City, County Officials Ordered To Release Amazon Proposal. But They Won't.

Oct 31, 2018

Judge Terrence O’Brien ruled that the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County failed to justify the nondisclosure of the region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2. City and county officials say they intend to appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court.

The two government entities argued that the proposal was exempt from Pennsylvania’s Right To Know law, and that making the 300-page document public would hurt Pittsburgh’s chances in landing HQ2.

“This case is not about whether Amazon’s locating its second headquarters in this region would provide an economic boost,” O’Brien wrote in his decision, released on Wednesday.

The case was filed by WTAE-TV and investigative reporter Paul Van Osdol.

“It’s a good feeling to know that the court has decided to rule in the favor transparency,” he said.

The region’s bid was filed by PGHQ2, LLC. O’Brien wrote that the Allegheny Conference is the “sole member,” of PGHQ2, that it has no employees, and that chiefs-of-staff for both Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald—both public employees—worked on the proposal during regular hours.

Pittsburgh’s HQ2 proposal includes both local and state incentives.

“Should [Amazon] decide to come to Pittsburgh, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the city and the county to commit these dollars quickly,” said Van Osdol. “We believe that the public has the right to carefully review how this money’s going to be spent.”

City and county spokespeople said they are aware of O’Brien’s decision.

“Our respective law departments will be reviewing the order of court, but we plan to appeal this decision.”

The Allegheny Conference was not immediately available for comment.

In September 2017, Amazon announced its search for a second home. Over ten years the company says it intends to hire 50,000 employees and invest $5 billion in developing a new campus.

Pittsburgh was one of 238 cities to throw its hat in the ring, and selected as one of 20 finalists in January of this year, as was Philadelphia.