New York mayor says Amazon headquarters debacle was 'an abuse of corporate power'

Posted at 12:44 PM, Feb 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-17 12:44:29-05

(CNN) -- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is still upset that Amazon isn't coming to New York.

De Blasio attacked the company Sunday for canceling plans to build a second headquarters in Queens last week.

"This is an example of an abuse of corporate power," de Blasio told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press." "Amazon just took their ball and went home. And what they did was confirm people's worst fears about corporate America."

Amazon canceled the deal just months after announcing plans to split its new, second headquarters between New York and Virginia. The Seattle-based company, which is trying to grow its footprint at home and abroad, spent a year reviewing hundreds of "HQ2" proposals from all over North America before settling on the two regions.

Last November, de Blasio cheered the news and promised that it would benefit locals, including residents of a large public-housing development located nearby.

But critics — including many Democrats — lambasted the massive subsidies that New York offered to lure Amazon, including $1.525 billion in incentives that were contingent on the company creating 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000.

On Sunday, de Blasio, a Democrat, said New York offered Amazon a "fair deal," and blamed the company for making what he called an "arbitrary" decision to leave after some people objected.

"They said they wanted a partnership, but the minute there were criticisms, they walked away," he added. "What does that say to working people that a company would leave them high and dry simply because some people raised criticisms?"

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about de Blasio's latest remarks. But the company last week criticized "a number of state and local politicians" who it said "have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required" to complete the project.

The fallout over the Amazon headquarters exposed a rift among Democrats. While de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed the company late last year, others in the party chafed at the plans — including freshman Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, whose district is near the site in Queens where Amazon would have been located.

That divide continued last week when Amazon reneged on the deal. Cuomo attacked politicians who he felt "put their own narrow political interests above their community." Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile,declared victory.

Asked Sunday about the disconnect among progressives, de Blasio said they are capable of governing and giving back to working people.

"I am representing 8.6 million people, and a clear majority of those people believe we need more fairness in our economy. But of course, we need jobs, we need growth, we need revenue," said the mayor, who called himself a progressive. "Progressives can do both."

Amazon said last week that it will not look to replace New York with another city, but will still move forward with existing plans in Virginia. It also is working on a hub in Nashville.

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