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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at a shareholder meeting in 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

As CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz grew his company alongside another massive Seattle-based corporation: Amazon.

The two ambitious companies took different paths to dominance. Starbucks set out to open a coffee shop on every corner. Amazon’s appetite for tech talent grew so large the company planned to open a second headquarters, spread across two locations. Then last week, Amazon abruptly pulled out of the New York office it had planned in the face of opposition from activists and local officials.

Schultz sees the decision to push back against Amazon as a mistake — and a call to action.

In a letter published Monday, Schultz called out the politicians who resisted Amazon’s plans to open a 25,000 person office in Queens in exchange for hefty tax incentives.

“Far-left activists succeeded in forcing Amazon to abandon plans to create a second headquarters in the New York City area, which would have brought 25,000 jobs and injected billions of dollars into the local economy,” Schultz wrote. “Where has common sense gone?”

Schultz is “seriously considering” running for president as an independent and the left isn’t the only side of the political spectrum to earn his ire. Amazon HQ2 is one of two “stark examples of the cost of extreme ideologies” Schultz calls out in his letter.

He also criticized President Donald Trump, saying he “recklessly declared a national emergency so he can raid the budget for our military to start construction on his foolish and unnecessary border wall.”

New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris hosted a rally protesting Amazon HQ2 in November. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Amazon’s decision to pull out of New York has become a lightning rod, celebrated by some as a victory and mourned by others as a failure. What actually transpired is a bit more nuanced than Schultz claims.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio made a deal with Amazon that would provide up to $3 billion in tax incentives and allow the company to circumvent the traditional land-use process. Elected officials and activists from Amazon’s future neighborhood protested the deal’s lack of transparency and high price tag. Then a key leader of the opposition movement was named to an oversight board with the power to vote down the project. Amid talks with New York leaders and community officials, Amazon announced the deal was off, according to de Blasio.

Still, Schultz sees the collapse of Amazon’s New York “HQ2” as a sign that America needs more moderate leadership.

“I have come to feel a deep responsibility and moral obligation to address Americans’ frustrations with our broken two-party system,” he wrote.

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