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Facebook To Pay City $200K-a-Year For a Neighborhood Cop 235

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-than-renting dept.
theodp writes "Valleywag reports that Facebook just bought itself a police officer and questions what kind of mechanism will be in place to make sure the officer — whose position Facebook has agreed to fund to the tune of $200K-a-year for 3 years — doesn't provide preferential protection for the social network giant and its employees. It's probably a fair question, considering that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the City of New Orleans enter into a federal consent decree designed to address the 'divided loyalties' of the city's moonlighting police officers. But for now, everything's hunky-dory in Menlo Park, where Police Chief Robert Jonsen called the deal a 'benchmark in private-public partnerships.' No doubt it is, as was last week's Google-City of San Francisco deal to fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids. But is giving earmarked funding to facilitate self-serving city expenditures a good or bad development?"
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Facebook To Pay City $200K-a-Year For a Neighborhood Cop

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  • 200k plus for *ONE* cop? I know that health insurence and retirement bennies add to the base wage, but 200k plus a year? How much is this dude making take home?

    • How much is this dude making take home?

      Including graft, protection and money stolen from citizens or what he tells the IRS?

    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Informative)

      by mythosaz (572040) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:28PM (#46431889)

      That's $96/hr, which seems within the ballpark for full-time contracted 10-99 labor with the requirement of special certifications and skills.

      • The $100/hour seems about right for what utilities and others pay for a cop on private detail. The officer gets some of that in overtime, the city gets the rest as "profit" and overhead. $200k/year for a trained, licensed cop seems in the ballpark once you take into effect training, equipment, benefits, hiring and other costs. Your $75K/year PHP programmer probably costs the company $150K/year once you add in benefits, recruiting, real estate and training.
    • by Change (101897)
      Salary, health benefits, equipment, continuing training...
    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:44PM (#46432585)

      if they said $200,000 for some wanker to hang around all day and pretend
      to do a little php work you wouldn't have batted an eye

  • You could hire a private security guard for less. It's not like citizens don't have the same arresting powers as police if trespassers had to be dealt with.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but it's about moving the Overton window. As the democratic state becomes weaker, private businesses take over a governing role. Before you had to bribe - now you just pay directly for cops.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Yeah, but it's about moving the Overton window. As the democratic state becomes weaker, private businesses take over a governing role. Before you had to bribe - now you just pay directly for cops.

        That's the real story here. And Menlo Park used to be quite the bad neighborhood, so with Cali government falling apart it would be a disturbing development if this meant that you have to hire your own police officer if you want police protection. But I think that's sensationalized - Menlo Park is already mid-gentrification, already has a very high police presence. It's just not the case here that Facebook needed to pay the cops just to do their job.

        There's more here than meets the eye. FB certainly cou

        • There's more here than meets the eye. FB certainly could have hired off-duty police officers as security guards for cheaper. It's either some stunt by FB, or a blatant shakedown by the local PD (nice campus you've got there ...), and I doubt we'll ever know which.

          It's not a stunt. Facebook is just warming up enforce that TOS agreement... they really do hate fake names over there...

    • Re:Pretty ridiculous (Score:5, Informative)

      by digitalvengeance (722523) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:05PM (#46432115)

      Valid point, but there are key legal and practical differences. I am not a lawyer and I may not be read up on all the recent cases, but I am a police officer and I have looked into this area a bit a while back.

      For example, police officers acting in their official capacity (regardless of who pays) are generally entitled to qualified immunity. While private guards may qualify for qualified immunity in some circumstances, the law there is much less clear and their use in actual roles requiring action (rather than just observing and reporting) can be a major source of liability.

      That is, Facebook would generally be liable for actions taken by private security working directly for them. They set the policy the security guard follows and are liable for the consequences of that policy. Police officers, on the other hand, work for the city (or county or state or federal) and their actions are generally governed by policy and law, which may act as a buffer between Facebook's deep pockets and potential lawsuits.

