Eight days ago, a gang of selfish politicians playing fast and loose with the truth robbed this city and state of 25,000 to 40,000 good jobs, tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue and the promise of global leadership in the tech industry for a generation.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson staged hearings designed to bloody up Amazon on everything under the sun. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who once killed an all-affordable housing development because it didn’t suit him, complained about being denied the opportunity the ability to shape — er, kill — this project too. But what broke the camel’s back was when state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in a deeply irresponsible decision, nominated an avowed opponent, Sen. Mike Gianaris, to a state board with the power to scuttle the deal.
The five-member Public Authorities Control Board is only supposed to ensure projects are on financially sound footing; it was never designed to be a venue for debating the merits of deals. (What’s more, in Amazon’s case, the PACB wasn’t needed to approve a dollar of funding, just to okay the state’s general project plan for the site, as it had done in similar cases many times before.)
Stewart-Cousins and Gianaris broke faith with that tradition, turning a bureaucratic panel into a weapon to serve their predetermined political ends.
Never let this happen again. The purpose of the PACB must be codified in unequivocal legislative language that gives it the right to render judgment on a project’s underlying financials and nothing more.
And the board must be changed from its insane current voting model, which, unlike just about any other body in government, gives appointees of the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader vetos that cannot be overridden. Each must affirmatively sign off or a deal dies.
It is simply unconscionable that two legislators wield the power, through an obscure entity, to deny New York City and state tens of thousands of jobs.