Queen politicians feel the heat of a shameful deal on Amazon

Two Queen politicians who have been fierce critics of the agreement to build a new


the campuses and neighborhoods of their neighborhoods have been affected by residents and business owners since the company abandoned its plan.

New York City Councilor Jimmy Van Bramer and state senator Mike Gianaris helped a group of politicians, progressive organizations and unions to oppose the city's signed market. New York and the state with Amazon in November. The company agreed to invest $ 2.5 billion at a site in Long Island City, Queens, and create 25,000 jobs in exchange for $ 3 billion in tax incentives. Opponents have described the agreement as welfare.

Since the withdrawal of Amazon last week, MM. Van Bramer and Gianaris were reprimanded by social housing tenants hoping to get a job on campus and by supporters who saw the arrival of the tech giant as a boost for Long Island City.

Some have protested against the withdrawal of Amazon in front of an Amazon store in Manhattan.

Some have protested against the withdrawal of Amazon in front of an Amazon store in Manhattan.


carlo allegri / Reuters

Eric Benaim, general manager of Modern Spaces real estate company in Queens, said he had backed Mr. Van Bramer and other politicians in the past, but they missed the Amazon deal. He said he sent a text message to Mr. Van Bramer after Thursday's announcement, informing the city councilor: "I warned you. I told you it would happen.

Benaim said Tuesday that the two politicians made a big mistake and faced an uncertain political future. "I do not know where you are going from here," he said.

A group representing presidents of tenants' associations from four social housing complexes located near the proposed campus site also issued a statement criticizing the two politicians, both Democrats, after the death of the transaction. "Jimmy Van Bramer and Mike Gianaris were the politicians we came to when we needed help," the statement said. "This time, they did not even talk to us."

Amazon dropped the deal last week, despite recent polls that a majority of New Yorkers supported the planned campus. The decision was made after months of criticism, including at New York City Council hearings, where corporate executives were briefed on closed-door negotiations on tax incentives and their implementation. anti-union attitude. The appointment of Gianaris to a state council influencing tax incentives also fueled Amazon's decision.

The company said Thursday that some politicians "have made it clear that they are opposed to our presence and will not work with us to create the kind of relationships required to move the project forward."

Mr Van Bramer, a two-member board member, said Tuesday that he knew that opposing Amazon could harm his political future. He is appointed for a limited time at his seat on the board in 2021 and is considering running for president of the Borough of Queens.

"There are people who are angry with me, but I knew that to go there, I had my eyes wide open," he said.

Mr. Van Bramer read the polls showing that many people in the Queens area supported the agreement. But he said he spoke to residents, many of whom had mixed feelings. He finally went with his conscience, he said. "At some point, we have to let the political chips fall where they can," he said.

Gianaris, who has been in the state Senate since 2011 and is due to be re-elected in 2020, has not responded to a request for comment. But after the end of the agreement with Amazon, he said: "New York will be fine."

Justin Potter, a 39-year-old resident of Long Island City, said he created the DefeatGianaris.com website on Thursday, hours after the announcement made by Amazon. He said the agreement was not perfect, but considered it a "great opportunity" for Long Island City.

"I had the impression that Gianaris did not represent the interests of a majority of its constituents, but the most strident demands," said Mr. Potter.

The organizers who fought the agreement said that they represented the views of the community. They claimed to have spoken with residents when approaching the project. "It's thanks to the work of community organizers that some politicians have responded in the same way," said David Lee, a resident of Elmhurst and field organizer for the Queens Democratic Socialists of America.

Bree Chambers, 40, also a resident of Long Island City, said the arrival of Amazon was a benefit that would improve infrastructure and schools. She and other parents met with representatives from Amazon and discussed building a high school in Long Island City and building the capacity of existing schools. While she was angry at Amazon for leaving, she widely blamed elected officials who opposed the deal, she said.

"If you represent a district, you must at least recognize different voices," she said.

Write to Katie Honan at [email protected]

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