A furious Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted Amazon and opponents Friday for pulling out of a $3 billion deal that would have brought Amazon’s second North American headquarters to Long Island City.
“It’s over and it’s astounding and it’s disappointing,” de Blasio said on WNYC’s The The Brian Lehrer Show. “It’s disrespectful to the people of NYC to get a call after months of attempting to build a productive partnership on behalf of this city, to get a call out of the blue saying, ‘See ya, we’re taking our ball and we’re going home.’”
Amazon announced the abrupt about face in a Thursday blog post after months of relentless opposition waged by some elected officials and skeptical residents who felt the deal lacked transparency and gave away too much in a $3 billion incentive package.
The mayor and Gov. Andrew Cuomo championed the deal—which was slated to bring at least 25,000 jobs to the city, some $27 billion in tax revenue, and other commitments. Amazon’s retreat is a major blow to the Mayor’s efforts to make New York City an attractive destination for the technology industry and he wasn’t shy about lashing out at the company and those who opposed the deal.
“I have a lot of frustration with the opponents because I do not think they represented what their constituents fully needed,” he told Brian Lehrer. “I think they did a disservice, but I have much more frustration with Amazon for just pulling out in the dead of night and not even attempting a dialogue.”
The Mayor had discussed HQ2 details with Amazon executives as recently as Monday night and some 24 hours before union leaders met with the company to hash out ground rules for how Amazon would respond to workers’ efforts to unionize.
De Blasio went on the defensive when asked if he bungled the deal by negotiating in private and bypassing the typical Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) that requires a New York City Council vote.
“If I had said, ‘Hey Amazon, you’re going to have to wait a year and a half for the full land use process.’ I guarantee, I GUAR-AN-TEE they would have said we’re going to Virginia, we’re going to Dallas, we’re going somewhere else,” said de Blasio.
An incredulous de Blasio continued his onslaught of anger at critics of how he handled and pushed for the Queens campus.
“For everyone who said, and they said it with such self-assurance, so many wonderful experts who didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, ‘Oh, Amazon has to be here. Amazon has to be here,’” de Blasio fumed. “Well, guess what, this morning it’s quite clear that Amazon did not have to be here.”