AMAZON HQ2 DOA IN NYC

February 15, 2019 at 4:30 am

After numerous protests to keep the tech giant away from New York, Amazon announced that it will not be bringing its new headquarters to the Big Apple. Council Speaker Corey Johnson weighs in. Ruben Diaz Sr. was punished for his recent anti-gay remarks. After calls for an apology and his resignation were not met, the New York City Council voted to dissolve the committee that Diaz chairs.

Aired February 14, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
AMAZON IS OUT.
IN A STUNNING TURN OF EVENTS,
THE RETAIL GIANT ANNOUNCED THIS
MORNING THAT IT'S CANCELING
PLANS TO BUILD A SPRAWLING NEW
CAMPUS IN QUEENS.
A MOVE THAT PROMISED TO BRING
SOME 25,000 JOBS TO NEW YORK
CITY.
IN A STATEMENT, AMAZON SAID
"WHILE POLLS SHOW THAT 70% OF
NEW YORKERS SUPPORT OUR PLANS IN
INVESTMENT, A NUMBER OF STATE
AND LOCAL POLITICIANS HAVE MADE
IT CLEAR THAT THEY OPPOSE OUR
PRESENCE."
WHILE AMAZON'S MOVE WAS
ANNOUNCED WITH FANFARE LAST
YEAR, IT WAS MET WITH OPPOSITION
FROM LAWMAKERS AND OTHER
ORGANIZATIONS WHO SAID THE DEAL
GAVE TOO MUCH AWAY IN CITY AND
STATE INCENTIVES.
ONE LAWMAKER, CITY COUNCIL
SPEAKER CORY JOHNSON.
THE SPEAKER VISITED WITH US
TODAY TO TALK WITH "METROFOCUS"
THIS MORNING BEFORE AMAZON MADE
ITS ANNOUNCEMENT TO BACK OUT.
I ASKED HIM ABOUT AMAZON AND
WHAT HE WOULD SAY TO THOSE WHO
BELIEVE THE DEAL WOULD DO MUCH
TO HELP NEW YORK DIVERSIFY INTO
THE TECH SECTOR.
>> I THINK WE DO NEED MORE TECH
JOBS, AND WE'VE DONE A GOOD JOB
AT ATTRACTING A NUMBER OF HIGH
TECH JOBS HERE.
YOU'VE SEEN GOOGLE HAS COME IN
AND CREATED ALMOST 15,000 JOBS
IN THE LAST TEN YEARS.
FACEBOOK AND TWITTER AND ALL
THESE OTHER BIG TECH COMPANIES
AND SMALL TECH COMPANIES HAVE
COME TO NEW YORK.
I'M NOT SAYING THAT AMAZON,
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, SHOULD
COME HERE.
I'M SAYING IT WAS A SECRETIVE
PROCESS.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SIGNED
NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS TO NOT
TALK ABOUT THIS.
AMAZON IS GOING TO RECEIVE --
>> THAT BY ITSELF RAISES
TROUBLING QUESTIONS.
WHETHER YOU LIKE AMAZON OR NOT,
THAT, I THINK, BY ITSELF IS
SOMETHING THAT IS FAIRLY
CURIOUS.
>> AND GOVERNMENT MONEY IS ON
THE LINE.
SO AMAZON IS GOING TO BE ABLE TO
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALMOST $4
BILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY.
THEY ARE AVOIDING AND SUBVERTING
THE PROCESS THAT THE CITY
COUNCIL HAS AND HAS HAD SINCE
THE 1970s ON LARGE PROJECTS.
THEY'RE GETTING A $500 MILLION
CASH GRANT FROM THE STATE.
JEFF BEZOS IS GETTING A HELIPAD
TO LAND ON HIS BUILDING.
AMAZON IS WORTH $1 TRILLION.
JEFF BEZOS IS WORTH $160
BILLION, THE RICHEST MAN IN THE
WORLD.
WE HAVE CRUMBLING SUBWAYS,
SCHOOLS THAT ARE NOT GETTING THE
RESOURCES.
