OP ED

Why many NYC small businesses will not reopen after the coronavirus crisis ends?

 

A Crisis on Top of a Crisis, 

Just too Much. 

 

The Outcome of more than a Decade of Lawmakers Denying Economic Justice to Desperate Small Business Owners.

 

Will the stimulus package be enough to save many small businesses and return them back to "normal"?  For many NYC small business owners a return to normal would mean more closings and a bleak future.  A return to normal would mean a return to a decades’ old ignored growing crisis that was already destroying our city’s very best small businesses by forcing many to close when their leases expired.

 

For the past decade, normal in NYC meant business owners having no rights when their leases expired and facing exorbitant rent increases and appalling lease terms.  Normal meant unscrupulous landlords demanding from mostly immigrant owners their life’s savings in cash or be thrown out of business. Normal meant small business owners who had sacrificed and helped stabilize a community were given only month to month, or one year leases while their landlord looked for richer tenants. Normal meant demanding the tenants paying their landlords’ growing property taxes.  Normal has meant empty stores, sometimes for years, on every block of main streets where once thriving businesses were. Normal meant fear of their future for every small business owner when their leases expired.  Even if there was never a coronavirus crisis, long established NYC small business owners would still be closing in record numbers each month because of the real crisis their government refused to address with any honest real solution.

 

Normal at City Hall would also mean once proud progressive lawmakers abandoning their integrity and values to take the real estate lobby’s campaign funds in order to promote their own political ambitions.  Normal in NYC government means a real estate lobby controlling economic policy to benefit only its members. Normal means Democratic leadership colluding with a real estate lobby to deny economic justice to desperate small business owners.  Normal at City Hall is a decade long charade of worthless bills, fake studies, useless initiatives with good sounding titles, all orchestrated by REBNY to keep the status quo and carried out by its loyal cronies.  Normal at City Hall is rigging the system against mom and pop businesses to stop the only real solution to end their crisis, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Survival Act, a bill giving rights to small business owners to survive. Normal by self proclaimed progressives is to DO NOTHING to save a single small business owner or a single job but sound like you care.

 

As lawmakers debate actions to take to help small businesses survive the coronavirus, it is important to understand the unique situation that exists in NYC and the political control of special interests at City Hall to block any real solutions created to save small businesses. For the past 10 years lawmakers have done nothing to end the small business crisis in NYC and they are disingenuous in their statements today of being committed to save small businesses.   

 

It would be a mistake to compare and treat NYC small businesses like the rest of the nation’s small businesses who experienced a decade of economic prosperity which encouraged small business profits, growth, and very optimistic futures.  For the majority of America’s small businesses they would love to take any help to put the coronavirus crisis behind them and return to normal and restore their American Dream. While other cities’ small businesses were thriving and building successful futures after surviving the great recession, NYC’s businesses were being forced to close in record numbers and their American Dream was being destroyed.  NYC Courts were issuing warrants to vacate commercial property (evicted) on average 470 evictions per MONTH for 10 straight years!  An estimated 170-180 thousand businesses closed and an estimated 1.4-1.6 million New Yorkers lost their jobs!  NYC had the most unstable small business environment in America with repeated businesses opening and quickly closing until every main street was filled with empty stores. In many prime locations it was not uncommon to see as many as five or six businesses open and close over a 10 year period.

 

How is it possible that other city governments are promoting the “backbone of their economy”, their small businesses, while NYC’s government is “doing nothing” and allowing its “backbone” to be destroyed? The answer is simple, while NYC is the epicenter of the Coronavirus in America, it has been for many years the epicenter in the world for real estate speculation. With a history of corrupt party machines in NYC and an abundance of unethical zealous ambitious politicians, it is easy for wealthy lobbies to buy and control lawmakers and thus control economic policy.

 

Why would wealthy people risk investing in NYC and making it the number one city to speculate in?  Because our Democratic leadership  works only for them and takes the risk out of their speculation.  In the process of creating this great environment for real estate speculation, our small business owners became victims of years of unchecked hyper real estate speculation and all the abuses that come with greed.  In NYC it is Speculation vs Capitalism and our empty stores and the Survival Act sitting bottled up in committee show clearly who is winning.

 

These are the only real options to save our small businesses and restore their American Dream.

Firstly, immediate passage of the Survival Act giving all small business owners 10 year leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms allowing for reasonable profits. THIS CAN BE DONE RIGHT NOW! Pass the Survival Act Immediately and the real crisis destroying our small businesses across every community main street in NYC ends! The bill has 29 sponsors and if allowed a vote would easily pass. 

 

Without some predictability of a businesses’ future costs and the right to renewal their leases, all legislation or initiatives will eventually fail and businesses will continue closing. For the past decade countless SBS initiatives and Council bills have been touted to help small businesses and none would save a single business. All were only intended to keep the status quo, cover up the crisis and give political cover to lawmakers so they could continue to do nothing to save small businesses.

 

The second act is long term needed to restore democracy at City Hall needed to rebuild our small businesses. For all New Yorkers who demand good government and want to save their mom and pop businesses, and the character of their neighborhoods this is what you must do to restore democracy again at City Hall.  Find, encourage, support and elected an Atticus Finch type  candidate as Mayor in the 2021 election. REBNY has their well funded team ready to go and replace corrupt lawmakers.  Every REBNY candidate has a history of serving big business first and have pledged to continue serving big real estate, it will be more like de Blasio if activists do not get involved.  

 

If New Yorkers wish to take back our government from big business they must find, encourage, support and elect 26 new Oprah and Barack ethical and honest types to the city council. With so many seats up for the 2021 election, 26 wins are possible and with 26 votes for the Speaker a major change in our government would happen. 

 

 

REBNY has their next Speaker candidates well funded and connected to the machines and PR firms.  If REBNY candidates win for Mayor and Speaker then nothing will change at City Hall and nothing will be done to save small businesses, which will continue the destruction of the backbone of our economy leading to a certain great recession or depression.