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It takes a task force to build a heliport

MassDOT today announced a task force to figure out where to put a taxpayer-funded heliport in the Seaport.

Although state and city officials initially promised GE a place to land helicopters as part of their package for getting the company to move to Fort Point, state officials now say lots of people are just dying for a place to which they can pilot their choppers:

MassDOT’s research and outreach suggest an interest in a public helicopter landing area from medical entities, emergency services, law enforcement and private companies.

The task force holds its first meeting on Monday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Seaport World Trade Center's ampitheater.

Members include all of South Boston's city and state elected officials (so Bill Linehan, Michael Flaherty, Linda Dorcena-Forry, Nick Collins) as well as MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack, state Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Massport Director Tom Glynn, Boston Director of Economic Development John Barros and a rep from the BPDA.

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If there's such a large interest, why not let the private sector take care of it. They can build it, saving the taxpayers millions. Plus, we are always hearing from Baker how much more efficient the private sector is.

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Overpaid GE executives want to be able to commute to work via helicopters and expect the rest of us ordinary people on the ground using ordinary means of transport to foot the bill and put up with the noise?
Very bad idea.

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Why are the executives overpaid? What should their pay be?

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1. Where are the existing helipads that hospitals and news stations use?

2. Why cant GE and emergency services use the existing helipad at Logan?

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Because it's for "common folk"

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Emergency services: The tunnels back up easily and often, it actually does make sense for them to have one on the city side of the harbor for when timing matters. Not to say they couldn't use Logan or an existing helipad in the city otherwise.

Private companies: Because then they'd have to take a car service through the tunnels, or, gasp, use a ferry/water taxi like the rest of us commoners.

Regardless, I hope everyone remembers that taxpayer money is being pumped into this while the MBTA is in the shape that it is when anyone who had anything to do with this is up for reelection.

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What emergency services are located in South Boston such that a helicopter might regularly need to bring people there?

There are many places a helicopter can land to pick up people in an actual emergency. No heliport is needed for that.

Or, are you suggesting it would make sense to bring injured people to the South Boston waterfront, and then use a helicopter to transport the patients from there to Mass General Hospital?

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I'm not the right person to ask, because I'm not the one who suggested it.

As quoted by Adam in the initial story:

MassDOT’s research and outreach suggest an interest in a public helicopter landing area from medical entities, emergency services, law enforcement and private companies.

Note the medical entities, emergency services part.

My comment was then in response to Felicity, who asked:

Why cant GE and emergency services use the existing helipad at Logan?

Note the emergency services part.

Therefore, I'm simply stating that if emergency services are interested in a helipad in the Seaport (for whatever reasons), Logan doesn't seem like a good alternative due to the tunnels potential congestion and how critical time can be in an emergency situation, especially one that requires an airlift.

I'd also assume that Logan can already be used if really necessary.

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The basic answers are TIME and MONEY.

Logan's on the other side of the harbor. It can take a half hour or hour to get there.

Logan is a busy international airport; it does not want to become a busy heliport. I think the minimum landing fee is $200. That adds up if one makes several trips a day.

My understanding is that GE has at least two corporate jets based at Hanscom. Most of the GE trips would be from the HQ to/from Hanscom.

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is pretty much what I was getting at. The money as well, as far as the corporate users needing to then pay for a car service between Logan and offices. I don't know much about the business end with Logan and whatnot, but it does make sense from what you've said.

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Most of the GE trips would be from the HQ to/from Hanscom.

( on the , they'll have a "one-seat-ride" from South Station! )

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they'll get right on that once the Green Line extension is complete!

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emergency services are interested in a helipad in the Seaport

I'm sure if you ask many agencies, they'll say they'd be interested in having a helipad at their disposal.

Interest, isn't the same as want or need.

I'm just asking, what is their practical use for such a facility? No one has really explained how it would be beneficial to the community to have a permanent landing pad for helicopters there.

Without a genuine need, it's just another excuse to waste even more public funds, providing even more of a subsidy (operations, maintenance, security, etc.) to something that only benefits a very few wealthy individuals.

As I mentioned earlier, in an actual emergency, there are already many places where a helicopter can land.

