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SMALL BUSINESS CONGRESS
Media Advisory Contact:
For Immediate Release Steven Barrison, Esq.
January 14, 2019 212-750-5560
Abysmal Record Exposes Public Advocate Candidate!
As Speaker of City Council, PA candidate Mark-Viverito sided with real estate lobby against saving mom and pop businesses, making the small business crisis vastly worse. This PR is long and detailed due to covering legislation that addresses a decade long growing crisis and the rigging by a real estate lobby colluding with the Speakers’ Office and the role played by then Speaker Mark-Viverito upon taking office to either restore democracy and justice in the council and end the crisis or who enabled the rigging to continue to benefit a lobby.
With so many candidates running for PA how can voters make the right informed choice? The selection is made easier when the candidate has a record of service that is directly associated with the role of PA. The PA office was created as an Ombudsman, a watchdog, representing the interests of the public to assure the public receive fair treatment and due process and not denied their rights or justice by government collusion with special interests.
A careful and documented review of former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s record on the legislation, Small Business Jobs Survival Act, (Jobs Survival Act) conclusively shows her abandonment of progressive values and the commitment for good government for all, while being influenced and rewarded by a real estate lobby. Her record shows her direct participation to stop any legislation from giving rights to commercial tenants when their leases expire. Even in a time of a growing citywide crisis for small business owners, she allowed the full use of the Speaker’s Office to collude with a powerful lobby to deny small business owners democracy needed to survive. By doing so, the Speaker made a crisis worse by putting her own political ambitions and the profits of landlord donors above the needs of people.
Under Mark-Viverito’s watch, the NYC courts issues warrants to evict 22,710 commercial businesses. Those businesses who did not fight in court and were forced to close due to having no rights were estimated at 58-60,000. An estimated minimum of 460-480,000 jobs were lost due to her offices’ interference in not allowing good government to seek a real solution to the small business crisis. The consequences of her serving the will of a lobby and not the will of the people has caused great suffering and hardship to countless New York families, especially in the immigrant community. Every neighborhood in the city has been negatively impacted due to Mark-Viverito’s not living up to her pledge to promote progressive legislation and a transparent and independent council. The empty storefronts on every city main street where once thriving businesses existed are the responsibility and result of her loyalty and commitment to a real estate lobby.
It is essential to the success of the PA office that the PA be fully independent of any influence from special interests and the political machine. Due solely upon Mark-Viverito’s history of being influenced by a powerful lobby in promoting its agenda, which resulted in: the Speaker’s Office promoting an anti-small business and anti-immigrant policy, as well as her anti democratic actions immediately upon taking office of continuing the rigging centered in her office and orchestrated by a powerful lobby, she would be the worst possible candidate for consideration of the PA office. Her election as PA would be an insult to every hard working small business owner who has been denied justice and fair treatment for a decade.
The Small Business Congress's assessment of Mark-Viverito’s record is based exclusively upon her track record and her direct statements. Full disclosure, SBC has endorsed the candidacy of Ydanis Rodriguez for PA, who is the prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act which we wrote and advocated for over 30 years. But this in no way has influenced our evaluation or conclusion, which are based on facts. At our time of distractions, misinformation, and fake news the truth must be stated. And the truth is, Mark-Viverito, once a proud progressive leader who encouraged reform and standing up against powerful special interests, flipped to achieve her own political ambitions at the expense of the lives and futures of our small business owners and their employees.
Her unscrupulous actions are what the PA office was established to prevent.
Speaker Mark-Viverito’s failed record of addressing a crisis and serving a lobby instead of the victims of
hyper speculative real estate in NYC.
Jan 2014, When new Speaker Mark-Viverito took office a growing crisis existed in NYC causing record numbers of long established businesses to close and jobs lost. A real solution also existed, Small Business Jobs Survival Act which she sponsored as Councilmember and recognized as the best solution to stop the closings and end the crisis. The Speaker’s office had been the center of rigging the system for a lobby to stop the Jobs Survival Act. Former Speaker Quinn’s office in collusion with REBNY started the rigging by making an unsubstantiated legal claim against the Jobs Survival Act in order to stop a vote on the bill that was certain to easily pass. That bogus legal roadblock was kept in place by Speaker Mark-Viverito's Legal and Legislative staff as an excuse for lawmakers to hide behind and NOT take any actions or support for the Jobs Survival Act. This proven false legal roadblock was used as the primary excuse for not holding a hearing on the most likely solution, Jobs Survival Act to save our businesses and end the crisis. Mark-Viverito was fully aware at the time, that the out of control real estate speculation was causing abuses to mainly immigrant owners. She knew that immigrant owners, mostly Hispanic were targeted for extortion of cash by landlords, or turned into indentured servitude to their landlords when given month to month or one year leases. She knew that the biggest victims of the greedy landlords were immigrant owners and their employees and that the immigrant families owned the majority of small businesses in NYC and were the employers of the majority of immigrant families. Small businesses and the jobs they created are the foundation and pathway for social mobility for immigrant families in NYC and this American Dream pathway was being destroyed.
