OP ED

Part III

Blame unethical lawmakers for businesses closings, not Amazon or Coronavirus! The

Covid 19 crisis just “mach speed” what was slowly happening to businesses for over a decade in NYC.

 

Speaker Corey Johnson, “I believe that the small business loss we are seeing all across the city is a crisis. I want to reiterate, crisis… empty storefronts is one of the biggest issues in New York City, and I pledge…to ”find a solution”.

 

Mayor de Blasio, “I call for the Small Business Committee to immediately vote on the Small Business Survival Act so the full council can quickly vote it into law and begin to stop the closing of our neighborhood small businesses.”

 

For desperate small business owners, these statements sound like welcome news coming from City Hall leaders committed to quickly acting to give a lifeline to small businesses to survive today’s virus crisis. If you guessed our progressive leaders were talking about finding a solution to save our small businesses from the coronavirus crisis you would be wrong. 

 

Then Councilman de Blasio made his statement in Aug. 2009 when he was the “champion” of the Small Business Survival Act, (Jobs Survival Act).  The crisis then was caused by years of unchecked hyper rent estate speculation that resulted in sky high rent increases and oppressive leases. De Blasio championed the Jobs Survival Act as the only real solution to end the crisis.

A crisis still existing today!

 

Then Councilman Johnson’s statement was made in 2018 concerning the record increases in his districts’ long established businesses forced to close due only to exorbitant rent increases.

Like de Blasio, he was an outspoken supporter of the Jobs Survival Act as a solution to stop the business closings.

Johnson,  “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, I am working with Councilmember Annabel Palma to encourage my colleagues to sign on and sponsor this critical piece of legislation…the Jobs Survival Act would give our mom & pop stores a fighting chance.” Tweet : I support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and as Speaker I would ensure that it gets a hearing and the rigorous debate that it deserves. 

 

Both statements are totally disingenuous, Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson knew first hand that our cities’ small businesses faced a crisis to survive caused by the out of control commercial real estate market frenzy. An unfair one-sided market, with the victims being our city’s little mom and pop business owners having no rights when their leases expired to negotiate fair lease terms. Both knew from the empty stores on every main street, many remaining empty sometimes for years, that the crisis was growing worse and spreading to every borough. Both knew that the Jobs Survival Act was the only real solution to stop the closings and end the crisis.  As the most powerful lawmakers at City Hall either one could have easily used their political power to bring the bill to a vote ( bill has 29 sponsors), as then Councilman de Blasio said in 2009 , pass the Jobs Survival Act and  “lets begin to stop the closings of our neighborhood small businesses.” Regrettably for democracy and the future of our small business owners, both abandoned their progressive values and flipped for the real estate lobby’s campaign money.

 

Neither Mayor de Blasio nor Speaker Johnson has any intentions to ever bring the Jobs Survival Act to a vote!  It makes little difference if our small businesses face one crisis, two or ten at the same time, neither will ever pass legislation that gives rights to small business owners and regulates commercial landlords. That is the deal they made with the devil, and they have kept it.

 

How do we know such a shameful and atrocious act to be the truth?  We know because they both used their offices to collude with the real estate lobby to rig the system to deny economic justice to our small business owners before.  How they failed to address our city’s first long small business crisis is exactly how they are failing today to address the coronavirus crisis.  The only real solution to save many small businesses and give them a fighting chance to survive is the same for both crisis, pass the Jobs Surival Act.

 

Putting aside all the slick political insincere rhetoric from the Mayor and Speaker, their true career ambitions, their lack of ethics and who they really serve were exposed at the Oct. 22, 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act.  Which laid the foundation for their non action today to save small businesses.

 

How would City Hall leadership address a growing small business crisis destroying the backbone of our economy and top job creators?

They wouldn’t!

 

 On Oct. 22, 2018 a hearing was held on the Jobs Survival Act. 

Without a doubt the hearing was one of the greatest shows of power of a lobby at City Hall in council history. The long (9 years) awaited hearing to seek justice for desperate small business owners was high-jacked by REBNY.  They orchestrated the most shameful display of arrogant unethical corruption of our government at this hearing.  With the support of their hired political cronies at City Hall, they assembled some of the wealthiest and the most powerful organizations, along with the agencies of Mayor de Blasio and loyal lawmakers they controlled through their funds, to testify against the Jobs Survival Act, or any law giving any rights to business owners.     

This disgraceful cast of corrupt characters came there to fulfill the goals of REBNY not save small businesses. Those goals were to stop the Jobs Survival Act, present no solutions to the crisis, keep the status quo, present useless distractions away from the root cause of the crisis ( commercial lease renewal process) and lay the foundation for watering down the bill after the hearing. Likely, the biggest goal was to show everyone who really runs City Hall, REBNY. 

 

Rigging begins before hearing. 

 

Even though SBC wrote the Jobs Survival Act ( original version 1986) and had coordinated with past Speakers’ Office on all small business speakers at the past 11 hearings spanning 30 years, Speaker Johnson’s Office through Chief of Staff Erik Bottcher refused to meet with us to give any input into the hearing.  In fact, for the first time, a Speaker would choose who would be the advocates for small businesses at the hearing!  Eric Bottcher sanctioned a college professor who never owned a small business as the lead spokesperson for small businesses. Shameful!

