Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses Amazon’s decision to come to Queens on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
Governor’s Office, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The promise of 25,000 jobs as part of a new Amazon headquarters in Queens could be in jeopardy because of concerns over local opposition.
Amazon is reconsidering its decision last year to announce a massive new headquarters in Long Island City in Queens amid growing pushback from local leaders and residents, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing unnamed sources.
New York won the national bidding war along with Virginia last year for the highly coveted project. New York is offering $3 billion in incentives.
But political leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have railed against the public subsidies and concerns about whether that section of Queens could handle the influx of people, as well as what it would do to existing residents.
Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, has yet to lease or purchase office space for the New York City project, the paper reported.
And the report noted that Virginia, unlike New York, hasn’t raised opposition to their planned Amazon headquarters.
In a statement, Amazon didn’t address the report, saying only that it looks forward to working with the community on the project.
“We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors — small business owners, educators, and community leaders,” the Seattle-based company said. “Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”
Among the hurdles in New York is a little-known public authority that will have some say in the public subsidies promised for the project.
The state Senate recently appointed Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, to the board. Gianaris is one the most vocal opponents of the project.
Opponents galvanized around the potential of Amazon reconsidering Long Island City for its second headquarters.
Unions have ripped the deal, in part because Amazon has refused to unionize the incoming workforce and because the subsidies would go to one of the world’s most valuable companies led by the world’s richest man.
“If the Amazon deal falls apart, they will have nobody to blame but themselves,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
“A major problem is the way the deal was put together shrouded in secrecy and ignoring what New Yorkers want and need.”
Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter: “Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can.”
Amazon’s memorandum of understanding with the state and New York City gives the company an easy out.
The company can terminate the deal at any point with 60 days’ written notice, according to the document.
Cuomo rips Senate
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have hailed winning the competition last November, saying the project will be a boon for the New York City area.
On Friday, Cuomo, a Democrat, tore into the Democrat-led state Senate for potentially scuttling the deal, and he urged New Yorkers to voice their displeasure with the Senate’s opposition.
“For the state Senate to oppose Amazon was governmental malpractice,” Cuomo said during a speech on Long Island.
He said the Senate is playing politics, adding, “What they did here is wrong.”
Eric Phillips, a spokesman for de Blasio, said, “The mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers.”
Senate Democrats pushed back against Cuomo’s criticism, which also included the governor accusing the conference of supporting a higher tax on wealthy earners, something conference spokesman Mike Murphy said is untrue.
Democrats took control of the Senate in the November elections after Republicans controlled the chamber for much of the previous century.
“It is unfortunate that the governor is trying to divide the Democratic Party at this crucial and historic time,” Murphy said in a statement.
“The Senate Democratic Majority Conference and our partners in the Assembly finally returned New York as the progressive beacon to the rest of the country.”
‘Greatest economic transaction’
Cuomo earlier this week called the Amazon deal “probably the greatest economic transaction in 50 years in this state.”
“It was a national competition; it went on for years. States and cities all across the country were competing for it,” Cuomo said Tuesday on WAMC, a public radio station in Albany.
“We don’t get a business to come with 25,000 jobs anymore. I spend hours and days trying to get 100 jobs, 200 jobs.”
Cuomo said if New York didn’t offer the incentives, Amazon would have went somewhere else, including nearby Newark, New Jersey, which offered an even larger package.
Cuomo said the state’s $3 billion will translate into a $30 billion investment by Amazon.
Both numbers, however, are from an economic-impact report based on the company bringing 40,000 jobs to the city, not the 25,000 minimum the company has agreed to. The report also didn’t take into account any potential negative impacts of the deal.
“I don’t see how they do that math, because we’re not giving him $3 billion,” Cuomo said of critics.
“He’s giving us $30 (billion). But take political math. We shouldn’t give it to him, then they will leave and they have said that if they are not wanted they will leave. They had hundreds of cities competing here for them. This is the wrong issue for the Senate to play politics.”
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