Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Friday ratcheted up the pressure on political opponents of a deal that would deliver Amazon to New York City, warning that they would face the wrath of voters if the company pulled out and took with it tens of thousands of jobs.
While some opposition was to be expected, Cuomo said, the project's political opponents were being unreasonable. "I've never seen a more absurd situation," the governor said.
Cuomo's comments came as tensions over the deal for Amazon to build a vast corporate campus in Queens have been simmering for days, with company executives chafing at what appeared to be new roadblocks to the move.
The selection of a vocal Amazon opponent to a crucial state board with potential veto power over the deal riled those inside Amazon -- and inside the Governor's Mansion -- according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Executives have grown increasingly frustrated that the company is not being welcomed in New York as it has been in Virginia and Nashville, Tenn., two other places where Amazon is adding corporate offices.
Those tensions spilled into public view Friday when The Washington Post published an article that said the company was reconsidering its plans to go to Queens. But the two people with direct knowledge of the company's plans said the article had gone too far and Amazon had no plans to back out.
An Amazon spokesman declined to respond to the report.
Almost immediately after Amazon announced last year that it chose the Long Island City neighborhood as one of two sites to build new corporate offices, a backlash emerged from lawmakers and community organizers. They oppose the nearly $3 billion of financial incentives Amazon won from the city and state, and say the influx of new well-paid workers could push out residents and add to congestion on the already crowded subway.
Inside the company, discussions have intensified about political developments in New York since the selection by Democrats in the state Senate of Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens to the Public Authorities Control Board, a little-known entity that could eventually block the development plan.
Amazon executives are concerned that the company will have invested significant money and time on the plan only to have it shot down by the board, said one of the people, who like others familiar with the internal conversations spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private meetings.
But company executives did not share those concerns with the Democratic majority leader of the state Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, when they met with her Tuesday. The executives gave no indication that they were changing their New York City plans, according to a person who was briefed on the meeting.
Still, Cuomo, who along with Mayor Bill de Blasio negotiated the Amazon deal, during a radio interview this week suggested that the company could back out as he warned Senate Democrats about the political impact of the deal falling through.
On Friday, Cuomo reacted to the Post story by again denouncing the Senate, calling its actions "governmental malpractice" and saying the senators would pay at the ballot box if Amazon bolted.
Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Democratic majority in the Senate, did not comment directly on the Amazon news, but seemed dismayed by the governor's criticism of Albany's upper chamber. "It is unfortunate that the Governor is trying to divide the Democratic Party at this crucial and historic time," Murphy said in a statement.
Gianaris, who opposes the $3 billion in incentives, said that he had not been aware of any high-level concern at Amazon about the plan. Still, he said, "If Amazon's goal is to extort New York through threats, that says a lot about whether we should want them here at all."
Information for this article was contributed by Matt Day, Henry Goldman and Spencer Soper of Bloomberg News.
Business on 02/09/2019
Print Headline: Amazon deal stirs tension in N.Y.