Is Amazon Reconsidering? Conflicting Reports Detail Fate Of LIC Deal

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Amazon may be reconsidering its plan to set up shop in New York City, according to a Washington Post report.

The newspaper on Friday said that opposition from local politicians may have caused Amazon to reconsider its deal to bring a second headquarters to Long Island City.

But a report in the New York Times says Amazon has no plans to back out and Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips said Friday, "the mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers."

Reacting to the Washington Post report, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday accused the state Senate of "governmental malpractice."

"If they stop Amazon from coming to New York they're going to have the people of New York State to explain it to," Cuomo said. "It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy. You're not there to play politics, you're there to do what's right for the people of the State of New York and what they did here is wrong." 

In November 2018, Amazon selected Queens and Arlington, Virginia, as the two sites for its second headquarters.

Under the current plan, which was negotiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the headquarters would bring in roughly 25,000 to 40,000 new jobs.

According to Amazon’s press release, the company will also receive “performance-based direct incentives of $1.525 billion” for the creation of the jobs. This will include a refundable tax credit, through the state’s Excelsior Program, of up to $1.2 billion over the next 10 years.

Though, unlike in Virginia, where elected officials passed the state’s incentive package fairly quickly, approval from New York is not expected until 2020.

And not everyone has jumped to lay out the welcome mat.

In a statement just days after the deal was first announced, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Sen. Michael Gianaris said the deal gives massive corporate welfare from scarce state dollars to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

The two have been at the forefront of the Amazon opposition, and most recently, Sen. Gianaris was nominated to the Public Authorities Control Board, which has the power to veto the Amazon deal completely.

Van Bramer opposes the deal while admitting the projected 25,000 jobs are important. "But not if that means that we're crushing unions, not if that means that we're terrorizing immigrants," Van Bramer said. He notes Google is coming to the city without a massive incentive package.

In an effort to ease tension with the city, Amazon tried putting on a full court press to win over New Yorkers, promising jobs for residents in public housing and tech training for SUNY and CUNY students to get their foot in the door.

Though, protests have been a near constant over the four months since Amazon announced its move to Queens. Local union leaders have repeatedly claimed the online retail giant is "anti-worker" and "anti-union” and called conditions in Amazon factories around the county “deplorable.”

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commented on the report via Twitter and said, "Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes they can."

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said if the Amazon deal falls apart they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

"A major problem is the way the deal was put together shrouded in secrecy and ignoring what New Yorkers want and need," he said. "They arrogantly continue to refuse to meet with key stakeholders to address their concerns, despite requests from New York's top elected officials to do so."

Though, both the governor and the mayor continue to fully support the deal to bring the tech giant to New York City.

“If somebody says to any New Yorker, ‘I'll give you $30 billion if you'll give me $3 billion back,’ the answer is ‘yes, of course,’” Gov. Cuomo recently said of the deal.

And while city lawmakers have spoken out against the deal, Mayor de Blasio doesn’t believe they are completely opposed to the possibility of thousands of new jobs in the area.

“I don't think, in the end, there’s a lot of public servants want to be responsible for losing 25,000 to 40,000 jobs,” de Blasio said.

Amazon has not yet leased or purchased office space for the project, making it easy to withdraw its commitment.