Queens Pols Angry at Bezos: ‘We Weren’t Elected to be Amazon Drones’

Getty Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Politicians in Queens, New York have been voicing their anger at Jeff Bezos’s plan to bring a mega-million dollar headquarters to Long Island City.

On Tuesday morning, Amazon announced that it would create two new East Coast headquarters: one in Long Island City, New York, and another in Crystal City, Virginia. New York City is providing Amazon with 1.7 billion dollars in tax credits and grants for the company to set up shop in Long Island City. Amazon is also expected to move in some 50,000 people from out of town to work at the new Long Island City Headquarters — a move which will likely put a strain on the already tight housing market in the area. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio have been pushing for the deal with Amazon. But some Queens residents — and politicians — are already up in arms.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, newly elected to represent parts of Long Island City and the Bronx, said that residents of her new district are “outraged” by the plan to move Amazon into their neighborhood. Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”

Ahead of the official announcement, a few choice words were issued by State Senator Michael Giannaris , whose district includes Long Island City, and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City for the City Council.

Giannaris and Van Bramer said that the deal with Amazon amounts to “corporate welfare” and that it is “just plain wrong” to help out one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time when New York State has its own grave needs. They expressed anger that New York had effectively wooed and courted Amazon, instead of looking after New Yorkers’ real needs.

Giannaris & Van Bramer Say the Amazon Deal is Bad for the 99 Percent

Giannaris and Van Bramer said they were concerned about how the new headquarters might impact the people in their districts. Both politicians described the deal as “corporate welfare” and stressed that New York’s resources are already stretched very thin. Van Bramer and Giannaris questioned why New York would want to give away any resources to Amazon, in a deal which, they said, benefits “the 1 percent” but doesn’t do much for “the 99 percent” of ordinary New Yorkers.

“As elected officials representing Long Island City and its surrounding neighborhoods, we have serious reservations about the reported deal to bring Amazon to LIC,” the politicians wrote. They added, “Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong. The burden should not be on the 99 percent to prove that we are worthy of the 1 percent’s presence in our communities…Corporate responsibility should take precedence over corporate welfare…we cannot support a giveaway of this magnitude.”

The statement concludes, “We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones. It is incumbent upon us to stand up on behalf of the people we represent and that is what we intend to do.”

You can read their full statement here.

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