MBP BREWER VOICE OF LOBBY , NOT MOM AND POP
In Parts I-IV * I detailed the long history of MBP Brewer’s failure to use her office to find a real solution to stop the closing of her small businesses and save jobs; she didn’t even try. Her most disgraceful act was giving false hope to mom and pop owners by pretending to do a major study with the goal of writing legislation that would save them. The shameful truth was exposed that her legislation was actually created 30 years ago by the real estate lobby’s sham study commission as a substitute for the original Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. If it was passed this Landlords bill would kill the Jobs Survival Act and keep the status quo for landlords.
MBP Brewer knew what the small business owners needed to survive from her years of direct involvement leading their fight. Yet, she knew her legislation was soundly rejected more than 30 years ago by the entire city’s business community and would not save a single business or job. She also knew her substitute bill for the Jobs Survival Act was no substitute for the only real lifeline for small businesses. After being forced to drop her lobby “Landlords” bill, would MBP Brewer find her moral compass and regain her progressive values to fight to pass the Jobs Survival Act? If passed, the bill would give her small business owners a fighting chance to survive and a future in NYC.
Shamefully, MBP Brewer would continue taking on a major role in the collusion with the real estate lobby to rig the system to stop any vote of the Jobs Survival Act, or preventing passage of any law giving rights to owners when their leases expired. She would be a player in the massive political theater and charade orchestrated by big real estate and the administration to cover up the outcome of a lobby controlled City Hall “doing nothing“ year after year to address the growing small business crisis.
he empty stores on every main street, many remaining empty for years, could no longer easily be explained to the public. Every New Yorker knew our small businesses were under attack by high rents and fighting to survive, why didn’t their elected lawmakers see what the public was seeing, long established businesses forced to close when their leases expired and remain empty? How irresponsible and reckless of lawmakers to continue this destructive economic policy of allowing the backbone of the economy to be destroyed?
A campaign to fool and distract the public with appalling fake useless studies and worthless initiatives was launched to cover-up the growing small business crisis. Disinformation such as claiming businesses were closing due to getting tickets, over government regulations, and businesses like Amazon. But, never telling the truth, that the root cause was greedy landlords! As well as,worthless programs touted to save our businesses, like help to get a loan, or call SBS and learn to grow you business from someone who never owned a business or never cared if you survived. Most insulting were the offensive lawmakers counting the empty stores on main street pretending that this in some way is helping small businesses. The public wanted solutions not studies to save their favorite mom and pop. Counting the obvious was another form of delay and distraction, while the small business closings metastasized.
The empty store blight should have produced the opportunity to see “good government in action”. A progressive Council promoting progressive legislation to solve problems and serving the will of the people was called for. A Council eagerly committed to finding a real lifeline to stop the closings and end the city’s longest small business crisis. Instead, the empty stores produced a rigged public hearing on the Jobs Survival Act that became a scandal. A disgraceful act when corrupt Democratic leadership turned over to the real estate lobby total control of the hearing to continue to deny economic justice, rights, and a real lifeline for business owners.
the very same powerful lobby who successfully denied economic justice to small business owners for more than 8 years and whose members caused the small business crisis, and got rich from it, were now in total charge of the hearing. MBP Brewer would play a key role in the outcome of this hearing. Would she stand up and be a strong voice for the desperate small business owners demanding and needing a real solution to survive? Or would she continue the rigging and mimic only the talking points of the false narrative of the real estate lobby? A narrative of disinformation on the Jobs Survival Act to continue to deny economic justice and a real lifeline to business owners and keep the status quo for a few wealthy.
The Oct. 22, 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act would determine the future of NYC’s economy. Every business owner today is paying the price of this sham hearing.
The historical significance of this hearing cannot be overstated. The hearing would make clear whether NYC’s government was a true democracy serving the will of the people or an Oligarchy serving only a few wealthy. The outcome would determine if a failed economic policy that produced a small business crisis that made speculators and profiteer wealthy and produced excessively gross bureaucratic salaries and political power brokers roaming the halls of City Hall, would be protected. Protected even if it meant our small businesses would continue to be destroyed, exploited and abused and end their American Dream.
If there ever was any question of a lawmaker’s true progressive values, integrity, loyalty to democratic principles and respect for our city’s business owners, especially our immigrant families, this hearing would expose that truth. The true MBP Brewer would be shown. More so than any lawmaker because she alone had vast experience on what an honest public hearing on our crisis should be. As Chief of Staff(COS) of the first prime sponsor of the original version of the Jobs Survival Act, she organized many honest hearings, she would recognize a sham hearing. Would MBP Brewer protest and sound the alarm if big real estate orchestrated a sham hearing? Judge for yourself.
