OP ED 

Records Matter!

Warning to immigrant families, do not trust Eric Adams with your future.

 His record shows conclusively that he has no respect for immigrant family owned small businesses!

 Eric Adams will never throw a real lifeline to save even one immigrant business or job. 

The immigrant’s American Dream will be lost under an Adams Administration.

Dateline NYC June 11 , 2021: Before the PR machine is launched to discredit my warning of electing Eric Adams Mayor and falsely giving my sole motivation as supporting another candidate, let me set the record straight.   I founded the nation’s largest immigrant small business service center 37 years ago. Until my health failed me, I spent every working day for over 3 decades fighting for immigrant rights and addressing the many problems facing immigrant business owners. After carefully reviewing all the candidates’ small business platforms, I concluded that none deserve any endorsement from the city’s immigrant family owners. All Mayoral candidates will fail badly to save the American Dream for immigrant owners and fail to restore a vibrant small business economy in NYC.

Some candidate’s economic policies are worse than others, with a few offering the potential outcome likely to be an economic catastrophe in the near future.  I focused upon Eric Adams because I feel he has the worst small business policy, as well as the worst record of serving small businesses. A failed policy which if continued as Mayor will lead to the total destruction of immigrant family owned businesses in NYC. 

Eric Adams has made very few statements on his small business policy for a good reason. Upon first taking the BBP office, every Brooklyn business was in jeopardy of closing, laying off workers, or stopping all growth when their leases expired and they had no rights. Rights that are needed to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit and offer some predictability to their futures.  Every business was facing a growing crisis caused by unchecked hyper real estate speculation producing insane rent increases and unreasonable lease terms. For the immigrant family owned businesses in Brooklyn, which are the majority, the speculation also produced extreme greed and abuses against them.  A recent 2021 survey* of immigrant owners showed 41% were forced to paid cash demanded by their landlords to remain in business. Others were given only short term month to month or one year leases, turning them into indentured servitude to their landlords.

*Survey in Englishhttps://www.savenycjobs.com/2021-immigrant-business-survey

This unresolved long term crisis was producing record closings of long established Brooklyn businesses. Empty storefronts were remaining empty longer on every main street in Brooklyn. What did BBP Adams do to stop the closings and end the abuses of Brooklyn’s businesses?  BBP Adams did absolutely nothing to save even one Brooklyn business or job.  In fact, he did not even acknowledge the record closings, the true reasons for closings or that a crisis even existed. No real lifeline to save Brooklyn businesses was even discussed under BBP Adams. Nothing. 

The hallmark for leadership has always been: how fast, effectively, and fairly a crisis is addressed. BBP Adams should be ashamed and embarrassed for what he failed to do in the face of a growing crisis destroying the “backbone of Brooklyn’s economy.”  What he did was choose the side of those who were getting rich from the speculation in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, where the rich go to gain protection of their wealth. The BIDS, nothing but fronts for property owners to rip off the local businesses who scarified on main streets to build up vibrant shopping strips. And of course the developers who have no regard for the welfare of Brooklyn’s unique neighborhoods and businesses.

Some insiders who know the corrupt system at City Hall, where lobbies control the economic policy to benefit only a wealthy few, will say, “BBP Adams did what everyone else in politics does who wants to run for higher office.”  That is be complicit to injustice and look the other way to the rigging to deny economic justice to small business owners and then line up to take the lobby’s cash and political influence.

BBP Adams is not like everyone else when it comes to what he can do to stop the closings of his businesses and end Brooklyn’s small business crisis. What he failed to do is why I must give a warning to all immigrant families, “do not depend upon BBP Adams to save their American Dream.” The facts of BBP Adams actions and record concerning his lack of commitment to save Brooklyn’s mostly immigrant family owned businesses will show conclusively, his blatant discrimination and that to BBP Adams, immigrant family owned businesses and jobs do not matter!

To keep the rigging in full force preventing an honest hearing to find a real solution to stop the closing of small businesses, the lobbies hand picked CM Robert Cornegy as Chairman of the Small Business Committee.  Without a public hearing the real estate lobby could successfully continue bottling up the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. This bill gives all businesses in good standing the right to renew long term 10 year leases, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms and an arbitration process to protect the tenant from rent gouging.

CM Cornegy is an African American representing a Brooklyn district.  BBP Adams was in the very best Borough and best position to communicate and influence the Chair of the Small Business Committee. Now he could work closely with CM Cornegy to hold hearings and find a real solution to save Brooklyn’s businesses and jobs. A commitment from BBP Adams to save his businesses never happened, and still does not happen today.   Instead, the most anti immigrant act of betrayal happened by CM Cornegy, and that was acceptable to BBP Adams. His silence speaks very loudly.

