Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, Comptroller Stringer, Borough Presidents; Adams, Brewer and Diaz Jr. are responsible for making our city’s small businesses more vulnerable to closing!
Dateline NYC March 25, 2020
The coronavirus lockdown in NYC has lawmakers scrambling to pass legislation to aid small businesses and protect their workers. Lawmakers are stressing the urgency to take quick action to address our small business crisis. What most of these lawmakers have successful hidden from the media and the public is their role in colluding with the real estate lobby to “do nothing” for over a decade to end the city’s existing longer small business crisis. Yes, NYC’s small business owners are now facing two crisis at the same time. If government is sincere in wanting to save small businesses it must also address both crisis effectively, fairly, and fast. Unresolved crisis #1 ( sky high rents and greed) has left mom & pop more vulnerable to close due to crisis #2 ( coronavirus).
Can we believe our lawmakers are sincere who claim to want to save small businesses? Their real record says no way. Democratic leadership is willfully complicit in the rigging at City Hall by the real estate lobby to stall and stop any legislation offering real solutions to address the decade’s old small business crisis. Lawmakers have abdicated economic policy to big real estate campaign donors who have made the city’s long term small business crisis worse. By political leadership looking out for only their own blind political ambitions, and “doing nothing” to address the small business crisis they have made all our city’s small business owners even more vulnerable to closing due to today’s coronavirus crisis emergency. A crisis on top of a crisis may finally break the back of our very best last remaining long established small business owners.
Walk down any main street in NYC and one can see how disingenuous our lawmakers are in claiming to want to save the “backbone of our economy.” The empty stores are the dead canaries on main street. The facts show clearly that the real estate lobby controls City Hall and has colluded with their loyalists, who they gave huge campaign contributions, to deny economic justice to our desperate small business owners facing a crisis.
The reality our small businesses face, caused by ambitions politicians betraying their progressive values, is that even without the coronavirus crisis, the majority of long established small businesses would be in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired. How dire was the small business crisis (#1) which our leadership completely refused to seek a real solution?
Over the past decade, with a real solution to save businesses, Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Survival Act, bottled up in committee, NYC Courts issued 56,378 warrants to vacate commercial property.
The Survival Act gives rights to business owners when their leases expire. Rights needed to remain in business and rights needed to negotiate new fair lease terms. Without these rights, the courts on average have issued warrants to evict 470 businesses each month. An estimated 1,200-1,400 businesses close every month for over 10 straight years and our lawmakers continued to “do nothing” to address this crisis. https://www.savenycjobs.com/nyc-court-evictions-
Does our Democratic leadership now have the political will, even in the face of the coronavirus crisis, to finally stand up to the real estate lobby and independently enact real solutions needed to save small businesses? Do our small business agencies have the expertise and competence to oversee the recommendations needed to save small businesses? Again, their actions and records say, NO to stopping the closings and saving jobs. The SBS agency along with EDC have never once initiated a program to save one business or job. Neither has a single job retention program! Nobody from either agency has every started and built a successful small business. Along with other government funded groups, all have remained silent to taking real action to end the city’s small business crisis (#1). All of the leaderships’ proposals and initiatives the past years claiming to help small businesses came right out of REBNY’s playbook and would not save a single business or job. All were meant to keep the status quo with REBNY’s landlord members in total control.
How dishonest are our city’s political leadership? Mayor de Blasio, when as a councilman, was the strongest champion of the Survival Act. He called it a fair bill that would stop illegal extortion of immigrant owners and protect their investment. In Aug 2009 he called for a vote on the Survival Act by the small business committee to allow, “the full council to quickly vote it into law and begin saving small businesses.” After taking big real estate campaign money he never once again championed the bill or any bill giving rights to commercial tenants. In fact, he knowingly made false statements against the bill and sent the SBS commissioner to a hearing in Oct 2018 to oppose the Survival Act.
Comptroller Stringer, as Manhattan President, opened the doors for world wide real estate speculation. Manhattan became the epicenter of the world to launder wealthy people’s money and the victims of this out of control hyper speculation were the small business owners. Regardless of how long you were in business or how successful your business was. Under Stringer’s watch if you had a corner store on a busy shopping block, when your lease expired you had a death sentence. Never once in his entire career has he called for any legislation to save a single business. Never once has he or his representative testified at any hearing to give rights to commercial tenants. Instead of being a voice for the victims he has remained silent during the entire growing crisis. After the last hearing on the Survival Bill he did one of his fake studies of counting empty stores and recommending several worthless initiatives cooked up by REBNY. Today, his new study is sounding the alarm of the lost revenue caused by the coronavirus. Why didn’t Stringer do a study on the lost revenue of the thousands of closed businesses? Like de Blasio, Stringer took the real estate money in exchange for following big real estates’ agenda and maximizing and protecting their profits over that of small business owners.
Speaker Johnson sold out small businesses to become Speaker and has continued to sell them out trying to become Mayor. Even though then Councilman Johnson was a sponsor of the Survival Act and acknowledged a crisis existed for small businesses, once elected Speaker he withdrew his sponsorship of the bill. Furthermore, he allowed REBNY to hand pick the new Small Business Chairman. Their choice was the most pro real estate lawmaker in the council, Mark Gjonaj. Besides owning his own real estate company, Gjonaj was on record opposed to the Survival Bill and any law regulating landlords. Speaker Johnson again betrayed the small businesses by allowing REBNY to orchestrate a sham hearing on the Survival Act.
At this hearing Johnson repeatedly pledged to change the Survival Act to not allow protections for Fortune 500 companies and move it to a vote. Over a year later and no changes were made and instead the changes show up in a new bill written by REBNY which gives no rights to the business owners and keeps the status quo. Shameful rigging !
Brooklyn President Adams like de Blasio, Stringer and Johnson has done nothing to save a single Brooklyn business. Like Stringer, Adams has remained under the radar as the small business crisis spread throughout the boroughs. Like Stringer and Johnson, Adams spent his time collecting real estate campaign funds to run for Mayor while doing “nothing” to even attempt to find a real solution to save Brooklyn’s mostly immigrant small businesses.
All the city’s Democratic leadership are clueless on economic issues. They have politicized all the small business agencies to serve big real estate and to cover up the failed economic policies of leadership. What democratic leadership also have in common, all faithfully are following REBNY’s playbook in exchange for campaign funding or political power. Regardless, of the consequences to small business owners all have shown their loyalty to their campaign donors by promoting worthless studies, useless initiatives, fake studies and absurd bills.
To save small businesses and give them a future in NYC, where they can make a reasonable profit again, two actions must be taken. First, right now give effected businesses grants until the crisis passes. Set up a fund where monthly businesses’ overhead can be covered and no jobs are lost. Many businesses will be on damage control only, therefore the goal of the program is to keep the businesses open and keep all employees' jobs safe. If any business lays off workers the grant funds are stopped.
The second act is to pass quickly the Survival Act to give all businesses 10 year leases and rights needed for predictability over their futures. Predictability needed to expand and make capital improvements and motivation to be in business to make a profit for their families and not just working to make landlords richer.
Small business owners do not want to take on more debt not knowing if they can repay it,
and already burdened with the highest rents, property taxes, insurance, utilities
, taxes and fees and payrolls in the country. Today’s one sided and grossly unfair commercial lease renewal process is a disaster for business growth and job creation and must be made fair again to give owners a fighting chance and to save small businesses.