   IMAGE(http://northendwaterfront.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/North-End-Christmas-Parade-2014-117-640x433.jpg)

I'll bet even Santa Claus would be "interested" in having a helipad, but as you can clearly see, he doesn't actually need one.

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The MGH helipad is on the top of one of the hospital buildings. It's busy and helicopters are quite loud, but in the case of hospitals it's in the name of saving lives. Different story considering the noise when we're talking about helicopters for executives and other non life or death situations.

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I can't imagine anyone is begrudging the hospitals their helipads, just checking to see if this new one will actually be needed.

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Seem to prefer Norwood, although I think WHDH uses Beverly (somebody correct me if wrong).

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Media need a place to hangar the aircraft and probably room for the pilots to hang out on stand-by. I bet that's a lot cheaper in Norwood or Beverly vs Logan. I suspect the GE aircraft would be kept at one of them, too.

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There is a helipad at WBZ on Soldier's Field Road. Not sure I have ever seen a helicopter there though.

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so glad my tax dollars are going to this nonsense instead of BPS....

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The helipad, which only a handful of very rich people will use, is going to get built 25 years quicker than the green line extension, which tens of thousands will use. That's assuming the extension ever gets built. If Baker and the rest ate going to wage warfare against the middle class I'll be happy to see them voted out.

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Why don't they just put it on top of the thing we aren't calling a parking garage we're paying to build nearby?

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Yet another example of Marty Walsh off on a bender creating horseshit agreements that we end up having to pay for. Olympics, Grand Prix racing, Ice Skating Rinkings next to City Hall, etc.

When he ran for office, how come we never heard about any of these things…if he had said any of this stuff was part of his plan during his campaign…"I think we should give GE a $150 million to locate their headquarters in Boston (with an unknown net gain of jobs)" how many people would have voted for him?

Look at the cast of characters on this study group…the unusual suspects. What a mess - this is what we get went let a small ball player engage in the big league - crazy ass ideas that have little or no impact on the quality of life or the addressing of the needs or problems in the city.

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I have long been an opponent of these kinds of tax breaks which is very well documented on this site. This is the only one that I've ever seen that seems to make sense.

Sit back and do the math on incremental state income taxes, property taxes, hotel fees and more and the deal they gave GE pays off in just a few years. And that doesn't even address the long term marketing impact of this. GE is hugely respected and other large companies thinking of relocating are talking about this in their board rooms, guaranteed.

Personally, I'd prefer a light rail route into southie and the seaport as one example of better infrastructure. But if the cost ends up being a heliport, we still get off cheap.

This was at least a good deal and possibly a great deal. Do the math.
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Tell us which projections should be used to "do that math".

Foundational input assumptions matter. People pushing these deals like to inflate them in a rosy manner. A classic example of that is when industry claims that regulations will cost an enormous amount of money, but evaluation and follow up proves that their "math" was carefully crafted to make a pre-determined overestimate (rather than be their conclusions drawn as the result of an honest estimate).

Perhaps "doing the math" should also include an adjustment factor for historical performance of estimates made by industry, real estate, and promotional government offices?

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let’s see who actually did the math…

The impact of GE’s move to Massachusetts at best remains rather murky. The architects of this deal are either unable or unwilling to reveal the actual numbers of the net gain for MA (it citizens by extension).

Here’s what we do know: GE is moving (not hiring) 800 of it’s corporate employees to MA - meanwhile weeks after this deal was revealed, GE began laying dozens upon dozens (about 60 so far) of aerospace engineers from its Lynn facility. More are planned. Simultaneously, the Mayor and the Governor neglected to mention GE was shutting it Avon MA valve manufacturing facility eliminating well over 300 jobs there.

So let’s pause a moment and do some quick adding and subtracting (since the deal was announced):

Gain in new jobs for MA as a result of relocating GE Corp to MA: 0

Loss in MA jobs as a result of GE layoffs (currently): 350

Actually projected headcount change not increase jobs)
as a result of GE Corp relocation: 450

Avg cost of “job creation” costs to MA taxpayers (arising from deal struck with GE):

$150,000,000 / 450 relocated employee = $333,000 per executive relocated

Meantime, MA will be paying the cost of the unemployment insurance compensation to those laid off GE employees (estimated unemployment benefit based on a $50K/yr pay rate = $15,000 x 350 = $5,250,000 in first year alone) - is this one of those hidden benefits of this deal were are referring to?

