AOC/NY dems pick a fight with Amazon's Bezos over Queens headquarters
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other New York Democrats pick a fight with Amazon and Jeff Bezos over HQ2 in Queens
- Queens Democrats including Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are criticizing Amazon's plan to open offices there, even as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo cheer the move.
- The criticism sets up another potential political fight between Amazon and anti-establishment politicians as it expands its reach across the country and globe.
- It is unclear what concrete action officials will take to push back against Amazon, though a state assemblyman plans to introduce legislation to cancel the subsidies the company will receive.
Democrats from New York's Queens borough slammed Amazon's plan for offices in the area, setting up a potential political fight with one of the world's most powerful companies.
The criticism came even as Virginia lawmakers largely welcomed the e-commerce company's decision to open up another facility outside Washington, D.C.
Amazon announced plans Tuesday to split what it calls its second headquarters between Long Island City in Queens and Arlington, Virginia. The company says it will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs in the two areas. Amazon will get more than $2 billion in what it calls "performance-based direct incentives" from state and local governments.
Local Democrats, with a few high-profile exceptions, swiftly criticized Amazon. They raised concerns about cost of living increases, a potential lack of benefit to local community members and state tax incentives going to a large corporation rather than residents. The response sets up a political clash for Amazon — a company that has had no shortage of battles with officials as it extends its reach across the country and globe.
Rick Loomis | Getty ImagesAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses the crowd gathered at La Boom night club in Queens on November 6, 2018 in New York City. With her win against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will represent parts of Queens and the Bronx starting in January, said early Tuesday that her future constituents raised concerns about the Amazon offices. In a series of tweets, she called it "extremely concerning" that Amazon would get tax breaks "when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez✔@AOC · Nov 12, 2018We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.
The community’s response? Outrage.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez✔@AOCAmazon 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.
Ocasio-Cortez expressed concerns about the project pushing working-class people out of Queens. She wrote that "we need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent" and that "corporations that offer none of those thing should be met w/skepticism."
"Lastly, this isn't just about one company or one headquarters. It's about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc," she wrote in another tweet. "It's not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community's interests - & they've requested, clearly, to voice their concerns."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez✔@AOC · Nov 12, 2018Replying to @AOC We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism.
It’s possible to establish economic partnerships w/ real opportunities for working families, instead of a race-to-the-bottom competition.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez✔@AOCLastly, this isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc.
It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests - & they‘ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.
9,3329:20 PM - Nov 12, 2018Twitter Ads info and privacy
Two other Democratic lawmakers who represent Queens also criticized the company. In a joint statement, state Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said "it is unfathomable" that New York would offer Amazon billions of dollars in incentives when "our subways are crumbling, our children lack school seats, and too many of our neighbors lack adequate health care."
"Too much is at stake to accept this without a fight," they said. "We will continue to stand up against what can only be described as a bad deal for New York and for Long Island City."
It is unclear what action the lawmakers can or will take to modify or scrap the project. Last week, Democrats won back the New York Senate, giving the party unified control of state government and potentially increasing the chances of legislative action related to Amazon.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim, who represents parts of Queens, plans to introduce legislation to cancel the Amazon subsidies and redirect the tax breaks to student debt relief. It is unclear how much support the measure could draw.