Councilman Robert Cornegy Was the
Worst Chairperson in Council History and
NYC has Two Crises to Prove it.
Every Small Business Owner is Suffering Today because of
Cornegy’s Dishonesty and Betrayal.
Councilmember (CM) Robert Cornegy was hand picked to be Chairman of the Small Business Committee in 2014, facing the greatest challenge of any Chair due to the growing small business crisis. Unfortunately for today’s desperate small business owners struggling to survive, he was not picked to find a real solution to end the decade long crisis destroying the backbone of our economy. Instead, he was selected to stop any real solution from being passed that would give small business owners the rights which they needed to survive and the rights needed to make a reasonable profit.
To fully understand the dire consequences then, and today to our small business owners and their employees as a result of Chairman Cornegy turning control of his committee over to a singular lobby, a brief background is required. It is easy for any New Yorker to realize that their mom and pop businesses face a crisis to survive due to the coronavirus. What our lawmakers do not want the public to know is that these same small business owners also have been facing for over a decade a crisis to survive prior to the virus crisis. A crisis that was purposely never resolved and will jeopardize the future of every business owner who survives the coronavirus crisis.
A crisis that was knowingly allowed to grow out of control by our democratic leadership controlled by a powerful real estate lobby who funded their campaigns or promoted their political ambitions. A lobby whose member’s greed and abuses were the root cause of our small business crisis. A crisis that if not resolved will result in the extinction of our small businesses and trigger an economic catastrophe in NYC. The coronavirus crisis has only speeded up what was already slowly happening to businesses in NYC, good businesses being forced to close.
If the public sees lawmakers touting a program or bill to help save our small businesses from the virus crisis, do not be fooled into believing that they really care enough to stop the closings and finally address their longer crisis. Every lawmaker in NYC, with no exception, will not mention the first crisis or the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. A bill that would give rights to small business owners when their leases expire. Rights to renewal long term 10 year leases, right to equally negotiate the new lease terms and rights to an arbitration process if mutual agreement cannot be reached. Why?
Because it would expose their role that each played in the collusion with the real estate lobby to stop this bill or any bill for that matter that would give any rights to small business owners and regulating commercial landlords when a lease expires. It would expose to the public that a real solution existed for more than 10 years bottled up in committee, that if simply voted on would have ended the small business crisis and stopped the closings of our businesses. It would expose lawmakers who conspired with corrupt leadership and the real estate lobby to deny economic justice to every small business owner in NYC for over 10 years. It would expose the truth that our City’s democratic leadership serves only their campaign donors, lobbies and the corrupt party bosses.
One of the key lawmakers in this collusion and rigging to deny justice and rights to desperate business owners was CM Robert Cornegy.
CM Cornegy, as Chairman of the Small Business Committee ran his committee in the exact opposite manner of good government, and the dire consequences are being felt today by every small business owner and their employees. The outcome of his
anti democratic committee influenced by lobbies, special interests, and the corrupt democratic machine was this: when he became Chairman the city faced a growing small business crisis, and when he left four years later the crisis was much worse. In four years as Chairman, Cornegy did absolutely nothing to save a single business or job. Today, with small business owners facing two crises, the Cornegy “do-nothing policy” is still stopping any real lifeline to even try to stop the closings of our small businesses or give our businesses a fighting chance to survive. His committee was the poster child for a politically corrupt committee controlled by a morally corrupt lobby, that is still corrupt today.
Councilman Robert Cornegy became Chairman of the Small Business Committee in 2014, and immediately established the goals of his committee with the exact opposite intent of promoting fairness, economic justice for small business owners, or to hold government agencies accountable for failed policies producing poor outcomes, and good government practices. His selection was influenced by a powerful lobby wanting a loyal point person to continue their conspiracy to deny economic justice to our desperate small business owners. The lobby had been in collusion with the Speaker’s Office since 2009 to successfully rig the system to stop a vote on any law that gave any real rights to commercial tenants which they needed to survive and end their crisis.
As point person, Chairman Cornegy was given three goals to meet in order to successfully continue denying justice to small business owners and instead protect only the profits of a few wealthy. First, his committee must deny an honest hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. Since late 2009 the conspiracy at City Hall orchestrated by the real estate lobby to stop the Jobs Survival Act had been successfully carried out by the collaboration of many unethical bad actors in government identities: Speaker, Mayor, SBS, BIDS, Chambers, Small Business Committee Chair, government funded fake community and business groups and several key council members. If an honest hearing was ever allowed to happen, even once, the only outcome would be exactly what happened at the last hearing in June 2009. At that hearing the Jobs Survival Act was selected by the entire committee as the best solution to stop the closing of small businesses, and it still is today. Then Small Business Committee Chairman David Yassky said, “the cornerstone legislation to stop the closing of our small businesses is the Small Business Survival Act.”
