Sunday, November 09, 2003


You know, I understand how and why cities and states - sometimes even justifiably - fork over subsidies to big companies. But, don't any of them have decent lawyers who know how to write a contract which doesn't let the company unload the risk onto them?

INDIANAPOLIS — A huge, light-gray building, trimmed jauntily in blue, rises from the rolling, grassy fields on the far side of the runways at Indianapolis International Airport. From the approach road, the building seems active. But the parking lots are empty and, inside, the 12 elaborately equipped hangar bays are silent and dark. It is as if the owner of a lavishly furnished mansion had suddenly walked away, leaving everything in place.

That is what happened. United Airlines got $320 million in taxpayer money to build what is by all accounts the most technologically advanced aircraft maintenance center in America. But six months ago, the company walked away, leaving the city and state governments out all that money, and no new tenant in sight.