MBP BREWER, WHICH SIDE IS SHE ON?

PART I 

Progressive Icon MBP Gale Brewer is Not Progressive When it Comes To Saving Small Businesses and Jobs.

 Do Not Believe MBP Brewer that Doing a Little is Doing Anything to Stop the Closings of Small Businesses.

The fate of the survival and future of our small businesses and their employees rests in the hands of voters in the 2021 election. The stakes could not be any higher for the future of our economy. If the voters fail to elect new true progressive lawmakers willing to stand up to the powerful lobbies and pass legislation to stop the closing of our small businesses then an economic catastrophe is certain. The coronavirus crisis has only greatly sped up what was already taking place with our vulnerable small business community. Facing more than a decade long prior real estate speculation rent crisis, every long established business was either forced to close or in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired. The politicians elected in past elections did nothing to save a single business or job, or give a single right to business owners needed to survive. There is no option to continue to do nothing as our business owners now must face two crises, the unresolved rent crisis and today’s virus crisis. Most owners cannot go back to “normal”, without any rights, to face the unresolved crisis and expect to have a future in NYC.  

Purpose of candidate assessments

Only voter awareness can save our small businesses and jobs. My goal is to cut through the election year insincere political rhetoric to scrutinize lawmaker’s records and real actions and give voters an honest assessment of which candidates are fully committed to make it a priority to save our small businesses and the jobs of their workers. Also, to make voters aware of which candidates were likely hand picked to keep the corrupt power base at City Hall for career lawmakers, lobbies and the party machines.  Voters need to know which lawmakers were disingenuous in their promises to stop the closings of small businesses and did nothing for a decade to save even a single small business owner. Which lawmakers did not care about saving jobs and remained silent knowing most businesses would not survive the rent crisis without a real lifeline. And that a real lifeline existed, Small Business Jobs Survival Act but, due to rigging the system, was bottled up in committee for over 10 years. A real lifeline that would have stopped the closings of small businesses and ended their crisis. Which candidates played a role in the rigging that bottled up the only real lifeline to save our small businesses? Voters cannot leave these corrupt lawmakers in office or elect their hand picked fake progressive clones to take over their seats.

  Only real Lifeline to stop the closing of small businesses.

The starting point for voters to understand the true commitment of any lawmaker or candidate in claiming to want to save small businesses and jobs is to understand the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act.  This bill gives business owners the right to renewal 10 year leases, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms with their landlord, and an arbitration process to protect tenants from rent gouging or being forced to pay their landlord’s property taxes. This bill has been the center of the longest and most heated debate in council history, spanning three decades.  The real estate lobby has spent tens of millions to stop this bill and in the process has corrupted our government and created a crisis destroying our small businesses.

The Jobs Survival Act is a tenant’s rights bill. In NYC the landlords of commercial property have all the rights when a business’s lease expires. The 20 year hyper real estate speculation promoted by City Hall was destroying the backbone of our economy and lawmakers were siding with the lobbies to remain silent and do nothing to stop the closings or abuses. Even with the devastating virus crisis, many lawmakers show no empathy for the survival or futures of small business families or their workers by still siding with the lobbies, and in this collusion with the lobbies, refuse to throw a real lifeline to save even one business or job. Every lawmaker at City Hall knows the Jobs Survival Act will save many businesses and jobs or at the least give most a fighting chance to survive. The majority council members are sponsors of the bill but have been so corrupted by the lobbies and party machines, and their own political ambitions, that they will not even call for a vote on the bill or even an honest hearing. In fact, some are so unethical they will not even mention the existence of the bill/lifeline in discussions on solutions to save small businesses. The vast majority of desperate small business owners fighting to survive are unaware the only lifeline to save them even exists, and is blocked by corrupt lawmakers at City Hall. 

Best test for voters on where candidates really stand

on saving small businesses!

