The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

genuine gravity

with 2 comments

All your base belong to us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pretty much every time my phone rang yesterday, it was someone asking me what I thought of Amazon pulling out of the Long Island City arrangement they had made with the Mayor, Governor, and the NYC EDC. As you may have noticed, I’ve been rather “silent” (well, silent for me) on this particular subject, with one longish NP post, a Greenpointers interview, and a singular radio interview being my only statements about it. In all statements, the message which I was trying to impart was that the fact of Amazon was less disturbing than the idea that the executive branches of both State and City had finally managed to figure out a way past the various checks and balances which had been inserted into the City Planning process since the era when Austin Tobin or Robert Moses could do whatever they wanted to with zero local community input. Apparently, this is what ended up being the Achilles heel of the Amazon deal, as LIC collectively rose up and said “NO.”

That’s the most important takeaway here, in my mind. The sleeping giant has finally awoken. Queens is mad as hell and isn’t going to let the City or the State do what it wants here anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The BQX also died with the Amazon deal yesterday since its moribund carcass has only sparked back to life due to the arrangement, and while the Sunnyside Yards project is still on the horizon, the people running the show for that one are – I guarantee you – in a panic. I predict an executive level bloodbath at the NYC EDC in the next year, who have a less than stellar recent track record as it is (Staten Island Ferris Wheel, anyone?) and angry bosses in the Real Estate Industrial Complex who are going to want to know how this happened. They were expecting to reap a windfall over in the REBNY camp, and have already begun to bemoan their situation and call LIC “overbuilt” with a “glut of rentals.” The bosses won’t or can’t go after the Mayor or Governor, and beyond some petty shots at Jimmy Van Bramer and Michael Gianaris, they’re going to need somebody to blame this on.

Doom and gloom for the powers that be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Winners and losers, that’s how the media will frame it, as if the world of politic and policy is some sort of sport. It’s not, and it’s a toxic POV which first emerged back in the 1980’s when punditry shows like the McLaughlin Report first appeared. There are no winners in this story other than that the activist community, there are only losers. The Amazon deal and the collapse of same will prove to be a divisive force in the LIC community and body politic for quite a while, I predict. There’s going to be all sorts of “high politique” going on which we, the public, will never be privy to.

As I often say when pronouncing such grim statements – It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Sounds pretty good to me. The City will get by. We’ll all find a way to manage, as New Yorkers do.

    Tommy Efreeti

    February 15, 2019 at 1:24 pm

  2. I still don’t know whether I would have supported the Amazon HQ2 or not.

    “That’s the most important takeaway here, in my mind. The sleeping giant has finally awoken. Queens is mad as hell and isn’t going to let the City or the State do what it wants here anymore.”

    Yay! Cue up Twisted Sister!

    If by that you mean special interest activist groups and unions braying the equivalent of “four legs good, two legs bad” , then no, they’re not giants, just a noisy minority of the population who more often than not are the cat’s paw and/or rent seekers of the political establishment. None of these people care anything beyond their own special interest and they’ll fuck over everyone else in the pursuit of it. Are there any reliable polls of public opinion on the subject or is this just anecdotal?

    From what I’ve seen, Queens is a bit mad at the reigning local political establishment, not enough for more than 17% to show up and vote.
    The revolution will not be televised but may not turn out as you expect.

    So here, I wrote my own post on the subject and I take an alternate view. Here’s some excerpts:

    But what stands out as most inexplicable is how the opposition, instead of sticking to the facts, which were persuasive enough, veered off into emotion laded diatribes, outright lies and downright nonsense to unnecessarily pad the opposition case.

    Just spitballing here but it may have been that the opposition was designed to shake Amazon down for local political and special interests. This is New York, you know. You gotta pay to play and certain people have to get their beaks wet too. I have to wonder if the political opposition wasn’t playing the “bad cop” to Governor Cuomo’s “good cop” to attempt a shakedown. Lure the sucker in the door with a sweet deal then stick him with concessions and payouts. Like I said, I’m just spitballing here and maybe this scenario is totally wrong.

    Whatever the case, Jeff Bezos knew that New York needed Amazon more than Amazon needed New York and he wasn’t the dumb, easy to be played rube that the New York sharks thought he was. It’s hard to imagine a New York politician kicking money out of bed so if the political establishment really wanted Amazon to set up shop in LIC, they very stupidly overplayed their hand.


    February 15, 2019 at 4:46 pm

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