As my plane cruised towards Turks & Caicos for a winter break with my children, I heard the awful news that Amazon had backed out of their plans to open a headquarters in our beloved borough of Queens. How shocking on many levels!
We must not give up on Amazon. We must fight to get them back!
I rarely use this space for political talk, but my life has revolved around advocacy, as it’s the reason for ownership of my media company.
When my daughter, Lara, my first born, turned blue in the nursery just minutes after her birth, my life changed forever! My husband and I had to become fighters for her — getting services for a child who would forever be developmentally a three-month old.
Over the ensuing years, we fought the Willowbrook Wars, marching, picketing and finally suing the state and federal government over the maltreatment of Lara and others at Willowbrook State School on Staten Island.
It was a cub reporter in the early 70s named Geraldo Rivera whose unstoppable spirit and passion covered the story of the abuse that was going on at Willowbrook. It brought to light the problems we faced there.
We won and Willowbrook was closed, and today, group homes for the developmentally disabled exist all over our great region. We won the fight.
I feel now that misguided political operatives are abusing their power. I call them operatives rather than leaders because they are so misguided, so short-sighted and so selfish!
State Senator Michael Gianaris, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were outspoken in their opposition to the Amazon project. But they didn’t think of the next generation — they only thought of themselves.
Between myself and my late husbands, Murray and Stu, we have 8 children and 15 grandchildren. I’m invested in making sure their lives can flourish. I know if a city doesn’t grow, it dies.
My son and my business partner, Josh, and I have grown our media company from my living room with one newspaper to today having 75 media outlets with offices in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester and Long Island because that’s how you survive and thrive. My success is the success of my 175 employees.
Then there’s the trickle down effect. Each employee supports shops, restaurants and medical centers. They join social clubs such as the local Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, or participate in nonprofit or religious organizations located near our offices.
The community in general thrives because I have learned that a strong business community makes a strong community overall.
Amazon is more than a successful company. It’s the future of our great borough, our city and our region.
For me, it’s so simple: It’s jobs building careers, and then more jobs with each employee adding to the fiber of our hometowns.
My business colleagues on Long Island were looking with delight at the prospects of Amazon helping their communities too.
I have friends in small businesses on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City who have been hanging on by their fingernails. Business has been challenging but they love the community and have stayed, but struggled, to survive.
Amazon was to be their lifeline.
It’s so sad to see political people I had admired take a “my way or the highway” stand on this project. There were not interested in negotiating. They just wanted the deal off the table to make their own deal.
Maybe the mayor and governor should have included the opponents in more discussions. After all, opponents of the project such as Gianaris, Van Bramer and Johnson had originally signed on to a letter inviting Amazon to our great city.
Despite Amazon’s withdrawal, we can’t give up on the power of a company any city would want because of what it brings to our future.
My plea is that we all fight back and find a way to bring Amazon back to the greatest, the most diverse place on earth. We need them and they need us.
After all, my business success is based on the premise, “When the client says no, the sale begins!”
So let’s begin again. Failure of this project is not a option for me or my children.
Governor Cuomo, make it your legacy to get Amazon back. Be the leader you are and don’t fold — fight!