay if the other option is not knowing!)
Scripps has promised to create 540 jobs over seven years and said it will be a magnet to biotechnical companies who will want to be near the research facility.
The deal is still contingent upon Gov. Jeb Bush's commitment to add $310 million to buy Scripps new equipment. That could come out of a special session of the Legislature as early as next week, putting the project on the fast track toward moving into a temporary facility by midsummer.
State leaders expect Scripps, the country's leading nonprofit biomedical research institute, will help create 6,000 new jobs, in addition to the 540 jobs it promised Palm Beach County. The institute, based in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, is known for groundbreaking work in leukemia, ovarian cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, Alzheimer's disease and AIDS. It has become internationally recognized for research into immunology, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and synthetic vaccine development.
Scripps, established in 1924 through a gift from philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, employs 2,900 people in La Jolla and is the largest institute funded by the National Institutes of Health. It is the home of three Nobel laureates.
Smells like Disney...
But Disney, at least, had bought its own land on which it would spend fortunes of its own money. Scripps brings to the feast no dowry other than a good reputation. For the first time, the public is expected to provide not only the land, not only the buildings, but also salaries sufficient for seven years. There is no precedent for that.
There is no guarantee that Scripps will stay even seven years, let alone longer. The governor's hastily drafted legislation provides for a share of Scripps' net - not gross - income, but only begining in 2011, after it has drawn down the state's advance.
Granted, the deal could be good, very good, for Florida. But this raises the question of why Bush is not equally eager to invest equivalently in improving Florida's educational system, especially its colleges and universities.
Every survey of business leaders points to education as more important than any other factor, including taxes, in attracting and keeping industry. If I were a legislator, I'd tell the governor to bring now, not later, his plans for a stable funding source for higher education, and put them on the table right beside the Scripps deal.
Good idea, but that's not very likely to happen. The train rolls on:
Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday made his case to Florida lawmakers for spending $310-million to lure the world's largest private research center to Florida, but skeptical senators weren't in a buying mood.
In an unusual joint session of the Legislature, Bush said he supports measures to ensure that the money is well-spent, but warned lawmakers not to micromanage a venture that could push Florida to the forefront of biomedical research.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an economic engine with the power to drive this state forward," Bush told lawmakers. Florida can create prosperity for future generations, Bush said, "or we can forfeit our dream to those bold enough to build it."
If any lawmakers oppose the idea of spending public money on a private company, they weren't evident. Instead, the focus was on accountability.
But the public was left largely in the dark as the session began. A House bill did not surface, and Bush expanded the five-day session's agenda to include an exemption from public records laws for "certain information" on the Scripps deal.
During the joint session with Bush, Democrats asked the toughest questions.
Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said it was "fairly unprecedented" for an out-of-state business not to put up its own money. Bush rejected that.
"It is a not-for-profit. It is not there to make money. It's there to make discoveries," Bush said.
Bush also said Floridians should not receive preferential treatment in jobs or programs at Scripps Florida. "It should be completely open," Bush said.