      Additionally, even in states where a citizen's arrest is perfectly legal, there are logistical concerns. In the states I am familiar with, resisting an officer who is effecting a legal arrest is illegal and in some states even resisting an illegal arrest is illegal unless certain other elements (i.e. risk of physical harm) are involved. When a citizen is attempting to effect the arrest, it is much easier for the person being arrested to simply claim they were being assaulted and fought back and there is no simple way to determine who is right.

      Having a trained, experienced, uniformed police officer effecting the arrest undercuts this argument because it isn't (generally) reasonable for an individual to claim they were being randomly assaulted by an on-duty officer.

      • Those are valid points but there are body cameras for emergency and law enforcement workers that can document a security guards interaction with suspicious people if a security guard's employer needs legal indemnification.

      • So, in short, Facebook just bought a security guard who has better legal rights to use force.

      • by adiposity (684943)

        When a citizen is attempting to effect the arrest, it is much easier for the person being arrested to simply claim they were being assaulted and fought back and there is no simple way to determine who is right.

        But with a police officer, there is a simple way to determine who is right: the officer.

    • by Pubstar (2525396)
      In California, it is still assault to lay hands on someone even if you have a guard card unless the guard has been attacked first.
    • FB should call the new division "Lone Star Security Services" lol
  • RoboCop (Score:2, Troll)

    by BasilBrush (643681)

    As if cops weren't already completely biased towards corporations and against individual citizens.

    This is a move in the direction satirised by RoboCop (the original). Very bad news.

  • Bad development (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:29PM (#46431895)

    Pay your fucking taxes and accept good service in return. If the service isn't good, fix it for everybody or buy your own private cops. The need for private cops embarrasses the public cops, which it should.

    Buying government cops is the merger of corporation and state--the very definition of fascism and inherently corrupt.

    Not just cops. The Google "public private partnership" is corrupt too; but not quite as bad since it doesn't involve guys with guns.

    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:10PM (#46432153)

      "If the service isn't good, fix it for everybody"

      They did.

      They earmarked the funds for a cop, instead of just giving the city money to spend on whatever stupid, politically motivated bullshit worth maybe $25,000 some city councilman's brother in law could get away with selling the city for that same $200,000.

      I rather approve of earmarks like this.

      If I could earmark donated funds for specific uses, like solar powered LED street lights that pretty much never need service for 20+ years, I'd probably buy several for my neighborhood, as they are ~$500 each, and labor to put them up couldn't be more than ~$200 each (and if it was, I'd hire the private contractors to do the work instead of city employees). I'd happily pay $3,500 out of pocket for 5 lights to get safer streets in my immediate neighborhood.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:17PM (#46432483)
        The problem is that when that happens, then the city cuts police funding by $200k. Earmarks don't work, unless the person giving them has some say over their use (as an annual grant has). But like the Lotto in Texas going to schools resulted in the school funding from the general fund decreasing by the amount earned in the lotto, the result was exactly the same as if the lotto funded the general fund, but was an easier sell to lie about it's use.
      • The problem is that by paying for the cop, they tell the city "there'd better be a cop right here".

        Which is not how efficient policing works.

        Imagine, to oversimplify, that the cop responds to a burglary 6 blocks away. At the same time, someone on/near the FB campus gets victimized. Will FB blame to city for the cop not being there? Will he have to turn around because the 911 from FB is more important? Is that rule written, or is it just a strong hint given to the dispatcher?
        What about presence in bad areas,

        • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 07, 2014 @09:36PM (#46432793)

          The problem is that by paying for the cop, they tell the city "there'd better be a cop right here".

          I expect the conversation went more like this:

          FB: "We are building new housing in a ghetto area and we plan to have 10% of it go to our employees, and 90% of it to be rented at below market rates do that people can have better housing; all of this will be worthless, however, if no one wants to live there due to the high crime rate in the area. We'd like to see periodic patrols by a police officer in the area"

          MP: "Sorry, we don't have enough officers to guarantee periodic patrols in the area that you're requesting"

          FB: "Have another officer, on us, then, so that you can periodically patrol the area"

          MP: "Thanks!"

