Wednesday’s Headlines: We’re Crashing from the Amazon Sweetheart Deal Edition

The sugary deal between Amazon and the city and state dominated Tuesday’s coverage, with most wags (including Streetsblog) casting a dubious eye on how much money Gov. Cuomo is spending to lure 25,000 jobs to Long Island City. We defy you to find a better curated list of coverage of the Amazon-sized Amazon announcement. Here’s our rundown:

In other news:

  • Reinvent Albany hammered the MTA on delays on signal improvements.
  • Every cyclist in town rightly lost his shit over this flameout by the NYPD’s Sixth Precinct, which gleefully tweeted a picture of one of its officers blocking a bike lane to give a cyclist a ticket — the same precinct, Doug Gordon pointed out, that has written all of six parking-in-a-bike-lane tickets this year.
  • Friend of Streetsblog Ed Janoff, an urban planner and former DOT official, penned an op-ed on how much he hates Penn Station. (NYDN)
  • The Daily News had a third day of coverage of a Queens hit-and-run victim, further evidence that some victims get more coverage than others.
  • The MTA is buying Grand Central Terminal (no, it didn’t own it, silly). (NYDN)
  • Oh, and it’s supposed to snow on Thursday. (NY Post, amNY)
  • Larry Littlefield

    I can’t believe Flushing CBTC is not done. I was involved with budget documents when I worked there in 2003, before I left to run against the state legislature.

    My concern was the future was being robbed with soaring debts and pension increases, among other things. But more money doesn’t help if my former colleagues physically cannot get the job done.

    I think the whole effort, as it was originally conceived, has to be reconsidered and some new breakthrough pursued. This was supposed to be the second of three “pilot projects” after which CBTC was supposed to be fast and cheap.

    1) Canarsie line — fully independent, two track.
    2) Flushing line — fully independent, but with three tracks and mergers.
    3) Culver line — three tracks merging into other lines.

    If they are still using the old block signals on the Flushing line, they were installed in 1917, and I was told that replacing them ASAP was a necessity — in 2003.

  • AnoNYC

    The Citigroup tower isn’t the tallest building on Long Island or in Queens.

  • Maggie

    The Walk Street Journal link you have is paywalled but wow, is that rage-inducing. Who exactly is this deal supposed to benefit?

    Quite convenient timing for Cuomo that he arranged in secret to lavish these billions on Amazon executives and then announced them to us taxpayers just AFTER the election. If he’s so proud of them, why not let the voters weigh in.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Cuomo and DeBlasio are stuck in a mindset where NY city and state have to beg for jobs.

    Whereas in the wake of Generation Greed, and with the labor force shrinking in many parts of the country, the real issue is who will have young workers, and to what extent will they be stuck with Generation Greed’s public liabilities.

    Bezos knows this. No matter how much they are abused, squeezed, and exploited, young adults continue to flock here. Perhaps for tribalist reasons, with The Donald driving them to seek safe harbor.

    That’s why Amazon is coming.

  • Maggie

    There’s more to this than pension liability. I’ll start with housing affordability (contrary to public belief, having a Girl Scout troop just for homeless schoolchildren isn’t a civic success), widening income inequality (an average $150K income across 100 workers can shake out as 30 people earning $420K each and 70 people earning $35K each), fairness to all of NYC’s private sector employers, the impact to mom and pop retail, and tech sector equality of hiring for women and POC.

  • sbauman

    I can’t believe Flushing CBTC is not done.

    As of this morning, CBTC is operational on all tracks between Main St and the 1st Ave interlocking, just east of the Grand Central stop. They have disabled and/or removed the existing block signals on this portion.

    If they are still using the old block signals on the Flushing line, they were installed in 1917

    The signals on the Flushing Line were replaced in the early 1950’s. They handled 36 tph until the 1970’s budget crisis reduced peak service levels for the entire system.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “There’s more to this than pension liability. I’ll start with housing affordability.”

    As I’ve noted, back in the 1970s, following the first round of soaring debts, and retroactive pension increases, taxes soared and public services collapsed — but real estate was cheap.

    Now we have repeated that pillage on the public side — but real estate is expensive. Perhaps never in history have the two interests that dominate the state legislature — the public unions and contractors, and the real estate industry, squeezed as much out of the serfs at the same time!

    The public sector disaster is taking place in more places. And the best way to fight it is to not buy Generation Greed’s houses until the price falls so low that you are taking back in housing costs everything they have taken from you in government. But the government is doing all it can to make younger people buy and overpay!

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m afraid you are mistaken. They did the rest of the IRT in the early 1950s, but not the Flushing line.