SO IS THIS THE BEST WAY TO SPEND
THAT MONEY SHOULD GO THROUGH A
PUBLIC PROCESS THAT HAS CHECKS
AND BALANCES.
AND IS SOMEONE GOING TO ASK
THESE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS?
THAT'S WHAT THE COUNCIL HAS
DONE.
AMAZON HAS BEEN UNWILLING TO
NEGOTIATE.
THEY WILL NOT AGREE TO LABOR
NEUTRALITY AMONGST THE WORKERS
IF THEY WANT TO ORGANIZE AND BE
PART OF A UNION.
SO THERE ARE A SERIES OF
QUESTIONS HERE.
THESE ARE QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD
HAVE BEEN ANSWERED BEFORE THE
DEAL WAS ANNOUNCED, AND IT'S OUR
JOB AS PEOPLE THAT HAVE TO
OVERSEE PUBLIC MONEY AND LAND,
THIS IS PUBLIC LAND THEY'RE
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF.
>> SO IT'S NOT SAYING WE DON'T
WANT YOU, BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT
THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THAT
WORK FOR EVERYBODY, BOTH SIDES.
>> LET'S BE HONEST, AMAZON SET
UP THE HUNGER GAMES.
SO THEY TOOK ALL THESE CITIES
AND THEY HAD EVERYONE SIGN
NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS.
NO ONE KNOWING WHAT THE OTHER
ONE WAS OFFERING.
AND EVERYONE TRIED TO SWEETEN
THE POT, SWEETEN THE DEAL, AND
THEY WERE SEDUCED BY AMAZON'S
JOBS.
WE WANT JOBS, I'M NOT AGAINST
THAT.
I THINK, AND AMAZON ALLUDED TO
THIS, THE TWO CITIES IN THE
METROPOLITAN AREA IN THE ENTIRE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THAT
HAVE THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF
INDIVIDUALS THAT QUALIFY AUTHOR
THESE TYPE OF JOBS IN THE TECH
INDUSTRY IS NEW YORK CITY, WE
HAVE 320,000 PEOPLE THAT ARE
QUALIFIED TO DO THIS TYPE OF
WORK, AND THE METRO WASHINGTON,
D.C. AREA, WHICH IS THE OTHER
LOCATION THEY CHOSE.
SO IT FELT LIKE THEY SET THIS
PROCESS UP TO TRY TO SQUEEZE AS
MUCH OUT OF THE FINALISTS THAT
THEY KNEW THEY WERE LIKELY GOING
TO PICK ANY WAY.
I FEEL LIKE WE WERE PLAYED.
THE DEAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN
NEGOTIATED IN A MUCH MORE TOUGH
AND DIFFICULT WAY FOR A $1
TRILLION COMPANY.
>> IN A WIDE-RANGING
CONVERSATION, I ASKED ABOUT THE
CONTROVERSY OF COUNCIL MEMBER
DIAZ'S HOMO PHOBIC MARKS, IN
WHICH HE SAYS THE COUNCIL IS
CONTROLLED BY THE HOMOSEXUAL
COMMUNITY.
>> I WAS IN SHOCK.
I GUESS I SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN IN
SHOCK AND I SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN
IN SHOCK BECAUSE HE HAS A LONG
TRACK RECORD AND HISTORY
SPANNING 30 OR MORE YEARS SAYING
THINGS LIKE THIS.
BUT I WAS IN SHOCK BECAUSE IT'S
CONFUSING IN SOME WAYS, BECAUSE
OVER THE LAST YEAR, WHENEVER
I'VE SEEN HIM, WHEN WE'VE
INTERACTED ONE ON ONE, HE'S
NEVER BEHAVED IN THIS WAY.
>> I WANT TO ASK YOU THAT.
WORDS CAN BE ONE THING, THEY CAN
BE HARMFUL.
BUT CONDUCT IS SOMETHING ELSE.
HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN A SENSE OF
SOMEHOW A BARRIER BETWEEN YOU
AND HIM BECAUSE OF HIS ATTITUDE?