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          There is already precedence for this and it is somewhat simple to follow. Almost every college campus has it's own cops that are stationed on campus for the sole benefit of the campus and the college pays for the costs (some campuses have their own police force with the same powers as regular cops by law). Most medical centers of decent size and emergency room/hospitals have the same. The local hospital here has 5 officers working it (covering 3 shifts) and it is actually 4 or 5 blocks from the main police

          • I don't see a problem with this system at public schools (where the college cops actually count as state employees I think), but I don't really agree with it if used at a private school.

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              I think they count as state employees but the school pays a fee or their costs or something. It's less then the rentacop fees you or I would have to pay if we wanted a cop to work security on the late shift or a special event or something. In my area, you can hire off duty cops to do security at just about anything as long as it is legal.

              But I think it would/should depend a lot on how big the school is and if the campus is open to the public or not. If it is a walled garden, I have a problem too. But if it

          • Actually, many campus police have the same jurisdiction as Highway Patrol...since the schools are state-level entities, they can chase you far beyond school property.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Actually, is it only in Europe that "buying a cop" usually implies corruption (or a bankrupt state)?
  • by t0qer (230538) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:29PM (#46431899) Homepage Journal

    I work down the street from their menlo park/willow road campus. Right now Facebook is building an apartment complex across the street from HQ. They've promised to only rent 10% of the apartments to their employees with the other 90% being offered to the general public at market rate.

    Despite the nice sounding name, Menlo Park's east side is akin to East Palo Alto. Slum neighborhoods, crime, ghetto. With the influx of google/facebook employees however the neighborhood is slowly gentrifying.

    I think facebook wants to turn the neighborhood into something more appealing for their employees.

    • Slum neighborhoods, crime, ghetto. With the influx of google/facebook employees however the neighborhood is slowly gentrifying.

      . . . so where do all the slum, crime and ghetto folks go when the place gets gentrified . . . a couple of blocks down the road . . . ? With all those rich folks moving in . . . I'd think it would make it a much more attractive place to commit crimes.

      More tiny,shiny, expensive devices to ApplePick . . .

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:16PM (#46432195) Journal

        > . . . so where do all the slum, crime and ghetto folks go when the place gets gentrified . . .

        I dunno, camp out in Ravesnwood?

        But seriously, what's the alternative? Leave the area a rat hole because certain kinds of people need to live in rat holes?

        I spent a year at Tan House back in the day, and can say that the tales of massive prostitution and drug use were exaggerated. They did have a serious cockroach problem, though. I remember a note tacked up by the mailboxes, in the vein of "You people need to stop living like pigs!" Fun times.

    • by x0ra (1249540)
      So ? Just allow the "civilian" to get their CCW...
    • by fermion (181285)
      So they literaly buy a cop instead of just investing in the neighborhood like a normal megamaniacal corporation. A cop, unless the cop is being paid to apply the law differentially and go beyond the law when needed, is not going to do much good. Most revitalization depends on land prices going up enough so that people move out in a large enough area. Cops are useful, but harassment is not usually enough to get people out, and stupid people with money just tends to attract criminals.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:31PM (#46431909)

    Everything. And at some level, society needs to be built around facilitating and accommodating business. Again... they pay for EVERYTHING.

    Should any one business get preferential treatment? No.

    However, business itself should get preferential treatment.

    Why? Because if business is unhappy in a given area... the area dies. Look at Detroit. That's what happens if you piss all over business for decades. And keep in mind, Detroit has had tens of billions pumped into it by the federal government to try and keep it alive. Over many years going back generations now. It doesn't matter. Piss on business and you'll wither and die.

    So... getting to the issue of these private police and bus passes. Why are these companies giving the local government extra money? Because the local government is shaking them down. Google for example is having its ability to commute workers into and out of San Fransisco interfered with... that's not sustainable. Either it has to stop or Google can't maintain a workforce in the city. Google has therefore attempted to bribe the city into doing something the city should have done at no additional cost.

