Guest Opinion | Would Pasadena Welcome Amazon? Current City Council Might Vote 7:1 Against

Published : Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | 5:47 AM

Recently, Facebook critic Jason wrote on our Business Leaders for Better Government page:

“Wealthy Beverly Hills elitists crying about their *Pasadena* business taxes, which Pasadena voters approved on a ballot measure. If you don’t like democracy, then unlike many residents, you can afford to move to a different country.”

Jason’s comments are symptomatic of the race to the bottom and erosion of the local tax revenue base that our communities, states, and the nation are facing. This erosion hurts our communities in many ways, no matter whether your politics are pro-business, pragmatic, progressive or you dwell in Jason’s socialism camp where he suggests business owners simply “move to a different country.” Every community needs jobs, work, and private sector investment to create a healthy and vibrant business community. Would Amazon be able to find a home in Pasadena? In our opinion the prevailing Pasadena City Council headwind is No.

Businesses need a redefined, fair capitalism, a conscious capitalism that cuts workers and communities in on the deal; where it is not just about shareholders but stakeholders. We need elected officials to take the lead and create opportunities for business. The economy is broken, business security and stability are threatened, and we need to fix it. But we also need the free enterprise system if we are going to try to compete not only with Glendale and Burbank, but with China and other nation states.

Congressmember Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said it very succinctly in a recent MSNBC interview:

“We need tax breaks and incentives to lure jobs to a community…We need to work with the private sector. We can’t be divided from them to the extent that they won’t invest in our community where we need the work.”

The Pasadena City Council vote last week (7:1 against) on bringing the minimum wage implementation issue in line with the State, and the recent passage of a ¾ cent sales tax initiative do nothing to provide employer and business incentives in Pasadena. Businesses need a reason to be here to create higher paying jobs, to provide revenue that can fund mass transit, affordable housing, improve the lives of workers, and provide the higher paying jobs that are transcendent for families.

Sadly, since the City Council vote last Monday, our Pasadena restaurant industry has reportedly already implemented alternative business plans, assessing layoffs and relocations. If we are going to succeed, we need the innovation of the free market and the free enterprise system. We can’t be hostile to business.

As Congressmember Ryan reminds us, “We can be hostile to greed. We can be hostile to inequality, but we can’t be divided.”

The biggest enemies we have in our community and country are polarization and division. In order to come together, we need to partner with the free enterprise business community in a more conscious way and try to stop this race to the bottom.


Sheryl Turner, Bishop Christopher Milton and Alexander Keledjian are founding members of Business Leaders for Better Government Super PAC, a nonpartisan political nonprofit supporting pro-business policies and candidates. You can find them on Facebook at

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