On November 9th, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer made a series of Tweets regarding Amazon setting up a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. On the surface he is trying to position himself as a progressive who is coming out in opposition to Amazon. However, we understand these comments to be political doublespeak – Van Bramer is a mainstream, establishment Democrat who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from real estate. He claims that he isn’t taking money from real estate anymore, but some of the money raised in previous cycles has transferred over to his Borough President campaign.
We would like to begin by sharing a quote from Van Bramer in full support of Amazon from a Queens Chronicle article published in October of 2017:
“I am excited to see the New York City Economic Development Corporation recognize in their proposal what thousands of New Yorkers have been recognizing for years now: that Long Island City and Western Queens as a whole are among New York City’s most dynamic and innovative neighborhoods,” Van Bramer said in an emailed statement. “I am an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal, and of any plan to bring good paying jobs to my district. I think it is clear that Amazon HQ2 would be an ideal fit for Long Island City and for the entire borough of Queens. I look forward to working with the Economic Development Corporation in the months to come to support Long Island City’s proposal.
Here we will address his recent comments, tweet by tweet:
“Bypassing ULURP isn’t just about trying to get around me, it’s a direct assault on community engagement and consultation on a project that would change the face of Queens. #AmazonHQ2”
Right off the bat, Jimmy Van Bramer is calling for a community engagement process. It is very important for people to understand that this is NOT a statement opposing Amazon. It is a statement opposing Amazon happening without going through ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process). For those who don’t know what ULURP is, it is the mandatory public review process that takes place for most land use proposals, such as rezonings or major developments such as this one.
The unpleasant fact about ULURP is that once a plan enters ULURP, its chances of passing become overwhelmingly likely. A vast majority of proposals that enter ULURP are approved regardless of community opposition. Van Bramer is aware of this fact. If Amazon enters into ULURP, regardless of what the community board says, it has no veto power, which means if the politicians want Amazon, and they are all on record saying they do, then we will get an Amazon.
Public review is being used as a facade by Van Bramer. It allows him to tacitly support Amazon while pretending to oppose it.
“It’s outrageous, secretive and the height of corporate Democrats tripping over themselves to provide corporate welfare to the richest man in the world without any community review or votes.”
Jimmy Van Bramer is a corporate Democrat. He has been proclaimed the “Champion of the Long Island City Partnership,” a Business Improvement District organization that touts board members from Bank of America, CitiBank, Jet Blue, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and several other corporate behemoths. Throughout his career, he has routinely made keynote addresses at real estate conferences, and is on the record praising the development that has taken place thus far in Long Island City. He mentions community review, but does not oppose Amazon.
“Amazon Cuomo has every right to sell his individual naming rights but we will challenge his ability to sell Queens without review.”
Again, Van Bramer positions himself opposite Governer Cuomo in order to appear the progressive good guy. However, he admits in plain English here that Cuomo’s attempt to sell Queens is all well and good, as long as it goes through a rigged review process.
“I call on @NYCMayor to reject the @NYGovCuomo’s desire to bypass ULURP, the local Community Board, the Borough President, City Planning and yes, the local Councilmember & @NYCCouncil. The Mayor must not be a party to this undemocratic process.”
Here Van Bramer makes his final call for public review. As previously explained, ULURP itself is an undemocratic process, and the pro-real estate Mayor, City Council, and Department of City Planning are not going to save us by being included in this proposal.
What we are demanding from Jimmy Van Bramer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and all other Queens politicians, is an unconditional opposition to Amazon. We cannot fall for the political doublespeak and pseudo-progressivism of the Democratic Party. If Van Bramer cannot take a genuine stand against Amazon, we call for his resignation. Liars don’t represent us.
To get involved in the campaign against Amazon, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org