‘This isn’t a done deal’: New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson lays out his plan to avoid being ‘played’ by Amazon

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Corey Johnson

Amazon has chosen a site in Long Island City, Queens, for half of its HQ2 project.
The decision, announced in November, immediately became controversial among some New York politicians. In December, the New York City Council held a contentious hearing with Amazon, where members asked, among other things, why it was left out of discussions.
In an interview with Business Insider, the council’s speaker, Corey Johnson, laid out his plan to stop Amazon from coming to town — or to at least work with the company to be a “better corporate citizen.”

It’s likely that Amazon didn’t get the response it expected in New York City.

After Amazon announced that part of its HQ2 project would land on a parcel of waterfront property in Long Island City, Queens, politicians were quick to condemn both the process for the agreement, which netted over $3 billion in potential tax breaks, and its potential implications.

Amazon received criticism from elected officials in the immediate aftermath of the decision’s announcement, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state Sen. Michael Gianaris, and New York City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer.

“We got played,” the council’s speaker, Corey Johnson, said during a contentious council hearing in December, where Amazon was forced to defend itself against questions from members for hours. Topics ranged from the HQ2 deal’s secrecy to Amazon’s involvement with ICE photo recognition software.

Holly Sullivan, the Amazon executive who led the search for HQ2, and Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, were in attendance and responding to questions.

Read more: ‘I was not elected to be a cheerleader for Amazon’: New York officials rail against Amazon’s HQ2 deal amid shouts of protesters in a wild hearing

“I think [the Amazon executives] were surprised. I think they thought they were going to be welcomed with open arms,” Johnson said in a late December interview with Business Insider. “I think they thought, ‘Oh my God, when this is announced it’s going to be, you know, like a birthday party.'”

Instead, they were largely met with skepticism.

“25,000 jobs doesn’t impact our local economy here in the same way it impacts a local economy, say, in Pittsburgh or in Scranton or in Crystal City,” Johnson said.

It’s not over until it’s over

Johnson has a warning for Amazon and its elected-official allies: this fight isn’t over yet.

“I don’t think anyone should assume that this is a fait accompli, and that this is …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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