Chairman Cornegy fully and eagerly accomplished this disgraceful goal and never once allowed the Jobs Survival Act to have an honest hearing. In fact, during his entire Chairmanship no hearings were ever held to find legislation to stop the closing of small businesses, and there still is none today! Chairman Cornegy was faced with a full blown small business crisis happening across all NYC. But all the while he had the best and only real solution in his hands, Jobs Survival Act, with more than enough votes to easily pass. What was he waiting for, he had a real solution to a crisis?
Instead of finding a solution to stop the closings, for four years Cornegy’s policy was a “do nothing policy”. Why? Because to be a lobby’s point person one has to make a commitment to the lobby to never let the public know the truth. That truth was, allowing one hearing on the Jobs Survival Act would have saved countless small businesses and jobs and ended their crisis. Thanks to Chairman Cornegy’s betrayal of democracy, unlike businesses in other cities, today’s NYC small business owners now face two crises to survive. One being the decade long destruction caused by sky high rents, unfair lease renewal process, and landlord’s greed and the other being today’s coronavirus crisis.
Shameful, two crises without businesses having any rights and a powerful lobby controlling City Hall whose members actually caused the first crisis. For that reason, today at City Hall there are no out cries from honest progressive lawmakers with the courage and political will to stand up to the real estate lobby and demand an immediate vote on the only solution to save our small businesses. The best solution to stop the closing of businesses today is the same solution (Jobs Survival Act) to end their first crisis. Give businesses basic rights to long term leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms, protection from landlord abuses and control over their futures and most will survive today’s virus crisis.
Every small business owner struggling to survive today’s virus crisis can easily blame
Chairman Cornegy for failing democracy and lacking the decency for never being committed to finding an honest solution to end the first crisis, thus making businesses much more vulnerable to closing today. If Chairman Cornegy would have allowed good government to work in his committee, and respected our hardworking small business owners, every small business owner today, when their leases expire or had expired, would have at least 10 year leases and not forced to pay their landlord’s growing property taxes. Could this make the difference the last seven months or right now for owners deciding to close or hold on knowing they have rights and some predictability to their future that a long term lease and no added taxes would give them? I feel strongly most long established businesses with a strong clientele base could get loans and survive if the Jobs Survival Act would have passed. But Chairman Cornegy made certain that no small business owner would ever get any rights when their leases expired, would continue to pay their landlords’ property taxes and have NO predictability for their futures in NYC. It is due to Chairman Cornegy’s abdicating to the real estate lobby his committee’s responsibly of small business oversight that today’s small business owners face TWO CRISES to survive which puts every owners’ business and employee’s job in grave jeopardy, and the worst dire state in NYC history.
The truth: Our government has known that our small businesses face a crisis to survive since 2009!! When former Small Business Chairman David Yassky first acknowledged from the findings of the largest independent survey of Hispanic small business owners*, that a crisis existed for small businesses it took him 2 months to hold a hearing to find a solution to end it.
Small Business Committee Chairperson David Yassky April 18, 2009 “ The major creators of our jobs, our small businesses are going out of business. That’s what is at stake here, if we don’t keep our small businesses we will not keep those jobs.”
“Franklin Roosevelt, when he was President said, try something, if it does not work, try something else. But you have to try something. The one thing we cannot do in the face of this Crisis is nothing”
June 2009 hearings, Chariman Yassky opening statement, “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.“.
Where as, Chairman Cornegy knew a crisis existed and never held even one hearing in four years, that is called profound rigging for a lobby. Yassky- “The one thing we cannot do in the face of this Crisis is nothing”, what Chairman Cornegy did for four years was NOTHING!
Chairman Cornegy’s second goal was to have his Committee fully join in the rigging to cover up the growing small business crisis spreading to every borough and every main street in the city. Even with NYC Courts* issuing warrants to evict 22,719 businesses under his watch, an estimated 70-80K businesses closed citywide while he was Chairman, and an estimated 550-580K jobs lost, Cornegy was successful in promoting only REBNY’s false narrative and orchestrated charade advancing his “do-nothing policy” by creating dog and pony shows, phony studies, fake forums, and countless worthless initiatives to cover up the real crisis facing our small business owners. He also was successful in covering up the existence of a real solution, Jobs Survival Act which could end the crisis. With 1,200-1,400 business closing each month under his watch, attend a Cornegy Forum on “how to grow your business,” disgraceful!
