‘I Need Them. They Need Us Too': Cupertino Mayor Discusses Controversial Comments on Apple

The mayor of Cupertino is raising some eyebrows after he was quoted as saying Apple "abuses us" and was forcibly escorted off the tech giant’s campus.

"There’s some misquotes. I did not say Apple abuses us," Mayor Barry Chang said, though admitting his relationship with Apple has never been sweet. "It’s not abuse, but it’s interesting. We need each other. I need them. They need us too. But what I am asking for, they are not willing to give."

The Guardian published a story Thursday morning, but Chang says the "abuse" he was referring to was about a resident’s behavior at a City Council meeting, not Apple.

The story also said the last time Chang walked into Apple three years ago, he "barely made it into the lobby when Apple’s security team surrounded and escorted him off the property."

The Guardian story has been revised since Thursday morning, and now leaves out mentions of "abuse" by Apple and reads, "Apple’s security team asking him to leave."

"But their reception was so cold. She said, 'You have appointment?' I said, 'No.' She say, 'Well, you have no appointment. No one will see you. You have to leave,'" Chang recounted, explaining he felt "a little disrespected" but not abused.

However, there are parts of the story where there is no confusion. The mayor is asking Apple to pay $1,000 per employee to help fund the city’s aging infrastructure and traffic issues.

"I’m calling all the big companies in town — not just Apple but the Googles," Chang said. "Please do your share."

Apple declined to respond to Thursday’s events, but says it is Cupertino’s biggest tax payer. The company adds it has paid more than $70 million to improve Cupertino and is creating programs to get a third of its employees to use alternative transportation.

"When I was negotiating with them, they said, 'Oh, oh, we’re OK as long as our employees are on the bus. They have their Wi-Fi; they can work.' But that’s too selfish," Chang said.

Community groups working to recall Chang also talked to NBC Bay Area outside City Hall Thursday.

"I don’t blame Apple specifically [for steadily increasing traffic]. I blame poor planning. We needed a transit solution 20 years ago," Liana Crabtree, with community group Better Cupertino. "The mayor and some portion of the City Council seem to be representing the developer interests over the interests of the electorate."

Chang has his sights on a bigger office — he’s running for State Assembly. For now, however, he’s standing firm in Cupertino and is not afraid of the most valuable company in the world taking its business elsewhere.

"Well, then can, but I’m not afraid of it. If they move, I know there are other companies that want to come in," Chang said.

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