I have served immigrant family businesses for over 35 years and experienced the dire consequences of the big business/profiteers/speculation economy our government helped spawn, promote, and protect.  Over the years I have negotiated and renegotiated over 55K commercial leases and fought in court every week to keep thousands of businesses from being evicted. With total confidence I can state that without a business owner having a “right to renewal a long term lease”, eventually no legislation, program or initiative will save them.  The unfair commercial lease renewal process is a cancer to our businesses and the killer of both businesses and jobs in NYC that will stop all growth for business owners. A known cancer growing worse, yet our corrupt government has withheld the known treatment.  Without the rights needed for tenants to make the lease renewal process fairer to allow business owners to make a reasonable profit, NYC small businesses will become extinct in the near future and trigger an economic tsunami. In this time of two crises, which side are candidates really on, Tenant’s Rights or Landlord’s Rights?  This is what voters must demand to know from candidates if our businesses and jobs are to be saved.

 The best litmus test for voters to determine which side a candidate is on is if a candidate eagerly commits to make it a priority to save businesses and jobs by calling for an immediate vote on the Jobs Survival Act. The only bill that gives tenants the right to renewal long term leases.  Voters must demand lawmakers stop serving only big lobbies and throw a real lifeline to save businesses and not just the temporary band aids keeping them on life support. 

Expect to hear from every candidate how important our small businesses are, “the backbone of our economy” and if elected all the wonderful resources and programs to help them recover. What you will not hear from any of the lobby funded or machine candidates is any commitment to make a priority to save them. Don’t be fooled!  The lobby and machine backed coached candidates do not want the voters to know the truth of who they will serve once elected.  

Evaluation of MBP Brewer’s commitment to stop the closing of small businesses and save jobs. 

MBP Brewer, is a special case for finding the truth of which side she is on.

I needed to preface my evaluation of MBP Brewer with the true state of our businesses and how this injustice was allowed to happen, even today the injustice continues with the worst challenge to survive for small business owners. That shameful truth being hidden from voters is that our small business owners are in a far dire state to survive than our lawmakers want the public to believe. That dire state was caused by over 10 years of a lobby controlled City Hall denying economic justice to small business owners. Lawmakers and their sponsored candidates want voters to believe they really care and are taking meaningful actions to get our small businesses through the virus crisis and return back to a thriving "normal." Don’t buy this election year propaganda, nothing could be further from the truth, many small businesses were on life support prior to the virus, and that was acceptable to the majority of lawmakers. And it will be acceptable to many candidates if they win that our businesses remain on life support. Voters must demand once and for all that government intervene to stop the closings of our small businesses. 

This preface is also a warning to voters to not always believe what they hear or see at election time or at a media rally for a popular closed business. This political theater and decade charade at City Hall*  promoting all the great resources and programs for small businesses were all influenced and orchestrated by the real estate lobby to cover-up the growing crisis and to keep the status quo. Did MBP Brewer play a major role in this rigging to deny economic justice to our desperate small business owners?

 * https://www.savenycjobs.com/

MBP Brewer is a progressive icon to many Manhattan citizens. Her record on legislation claiming to save small business is so voluminous spanning over three decades that to give a full accurate accounting I have had to do a three (3) part evaluation.

Few would believe the truth of MBP Brewer’s actions and record of claiming to want to save small businesses without overwhelming credible evidence that was meticulously evaluated by real small business advocates who know the issue. If viewed with an open mind, MBP Brewer’s record and actions will speak for themselves, and more importantly, the truth. The overwhelming volume of credible evident gives absolute clarity to her role in actually denying economic justice to our small business owners and their workers. Her record shows her not committed to using her office to make a priority to save our small businesses. Instead, her only priority was faithfully following a lobby’s false narrative and game plan to stop the Jobs Survival Act. Once elected to office she was devoted only to her political career and keeping the status quo for wealthy lobbies, unethical lawmakers and the corrupt party bosses.

