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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still getting it mostly wrong on Amazon

In explaining her opposition to Amazon, she misrepresented aspects of the dashed deal, hearkening back to her much-criticized early comments about using the entire incentive sum for purposes like education and the subway.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), questions Tim Sloan, president

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), questions Tim Sloan, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, not pictured, during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington on March 12. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer

This story originally appeared in The Point. To sign up for Newsday's daily Opinion newsletter, click here.

After all the sturm und drang, here was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hedging about the Amazon deal at a Queens community board meeting Tuesday night: “Again it’s not saying that we shouldn’t have Amazon here. It’s not saying that I’m against Amazon coming under any circumstances, though there are members of the community that feel that way.”

This from the high-profile Amazon opponent who put the fear of primary gods in Queens politicians, who proudly tweeted that New Yorkers had “defeated” Amazon’s “corporate greed” after the company pulled out of NYC.

The freshman Democrat from the Bronx seemed less all-or-nothing on the issue Tuesday, according to a clip of the appearance posted by a pro-Amazon Twitter account called @defeatGianaris. 

Still, in explaining her opposition to Amazon, she misrepresented aspects of the dashed deal, hearkening back to her much-criticized early comments about using the entire incentive sum (much of which was future tax credits) for purposes like education and the subway.

Discussing the 25,000 jobs promised by Amazon, Ocasio-Cortez said: “if they didn’t deliver on creating those jobs, there was no penalty for it.”

But the tax incentives from state programs were tied to job creation, including the $500 million capital grant that required job and investment commitments. That money wouldn’t have flowed if Amazon didn’t hit job targets.

Ocasio-Cortez also said that “Senator [Michael] Gianaris was appointed to the board to negotiate with Amazon,” referring to the Public Authorities Control Board.

But state law says PACB’s function is to approve projects when “there are commitments of funds sufficient to finance the acquisition and construction of such project.”

Of course, it’s too late for the facts to sway activists and politicians about the project, as Amazon has shown little interest in returning to NYC since pulling out of the new hub project in February. But Ocasio-Cortez now knows that public opinion in NY is not on the side of the deal opponents. Quinnipiac University and Siena College polls this week found a majority of New York voters have Amazon remorse, with the Siena poll indicating that a plurality of voters thought Ocasio-Cortez was most to blame.

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