For the sake of brevity, in a separate post, I will address your assertion of GE being so highly respected.

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I applaud you for this post.. been saying something similar since this deal was announced. This isn't job creation, its corporate welfare plain and simple.

But let's not confuse people with facts ya know.. people don't like facts.

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As SwirlyGrrl points out, the assumptions matter at lot.

Relevant to that:

  • GE Norwood: Was that involved in the Fort Point arrangement? Surely not. Would its layoffs change if GE HQ did not come to Fort Point? No, they are based on the economics of that facility.
  • GE Avon: Ditto.

Also relevant: Baker has recently shown a willingness to claw back money from tax breaks when the recipient did not live up to the deal.
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/01/17/in-a-first-state-claws...

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So if GE moved to say NY, those jobs would have been saved ( plus who knows what they are doing in other locations where they may be hiring?).

Your entire premise is bogus and that's before we even consider that these are GE execs. The state income taxes alone are likely tens of millions per year.

Two execs already purchased multimillion dollar condos. Existing, so not incremental, but somewhere down the foodchain it means two high end new properties get bought somewhere.

Sorry, this one was a coup and I NEVER say that.

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But the math didn't work.

You deal is speculation not facts. Wishing that what your boss tells you does not make it so. Just to remind you, wasn't Charlie the key numbers guys for the Big Dig? And, let's not forget the first two forays Marty made in demonstrating his mathematical prowess - Olympics 3024 & Grand Prix racing - can't wait until the facts actual come out about those deals.

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No investment comes with a guarantee. And that's what this is - an investment - and a cheap one to boot.

I've been evaluating these deals for well over a decade and I've literally never met one I liked until this one. My first reaction was - wow - GE must have really wanted to come to Boston because this is lucky if it's even a face-saving deal for them (you gotta get something or it looks like you're a bad negotiator).

We can talk Charlie's and Marty's math skills another time - but even the blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. This deal is a whole stash of nuts.

Think about it - $150 million at today's rates with our credit rating - you issue bonds to pay for it - it costs you a few million a year (and over time the principal depreciates to virtually nothing) - hell - the income taxes on the execs alone pay for that. And that's before GE builds out their facility, those workers buy lunch, all the execs buy houses here (two just moved in on Comm Ave) everyone goes out for dinner, all GE's guests fly in (jet fuel fees), stay in hotels, rent cars, take uber and on and on and on and on and on.

As for another company moving here? NJ is well on their way to a federal bailout - but not before they jack taxes through the roof (which is a big reason GE is here today). All those health care HQ's will look really nice in Kendall Square and the Seaport. Speculative - sure - but Boston just moved to the top of my list if I run a fortune 500 company and ask why GE chose to move here (great schools, educated workforce, waterfront location, a couple hours from NY, flat income tax structure and so on).

Sorry Dave - this deal was a winner from the beginning and could turn out to be a world champion deal if just another company or two decide to follow them to Boston (don't hold your breath though - moving the HQ of a Fortune 500 company is a RARE occurrence - could take a while).

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You stated that you could guarantee other corporation are discussing a move to Boston as a result GE's relocation. Well I am calling upon you to name a few.

How many subsidiaries did DEC, Wang, Data General, Prime, GenRad, Teradyne, Fidelity, Bank of Boston, New England Bank, John Hancock, Gillette, GTE, Sylvania, Raytheon, etc. receive & how did that work out for us?

Congratulation for your 10 years of investment business experience - I spend over 30 years working in business as well as investigating them. I don't intent to disparage you but there is much you need to learn particularly in the area of business relocation theory. One of the first is that in the hierarchy of compelling reasons to move a business from one location to another, subsidies are relatively low on the list. In fact, corporate decision makers general view taxes as secondary. Cost of labor and infra structure is much more important.

