Anger, celebration over cancellation of Amazon HQ plans

Anger, celebration over cancellation of Amazon HQ plans

Governor Cuomo signs the Child Victims Act into law

Governor Cuomo signs the Child Victims Act into law

Amazon dumps NYC headquarters and its promised 25,000 jobs

Amazon dumps NYC headquarters and its promised 25,000 jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon abruptly dropped plans Thursday for a big new headquarters in New York that would have brought 25,000 jobs to the city, reversing course after politicians and activists objected to the nearly $3 billion in tax breaks promised to what is already one of the world’s richest, most powerful companies.

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York,” the online giant from Seattle said in a blog post announcing its withdrawal.

The stunning move was a serious blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had lobbied intensely to land the project, competing against more than 200 other metropolitan areas across the continent that were practically tripping over each other to offer incentives to Amazon in a fierce bidding war the company stoked.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York City’s new liberal firebrand, exulted over Amazon’s pullout.

“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she tweeted, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The swift unraveling of the project reflected growing antipathy toward large technology companies among liberals and populists who accuse big business of holding down wages and wielding too much political clout, analysts said.

“This all of a sudden became a perfect test case for all those arguments,” said Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brooking Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Project.

Amazon ultimately decided it did not want to be drawn into that battle.

Amazon announced in November that it had chosen the Long Island City section of Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in Arlington, Virginia. Both would get 25,000 jobs. A third site in Nashville, Tennessee, would get 5,000.

The company had planned to spend $2.5 billion building the New York office, choosing the area in part because of its large pool of tech talent.

The governor and the mayor had argued that Amazon would transform the neighborhood into a high-tech hub and spur economic growth that would pay for the $2.8 billion in state and city incentives many times over.

After Amazon’s change of heart, Cuomo complained that “a small group of politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community.” And the mayor criticized Amazon for not doing more to try to win over New Yorkers.

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” de Blasio said.

In pulling out of New York, Amazon said it isn’t looking for a replacement location “at this time.” It said it plans to spread the technology jobs that were slated for New York to other offices around the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago, Toronto and Austin, Texas. It will also expand its existing New York offices, which already have about 5,000 employees.

Amazon faced fierce opposition over the tax breaks, with critics complaining that the project was an extravagant giveaway — or worse, a shakedown — and that it wouldn’t provide much direct benefit to most New Yorkers.

The list of grievances against the project grew as the months wore on, with critics complaining about Amazon’s stance on unions and some Long Island City residents fretting that the company’s arrival would drive up rents and other costs.

Opposition to the deal was led in the Democrat-controlled state Senate by Michael Gianaris, the chamber’s No. 2 lawmaker, whose district includes Long Island City. Initially among the politicians who supported bringing an Amazon headquarters to the city, Gianaris did an about-face after the deal was announced, criticizing the secrecy surrounding the negotiations and the generous incentives.

Earlier this month, Gianaris was appointed to a little-known state panel that could have ultimately been asked to approve the subsidies.

It is unclear whether the City Council had any power to scuttle the deal. But City Council members held hearings at which they grilled Amazon officials about the company’s labor practices, its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide facial recognition technology and other issues.

Construction industry groups and some local business leaders had urged the public and officials to get behind the plan.

Eric Benaim, a realty executive who gets most of his sales and rentals in Long Island City, had led a petition in support of Amazon, drawing 4,000 signatures.

“I woke up this morning and I had no clue this would happen. Zero. This news is a shock, and I’m devastated,” he said.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters supported having an Amazon headquarters 57 percent to 26 percent. But they were divided over the incentives: 46 percent in favor, 44 percent against.

Andrew Ousley, a business owner who lives near the proposed site, said he had been considering moving out before Amazon moved in.

“Now that they’re not coming, I’m more likely to stay and see how the neighborhood continues to grow and evolve in a more organic fashion,” he said.

In recent weeks, a City Council leader whose district includes Long Island City tried to get Amazon officials to agree to remain neutral in the face of any potential union drive. But an Amazon executive would not give such a commitment.

New York Gov. Cuomo to urge Trump to rethink tax changes

New York Gov. Cuomo to urge Trump to rethink tax changes

WE’RE ALL OVER THE LOWER HUDSON VALLEY

WASHINGTON (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the White House on Tuesday to urge President Donald Trump to rethink a provision in the 2017 tax overhaul that Cuomo says is prompting a sharp decline in state revenues.

The Democratic governor met with the Republican president to discuss the $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for state and local taxes — known as SALT.

Cuomo said the cap is prompting wealthy residents to flee New York and contributing to a recent drop of more than $2 billion in tax receipts.

Trump has praised the tax changes but said recently he has heard it’s causing problems for some New Yorkers. Residents in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California could see substantial increases in their federal tax bills this year because of the deduction cap.

Democratic control of the U.S. House increases the likelihood that the cap could be repealed, Cuomo said. After returning to New York following the meeting, Cuomo said Trump “suggested he was open to a change.”

