March 2, 2019

The Update Desk: Amazon in NYC

I wanted to provide some additional information on the Amazon/NYC deal, specifically what's been going on since the darn thing failed last month. The NY Post has been doing a lot of coverage, naturally, and so I'll share some of the updates they've been focusing on.

First, the Sonofa Gov has been working his tail off, trying unsuccessfully to get the giant company to reconsider its hasty decision to back out of the deal. He even called Jeff Bezos himself, and that wasn't enough to swing the deal.

Even the New York Times got into the aftermath, publishing a full page ad that was paid for by the Partnership for New York City and signed by a bunch of current and former politicians, labor leaders, business leaders, and educators.  That, too, will likely fall on deaf ears, but at least it shows other companies that the folks in NYS and Albany aren't complete idiots.

In an interview, Cuomo noted that 
It would be helpful if the state Senate said that they would approve (the deal). That would be helpful.
In that regard, Senate Majority Leader made an interesting move. You'll remember that she had nominated Queens Senator Mike Gianaris to the Pubic Authorities Control Board (PCAB), potentially giving him the opportunity to block the deal had Cuomo not blocked him from serving.  But, once the deal was dead, she withdrew his name from consideration, and instead nominated a different Queens Senator, Leroy Comrie, to the PCAB.  Cuomo's hand was likely in the mix on that.

A skeptic might think the Gianaris nomination was done specifically to defeat Amazon, or maybe it was for Stewart-Cousins to show a little muscle-flexing?  I think I'll pick both of that, how about you?

Stewart-Cousins also noted there were "serious flaws" in the economic development program that need reforming - so I'll look to see those on the legislative agenda pretty quickly. 

Cuomo has not been quiet about why he thinks the deal failed; earlier this week, he pointed to a certain freshman representative from the Bronx and Queens. From another Post article, we learn that the Sonofa Gov was asked it the win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary last year "spooked" local politicians from the yes column to the no column, fearing primary challenges like the one which took out Joe Crowley last summer.  His answer? "Yes."
The state said we'll put forth the application only if the local politicians and community supports it. Senator Gianaris signed the letter of support. (City Councilman Jimmy) Van Bramer signed the letter of support. We win.
But he noted a "political shift" after AOC's win. He wasn't pointing fingers at her directly, I don't think (and he specifically did not do that after the pullout was announced), but it's the thought that there's another AOC in NYC who's waiting in the wings to take out the next long-time Dem that's scaring people. And making them change their minds.
Then they oppose the very application that they supported. They signed the darn application. We win. The same people who sign it then say, 'Oops, the politics changed. I changed my opinion,'
In his opinion, Amazon should have kept in the deal.
I think they should've stuck it out, but I also think you had politicians playing their own local politics and the state Senate as a body represents the entire state and should not have deferred to just a local politician's political interests. 
Gianaris was not having it.
A real leader would take responsibility for his mistakes and learn from them instead of pointing fingers at everybody else The fact was this was a deal the governor negotiated in secret, kept it hidden from everyone, and then once he reached a bad deal expected everyone to accept it without asking questions. That's not how it works. 
But they apparently sign onto deals and then back out of them, I guess? 

Senate Republicans, pretty much an asterisk so far since losing their majority, want to strip toe veto power that PCAB members have; they'd like to see a majority vote instead. You can predict what happened with that, right? It was defeated by the Dems in a procedural vote.

But wait! There's hope - maybe. In an interview with Fox Business, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) thinks this can be turned around, and thinks there's a 50/50 chance things will work out. 
There's a reason Amazon chose New York. The talent that's here, the opportunity to grow that's here, the neighborhood that they're in is perfect, and those things have not changed.
Meeks, who was one of the politicians that signed that full page letter to Amazon, went on to note
Overwhelmingly the majority of New Yorkers want Amazon here. I think that if you polled the elected officials, overwhelmingly they want Amazon here And I think that, we did not expect Amazon to pull out in the way that they did. We thought that we would fight, and that's what we do as New Yorkers, and in the end we would have this thing done.
I'm not a gambler, but I wouldn't think this is anywhere near a 50/50 chance that the company will change their mind, would you?

After all, here's Amazon's Holly Sullivan, talking to folks in Arlington VA where the other - well, now the only - HQ2 is being built:
We think we could have gotten New York done, but you have to say, 'At what cost?' We made a prudent decision that gives us the opportunity to hyper focus on D.C.
That's possible, and necessary, because as I noted in yesterday's post, Virginia is moving along with their package of incentives and actually looking forward to the opportunity they have with the project. 

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