Amazon LIC critic named to key board that can veto project

Mike Gianaris

Mike Gianaris

He spearheaded a growing opposition movement to the deal, which includes other elected officials, labor leaders, and community activists.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is blasting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' tax deal with New York City to become part of the company's second North American headquarters.

As proof that her Democratic conference won't be a rubber stamp for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Stewart-Cousins nominated Gianaris, an early and vocal critic of the Amazon deal, to the Public Authorities Control Board, a five-member panel on which any one vote can block a publicly financed project that comes before it.

It was the start of a crusade against the project in which Gianaris has repeatedly criticized secrecy in the bidding process and up to $3 billion in government subsidies promised to Amazon.

"New York needs responsible fiscal stewardship now more than ever and ensuring our economic development dollars are well spent is a responsibility I take very seriously", Gianaris said in a statement Monday.

He added, "If they want to throw that deal in the garbage and have a new conversation, that's a different issue".

The selection of Gianaris is a victory for opponents of the Amazon deal but their battle is far from over. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Amazon, the city, and the state, the parties have until March 11th of 2019 to conduct due diligence, and the ESD is supposed to approve it in November of 2019.

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Cuomo said Amazon hasn't done a great job of communicating its intent. The governor's office has at times argued that the PACB does not have authority over the $505 million state capital grant, while Cuomo later said that it does.

It was not immediately clear whether Cuomo would approve or reject Gianaris' appointment.

"I think it makes the political calculation a little different and it also makes the horsetrading a little more challenging, if that was going to be how to get the agreement passed".

But Gianaris is the best chance opponents of the Amazon deal have.

A representative for Amazon did not respond to a request for comment. "Whether that's me on the PACB, or the City Council, or something". "Whether it's this, or the legislature next year, there will be an opportunity for people to be heard on this and they will be heard". But despite the staunch opposition, the Amazon project appeared to be a done deal - until today. "What I do reject is the triumph of politics over government". "Especially in light of what we just have seen, we need to diversify our economy". The governor has the final say over whether Gianaris gets the seat on the board.

"Well we're not there yet".

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