What qualifies me and my experience to give an honest and accurate assessment?

For several years I have had failing health but thankfully my mind is sound and my evaluation is truthful. More than any other person, I am eyewitness for over thirty years of the meaning of the real actions of MBP Brewer on addressing our small business crisis. Being especially knowledgeable on the Jobs Survival Act, which I helped write and made all seven amendments and advocated for over three decades. Below I will detail a few major actions of MBP Brewer which are all relevant to detailing her true position on our small business crisis, and her failure to call for the urgent need to find a real solution. Regrettably, also showing her role in stopping the only real lifeline to save our businesses.

MBP Brewer’s record on the Jobs Survival Act and actions to stop the closings of businesses is unique from all other lawmakers in several ways. Firstly, she has been involved with the original version of the Jobs Survival Act and all the several versions for over three decades. In fact, MBP Brewer in 36 years has more statements, bills, studies, press conferences, hearings, testimony given and forums on small business closings and the Jobs Survival Act than the entire city’s lawmakers combined. She has accumulated the largest record to be evaluated than all the lawmakers combined. Secondly, while all of the self proclaimed progressives who at one time either sponsored the bill or championed it in public, none were sincere in their commitment to fight for its passage. They only gave public support to promote their political images and careers and upon being promoted or elected immediately withdrew their sponsorship and in the worse cases of betrayal played a major role in the rigging to stop the bill, shamefully several unethical lawmakers still are rigging today.    

That was not the case for MBP Brewer in the beginning, acting as COS for the bill’s first prime sponsor, then Councilwoman Ruth Messinger.  I was eyewitness to the dedicated and courageous fight this young woman made over many years in the sole pursuit of justice, rights and to pass our bill and save our businesses. I am proud to state that we partnered and worked together dozens upon dozens of times to organize rallies, meetings, press conferences and hearings promoting the urgency to pass the original version of the Jobs Survival Act. Against all odds at City Hall, she fought hard to make certain the city’s art community and tenants groups were heard at every hearing. In fact, a special hearing was held on saving the arts featuring the late dance legend Alvin Alley.  Some of the city council’s biggest hearings were on our bill and the crisis of the closings of countless businesses. Because of her commitment, energy and alliance with our Coalition for Fair Business Rents, at every hearing no business group was discriminated against and every type of business in NYC’s economy was heard with a strong voice, Gale Brewer played a major role to see this happen.   

However, No lawmaker in the long 36 year debate on the Jobs Survival Act or legislation to save small businesses has ever changed their policy more dramatically than MBP Brewer did. Beginning upon being elected to the City Council in 2002, then Councilwoman Brewer stopped completely championing the Jobs Survival Act which both her predecessors, Councilwomen Ronnie Eldridge and Ruth Messinger were once prime sponsors. Even though the battle for justice and rights for small business owners started on the West Side of Manhattan, CM Brewer would end that fight.  

I, along with every business advocate, was shocked when learning our bill’s new prime sponsor was not newly elected CM Gale Brewer but instead a new Councilman from Queens named Alan Jennings. If the name sounds familiar he is the crazy guy who threw a rock at a reporter in his front yard. He is the same lawmaker the council censured due to sexual harassment charges. The future of our small businesses was in a new council-member's hands from Jamaica Queens who had no record of ever fighting for the bill or our cause.  In fact, we learned he never even read the bill and he would never seek sponsorships or call for a hearing of the bill. Why, then would CM Brewer allow this obvious rigging and high jacking of our bill go unchallenged? 

We knew why but never publicly called her out until 2015 when she announced her substitute bill for the Jobs Survival Act. PART II

CM Brewer would never again call for a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act or solicit sponsorship or support for the bill. Even though I was gravely disappointed in CM Brewer for allowing the high jacking of our bill by the real estate lobby, I never once over the years criticized her actions publicly. In fact, I had a business service center to run and over the years I continued to collaborate with CM Brewer, and later as MBP, in fighting for many regulations and laws impacting small business issues.

