To Amazon, love Bill
Amazon’s big new NYC office and associated tax incentives were quickly panned by some local politicians and community activists last year, but just over a week after the deal was announced Mayor Bill de Blasio was still sounding jovial in an email to Amazon executives.
“We're very glad everything worked out, and you'll be part of the NYC community,” wrote de Blasio. “Much to discuss about how we can start working together, particularly in Long Island City.”
The mayor signed off, “Best, Bill”.
That was in response to Thanksgiving greetings from top Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, who thanked de Blasio for his support: “We are thrilled to become a bigger part of the Long Island City community and for the growth opportunities to come.”
The Point received the emails as per a Freedom of Information Law request for communications between the mayor’s office and Amazon leading up to the deal. The documents show de Blasio took steps to keep the high-stakes deal under wraps. For an October meeting with Amazon, de Blasio aides suggested Gracie Mansion “as a venue that will ensure confidentiality,” saying the meeting would only be on his private schedule.
The email trove also shows the lengths Amazon went to in pitching the city on its services, apart from the new Long Island City “headquarters.”
That included a “Diaper Bank” partnership to provide diapers to “young parents in need.” Amazon would deliver diapers to a locker that could be opened with a code, which the city would provide to the needy parent.
A de Blasio spokeswoman says the diaper idea didn’t materialize.
And while de Blasio claimed in 2017 that he “never ordered from Amazon,” his office apparently operated differently. The FOIL documents include the city’s 2017 request to get a tax refund on its Amazon orders for a few official government purchases. Sellers included “Prime Office Supplies” and “Top Grade Goods.”
All about NYS at the Golden Globes
Among the big winners at Sunday night’s Golden Globes: Bohemian Rhapsody, Glenn Close and… New York State?
Indeed, Empire State Development, the state’s economic arm, didn’t waste any time noting its connection to the flashy awards night. In its own acceptance speech in the form of a press release Monday morning, Empire State noted that four of the winners were filmed in New York and participated in the state’s film tax credit program.
That program was responsible for $4 billion in new spending and nearly 223,000 new jobs, Empire State said. But the state took particular pride in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Americans,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Escape at Dannemora” - all of which took home trophies, and benefited from the tax credit program.
That number, however, does not count the valuable in-kind gift by the NYS Department of Corrections to the Dannemora producers. Without their lax prison oversight, there would have been no escape to make a movie about.
Randi F. Marshall
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Off the rails
- Long Island Railroad officials are investigating the causes of two derailments last week and say they’ll use the results to prevent such incidents from happening again. Wanna bet?
- After President Donald Trump said U.S. troops were coming home from Syria in 30 days, National Security Adviser John Bolton tied to reassure allies by saying the troops would come back only when the Islamic State is completely defeated and other conditions are met. Whew, glad that’s all cleared up. But wait, John Bolton is now the voice of reason and assurance on U.S. foreign policy? But wait, wasn’t pulling out of Syria quickly the cause of former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation?
- Looks like Democratic operatives used tactics employed by Russian disinformation teams to try to help elect Doug Jones in Alabama’s 2017 U.S. Senate race. Now they’re denying the extent of what they did and saying Jones’ victory was due to other reasons — also just like the Russians.
- President Donald Trump says his border wall “will pay for itself many times over the course of this year.” So he doesn’t need Mexico or the Democrats to pay for it?
- White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he has “no idea” who President Donald Trump was talking about when Trump said some former presidents told him they wished they had built a border wall while in office. That’s OK, Mick, Trump doesn’t, either.
- In the Congo, the government has postponed the release of results from last week’s long-delayed presidential election, which some Congolese say is a ruse to give the sitting president’s party time to manipulate the results. And you thought Florida was bad?
- The upset win by “Bohemian Rhapsody” star Rami Malek over Bradley Cooper of “A Star is Born” left Cooper asking: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” And when Malek’s film shocked Cooper’s flick for best drama, the entire “A Star is Born” team realized it was “caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.” But then, that’s the essence of the unpredictable Globes: “Any way the wind blows.”