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Speaker Adrienne Adams knowingly turned NYC Council oversight responsibility over to the real estate lobby to rig the system against desperate mom and pop owners. 

 Speaker Adams willingly played a major role in a conspiracy in the NYC Council to deny economic justice to business owners and their employees, even in a time of emergency crisis.

For the powerful power-brokers at City Hall the litmus test to become Speaker of the City Council is to pledge to continue to deny rights and justice to the backbone of our local economies and our major job creators?  Also, to pledge to continue to allow lobbies to control our city’s economic policy in order to protect and maximize only the profits of the very wealthy few.

The lobby controlled City Council will never throw a real lifeline to save our drowning business owners or restore their American Dream. 

A review of three decades of lobbies corrupting our City Council by using the Speaker’s Office.

On June 26, 1986 the original version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, was introduced into the City Council by then Councilwoman Ruth Messinger. This bill was the creation of a coalition of the city’s diverse business community. Every business identity that had a commercial lease participated in its creation.  Over the next three years and four hearings in the Council, over 100 business/neighborhood organizations testified supporting this legislation that would give the business owners the right to renew their leases and rights to negotiate equally the new terms with their landlord.  The arts community led the testimony at every hearing along with many unions, the Central Labor Council, medical organizations, manufacturing organizations, dry cleaner association, pharmacy groups, graphic arts, NFP, neighborhood tenants groups, and several Community Boards. 

Every testimony had the same message to the Council Members, CMs. That universal message was that the real estate speculation taking place in NYC was driving the rents to levels that would not allow any profit for the merchants. A message that still applies today.  All bargaining in good faith ended and the commercial lease renewal process became only a “take it or leave” demand from the landlords. In fact, established business owners without any rights when their leases expired were forced to close in record numbers. The citywide business closings resulted in then prime sponsor CM Messinger gaining the sponsorship of the majority Council Members. For progressive CMs, sponsorship of Messinger’s bill was the “right thing to do and only thing to do” to stop the closings of good established businesses.

No CM ever testified opposing the Jobs Survival Act nor was any other real solution ever offered other than the Jobs Survival Act to save our businesses, that is still the case today.  The Jobs Survival Act was certain to easily pass the City Council if a vote was ever taken. A vote by the full Council was never taken when then Speaker Vallone, single handedly used the Speaker’s Office to stop his own Council from doing their legislative duty and ending our city’s small business crisis.  His travesty of democracy by opposing his own Council and denying economic justice to our small business owners would trigger three decades of a conspiracy of collusion with the real estate lobby and the Speaker’s Office to rig the City Council to never give any rights to business owners when their leases expire and to never regulate commercial landlords in the commercial lease renewal process.

This shameful conspiracy against our small business owners still exists in today’s City Council. Never has the countless praises for the need of a strong small business economy by our Council Members been more disingenuous than in the new self proclaimed progressive City Council. Plainly dishonorable. 

Speaker Vallone’s reprehensible act to stop good government from working by stopping a vote on the only real lifeline to save our businesses and jobs was repeated twice more, by then Speaker Quinn in Oct. 2009 and again by then Speaker Johnson in Nov. 2018. 

In June of 2009 the Small Business Committee held a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act and was unanimous in concluding, “there was no option to stopping the closings of our small businesses but to give the business owners the right to renew long term leases and rights in negotiating fair lease terms that would allow them to make a reasonable profit.” That reality still applies today!  

The Small Business Committee members standing up to the real estate lobby and ignoring the pro real estate SBS opposition, all sponsored the bill, making 32 sponsors and certain easy passage when voted on by the full Council.  Once again the real estate lobby, the puppet masters of the Speaker’s Office, stepped in to collude with Speaker Quinn’s Office to cook up a bogus legal roadblock to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, certain to easily pass and end the small business crisis created by the greed of the real estate lobby’s landlord members. Even though this meritless claim was soundly debunked, every Speaker’s Office kept it alive in the Council for over a decade, even today. Every Speaker kept it alive to allow unethical lobby loyal lawmakers to hide behind as an excuse to do absolutely nothing to stop the business closings.

Again, in Oct 2018 the real estate lobby took charge of the fate of the bill, as well as of our small business owner’s future when then Speaker Johnson gave full control to the real estate lobby to orchestrate a sham hearing on the Jobs Survival Bill. This shameful hearing was the most disgraceful lobby controlled hearing in the City Council’s history. In fact, it was so blatantly biased in favor of the real estate lobby that for the first time in 3 decades and 11 prior hearing the Jobs Survival Act’s authors and advocates were forced to boycott the hearing on the bill they created. 