You made a number of erroneous statements about the value of this GE move and instead of considering the facts and modifying your thinking, you compound your incorrect assertions by mixing in irrelevant information. GE does nothing unless it completely and overwhelmingly favors their own interests. Neither Charlie Baker and particularly Marty Walsh have any meaningful experience in this subject area - they will be long be gone and Massachusetts will be left cleaning this mess up.

Here is something constructive you can do - go read about the arguments for the Big Dig and why it was said to be such a great deal for us. Along the way you will learn two things: some of the same characters involve in that fiasco are party to this one. You will also learn how resources required to keep our public transportation system function were diverted to cover the mismanage of that deal.

Marty wanted this deal to use as a plus for his re-election campaign - Baker is return a favor as he contemplates running for national office.

You are beginning to embarrass yourself with the superficiality of your analysis of the GE matter.

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Let's see - if I'm a director of a fortune 500 company - thanks to the publicity on this I'm sure I know that GE just announced a move to Boston. Hmmm.....they have pretty smart people there - why? That's not rocket science. Unfortunately I can't name any because I'm not privy to what fortune 500 companies are considering moving, but if they are (perhaps depending a little on the industry - Boston has to now bubble up pretty quickly).

The whole point of this is that you cite a decades long trend in a bad direction of companies closing and moving out - again - it's an investment - we'll have to see if it pans out - but there's no question the business world stood up and took notice.

I know all about your relocation theory - and you are correct -these deals have little to do with the decision. But they are simply a necessary part of the PR process. Most of them are giveaways by politicians. Not this one. (actually, the research shows the number one location decision factor is where do the executives - especially the CEO or founder where applicable want to live)

You do realize you are making my case for me - the deal was all/mostly for infrastructure shortcomings they wanted rectified. We can all argue what that should be - but hell - for a heliport and a small bridge (maybe) we got GE to move here? That's a really, really, really, really, really really good deal.

Of course they do what's in GE's interest - umm - that's their job. As for future mess? Now we're really talking about speculation.

You are conflating this deal with a lot of extraneous information (decades old pollution issues winding their way through the government, 20 year old articles, the Big Dig (really???). Embarrassing - it's hard to imagine what you'll come up with next. Maybe the financial crisis, the dot-com bust, weapons of mass destruction.

It's $120 million in infrastructure and $25 million in tax breaks over 20 years.

This deal pays for itself day 1. That's not even a deal - it's PR and anyone that argues against that and claiming to be a biz analyst expert is the one embarrassing themselves.

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It's tough navigating through life...it even tougher when someone is stupid.

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You can't even do that math?

The whole deal "costs" Boston a bit more than $1 million a year - how in God's name does 800 highly compensated professionals moving here somehow NOT generate $1 million in taxes for the city (and that's assuming the property they will occupy had another ready and willing buyer that DIDN'T locate somewhere else in the city because GE took their space - a virtually ludicrous assumption). Unlike LibMu, Vertex, State Street, JP Morgan, a number of real estate developers and others that weren't going anywhere - this particular deal was 100% incremental.

Then you have a few million dollars in bond interest to fund the infrastructure deal - on 200 executives that probably easily make an average salary above 7 figures - that's already a >100% return on your money just on the income taxes - and that's before you get into the taxes on the developers, staff and others, the construction workers, the support companies/services that build up around something like this the consumption taxes on all the above, the out of town visitors that occupy hotels, use Logan, rent cars, go to restaurants etc. etc. etc.

You want to argue how many real and perceived crimes GE has committed on the head of a pin or whether Charlie and Marty's inflated heads can simultaneously fit through the Tip O'Neill tunnel - separate discussion.

But a little kid can do the math on the deal and it's a giant bushel of nuts for the aforementioned blind squirrel

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But the math didn't work.

You deal is speculation not facts. Wishing that what your boss tells is true does not make it so.

Just to remind you, wasn't Charlie the key numbers guys for the Big Dig?

And, let's not forget the first two forays Marty made in demonstrating his mathematical prowess - Olympics 3024 & Grand Prix racing - can't wait until the facts actual come out about those deals.

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GE as one of the most respected companies…not so sure.

