Amazon has decided not to build their controversial second headquarters in Long Island City, after months of sustained opposition to the deal by local politicians, community groups and unions. The local groups that agitated against $3 billion in subsidies negotiated privately by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio claim that the move proves that community organizations have power to effect real change. Proponents for the deal complain that this is so.
No matter what you think of the decision, what’s fascinating about the Amazon news is what it says about 1. The surging power of progressivism in this moment in places like NY 2. The reflexive expectation of unquestioned massive subsidies and tax breaks by big corporations.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) February 14, 2019
“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” stated State Senator Mike Gianaris, one of the state senators alluded to by Amazon as the reason for its departure from Queens.
“This was such a community effort in large part led by immigrant women of color all throughout Queens,” said Josselyn Atahualpa, an organizer for Queens Neighborhood United, a member of the #NoAmazonNYC coalition. “This should show the rest of the world that kicking corporations out is possible and that we should never shy away from a difficult battle.”
Roses are red
Chocolate is brown
Collective grassroots activism ran Amazon the fuck out of town
— Brianna Provenzano (@bri_provenzano) February 14, 2019
Proponents of the Amazon deal highlighted lack of compromise as the fault of politicians and advocacy groups, warning of dire consequences of Amazon pulling out.
“No words at this moment can convey the sadness and dismay at the loss of this historic opportunity,” said Tom Grech of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “An entire generation will look back at these last few months and ask us why. I hope those who opposed this Amazon deal have the answers to what we lost today.”
“When we are so strident that we’re unwilling to sit down to the table and talk about how we can make something better–if the original deal wasn’t the best deal, you sit down and see if you can work out something better for the community and the city as a whole,” said Sid Davidoff, a senior partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a real estate law firm.
However, some opponents to the deal, and Mayor de Blasio, claim that Amazon was the one unwilling to renegotiate.
You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 14, 2019
1. Amazon has shown its true colors. It refuses to deal reasonably with its hometown of Seattle or any community that asks for it to pay its freight. This is abusive & shows how awful the entire process was & is. https://t.co/H00b05O28X
— Richard Florida (@Richard_Florida) February 14, 2019
Queens Borough President @MelindaKatz says last City Council hearing made clear that Amazon wouldn’t be good neighbor or support workers. Amazon rep. said they wouldn’t support unionization at that hearing. pic.twitter.com/pGoHTRQPs8
— Annie McDonough (@Annie_McDonough) February 14, 2019
I’ll give you this, Amazon: Telling people you’re going to Queens and then bailing is one thing New Yorkers can relate to.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) February 14, 2019
While anti-Amazon sentiments predominated the discourse online, some chose to mock the rich who have attempted to capitalize on rising real estate values in Long Island City.
“The speculators who started buying up property perhaps thinking that it was going to be a golden pot at the end of the rainbow, it’s certainly going to affect them,” said Davidoff, before adding that he still expects property values to rise in the area anyway. “Long-range developers who’ve made an investment in Long Island City will grow at a much smaller pace, but it’ll still grow.”
Amazon execs who already bought condos in Queens pic.twitter.com/fhlPIgkpMn
— Extra Credit (@ExtraCredit) February 14, 2019
between the L train not shutting down and Amazon pulling out this has been a really rough time for opportunist real estate speculators 🙁 please keep them in your thoughts
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) February 14, 2019
Some opponents, however, chose to direct their ire at Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the original negotiators for the Amazon deal.
“This is a great moment, but the work that follows is more important. The City and State showed us their wallet when they promised all these subsidies to Amazon,” added Atahualpa. “NYC groups have been asking for real affordable housing, money for NYCHA and improved mass transit, more investment in youth spaces and community centers for a long time, and we were always told there was no money.”
Warren: Amazon “walked away from billions in taxpayer bribes” because officials “aren’t sucking up” enough https://t.co/72g0MMnzK5 pic.twitter.com/7w6Z2NsybQ
— The Hill (@thehill) February 14, 2019
.@NYCMayor with all due respect, you made this deal in secret with no community input from LIC residents.
While Amazon is no angel, they played by your rules.
The early takeaway from this: don’t be afraid of transparency and community inclusion. https://t.co/MPFUj6B1KX
— Scott M. Stringer (@NYCComptroller) February 14, 2019
“Shoutout to De Blasio and Cuomo,” wrote Reddit user bedandsofa. “Run for President now you fucks.”