The most anti- democracy and anti-immigrant family hearing at the Council was being orchestrated by a lobby from behind closed doors at City Hall.
For over 3 decades there had been 11 Council hearings on the Jobs Survival Act, likely the most in council history. As the co-author of the original version of the Jobs Survival Act, and it’s seven amendments, as well as, being the lead small business advocate for it passage, I always met with Council staff prior to the hearings to plan the best speakers. For all the early hearings, COS Gale Brewer was always present with help to organize the priority of speakers who supported passage of the bill by giving passionate reasons for the urgency to vote on it. Strong testimony from a wide diverse business community easily won every hearing, always making a strong case for an immediate vote.
Upon learning a date was finally set for a hearing on our bill, as author of the bill, I immediately sent a letter to the new Small Business Committee Chairman Mark Gjonaj. As in the case with all past hearings I asked to meet with him or staff to plan the best diverse speakers supporting our bill. Shockingly, CM Gjonaj refused to meet or even discuss the speakers supporting OUR BILL!
I immediately turned to Speaker Johnson to correct this grave injustice but his office also refused to respond. At this point I wrote Johnson a strong letter urging him to at least resolve any legal concerns with the bill prior to the hearing so the total focus of the hearing would be solely upon the bill. Again, Speaker Johnson’s office refused to resolve the legal issues prior to the hearing. This after past legal challenges had been soundly debunked as being meritless.
Speaker Johnson had allowed the real estate lobby to hand pick the new Chairman of the Small Business Committee and stacked the committee by eliminating all Queens members and reducing the committee to the bare 5 minimal, I knew a sham hearing was being planned. CM Gjonaj was the worst choice for the small business chair, because he is himself a real estate owner who is opposed to any regulation of landlords. He raised more campaign money from big real estate than any candidate ever.
Speaker Johnson should be ashamed for allowing a lobby to hand pick the most pro real estate lawmaker and most anti small business Chair, CM Gjonaj. He should be more ashamed for allowing the lobby to eliminate all Queens lawmakers from the committee. The largest owners of small businesses in NYC are immigrant families (64-68%), and the borough with the most immigrant families is Queens. Yet, in the face of a growing small business crisis destroying the immigrant businesses and jobs, Speaker Johnson removes all the Queens lawmakers so there would be NO voice for the immigrant families on this committee at this critical hearing. Truly Shameful!
With this sham hearing being made in plain sight, I had no choice to remain silent and allow this mockery of justice to take place as countless immigrant families suffered. Therefore, for the very first time in 3 decades, I called for a boycott of this lobby orchestrated sham hearing. Anyone who believed in justice and respected our small business owners, especially our immigrant families, should not give credibility to this farce hearing whose goal was to stop a vote on our bill, the only real solution to save our businesses.
MBP Brewer would play a key role in promoting the agenda of the real estate lobby at this hearing.
The Oct 22, 2018 was a hearing that the real estate lobby high jacked and rolled out their biggest and most loyal cronies and every person or group who had profited from the years of hyper real estate speculation in NYC. A who’s who of corrupt lawmakers bought off by campaign donations from the city’s fat cats. The real estate lobby’s talking points for every speaker was to oppose the Jobs Survival Act: give a false narrative of the reasons for the business closings, misinformation on the bill, and turn the attention away from saving the businesses to instead address the empty stores. To move attention away from finding a real solution for the small business crisis of long established businesses closings to instead, focus upon an empty store crisis and ways to get businesses back into stores. To offer not one real solution to save even one small business or job.
The real estate lobby was going to make a big statement at this hearing. That statement was: all economic policy in NYC was controlled by lobbies, and that included small business policy. Any legislation that influenced real estate profits, the lobby will control the outcome of City Hall’s decisions. To make their statement, the lobby called out their A list bad actors. Organizations that had never testified at any past hearings on the bill showed up in force for this one. No BID or Chamber ever testified against our bill at any prior hearing until this hearing. No community organization ever testified opposing our bill until this hearing. No real estate lobby president ever attended a hearing until this one.
The despicable truth of this lobby’s sham hearing and the role MBP Brewer played.
At all past 11 hearings the Speaker never once attended or testified, in fact, never once even commented, even in writing! At this sham hearing Speaker Johnson, not only came and stayed most of the time, he repeated the lobby’s talking points dozens of times. He and CM Gjonaj were like a broken record repeating after every testimony, “ the bill will be amended to exclude protection for big Fortune 500 companies, Goldman Sachs, banks and big law firms etc.” This was the game plan, the “red herring” to change the bill after the hearing, to water our bill down to make it “toothless”. The truth was that the “red herring” issue of the bill protecting big businesses was NEVER once a concern for over 30 years. Never once challenged by the real estate lobby in over 30 years, until this sham hearing.
