The New York State Senate has appointed a vociferous critic of Amazon “HQ2” deal to the Public Authorities Control Board, which has the power to stop the deal.
I think that there are a couple of things going on here, first the Senate is feeling its oats in challenging a governor of their own party who attempted to keep the body in Republican hands, and second, after the Foxconn debacle in Wisconsin, this deal has become much less popular with the general public.
In either case, :
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and newly emboldened Democrats in the State Senate appeared headed for open warfare on Monday over a plan to bring Amazon to New York City after the Senate leader named a critic of the $3 billion deal to a state board that could scuttle it.
The decision to choose the critic, Senator Michael Gianaris, for the board immediately presented a direct political challenge for Mr. Cuomo — who must decide whether to refuse the Senate’s selection. And it demonstrated the ability of the Democrat-led State Legislature to call into question the governor’s control over the kinds of state boards that, in recent years, he had been mostly able to bend to his will.
Mr. Cuomo could reject the pick, though doing so could create a protracted standoff with the Senate leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and her fellow Democrats. Already, the battle lines were hardening on Monday as Mr. Cuomo’s office reacted angrily to Mr. Gianaris’s appointment.
It was yet another sour note in the Amazon deal. Company executives have bristled at the intense criticism and, last week at a City Council hearing, seemed to float the notion that Amazon could reconsider its commitment to New York.
The ability of a local legislator to block the deal to bring a major new Amazon campus to Long Island City was exactly what Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had tried to avoid when they decided to use a state development process and to bypass more onerous city rules. Opposition, while vocal, seemed futile.
But now, with the insistence of Senate Democrats on appointing Mr. Gianaris to the little-known Public Authorities Control Board, those who want to stop Amazon from coming to Queens have gotten their most tangible boost yet. The board will have to decide on the development plan for Amazon, Mr. Cuomo has said, and could veto it.
The obscure state board does have a history of blocking major deals: 14 years ago, it helped derail former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plans for a new stadium in Manhattan.
He would be one of three voting members of the board; any voting member of the board has the power to stop projects that come before it.
Lawmakers have used the Public Authorities Control Board — whose voting members are appointed by the Senate, the Assembly and the governor — as a roadblock to big projects before. In 2005, Mr. Bloomberg saw his plan for a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan, part of the city’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics, shot down in front of the board by the vote of one state lawmaker, Sheldon Silver, who was then the Assembly speaker. Mr. Silver said he could not support a deal that could harm the district in Lower Manhattan that he represented.
I doesn’t help that Amazon has stated that it will continue to aggressively sabotage any unionization efforts in the state.