>> NO, I HAVEN'T.
BUT, AGAIN, THERE ARE PLENTY OF
PEOPLE AND LBGT WILL KNOW THIS
REALLY WELL, THAT YOU CAN HAVE
FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS WHO
SAY I ACCEPT YOU FOR WHO YOU
ARE, BUT I DON'T ACCEPT ALL THE
OTHER THINGS YOU'RE PUSHING FOR.
AND PART OF THE GAY MOVEMENT,
THE LBGT RIGHTS MOVEMENT HAS
BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE WE
HAVE TRIED, AND I THINK
SUCCEEDED, IN CHANGING THE
HEARTS AND MINDS OF PEOPLE WHO
MAY NOT HAVE SUPPORTED MARRIAGE
EQUALITY BUT CAME AROUND.
COUNCIL MEMBER DIAZ IS
DIFFERENT, BECAUSE HE HAS A LONG
STANDING TRACK RECORD OF SAYING
HATEFUL AND DIVISIVE THINGS.
I MADE A MISTAKE, I MADE A
MISTAKE BECAUSE WHEN I CAME IN A
LITTLE MORE THAN A YEAR AGO AS
SPEAKER, I TRIED TO GIVE
EVERYONE A FRESH START.
I ASKED EVERY COUNCIL MEMBER
WHAT COMMUNITY THEY WANTED TO
CHAIR AND TRIED TO BE
ACCOMMODATING TO THEM.
A LEOPARD DOES NOT CHANGE ITS
SPOTS.
AND I GUESS THIS IN SOME WAYS
WAS INEVITABLE THAT SOMETHING
LIKE THIS WOULD HAPPEN.
BUT IT'S PAINFUL FOR ME
PERSONALLY, PAINFUL FOR THE
ENTIRE CITY COUNCIL, AND PAINFUL
TO THE STAFF, THERE ARE A LOT OF
LBGT STAFF MEMBERS AND NON-LBGT
STAFF MEMBERS THAT THIS WHOLE
INCIDENT, OVER THE LAST WEEK,
HAS BEEN PAINFUL.
SO I'VE BEEN TRYING TO HANDLE IT
RESPONSIBLY.
WE DISSOLVED THE COMMITTEE
YESTERDAY AND WE'RE GOING TO
MOVE AHEAD.
>> THERE HAVE BEEN CALLS FOR HIS
RESIGNATION.
HOW DO YOU THEN CONNECT, IF YOU
WILL, THE NOTION OF SAY, ALL
RIGHT, YOU SHOULD LEAVE, YOU
DON'T BELONG HERE BECAUSE OF THE
NATURE OF YOUR COMMENTS, WHICH
YOU OBVIOUSLY BELIEVE.
BUT THE FACT THAT HE'S BEEN
SAYING THINGS LIKE THAT FOR A
LONG PERIOD OF TIME, AND PEOPLE
ELECT HIM TO THESE POSITIONS.
WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA THAT SAYS,
IT'S UP TO THEM TO DECIDE WHAT
THEY WANT HIM OFF OR NOT.
>> HE SAID HE'S NOT GOING TO
RESIGN.
I THINK HE SHOULD, AND HE HAS
THE RIGHT, OF COURSE, TO STAY ON
THE COUNCIL, BECAUSE HE WAS
ELECTED TO THE COUNCIL.
I THINK IT COMES DOWN IN SOME
WAYS TO A LEVEL OF SELF-AWARE
NESS AND UNDERSTANDING WHETHER
OR NOT YOU CAN BE EFFECTIVE FOR
YOUR CONSTITUENTS IN A BODY
THAT'S ABOUT GETTING THINGS
DONE.
AND WHAT YOU SAW THIS PAST WEEK
AT THE COUNCIL WAS, I THINK, AN
OVERWHELMING REBUKE OF WHAT HE
HAS DONE, HIS COMMENTS, AND HIS
TRACK RECORD OF COMMENTS, AFTER
HE SAID THIS, HE DOUBLED AND
TRIPLED DOWN, CLAIMING HE WAS
THE VICTIM, SAYING HE WOULD NOT
APOLOGIZE UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES, THAT HE HAD DONE
NOTHING WRONG.
HE WENT FURTHER SAYING THE
INITIAL COMMENTS OF THE
"HOMOSEXUAL" COMMUNITY, I SAY
THE GAY COMMUNITY, THE LBGT
COMMUNITY, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT
THEM CONTROLLING THE CITY
COUNCIL BUT THEY CONTROL THE
ENTIRE POLITICAL STRUCTURE IN
NEW YORK.
THIS IS SO OUTLANDISH, OUT OF
TOUCH WITH REALITY, THAT IT'S
HARD TO REASON WITH SOMEONE WHO
HAS BELIEFS LIKE THIS.
>> WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE IS
GOING TO HAPPEN?
>> WE'RE TRYING TO MOVE AHEAD,
AND THE BODY TOOK A BIG STEP IN
DISSOLVING THE COMMITTEE AND
HAVING PEOPLE ON THE RECORD
ABOUT THAT, AND SOME OF THE
SPEECHES AND COMMENTS WERE VERY
EMOTIONAL AND MOVING,
HEARTBREAKING IN SOME WAYS.
PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT HOW PAINFUL
THIS WAS.
I TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY, AND I
WANT TO TRY TO HAVE US MOVE
AHEAD AND HEAL THESE OPEN
WOUNDS.
>> HOPEFULLY IT WILL.
CONGESTION, IS SOME VERSION
GOING TO HAPPEN FAIRLY SOON?
>> I HOPE SO.
YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT MORE AND
MORE SUPPORT HAS BUILT, AND THE
ASSEMBLY SPEAKER HAS BEEN A
SUPPORTER OF CONGESTION PRICING
FOR A LONG TIME.
HE REPRESENTS THE DISTRICT IN
THE NORTH BRONX.
GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS MADE THIS A
CENTER PIECE OF HIS EXECUTIVE
BUDGET, WHICH WAS JUST UNVEILED
A FEW WEEKS AGO.
AND THERE WAS SOME BIG
PROPONENTS IN THE STATE SENATE.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE DEMOCRATIC
CONTROL OF THE ASSEMBLY AND
STATE SENATE, THERE'S A BIG
OPPORTUNITY.
THE REAL QUESTION IS, WHAT DOES
THE FINAL DEAL LOOK LIKE?
I WANT FULL CONGESTION PRICING.
WE NEED IT BECAUSE WE NEED A
DEDICATED REVENUE STREAM TO FUND
THE NTA AND CUT DOWN ON
CONGESTION IN MANHATTAN.
ANYTHING IS DIFFICULT TO PREDICT
IN ALBANY.
I DON'T HAVE A CRYSTAL BALL, BUT
I FEEL OPTIMISTIC.
>> CAN YOU GET AN IRON CLAD
DEDICATION SAYING ALL OF THAT
MONEY GOES HERE?
>> THAT'S WHAT I SUPPORT, BUT
THAT'S NOT WHAT IS IN THE
GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL.
THE PROPOSAL SAYS THAT MONEY
WOULD COME INTO THE NTA.
WE NEED THAT TO GO DIRECTLY INTO
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT, WHICH IS
THE SUBWAYS AND THE BUSES IN NEW
YORK CITY.
THE MTA ARE THE SUBWAYS, BUSES,
THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD AND
METRO NORTH.
AND WE NEED THAT MONEY DEDICATED
JUST TO MASS TRANSIT IN NEW YORK
CITY.
AND WE SHOULD PUT SOME OF THAT
REVENUE TO TRANSIT DESERTS, INTO
NEW EXPRESS BUS SERVICE, IN
AREAS OF THE CITY, IN EASTERN
QUEENS AND IN SOUTH BROOKLYN,
THAT EXTEND BEYOND THE REACHES
TO HAVE SUBWAY, SO THAT EVERY
PART OF NEW YORK CITY IS GETTING
SOME LEVEL OF INVESTMENT AS IT
RELATES TO MASS TRANSIT.
>> LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.
YOU HAVE BEEN RELIGIOUS, IF YOU
WILL, IN BOTH YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
AND POLITICAL LIFE, ABOUT BEING
HONEST AND CANDID, AND
TRANSPARENT.
AND YOU'RE OPEN WITH PEOPLE
ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT YOU THINK
AND YOU DO.
AND IN THAT VEIN, YOU SAID THAT
YOU'RE CONTEMPLATING THE NOTION
OF RUNNING FOR MAYOR.
YOU ALSO SAID IF YOU DO, IF YOU
DO, YOU WERE GOING TO LIMIT
CONTRIBUTIONS TO $250, NOT THE
$2,000.
AND YOU WERE GOING TO TAKE A
LOOK AT IT.
SO WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW IN
THAT LOOK?
ARE YOU ANY CLOSER TO MAKING A
DECISION?
>> WELL, I TALKED ABOUT THIS
JUST LESS THAN A MONTH AGO.
THE REASON WHY --
>> IT'S GOING TO BE AN INTERNTY
IN THE POLITICAL REALM.
>> THE REASON I DID THIS IS IF I
MAKE THIS DECISION, AND I'M
LEANING IN THE DIRECTION OF
DOING IT, BUT THERE'S NO FINAL
DECISION BECAUSE IT'S MORE THAN
TWO YEARS AWAY, THE REASON WHY
IT CAME UP THIS EARLY IS BECAUSE
I'M DOING HISTORIC AS IT RELATES
TO FUND-RAISING.
I'M NOT TAKING MONEY FROM
LOBBYISTS OR REAL ESTATE
DEVELOPERS, OR CORPORATE PACS.
THE CONTRIBUTION IS $2,000 FROM
AN INDIVIDUAL, I'M MAKING THAT
$250.
WHICH MEANS TO RAISE THE FULL
AMOUNT OF MONEY, I NEED ABOUT
7,000 NEW YORKERS TO CONTRIBUTE
$250.
THAT IS GOING TO TAKE A LONG
TIME.
I THOUGHT IF I SEND THIS OUT AS
AN INVITE, IF I ANNOUNCE THIS
VIA AN E-MAIL TO A FRIEND THAT
WANTS TO HOST A HOUSE PARTY, THE
MEDIA WILL SAY, HOW COME YOU'RE
NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS?
SO INSTEAD, I PUT IT OUT THERE
PROACTIVELY TO BE ABLE TO START
TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION AND DO
IT IF A WAY WHERE IT DIDN'T LOOK
LIKE I WAS HIDING ANYTHING.
I LOVE NEW YORK CITY.
IT'S A CITY OF DREAMS AND
ASPIRATIONS.
I CAM HERE AT 19 YEARS OLD WITH
TWO BAGS, KNOWING ONE PERSON.
IT'S BEEN JUST -- IT'S BEEN MY
OYSTER FOR SO LONG.
AND I JOKE, WE'RE FILMING THIS
TODAY ON VALENTINE'S DAY.
I'M SINGLE, BUT I SAY THAT I'M
SINGLE BUT IN A LONG-TERM
RELATIONSHIP WITH NYC.
SO I'M GOING TO CONTINUE TO
FOCUS ON THE CITY I LOVE AS
SPEAKER AND WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL
HAPPEN.
>> BEYOND THE NOTION OF
POLITICS, YOUR STORY IS ONE THAT
SAYS YOU CAN MAKE A LIFE.
YOU CAN TAKE DIFFICULTIES IN
YOUR LIFE AND TURN THEM AROUND
AND YOU CAN TAKE OFF ON A
TRANSEN DANT ARC AND THIS CITY
ALLOWS YOU TO DO IT.
GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.
WE ALWAYS GET A BETTER SENSE OF
WHAT'S GOING ON WHEN YOU ARE
HERE WITH US.
SO LOOK FORWARD TO HAVING YOU
BACK WITH US.
>> THANK YOU.

Funders

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