Thursday, February 03, 2022

Rotterdam May Dismantle Part of Bridge for Jeff Bezos’ Superyacht. (NY Times)

Yet more evidence of the predatory nature of monopolist AMAZON and its cartelist founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. I have not bought anything from AMAZON in years, due to its monopolization, mistreatment of small businesses and consumers (including a fraudulent $75 charge to me for Prime several years ago).  I learned during the AMAZON Prime contretemps that in 2015, Bezos hired the former Deputy Chief of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, Jeffrey A. Goldberg, as Associate General Counsel for Litigation and Regulatory issues. What a waste of a good education.

Speaking of bumptious billionaires, our St. Augustine City Manager, John Patrick Regan, P.E., said during a City Commission meeting last year that he was in touch with "three billionaires" interested in St. Augustine. Hopefully the "three billionaires" don't include Bezos and they won't try to rob and rape and murder our Nation's Oldest City, or try to take apart our beloved Bridge of Lions for their benefit. 

Bezos "bears watchin'," as they say in East Tennessee. 

From The New York Times: 

Rotterdam May Dismantle Part of Bridge for Jeff Bezos’ Superyacht

The Dutch city of Rotterdam walked back earlier comments that the historic Koningshaven Bridge would be briefly dismantled. On Thursday, officials said a decision had not yet been made. 

Officials in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, received a request to dismantle part of the Koningshaven “De Hef” lift bridge to let Jeff Bezos’ new luxury yacht pass.
Officials in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, received a request to dismantle part of the Koningshaven “De Hef” lift bridge to let Jeff Bezos’ new luxury yacht pass.
Credit...Sebastien Bozon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Dutch city of Rotterdam on Thursday walked back plans to dismantle part of the historic Koningshaven Bridge so that a superyacht built for Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, could pass through the city’s river, saying that a decision had not yet been made.

This week, city officials had told the news media that Rotterdam had agreed to briefly dismantle the middle section of the 95-year-old bridge for the yacht’s passage this summer. 

But on Thursday evening, officials said in another statement that the city had not yet approved the plan, though it had received a request from the shipbuilder to temporarily lift the middle part of bridge. 

The city’s statement said the full cost of the dismantling, if approved, would be covered by the shipbuilder. The bridge, known locally as “De Hef,” would be restored immediately afterward.

A city spokeswoman had said that she did not have an estimate of how much the deconstruction would cost. The city statement said that officials would assess the environmental and economic effects of the plans.

A representative for Amazon did not respond to requests for comment about the cost or the yacht’s destination. A spokeswoman for Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht company that is building the boat, said in an email that she could not comment on projects under construction or clients because of confidentiality reasons.

Boat International, which publishes articles about the superyacht industry, reported that the 417-foot sailboat is set to become the largest sailing yacht in the world when it is finished later this year, surpassing the Sea Cloud, a 360-foot sailboat built in 1931 and owned by the Yacht Portfolio, an investment company based in Malta.

The superyacht Mr. Bezos commissioned is likely to cost more than $500 million to build, Bloomberg reported. Mr. Bezos is the world’s second-richest person, after Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk.

The bridge, which has a boat clearance of 130 feet, is not currently in use. A Rotterdam tour guide, Eddy le Couvreur, said that the bridge, designed by the Dutch architect Pieter Joosting and a fixture in the Rotterdam skyline, was once used for railway traffic. A vertical lift bridge, it was the first of its kind in the Netherlands, and was copied from similar bridges in the United States. The modern industrial aesthetics of the bridge inspired a short film in 1928, he said.

Until now, tall ships passed under the bridge before assembling their masts and taller structures, he said.

Dennis Tak, a Labor Party city councilor for Rotterdam, said he was fine with the bridge being dismantled — since the city would not be paying for it — because of the jobs the process would create. “As a city, this is a great way to take some of his money,” Mr. Tak said.

The structure is more than a bridge to the people of Rotterdam, said Siebe Thissen, the author of the book “The Boy Who Jumped From the Bridge,” about a working-class man who jumped from the bridge in 1933. “It’s a monument,” he said. “It’s the identity of Rotterdam.”

When city officials tried to take the bridge down in the 1990s since it was no longer in use, there were major protests, he said, calling the bridge a reminder of “the old days” in Rotterdam.

“I think that’s why there is so much turmoil about Jeff Bezos and his boat,” he said, before referring to accusations against Amazon. “People say, ‘Why this guy?’ It’s a working-class town, and they all know that Jeff Bezos, of course, he exploits his workers, so people say, ‘Why should this guy be able to demolish the bridge for his boat?’”

As of Thursday, more than 600 Facebook users said they would attend an event, titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” where they plan to gather by the bridge to throw eggs at the boat. “Rotterdammers are proud of their city and don’t tear down iconic buildings just because you are super rich,” said Pablo Strörmann, the event organizer, who said he started the Facebook group “mostly” as a joke. 

Mr. le Couvreur, who works for the company Tours by Locals, which connects tourists with local guides, said that Rotterdammers would likely enjoy the international attention that the spectacle had brought, he said. “On the other hand, it shows the unimaginable wealth that people like Bezos have created for themselves, that nothing can stand in the way for them living out their dreams and hobbies,” he said, adding that the outlook was “worlds apart from those who will be watching the ship pass through the city.”

Claire Moses contributed reporting.

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