    As to facebook... no idea why they're buying the police. But I can only assume they've had security problems and the local police were not responsive. As a result... they've felt the need to incentive assistance.

    All told the whole thing is pretty sad. And before someone talks about the evil corporations, lets get something straight... look around the country in more business friendly areas. Take texas or South Dakota or either of the Carolinas... how much of this police buying are we seeing there? Not much. So California is where we're seeing this now.

    Why of why would that be?

    • by SpankiMonki (3493987) on Friday March 07, 2014 @09:00PM (#46432639)

      Take texas or South Dakota or either of the Carolinas... how much of this police buying are we seeing there? Not much.

      My neighborhood in Dallas pays $70K/year for what the DPD calls "ENP" (Enhanced Neighborhood Patrol). For the $70K we get two armed, uniformed police officers driving a marked DPD patrol car for 1000 hours per year (above their regular patrols) in a neighborhood of about 1 square mile. This sort of thing goes on in neighborhoods all over town, and the DPD has a similar program for businesses that is quite popular as well. My brother who lives in Houston also has paid patrols by the HPD in his neighborhood (don't know the costs).

      Anyway, "police buying" is alive and well down here in the Lone Star State. Come on down & check it out. (if you do make it down here, don't let anybody know you failed to capitalize the "T" in "Texas"...you might get shot)

      • (if you do make it down here, don't let anybody know you failed to capitalize the "T" in "Texas"...you might get shot)

        Reminds me of a joke, Texans are too proud of their large state, but what galls them most is that if Alaska were ever divided in half, texas would only be the third largest state.

        It's enough to make you wanna secede!

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Sounds like a protection racket. Pay us $70k/year for extra patrols or be a victim of crime. If a neighbourhood needs that level of protection it should be paid for out of general taxation, especially since any neighbourhood not rich enough to afford it isn't going to get it and is probably the most in need of it. It would also motivate those who can afford it to try and improve policing generally for everyone, not just themselves.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        My neighborhood in Dallas pays $70K/year for what the DPD calls "ENP" (Enhanced Neighborhood Patrol).

        I wonder if the neighborhoods who can't afford it feel the same way, usually there's plenty crime in poor areas and if there's even less cops to go around I bet they feel it's more like substandard and normal neighborhood patrol. All are equal before the law but first you must be caught by the law, live in a poor neighborhood and you get less protection from the law. Isn't that the de facto result? What's in it for the police to raise their general level of presence, taking away the incentive to buy ENP? No

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FuzzNugget (2840687)

      You're right that business pays for (almost) anything, but they should not be given a backdoor to pay for things at their discretion. Those decisions should be made by the represented public.

      For that to happen, high percentage tax brackets would need to be re-enstated and embargoes placed on offshore tax havens. Fat chance.

      Oh, and Detroit is dead because they made shitty cars for too long.

    • by Tom (822)

      Everything. And at some level, society needs to be built around facilitating and accommodating business. Again... they pay for EVERYTHING.

      That is total bullshit.

      People pay for everything. Corporations pay nothing whatsoever. I'm not talking about dodging taxes, I'm talking about the simple fact that any tax you leverage on them will simply be added to the price of whatever they're selling, so whatever money a corporation pays in taxes was first taken from its customers.

      • And where does the money people have to pay for things come from?

        Do you have a money tree in your backyard?

        Business... large and small generates wealth. They pay labor to assist in that generation of wealth. That generation of wealth pays for everything.

        Do they pass costs on to consumers? Yes. But the money the consumers pay for things with came from business.

        And before you tell me some marxist bullshit about all wealth coming from the worker, then why isn't africa rich? Because its got a lot of people in i

        • by Tom (822) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:03AM (#46434311) Homepage Journal

          And where does the money people have to pay for things come from?

          Here's the thing: Money is an abstract entity. It doesn't grow on trees. However, corporations are abstract entities, too. A corporation does not generate wealth, because if you take away the people, there is nothing there.

          People can generate wealth without a corporate entity around them. Corporations make things easier because they provide a framework, legal and organisational, but they are not essential. A dozen people setting up a workshop together will produce wealth, whether or not they incorporate.