So what changed? They had run out of excuses to stop a vote on the bill and they knew their bogus legal claim used successfully for 8 years would no longer stand up as an excuse. Common sense would show that Goldman Sachs or banks do not need protection from our bill. But if they are excluded this opens the door to a certain court challenge as big businesses being discriminated against and likely dragged out for years in court. Therefore, for the sake of our desperate businesses that needed a real lifeline now to survive we leave the bill protecting all commercial leases. This keeps in full tact the intent of the legislation, “level the playing field” by giving rights to business owners when their leases expire. After all, reasonable leases are fair to all big or small? It's just good business for New York.
Speaker Johnson repeatedly pledged to amend the bill and move it to a vote.
Changing the bill to satisfy this concern, even a disingenuous one, would take a simple paragraph change to the bill and approximately one hour of effort. Speaker Johnson never intended to keep his word and amend the Jobs Survival Act and allow a vote, and even today with the coronavirus crisis he still is stopping a vote, even with 28 sponsors.
Chair CM Gjonaj stated the lobby’s false narrative distraction that our businesses faced many other problems like fines, and that more studies were needed to be done to gain more insight for programs to help businesses.
The final foundation for the lobby’s game plan was given by SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop. As usual for the SBS for the past 8 years in the face of a growing crisis, Bishop came with no real solution to save small businesses. Instead, he wasted over an hour repeating misinformation on the Jobs Survival Act while touting the many SBS programs while neglecting any action to address the closing of 1,200-1,400 businesses a month under his watch. Another first in 30 years for this hearing was his criticism of arbitration in the bill putting a financial burden on the small business owners. How desperate! Bishop should try paying a Manhattan lawyer’s fee for a year and see how ridiculous his claim is. The Jobs Survival Act’s success in stopping the closings of businesses is grounded in a tenant’s right to renewal long term leases, equal rights to negotiation with landlords and a fair arbitration process. If passed, a law that would likely result in a majority of settlements and NO or little legal fees. Arbitration is the least expensive dispute process for the little guy vs rich landlord
Bishop’s testimony confirms the SBS as the most pro-real estate and anti-small business agency in America. Bishop’s testimony shows him to either be the most incompetent and ignorant on running a small business, or the leading real estate lobby crony’s mouthpiece in the administration. Likely, both!
The real estate lobby’s game plan to stop the Jobs Survival Act had been laid out by Speaker Johnson, Chair Gjonaj and SBS Commissioner Bishop. Variations of this lobby narrative would be repeated by dozens of the lobby’s top loyalists at the hearing. Would MBP Brewer join in this orchestrated sham hearing by repeating the game plan whose goal is to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act or would she break ranks and be a voice for justice and demand a real lifeline for the business owners?
Another first was also made by MBP Brewer when she testified. She was the first elected lawmaker at a hearing in over 30 years who openly opposed the Jobs Survival Act as written!*
As with most MBP Brewer’s public statements on the businesses closing, she first sounds the alarm. Brewer testimony, “ The crisis facing small businesses which inspired the SBJSA( Jobs Survival Act) has only grown worse.” Sound familiar, MBP Brewer in 2015, “our small businesses need help now, even as the mom-and-pop crisis has intensified with a fury.” What did she do then (2015) to address this "intensified with a fury crisis"? NOTHING! What was she now proposing to address this grown worse crisis? NOTHING! The same action since she was elected to office, sound the alarm but DO NOTHING! MBP Brewer,“ while I agree fully with the goals of the SBJSA, I have concerns about how effective the current version of the bill will actually be.” Yup, she did NOTHING!
Code for this is what the lobby wants, talk up a “red herring” claiming the bill needs to be changed. First the red herring, MBP Brewer, “to not include white shoe law firms, hedge funds, and other financial institutions which do not need support.” She laid the foundation for the center piece of changing the bill that would keep the status quo with landlords in full power, Brewer, “ The scope of the legislation would first need to be significantly narrowed. Whether it should be narrowed to small businesses, small retail businesses, storefronts, or legacy businesses ( long term neighborhood businesses) needs to be studied as how those terms might be strictly defined in order to withstand a legal challenge.”
Sound familiar? MBP Brewer pitching the same lobby created legislation, “Landlords Bill” that she was forced to drop in 2017 when it was exposed as being created 30 years ago by the lobby to stop the original Jobs Survival Act. She still even keeps alive the “toothless bluff” of the bill’s court challenge. Shameless!
