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Queens politicians feel the heat over convicted Amazon Deal



Two queen politicians who were violent critics of the agreement to build a new one

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campuses in their districts have met blowback from residents and business owners since the company dropped the plan.

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Secretary Mike Gianaris helped lead a group of politicians, progressive organizations, and unions in opposing the bargain that New York City and the state merged with Amazon in November. The company agreed to invest $ 2.5 billion on a Long Island City, Queens website, bringing 25,000 jobs in exchange for $ 3 billion in tax incentives. Opponents denied the agreement as corporate welfare.

Since Amazon's expiration last week has mr. Van Bramer and Gianaris were preached by tenants of public housing hoping to land working on campus and followers who saw the arrival of technicians as a boost for Long Island City.

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Photo:

Carlo allegri / Reuters

Eric Benaim, manager of Queens Real Estate Company Modern Spaces, said he had supported Mr. Van Bramer and other politicians in the past, but they waved the Amazon agreement. He said he spoke to Mr Van Bramer after Thursday's announcement, and told the councilor, "I warned you. I told you this would happen."

Mr. Benaim said on Tuesday that the two politicians made a big mistake and faced uncertain political futures. "I don't know where you're going from here," he said.

A group representing tenant association presidents at four homes near the proposed campus site also launched a statement criticizing the two politicians, both of whom are democrats, after the death of the agreement. "Jimmy Van Bramer and Mike Gianaris used to be the politicians we came to when we needed help," said the statement. "This time they didn't even talk to us."

Amazon stepped down from the deal last week despite recent polls. who showed that the majority of New Yorkers supported their planned campus, the decision came after months of criticism, including in the New York City Council hearings where the company's executives were grilling about the closed door talks on tax incentives and their anti-union state. Minister with weakness over tax incentives also drove the Amazon decision.

The company said Thursday that some politicians "made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the kind of relationships required to move forward with project. "

Mr Van Bramer, a two-year-old councilor, said on Tuesday that he knew that opposing Amazon could hurt his political future. time-limited by its council in 2021 and is considering running for Queens borough president.

"There are people who are angry with me, but I knew it was going in, I had my eyes open," he said.

Herr. Van Bramer reads opinion polls showing that many Queens residents supported the agreement. But he said he was talking to residents, many of whom had mixed feelings. He eventually went with his conscience, he said. "At some point you have to let the political chips fall where they can," he said.

Herr. Gianaris, who has been in the state senate since 2011 and is re-elected in 2020, did not respond to a request for comment. But after the Amazon deal ended, he said, "New York will be fine."

Justin Potter, a 39-year-old Long Island City resident, said he created the DefeatGianaris.com website Thursday, hours after the Amazon announcement. He said the deal was not perfect, but saw it as an "enormous opportunity" for Long Island City.

"I felt that Gianaris did not represent the interests of a majority of his constituents, but the demands of the most famous" Mr. Potter said.

Organizers who fought the agreement said they represented the views of society. They said they were talking to residents while they were looking to be taken up against the project. "It was because of the work of community organizers that some politicians responded to the way they did," said David Lee, who lives in Elmhurst and was a field organizer with the Queens Democratic Socialists of America.

Bree Chambers, 40, also resident in Long Island City, said she saw the arrival of the Amazon as an advantage that would improve the infrastructure and schools. She and other parents met with Amazon representatives and discussed building a high school in Long Island City and expanding the capacity of existing schools. While angry with Amazon for leaving, she blamed the elected officials on the contrary, she said.

"If you represent a district, you must at least recognize different voices," she said.

Write to Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com


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