          But corporations can not generate wealth without people. If there's nobody there doing the work, then the organisational framework is just an empty shell.

          Apologies for not satisfying your preconceptions about "marxist bullshit". I personally think that both marxists and capitalists are equal parts full of shit and in the right, it's just the parts which are which that differ.

    • Everything. And at some level, society needs to be built around facilitating and accommodating business.

      I don't know what you think you're espousing, but in reality it's one of: (a) corporatocracy or (b) fascism.

      • Neither actually.

        If a farmer survives by planting his fields and reaping his crops... how do the people in cities survive?

        The farmer lives by the needs of his crops. He watches the weather. He remains aware of the nature of his plants. He watches for pests. He keeps track of the market for his crops. He knows his seasons.

        Do you think the cities can survive while paying less attention to what keeps them alive?

        Is it fascism for the farmer to be forced to harvest his entire crop on a specific day or lose every

    • If you ever have enough brains, curiosity, and determination to go to a decent college, they will teach you that it is workers who create the wealth, not "business". "Business" steals from workers, adds its own markup, and sells to a greater fool. Your post is just a moronic right-wing propaganda straight from your right-wing study notes, no imagination whatsoever. Stupid and boring.

      • Actually that's just marxism...

        So good job, you got indoctrinated by marxists in a country built by capitalists that beat marxists and generally humiliated their whole sick little empire.

        You were scammed. I'd feel sorry for you if you weren't also a douche bag.

        If I were you, I'd demand a refund on that education of yours.

        Do you have any more heartbreaking confessions of misfortune and incompetence?

        As an aside, I had an english teacher that tried to push marxism in his class once... this was in college by th

    • by robsku (1381635)

      All told the whole thing is pretty sad. And before someone talks about the evil corporations, lets get something straight... look around the country in more business friendly areas. Take texas or South Dakota or either of the Carolinas... how much of this police buying are we seeing there? Not much. So California is where we're seeing this now.

      Why of why would that be?

      Since I've only read about this one case, please share the information if there is more of this happening.

      • It was two cases actually... the article itself cited two.

        How many would you need to feel a pattern were justifed?

        Three? Thirty? Three hundred?

        Give me a number.

  • So this is already a working, employed cop?

    And he will continue to receive his government salary and do his day job? So what does he just have two jobs now? During the day to protect citizens, and during the night to protect FB?

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Hopefully the three-year deal and salary allows the police department to budget for one or two more officers on staff.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:57PM (#46432073)
    When they are fully funded by taxes alone. Please, it is virtually impossible to get rid of any police officer for anything. Look at the CA Dorner case. Police shot at two cars of innocent people and nothing happened to them - at all. And people worry about this. Bullshit.
  • by machineghost (622031) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:06PM (#46432121)

    Private entities pay for cops all the time, this isn't as radical as it seems. For instance, when I used to be involved in student government we knew that part of the cost of having a big event was having to pay for the mandatory number of cops who had to be there. The city knew that college students in large groups were trouble, and they didn't want to have to foot the bill, so they passed an ordance that required us to foot the bill for any event with X number of people expected (I forget what X was).

    I'm pretty sure the same thing happens with some concerts, sporting events, etc.: the municipalities don't want to pay, so they make the entity responsible pay for it. Then again, lots of stadium owners have cozy deals with the city, which probably avoid this sort of thing.

    In any case, the only unusual thing about this that I can see is that's a full-time gig.

    • Exactly. In suburban Houston, every subdivision has a contract with the sheriff's department in which the subdivision pays a monthly fee, and in exchange the sheriff's department guarantees that officers will spend a specified number of hours per week in that subdivision, patrolling. Without the contract in place, sheriffs would have no legal right to patrol the subdivisions, which are technically private property.

      College campuses, very large businesses, stadiums, they all pay for on-duty police protectio

    • It's outrageous all right, it's just that not many people seem to know about the private scheming to take over basic service you talk about. It's been established since Roman times that private basic services such as courts, firefighters, police, schools, etc. are "bad" idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that it eventually leads to a very screwed up society ready to collapse. However, most people nowadays seem to forget what happened last week, and cannot be bothered by long-term history.