    Remember I worked there, in the signal replacement program, and I have an asset database spreadsheet with the installation dates for signals on each stretch of track current through 2003 — and apparently far too close to current through 2018.

  • Joe R.

    The housing issue is larger than you think. There are a fair number of people in the city who couldn’t afford to buy where they’re living now. The only reason they haven’t been forced out is because they’re living in a paid-for house or apartment. Those who are renting are the ones who end up getting forced out first when housing prices rise. However, make no mistake, as those who own something die off or move out, the city will slowly but surely end up a city only of the rich, and the very poor who qualify for public housing.

    Amazon is only going to make this situation worse by driving up housing prices further. Maybe NYC needs to rethink whether or not more people coming here is a good thing. With our transportation systems already overloaded, I’m of the opinion it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we lost 1 or 2 million people. That would at least send housing prices back down to Earth.

  • Joe R.

    Exactly why I tell people to hold off buying a house now. The prices are roughly 3 times what they should be corrected for inflation. They may not fall to 1/3 of what they are, but sooner or later this bubble will burst. Hopefully it’ll happen before your Generation Greed has a chance to cash in their overpriced houses.

  • sbauman
  • Larry Littlefield

    Only subscribers, I guess.

  • sbauman

    Here’s the article’s text.

    NY Times published March 9, 1954

    Train Identity Signals to Aid Flushing Riders

    The installation of a completely automatic signal system for the Flushing Line of the I.R.T. subway will be started in two weeks. Announcement of the first stp in the $9,028,995 centralized traffic control system was made yesterday ty the Union Switch Division of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, the successful low bidder.

    The project is part of the New York City Transit Authority’s capital program to provide better and faster service, according to Sidney H. Bingham, general manager of the authority. A feature of the new signal operation will be a train identification system that will enable passengers to wait in sheltered areas until the train is announced.

  • Joe R.

    What annoyed me the most reading that article is you’ll probably have a lot of people buying condos who won’t even be living in them. They’ll remain empty, solely used for investment purposes, in the midst of a housing crisis. NYC should require that any sold apartment or condo be occupied. I’m all for letting the homeless live in these “investment” units.

    I really hate real estate speculators. The entire process should be illegal. Maybe we should institute a special tax to prevent it. If you sell property less than 5 years after you buy it, the city takes a tax of 90% on your gains. Flipping properties is something which has negative societal benefit, except for the people doing it.

  • walks bikes drives

    But Larry only cares about pension liability. He works that into EVERYTHING.

  • Joe R.

    Because it’s the one thing most likely to blow up in our faces. Remember, pensions are funded with certain expectations in mind. The primary ones are expected rates of return, and expected lifespans of retirees. At best these two things are educated guesses. At worst they’re pulling numbers out of your behind. Take Social Security as an example. At the time it was implemented more than half the people paying in wouldn’t live long enough to get anything back. It was much the same with pensions. When people started living longer, they made some adjustments, but not enough to keep the promised benefits.

    Now think what may happen if something which dramatically slows down, even eliminates/reverses aging, hits the market. It doesn’t even need to be a fountain of youth. Let’s say we’re able to cure most cancers and eliminate most heart disease. Let’s also say the livable streets movement and autonomous vehicles succeed in making road fatalities a rare occurrence. Combined, these things will extend average life spans 15 to 25 years. All you rprevious pension planning is down the tubes. You now have huge unfunded liabilities. While maybe you can raise the retirement age to 85 for new workers, you’re not going to ask someone who just retired at 55 to work another 30 years before getting a pension.

    All of the above are really why I’m 100% against defined benefit plans (as opposed to defined contribution plans). Even slight errors in your assumptions can result in huge unfunded liabilities. The smartest thing the city can do is to buy out everyone with a pension plan. Give them a lump sum of cash, to invest as they choose, and get out of this dangerous game.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    AZ will use the “HQ-2s” to game more concessions from Seattle and Washington state. I would be floored if more than 2500 jobs are added between LIC and NoVa. The corporate overlords went ballistic when Seattle tried to implement a head tax on employers to fund homeless programs.

    The main priority of the corp. world is to offshore any job possible, all these projections of added jobs in NYC in order to justify a new Hudson tunnel are bogus.
    Take a look at all the welfare Boeing received in order to keep jobs around Puget Sound. The numbers were a flop and Boeing gamed them by opening a plant in So. Carolina.
    How is that new 737 Max working out for the Boeing brass ??

  • J. Geoff Rove

    Seems they had 3 years of “software problems”. Could this be the poor performance at peek loading that many “object oriented” systems experience today ?? Like the original ObamaCare website flop.