In June, 2008, then Councilman Robert Jackson became the new prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act. He immediately followed in the footsteps of former prime co sponsors: CMs Messinger, Michels, Linares and Eldridge and held rallies and called for a hearing on the bill. Then CM Brewer became a sponsor of the bill, but in name only because she did not actively fight for it.  In April 2009, the largest independent study of Hispanic Businesses was released.* This study was a game changer for the bill because it exposed the crisis and the cover-up by the Bloomberg administration of its failed pro real estate economic policy destroying our small businesses.

 * https://www.savenycjobs.com/latin-chamber-study

This shocking report showed our small business owners were facing a crisis caused by out of control sky high rents and landlord abuses. It triggered an immediate call for solutions by then Small Business Committee Chairman David Yassky. *(see his Utube statement ). A hearing was held June 29, 2009 with Chairman Yassky committing his committee to find a real solution to stop business closings. Chairman Yassky, “I will say simply as an opening statement that I believe that we absolutely have to do something, period. It's not an option to do nothing. The mom and pop stores on the commercial strips in our neighborhoods are the heart of the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now. The one thing I just want to put right up front with the administration witnesses here is we have to have some solutions to offer.”

*

VIDEO 6 B @

 

 

VIDEO 6 B @

 

 In the end of the hearing his entire committee selected the Jobs Survival Act as the best solution to end the crisis and every member became sponsors, making 32 total sponsors. Within a week of the certain bill’s unanimous vote out of committee and easy passage by the full council, then Speaker Quinn’s Office stopped the vote based only upon a vague bogus unsubstantiated legal claim that the bill had legal concerns and may not hold up to a court challenge.

This disgraceful act of conspiracy and collusion of a lobby with the Speaker’s office to rig the system to stop government from accomplishing its oversight responsibilities was an outrage, especially in a time of a known crisis. With full knowledge that our small businesses faced a growing crisis that was resulting in businesses closing, jobs lost, and landlord abuses, that without government intervention every business was in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired, the Speaker’s shameful act to stop this vote was the most anti immigrant act ever committed at City Hall. 

Quinn’s stopping the vote was an anti immigrant act because the majority of small businesses in NYC are owned by immigrant families (64-68%). Immigrant families are the greatest victims of the hyper real estate speculation because they were targeted for extortion of cash by unscrupulous landlords (31% from Hispanic study). Also, many were given only month to month, or one year leases to allow landlords’ the opportunity to get deep pocket renters. Having no rights, all immigrant owners were forced to pay their landlord’s property taxes which were growing along with the speculation. The American Dream was being destroyed and the only lifeline to save them was being denied a vote by a false cooked up bold face lie.

The one lawmaker at City Hall who knew better than anyone that Quinn’s claim was a total lie was Councilwoman Gale Brewer.

What would have happened if then CM Brewer would have held a press conference with Chair David Yassky and Prime Sponsor Robert Jackson to “set the record straight” on the legality of the Jobs Survival Act? Telling the truth of the most important legislation to save our small businesses and jobs. The truth that would have allowed the bill to go to a vote. The bill would have been voted on and easily passed and our small business crisis would have ended. There would have never been an empty store blight and every long established business on main street would have been thriving and with 10 year leases and protection from rent gouging and property taxes, making them far less vulnerable to closing today due to the virus crisis. But CM Brewer remained silent on the truth of the despicable scheme “lie” cooked up to stop the vote on the Jobs Survival Act, she was clearly on Speaker Quinn and the lobby’s side.  

How did CM Brewer know that Quinn’s legal claim was a totally baseless fabrication with no legitimate legal merit? Every fake progressive who flipped after being elected could claim “willful ignorance” after making many false statements about the Jobs Survival Act. But CM Brewer could not because she knew the truth of the legality challenge by her own firsthand direct experience and involvement with the bill.  Gale Brewer as COS to CM Messinger played a key role in the biggest victory for the Jobs Survival Act.  That victory was successfully proving the original version of the Jobs Survival Act was totally legal and fully constitutional to allow a vote on the bill by the Economic Development Committee. 