CM Cornegy from the very beginning of his Chair went on record and promised the businesses he was working on legislation with MBP Brewer that would address the high rents and businesses closing.  The truth was his promise was disingenuous and just a scheme cooked up by the real estate lobby to deny economic justice and rights to desperate small business owners. A charade to keep the status quo with landlords in full control.  MBP Brewer’s year long fake study that was to produce this lifeline to save our businesses was a fraud. CM Cornegy and MBP Brewer were pretending to write this lifeline bill and end the small business crisis. The truth was exposed that their fake bill was written 30 years prior by the real estate lobby with the goal to stop a vote on the original Jobs Survival Act.  At that time, every business organization in NYC protested against what they called this lobby’s bill, the Landlords Bill. Because it was written by the landlords to only benefit the landlords and it would not save a single business. 

For over three years CM Cornegy refused to hold a single hearing on doing something to stop the closings.  Everyone was waiting on his promised bill he and Brewer were writing to save the businesses. After being exposed as frauds and cronies for the real estate lobby, Cornegy and Brewer dropped their bill.  What was BBP Adams response after waiting for this lifeline as Brooklyn’s stores closed and the empty store blight was spreading in Brooklyn?  No comment!  No action!  Adams would continue to do absolutely nothing to save a single business, and it did not matter that others in government would also continue to do nothing.

 The Council’s agenda is controlled by the Speaker.  Each borough president has a major influence on the election of the Speaker. With the total failure of CM Cornegy to save Brooklyn’s small businesses and jobs and with empty stores on every main street in Brooklyn where once thriving businesses were, surely BBP Adams would make any potential Speaker commit to appoint an honest independent progressive Chair of the Small Business Committee. One that would finally hold an honest hearing to find the best lifeline to immediately stop the closings of Brooklyn’s businesses.

BBP Adams did not care who replaced CM Cornegy as Chair. New Speaker Johnson allowed the real estate lobby to hand pick CM Mark Gjonaj as the new Chair. This was the most affront to democracy and to good government ever made by a Speaker.  In no city in America would such a conflict of interest ever be made Chairman of a committee when a growing crisis existed. CM Gjonaj was the most pro real estate council-member in history. He owns his own real estate firm and broke all campaign funding records with over $1.3 million (no matching)  raised from mostly big real estate.  He is on record opposed to any law regulating landlords!

His appointment was the “death sentence” for many Brooklyn business owners. It was the most anti immigrant act because it guaranteed the denial of economic justice against immigrant family owners would continue unabated. No real lifeline would ever be thrown while Mark Gjonaj was Chair. Even with the worse challenge to survive for businesses caused by the virus crisis, NO lifeline, NO hearings, No justice for immigrant family owners at City Hall. Why was this appointment never challenged by BBP Adams? 

The city’s growing and obvious empty store blight forced a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act in Oct 2018.  This should have offered the best platform for leadership committed to take real action to end the business closings and end the decade crisis.   Instead, the Speaker turned the hearing over to the real estate lobby to take full control.  It will go down as the most anti immigrant hearing ever in the Council. The entire hearing was a sham orchestrated by the lobby to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act. The city’s entire corrupt lobby cronies came out in force to deny economic justice to desperate business owners.

The anti small business SBS, BIDS, Chambers, politician’s funded front organizations, and every fat cat who had gotten rich from the real estate speculation came out to testify and to deny justice to small business owners.  Would BBP Adams come to stand up on Brooklyn’s business owners side and be a strong voice at a time his businesses needed one?  Would he demand a real lifeline to save his own Brooklyn businesses and jobs?   BBP Adams was a “no show” and did not even bother to submit written testimony in support of the Jobs Survival Act. Yes, despicable and appalling from a lawmaker in a leadership role of the most populous borough!.

Two good things did came from this sham hearing. The first was this disgraceful hearing proved our immigrant family owned businesses are treated as second class citizens at City Hall. They are the most “socially deprived” group whose contributions to our economy mean nothing. They are viewed as nothing more than “collateral damage” from the out of control hyper real estate speculation.

 Our government can ignore taking any action to save them because the real estate lobby has bought off the Democratic leadership and therefore the future of immigrant family small businesses does not matter. The discrimination and denial of economic justice is in the open for all to see, oligarchs rule at City Hall and this hearing exposed this reality. 

The second good thing was Speaker Johnson was forced to pledge that he would amend the Jobs Survival Act to exclude any protections for big Fortune 500 type companies and move it to a vote. 

Would BBP Adams finally step up for his business owners and put pressure on Speaker Johnson to quickly amend the Jobs Survival Act as pledged and move it to a vote and certain passage with 28 sponsors?  Once again, BBP Adams would not use the power of his office to influence the passage of any legislation giving rights to business tenants. BBP Adams’ mantra, “keep the status quo.”

What happens next, BBP Adams does not wish the voters to ever know.  The changes Speaker Johnson pledged to make on the Jobs Survival Act would deal with only one paragraph detailing the scope of the bill.  A simple language change that should take one hour.  For months after the hearing, whenever the media asked what was holding up the Jobs Survival Act, Johnson’s staff would reply,“ we are tweaking and fine tuning” the bill. Speaker Johnson never intended to keep his word and amend the bill and bring it to a vote. Instead, in secret another bill was being prepared by the lobby to substitute for the only real lifeline, the Jobs Survival Act.  Never before in the long 30 year battle for the bill has there ever been two bills in play at the same time. In fact, it is against Council rules to have two bills with the same intent at the same time.