 

This long awaited hearing was so vital to the future of our businesses that an open letter* was sent to both Speaker Johnson and Small Business Committee Chair Mark Gjonaj pleading with both that for an honest hearing all legal issues must be resolved prior to the hearing to assure that our businesses are protected from corrupt acts by REBNY after the hearing.  In the letter we also requested that, like all past hearings on the bill, the focus be only upon finding the best solution to stop the closing of small businesses with the priority being the commercial lease renewal process.  Both our requests were rejected which gave us no choice, for the first time in 11 honest hearings over 30 years, we called for a boycott of the obvious sham hearing.**

  * https://www.savenycjobs.com/kim-letter-to-chair-gjonaj

** https://www.savenycjobs.com/call-for-boycott-sham-hearing

 

The only thing the small business owners wanted was an honest hearing to find solutions to their real problems and throw them a

lifeline to survive caused by the years of real estate speculation, encouraged and promoted by their own government. Crisis or no crisis, self proclaimed progressives de Blasio and Johnson would see they would not get an honest hearing. 

 

The city’s powerful lined up to bow to kiss the ring of John Banks, REBNY’s president, as they entered the chambers. The Unions, BIDS, Chambers, Big real estate, SBS, Partnerships, CO-OP Board , corrupt council lawmakers coached to give REBNY talking points and false narratives, and even the Catholic church all came to deny a honest hearing and economic justice and to drown out the desperate

voice of the small business owners.  For the record, all the so called small business advocates working with the Speakers Office either testified weakly on the Jobs Survival Act or laid the foundation for watering down and changing the bill or continued rigging after the hearing. None cried out why the focus of the hearing was on empty stores and not on stopping the closings in the first place.

 

Every lawmaker should be ashamed and embarrassed by the rich and powerful being able to deny justice to the weakest and most vulnerable citizens reaching out seeking only rights to survive.  It was a dark day at City Hall for democracy.  At that appalling and disgraceful hearing our so called progressive lawmakers sanctioned REBNY to kill democracy for our small business owners.  They also killed any hope of many small businesses to survive, as well as, killed the future and the American Dream for our businesses.

 

What the morally corrupt lawmakers who remained silent and allowed this mockery of democracy to take place did not count on was REBNY’s display of power also would kill someday all those small businesses that were just barely hanging on and would close if any sudden downturn or event pushed them over the edge of survival.  What REBNY and their crony lawmakers schemed too produce on Oct 22, 2018 was to take away any legislation that would give businesses a fighting chance to survive the future coronavirus!!

 

When a New York citizen walks by their favorite business and sees a sign “its not reopening”, do not just assume it was because of the virus.  Many of these same businesses would likely have survived if the corrupt democratic machine and lobby controlled lawmakers would have allowed good government to work and passed the Jobs Survival Act in 2018.  Yes, when long established businesses close, unethical lawmakers share the blame for their roles in denying economic justice to our small business owners and making our mom and pop businesses the most vulnerable in the nation to face two crisis to survive. An almost impossible task with the highest: rents, utilities, insurance, property taxes, and cost of doing business and with having NO RIGHTS in America.   Yes, our fake progressive council members share responsibility today in the closing of every failed small business because these lawmaker failed democracy when they failed to find a solution to our city’s first small business crisis.

 

What made City Hall’s leadership turn their backs on small business owners and deny justice for years in the face a growing crisis and today’s covid 19 crisis?  Ambitious politicians sold their souls like Faust to the devil.  In NYC politics, you sell your soul to lobbies you cannot be a born again progressive and get it back.  These fake progressives did not even try to find a solution to the first small business crisis and they will not even try to find one for today’s crisis.  

 

Citizens may ask, does the corruption at City Hall and the undue influence by powerful lobbies mean there is no hope to pass legislation to stop the closing of our small businesses and prevent an economic catastrophe?

 

PROGRESSIVE REVOLUTION TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY!

 There is only one hope to save our neighborhoods, arts, soul and spirit of our city, and our small businesses and jobs, and prevent an economic catastrophe from occurring in NYC.  To prevent an economic tsunami with record unemployment and double or triple our property taxes, which would trigger more business closings. The only hope to take back our government from the corrupt machine and big business is a progressive revolution in the 2021 election to restore democracy again.  New Yorkers who love their mom and pop stores, their neighborhoods and demand good government and an end to the stranglehold big real estate has at City Hall must unite to elect new lawmakers. Elect lawmakers who are true progressives at election time and who will remain true progressives once elected and keep all their campaign pledges to the people.  Unite to elect only ethical people independent of the corrupt political machine, or the City Hall establishment, and refuse special interests campaign funds.  If the voters elect 26 honest true progressives to the council then democracy can be restored and legislation not written or controlled by lobbies can again be passed into law. 

 

Part IV Exposing the Fake Progressives. Who are the

phony progressive lawmakers who sold out mom & pops’ future?  

 

 

Sung Soo  Kim is called the “Godfather of Immigrant Small Business” due to his founding the Korean American Small Business Service Center; co-founding the New York City Small Business Congress and Coalition to Save New York City Small Businesses; creating the Small Business Bill of Rights given to elected officials since 1993; and his chairmanship of the Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani.  He spent every day for over 35 years serving and fighting for the rights of small business owners.