CM Cornegy lays the foundation for the greatest sham legislation in council history.
Since late 2014 Chairman Cornegy had been regularly informing the media of legislation he was writing in conjunction with MBP Gale Brewer which would address the growing business closings due to high rent increases. The foundation of his legislation would come from the recommendation of a so-called major study done by MBP Brewer called Small Business Big Impact, Expanding Opportunity for Manhattan’s Storefronters.*
This study was a Sham study with only one goal, to give CM Cornegy’s legislation credibility as a substitute for the Jobs Survival Act, bottled up in his committee. The study had 22 consultants, 20 of which were funded directly or indirectly by SBS, Brewer’s Office, or the NYC government. The majority consultants never owned a small business and never advocated for mom & pop businesses.
The majority spoke for property owners’ interests only. In fact, the majority consultant’s organizations were on record opposed to the Jobs Survival Act. All the BID consultants represented landlord board members who had been making windfall profits for over a decade from the real estate speculation. Most of the primary source of data was from SBS and BIDS who were influenced by property owners and maintained the trickle down economic policy which produced windfall profits for them and a crisis for business owners. Furthermore, neither the BIDS or SBS ever testified or made a statement that our small businesses faced a crisis or ever recognized the record trend of court evictions or business closings, and still do not today. Yes, despicable! MBP and CM Cornegy were listening only to those identities who had been successfully covering up the small business crisis, and still do today.
In fact, SBS has never gone on record that high rents were the number one major problem facing small businesses or the increased illegal extortion of mostly immigrant owners was a concern. The city’s BIDS, Chambers, and SBS’s loyalty to property owners and high paying revolving door jobs at City Hall would make them part of the problem not a reliable source for the solution. The list of consultants included the late Ramon Murphy, President of the Bodega Association and myself. The only two on the list that actually cared about mom and pop businesses and supported the Jobs Survival Act. When I phoned Ramon about the study, he had been seriously ill and knew nothing about it, nether did I. A real Sham!
As always, REBNY’s signature title for every study, forum, fake initiatives etc is RETAIL and in this case retail Storefronts. After the usual praise for small businesses
and adequate amounts of useless data, the report spells out their findings to justify a solution to high rents, stores closing, and empty stores. The recommended future Cornegy Bill was in reality the Landlord’s Bill created by REBNY in 1986 by the infamous Limousine Commission made up of wealthy bankers, wall street, real estate etc. How shameful and how deceitful that after all the charade of a phony study and planned fake forums the final bill was WORD FOR WORD* the primary recommendation of the landlords to the majority members of the Small Retail Business Study Commission!!!* A disgraceful bill that everyone knew would not save one small business or job. At that time, the city’s small business advocates were joined by all the city’s business groups in calling the Commission’s recommendations the Landlords’ Bills. Chairman Cornegy’s bill was in fact the top Landlord’s Bill.
CM Cornegy’s proposed legislation was an insult to every hard working business owner, also an insult to good government. What is more disgraceful in Chairman Cornegy’s actions in making this sham study’s recommendation the foundation for his legislation, is the fact his legislation supposedly to save our small businesses was in fact written by REBNY 30 years ago with the goals of keeping the status quo and stopping a vote on the original version of the Jobs Survival Act. The same goals of today, this is clearly a case of rigging for a lobby.
The Limousine Commission’s primary recommendation, called for non- binding mediation only with one year extension of lease at 15% increase to move to another location (today’s modern Cornegy Bill) . This proposal, along with other recommendations (zoning and tax incentives) called the Landlord’s bills was immediately rejected by all the city’s business groups and advocates. The Cornegy bill would not save a single small business owner or one employees’ job. In fact, it would result in high rents and more businesses closing. Under Cornegy’s bill of Mediation without Arbitration and move, the businesses have no rights to renewal their leases and no right to dictate any terms of the new lease. His bill would keep the status quo of not regulating the landlords who have exclusive power in all lease decisions. All of the major problems faced by business owners which are causing businesses to close, stopping growth or forcing lay offs of workers are not addressed by Cornegy’s bill. Such problems as exorbitant rent increases, illegal extortion of immigrant owners, short term leases (sometimes month to month), and oppressive lease terms like paying the landlords’ taxes would all continue under Cornegy’s Bill.
Passage of Cornegy’s bill would make the crisis worse because businesses in order to stay in their neighborhoods would be forced to bid against their neighbors for their locations, thus driving up rents even higher.
The truth: In 1986 I was present at the final report of the Limousine Commission and upon immediately reading the MBP Brewer/Cornegy Bill recognized that it was written by REBNY as the prime recommendation to the Limousine Commission. I immediately began an awareness campaign to make the public aware of this despicable rigging being done by CM Cornegy and MBP Brewer. After several OP ED pieces* appeared in several media, CM Cornegy and MBP Brewer were forced to drop their disgraceful bill, they were caught red handed committing a corrupt act for a lobby!
