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Democracy faces a crisis in Washington!

And an even worse crisis in NYC!


Dateline, NYC October 19, 2018:

Re:  Oct. 22nd City Council hearing on Small Business Jobs Survival Act ,  (Jobs Survival Act).  The SBC is asking all advocates to follow us in calling for a boycott of this hearing.  Please boycott out of respect to all small business workers, the forgotten victims of the unchecked greed wreaking havoc on our local economy. Lawmakers need to begin to care for the lost jobs from their growing empty storefronts, or voters will ask “when will jobs matter for politicians?”


Though SBC members, lead by Sung Soo Kim and Sherri Donovan Esq., wrote the original version of the Jobs Survival Act in 1986 and every one of the seven changes to update the bill including the latest 21st Century version in 2008, selecting seven past prime sponsors, organizing and testifying at 11 hearings on the bill, successfully defending the legality of the bill several times, and fighting vigorously for the past 9 years advocating for justice and a hearing,


Today, we call for a Boycott of the

Oct 22 hearing.


Our “deprived social class”, desperate small business owners, long denied a voice in government, their futures jeopardized or destroyed, deserve economic justice - a government that works for them not for a real estate lobby.  The evidence is overwhelmingly compelling.  This hearing, orchestrated by a powerful real estate lobby, will be a sham and rigged.


The purpose of this hearing will not be to find the best solution to stop the closing of small businesses, save jobs, or end a crisis.  Instead, it will be “political theater” for electeds doing nothing for nine years to save a business or job to give disingenuous statements on how important our small businesses are - then promote “other measures” or useless initiatives created by and favoring only landlords. This array of proposals/measures, have nothing to do with any real solution to the real crisis facing small businesses upon leases expiring. Measures created by the real estate lobby meant to keep the status quo protecting the windfall profits of landlords, not to save small businesses or jobs.  Another purpose of the hearing will be to lay the foundation for changing and watering down the bill after the hearing to keep the status quo for REBNY’s landlord members.


Any citizen that believes in democracy and good government; holds progressives values; knows our small businesses need rights to survive in this hyper real estate speculative market; who believes in fair play and justice; knows mom and pop businesses are a critical part of the character of our neighborhoods and must be protected; cares about the jobs of the workers also victims of the unfair lease renewal process; who understands the role of jobs to the stability of families as a pathway to social mobility for lower income families, who love our art community; who is sad to see our immigrant owners’ “American Dream” being destroyed; who feel the illegal extortion of immigrant owners is appalling and must be stopped. For all these citizens, we ask all to join us in this boycott to send a clear message to lawmakers and their REBNY orchestrated charade hearing. 


The message is simple: we reject  “business as usual “at City Hall. No longer is it acceptable that lawmakers pledging progressive values to voters on Main Street - then abdicate all responsibility to a real estate lobby or political machine at City Hall. No longer can they remain silent and complicit to injustices and the rigging by a lobby over serving the will of the people. If a lawmaker votes for legislation that takes away rights of small business owners to survive or make a reasonable profit that lawmaker will be held fully responsible for all businesses closing and jobs lost in their district. Every closing and job lost is on their watch.  With the corrupt political machine collaborating with a greedy lobby to destroy both our economy, neighborhoods and democracy in New York City, Enough is enough! We ask all community activists to not give one ounce of credibility to this REBNY sham and rigged hearing.  It’s an insult to every desperate small business owner and their workers in their time of crisis.


We anticipate being attacked for this decision by self-proclaimed advocacy groups loyal only to politicians, government funded organizations, or those who have benefited in this unchecked hyper speculation commercial market and those misinformed believing our call to boycott was our first option instead of our last. We expect to be wrongly accused of being ungrateful to Speaker Johnson for giving us this hearing after former Speakers Quinn and Mark Viverito refused for eight years. 


Contrary to the spin, this is not the first hearing. There have been eleven prier hearings which SBC organized and won, but this one is clearly a rigged sham.  Fake advocates are calling for activists to show up in force to make their presence known.  We say the best way to show your power and presence is to show up at your local lawmakers office demanding democracy.  And if they fail to empower the people and instead serve a lobby then show up on election day running new candidates. There is no greater waste of time for people wanting real change and good government serving the people than to sit thru a rigged hearing – a sham at City Hall.


Facts supporting our call to Boycott:

Ever since a bogus legal roadblock was cooked up after the last hearing on the Jobs Survival Act in 2009, which stopped a vote to easily pass, SBC has fought to have an honest hearing seeking a real solution to save our businesses and jobs.  For the past nine years, our government served special interests who high-jacked democracy and the Small Business Committee to deny small businesses a voice, economic justice and due process. Small businesses deserve respect and appreciation, and a real solution to end the growing crisis and save the backbone of our economy.  If lawmakers were true progressives as they proclaim - promoting progressive legislation, serving the will of the people, as friends of small businesses, we shouldn’t have to plead for justice, but we do because a powerful lobby took control of our government and replaced democracy with oligarchy rule.


