Feeds

Microsoft draws fire for taxpayer handout

Stimulus spending stimulates squabble

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Microsoft is running into a buzzsaw of bad PR over $11m (£7.7m) in US economic-stimulus funds that Washington state officials have earmarked for a bridge over a highway that would connect two branches of its Redmond intergalactic nerve center.

Supporters of the payout contend that the $36.5m (£25.4m) project - for which Microsoft is pitching in $17.5m (£12.2m) - will benefit more than one company. CNN quotes Redmond's mayor, John Marchione, as saying "We're not a one-company town. Our traffic studies show that Microsoft traffic would be about 42 percent of the bridge, yet Microsoft is paying for about 50 percent of the bridge, so we think we are getting fair value."

Others are less generous. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense - the watchdog group that named Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" - remarked that "I’m sure Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates could finance this out of pocket change. Subsidizing an overpass to one of the richest companies in the country certainly isn’t going to be the best use of our precious dollars."

Proposed bridge to connect Microsoft office complex

The "Bridge to Microsoft"

Whether Microsoft's bigwigs carry $11m in their pockets is unlikely, but it's certain that the grant is small potatoes when compared to the $787bn (£548.7bn) allocated to US projects by the Obama administration's stimulus package - a mere 0.0014-per-cent spud, to be exact.

Ellis isn't convinced. "This is really about getting while the getting is good," he said. "Uncle Sam has a big wallet that's there for the taking, and Redmond wanted to take it - and Microsoft was happy to let them pick up that part of the tab."

Microsoft's general counsel, Brad Smith, however, is understandably upbeat about the stimulus funds. "We think this is a very positive example of a public-private partnership," he said, "and we are pleased to be contributing roughly 50 per cent of the funding to help build this public project that will benefit the entire community."

Marchione also noted that the project would "create just under 400 jobs for 18 months constructing the bridge. It's also connecting our technical sector with our retail and commercial sectors so people can cross the freeway to shop and help traffic flow."

On the project's discussion page on StimulusWatch, voters are trending against the bridge. At this writing, 42 per cent say that the project qualifies as "critical" and 58 per cent disagree. Voters' comments range from "The complaints about the project are just silly" to "Let Microsoft pay for it since it connects their campus!"

Whether or not this particular "public-private partnership" is a good way to juice the US economy - and being a "shovel-ready" project, it appears to fit the stimulus-package guidelines - it won't benefit the 5,000 laid-off Microsofties who won't be crossing it on their way to work. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.