Begin with a lie and end with a bigger lie.
From the very first day as Chairman, CM Cornegy let stand the knowingly false statements several unethical democratic leadership lawmakers were making about the Jobs Survival Act as an excuse to not hold a hearing. That lie, that the bill had legal concerns, was first used by Speaker Quinn to stop a vote on the bill in 2009. The soundly debunked meritless claim would shamefully stand for four years under CM Cornegy. In four years as Chair not once did CM Cornegy even attempt to find the truth of this bogus claim, because he knew the truth, that the bill was fully constitutional. Instead, this lie and a sham study were the excuse he would use to seek the justification for his new Landlord’s bill to save our small businesses.
MBP Brewer would always respond to media questions about the Jobs Survival Act, “the bill will never pass, has been collecting dust for 30 years and going no where, and besides, it is unconstitutional.” Three years later with empty promises from Brewer and Cornegy, with no hearings, and now no Cornegy Bill coming, CM Cornegy and MBP Brewer lied again claiming they dropped their Brewer/Cornegy Bill because “it was to similar to existing legislation ( Jobs Survival Act). Yes, an unconscionable low point in democracy at City Hall! If their bill was so similar to the Jobs Survival Act, why not make a few changes and pass the bill with its 29 sponsors? If they claimed their bill would save small businesses, why not now allow a hearing and vote on the so called similar bill? Like everything CM Cornegy was told to do by REBNY, he easily lied and continued his Chair serving only the lobby’s agenda.
The Truth: CM Cornegy never had any intentions to ever hold a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act or any bill regulating commercial landlords. For that reason he was appointed Chairman in the first place, a pledge of dishonor.
A powerful Mayor Koch and Speaker Vallone could not find even one unethical lawmaker to introduce any Limousine Commission / REBNY Landlord’s bills. Everyone knew they were useless bills created by the real estate lobby only to substitute for then CM Ruth Messingers’ Arbitration Bill which was the original version of today’s Jobs Survival Act.
What a disgraceful irony, a bill written over 30 years ago by a lobby with the goal to deny economic justice to small business owners by substituting their fake solution in order to keep the status quo was today being disguised and introduced 30 years later as a substitute for the original version of Jobs Survival Act. Shameful, because today our small businesses face a crisis and the bill is their only real lifeline to survive !!!
Example of REBNY TROJAN HORSE bill passed by CM Cornegy.
In 2009, the Latin Chamber Study* showed 31% of Hispanic owners had been extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords when their leases expired. Yet, nothing was ever done by government agencies to stop this disgraceful act. CM Mark Levine represents a large Dominican community whose businesses were increasingly targeted for extortion and he has political ambitions so he joined with CM Cornegy to introduce a bill claiming to finally address the extortion of business owners.
USA Latin Chamber of Commerce Small Business Study
Cornegy/Levine bill number 851-A curtailing harassment of a small business owner by a landlord. One of the harassments listed in the bill is illegal extortion when a lease expired, but the lack of protection to tenants would assure the extortion would continue unabated. This was the penalty in the statue: damages from the landlord equal to the greatest of (i) the tenant’s actual damages, (ii) one month’s rent or (iii) $1,000. Their bill looks and sounds like it seriously addresses the growing problem of unscrupulous landlords extorting cash from small business owners when their leases expire. This bill does nothing to protect a single small business owner and likely will make the problem worse. It will make the landlords happy because it keeps the status quo with all the power and rights in their hands.
The late Ramon Murphy of the Bodega Association stated it best, “The extortion of many small businesses in our city, as a common practice, especially against the newer immigrant owners has gotten worse. Therefore, the need to pass a law to end this unjust practice is long overdue. But a careful review of the bill you propose would not begin to seriously address this problem, and in fact would make it worst by hindering the passage of good legislation with the goal to stop the extortion of hard working small business owners by greedy landlords.
It is clear upon reviewing this bill that it will do nothing to change this terrible unjust act being committed routinely against hard working families… I can state with absolute certainty, that not a single Bodega owner will ever complaint to the authority against their landlords under this law. They would be risking an end of their businesses if they did so.”
CM Cornegy hits a grand slam for team REBNY. Promotes all of REBNY’s worthless Landlord Bills to the very end of his term as Chairman.
When CM Cornegy’s and MBP Brewer’s scheme to substitute a Landlord’s Bill for the Jobs Survival Act was exposed and they were forced to drop the bill, it did not stop them from continuing the rigging for REBNY. After all, REBNY created several Landlord’s Bills as substitute to stop any bill giving rights to commercial tenants.