Fake advocates using our bill to disguise their political loyalty, assail us for not praising Speaker Johnson in keeping his promise to give a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act. While Speaker Johnson’ statements on the dire state of our small businesses and his commitment to find a solution are commendable and totally different from those of former Speakers Quinn and Mark Viverito, his actions and use of the Speaker’s office to continue the rigging have been the same. Abandoning his progressive principles has resulted in the rigging of the system for REBNY to be carried on unchallenged. Speaker Johnson, or for that matter, Mayor de Blasio, PA James and the majority of council members should not be praised for their pro small business statements or useless initiatives.  They should be ashamed for abandoning progressive values and selling out our small businesses to REBNY for their political ambitions; for doing nothing for 9 years allowing 500 businesses each month to be actually evicted by the courts with 4,000 jobs lost; for remaining silent and complicit while a lobby rigged system stops any legislation giving rights for businesses to survive.  Our lawmakers should be embarrassed at the empty stores on every main street in all communities where once thriving businesses stood; disgraced for turning their backs as hard working immigrant families were targeted by unscrupulous landlords extorting cash from them threatening to throw them out of business as the American Dream was destroyed for countless small business owners while they did nothing to protect a single business or job.


     There is a special place in the “Hall of Shame” for lawmakers who sold their souls to a lobby and joined in the rigging to stop rights for small business owners thus worsening the crisis. Easy to recognize, these lawmakers eagerly give REBNY talking points/lies whenever asked about the Jobs Survival Act or what they are doing to stop the closings. 

REBNY Talking points/lies: “The bill has legal issues and is unconstitutional…. Collecting dust and going nowhere for the past 30 years and will never pass … the Jobs Survival Act is not a silver bullet and other array of measures will be needed …. We need the 21st Century version ….the bill is commercial rent control… use the  “tools in the toolbox”…  co op/condo owners will suffer and lose rights …retail storefronts need help…….use fair market rates as best arbitration guide….the bill protects big banks, chains and Goldman Sachs… the real problems of small businesses are to many fines and over regulation…businesses are closing because of chains and Amazon…we need protection from chains…businesses are closing due to changing times.  


These lawmakers promoted only REBNY created initiatives which give no rights to small business owners and would not save one business or job. Fake proposals like: give tax incentives for landlords to not rent gouge, zoning in specific streets, fines for empty stores, one year lease extensions to move to a new location, use fair market rate as prime arbitration factor, and several worthless studies like counting the number of empty stores, are mere distractions away from real solutions to the crisis.    


While true, Speaker Johnson kept his promise and gave us a hearing, what good is a hearing when he abdicated the oversight responsible of the Small Business Committee to a lobby?  Speaker Johnson also kept another promise made to a lobby which is the foundation for our call to boycott the hearing. A lobby that hand picked the most pro landlord Chairman, Mark Gjonaj, a real estate owner opposed to the Jobs Survival Act and on record saying he will change it and saying the bill is illegal. He picked the committee members with no member from Queens, an insult to the immigrant owners of Queens, and cut the committee in half.  Worse of all Speaker Johnson left in place the bogus “legal’ roadblock REBNY helped create to stop our bill for 9 years and will be used after the hearing to justify watering it down to keep the status quo. Shameful, the very lobby who’s landlord members caused our small business crisis, Johnson has given full control over the hearing and the Jobs Survival Act, a bill that the real estate lobby rigged the system for 9 years to stop.


Sung Soo Kim, founder of SBC reached out 14 times thru letters, emails, OP ED, articles and calls to meet with Speaker Johnson to make clear the actions the Speaker needed to take to assure an honest hearing to find a real solution to end the crisis. * below are 2 such outreaches by Kim


Speaker Johnson refused to respond or meet even once with Mr. Kim, even though he was the author of the Jobs Survival Act  and city’s leading advocate for small businesses for over 30 years. Instead, records show Johnson met many times with the real estate lobby.


Kim’s recommendations for the new Small Business Committee Chairman were totally ignored, even when Kim stated the importance of this selection to the future of all small businesses and the Village, “For the future of our small businesses and countless New Yorkers’ jobs, for our city’s arts community and those who love their neighborhoods, we call upon the new speaker to rise above the corrupt control of REBNY and take back the responsibility of selecting the Small Business Committee’s chairperson and its members. Select only those lawmakers who are independent of REBNY’s control and committed to serving our city’s hardworking small business owners. “


Speaker Johnson’s choice was REBNY’s choice, a real estate owner heavily funded by big real estate and a harsh opponent of landlord regulations of any kind, residential too.

A choice indefensible, unconscionable and appalling.


Kim asked both Johnson and Gjonaj to resolve all legal issues of the bill prior to a hearing to assure justice for small businesses and protect business owners from the injustice that occurred after the last hearing on the bill. Both refused to respond to his simple and reasonable request. For that matter Johnson refuses to explain why he would not direct his Legal Department to resolve the legal issues.


