Wednesday, February 20, 2019

School Scope: Ulrich Attacks Anti-Amazons as NIMBYS While He Joins NIMBY Protest of Rockaway Shelter By Norm Scott

I wrote this story which will appear in this Friday's (Feb. 22) edition of The WAVE about my Republican - yes Republican - local city Councilman - Eric Ulrich - who has ambitions to be mayor and is using the public advocate race as a base. As the only Republican against 17 Dems, people in Rockaway are giving him a chance. Then came the Amazon story and Eric (who I like personally and feel he does a good job repping us) wrote a letter to The WAVE excoriating the anti-Amazon crowd of Dems.

Then I opened the NYT today to see a front page link  to P. 21 - A Prime Advantage - speculating that Eric's pro-Amazon stance gives him a real shot to win the public advocate race - imagine a Republican in that position - and get your ass out to vote - preferably for Jumaane Williams. The Times piece is worth reading before you read my column below. 

Can a Republican Win a Citywide Race in N.Y.? Maybe, With Amazon’s Help

And Leonie has an excellent piece on Nyet to Amazon:

School Scope: Ulrich Attacks Anti-Amazons as NIMBYS While He Joins NIMBY Protest of Rockaway Shelter
By Norm Scott

“Long before Amazon announced that New York had won a share of its second-headquarters sweepstakes, tech was a rising force in the local economy. Google, which already has thousands of workers in New York, plans to double its work force in the city and build a $1 billion campus just south of the West Village. Facebook, Apple, Uber and other companies are also expanding their presences, as is a rising generation of homegrown companies. Even Amazon itself said Thursday that it planned to keep adding to its New York work force.”… Even Without Amazon, Tech Could Keep Gaining Ground in New York, NYT, Feb. 15, 2019.

Oh the anguish, the weeping, the rending of garments over Amazon’s walking away from the Cuomo-DeBlasio gift of three billion bucks. Our local city councilman, Eric Ulrich, running for Public Advocate, seemed particularly upset in his letter to The WAVE: “Now What Dopes? It never ceases to amaze me how the loud voices of the few, could destroy the chance for a better life for so many…. I doubt the NIMBYS [Not in my back yard] have another company willing to create 25,000 good paying jobs.”

At the same time Ulrich joined hundreds of Rockaway NIMBYs protesting the shelter on 101St. Sometimes NIMBYS need to be listened too, not denigrated for trying to protect their neighborhoods. There is a connection to the Amazon and shelter stories. Has anyone checked the awful homeless situation in Seattle, due in part to Amazon? My first thought when I heard of the Amazon deal was a guaranteed bump in homelessness in NYC. At the very least, Amazon could have offered to build some shelters in their new neighborhood. From the NYT: In a typical month, a top Long Island City real estate broker sells about 40 condos. In December, after Amazon announced that it was coming to Queens, he sold 300 units. Nice – for landlords and profiteers. Ulrich is running for public advocate on the grounds he will be a check on the mayor but when activists tried to be a check on the mayor and governor, he mocks them. Eric needs a primer on capitalism: It’s about profit and paying workers as little as possible, which is easy when unchecked by unions, increases profit. Dave Leonhardt in the NYT wrote: “Thank You, New York - The city did the rest of the country a favor. Corporate-relocation handouts are terrible economic policy.” He called it corporate welfare and anti-capitalist, socialism for corporations.

How would Rockaway, Howard Beach or Ozone Park react if Amazon planted itself in their midst without offering improvements in transportation or offering to build a few schools to handle the children of its new employees, or contribute to fire and police or roads? Amazon just took and gave nothing. Transit and traffic is already a mess. Rents are out of whack and the middle class is being hollowed out and pushed out of the city. But Amazon did offer to teach kids coding. Big whoopee.

Ulrich is willing to believe Amazon. Sure, all those jobs are really high paying, while in so many Amazon workplaces there are workers on welfare, the Staten Island Amazon gulag, for example. Ulrich supports the Amazon deal despite its vicious anti-unionism. Guess what? Unionized workers actually do get higher paying jobs. He also seems to support the secretive undercover process Cuomo and De Blasio engaged in. Ulrich doesn’t seem to like that we have the right to vet these agreements and question corporate giveaways that have been so disappointing. (See Foxconn in Wisconsin.)

There’s a lot more depth to this situation that needed to be explored but Amazon doesn’t want spotlights on them. There are fears Amazon would be recruiting workers globally and displace longtime residents from LIC, many of whom are working class. Transit and traffic is already a mess in LIC. Rents are out of whack and pushing people out of the area. Activists like congresswoman AOC have changed the rules of engagement which have favored unfettered growth and secret arrangements by politicians and corporations. Amazon wanted no oversight. Their response to having the deal questioned was tepid and anti-democratic. There is a vetting process. That is democracy. Amazon may have even gotten it passed with some modifications due to support from Cuomo and de Blasio but only wants to do business behind closed doors. So Amazon walked. Good riddance.

Norm gripes daily at his blog at

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