Shameful rigging in plain sight against small business owners.  One year after the Oct 2018 hearing, CM Levin introduces anther bill to substitute for the Jobs Survival Act! This bill gives no rights to owners when their leases expire and would not save one business. It would need to go to Albany for approval and it is the most ridiculous bill ever proposed, one annual rent for the entire 200K plus city’s small businesses determined by real estate interests. This bill was written by the real estate lobby with only one goal, to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act. 

What was BBP Adams response to this obvious fake bill to keep the status quo for landlords?  No comment!  No outrage to the discrimination against small business owners.  What he does not want the public to know is the prime sponsor of this new Landlords Bill, that would kill the Jobs Survival Act and kill the future of many business owners was CM Levin. CM Levin is the sole voice on the Small Business Committee for BROOKLYN!  Will BBP Adams play willful ignorance that the only representative for all of Brooklyn’s businesses on the Committee conspired and colluded with the real estate lobby to kill the only real lifeline to save Brooklyn businesses and BBP Adams did not know anything about it.  REALLY! How did CM Levin know BBP Adams would not call him out for his collusion and rigging to deny economic justice and betrayal to Brooklyn’s business owners?

Deception in plain sight!

In 2009, after the collusion between then Speaker Quinn and the real estate lobby to cook up a bogus legal claim to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act a new narrative was formulated by the lobby to give political cover for corrupt lawmakers. A lobby orchestrated charade took place citywide to cover up the victims of the out of control speculation. A decade long charade of useless legislation, worthless studies, and valueless initiatives all touted to help small businesses but none would save a single business.  None were committed to give the business owners what they really needed to address their real problems, rights when their leases expired.  BBP Adams played a major role in this charade of looking and sounding like he is taking actions to help small businesses when in reality he is continuing to “do nothing” to save them.

Part of this charade has been lawmakers using the purposely misleading term of “minority small businesses,” usually followed with “women owned businesses  and MWBE ,” to reference small businesses.  While, the majority owners of NYC small businesses are in fact multi generational immigrant family owned (64-68%). 

For accuracy, black owned businesses are less than 3% in NYC with the majority being immigrant owners from the Caribbean islands. The majority of women owners are from immigrant families.  Also the majority of MWBE businesses are immigrant family owners.  Why the deception away from immigrant family owned businesses and the truth that “they are the backbone of our economy?” Corrupt lawmakers with disgraceful records do this as a litmus test for showing the public how progressive they are and to distract from the truth of their failure to give immigrant family owners the rights they deserve and need to survive.

BBP Adams’s small business policy is an insult to every immigrant family owned small business. Firstly, he refuses to accurately state the truth that every business faced an unresolved crisis prior to the coronavirus crisis (survey 69% yes to facing crisis prior to virus crisis)*. Obviously he does this because of the role he played in seeing this long standing crisis was never resolved and that every NYC business will have to return to face it after the virus crisis ends.  Voters may be fooled but small business owners are not. The recent study of immigrant owners showed 83% Immigrant Owners Cannot Survive Going Back to Decade Long Unresolved Prior Crisis. And 82% immigrant owners can no longer stay in business paying both high rents and their landlord’s growing property taxes.

94% of immigrant owners had never heard of the Jobs Survival Act. Ten years into a growing crisis with record business closings and a real lifeline to end it sitting in committee and City Hall lawmakers keep it a secret from the victims. Why?  Upon learning about the Jobs Survival Act and the rights it gives to tenants, 87% said yes they would stay in business if given these rights.

A review of Adams small business platform shows how dishonest he is.

His top statement is ”It is time to bring back New York businesses by:  Attracting start-ups and new investment. What about saving the businesses that are fighting to remain in business but need intervention? Why don’t they matter? "I will slash the red tape to save small businesses."  This statement is right out of the real estate lobby’s coached playbook.  The real estate lobby coached their cronies to say the real problems of our small businesses are to many fines and to many regulations (red tape). NEVER the truth that businesses were forced out by greedy landlords.

The media and other candidates with the same lobby influenced narratives will not call out candidates’ ridiculous statements like BBP Adams concerning small businesses. I will, “I challenge BBP Adams to produce one single long established business in Brooklyn that closed because of “red tape”.”   You will not save one business because none closed because of “red tape.”  If you do not know what every New Yorker knows that high rents caused long established businesses to close, then you should not be Mayor.

BBP Adams economic policy is nothing but double talk by playing the race and inequality card. This leads to the same old solution of throwing taxpayer money at worthless programs run by incumbent and over paid political cronies that end up doing nothing for small businesses. The claim that businesses need resources that government can provide is a false narrative to create more taxpayer wasted programs. Small Business owners need RIGHTS not RESOURCES.

The reality is a decade of double talk from Democratic leadership and denial of economic justice for small business owners has produced the most anti immigrant business environment in the Nation.

Our city’s immigrant family owned businesses deserve better than BBP Adams and his old status quo lobby talking points leading to wasteful ineffective programs that will not save the future of our small businesses.