We shouldn't be surprised. Marriott, the company that offers such nice accommodations when you are on the road, has decided not to go on the road -- or up the road, or across the river.
Last year, Marriott considered whether to move its headquarters from Bethesda to Virginia. The company desperately needed a bigger space, its executives claimed. So in quick order, Maryland officials promised Marriott as much as $85 million in tax incentives and infrastructure improvements for subsidizing the company's move to a new and bigger location in another part of Montgomery County.
Now guess what?
Marriott has decided to stay put in Bethesda [Metro, Sept. 19]. The company says it will refurbish its headquarters and add a new office building there. As Marriott executives explained, "We are committed to our employees and didn't want to inconvenience them."
That, of course, is not quite the line the company's top brass floated last year when Virginia and Maryland entered into a bidding war. Then they were looking for a better bottom line.
Now, we're informed, the well-being of Marriott's employees comes first. The company must stay put. Naturally, the company is not offering to give back the payoff provided by the state.
This brings to mind another recent instance where Maryland was taken to the cleaners: the football stadium for Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.
Remember that: Want to bring football back to Baltimore? Then, pay the price. And pay Marylanders did. The state shelled out more than $200 million to build the stadium and threw in concession and naming rights.
But this largess wasn't enough to save Mr. Modell. He piled up such heavy debts in Cleveland, his former football home, that he's "run into financial problems" and needs to sell off part of the Ravens to balance his bottom line.
That may create interesting opportunities. Maybe Modell should ask Bill Marriott to become a part owner of the Ravens. That way Maryland taxpayers could pay for the stadium twice.
This is a game of Monopoly, Maryland style, with taxpayers putting up the money to allow the big boys to buy the property.
This giveaway absurdity of the past few years has bred cynicism among Maryland taxpayers. That's too bad. They should be angry instead -- angry that instead of paying state taxes to improve the public good, they are underwriting corporations.
Last spring when the Maryland legislature agreed to the Marriott deal, lawmakers at least incorporated into the deal my amendment that mandated the state to "initiate and negotiate with other states the development of an interstate compact to prohibit or reduce corporate raiding of other states' corporations and to encourage [similar] federal legislation."
Maryland and the rest of the states should stop being "enablers" for antisocial corporate greed.
-- Paul G. Pinsky
a Democrat, represents Prince George's County's 22nd District in the Maryland State Senate.