The City Council is reviewing its legal options to challenge the epic deal to bring Amazon to Queens, as a growing number of Democrats voiced opposition Wednesday.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he had “very significant problems” with the way Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, fellow Democrats, crafted nearly $3 billion in taxpayer-funded giveaways to the e-commerce behemoth to lure one of its two new headquarters to Long Island City.
Johnson also objected to plans that would exempt Amazon’s massive development from the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process, which would require sign-offs from the local Community Board and other officials. “I think something is fundamentally wrong when you are giving this much money away and public land away and it’s cloaked in secrecy,” he said during a City Hall news conference.
Asked about the potential of filing suit to block the development, Johnson said: “We are reviewing our options.”
Johnson also said, “Hell, no!” when asked if Amazon should get the private helipad promised in the deal, adding that CEO Jeff Bezos “should take the E train or the 7 train to Court Square and get off.”
John Kaehny of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany said the council “has every reason to be extremely p—ed about this, and for the governor to just come in and big-foot them is just appalling.”
Kaehny also said the Democratic lawmakers who will take control of the state Senate in January “have a veto over this deal through the Public Authorities Control Board.”
The board’s unanimous approval is needed for Amazon to collect on up to $505 million in grant money promised by Cuomo — and the state Senate controls one of its three votes, he said.
Presumptive state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) wouldn’t take a position on the Amazon plan during an appearance on WBAI radio.
“On the one hand, it’s a huge opportunity, but there are major questions and concerns that deserve to be addressed,” she said.
But one of her top lieutenants — state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), whose district covers Long Island City — was among about 100 protesters who gathered near the Amazon site with a bunch of boxes adorned with the company’s smiling-arrow logo inverted into a frown.
“We’re here to say to Amazon, take that welcome mat that was rolled out for you yesterday, put it back in the package it came in and send it back to Seattle where it belongs,” Gianaris said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, “One of the wealthiest companies in history should not be receiving financial assistance from the taxpayers while too many New York families struggle to make ends meet.”
De Blasio ally and Working Families Party state director Bill Lipton also called Amazon “the poster child for the concentration of wealth and political power in our new Gilded Age.”
Opposition to the Amazon deal even united conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson with self-described socialist Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx).
“I hate to admit it, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a very good point,” Carlson told his viewers Tuesday night. “It’s hard to argue with the internal logic, the richest man in the world just got $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies. How does that work?”
Bezos has an estimated net worth of $132 billion, according to Forbes.
Meanwhile, an Amazon exec admitted that the tax breaks and grants offered by New York and Virginia weren’t a key factor in the decision to pick Long Island City and Arlington, Va., as the homes for its two East Coast headquarters.
Jay Carney, a former press secretary for then-President Barack Obama, told CNBC that both areas were “attractive places to be for people when we want to recruit talent. That’s why we ended up there.”
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile, Reuven Fenton, Bob Fredericks and Lia Eustachewich
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