The empty acres along the waterfront in Long Island City where Amazon should’ve been planting 25,000 to 40,000 high-paying jobs by now may be getting a consolation prize of housing and offices and public-use development. While nice enough in a city in need of all, the billions in investment by Amazon, $9 in benefit for every $1 in public money, would have been the highest and best use of the land.
We haven’t forgotten, and neither should Queens residents and voters.
They must remember that a quartet of politicians stared the gift horse in the mouth. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state Sen. Mike Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy van Bramer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson ginned up a fake mob to scream holy hell about Amazon, throwing every imaginable complaint against the wall. They claimed the city and state were giving billions to one of the world’s richest companies, when in fact both were getting far far more than they were giving.
Having killed a fabulous deal that was overwhelmingly supported by New Yorkers, the burden is now on the four not to botch a shot at partial redemption. They and everyone else engaged in the plans must be focused on development, not demagoguery. On listening, not lecturing.
What could and should have been was on display this week in Arlington, Va., the other co-winner of Jeff Bezos’ HQ2 competition. Amazon’s inaugural Career Day brought out 5,000 people for an event that promised no jobs and didn’t even collect resumes. They only offered information — and still people flocked, standing in long lines to enter the tent, to learn about jobs with a company that’s central to our common tech future.
The job seekers of New York and the barren lots of Long Island City cry out for the same opportunities.