It’s been a week and we’re still wondering: What did New York City gain by driving Amazon away?

We know what we lost, at least most of it. Twenty-five to 40,000 new jobs, paying $150,000 on average. New tax revenue of $27 billion over 10 years, even more if the job creation fell short of the 25,000 jobs required for the online retail and tech leviathan to get its $3 billion in city and state incentives. An estimated $186 billion in new economic activity, including another $14 billion in taxes. The revitalization of a large waterfront space in Long Island City. New technology programs in our schools, led by true masters of the sector. Workforce training and opportunities for residents of area public housing like they’ve never seen. And the retention of the city’s status as capital of the world.

Instead of all that, New York gets to further its reputation for hostility toward business, an amazing thing considering we’re home to Wall Street and, in Queens, the ubiquitous though declining mom-and-pop shop. We’re losing population relative to other states with lower taxes and fewer regulations. The state will lose a congressional seat or two after the next Census, no matter how hard the Queens Complete Count Committee formed by Borough President Melinda Katz tries to ensure all our residents are taken into account.

Along with grassroots activists in advocacy groups and unions, we find four individuals in particular to be responsible for this debacle: state Sen. Mike Gianaris, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Mayor de Blasio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Gianaris and Van Bramer were among those clamoring for Amazon to come to Queens but flip-flopped once the company said it would, no doubt feeling pressure on their left and thinking of how former Rep. Joe Crowley was knocked out of Congress by Ocasio-Cortez. Gianaris wouldn’t even meet with Amazon, while the new congresswoman simply fed the flames of the opposition.

De Blasio is of course one of the very people who made the deal with Amazon, but once it came under fire, he did not effectively defend it. And his comments in the aftermath of the deal’s collapse have been terrible. Not accepting responsibility at all, he blamed the company, saying, “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.”

No. Amazon walked away from a cascade of abuse that never would have stopped. It was all set to work with the community, under the terms of the deal de Blasio himself and Cuomo made. You don’t pull a Darth Vader after signing an agreement and tell someone, “The deal has changed.”

If de Blasio thought Amazon should have undergone the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for its LIC campus, or have been forced to stand down as its workers unionized, the time to say so was during the negotiations, not afterward.

The selective outrage over Amazon’s hostility toward unions, the issue over which Van Bramer in particular attacked the company, is remarkable. Is Google unionized? No, but it’s operating here. How about financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co.? No, but they feed New York’s tax-and-spend practices more than anyone. Only select companies, like Walmart previously and Amazon now, are kept out because their workers aren’t unionized.

Unions that would have built Amazon’s LIC campus naturally supported its planned move. As Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said when the deal failed, “This sends the wrong message to businesses all over the world looking to call New York home. Who will want to come now?”

Good question. So what did we gain from this? Nothing.

(5) comments

204th Street Jack

''Good question. So what did we gain from this? Nothing''

More people fleeing the NYC and NYS than ever before, ''Voting'' with their feet.. Heading to places like Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada and most of all Texas..

You will face shortfalls in budgets because you have less tax payers to support that budget not to mention the retail failures due to not enough customers to support competition which helps consumer prices..

Keep a close eye on the 2020 Census and electoral college as well and see where all of your one time citizens have gone to.