  • Some compensation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by godel_56 (1287256) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:16PM (#46432197)
    Perhaps large corporations contributing to public funds goes some tiny way to compensate for their tax avoidance schemes, that helped make the local and federal governments short of cash in the first place.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:19PM (#46432221)
    Jokes aside this stuff scares me. It's basically the rich getting their social services without letting the poors have them. Very few people recognize the tremendous amount of luck that goes into becoming and then staying wealthy. It basically means either a) life was handed to you on a silver plate or b) absolutely nothing major ever went wrong in your life or the lives of your immediate family.

    It's like how the fund the schools here with property tax. They don't do that to be fair. They do it so the rich don't have to pay for the poor's educations.

    Now, on the topic of why the rich _should_ be paying for that. Well, that's the price of a stable and progressive civilization.
    • by jittles (1613415)

      It's like how the fund the schools here with property tax. They don't do that to be fair. They do it so the rich don't have to pay for the poor's educations.

      I'm confused by this statement. In theory a rich person has a nicer house than a poor person. So the rich person pays higher property tax than the poor person. If the rich person is paying a higher tax, then aren't they helping to subsidize the education of the less fortunate? Now if the rich person lives a frugal lifestyle and lives in the same standard of housing as a poor person, then your argument makes some sense. Now since property tax is often assessed at a county level, this may mean that rich

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @09:13PM (#46432705)

        You are confused because you don't understand how school district funding works. The schools are funded from the property tax collected WITHIN the school district, meaning that a district like Orange county is going to be funded a whole bunch better than a district in Compton. In other countries, schools are funded out of the national budget, and you don't have the disparity in education that the US has.

        You might think that you might have school districts with both rich and poor neighborhoods, but generally what happens is that the level of school district funding either forces the property value in the poor neighborhoods up, because the district is well funded, or forces the property value down in the rich neighborhoods because the schools are bad, or the district zoning is redrawn to exclude the poor kids from the rich kids district.

    • Well, that's the price of a stable and progressive civilization.

      Why is it that whenever progressives talk about the price of something I'm the one who gets handed the bill for their profligate ways?

    • It basically means either a) life was handed to you on a silver plate or b) absolutely nothing major ever went wrong in your life or the lives of your immediate family.

      The ignorance in these two statements is astounding. Seriously, you think rich people never had anything major go wrong in their lives? :/

  • real cops are better then rent a cops who have little to no cop power

  • Pretty Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:30PM (#46432269)

    This is just a quiet, PR-positive way of very slowly taking governance out of the hands of voters and putting it in the hands of corporate executives. You can read about it here. [wikipedia.org]

    Armed soldiers with arrest powers no longer accountable to the people? What could go wrong?

  • Is this story a coherent paragraph? If so, I need to go back to school.
  • Who'd have thought that America's first domino piece of descent into corporatist totalitarianism would be Facebook?
  • When you take into account cost of his titanium armor, ammo for his special sidearm, computer support systems... really that's not a bad price per year.

    Wait, we are talking about Robocop, right? I mean, come on, it's Google. He wouldn't be the first computer driving a car around there or anything...
  • by Tom (822)

    It's an absolutely horrible precedent. It is a step back more than 2,000 years. The closest thing in real history was the very first firefighters in ancient Rome - a private enterprise that made its owner one of the richest men in Rome through a simple principle: Whenever there was a fire, he'd show up with his firefighters (slaves, btw.) and offer the owner of the house to buy it on the spot and make him a tenant in his (formerly) own house. The price he offered was ridiculously low. If the owner sold, the

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Friday March 07, 2014 @09:53PM (#46432849)
    Mega corporations do whatever they can to dodge taxes, and then discover that they need tax-funded public services: cops and transports. What is next? Microsoft will subsidize roads? Cisco will build a sewage? Apple will raise an army?

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