Monday, February 18, 2019

2053 Viewing Amazon from a Street Corner

The building in the picture is the front entrance of 41-09 41st Street, New York, NY 11104.  If you climb to the roof above the sixth floor, there’s plenty to see, especially if you look east or south.  The UN building and the rest of the Manhattan skyline, the formerly huge Sunnyside Rail Yard, now reduced to a mere “Two extra-large,” the frayed Long Island City industrial zone, also shrunken and the Queensbridge Houses, largest public housing warehouse in the Western Hemisphere, a WPA project with no reported shootings in 2018.

It’s not bucolic.  It’s crowded there. Busy. Heavy traffic around the clock. Noise.  Trains, buses, cars.  And’s now abandoned planned site for HQ2.  

Notice this: Amazon founder and world’s richest person Jeff Bezos has been in the news for a bunch of reasons lately. But the story of his company’s coitus interruptus are mostly Bezos-free.  No comments. No requests for comments. No wondering why he says little to nothing.

What the neighborhood is saying: You can’t just mosey in here and upend our lives.  Just because if you cut yourself shaving you bleed money doesn’t give you the right to do this.

Amazon wanted secret talks about its plans.  Instead, politicians held public hearings.  Amazon promised a bazillion six-figure jobs.  Talk to its warehouse workers around the country about that.

Oh, sure everyone wants those job-creating monstrosities. But they want them in your neighborhood, not theirs. The mayor and the governor are tearing out their hair. That happens a lot when the mayor wants to win re-election from Staten Island, where Democrats are banned and the governor wants to be president of the US and could use this to get votes in Keokuk, Iowa and Wheeling, West Virginia.

It happens a lot when the doors to the conference room are locked and guarded; when you have to check your cell phone into a cubby before they’ll even see if you’re on the invitation list.

Of course, the whole process could have been more easily stopped.  All they had to do is put Bezos in a 25-year-old Buick on a snowy day and get him to drive from the corner of 41st Street and Skillman Avenue to East 60th St. in Manhattan.  He’d have plenty of time for a first hand look at the neighborhood and he’d be taking the same route in the same kind of car his workers would be using.  Better yet, take the 7 train under the same conditions.

“It’s an abuse of corporate power.” -- Mayor Bill de Blastoff of New York responding to Amazon’s decision to withdraw from a tentative agreement to locate a major tech facility there.  The mayor also said that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “didn’t understand” the Amazon deal.  Sorry, Bill. She understood it -- and abuse of corporate power -- far better than you ever will.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Correspondence to
© WJR 2019

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