NYC mayor tears into '1 percenter' Bezos for betraying 'everyday people' with Amazon HQ cancelation

NYC mayor tears into '1 percenter' Bezos for betraying 'everyday people' with Amazon HQ cancelation
Crusading NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio attacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for canceling the company's heavily subsidized move to Queens, slamming "the definition of 1 percent" for his "disrespectful" treatment of New Yorkers.

"Why does this company believe that it can make such arbitrary decisions with no regard for the people? With no regard for government?" de Blasio asked, seemingly without a glimmer of self-awareness, during an appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC Public Radio on Friday.

"Here's Bezos and here's Amazon, the definition of one percent. Look how little regard there was for everyday people!" the mayor insisted. "It just dispels the notion that these big corporations are willing to be good citizens and good neighbors."

It was arguably the same "everyday people" who were the most vocal in their opposition to Amazon's headquarters move, which would have seen the trillion-dollar company given billions of dollars in tax breaks to relocate. New Yorkers were not given a chance to weigh in on the move, and many found de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo's wooing of the e-commerce behemoth – including Cuomo's joke he'd change his name to "Amazon Cuomo" if it would convince Bezos to relocate – unseemly.

So when Bezos called Amazon's fly-by-night decision to pull out of the deal after hitting a bit of turbulence "disappointing and disrespectful to the people of New York," the irony was palpable – and Lehrer wouldn't let the mayor get away with it.

"What if you had just trusted the city's democracy and trusted the people more?" Lehrer asked. "Did you accidentally poison the well by assuming the city's democracy – which elected you twice – was so dysfunctional it couldn't be trusted to handle the process?"

However, de Blasio insisted if they'd gone through a vote and standard land-use procedures – the normal democratic channels – "I guarantee Amazon would have gone elsewhere." Besides, he repeated multiple times, "the polls" showed most New Yorkers approved of the project.

When one New Yorker from Astoria – where HQ2 would have been built – called into the show, informing the mayor that locals were terrified of losing their homes to gentrification, de Blasio claimed "that wasn't really what was happening on the ground."

"We can't say no to jobs and development and revenue to make ourselves feel better," he said.

The mayor didn't blame the protesters for scaring Amazon away, though: "After being treated with respect and given a fair deal, THEY walked away," he sniffed. "Why did they even bother to choose New York City if they didn't want to actually be part of New York City and do the work it takes to be a good neighbor?"

Compounding the irony, the Democrat mayor ran for office on a "tale of two cities" platform, calling out the massive income inequality that exists in New York and promising to take steps to alleviate the problem. Instead, his critics say, he has largely caved in to wealthy real estate interests, allowing corporations – like Amazon – to run roughshod over the rights of the city's most vulnerable residents. He also gave himself a 15-percent raise for his second term in office, inching towards the one percent himself.

However, at least he succeeded in uniting both pro- and anti-Amazon interests – against himself.

Amazon abruptly canceled its HQ2 move on Thursday despite reportedly reaching a deal with labor union representatives and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The company released a statement blaming "a number of state and local politicians" who refused to "work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward."

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