MBP Brewer should be ashamed and embarrassed for her promoting only a lobby’s agenda at a hearing so vital for small business owners. A hearing that was suppose to find a solution to stop the closing of our small businesses. What follows in her recommendations is a disgrace to good government. She repeats recommendations she knows would not save a single business or job and she knows were influenced by the lobby in order to keep the status quo. Many are repeats of her sham study findings done in 2015.* Insincere, to give credibility for stalling and distraction from any real solution to save business owners.
* ( number 8 Hearing testimony . page 33-50) Brewer testimony
1. Summary of Int. No. 737-A, 2. Summary of Int. No. 737, 3. Int. No. 737, 4. March 22, 2018 - Stated Meeting Agenda, 5. Hearing Transcript - Stated Meeting 03-22-2018, 6. Minutes of the Stated Meeting - March 22, 2018, 7. Committee Report 10/22/18, 8. Hearing Testimony 10/22/18, 9. Hearing Transcript 10/22/18, 10. Proposed Int. No. 737-A - 4/19/21
How dishonest and lacking any integrity is MBP Brewer’s testimony? For years, in the early fight for a vote on the original Jobs Survival Act, then COS Brewer asked for and got the full support of every Community Board in Manhattan. Each one issued strongly worded resolutions calling for its passage. The Manhattan Borough President has immense influence over the policy of Community Boards in Manhattan due to the appointment process of each officer and member. Yet, in her own words, “crisis has intensified with a fury”, MBP Brewer did not request a single CB to issue a resolution calling for an immediate vote on the Jobs Survival Act, and never will. With every main street in Manhattan having empty storefronts where thriving businesses once were, every CB’s officers should have been at this hearing representing the voice of their businesses and their community. MBP Brewer would have easily made this happen if she wanted the community’s voices heard. She did not want this.
Every busy shopping strip today has a BID to supposedly represent and promote the interests of its small businesses. By rule, the Manhattan President’s office has a representative on every board, and a huge influence in economic policy through its office. Like the CB, every BID in Manhattan should have had its directors testifying at this hearing calling for the best solution to stop the closings of each BIDS’ businesses. After all, the NYC Court records of Commercial evictions show that Manhattan leads the City in business evictions every year since the speculation began over 15 years ago.* Strong support from MBP Brewer for a real solution to save our businesses and asking each Manhattan BID to stand up for its small business owners at this hearing would have meant a lot towards gaining justice for our business owners.
Once again, MBP Brewer did not want a true voice fighting for the rights of Manhattan’s small businesses. Instead, she remained silent, as the BIDS did show to support but testified to oppose the Jobs Survival Act and against giving any rights needed for small businesses to survive. It was easy for BIDS to testify on the side of the real estate lobby because by rule of statue, the majority of every BID’s board members are property owners. Landlords who have gotten rich from the real estate speculation of banks and chains bidding for prime locations on the BID strips. Like all the groups opposed to the Jobs Survival Act, none came with any real solution to save the businesses.
One of the most despicable of the testimony given against our bill came from the Chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, Stuart Saft. He claimed the passage of the bill would be a disaster because it would lead to expensive litigation and extortion of CC owners.
MBP Brewer listened to his nonsense and threats against the bill without setting the record straight. The truth is, prior to the vote on the original version of the Jobs Survival Act in late 1988, one of the largest PR campaigns to switch support away from the bill was carried out by the real estate lobby. A man named Gilbert organized the mass mailing to every co-op and condo owner in NYC calling upon them to call their lawmaker to protest our bill. This huge misinformation fear campaign failed badly. Why? Because then prime sponsor CM Ruth Messinger and COS Gale Brewer set the record straight on the truth of our bill and impact on co-op/condo members.
CM Messinger had the biggest number of co-op and condo owners in her district. Yet, she took immediate action to make all aware that the passage of her bill would greatly benefit them today and in the long run. She explained that the crazy rents being demanded would force consumer prices sky high and every condo/owner would pay higher prices every day. She had a hand flyer with a picture of a hamburger with a price tag of $9.95 reading this will be the price some day if her bill is not passed. She also made these owners aware that having a good long term commercial tenant paying a reasonable rent would be better long term than making windfall profits for a short time but making nothing as businesses closed and become empty. CM Messinger and Gale Brewer’s message was spot on and the co-op/condo campaign of the lobby failed. COS Brewer’s warnings and prediction came true. Could or should have MBP Brewer corrected his false testimony given at the hearing? Yes, because she knew the truth and because she knew him. This lobby messenger testifying was once on the MBP Affordable Housing Task Force.
