AMAZON HQ2: DEAL OR NO DEAL?

February 12, 2019 at 5:15 am

Is Amazon really ready to pull the plug on its New York City headquarters? We take a closer look at the project’s fate with Jeff Coltin of City & State. He’ll also share the latest on the controversy surrounding anti-gay remarks made by Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.

Aired February 11, 2019.

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GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.
IS AMAZON, THE BEHEMOTH RETAILER
REALLY READY TO PULL THE PLUG ON
HQ2, ITS MASSIVE LONG ISLAND
CITY PROJECT?
THERE ARE CONFLICTING REPORTS,
BUT REGARDLESS, THE COMPANY IS
DEALING WITH SIGNIFICANT
BACKLASH FROM THE PROJECT'S
DETRACTORS.
WE'LL GET BACK TO AMAZON IN A
MOMENT.
>>> BUT FIRST, TODAY'S BREAKING
NEWS, A MAJOR BATTLE BREWING
WITHIN THE SECURITY COUNCIL WITH
CALLS FOR ONE OF ITS MEMBERS TO
RESIGN.
BRONX COUNCILMEMBER RUBEN DIAZ
SR., WHO IS ALSO A PENTECOSTAL
MEN CENTER SAID IN A RADIO
INTERVIEW THAT THE 51-SEAT BODY
IS CONTROLLED BY, QUOTE, THE
HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITY.
HE HAS A HISTORY OF OPPOSING
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND DIAZ SR.
HAS REFUSED TO APOLOGIZE.
COUNCIL SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON,
WHO IS GAY WAS SINGLED OUT BY
DIAZ IN THE INTERVIEW.
JOHNSON RESPONDED ON TWITTER
WRITING, QUOTE, IN THE AFTERMATH
OF COUNCILMEMBER SR.'S DEEPLY
OFFENSIVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE
LGBTQ COMMUNITY, WE ARE
POTENTIALLY VIEWING ALL
POTENTIAL DISCIPLINARY
SCENARIOS.
NOTHING IS OFF THE TABLE.
I'M JOINED BY CITY AND STATES
POLITICS REPORTER JEFF GOLDEN.
WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.
>> FIRST WE KNOW WHAT
COUNCILMEMBER DIAZ SR. SAID, BUT
DO WE KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON
BEHIND THE SCENES NOW?
>> WE DON'T EXACTLY.
IN FACT, CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER
COREY JOHNSON CANCELED A COUPLE
OF PUBLIC APPEARANCES THIS
WEEKEND, MOST LIKELY BECAUSE HE
WAS NEGOTIATING WITH HIS
MEMBERS, TRYING TO DECIDE HOW TO
RESPOND TO DIAZ SR.
HOWEVER, WITHIN THE COUNCIL,
MANY MEMBERS HAVE CALLED FOR HIS
RESIGNATION, HAVE THESE CALLED
FOR APOLOGIES, AND EVEN SOME OF
THE MORE INFLUENTIAL CAUCUS, THE
LGBT CAUCUS, THE WOMEN'S CAUCUS,
THE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS, THEY
HAVE ALL CALLED FOR AT LEAST A
CENSOR OF DIAZ SR.
THIS IS SURPRISING.
IT'S USUALLY A PRETTY COLLEGIAL
BODY.
EVEN THE REPUBLICANS GET ALONG
WELL WITH THE DEMOCRATS.
THIS IS PRETTY SURPRISING TO SAY
THE LEAST TO SEE SO MANY
DEMOCRATIC SECURITY COUNCIL
MEMBERS REALLY TURNING AGAINST A
FELLOW MEMBER OF THE BODY.
>> WELL, DO WE KNOW WHAT THE
ACTUAL RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE
WHEN IT COMES TO SOMETHING LIKE
THIS, THAT WHEN A MEMBER OF THIS
BODY SAYS SOMETHING OR DOZEN
SOMETHING THAT IS NOT ILLEGAL,
BUT DEEMED INAPPROPRIATE, WHAT
IS THE ACTUAL RECOURSE THAT CAN
BE TAKEN?
>> AS FAR AS WE KNOW, THE
SECURITY COUNCIL HAS QUITE A BIT
OF LEEWAY IN THESE SORT OF
THINGS.
THE LAWS ARE BROADLY WRITTEN.
IN THE PAST, COUNCILMEMBERS
HAVE -- I DON'T -- AS FAR AS I
KNOW, I DON'T THINK ANY
COUNCILMEMBERS HAVE BEEN FORCED
OUT OF OFFICE OVER SOMETHING
LIKE THIS, BUT OTHERS IN THE
PAST SUCH AS QUEEN CITY
COUNCILMAN IN 2005 ALLEN
JENNINGS THEY MADE COMMENT AND