Kim asked Chairman Gjonaj to make the focus of the hearing solely on the same goal as the former Chairman Yassky did at the last hearing on the bill in June 2009. The purpose was to find the best solution to stop the closing of small businesses and save jobs. Then Chairman Yassky, opening statement, “there is no option to do nothing, …I want to hear solutions.. we have to find a solution or our small businesses will disappear.” Chairman Gjonaj refused to answer even when asked a simple yes or no to Kim’s two requests.


Because of Speaker Johnson’s lack of integrity, we lost the battle at City Hall. The last action advocates wanting real change and reform in their government should take is make a REBNY rigged and sham hearing successful.  We call upon every community advocate to take the battle to Main Street where we will win the war for a return to democracy.  We call on all advocates to hold their local lawmakers responsible for the future of their small businesses and their workers’ jobs. Begin seeking new independent candidates who, if elected, will serve the will of the people and not a powerful lobby. We must unite to support a return to democracy and humanity, oppose the rigging and the unethical “business as usual” immoral corruption that exists at City Hall.


Sung Soo Kim , Founder

Steven Barrison, Spokesperson of SBC


Best article giving history of rigging


Kim message to Chairman Gjonaj


Kim message to Speaker Johnson


 The Small Business Congress

New York City

                                              Sung Soo Kim, Founder


May 9, 2018


Open Letter to Speaker Johnson


Speaker Corey Johnson

250 Broadway

New York, New York 10007


Re: 2nd Request for resolution of legality of Small Business Jobs Survival Act prior to council hearing.


Honorable Speaker Johnson:

We are disheartened by your refusal to respond to our April 10th urgent request for you to call upon the Council’s legal department to resolve the legal challenges originated from the Speaker’s attorneys against the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. 


If you were sincere in your statements, “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,” the starting point for a “rigorous debate” on the SBJSA must be to resolve the challenges on the bill’s constitutionality. The legal claims against the SBJSA’s legality originated from the Speaker’s Office by the Council’s Legal Department. While these legal challenges were never made public, were vague and never substantiated by credible legal review of case law, nevertheless, it stopped a vote on the SBJSA, certain to easily pass.  For the next 8 years these legal claims have been the only justification given by lawmakers to deny a public hearing on the SBJSA. Even the powerful lobby, REBNY refers to these legal claims from the Speaker’s Office when discussing the SBJSA.


For a council hearing on the SBJSA to achieve its oversight responsibilities in finding the best solution to stop the closing of our small businesses and end this crisis, the “overshadowing legal cloud” of the SBJSA must be fully resolved. Otherwise, the council will likely have a repeat of the travesty of justice committed against our small business owners and their employees that occurred after the last hearing on the SBJSA.


Giving a hearing to a bill is not enough when the bill regulates members of the most powerful lobby in NYC, REBNY. This sad reality and statement of how little democracy and justice exists for some New Yorkers was exposed at the last hearing on the SBJSA. At the last hearing on the SBJSA, June 29, 2009 former Chairman David Yassky opened by saying,” 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.”

After the hearing the entire committee were sponsors of the SBJSA and choose the bill as the best solution, “The cornerstone of saving our small businesses is the Small Business Survival Act. “  The council did its duty, the public did their duty, but the Speaker’s Office did not and denied justice to desperate New Yorkers. Today, a walk down any main street in the city will show every New Yorker the consequences of the failure of government to serve its citizens over serving special interests.


 If we are to believe you were earnest in your statement “I believe that the small business loss we are seeing in the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen and all across the city is a crisis. I want to reiterate, crisis,” then if your council is committed to find a solution to this crisis, you must show new leadership in the Speaker’s Office. There are some in the Speaker’s Office who do not share your view that a crisis exists for our small business owners. For 8 years after Council’s Legal stopped a vote on what the council’s own committee viewed as the only real solution to end the crisis, the SBJSA was denied a hearing.  Yet, with over 1,000 businesses closing each month in NYC and empty storefronts appearing on every main street, no effort was ever made by the Speaker’s Office in 8 years to recommend amendments to the SBJSA which would cure their legal concerns, clearly the power and influence of REBNY in the Speaker’s Office.


If your mandate to the council to promote progressive values and progressive legislation is to apply to the SBJSA, then you must stand up for those who have been voiceless and denied economic justice by the Speaker’s Office. You must end the "Machiavellianism" of the Speaker’s Office manipulated and controlled by REBNY.


For the sake of restoring democracy and justice for many citizens and for the future of our city’s small business owners and their employees and saving the character and spirit of the Village and other neighborhoods in our city, I ask you as Speaker of the City Council to direct your legal departments to do their job.  The job they have refused to do for eight years, to research and submit to you a legal review of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. If they conclude the bill has legal issues, then substantiate with case law reviews on point supporting their challenge. And to submit recommended amendments to the legislation which would satisfy any legal issues and concerns they have. 


Without the full resolution of all legal claims against the SBJSA prior to a hearing then the outcome of a hearing on the SBJSA will be a sham with REBNY again taking charge after and using the same merit-less legal roadblock as justification to change and water down the SBJSA to where it keeps the status quo and will not save a single business or job.




Sung Soo Kim, Founder

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