Free Markets, Free People

Salinas

Another "green jobs" success story

And yes, I’m being snarky. The only folks that got anything green was the company that folded. The taxpayers, of course and as usual, got the shaft:

A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

The “money trail”:

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

So here we have government taking taxpayer money and picking "winners". Wonder how many police and fireman all that money would have paid? Wonder who the Salinas government is going to claim it has to lay off first when budget crunch time hits? Because we all know state and local governments in California are doing fine financially, don’t we?

Yet this sort of fiscal nonsense is rampant in government today.  They seem to think it is their job, at all levels, to intrude in areas they have no business intruding and pick winners according to an agenda with little understanding, apparently, as to what it actually takes to succeed in doing so.  You know, like there has to be a market, the firm has to be adequately financed (for more than a couple of months) and it has to have a long-term and viable business plan that actually passes a sanity check. 

Instead it seems, at least based on this story, that “just words” got the Salinas government in a real “hope and change” attitude:

Last year, Salinas city officials said they were excited about Green Vehicles moving from San Jose to Salinas because they wanted to turn Salinas into a hub for alternative energy production.

City leaders wooed Green Vehicles to jump-start the sputtering local company and turn Salinas into an "electric valley." Donohue and Weir both voiced their high hopes for Green Vehicles.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay $700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Ryan had lofty goals, listing his company’s mission as: "To make the best clean commuter vehicles in the world; To manufacture with a radical sense of responsibility; To engage in deep transparency as an inspiration for new ways of doing business."

Green Vehicles designed two vehicles, the TRIAC 2.0 and the MOOSE, which it planned to manufacture.

On July 12, Ryan wrote a blog post announcing that his company was closing.

"The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment," Ryan wrote.

So they invited a company that was obviously already underfunded with promises of money and a great mission statement? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Uh, so as Economic Development Director for the city, Mr. Weir didn’t know that before they made the big offer and threw all the taxpayer money at the company?  No indication of it when the company was in San Jose?

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Oh, well yeah, that’s the important part to be “irked” about – not the half mil of taxpayer money they threw down a rat-hole in an iffy company that officials obviously didn’t check out.

This is why governments should be held to doing only those functions they’re best suited to do.  If I were a Salinas resident, I’d be petitioning for recall elections for the idiots who threw taxpayer money away in a time of fiscal difficulty.  When the mayor tells the people of that city that he’s going to have to lay off cops and fire fighters first, my reaction would be, “oh, no – we think the mayor and the Econ Dev Director should be laid off first since they just cost taxpayers a half mil in a stupidity tax”.

Yes, I know, radical idea – accountability.

Oh … and by the way, who names a car the “Moose”?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO