LARGEST NYC ERROR EVER?

February 22, 2019 at 4:45 am

Did New York City just commit the “largest unforced error in its economic history” by losing out on Amazon HQ2? We have an analysis.

Aired on February 21, 2019. 

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>> DID NEW YORK CITY JUST
COMMIT THE LARGEST UNFORCED
ERROR IN ITS ECONOMIC HISTORY BY
LOSING OUT ON AMAZON?
ONE SUPPORTER OF BRINGING THE
TECH GIANT TO THE CITY SAYS YES.
HE IS FOUNDER OF AN ARCHITECTURE
COMPANY DEDICATED TO THE
ADVANCEMENT OF CITIES.
IN AN OPINION PIECE THAT
RECENTLY WENT VIRAL HE ARGUES
THE DEAL WHICH FELL THROUGH THIS
MONTH WITH AMAZON SCRAPPED PLANS
WAS NEEDED TO HELP GROW NEW
YORK'S TAX BASE AND FIX THE
CITY'S AGING INFRASTRUCTURE AND
PUBLIC HOUSING CRISIS.
SO WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE CITY IN
THIS POST AMAZON WORLD?
FOR ANSWERS HE JOINS US NOW.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU.
>> YOU ARE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WOO
SAY THIS WAS A CATASTROPHE.
>> IT WAS A DEBACLE.
>> WHERE IS YOUR OPINION COMING
FROM?
>> FIRST OF ALL, I'M NOT SAYING
THE DEAL IS PERFECT.
THE DEAL HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS
THAT I THINK COULD HAVE BEEN
FIXED OVER TIME.
THE MAJORITY OF NEW YORKERS, THE
MAJORITY OF QUEENS RESIDENTS,
MAJORITY OF PUBLIC HOUSING
RESIDENCE, MAJORITY OF PEOPLE OF
COLOR IN THE CITY ALL WANTED
THIS DEAL TO HAPPEN.
AND I THINK EVERYONE COULD HAVE
HANDLED IT BETTER.
AMAZON COULD HAVE HANDLED IT
BETTER.
BUT THE PROBLEM WE HAVE NOW IS
WE JUST SENT A MAJOR SIGNAL TO
THE WORLD THAT WE REALLY HAVE A
PROBLEM WITH NEW BUSINESSES
OPENING IN OUR CITY.
AND PEOPLE HAVE CALLED 25,000
NEW JOBS SCRAPS JUST TO GIVE YOU
A SENSE OF SCALE.
IN THE 1970s WHEN WE WERE IN
MAJOR FISCAL CRISIS, WE LOST
ABOUT 300,000 JOBS.
25,000 IS A PRETTY BIG
PROPORTION.
PART OF MY CONCERN COMES FROM I
WAS MANHATTAN DIRECTOR FOR MAYOR
BLOOMBERG AFTER 9/11.
AND, YOU KNOW, AFTER 9/11 NO ONE
WAS TALKING ABOUT GENT
RIIFICATION AND HOW OVERCROWDED
THE SUBWAYS WERE.
PEOPLE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT
MASSIVE JOB LOSSES.
WE ARE A GREAT CITY.
WE ARE A RESILIENT CITY.
WE CAN BOUNCE BACK AFTER THINGS,
BUT HOW WE BOUNCE BACK OFTEN
IMPACTS THE MOST UNDER
PRIVILEGED THE HARDEST IN OUR
CITY.
AND HAVING A DIVERSE ECONOMIC
BASE THAT ISN'T JUST RELIANT ON
WALL STREET IS JUST
EXTRAORDINARYARILY IMPORTANT AND
THAT IS PART OF THE PROMISE THAT
THIS DEAL HELPS.
>> LET ME PUSH BACK A LITTLE BIT
ON THAT BECAUSE ONE OF THE BIG
ISSUES THAT PEOPLE WHO WERE
PUSHING AGAINST THIS AND THIS
WAS LARGELY GRASS ROOTS
ORGANIZATIONS, COMMUNITY GROUPS
FROM QUEENS WHO WERE SAYING THAT
ACTUALLY AMAZON IS NOT A GOOD
NEIGHBOR, THEY HAVE BAD BUSINESS
PRACTICES, THEY CAN BE ABUSIVE.
THEY DON'T RESPECT UNIONS AND
THINGS OF THAT NATURE WHICH ARE
ALL THINGS THAT ARE VERY MUCH
NEW YORK VALUES AND THAT THEIR
PRESENCE IN QUEENS IS GOING TO
DISPLACE A LOT OF PEOPLE.
THOSE SEEM TO BE THE BIG
RALLYING CRIES.
>> THERE ARE LEGITIMATE
CONCERNS.
WE LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY.
THERE IS A COUPLE OF THINGS TO
KEEP IN MIND.
ONE IS WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT
BIG TECH OUT IN CALIFORNIA OR
SEATTLE, YOU KNOW, THOSE PLACES
ARE VERY DEPENDENT ON BIG TECH
JUST LIKE WE ARE DEPENDENT ON
WALL STREET.
THIS IS TALKING ABOUT BRINGING A
DIFFERENT INDUSTRY.
THE MORE WE HAVE A DIVERSITY OF
INDUSTRIES THE LESS THEY CAN
PUSH US AROUND AND THE MORE WE
CAN NEGOTIATE WITH THEM.
THE SECOND THING IS JUST IN
TERMS OF THE UNION ISSUE,
TOTALLY FAIR ISSUE BUT THERE ARE
TWO THINGS OO KEEP IN MIND.
THERE IS ALREADY AGREEMENT TO
USE UNION LABOR AND UNION
SERVICE JOBS.
THE QUESTION IS AMAZON
EMPLOYEES.
OUTSIDE OF AMAZON FAIR ENOUGH
BUT ARE WE ASKING THAT OF HOME
DEPOT AND BED BATH AND BEYOND
AND OTHER CHAIN STORES THAT DO
BUSINESS IN NEW YORK CITY?
WAS THAT REALLY A FAIR QUESTION
IN TERMS OF HOW WE ARE APPLYING
IT TO EVERY SINGLE RETAIL GIANT
THAT NOW OPERATES IN NEW YORK?
I DON'T THINK WE ARE ASKING
THAT.
THATS TO ME THE UNEVENNESS.
WERE THERE LEGITIMATE LOCAL
ISSUES ON THE GROUND,
INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES, SEWERAGE
ISSUES, LEGITIMATE DISPLACEMENT
CONCERNS?
I THINK THOSE COULD HAVE GOTTEN
WORKED OUT.
I THINK WE THREW OUT THE BABY
WITH THE BATH WATER.
>> WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT YOU
HAVE AMAZON WHICH IS WORTH LIKE
$700 BILLION, ALMOST A TRILLION
DOLLAR COMPANY, SEEMINGLY
GETTING CHASED OUT OF NEW YORK
BOY A HANDFUL OF RESIDENTS WITH
SIGNS AND GOOD CHANTS?
>> WELL, I MEAN, AGAIN, I THINK
THE MEDIA COULD HAVE DONE A
BETTER JOB REPRESENTING THE FACT
THAT THE MAJORITY OF NEW YORKERS
IN POLL AFTER POLL SAID THEY
WANTED THIS TO HAPPEN.
I'M A LITTLE SURPRISED AMAZON
GOT SCARED OFF QUITE AS EASILY
AS IT DID.
I THINK A LOT OF WHAT HAPPENED
IN THE STATE SENATE REALLY DID
IMPACT THEIR THINKING.
I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T WORK FOR AMAZON.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE
THINKING ABOUT.
IT SURPRISED ALL OF US HOW
QUICKLY THIS HAPPENED.
BUT I DO THINK THAT IT IS
IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE WHO OPPOSE
SOMETHING TO BE FACTUAL IN THEIR
OPPOSITION.
WE LIVE WITH A FACTORY WHITE
HOUSE AND WE SHOULDN'T EMULATE
THOSE TACTICS ON THE GROUND HERE
IN NEW YORK.
SO FOR INSTANCE THE TAX BREAKS.
EVERYONE $3 BILLION WILL BE
TAKEN FROM THE SUBWAYS AND
SCHOOLS.
IF PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THAT,
THEY SHOULD PONY UP THE $3
BILLION.
THEY CAN'T.
IT DOESN'T EXIST.
IT WAS A TAX DISCOUNT MEANING
THAT IF THEY WERE GOING TO PAY
$30 BILLION IN TAXES INSTEAD OF
30 THEY WERE GOING TO PAY 27.
IT WAS A DISCOUNT.
WE WERE GOING TO NET THE 27.
THAT CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE HELPED
OUR SUBWAYS AND SCHOOLS AND
PARKS.
BUT THAT WAS REALLY A MISLEADING
KIND OF ARGUMENT THAT PEOPLE
WERE USING THAT SOMEHOW WE WERE
HANDLING $3 BILLION OVER TO JEFF
BEZOS.
ANYONE CAN GO ONLINE AND READ
THE DOCUMENT.
>> A LOT OF CRITICISM WAS THAT
THE NEGOTIATIONS ALL HAPPENED
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
>> THAT'S TRUE.
YOU KNOW, NEGOTIATIONS, YOU
KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING WHEN YOU
NEGOTIATE ANYTHING, WHEN YOU BUY
A HOUSE YOU WANT THAT TO HAPPEN
IN FRONT OF A TV CAMERA?
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A
LOT OF THE POLITICIANS WHO
BECAME VOCAL OPPONENTS SIGNED A
DOCUMENT SAYING THEY WERE GOING
TO SUPPORT THIS WHEN THE AMAZON
BID WAS PUT TOGETHER.
WHEN THE CITY AND THE STATE DID
THIS, IT'S NOT LIKE THEY DID IT
IN A VACUUM.
THEY DID IT WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE
SAYING WE WANT THIS.
QUEENS PUSHED HARD TO HAVE IT
WHERE THEY HAD IT.
THE CITY HAD FOUR OR FIVE
DIFFERENT LOCATIONS THEY WERE
LOOKING AT.
SO THERE WAS A BIT OF A TURN
AROUND HERE AS PEOPLE SORT OF
SAW IN THE WIND THAT MAYBE THERE
WAS NOISE OUT THERE ABOUT THIS.
BUT, YOU KNOW, I DO THINK THAT
ONCE THE DEAL WAS MADE PUBLIC
YOU KNOW PEOPLE THEN TOOK THE
FACTS OF THE DEAL AND REALLY
CONTORTED THEM IN ALL SORTS OF
WAYS.
>> SO VERY QUICKLY, WE ARE
RUNNING OUT OF TIME, BUT WHERE
DO YOU THINK THIS WILL LEAVE
LONG ISLAND?
>> OUR FIRM IS DOING A MASTER
PLAN.
I'M STILL VERY BULLISH ON
QUEENS.
IT'S THE MOST DIVERSE COUNTY IN
THE UNITED STATES.
I'M BULLISH ON NEW YORK CITY.
I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR
ECONOMY GROWS LIKE A GARDEN IN
ALL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS SO WE
ARE NOT RELYING ON ONE PIECE.
>> ECONOMY GROWS LIKE A GARDEN.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING
US SOME MORE IN DEPTH
PERSPECTIVE ON THE LOSS OF
AMAZON FROM QUEENS.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
>> 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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