Cupertino's current Mayor Barry Chang bluntly says that Apple abuses their fine city. Many in Cupertino, a 60,000-person town in the heart of Silicon Valley, are beginning to organize around their overburdened city. They claim the region is struggling with aging infrastructure and booming companies whose effective tax rate is often quite low. Frustrated by traffic and noise, some in Cupertino are trying to put a stop to more development, which they argue brings more congestion on the roads, parking and train system. But Chang says limiting new development would damage the regional economy and that the real solution should be higher taxes on the wealthy and companies such as Apple, reports the Gaurdian.
Getting local politicians to battle Apple is hard, Chang said. He recently proposed that Apple – which is building a massive new campus its own employees nicknamed the Death Star, or more favorably, The Spaceship – should give $100m to improve city infrastructure. To move on the proposal, Chang only needed to get a single vote 'yes' among the three other eligible council members. He failed to get that vote.
Apple is such a big company here. The council members don't want to offend them. Apple talks to them, and they won't vote against Apple. This is the fact.'
Chang is stuck now between Apple on one side not paying for his infrastructure proposal and the frustrated citizens who see their roads too crowded.
'I'm not going to back down,' Chang said. "Raising taxes is not popular, but I'm not afraid. We are the center of technology, and our public transit system is old and embarrassing,' Chang said. 'And the politicians have no backbone. They get scared.'
In the meantime Apple is not willing to pay a dime. They're making profit, and they should share the responsibility for our city, but they won't. They abuse us.'
It's doubly upsetting for activists in Silicon Valley, who say that Apple and Google's tax arrangements conflict with the way they present themselves as companies that are doing good. 'They all have these mission statements with an overarching social component, a kind of give back aspect to their corporate image,' said Stephen Boardman of the United Service Workers West, the union that represents 40,000 service workers across California and has worked to unionize Apple's security team. 'They aren't held accountable to it.'
Chang is now working on proposals for a business employer tax that would make companies with more than 100 workers pay $1,000 per employee. Chang argues the employer tax is less regressive than the competing program: a higher sales tax.
'You're helping create the problems, so you have to help solve the problem,' Chang said, speaking to Apple. 'Look at the system we have here: the rich people get more richer and the poor cannot survive. Where's the fairness? Nowhere."'
While Apple didn't comment on the Guardian report thus far, we can count on Apple's outspoken CEO to respond to the very public attack by Cupertino's Mayor with a fiery rebuttal in good time - so stay tuned.
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