by Russ Roberts on May 17, 2011

in Politics

I live in Montgomery County. The Washington Post reports:

Fans of cheap rotisserie chicken and bulk toilet paper can rejoice. It looks as if a new Costco will be coming to Wheaton in 2012.

The Montgomery County Council defeated a proposal Monday that would have blocked the county from giving millions in funding to shopping mall giant Westfield to help secure the deal.

The vote is a significant victory for County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who had lobbied for a plan that will give Westfield $4 million over two years. The subsidy raised eyebrows in some quarters because it comes as the county faces a $300 million budget shortfall for its next fiscal year and is cutting a variety of programs.

Leggett’s plan received reluctant approval from council members last fall, but momentum seemed to shift after two new members — Hans Riemer (D-At Large) andCraig Rice (D-Upcounty) — were elected in November.

The deal appeared to be in jeopardy last month, but the Leggett administration moved to make its case. Officials argued that pulling out of the agreement could damage the county’s reputation and undermine efforts to attract businesses.

That seemed to sway Riemer and Rice as well as Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring).

“I don’t think [Westfield needs] the money to bring Costco to Wheaton,” Riemer said Monday. “But the integrity of the county is at stake, and I don’t think it’s my right to jeopardize the integrity of the county.”

I don’t get it. Why is $4 million of taxpayer money going to a mall so that Costco will come to Wheaton?

Crony capitalists. Corrupt politicians.


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