In Part III, we detailed MBP Brewer not caring for her arts and professional community’s crisis or future. The same can be said for the largest owners of small businesses in Manhattan, its restaurants. Year after year in every Manhattan neighborhood popular long established restaurants were forced to close in record numbers. Yet, year after year she continued to remain silent and do nothing to save even one. She talked a good game all over the borough at every forum or media event on the dire plight of the restaurants, but never once demanded an honest hearing to find the best solution to save Manhattan’s restaurants. At every forum or event she had her shadow with her, Andrew Rigie the Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. Surely with the huge costs in investment to open a restaurant in NYC and the increased risk of closing when commercial leases expired and the owners having no rights, that MBP Brewer and Rigie would be demanding rights and protection to all restaurant owners. Wrong, just the opposite was happening. Neither Brewer or Rigie were demanding legislation to give restaurant owners any rights when their leases expired.
Rigie’s only call was for legislation to reduce fines and government regulations. Even after Mayor de Blasio complied and lowered the tickets in 2015 and after the regulations were reduced, Rigie still falsely maintained that tickets and regulations were the major problems facing restaurants, and he still does today. MBP Brewer and Rigie pitched the same distractions away from a real solution to end our small business crisis as the real estate lobby’s main point man CM Gjonaj. If there ever was a perfect platform to champion a cause and speak for those you claim to represent it was the Oct. 2018 hearing. Yet, Rigie was a no show giving no testimony calling for rights for restaurant owners and MBP Brewer never once mentioned restaurants in need. Who do they really represent?
MBP Brewer may be viewed by many of an icon for progressive values. But she is no progressive when it comes to standing up for small businesses, especially immigrant family owned, restaurants, the arts and professionals. Her record of non action year after year of doing nothing to seek the best solution to save our small businesses and jobs is disgraceful. Her record of sounding the alarm on the growing small business crisis but then doing nothing to address it is appalling. How can any lawmaker proclaim they are progressive and remain silent knowing that immigrant family owned businesses are targeted by unscrupulous landlords who extort cash from them to remain in business,. Why is it acceptable to her that small business owners are given only month to month leases or one year, after investing their life savings, scarified, worked day and night to build a successful business? Yet, MBP Brewer will collude with the very same unscrupulous landlord’s lobby to deny them justice and rights needed to survive. Her outcry of the crisis is totally disingenuous because it is always followed with a “do nothing” non action and rejection of the very bill ( Jobs Survival Act) she fought for 30 years ago. No lawmaker has purposely lied more about the Jobs Survival Act than MBP Brewer.
The hallmark of political leadership is how one deals with a crisis. How quickly, fairly, effectively and efficiently they produce the best solutions to end the crisis. MBP Brewer has the most disgraceful record in government of addressing her small business crisis. A 36 year record she cannot hide from the voters. Her race for district 6 may be the most important for the future of our economy. If she wins, which is likely, she will likely be hand picked by the lobby to be Speaker and she has already testified in public what she will do about our small business crisis. She will bring back a version of her Landlords Bill, created by the real estate lobby that was rejected 30 years ago by our entire city’s business community. MBP Brewer testimony, “The scope of the legislation would first need to be significantly narrowed. Whether it should be narrowed to small businesses, small retail businesses, storefronts, or legacy businesses ( long term neighborhood businesses) needs to be studied as how those terms might be strictly defined in order to withstand a legal challenge.”
If this happened, every business would be in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired. It would mean an end to any hope for a real lifeline to save our businesses and could trigger an economic catastrophe when the backbone of our economy becomes extinct in NYC. It would mean the end of the American Dream for the majority of our immigrant family owned businesses.
My advice to all voters who demand good government and who want their small businesses saved, Vote new progressive candidates into office in June 2021, it is our only hope to save our businesses, jobs, arts, and save the soul and spirit of our city.
For the true records of the Democratic leadership who sold out our small businesses for their own political ambitions go to our website: https://www.savenycjobs.com/
Lawmakers who played a major role in collusion and rigging to stop Jobs Survival Act:
Mayor de Blasio- https://www.savenycjobs.com/part-v/
Speaker Johnson- https://www.savenycjobs.com/part-v
MBP Brewer- PART I https://www.savenycjobs.com/brewer-which-side-is-she-on
Comptroller Stringer- https://www.savenycjobs.com/stringer-must-resign-part-i
CM Lander- https://www.savenycjobs.com/part-v
CM Cornegy - https://www.savenycjobs.com/cornegy-exposed-part-i