New York's Amazon deal faces backlash

- The potential for 40,000, a redevelopment of 3.5 acres of green space, a job-training program at the Queensbridge Houses, and a new school for Queens kids are all promises under the Amazon HQ2 deal.

But some local leaders are saying that all that comes at a hefty price and the money the state gifted the tech giant in incentives could have been used to improve things that immediately impact Long Island City residents.

"It may be cold outside, but I'm steaming mad that the governor and the mayor have decided to throw Jeff Bezos almost $3 billion in subsidies and tax breaks," City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said, "and throw in a helipad so he doesn't have to take the damn 7 train."

Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City, joined forces with other state and community leaders on Wednesday to protest the deal. Van Bramer was once a supporter of the bid. But he said he then learned of the generous incentives package given to a company that doesn't need a handout.

"Let me ask you a question—whose money is it anyway? It is the governor's money or our money?" Assemblyman Ron Kim said. "Whose money is he giving away?"

And the officials are also criticizing how this deal was negotiated and the way it is structured. Permits and plans will bypass the city and filter through a special state-building process.

"Here's the question I have—what is so special about Amazon?" state Sen. Michael Gianaris said.

To be fair, New York wasn't the only city vying for Amazon's attention. When the tech giant put out the call one year ago, elected leaders around the United States were tripping over themselves to win the bid.

The Long Island City section of Queens and the Crystal City section of Arlington, Virginia, came out on top. But it remains to be seen if HQ2 in LIC ever actually sees the light of day.

"We will go to court if we have to," Gianaris said. "We will take legislative action if we have to."

Recently elected to the Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will represent Long Island City in the House. She has been tweeting about this deal, saying her office is getting calls and the response is one of outrage. She called it "extremely concerning" that Amazon is getting tax breaks when our infrastructure is crumbling.

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