Saturday, February 9, 2019

Is Amazon Bailing Out of Long Island City?

New York politicians never miss a chance to do something breathtakingly stupid. Now, they have set their sights on Amazon. The state and city offered tax breaks to the Seattle behemoth to create a campus, as it is now called, in Long Island City… right across the East River from my office. Since all of the other cities competing for the new Amazon headquarters had offered similar breaks, it was not exactly crazy for Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to come up with similar offers. After all, 25,000 jobs and a significant capital investment is not something that politicians sneeze at. And Amazon would bring in more middle class jobs... something that is increasingly lacking in a city that is divided between the rich and the rest.

Anyway, in New York politics Cuomo and de Blasio are insufficiently radical. Especially when compared to New York Congressperson and imbecile du jour, Alexandria Occasional-Cortex.

You see, AOC has rallied other like-minded politicians to declare war on Amazon, to fight it in the trenches, to give it mountains of grief… by extracting concessions… on the lines of unionizing the workforce and hiring people who are unqualified to do their jobs.

After all, this same band of imbeciles has succeeded in keeping Walmart out of New York. Ask yourself this: who would benefit from the presence of Walmart: the rich or the not-so-rich. But,  you see, Walmart is not unionized and the unions have refused to allow it to have a store in New York City.

Yesterday the Amazon took to the pages of the WashingtonPost to announce that it was reconsidering. As you know, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Wash Post, so the statement was obviously coming from the top: is reconsidering its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a new campus in New York City, according to two people familiar with the company's thinking, following a wave of political and community opposition.

Hailed as an economic triumph when it was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), the project now faces withering criticism from some elected officials and advocacy groups appalled at the prospect of giving giant subsidies to the world’s most valuable company, led by its richest man. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a state board where he could potentially veto the deal, and City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners. K ey officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have railed against the project.

No specific plans to abandon New York have been made. And it is possible that Amazon would try to use a threat to withdraw to put pressure on New York officials.

But company executives have had internal discussions recently to reassess the situation in New York and explore alternatives, said the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the company’s perspective. The company has not leased or purchased office space for the project in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, making it easy to abandon its commitment.

Perhaps it’s a bluff in a high stake poker game. But, Amazon has not yet leased or purchased office space in Long Island City. Thus, it can easily back out.

The Post also notes that politicians in Virginia and Nashville, other places where Amazon is preparing to put down roots, have been gracious and generous in welcoming the company.

Amazon is feeling unwanted in Queens. The Wall Street Journal describes the opposition:

Government officials working with Amazon in New York have seen the pace of progress slow, a person with knowledge of the process said. Officials are concerned the slowdown indicates a shift in company thinking, the person said.

“The drumbeat of opposition, even though it’s clearly not widespread, is making Amazon say, ‘Do we really need this?’” one government official said.

Members of the New York City Council have required Amazon executives to testify at two hearings on the proposed 4-million-square-foot Queens campus. Legislators used the proceedings to air concerns about development impacts and the incentive package. Another council hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Other opponents include the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union—which is trying to organize workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island—as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents nearby parts of Queens, and Mr. Gianaris, who represents Long Island City.

Mr. Gianaris has repeatedly said the current deal to lure Amazon should be scrapped. “If they want to threaten that they won’t come here without it, that’s their decision. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be extorted,” he said Friday.

Yes, indeed, be tough. Show how powerful you are by killing job opportunities and economic development. People who can’t build anything themselves gain a sense of power by destroying what others have built.

Stay tuned.


UbuMaccabee said...

This is going to be fun. Even if Jeffrey thinks he is getting what he expected, and the NY political machine gets the riff-raff in line, the leftists will be making trouble for Amazon the whole time they are there. Lawsuits, protests, activists, and unions. Professional malcontents and ingrates.

Dixie, Jeffrey, Dixie. We'll fly the Amazon flags from our pickup trucks as we drive to Church. And Atlanta has the best airport in the country. Maybe you will even learn that we deplorables are your kind of people after all. Treat us kindly, and we'll introduce you to a nice southern girl with a well-developed sense of modesty and loyalty who'll look out for you for the rest of you life.

Sam L. said...

Ahhhhhh, the old "New Yorkers think they're better than you" trope proves true again.