THERE WAS AN OFFICIAL CENSOR.
THE CITY COUNCIL CAME OUT WITH
AN OFFICIAL NOTICE SAYING WE
DISAGREE WITH WHAT THEY SAID,
AND MAYBE THEY WERE STRIPPED OF
COUNCIL COMMITTEES.
I THINK THAT'S MOST LIKELY
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN HERE WITH
DIAZ.
HE WILL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO
RETAIN HIS SEAT, BUT IT'S LIKELY
THAT WE'LL SEE HIM LOSE HIS
COMMITTEESHIP WHERE HE RUNS THE
INFLUENTIAL TAXI AND LIMOUSINE
COMMITTEE.
>> OKAY.
ONE OF MY FINAL QUESTIONS WAS
GOING TO BE HOW MUCH OF THIS IS
POSSIBLY SYMBOLIC?
BECAUSE WE'VE SEEN A LOT LATELY
FROM DEMOCRATS WHERE THEY
DEFINITELY WANT TO TAKE A CLEAR
STAND ON SOMETHING THAT IS
DEEMED INAPPROPRIATE CIRCA NOW,
BUT WHAT CAN ACTUALLY BE DONE IS
SOMETIMES UNCLEAR.
>> RIGHT.
THIS IS POLITICS IN 2019.
I THINK ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE
VERY CAREFUL TO JUMP RIGHT ON
CONTROVERSIES AND MAKE SURE
THEY'RE TAKING THE RIGHT SIDE OF
THINGS, EVEN IF IT MEANS
OFFENDING YOUR COLLEAGUES.
AND SO THE CITY COUNCIL RIGHT
NOW IS PILING ON AND SAYING WHAT
DIAZ SR. SAID IS WRONG, YET TO
SEE WHAT HAPPENS AS FAR AS
ACTUAL SUBSTANTIAL, YOU KNOW,
ISSUES FOR DIAZ.
>> WELL, THAT'S A PERFECT SEGUE
INTO THE OTHER THING WE'RE
WAITING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS, AND
THAT OF COURSE IS AMAZON.
FIRST OF ALL, IS THERE REALLY A
CHANCE AMAZON COULD NOT SET UP
HEADQUARTERS IN LONG ISLAND
CITY?
>> THERE IS A CHANCE, SURE.
AMAZON DID NOT CHOOSE NEW YORK
BECAUSE OF THE SUBSIDIES.
NEW YORK IS GIVING AMAZON
SUBSIDY, BASICALLY, $2.5 BILLION
DEPENDING ON HOW YOU MEASURE
THEM, BUT THAT'S MUCH LESS THAN
OTHER CITIES OFFERED.
JUST ACROSS THE RIVER, NEW
JERSEY OFFERED $8 BILLION IN
SUBSIDIES.
SO MUCH MORE.
AMAZON IS CHOOSING NEW YORK
BECAUSE IT'S NEW YORK.
I DON'T NEED TO EXPLAIN.
>> THAT'S OUR AUDIENCE.
>> EXACTLY.
BUT ALSO BECAUSE OF THE
WORKFORCE HERE.
IT'S A HUGE WORKFORCE.
IT'S EDUCATED.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT CAN FILL
THESE JOBS THAT AMAZON WANTS TO
FILL.
EVEN IF THERE SOME POLITICAL
CONTROVERSY.
EVEN IF THERE ARE PROTESTS, THAT
DOESN'T CHANGE THE BASIC REASON
WHY AMAZON CHOSE NEW YORK.
AND AS "THE NEW YORK TIMES" HAS
REPORTED, THIS IS MOST LIKELY
MORE OF A NEGOTIATING TACTIC.
KIND OF PUTTING THE FEAR IN
POLITICIANS TO MAKE SURE THAT
THEY DON'T LEAVE HERE.
>> SO IS THERE A CHANCE, THEN,
THAT ANY OF THE PROTESTS WE'VE
SEEN AS COUNCIL HEARING THAT WE
ALL HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO WITNESS
MIGHT GET AMAZON TO BUDGE AT
ALL?
THERE WERE A LOT OF TALK ABOUT
UNIONS AND UNION BUSTING ON THE
PART OF THE COMPANY.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
AMAZON IS GOING TO HAVE NO
CHOICE BUT TO GIVE IN TO SOME
CONCESSION.
WHETHER THAT IS DIRECT
INVESTMENT IN THE COMMUNITY,
ALLOWING THEIR WORKERS TO
UNIONIZE OR AT LEAST NOT -- IF
THEY WANT TO UNIONIZE, AND
VARIOUS OTHER THINGS THAT AMAZON
MIGHT HAVE TO TRY TO ALLAY THE
FEARS OF THE COMMUNITY WITHOUT
ACTUALLY PULLING OUT.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WELL, WE DEFINITELY ARE WAITING
TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS WITH THAT,
AND THE DEVELOPMENTS WILL BE
LOOKING TO CITY AND STATE FOR.
SO, AGAIN, JEFF, THANK YOU SO
MUCH.
>> HAPPY TO BE HERE.
>> ALL RIGHT.
THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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