It was primarily under his Chairmanship that the public began seeing many main street’s long established thriving businesses forced to close and remain empty, sometimes for years. Yet his committee did nothing to stop the closings and save jobs for four years. Cornegy did not even try once to throw a lifeline to give small business owners a fighting chance to survive, NOT ONCE! Instead, shamefully he allowed his committee to be used in the rigging and conspiracy to deny economic justice to business owners. He allowed his committee to give credibility to the most anti small business agency in America, SBS. He would show up at every media event concerning empty stores or closed businesses, where he or a representative would repeat only REBNY’s false narrative and alternative facts talking points, give disinformation on the Jobs Survival Act, make empty promises to cover-up the dire consequences of the crisis and to give credibility to worthless initiatives claiming to help small businesses. But always promising he was writing a bill with Manhattan Boro President Gale Brewer that would save our small businesses. A bill that never happened. In PART II, I will detail the scheme he and Brewer cooked up to substitute a REBNY bill for the Jobs Survival Act. As well as, give an example of a REBNY Trojan Horse bill Cornegy tried to pawn off as helping small businesses in their time of crisis.
**NYC court evictions
As disgraceful and appalling the first two goals were to democracy and to our small businesses’ future, Chairman Cornegy’s third goal would be despicable and morally reprehensible if successful. The real estate lobby had found a Chair with so little integrity and lacking any ethics in Chairman Cornegy that they would have him attempt to do what every democratic leader refused to do for over 30 years. Their mission was to have Chairman Cornegy scheme with other lawmakers to cook up another bill, a fake bill, to substitute for the Jobs Survival Act, thus killing the only lifeline for business owners to survive. Former Speakers had stopped a vote on the Jobs Survival Act several times over the decades, but none had tried to kill it for good.
In a time of growing crisis for small businesses, Chairman Corney would conspire with other REBNY loyalists and pro real estate agencies to produce a fake study to justify calling for a new bill that he claimed to be the answer to save small businesses. Knowing this Cornegy Bill to be a total fake, and knew that it would not save a single business, Chairman Cornegy nevertheless would willfully lie to the desperate business owners and the public by touting the bill’s worth. He would pledge he was writing the bill with MBP Gale Brewer to be a lifeline to be submitted imminently in the council, imminent would turn out to be three years, then never.
So, if he was successful in selling this REBNY created Trojan Horse, that would be the end of the Jobs Survival Act and the end of the American Dream for countless business owners and an end of any hope for a future for our small businesses in NYC.
Had the Cornegy Bill passed our small businesses would become extinct in NYC. The destruction of our small businesses, the backbone of our economy would trigger the greatest economic catastrophe in our city’s history with record unemployment, sky high property tax increases, layoffs, and a destroyed economy. Thankfully, his collusion was exposed in time to kill the Cornegy Bill and save the Jobs Survival Act.
Every reasonable guideline used for determining leadership and integrity, CM Cornegy has failed appallingly, which resulted in making the city’s small business crisis worse. His actions have greatly decreased the odds of today’s small business owners surviving the virus crisis. The future of our city’s economy is in grave danger due to his deceit benefiting only a lobby and his own political ambitions. As a result of his spearheading the rigging of the system for special interests, any real solution to save businesses had been prevented by denying an honest public hearing and vote. Under his watch, only REBNY created proposals protecting landlords’ rights were given hearings and promoted as legitimate substitutes for legislation giving rights to commercial tenants when their leases expired.
All of CM Cornegy’s fake studies and phony proposals had only the goal of keeping the status quo, that being, protecting the profits of big real estate and his campaign donors and would not save a single business or job. What is truly appalling in his record is the fact CM Cornegy was in the most powerful position in the Council to stop the closing of his own districts’ small businesses and save jobs, yet he refused for four years to save even one. CM Cornegy’s message to all Brooklyn’s small business owners was clear, my political career is more important than saving your American Dream.
It is pathetic that CM Cornegy, using real estate campaign funds, is now running for Brooklyn President and he has the audacity to ask Brooklyn voters to trust him with their futures. His actions placed every Brooklyn small business owner and their employees’ futures in the worst possible state, but he now wants their vote to give him a bright future. Why with today’s virus crisis has CM Cornegy been silent on demanding a vote on the Jobs Survival Act or any law giving rights to desperate Brooklyn businesses fighting for their lives? CM Cornegy’s failed record as Chair makes clear he does not deserve Brooklyn’s small businesses or their employees trust or vote. His record shows, he literally is the biggest REBNY crony at City Hall.
Disgraceful and shameful are the only terms to accurately describe CM Cornegy’s performance as Chairman.
It took over 34 years for the real estate lobby to find a lawmaker without any scruples or any integrity who would introduce their worthless bills. Well they found him and that lawmaker was Chairman Robert Cornegy.