Chairman Cornegy would never give a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act but he eagerly jumped whenever REBNY wanted a sham hearing on one of their Trojan Horse proposals. One such REBNY orchestrated sham hearing was held Sept. 30, 2017 at a hearing titled Oversight – Zoning and incentives for promoting retail diversity and preserving neighborhood character, touted as helping small businesses. As usual with any REBNY created proposal, RETAIL only. Also as usual, CM Cornegy would allow discrimination against 70% of our city’s small business owners by excluding them in any discussion of their problems or finding solutions. The crisis faced by the majority of our small businesses did not exist for CM Cornegy for the arts community, professional services, nfp, medical practices, and every business above the ground floor, this shameful policy still exists today!
The Small Business Congress saw through this sham hearing orchestrated by REBNY and immediately called for a boycott of the hearing, Kim, “Don’t be fooled! This hearing has one goal, stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act.”
The focus of the hearing were the final Landlord’s Bill proposals written by REBNY 30 years ago, tax incentives and zoning.* What REBNY’s former president Steven Spinola choose as his top bill to pass, tax incentives to landlords. *
Landlords Bills fact sheet
Also as usual at City Hall, the hearing was given credibility by city government’s anti small business agencies, SBS and EDC, REBNY-friendly political leaders and government-funded business groups. Simply put, the hearing had two goals. First, continue to stop debate, public hearings or a vote on the Jobs Survival Act., which would give commercial tenants the right to negotiate fair lease terms upon renewal. Second, preserve the status quo by keeping power and rights of the lease-renewal process exclusively in landlords’ hands. Even though many supporters of the Jobs Survival Act came to testily and waited patiently until all of the pro real estate lawmakers gave testimony, the Chairman gave them notice they would not be allowed to even discuss the Jobs Survival Act at the hearing. A true REBNY orchestrated charade hearing meant to deny economic justice and a voice to small business owners, that denial of honest conversation and the community’s pro business tenant’s public testimony still exists today.
Example of Cornegy’s rigging for REBNY.
In 2015 Queens businesses lead the city in percentage increases in NYC court eviction warrants, up a huge 90% increase. The Queens community groups were up in arms that their long established businesses were being forced to close and in many cases left empty for years. They organized a petition directed to the Queens members of the Small Business Committee as well as its Chairman. That petition* called for the support and vote on the Jobs Survival Act to save Queens businesses. Eighty seven (87) community groups signed the petition calling for action to stop the Queens business closings.
Chairman Cornegy refused to even reply! With the majority of his committee members sponsors of the Jobs Survival Act and the majority from Queens, this petition was sent to the right place for action or at least a response. The power and control of the real estate lobby as well as the corruption of the Queens political machine was so great that not one member bothered to respond, NOT ONE!
Outcome of the worse Chairman in modern history maintaining a
“do nothing policy” in the face of a growing crisis!
By corrupting his committee’s role of oversight responsibility in promoting a healthy small business environment in NYC, being unduly influenced by a lobby, and denying justice to small business owners for four critical years of a growing crisis, Chairman Cornegy’s do nothing policy made the crisis worse and produced dire negative outcomes for many New Yorkers. None more so than the suffering of the majority immigrant family owned businesses.
Anti immigrant government in NYC
CM Cornegy’s anti-immigrant policy for four years. With the majority of our small businesses immigrant family owned, CM Cornegy took no action to save a single business or job, even in time of crisis. His actions show he just does not care what happens to immigrant families. He showed no sympathy or respect for the hard work and scarifies made by immigrant owners. He willfully allowed the major pathway for social mobility for immigrants to be destroyed while he could have easily saved it but instead, he did nothing. He allowed his committee to be controlled by the very same identities who had created a crisis for immigrant owners in the first place. He allowed a lobby to freely promote their substitute bills as viable alternatives to save small business when none were. He freely promoted false REBNY talking points and disinformation on the Jobs Survival Act.
He actively joined in the collusion to continuing the rigging by denying a hearing on the only real solution to save immigrant small businesses. It was acceptable to CM Cornegy that immigrant owners were routinely targets for illegal extortion of their life’s saving by their landlords. As well as acceptable to him that immigrant owners were given only short term leases of sometimes month to month or one year, thus turned into indentured servitude to their landlords. It was acceptable to him that struggling immigrant owners fighting to hang on were forced to pay their cruel landlord’s growing property taxes. Hard working immigrant families who invested their life’s savings and scarified can no longer sell their businesses or turn them over to their children. They can no longer grow and expand their successful businesses due to the unfair lease renewal process. Instead, under Cornegy’s watch only the landlord’s profit taken from our hard working successful businesses mattered. In summary, immigrant owners were second class citizens and expendable to CM Cornegy who refused for four years to make a single effort or humane gesture to save their American Dream or give them justice in his committee.
CM Cornegy for his own political ambitions scarified his moral integrity and every small business owner and their workers have suffered as a result.