Could Gianaris veto Amazon HQ2?

State Sen. Michael Gianaris calls on supporters to remove the Amazon app from their phones as he address a coalition rally in November.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris calls on supporters to remove the Amazon app from their phones as he address a coalition rally in November.
Bebeto Matthews/AP/Shutterstock
State Sen. Michael Gianaris calls on supporters to remove the Amazon app from their phones as he address a coalition rally in November.

Could Gianaris veto Amazon HQ2?

One of the few public officials who have taken up arms in the fight has been given a seat on the Public Authorities Control Board.
February 5, 2019

Critics of Amazon may have just found a silver bullet to block the plan to build the company’s new headquarters in Long Island City. On Monday, the state Senate nominated Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens – one of HQ2’s most vocal opponents – to a seat on the Public Authorities Control Board, the state body that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said will have to approve HQ2. Gianaris would be one of the board’s three voting members and would have the power to veto the project.

While many national, state and local politicians have spoken out against plans for a new headquarters – including the $3 billion in tax incentives New York used to woo Amazon – Gianaris is one of the few who have taken up arms in the fight, including engaging in a PR battle of sorts with the tech giant by sending out his own anti-HQ2 mailers to Long Island City residents who have been bombarded with fliers from Amazon extolling HQ2’s benefits. A seat on the Public Authorities Control Board could give Gianaris some real firepower.

Still, it’s not a done deal. While the PACB’s voting members are nominated by the Assembly, state Senate and governor, the governor has to confirm all of them – something it’s not clear Cuomo will do with Gianaris. It’s also not clear what parts of the $3 billion deal the PACB has the authority to veto. The governor’s office has at times argued that the PACB does not have authority over the $505 million state capital grant, while Cuomo later said that it does. While details are hashed out to determine the actual significance of the board, Gianaris is making it clear that he doesn’t see the existing deal as something that can be improved. “I’m not looking to negotiate a better deal,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. “I am against the deal that has been proposed and don’t believe that it can form the foundation of a negotiation.”

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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