Secrecy doesn’t pay. That’s the prime lesson for local officials who for more than a year illegally resisted release of Cleveland’s full (failed) bid for a new Amazon headquarters until forced to do so by the Ohio Court of Claims, which rejected the city’s trade secrets argument.
The secrecy could be one reason Cleveland’s Amazon HQ2 bid didn’t even make the first cut despite its eye-popping incentive package, which we now know was worth more than $3.5 billion, including money from the city (including dollars from its recently enacted income-tax hike), from Cuyahoga County and from the state. The total was considerably more than Amazon was offered by Columbus, Ohio, which, unlike Cleveland, made it to the final round, and more than offered by either of the two winning sites, in Virginia and New York.
In refusing for more than a year to recognize their obligation to release the HQ2 bid, and by fighting so hard to prevent that release, our local officials wasted public money — and unnecessarily forced local media organizations to spend their own money to enforce the public’s right to know.
These are our records, the public’s records. It’s right that the public ultimately prevailed, but it’s discouraging and wrong that such a fight had to be waged.