The Progressive Caucus is outraged by the ‘bad deal’ for Long Island City, and the greater New York City area, that New York State and the City of New York brokered with Amazon, with little to no transparency, community engagement, or discussion of community benefits or labor standards. Amazon should not be given special subsidies and corporate welfare from taxpayer dollars to come to New York City. Rather, the City and State needs to engage in a process that allows for input from the communities that it will impact, and gives local elected officials in those areas a voice in the approval process. That includes not exempting the plan from the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
Additionally, promising a multi-billion dollar corporation billions of dollars in tax subsidies and benefits when Queens, and New York City as a whole, has an infrastructure, affordable housing, and transit deficit crisis, is a slap in the face of community members who have spent decades advocating for more direct investment in subways, schools, and services in their communities. Amazon HQ2’s potential impact on the people who live in Long Island City and the surrounding neighborhoods of Woodside, Astoria, and Sunnyside, including tens of thousands of NYCHA residents, must be front and center, and we pledge to fight alongside our colleague, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, to ensure that Queens residents and New Yorkers are centered in these conversations moving forward.
“New Yorkers have real unmet needs from their government. Our subways are crumbling, our children lack school seats, and too many of our neighbors lack adequate health care. It is unfathomable that we would sign a $3 billion check to Amazon in the face of these challenges.” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City and is a member of the Progressive Caucus. “We are witness to a cynical game in which Amazon duped New York into offering unprecedented amounts of tax dollars to one of the wealthiest companies on Earth for a promise of jobs that would represent less than 3% of the jobs typically created in our city over a 10 year period. Too much is at stake to accept this without a fight. We will continue to stand up against what can only be described as a bad deal for New York and for Long Island City”
“At a time when the City is in desperate need of infrastructure, housing, and transit investments, we should not be subsidizing one of the biggest corporations in the United States,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “In additions to discussing the real public and community benefits of an Amazon deal, we must also ensure that any development related to Amazon go through the ULURP process, and that Amazon ensure ethical and local hiring standards that meet our city’s prevailing wage requirements. We in the Progressive Caucus will be monitoring the developments of this deal very closely in the coming days, advocating for transparency and accountability, and remain committed to protecting our communities and fighting alongside Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to make sure actual residents of this city are heard”
“Let’s be crystal clear about why we are outraged at this deal – it’s not only because we have an issue with the process, or because the City Council wasn’t part of the deal, or because of a specific feeling towards Amazon. It’s because we are sick and tired of the City and State gladly giving massive tax breaks to woo companies rather than give relief and services to the people who elected them,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “We have got to get to a place where we see tax breaks and corporate incentives for what they are – corporate welfare. And then we need to ask ourselves whether we find corporate welfare more important than social welfare. The fact that the Mayor and Governor felt it was best to circumnavigate the City Council proves they were afraid to have that debate. It’s up to us as progressives to force that debate to happen, since clearly we cannot rely on self-styled progressives to do it on their own.”
“The deal to bring Amazon to New York City rightfully raises questions about the value of public subsidies, the lack of transparency, and the need to address the impact on public transportation, residential housing, and other issues will result from the project. New Yorkers are right to ask questions about the cost of the deal and the value for the average taxpayer,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “We pride ourselves on being the greatest city in the world, as evidenced by Amazon’s decision to have a presence here. But there has been a complete disregard for process, the voice of New Yorkers, and the impact of such a deal. The City and State need to include the community in this process so the deal can further benefit the public. As an elected official who represents Midtown Manhattan, I appreciate the need for economic growth, but that must come with public input and an appropriate evaluation of the cost to New York.”
“Instead of approaching deals with the world’s richest companies like Amazon by thinking simply about the number of jobs that a company can bring in, we need to start thinking about how these businesses will actually work to lift people out of poverty and address rising rents and strained infrastructure that will be severely impacted by their arrivals,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “To address the challenges with this deal, we need to first start by truly consulting the local community, particularly through the Council’s ULURP process. But beyond these important processes, we need some basic questions answered about quantifiable job creation and benefits, workforce development for NYCHA residents, and whether a study on the impact to the surrounding rental market has been completed. Much of this could already have been answered if a proper public review had been performed. But if our city and state leaders can not answer these simple questions with data that shows real positive results for the entire city, then the state Legislature must be ready to step in and address this situation,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
“The problem with this deal is not only Amazon’s ULURP-evading assault on Long Island City, the closed-doors process led by Governor Cuomo to extract New York State tax breaks, or the self-serving, secrecy-requiring bidding process. It’s the whole corporate practice of forcing cities into a war-of-all-against-all,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “The Governor made a secret offer of massive tax-breaks to a mega-corporation with no intention of strengthening our infrastructure or playing by our rules. This is nothing more than corporate efforts to subvert local democracy, and we in the Progressive Caucus will fight alongside Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to make sure actual residents of this city are heard.”
“Amazon is one of the richest companies on the planet valued at one trillion dollars. The idea that they will receive well in excess of a billion dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subways and infrastructure are crumbling and so many New Yorkers are living paycheck to paycheck is plain wrong,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “This was a plan that had zero public input and completely circumvents both the City Council as well as the State Legislature. Of course, I want us to create as many new jobs as possible and of course I want New York City to win at everything but let’s be real: for a company as colossal as Amazon, tax breaks are not what makes or breaks their decision to pick one city over another. Amazon wasn’t going to set up shop in the middle of nowhere. Things like access to a reservoir of world-class talent, proximity to urban centers, adequate infrastructure, and transportation options/access matter WAY more than tax breaks. Yes, we should always be looking to create more jobs but at what cost? I look forward to continue having dialogue with my counterparts in government as the full details of the package become available.”