Mayor de Blasio may win applause from progressives for the city’s universal pre-k program or New York’s latest campaign finance reforms. But when it comes to Amazon, there was a very different response from the crowd gathered in Burlington, Vermont for the first gathering of the Sanders Institute.
As de Blasio moderated a discussion with other mayors, he was put on the defensive, forced to explain why he would champion a plan to give Amazon $3 billion in tax incentives to come to New York.
“I think everyone in this room could easily mount a critique of corporate America writ large,” de Blasio began. “Amazon in specific. I sure could, too. The question for all of us was if we are going to get an opportunity to bring a lot of jobs to our city that would help create opportunity for people who come out of our public schools, of our public colleges, of our public housing, we had to do that. But also for the revenue.”
Nomiki Konst is a candidate for Public Advocate in New York who also attended the gathering in Vermont. She says if elected she would sue Amazon to claw back the tax incentives.
“The Amazon deal is the antithesis of good for New York,” Konst said. “Nobody in New York who is a working New Yorker seems to be pro-Amazon deal.”
Joe Dinkin from the Working Families Party says the Mayor has done right on a lot of things, but not this.
“A $3 billion dollar tax giveaway to Amazon is a like a slap in the face to New Yorkers that are hungry for a subway system that actually functions, hungry for more investment in our higher education,” Dinkin said.
Filmmaker Josh Fox, who confronted the Mayor about Amazon, says the city should be trying to bring the creative class back to New York, not court Amazon.
“I asked Mayor de Blasio if we could equal the tax benefit we are giving Amazon for artists in New York City,” Fox said.
It’s not clear if that is an idea the mayor is going to rally behind.