Dem official rebukes Apple for pursuing its 'economic interests'

Apple Inc. apparently gave a cold shoulder to Democratic officials in Austin, Texas, who had demanded the hi-tech giant hire "economically disadvantaged" residents - or forgo hefty tax breaks Apple wanted before developing new facilities in the city.

Demands about whom Apple must hire were inexplicably missing from a deal unveiled on Tuesday, following additional talks between Apple and Travis County commissioners.

Earlier this month, Apple had been haggling with officials in Travis County and Austin over millions of dollars in tax breaks it wanted before expanding its facilities in Austin. But those negotiations took a strange turn two weeks ago, when some Travis County commissioners demanded that Apple hire a certain percentage of residents who were "economically disadvantaged." Austin is a liberal mecca and a hi-tech one.

Now, the give-and-take appears to be over. Apple has gotten a green light from Democratic officials for "a 65 percent discount on its Travis County tax bill for 10 years," according to the
Austin American-Statesman. Not only that, Apple won't be required to hire even a single local resident - much less those at or below the poverty line.

Apple reportedly had also been considering setting up shop in Phoenix, a fact Democratic officials surely had in mind during negotiations with Apple.

One Travis County commissioner, Sarah Eckhardt, nevertheless voted against the deal. She had harsh words for Apple, complaining it was acting only in its "economic interest," as the Statesman put it.

She explained: "I was willing to play along with this charade (of tax breaks) for an admittedly modest but verifiable number of economically disadvantaged hires. These are the folks who could benefit the most from your jobs at Apple."

In a
news segment about the deal on YNN, a local news channel, Eckhardt said: "I heard today for the first time that Apple was no longer willing to consider this commitment (to hiring poor people) and therefore I'm no longer willing to entertain relieving Apple of its tax responsibilities."

However, other commissioners "said they favored the plan and appreciated Apple officials meeting with them," the Statesman reported.

Altogether, Apple will reportedly receive $6 to $7 million in tax breaks from Travis County; $8.6 million from Austin; and a $21 million incentive package from the state-run Texas Enterprise Fund.

Besides its tax breaks, Apple must be pleased that it will be allowed to concentrate in Austin on its hi-tech business - rather than being co-opted into liberal social engineering programs favored by local Democrats.

Also see an earlier American Thinker article: "Dems to Apple: Hire the 'economically disadvantaged'