'We shouldn't be inviting bullies to our neighborhood': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defends her criticism of Amazon HQ2 in surprise Queens appearance
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke out about criticism of the opposition she took to the deal New York struck for Amazon's HQ2.
- At a community board meeting in Astoria, Queens, she answered a constituent's question with a lengthy response in which she emphasized that her problem was with the process of how the deal was made, its lack of transparency, and a lack of enforcement of how promises made by Amazon would be kept.
- Amazon abandoned its plans for HQ2 in New York City in February after facing backlash from local politicians.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't done talking about Amazon and HQ2.
The congresswoman made an appearance at a local community board meeting in Astoria, Queens, which is part of the New York congressional district that she represents, on Tuesday night.
Addressing what one board member later called "the elephant in the room," Ocasio-Cortez provided a lengthy answer to a question about HQ2, doubling down and clarifying her criticism of the deal struck between the state and the company.
The deal would have brought 25,000 jobs to Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for up to $3 billion in tax breaks, but Amazon pulled the plug on the deal in February.
The decision ignited cheers from HQ2 critics and finger-pointing among supporters. Many HQ2 supporters have blamed Ocasio-Cortez for her early and constant criticism of the deal.
But there was "was very little proof that [Amazon's] promises were rooted in reality," Ocasio-Cortez told constituents on Tuesday. "My whole thing was it needs to be good for us and I was concerned the way this was lined up was not good for us."
The nine-minute video of her explanation of her opposition to the deal was uploaded to YouTube by Defeat Gianaris, a group dedicated to primarying Amazon HQ2 deal critic and New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris.
"All of the sudden this deal was announced, everything was set in stone, everything was decided," Ocasio-Cortez says at the beginning of her answer in the video. "The community didn't feel like they had a say."
She acknowledged polls that said most New Yorkers approved the deal, but "20%, perhaps, of the city that doesn't approve were my constituents, were the community where this was put into."
A Quinnipiac poll from December found that New Yorkers supported the HQ2 deal by a margin of 57% to 26%. That support was even stronger in Queens, according to the poll, which found that 60% of respondents supported it while 26% opposed it.
Queens is a large borough, however, and Ocasio-Cortez's constituents are closer to where HQ2 would have risen.
She also criticized the 25,000-job number, which she said was based more in fantasy than in reality.
"Where does that number come from? Turns out the number was to us kind of like pixie dust," Ocasio told constituents, according to the video. "People were saying 25,000 jobs at $125,000 average, which has never happened anywhere."
Ocasio also criticized the lack of penalty if Amazon didn't deliver on its promises.
She pointed to the reported real estate speculation as evidence that people were justifiably worried that they would be displaced by rising rents.
"It's really easy for someone in Manhattan or someone in Staten Island to say they should have put Amazon in LIC. But we were finding that in Long Island City, in Woodside, in Sunnyside, in Astoria, in Ditmars, people were like, 'Tthis is going to displace us and we want a seat at the table,'" Ocasio Cortez said. "And when we got a seat at the table, Amazon just said, 'We're not going to budge one bit.'"
"We shouldn't be inviting bullies to our neighborhood," she said, which received claps from constituents at the meeting.