Instead of restoring democracy at City Hall and restore the American Dream for small business families, she took big real estate’s money and the advice of political consultants looking to cash in thru government’s power and persuaded her to keep the rigging in place.
Sad for desperate small business owners she did not listen to the words of Pope Francis when he visited NYC and spoke to City Hall lawmakers. Pope Francis sent a powerful message to elected officials to use their office for the good of those most in need, reminding them of their obligation to employ morality and ethics when making political decisions that could lessen the suffering caused by unbridled greed.
Mark-Viverito touts her success in bringing people together to create solutions to problems, but she did a shameful and disgraceful job in using the Speakers’ office to fight for a solution to save small businesses. In fact, her record shows she made NO effort to seek a solution to save a single small business or job while she was Speaker. Even with a growing crisis where every small business owner was in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired because they had no rights, and going on record in 2015 committing to holding a hearing, the Speaker refused to hold a hearing on a real solution to save the business owner.
Mark-Viverito was the first Speaker in 30 years to refuse to allow a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act. The same legislation that as Councilmember she testified “ I'm very proud of the fact that we're having a hearing on this legislation. We obviously have intent on passing this. We're going to be very firm and very strong. As a Council we have a responsibility to represent all sectors in this city and not just a select few, which I believe is what has happened with this administration. We are here to also represent the tenants, to represent the small business owners and to do what we can to preserve this vital backbone in this city.”
If then Speaker Mark-Viverito would have done anyone of the below four actions, the crisis would have ended and all the long established businesses that were forced to close due only to having no rights when their leases expired would still be in business today.
1. Select a pro Small Business Committee Chairman, one committed to fulfilling the oversight responsibilities of the committee and serve the best interests of our small business owners. Who would make a priority to find real solutions to the real problems faced by small business owners. One who’s first goal would be to stop the closings and end the crisis.
2. Use the power of the Speaker’s office to do what former Chairman David Yassky did in addressing a crisis by calling for a hearing to find a real solution to stop the closings of small businesses and save jobs. Follow his leadership and ethics, “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”.
3. Direct Speaker’s legal staff to produce substantial credible legal proof of the claims the Jobs Survival Act was unconstitutional. An empty claim that has prevented the bill from getting a vote in 2009 and a hearing for 9 years, and a claim that originated from the Speaker’s legal department which paralyzed democracy from working to resolve a crisis.
4. Direct the Speaker’s Legal and Legislative Departments to produce amendments to the Jobs Survival Act which would satisfy any real legal challenges of the Legal Department. Amending bills is done with every bill where the legal department determines the bill has legal issues, yet for 9 years no amendments were recommended to the Jobs Survival Act!
Instead of doing any of the four options that would have lead to a hearing and vote on the best solution to save small businesses, even in the face of a growing crisis, she did nothing to lead to a solution or encourage the council to seek a solution to save a single business or job. She chose continuing the rigging in collusion with a powerful lobby started by her predecessor, Speaker Quinn. A rigging which was orchestrated to benefit only the members of a lobby and one that constituted the most anti-small business, anti-democracy, and anti-immigrant act.
Therefore, after January 1, 2014 every long established business that was forced to close solely due only to having no rights when their lease expired can justifiably hold Speaker Mark-Viverito responsible. Every immigrant owner who was extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords can hold Mark-Viverito responsible. Every business who was abused by their landlord when given month to month or one year leases can blame Mark-Viverito. Every worker who lost their job because their employer had no rights to bargain in good faith for reasonable lease terms can blame Mark-Viverito. By doing nothing as Speaker for four years to seek a solution to a crisis, she has allowed the crisis to grow out of control, therefore she is responsible for the blight of empty storefronts on every main street. The consequences for Mark-Viverito in abandoning her progressive values and ethics in order to serve a lobby have produced countless victims in NYC. There are many dedicated and highly ethical candidates running for PA who promote good government, Mark-Viverito’s record proves she is not one of them.
Sung Soo Kim, Founder
Steven Barrison, Spokesperson SBC