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Monday, April 30, 2018

Amazon HQ2 Site Should be Public, Says Court, Cleveland.com Triumphant

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 8:49 AM

  • Photo by Mike Seyfang/Flickr
The Ohio Court of Claims, responding to a complaint filed by Cleveland.com, recommended that all 18 reports created by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency for the city's failed Amazon HQ2 bid should be made public. Those reports will include information related to prospective sites.

The court's special master, Jeffrey Clark, penned an 18-page decision that shattered to smithereens the bogus claim by NOACA and Team NEO, the economic development nonprofit corralling Cleveland's HQ2 horses, that the information represented confidential "trade secrets." Clark said that the publicly funded NOACA failed to show that any of the information in the documents it created for the bid should be secret.

Clark said much of the information consisted of "descriptive, conclusory statements and promotional rhetoric," and that much of the same information could be found on NOACA's own website and in its readily accessible published work.

"There is no evidence," Clark said, "that a competitor who wishes to distinguish its attributes from those of Cleveland cannot obtain a wealth of specific data and declared attributes from NOACA's published material and elsewhere online."

As we've mentioned before, Cleveland.com's Mark Naymik was the force behind this decision. He pestered the agencies for information and, by his own account, personally wrote the complaint to the Ohio Court of Claims. (As Naymik notes in Tweet below, Cleveland.com was represented in this matter by attorney Melissa Berke for Baker Hostetler).

Naymik quoted editor Chris Quinn in his write-up of the court's decision, which was an A1 story in the Sunday Plain Dealer.

"We thought from the beginning that public officials in Cleveland were wrong to operate in secrecy in the Amazon deal, and I'm glad this independent ruling fully supports our belief that the records created in the failed pursuit of the Amazon headquarters are public," Quinn said. "I wish officials had released the records from the start rather than leaving us to represent the public's interest by hiring a law firm to pursue this action."

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