Bouquets and Brickbats: Amazon resorts to bribery tactic

Amazon, you’ve got some nerve. First, you thumbed your nose at a California requirement that you collect sales tax from your online customers. Then, you tried to do away with the tax law completely through the referendum process. That’s your right, but did your really have to station signature gatherers in front of some of your major competitors — including brick-and-mortar bookstores?

Now, you’re resorting to good, old-fashioned bribery by offering California a carrot that’s truly hard to resist: a promise to create 7,000 jobs — if the Legislature agrees to delay implementation of the tax collection law until 2014.

Tempting, but that’s small comfort for the traditional merchants — including moms-and-pops — who are dutifully collecting sales tax while the Amazons of the world skate.

Amazon, your tactics are tacky and for that, we’re shipping you — tax free — all the hot new brands of brickbats.

That’s one super superintendent

After the crooks from Bell, Calif., it’s refreshing to read about Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, who has turned down three years’ worth of salary — $800,000. The money will help fund school programs instead.

Powell will work for just $31,000 per year, which is $10,000 less than a first-year teacher earns. The superintendent is drawing a generous pension, but even so, such generosity is awesome, and we toss the superintendent a grade “A” bouquet.

A good start for Bell

Speaking of Bell, former SLO City Manager Ken Hampian deserves a pro bono bouquet for volunteering to help the city out of its predicament. Hampian recently spent a month working in the Southern California city. As he told Tribune columnist Bill Morem, “It was so desperately in need, so abused by someone who called himself a city manager, that I tapped into my early idealism and decided it was an opportunity to give back.”

As Hampian described, it will take a long, long time for Bell to get back on its feet, but he and other government officials who have been volunteering there deserve credit for starting to turn things around.

Solar nonprofit worthy of waiver

We toss two big bouquets of sunflowers, the first to Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit that installs photovoltaic cells on affordable housing, and the second to the county Board of Supervisors, for agreeing to waive $100,000 in fees for the organization. We agree that fee waivers should be granted sparingly, but this is an especially worthy cause. Solar power reduces harmful air emissions and it saves money for homeowners. Thanks to the board’s actions, more homes in SLO County will be able to go solar.