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Amazon critic appointed to key N.Y. board that could kill HQ2 deal

By Clyde Hughes
Amazon critic appointed to key N.Y. board that could kill HQ2 deal
Pedestrians walk near proposed office space for Amazon headquarters campus in Crystal City, Va., on November 13. Amazon also chose a location in New York City for a similar campus. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Amazon's big move to open another headquarters in New York City has become a little less certain.

New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris, one of the most vocal opponents of the deal, was recommended to a key state board Monday -- a panel that wields the authority to kill the deal.

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The new Democratic majority in the New York State Senate placed Gianaris on the three-member Public Authorities Control Board. Any member has the power to block projects that come before it. The board controls a $505 million construction grant for the Amazon project.

The retail giant announced the New York City location last year along with a site in the Washington, D.C., for its expansion, known as HQ2.

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Fourteen years ago, the same board upended plans for a new sports stadium in Manhattan pushed by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The deal could give the e-commerce giant $3 billion in state and city incentives and create 25,000 to 40,000 jobs in Queens' community of Long Island City.

"Deputy Majority Leader Gianaris will add a helpful voice to the Public Authorities Control Board," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said. "Now is a crucial time for our state and he will bring an important perspective and accountability to this board as it reviews numerous projects."

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Gianaris said while the state's development proposal is still being put together, he opposes what's been submitted publicly so far.

"My position on the Amazon deal is clear and unambiguous and is not changing," Gianaris said. "I'm not looking to negotiate a better deal. I am against the deal that has been proposed."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spearheaded the Amazon deal with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, could have a say in the matter by rejecting Gianaris's appointment. Experts say, though, he would risk alienating his new majority in the Senate.

Some leaders and residents have expressed concern about the move, saying Amazon may be overselling the benefits of the project.

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