“Because he understands: You hurt New York, you hurt California, you’re hurting the economic engines of this nation,” Cuomo said on WCBS Newsradio 880.

The White House said the meeting demonstrated Trump’s willingness to meet regularly with the nation’s governors.

“President Trump talked about the positive impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the American economy, and the president listened to the governor’s concerns regarding SALT,” said Judd Deere, a deputy press secretary at the White House.

Deere said Trump also discussed economic growth opportunities in New York, saying the state could help lower energy prices throughout the Northeast by allowing hydraulic fracturing and the development of gas pipelines.

Under Cuomo’s leadership, New York banned horizontal drilling and fracking statewide in 2015.

Prospects for new tax legislation that would expand or remove the $10,000 cap are weak, given the Republican majority in the Senate and concern over the potential for increasing the deficit without corresponding new revenue sources.

Michael Zona, a spokesman for Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, said the committee won’t be revisiting the SALT deduction changes under Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s leadership.

“It’s ironic that the same Democrats who criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for supposedly benefiting only the wealthy are now advocating for a change to the law that would primarily benefit the wealthy,” Zona said.

Neighbors mourn NYPD detective from Calverton who was shot and killed in the line of duty

Neighbors mourn NYPD detective from Calverton who was shot and killed in the line of duty

THE ONE PLACE FOR EVERYTHING ON OUR ISLAND.

Police detective killed by friendly fire in New York City

Police detective killed by friendly fire in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police detective was shot and killed by friendly fire Tuesday night as officers confronted a robbery suspect who turned out to be armed with a replica handgun, Commissioner James O’Neill said.

“This appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire,” an emotional O’Neill said at a late-night news conference.

Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, was struck in the chest as multiple officers fired on the suspect at a T-Mobile store in Queens, O’Neill said. Simonsen, a 19-year NYPD veteran, was put in a squad car and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Sgt. Matthew Gorman was shot in the leg, O’Neil said. A passerby stopped and drove him to the hospital in his car. Gorman is in stable condition.

The suspect, a 27-year-old man with an extensive criminal record, was armed with an imitation firearm, O’Neill said. He was wounded and is hospitalized in stable condition.

“Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that Det. Simonsen is dead,” O’Neill said.

Police swarmed to the store around 6:10 p.m. after a 911 caller standing outside reported seeing the suspect — dressed in all black and carrying a duffel bag — take two employees to a back room at gunpoint, according to dramatic dispatch audio.

“No sirens, guys,” a dispatcher warns.

Simonsen and Gorman were working on another case nearby when the call came over and arrived around the same time as patrol officers, O’Neill said. At first, the front of the store appeared empty, he said.

Then a man matching the suspect’s description emerged from the rear of the store pointing at them what appeared to be handgun and police started shooting, he said.

“Shots fired! Shots fired!” an officer is heard yelling on the dispatch audio over a barrage of gunshots.

About a minute later, Gorman tells dispatchers that he’s been hit and an officer screams for dispatchers to rush an ambulance to the scene.

Arwindern Singh, who lives across the street from the store, said he heard about 20 shots go off and thought they were firecrackers.

When he went outside, he said “all of a sudden there were cops all over.”

The gunfire blew out the store’s doors, showering the sidewalk with glass. Bullet holes pocked frosted windows decorated with the T-Mobile logo. Scores of police officers streamed to the scene, which was roped off with crime tape. Some walked together in a line, searching for evidence.

At Jamaica Hospital, officers guarded the emergency room entrance as O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio met with Gorman and offered their condolences to Simonsen’s wife and mother.

“It was heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking,” De Blasio said. “His mom, who has suffered so much. His wife. The shock that they’re feeling was so painful to see.”

Simonsen should’ve been off Tuesday for a union meeting, but he opted to go to work so he could continue tracking a string of recent robberies, Detectives’ Endowment Association president Michael Palladino said.

Given the suspect’s criminal history, Palladino said: “I think we have to ask the question: Why was someone with such an extensive arrest record out on the street and not incarcerated?”

In 2009, Simonsen investigated the death of an 11-month old boy who drowned in a bucket of water at an unlicensed daycare while the woman running it was passed out on NyQuil. Simonsen testified at Kristal Khan’s trial, which ended in her conviction, that she “didn’t show any emotion” when he questioned her two hours after the incident.

The last New York City police officer killed in the line of duty was a 12-year veteran and mother of three who was gunned down in 2017 while sitting in a police vehicle.

Officer Miosotis Familia, 48, was writing in her notebook when ex-convict Alexander Bonds strode up and shot her through a window. Bonds, who had railed about police and prison officers in a Facebook video months earlier, was fatally shot by officers soon after the attack.

In December, a police officer on Staten Island survived being hit by friendly fire as officers responding to a domestic dispute call shot and killed a man carrying a knife.

De Blasio on Tuesday night praised officers for rushing into dangerous situations and taking decisive action when lives are threatened.

“They know it’s a moment where they cannot hesitate, where even a moment of hesitation can mean a life is lost,” De Blasio said. “That bravery and that resolve is something that we all need to understand.”