Shamefully, Speaker Johnson mimicked only the lobby’s talking narrative the entire hearing. The entire city’s lobby loyalists came to give “red herring” testimony opposing the Jobs Survival Act until it was amended.   The lobby’s sinister scheme was to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act by calling for an amendment to the bill to exclude Fortune 500 type companies. After the hearing, under the disguise of amending the bill, the bill would be watered down to keep the status quo for the landlords in full control of the commercial lease renewal process. Even with the bill having 28 sponsors, and the city experiencing a historic “empty store blight”, Speaker Johnson had no intention of ever keeping his word by allowing a vote on the Jobs Survival Act unless the lobby was successful in watering down the bill to keep the status quo. A status quo that was destroying in plain sight the backbone of our economy. Even the destruction of the city’s and nations’ most iconic neighborhood, the Village, would not move Johnson to give needed rights to his own merchants.

The growing crisis creating empty storefronts on vibrant main streets caused panic in the real estate lobby. Their sham hearing was pure desperation from the lobby knowing their own member landlords were responsible for creating the nation’s highest rents which resulted in a small business crisis on every main street in NYC. Also, knowing the lobby’s years of collusion with Democratic leadership to rig the system to cover up the crisis and prevent a real lifeline to save the businesses, was fully responsible for the City’s “ empty store blight.” Yes, the empty store blight was the responsibility of overly ambitious Democratic leadership selling out democracy and our small business owners for their own political careers.

 

This lobby’s plot to keep the status quo for landlords in the commercial lease renewal process blew up when the bill’s prime sponsor CM Rodriguez backed down and refused to water down his bill.  His refusal panicked the lobby because Speaker Johnson had faithfully followed the real estate lobby’s playbook to keep control of the commercial lease renewal process by repeatedly pledging to amend the bill and move it to a vote, and with 28 sponsors guaranteed easy passage.

What happens next to the Jobs Survival Act is the low point of immorality, decency, democracy and integrity of the City Council. A conspiracy is hatched with the Speaker and lobby to hand over to the lobby the legal responsibility of the City Council to make legislation.  Yes, shameful and unconscionable, the powerful lobby that could not water down legislation to make it useless was allowed to create their own legislation that would not only stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act but eventually kill it and replace it in the new Council with their own self serving bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS.   

The outcome of a failed lobby plot to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act was the collusion of the Mayor’s and Speaker’s Offices with a lobby to rig the system and to never vote on the Jobs Survival Act, even with its 28 sponsors and being the only real lifeline to save our small businesses.  A successful conspiracy that would make every small business owner even more vulnerable to closings when the virus crisis happened.  The virus crisis would only greatly speed up the closings of established businesses which had already taken place for over a decade in NYC whenever a commercial lease expired and tenants faced insane rent increases and oppressive lease terms.

The simple amendment promised by Speaker Johnson to the Jobs Survival Act, which would involve changing the language in one paragraph of the scope of the bill, about 2 hours, never happened in three years! Instead, the amendment would show up one year after the hearing in a new bill influenced by the real estate lobby, the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS.  A bill that violated every City Council rule on creating legislation and every act of good government and progressive values.  This lobby inspired bill would shatter the integrity of the City Council. The Jobs Survival Act with its 28 sponsors would never gain an honest hearing nor any call for a vote in three years!  The forgotten crisis was ignored by the City Council along with the forgotten solution to end it, the Jobs Survival Act.  This disgraceful discrimination against the dire plight of our small business owners is still carried on today by the new Council Members. 

Even when our small business owners faced the greatest challenge to survive caused by the additional virus crisis, the only real lifeline would never be mentioned in the lobby controlled City Council.  The entire City Council turned their backs on our small business owners and instead treated our desperate business owners facing two crises at the same time as second class citizens who were expendable “collateral damage” of the real estate industry’s economic policy of making a few richer while destroying the backbone of our economy.

Read* the disgraceful three year conspiracy at City Hall of a lobby orchestrated charade and political theater pretending to want to save our small businesses while in truth serving only special interests while denying business owners  economic justice and rights needed to survive. * https://www.savenycjobs.com/lobby-bill-sub-jobs-act

No honest debate between the two bills was ever called for, or ever will be held!  A debate comparing the two bills to decide which was the better choice to save our businesses and jobs could never be held. Why? Because no two bills were more opposite in their intent than the tenant’s Jobs Survival Act and the landlord’s Commercial Rent Stabilization Act. Completely opposite with the Jobs Survival Act giving the tenant the right to renew 10 year leases, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit and an arbitration process to protect from rent gouging and being forced to pay their landlord’s obligated costs. A bill with the intent to “level the playing field in negotiations by giving the business owner rights and a fighting chance to survive when their leases expired.

