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After Cuomo's Calls to Amazon, a Flurry of Conversations to Rally Support




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Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to show them just how much support was really there in New York City.

So after those calls – including one with the Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos – the governor's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, spoke with the president of the city's pre-eminent business group, the partnership for New York City, about how to follow up.

Time was of the essence

By Wednesday, emails started flying; phones were ringing seemingly everywhere, from union halls and public housing apartments to executive suites of companies like Goldman Sachs and Warby Parker and the offices of local congressional representatives.

In some cases, the pitch came from Ms. DeRosa. In many others, it came from the president of the partnership, Kathryn Wylde, whose group paid for the ad.

"Every worker has the right to organize, but we know that having a job is essential to that process," George Gresham, the president of 1199 Service Employees International Union, said in a statement.

Not every union got a call decided to add its name, according to two union officials who said Ms. DeRosa, along with Ms. Wylde, had reached out. Several people said they had received a call to add their names to the letter with only a few hours to decide whether to sign; others were given a little more time.

A spokeswoman for the governor, Dani Lever, disputed the union officials' account, saying that no one Ms. DeRosa called had said

By Thursday afternoon, more than 70 signatories joined, including public housing leaders, the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter, pastors, as well as businesses in Queens

There was no evidence that the letter, which appeared as a full-page ad in The New York Times on Friday, had changed Amazon's decision to abandon the deal, in which the company promised to create up to 40,000 jobs in Long Island City in exchange for a state grant of $ 500 million and state tax breaks that would have eventually totaled more than $ 2 billion.

On Friday, the governor duty WNYC's Brian Lehrer that the company did not convey any change of heart. "I have no reason to believe that Amazon is reconsidering," Mr. Cuomo said. “Would I like them to? Certainly. ”

But the letter may have tempered some of the political opposition to the Amazon plan; as the contents of the letter and breadth of support became known, many of the voices of opposition became silent or appeared to soften their messages.

The local officials were most critical of the deal – State Senator Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer – declined to comment in response to Mr. Cuomo's efforts to lure the company back.

State Senator Leroy Comrie, a Queens Democrat who recently replaced Mr. Gianaris as the nominee to the obscure but powerful Public Authorities Control Board (it would have had veto power over the Amazon deal), issued a statement on Friday that stressed his willingness to work with Amazon.

“I was disappointed in Amazon's retreat rather than choosing to work together to address the concerns of the affected communities, and ensure the best outcome for New York taxpayers, ”Mr. Comrie said. "If Amazon were to come back to be happy to work with them."

Even the office of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose surprise win last year helped galvanize resistance to the company, and whose opposition to Amazon led two a Times Square billboard blaming here for the pullout, seemed to be more measured in its comments.

"If elected officials spend half as much time talking to the community as Jeff Bezos, I think we would have come to an agreement that works for everybody, ”Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, said.

Mr. Cuomo, in the radio interview, sought to diminish the importance of Amazon's most strident opponents; he called Mr. Van Bramer and Mr. Gianaris "irrelevant," adding that "there are other ways that the state can get it done. I customs Amazon that. ”

The governor was even more disrespectful of Make the Road, a coalition representing minority and working-class New Yorkers that opposed the Amazon deal, saying he did not know what the group was. ] The group was one of 78 associations that co-signed their own letter, released on Friday, reiterating their opposition to any economic development plan that "excludes investments in local communities," citing what they said was "Amazon's predatory practices." [19659005] Mr. Cuomo was particularly unpersuaded.

"This is a state-of-the-art, and I do everything I can to reverse it," he said. “You punch until you hear the bell, and the bell hasn't sounded.”



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