In the town of Pittsfield, GE already took advantage of the state’s resources — by leaking suspected carcinogens into the Housatonic River, and has for decades opposing a plan to remove them. In recent months, the company has resisted a federal agency’s demands for it to clean up more of the toxic mess from its old Pittsfield manufacturing plant — all while the firm was negotiating a deal with Baker’s & Walsh’s administration to receive millions in Massachusetts taxpayer subsidies.

GE’s pollution problems in Massachusetts mirror a similar situation they created New York. NY taxpayers gave GE subsidies at a time when the company was making the controversial move to shut down its cleanup of the Hudson River — a waterway which, like the Housatonic, was polluted with polychlorinated byphenols, or PCBs, by GE’s manufacturing facilities in the mid-20th century. In fact, GE is wholly or partially liable for at least 78 federal Superfund sites.

Something else that was not revealed during the Baker-Walsh GE Pep Rally was the fact that Baker, whose tight 2014 election campaign was backed by a GE-funded political group, does not appear to have made the new subsidies contingent on GE fixing their Pittsfield problem even though Baker’s own administration s one of the trustees responsible for restoring the Housatonic to health.

GE is also one of the largest recipients of incentives in the country, numbering already among the top 20 recipients of corporate welfare subsidies after hauling in a total of $1.5 billion since 1992 (with the majority of subsidies accruing in just the last five years). In 2014 alone, GE received nearly $100 million in subsidies from Cincinnati and the state of Ohio, where its U.S. Global Operations Center is located.

The reality is that these incentives are a drop in the bucket for a $250 billion + company like GE. These subsidies add to the $1.3 billion in federal and state subsidies the company and its affiliates have received in the last eight years, even as it has famously employed offshore strategies to lower its state and federal tax bills. GE typically paying a state tax rate of less than 2 percent.

A November 1998 Time magazine profile of GE concluded that “there is no starker example of the phenomenon of corporate welfare and vanishing jobs than General Electric Co.” The article goes on to say…the company has been a master at reducing its federal income tax obligations, particularly through complicated arrangements whereby GE stands in as the owner of assets for businesses that for one reason or another can’t use the tax breaks for these assets. General Electric has also proven itself adept at extracting tax breaks and subsidies from local and state governments, even as it has slashed employment.

GE has a lengthy record of criminal, civil, political and ethical transgressions, some of them shocking in the sheer magnitude of disregard for the well-being of its employee and the communities where it resides. I suppose I could list the scope of their conduct but such a list would exceed the capacity of this website. It exists and I’ll leave the research to those who might be interested.

The reality of this “great deal for the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is that all it will result in is taking money out of the pockets of taxpayers when such resources should be targeting the actual needs of citizens.

As for your guarantee that this deal will serve as some sort of generator for other businesses relocating here…show me some hard facts to consider.

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Not much to do with what I was talking about regarding management and decision-making - but otherwise...

And for the most part - the "bad actor" in all this is the government - not GE other than criminal activity - which if true should have landed people in jail? I think you agree with our President - he made that very clear that he supports your view in yesterday's speech.

It's GE's job to get these concessions out of government and make money for their shareholders - they don't have a moral obligation to employ people or keep jobs in the US as much as we - and Donald - would like them to.

I know this conflicts with the alt-left utopian view of the world, but if you don't like almost all of what you wrote - blame the government execs, legislators and courts - not "GE" which is really just people that in everyday life we call our neighbors.

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As you said in the beginning

I have long been an opponent of these kinds of tax breaks which is very well documented on this site.

So many of these deals you've railed about, so reading you giving a defense of this has been fascinating. Well done.

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n/t

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To state the obvious: The task force mechanism is likely being used to solve a political problem. The state promised GE a public heliport and is having trouble delivering due to public opposition. If the task force makes a recommendation, they will take some of the grief that inevitably will result.

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I don't think anyone is confused but just in case, the cost of the helipad is somewhere around $500,000. Obv., it doesn't cost $150 million.

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Could the helipad be constructed on top of one of the new GE buildings?

I realize that this means that the noise of the helicopters will be focused in that area. But if a helipad is built the noise will be dumped on someone, unless an area that is sufficiently separate from residences is available.

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