Amazon is blaming local politicians for its shock decision to abandon plans to open a new headquarters in New York City – and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s vehement opposition appears to have been the main catalyst.
In a statement released late Wednesday morning, Amazon said “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez has trashed the Amazon expansion and encouraged opposition against it, writing, “Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can.”
She further complained: “Amazon is a billion-dollar company. 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.”
That concern, surprisingly, was echoed by conservative broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who said on his nightly Fox News Channel program: “Hate to admit it. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a very good point.”
On Wednesday, following Amazon’s announcement, she tweeted: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
The self-described Democratic socialist’s sentiments are entirely opposite of those of fellow New York Democrats, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both of whom approved of Amazon’s move and helped broker the deal.
But other Democrats besides Ocasio-Cortez were also wary. New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris, whose district includes Long Island City, called Amazon CEO’s Jeff Bezos' search for a new headquarters "one of the great PR scams" the city fell for, handing out $3 billion to the company in state and city incentives.
"Why is it the state and the city's responsibility to provide billions of dollars to Amazon, which is probably the one company in the country that needs it the least?" Gianaris said on CNBC’s "Squawk Box" last December.
He added that big tech companies such as Facebook and Google parent Alphabet had successfully settled in Manhattan without such financial incentives.
But the opinions of Ocasio-Cortez and Gianaris are apparently not shared by New York voters, who, by a margin of 56 percent to 36 percent approved of the agreement between the city and the online retail giant, according to a Siena College poll released on Tuesday.
Rep. Pete King, (R-NY) on Thursday blamed “left wing progressive politicians” for Amazon’s pull out.
“Absolutely disgraceful that @Amazon is driven from New York by left wing progressive politicians. Terrible loss of jobs for New York workers and New York economy,” he tweeted.
While Amazon’s move to New York City appears dead, some Long Island City boosters aren’t giving up.
Rebekah Witzke, a Long Island City resident and marketing manager for the real estate group ModernSpacesNYC.com, is fronting a petition on Change.org, in support of Amazon, saying the company’s presence would “generate tens of billions of new tax dollars that wouldn’t otherwise exist.”
“Long Island City is the city’s fastest-growing, diverse neighborhood, with 6,600 unique businesses employing 115,000 people, more than 40 arts and cultural venues, over 150 restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as 170,000 residents who call our neighborhood home,’’ she writes.
Amazon’s financial infusion promised “significantly more money to help fix transportation, ameliorate overcrowding in our classrooms, and solve other needs … [and] at least $600 million will be set aside specifically to improve the local community,” Witzke continues.
But the good will towards Amazon has apparently dissipated at City Hall. De Blasio, stung by Amazon’s snub, tweeted: “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.”