Friday, February 15

ByKevin Sheekey

Don’t Be My Valentine…

A day that history may remember.

Amazon finally had it. After selecting New York City for its workforce and pipeline for talent, local politicians who either don’t know or don’t care about the future overplayed their hand and pushed them out. If local leaders had been able to separate the issue of incentives from the clear need for tech jobs in this city, perhaps the results could have been different.

Today’s New York Times Editorial page drew attention to Mayor de Blasio’s response: “You have to be tough to make it in New York City,” the Mayor boasted, choosing to jeer at Amazon as it canceled its plans on Thursday. “What a strange thing for the mayor to take pride in… Now think how much tougher it’ll become for the typical citizen — not the ones who ride in chauffeured government cars — if New York gets a reputation for the smugness of its politicians and their hostility to business,” the Times said. And the Daily News called the situation a “cataclysmic failure of New York progressives.”

Historian Ken Jackson had it right in his New York Times oped this week: You can haggle about incentives or think they’re too much. You can even find them objectionable. But New York City needs the jobs – and the jobs those support. The leaders of the local tenants associations of the New York City Housing Association, who saw jobs on their way, weighed in, saying political leaders “put their political interests above their constituents” and “never asked what we, the people of NYCHA, actually wanted.”

The bad news is that history may remember this as a moment NYC turned a corner, and not a good one. As my friend Vishaan Chakrabarti commented: “While those who arrived here in the last decade have only experienced a city of brutal housing prices and overcrowded subways, the periods of post-industrial decline that led to the ravages of the 1970s — not to mention our destabilization after 9/11 — are reminders that no economy ever travels exclusively upward.” Those not old enough to have walked City streets alone in the 1970s and 80s don’t remember when gentrification was a good word.

The Financial Times summed it up: “The decision has dealt a painful blow to a campaign begun under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, following the 2008 financial crisis, to transform New York from a city reliant on Wall Street and real estate to one that is also a world leader in technology. Seth Pinsky, Bloomberg’s former head of economic development issued an ominous warning: ‘The opponents of Amazon who are celebrating today would do well to understand that, as hard as the challenges associated with growth are to deal with, the challenges associated with decline are much harder to deal with.’”

But there is still good news: With the opening of Cornell Tech and other engineering schools in the city, New York has already built a strong talent pipeline that has transformed the city into a powerful global tech hub. That vision, which was pioneered by Mike Bloomberg more than a decade ago, will keep New York City a thriving global technology hub well into the future, with or without politicians who would rather score political headlines then enact real change.

Today’s headlines:

Two Weeks to Save Brexit Deal: Theresa May Scrambles for Brexit Compromise With the EU (Bloomberg)

Trump’s Border ‘Emergency’: Lawmakers, Landowners and States Line Up to Sue (Bloomberg)

Kashmir Attack Latest: Narenda Modi Vows Terrorists Will Pay as Pakistan Blamed for Attack (Bloomberg)

Trade Today: President Xi Jinping Hails Progress in Trade Talks as U.S. Cites ‘Much Work’ Ahead (Bloomberg)


Weekend reads.

Millennial Socialism: A new kind of left-wing doctrine is emerging. It is not the answer to capitalism’s problems (The Economist)

Tech Read: The Secret History of Women in Coding (New York Times magazine)

How Automation Creates More Jobs: It Takes People to Make Digital Technologies Work (Bloomberg Businessweek)

One Week Until the Oscars: The Case for Roma Winning Best Picture, and Five More 2019 Oscars Predictions (Esquire)


Best of late night.

On El Chapo’s conviction:

“Here’s the scary thing; he is the master of escape, you know that? Yeah, in the past he’s gotten out of 2 high-security prisons, and even more impressive, he once got out of his contract with 24-hour Fitness.”
— Conan O’Brien

On Valentine’s Day:

“Today was Valentine’s Day. The one day a year that we celebrate the miracle of same-day delivery.”
— Seth Meyers

“Speaking of Valentine’s Day, did you hear this? Kanye West surprised Kim Kardashian on Valentine’s day by having Kenny G play in their home. Yeah, so that marriage is over.”
— Conan O’Brien

For more best of late night, click here.