Background of the truth of how MBP Brewer knew Quinn’s office created a bogus claim to deny justice to small business owners.

Former Mayor Ed Koch and Speaker Peter Vallone were adamantly opposed to the original version of the Jobs Survival Act. Over a period of years they used their offices and every Machiavellian act to stop any vote on the bill. Their biggest stall was establishing a lobby orchestrated Small Business Retail Study Commission under the disguise to investigate the business closings. Their fake bias study produced no viable substitute for the Jobs Survival Act and the city’s business community rejected all their proposed solutions outright and instead demanded a vote on the Jobs Survival Act to stop the closings. Koch and Vallone’s last chance to stop a vote on the bill was a special City Council hearing to determine if the city had home rule to enact the bill and if any part of the bill was found unconstitutional. 

Our coalition’s attorney Sherri Donovan was ready for the legal challenge. Sherri researched every court ruling in NYS on the commercial rent control law that was in effect for over 18 years. Both CM Messinger and COS Brewer were very pleased to learn that the real estate lobby many times challenged the commercial rent control bill from the beginning and throughout until it ended in 1963. Sherri reminded them that these court challenges were all against the much more strict law that had government set rent and lease process formulas while our JOBS ACT bill only had a formula which triggered arbitration. The real estate lobby lost every case before the NYS courts, including several from the state's highest, the NYS Court of Appeals. Sherri explained that is why the real estate lawyers only refer to a single out of state case in Berkeley, CA where a small commercial rent control law was overturned.  Sherri as well as the City’s Corporate Council both contacted the attorneys involved in the Berkeley case and both agreed the Berkeley law was different and their court ruling was irrelevant and not applicable to our bill.

I bring these details up because of the sole excuse used by Quinn’s office to justify stopping a vote on our bill was a known lie for years at City Hall. Constantly over the years lawmakers, including MBP Brewer, will state a warning that the real estate lobby will challenge the bill in court and it would be overturned. Based upon the known court rulings, which were extensive, this is an absurd statement because this claim is a “toothless bluff” by the real estate lobby or their cronies. Sherri’s review proves the real estate lobby lost every court challenge in NYS courts with a strict rent control bill and in 2009 the undated Jobs Survival Act had NO government or rent formulas, it was just like all contracts worldwide with disputes resolved by arbitration. Then CM Brewer knew the legal department of Speaker Quinn was rigging the system for the real estate lobby with their BIG LIE and toothless bluff. 

Also, with the Jobs Survival Act finally so close to a vote, and to assure a victory at this special hearing CM Messinger approved the appearance of Prof. Dennis Keating, recognized as America’s leading constitutional authority on Commercial property rent law. He consulted on the Berkeley Ca. law which regulated commercial rents in a small section of Elmherst Calif., and collaborated on the court challenge. He authored several papers on NYS Commercial Rent Control law. I was witness to the guarded optimism of both CM Messinger and Gale Brewer of this hearings’ outcome with such star power testifying. But the real star testimony would come from the city’s own Corporation Council who gave testimony confirming Sherri’s review. 

Like Sherri, their testimony was based upon extensive research of 18 years of litigation on the NYS Commercial Rent Control Law and the numerous court decisions arising from challenges to that law, with rulings all in favor and upholding the constitutionality of the nation’s first commercial rent control law. They testified in support of the bill’s legality and that the City Council did have the powers to enact it.  The hearing was an overwhelming one sided victory with the Economic Development Committee agreeing that our bill was constitutional and had home rule. A date was set for Dec.1, 1988 for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act.  I was again eye witness on that date with CM Messinger and Gale Brewer when the bill lost by one vote.  But a vote was taken because the Council had the authority to pass it and because it was found to be constitutional.

