Moving fast on Max Planck
From the Sun-Sentinel-
Three weeks after Palm Beach County commissioners jumped at an opportunity to bring the Max Planck Society to Jupiter, county officials have sent the German research giant dozens of pages of contract documents to begin negotiations aimed at creating a high-tech institute and 135 jobs.It is barely a month since the news of Max Planck coming to Palm Beach County broke. Already our public officials are ready to throw money at this firm. The Scripps saga went on for years, much longer than it should have. In Planck's case, it is almost the opposite. Are any of our elected officials asking if Palm Beach County citizens want money spent on this? There was one County Commission meeting that I know of.(There could have been more, but I been out of the loop for much of the month because of my medical issues) Were the citizens of Palm Beach County given enough time to sound off on this?
The boilerplate contract provides few of the many details that will be necessary to complete the $190 million package of government incentives to lure the researcher to Jupiter, including $87 million in county funds over 10 years. It also doesn't include descriptions of precisely what the taxpayers will get in return.
Rather, the documents sent to Max Planck officials in Munich on Thursday and released publicly Friday are merely a framework for negotiations and provide standard language used in many large government contracts.
What's significant, county officials say, is the pace at which they put together the initial agreement, signaling the county's strong interest in wooing the world-renowned researcher.
Could anything be going on between Palm Beach County officials and Max Planck? With two County Commissioners resigning in disgrace in the last year, I don't feel anything is out of the realm of possibility with the remaining politicians.(Granted Commissioner Jess Santamaria put up $100,000 of his own money.) At the very least I think some decisions made behind closed doors without public hearings. There is a thing called Sunshine Laws here in Florida.
Bottom line- While Max Planck is non-profit, I still feel our County politicians shouldn't be throwing money at the firm. The Palm Beach Post said "it It is a tempting offer at a terrible time. Like all counties, Palm Beach has cut its 2007-08 budget - by $46 million - to meet state-required spending limits." I guess the County budget isn't hurting that bad after all if we can spend 87 million on a deal with nothing guaranteed at present in return for this largess.
Linked to- Bright & Early, The World According to Carl,