While the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act gave NO right to renew the lease to the tenant, thus no rights to decide any of the lease terms. The landlord could demand the tenant pay his property taxes and could even evict the tenant when their lease expired.  As far as the proclaimed cap on rent increases that would save our small businesses, The Council’s Big Lie, a sad joke and 20 years too late. The CRS bill would make annual rent increases only go up from their already manipulated inflated insane destructive levels and never down.  The CRS will cleverly and deceitfully claim to give the false assumption that putting a cap on increases of reasonable rents will save the business owners. While hiding the truth that no NYC business owner has had reasonable rents for over 20 years!  And the CRS bill still gives the tenants zero rights, which makes the rents a "red herring" for the landlords. 

Any savvy business owner knows that the true intent of the CRS bill is to keep the status quo with only the landlords in full control of the futures of every business owner in NYC.

The CRS bill is the most ridiculous legislation ever created! NYC has over 200K diverse businesses spread over 5 boroughs. The Jobs Survival Act takes each business’s commercial lease renewal process on a case by case basis. On the other hand, the CRS bill has one annual rent rate increase for the entire city, yes absurd and nonsensical in the extreme. Should a small mom and pop business located on a quiet street in the Bronx pay the same rent increase rate as the businesses located on 5th Ave or Wall Street?  Should the biggest campaign donors of the Mayor be sanctioned to decide the rent increases for our city’s small business owners? 

If given the choice, and the truth, no NYC business owner would ever choose the Commercial Rent Stabilization bill over the Jobs Survival Act giving the owners the right to renew 10 year leases and no more paying their landlord’s taxes, none! Therefore, the lobby could never compare the two bills nor tell their merchants the truth and instead had to kill the Jobs Survival Act in Dec 31, 2021 when all legislation expired. 

Business as usual at City Hall after every election.

Through its huge campaign donations and support for Council candidates, special interests control the selection of the Speaker. A Speaker pledged to continue the conspiracy and collusion to kill the Jobs Survival Act and substitute the lobby’s status quo CRS bill. 

In over 34 years the Jobs Survival Act had 8 prime sponsors and was amended seven times. Every amendment made the bill better and always kept the vital intent and rights of the bill intact, the right to renew a 10 year lease and equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms.  Without the right to renew a commercial lease every business owner would be in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired. Without this vital right any legislation would eventually fail causing good businesses to fail and good jobs lost.

The real estate lobby tried six times to substitute their own bill for the Jobs Survival Act, but never succeeded. They tried to take control of the Jobs Survival Act to water it down to keep the status quo, but failed.  They tried to kill the bill over its 3 decades history but always failed. Would the new Speaker Adrienne Adams continue the conspiracy and collusion with the real estate lobby to use the Speaker’s Office to deny economic justice to our struggling small business owners that the other past Speakers successfully did?

For the first time in over 34 years the real estate lobby found a loyal Speaker who would willingly kill off the Jobs Survival Act and willingly substitute their own status quo bill, CRS, in the City Council, Speaker Adams.  

Today’s Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS, was born from a lobby’s failed scheme and a lobby’s taking charge over the City Council’s sworn responsibilities and duty to abide by the rules when creating legislation. The new Speaker Adams would sanction this disgraceful anti democratic act and the bill it created, CRS.  Speaker Adams played a key role in the most sinister Machiavellian scheme ever in the Council, and the most outlandish betrayal of all upon our small business owners and their employees.

The new litmus test to become Speaker is the pledge of loyalty to special interests to use the Speaker’s Office to never vote on legislation giving small business owners any real rights when their leases expire, even in a time of crisis.

When the NYC Council votes to pass the lobby created Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS, Speaker Adams would have shown that she kept her pledge to the city’s power-brokers.

Since June 1986 when the original version of the Jobs Survival Act was first introduced by then CM Ruth Messinger, no Speaker was able to stop the bill from being reintroduced into the Council. That was until Speaker Adams in Jan 2022 was sworn in.  Quickly the lobby moved to substitute their own CRS bill for the Jobs Survival Act, which was the oldest pending legislation in Council history and the only real true hope to save our businesses.  For many of the new Council Members their first sponsorship would be the CRS bill which gained over 20 sponsors. With the exception of the two co-sponsors CMs Ayala and Rivera, all the sponsors were new members, and likely unaware of the destruction the CRS would cause on their local businesses and jobs. 

The moral bankruptcy of the City Council was quickly shown when the majority of new self proclaimed progressives touting their loyalty to the will of the people and courage to stand up to special interests, upon being sworn into office sponsored the lobby created destructive CRS bill.  CMs knowingly promoted legislation created by a lobby to keep the status quo which would continue forcing good businesses to close and more jobs lost. The vast majority of New Yorkers wanted their small businesses to be saved, yet their newly elected Council Members sponsored the CRS bill that would guarantee most businesses would be at risk of closing when their leases expired.  It is really incredible but true how quickly the new Council Members abandoned their progressive values and betrayed their merchants and voters.

