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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

February 14, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Okay, we're ready for some questions.

Question: Mr. Mayor, what do you think about Amazon backing out of the deal?

Mayor: Look, New York City gave Amazon a real opportunity here and all we asked was that they'd be a good neighbor and be part of the community, and clearly they weren't ready to do that. It's very disappointing. There was no dialogue; there was no effort to work together. I don't understand it, I really don't. Yeah, we are a tough city, but they should have known that coming in and, you know, other people will take their place.

Question: And do you think this is really the end of HQ2 in New York?

Mayor: From everything I've heard today, yes.

Question: Who do you think is to blame for the deal falling through?

Mayor: Look, it's Amazon's choice in the end. I mean, they created a national competition – you can talk about why they even had the right to do that, but that's the reality of our country right now. I don't think it's really fair to pit city against city and state against state, but that's the rules of the game right now. And everyone played by those rules and they got a fair deal. So, sure, there was some voices that raised critiques, but that's part of democracy. I really think in the end this was Amazon's choice that it was a huge mistake and they have to be held accountable for their own decisions.

Question: The Governor’s – the Governor’s blaming those politicians and folks from New York City for them backing out. You're blaming the company.

Mayor: The company had the power to make the decision, not the politicians. I think a lot of those politicians were mistaken. I think they did not value the jobs and they didn't understand that constituents needed those jobs and we needed that revenue to keep being a city that really works to help people. But no – in the end, let's be clear, Amazon had the power to make this decision. They had the power to come and have a conversation about things they want to address, if they were so concerned. There wasn't a shred of dialog. Out of nowhere, they just took their ball and went home.

Question: When you do become aware that the deal was in jeopardy and would you have done anything to save it?

Mayor: Late this morning for the very first time – no warning, no dialog, just a [inaudible]. And I had had a conversation with a senior Amazon official 48 hours ago and there was no indication of this kind of problem. And I think it's really unfair to the people in New York City that they would just make such a decision so arbitrary.

Question: How’d you learn about it?

Mayor: Got a phone call from a senior Amazon executive just as the rumors were starting to come out. There was no dialog, there was no effort to talk about, well, how could we avoid this problem? What can we do to fix this? It was just, they made a decision and they really didn't care about talking to the rest of us.

Question: And what was your immediate reaction [inaudible] otherwise?

Mayor: I was flabbergasted. I said, you know, why on earth after all the efforts that we all have put in would you simply walk away? It doesn't make sense given everything that has been done here. And that if they had a concern, why didn't we talk about it and try to address it? But you know, it's clear they made up their mind on their own, and if that's the way they thought they could be a part of our community, it probably wasn't going to work out anyway – if they thought they could just be an island and not a part of our city. You know, there's plenty of other tech community – I should say tech companies – there’s plenty of other tech companies that are good neighbors in New York City, that are very active in the community. We have Google, that just expanded – announced a major expansion in New York City. We've had none of this drama. You know, everyone else seems to be able to work with the community and work with the local government. The only one that doesn't seem to be able to is Amazon.

Question: Would you give a warning to any city that Amazon decides to send its headquarters to?

Mayor: Yeah, I would say – look, you know, in the end we offered them a chance to work together. We offered them a fair deal, but we wanted them to be a good neighbor. They were not willing to do that. And look, I think it's an unfortunate statement on corporate America, where a corporation thinks they have a right to do this to 8.6 million people. We’re ready to work with them. The polls – we have three separate polls and showed a majority of New Yorkers supported this, believed it would be good for their city, we’re interested in going after those jobs and being a part of that company. They had my strong support. They had the Governor's strong support. I just can't explain what on earth they were thinking, but I think if they can do it to us, other cities should be worried they can do it to them.

Question: [Inaudible] reflection on your leadership?

Mayor: I believe we made a very fair deal – the Governor did, I did. Amazon accepted the deal. I want you to remind you of that – they could have chosen someplace else. They accepted the deal. Everyone stuck to the terms of the deal on the government side. Sometimes there's controversy in life. You deal with it. You work with it. So, I feel like we did what we were supposed to do.

Question: Mr. Mayor, did you underestimate the level of opposition to the deal and could you have done anything to save it?

Mayor: I thought there would be some people who disagree with the deal, but I did not think it would be the level of ended up being – but that's not the issue to me. It's a democratic society, people can offer their viewpoints. That's fine. In the end, the government of New York City, the government of New York State made an agreement with Amazon, stuck to the agreement. I don't know how someone just walks away with no dialog. I don't know how a company just up and leaves without even an attempt to work out their concerns – that’s the root of the problem here.

Thank you, everyone.

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