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Trib editorial: Amazon NDAs bolster outrageous 'cone of silence'

| Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, 4:30 p.m.
Stefani Pashman
Stefani Pashman

Local leaders' ”cone of silence” regarding the Pittsburgh region's bid for Amazon's second headquarters denies taxpayers' right to know just how much they'll be on the hook for, should that bid succeed. Unfortunately, that cone of silence just got broader and stronger, with word that Amazon wants “PGHQ2” team members to sign non-disclosure agreements.

It's one thing if those NDAs cover only information of Amazon's own that it considers proprietary. It's quite another if they cover details of publicly funded incentives on offer, too. That would only bolster the cone of silence — and both the PGHQ2 team's stance to date and a comment from one of its leaders suggest that's exactly what's happening.

Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman wouldn't tell the Trib whether the PGHQ2 team will sign the NDAs, but did say, “This is all going to play out in a quieter space now.” That's likely a way to indicate the NDAs will be signed — without saying so in so many words. And that non-confirming confirmation suggests the NDAs themselves, and whether they're signed, now fall within that cone of silence, too.

So now, public officials accountable to taxpayers, community leaders who aren't, and Amazon itself, which isn't, are concealing what taxpayers have every right to know. It's enough to make one scream at Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, “What's Pittsburgh's bid going to cost me?” — even knowing no answer's forthcoming.

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