The new self proclaimed CMs were eagerly promoting a lobby created bill that would make our city’s decade long unresolved "forgotten" crisis much worse! Lots of progressive talk and promises but the City Council as custodians of our small businesses and their workers, are a blatant unconscionable failure.

Can Speaker Adams claim willful ignorance of not knowing about the existence of the Jobs Survival Act?  Or for that matter, claiming to not know which legislation would be the better bill to save the city’s small business owners by giving them a fighting chance to survive when their leases expire. With the backbone of the local economy struggling to recover from the virus crisis as well as the “forgotten crisis,” wouldn’t she only want to present a real lifeline to stop the closings and level the playing field for the merchants to negotiate fair lease terms. At the very least, wouldn’t she promote hearings to compare the two bills to allow the merchants the opportunity to voice what they wanted and needed to be passed into law. The Council has known for over a decade through the BIDS, Chambers and SBS what the landlords want, to keep full control of the commercial lease renewal process that has produced windfall profits for them. Shouldn’t any true progressive advocate want only what desperate business owners needed in legislation to survive and negotiate fair lease terms that allowed them to make a profit and remain in business?

 

Would Speaker Adams continue the lobby orchestrated charade of prior Speakers who gave credibility to pro real estate cronies like the BIDS, SBS, Chambers, EDC, and lobby created shills claiming to speak for our small businesses while openly opposing any legislation giving business owners any rights needed to survive and make a reasonable profit?

 

You be the judge, but Speaker Adams sounds just like former Speaker Johnson did as Council Member and prior to flipping to become Speaker and begin his collusion using the Speaker’s Office to serve only the real estate lobby.

 

 Queens Daily Eagle

 

Small business advocates continue 33-year fight for rent protections

May 16, 2019 

Seven of the bill’s 29 ( Small Business Jobs Survival Act) co-sponsors represent parts of Queens, but none have elaborated on the steps necessary to ensure its passage. There are no Queens council members on the Council’s Committee on Small Business.

"For years, even before I was elected, I have advocated for small businesses and [minority and women-owned businesses] in Southeast Queens for their contributions to our local economy," said Jamaica Councilmember Adrienne Adams. "Our city is at a critical juncture and the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is desperately needed as small businesses are closing at an alarming rate. We have the opportunity to change the course for small businesses on the brink of closure and we must act now. I am committed to support this bill as it advances through the legislative process and urge my colleagues to do the same."

 

CM Adams statement looks and sounds like former Speaker Johnson all over again.  Councilman 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.” Johnson, “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, I am working with Council-member 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.” Johnson 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. 

 

Two former Council Members who strongly sponsored and supported the Jobs Survival Act and encouraged colleagues to join them in signing onto the bill because it would give the best fighting chance for business owners to survive.  But as Speakers they immediately flipped to withdraw their sponsorship and work to destroy the Jobs Survival Act and encourage Council Members to instead sign onto the lobby created CRS bill that would give business owners little chance to survive.

 

Is this what a lawmaker has to do to become Speaker?  Pledge to the real estate lobby that they will throw the small business owners under the bus and only allow lobby created legislation like the CRS bill to be moved to a vote. Pledge to use the Speaker’s Office to rig the system to prevent the mom and pop merchants from ever having a real voice in their Council calling for real rights when their leases expire.  To never hold an honest hearing to compare legislation to find the very best to save our small businesses. To continue to allow pro real estate loyalists who have benefited from the city’s small business crisis like the BIDS, Chambers, SBS, EDC and lobby created shills to falsely claim to speak on behalf of our small businesses when they only serve big business and themselves. 

 

Why doesn’t Speaker Adams and the majority of Council Members ever want their small business owners to ever have the right to renew 10 year commercial leases? Why do they think it is ok and fair that their business owners continue to pay their landlord’s growing property taxes, along with exorbitant rents? Why would the self proclaimed progressives promote legislation that has the business owners pay their landlord’s property taxes instead of paying higher wages to their workers? Are the new Council Members so profoundly ignorant of the workings of our small businesses that they do not realize owners cannot pay exorbitant rents, their landlord’s growing property taxes, and higher wages and still make a reasonable profit to remain in business?

 

When the Council passes the lobby’s status quo CRS bill keeping all the rights to the commercial lease renewal process solely in the hands of the landlords, then Speaker Adams should be responsible for every business that closes and every job lost thereafter.

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