New York politicians at odds over Amazon scrapping headquarters plan

Protesters object to Amazon in New York
Protesters object to Amazon in New York
By Elisha Fieldstadt with NBC News U.S. News
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Amazon blamed their decision on opposition from local lawmakers.


New York lawmakers are not on the same page after Amazon's Thursday announcement that the retail giant was scrapping plans to build a headquarters in Queens' Long Island City neighborhood.

The decision "shows that everyday Americans still have the power to organize and fight for their communities, and they can have more say in this country than the richest man in the world," said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district is on the border of the one that includes Long Island City.

The congresswoman had been vocal about her opposition to the proposed New York City headquarters since Amazon announced it in November.

"Amazon is a billion-dollar company," she had tweeted when Amazon first announced their intention to build in New York. 

"The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here."

Amazon had said that the new campus would bring 25,000 "full-time high-paying jobs" to New York, and would be fueled by $3 billion in state and city incentives paid to Amazon.

"If we're willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers, we can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money if we wanted to," Ocasio-Cortez said from Capitol Hill Thursday.

"Additionally, those jobs, there was no guarantee that those jobs were for the New Yorkers that were here," she said.

Amazon said their decision to pull out of Long Island City was because of politicians like Ocasio-Cortez who were against the planned Long Island City headquarters."While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City," the company said in a statement Thursday.

New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents the district that includes Long Island City and who also opposed the deal, said: "Today's behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event."

"Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way. It is time for a national dialogue about the perils of these types of corporate subsidies," Gianaris added.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supported Amazon's presence in New York since it was announced, blamed state senators and other local politicians for Amazon's decision to back out.

"A small group [of] politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state's economic future and the best interests of the people of this state," Cuomo said. 

"The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had said he was "thrilled" when Amazon first trumpeted plans to come to Long Island City, also expressed his displeasure with their Thursday announcement.

"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," de Blasio said.

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