stan chaz

What do we lose?
What we actually “lost” was an undemocratic backroom deal that would have brought a union-busting behemoth here while providing the richest man in the world with corporate welfare and a helipad. Amazon acted like a big bully who refused to play ball with the community and then took the ball and walked away. Good riddance. LIC is , was, and will be booming with or without Amazon. Presumably Bezos is not accustomed to people and politicians standing up to him and rightfully telling him that if you come here you play by our rules - as part of an open public process. We don’t need or want a Bezos bully in the china shop (one whose said bullying was evidenced by Amazon’s strong arm tactics in Seattle politics). And of course, NY economic incentives should be provided to companies that really need them, rathe than one that manages to evade their taxes with a zero Federal tax bill.
Instead of listening to the community and working through democratic processes, Amazon obviously prefers secret backroom deals that ignore both the community and their local elected representatives —just as it prefers to squash its workplace unions. Amazon wanted to move to a place it could quietly manipulate, not a place that would rightfully subject it and its practices to the scrutiny that it so deserves. So it turned tail and ran when we would not bow, grovel and genuflect. The arrogant & abrupt actions of Amazon and their refusal to positively respond to (or even acknowledge) valid community concerns and criticism have shown that it would not have been a good neighbor and partner in the first place. Instead, it would have been bad for worker’s rights, bad for democracy and democratic input, and definitely bad for the free market.
Apparently Gov. Cuomo forgot that we had elected a new progressive legislature, and that the dynamics of power in this State have changed . No longer does Cuomo have the undisputed power to impose his secret backroom decisions on the State (“aka 3 men in a room”). In the Amazon deal he tried to bypass the public, and failed. Cuomo may have a worthy list of progressive accomplishments but he also needs to lead in a progressive and democratic fashion to match his ideals. I hope he has learned his lessons.
Essentially it’s a question of ends versus means. And what isn’t? We need to look at how the deal was done, what it entailed, and what Amazon is and does as a company - NOT just the promised jobs, not just the almighty dollar, with no concern for the larger social costs & consequences. In other words, the issue is NOT all about the Benjamins, the issue is NOT all about seeking jobs at any cost or consequence, from any source, no matter its practices or business model or demands. It needs to be more than that. It needs to be about how we get to our goals, whether it be jobs or anything else. It needs to be about values. It needs to be about community. It needs to be about corporate responsibility. It need to be about the need for open democratic processes. Or the lack of them, as with this deal.
The road we choose to take in working towards our goals is more decisive & crucial than the destination. You can’t separate ends and means.
Our means either dilute or poison or subvert the ends we seek, or they uplift & embody & enrich them, and make them real.
In seeking our goals the processes of open democracy may indeed be a messy and difficult road to travel.
But it’s far better road than the lure of quick & easy undemocratic means, and their ultimately self-destructive deals & “solutions”.

Tony for QueensBP

It's truly amazing to me that with all the failures and all the selfishness that these elected representatives display on a daily basis that the people of Queens continue to support and re-elect them over and over and over again! What did they accomplish with driving away a company that had the potential of bringing in such a financial windfall to the coffers of NYC and NYS. Jobs, increase revenue to local business owners and opportunities for our residents to truly experience the benefits of having a much improved overall economic climate was all taken away by the irresponsible actions of a handful of misinformed, unqualified group of incompetent business what to be's. AOC thinking that the $3 Billion can now go to fund other initiatives rather Amazon shows her inability to comprehend the concept of tax break or tax avoidance in lieu of gaining future to be taxed dollars that do not exist today. Even Mayor de Blasio knew enough to correct her on that point.
The elected to focus on what the are elected to do, fix the NYCHA crisis in Queens and stop trying to be what you're not, namely business people!

Dan Cobb

Ah, all those who opposed Amazon are riding their arrogant high horses. Too much of a tax break? Too many behind the scenes conversations? Working through the "democratic process"? Really? Are New Yorker's THAT naive? It's called BUSINESS.
Not pansy-ass niceties to assuage the loser-status of the critics of Amazons HQ in Queens. No, maybe you're on disability and getting a monthly check from Uncle Sam, or maybe you scammed the LIRR pension system (most of the anti-Amazon folks are shake-down artists). Now that they've failed to get their opportunity to shake down Amazon, they're still yelling and screaming and positioning themselves as the saviors of Queens. Typical arrogant, self-centered, bellicose New Yorker's... a stereotype that rings so true.

I for one am so glad that LIC lost out on 25,000 (+15,000) additional jobs and over 19 billions dollars in tax revenue. I was just hired for the expansion in Arlington, VA at a salary of $138,000.00. Yeah Virginia!

Oh and a word to the arrogant New Yorkers: You live in a world beyond the city that isn't as backward and uneducated as you think. And your city for the most part is dirty, corrupt, and degenerate.

Dan Cobb

NYC: You better hope that Wall Streets sets a record ripping off hard working Americans because they will be your only tax base.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.