Taking their ball and going home

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Emailed on February 15, 2019 in The Friday Forward

Amazon on Thursday canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from lawmakers, progressive activists and union leaders, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.

“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,” Amazon said in a statement.

A few key quotes from the other side:

“How can anyone be surprised?” Kathryn S. Wylde, the chief executive of the Partnership for New York City said. “We competed successfully, made a deal and spent the last three months trashing our new partner.”

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” said Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, whose district includes Long Island City. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.

At $3 billion in government incentives, I understand the need to ask questions. 

Nope. Nope. Nope.

It doesn't look like Amazon had any intention to even listen to questions, let alone answer them.

The company did not hire a single New Yorker as an employee to represent it in discussions with local groups. Its main representatives traveled between Washington and Manhattan, and only one had moved into an apartment to work with community members and foster support.

That attitude seemed to emanate all the way from top. In recent days, Mayor de Blasio had tried to reach Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, according to one official. But Mr. Bezos did not speak with him, nor with Governor Cuomo.

Sean Steigerwald