CM Brewer knew full well that a vote on a much stricter version of the 2009 Jobs Survival Act was taken in 1988 but remained silent of that fact.

How is it possible that two powerful politicians, Mayor Koch and Speaker Vallone could not stop a vote on the original version of the Jobs Survival Act and yet 20 years later a much milder version of the bill, with 32 sponsors including the entire members of the Small Business Committee which had selected it as the only real solution to stop the closings of small businesses cannot be voted upon?

City Hall is now controlled by lobbies and corrupt ambitious politicians that is why.  MBP Brewer knew the truth but would not set the record straight on the Jobs Survival Act to allow a vote. In no government in a large democratic city in the world would the stopping a vote based solely upon a known lie have been allowed to happen. Then CM Brewer felt no moral obligation to tell the truth so a real lifeline could be given to save our businesses.

But one councilman would not accept the corruption and denial of justice against business owners. Prime sponsor CM Robert Jackson demanded from Council’s legal department a meeting to show them the overwhelming evidence that the Jobs Survival Act was fully constitutional and would stand up in court.  I was witness, as I attended this meeting at the Speaker’s office.  A room filled with attorneys were surprised when Sherri Donovan came fully prepared with a legal review of the bill which her team had researched and updated. While she successfully rebutted every legal challenge made against the bill, the Speaker’s lawyers remained silent in responding and in fact did not state one legal fact or theory supporting their fabricated claim against the bill. Because they never had any.

If  CM Brewer had stepped up to set the record straight about the legality of the bill would it have helped CM Jackson’s fight to gain a vote?

Yes, because like former prime sponsor CM Messinger, CM Jackson was going to challenge Speaker Quinn and call for the rarely used motion to discharge the Jobs Survival Act. A motion to discharge a bill is when the prime sponsor, along with 7 council members request a vote by the full council on allowing a bill to move forward in committee to a vote. Any statement from CM Brewer of the truth of the pathetic excuse used to deny a vote would likely have killed Quinn’s attempt to stop a vote. I was witness in 1989 of Gale Brewer asking all our advocates to help put pressure on their council members to support CM Messinger’s motion to discharge the original version of the Jobs Survival Act. But this time, no statement of the truth or support for CM Jackson’s brave actions would be made by CM Brewer. Due to the threat of losing his Education Committee Chair, CM Jackson was forced to withdraw his motion to discharge one week prior to a vote.

CM Brewer’s decision to not expose the truth allowed Speaker Quinn to be successful in stopping democracy from working. It also showed CM Brewer having no empathy for the dire plight of our small business owners and she was clearly on the side of the powerful lobby where she would remain, even today.

 

PART II

MBP BREWER CONTINUING TO DENY ECONOMIC JUSTICE TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS AS CRISIS GROWS OUT OF CONTROL.

 

Sung Soo Kim, recognized as the city’s leading small business authority and advocate for over 3 decades. The “Godfather of immigrant businesses”  is the founder of the oldest small business service center in NYC, the Korean American Small Business Service Center, and was Chairman of the Mayor’s First Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. He is co-founder of Small Business Congress and sole creator of the Small Business Bill of Rights.  He has spent every working day for 34 years addressing the problems of immigrant small business owners. At its peak, Kim had 17,000 immigrant business owners he served under 8 Asian business associations.  He never took a salary from government as Chairman of Small Business Advisory Board nor in consulting on numerous regulations. He turned down offers to run a BID in Queens and turned down government funding for his business service center.  In 34 years he has personally negotiated and re-negotiated an estimated 50,000-55,000 commercial lease for his Asian members. He has gone to court weekly for 34 years to fight for his members in court. He personally consulted in the drafting of the original version of Small Business Jobs Survival Act and every version introduced by eight prime sponsors. He organized 11 public hearings over 3 decades on the Jobs Survival Act.