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Why PA Jumaane Williams should resign from office?


The late Dr. King once commented on his changed Vietnam war policy, ”I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences.”  Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has remained silent to the largest conspiracy of a lobby to deny economic justice to small business owners. As PA he has betrayed every small business owner by playing a key role in the creation, legitimization and promotion of the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS.  The CRS bill is an illegally created* lobby inspired status quo bill, that is the most anti-small business, anti-immigrant family,* and anti-jobs legislation* ever introduced in the NYC City Council.


On March 19, 2019 Jumaane Williams was sworn in as the new NYC Public Advocate, PA.  He took an oath to faithfully uphold the duties of the PA office. Those duties included being the ombudsman for oversight of the entire city government, introducing or co -sponsor legislation, and recommending proposals to address any neglected problems faced by New Yorkers. As PA he would be the voice for the voiceless and “watchdog” at City Hall to make sure special interests did not use their undue political influence to block needed legislation that benefited citizens or promoted legislation that went against the will of the people.


More than any other city in America, the PA office in NYC has the greatest challenge to fulfill its mandate.   NYC has several of the most powerful lobbies, strongest unions, corrupt party machines, and is headquarters of many national PR/Consultant firms in America.  All being directly involved in the one-party election process to gain undue influence in the city’s economic policy, as well as seeking a bigger piece of the largest city budget in the world.


Many of the city’s major advocate groups and community activities, including at one time our group, believed PA Williams would be able to meet the challenges a PA faced at City Hall.  Afterall, he had built a strong reputation as an advocate and fighter for the underdogs. Citizens fighting against powerful politically connected, wealthy special interests, often called upon progressive J. Williams to stand with them and be a strong voice for their cause.  He clearly is not afraid to challenge special interests. While we join others in our admiration of his political courage promoting progressive principles we must also reveal when his actions result in great harm to society.  


As the city’s oldest advocate group for small business owners (1984 and authors of the original Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, and organizers of 11 Council hearings and dozens of rallies and forums on the bill) we greatly appreciated any lawmaker willing to stand up to the powerful real estate lobby REBNY on our behalf.  While fighting the powerful REBNY lobby for over 38 years to keep our bill alive and fighting to gain a vote by the full Council, we learned who was on our side and who was not.


Ignoring the political theater and insincere rhetoric (especially at media events), we judged from only real actions taken on whom we can trust or who betrayed our cause. We take our call for PA Williams to resign very seriously.  It is based solely upon his silence and betrayal of our city’s small business owners and workers, nothing else and nothing political.  Also, this call is grounded only from our direct experience and irrefutable evidence of his actions or non-actions as PA standing with the real estate lobby to help make their conspiracy to stop our bill successful.   


The respect we once had for PA Williams’ activism and commitment to stand with the oppressed can be shown in a January 23, 2014 meeting where the small business advocates who wrote the Jobs Survival Act reached out to then CM Williams to ask him to be the bill’s prime sponsor.  At this meeting, Mr. Sung Soo Kim, the city’s leading immigrant small business authority for 3 decades spelled out in detail how the Jobs Survival Act was the only real solution to stop the closings and give the merchants a fighting chance to survive. From the awareness of the small business crisis and the details given him on the best solution,  PA Williams can never claim willful ignorance of which of the two bills ( Jobs Survival Act or CRS bill ) would be the better solution to give the rights needed to save business owners American Dream.


Mr. Kim, working every day for 3 decades dealing with immigrant owner’s lease problems made the case of why the Jobs Survival Act was the only real lifeline giving the rights needed to stop the closings and end the city’s small business crisis. 

CM Williams’s response could not have been more positive. He spent a great deal of time in agreement with Mr. Kim’s’ remarks on the businesses need of protection from high rents.  In the end CM Williams stated, “while I would be honored to be the prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act, at this time I cannot give you an answer.”  He had several other offers for prime sponsorship, but his priority was as Chairman of a major Committee in the Council.


 On February 18, 2014 CM Williams told Mr. Kim that he was honored that small business advocates wanted him as the Jobs Survival Act’s prime sponsor but he had to say no because his primary issue of housing will take all of his time.


Upon his swearing into office and later in the new Council on January 1, 2022,  PA Williams knew with absolute certainty which of the two bills (Jobs Survival Act or CRS bill) would be the better choice for the survival and future of our small business owners. He put his name on the CRS bill and lied to the public. 


PA Williams, while having a stellar progressive record of community activism and repeatedly standing up to special interests as a strong progressive voice against injustice has one glaring failure in his record. 


We are judging him only upon one proven failed action as PA.   A failure to keep his oath of office that centers upon two battling legislation bills: the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act  vs the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS.  These are two bills with opposite intents/goals and opposite outcomes for every small business owner when their lease expires.  PA Williams would play a key role in deciding which bill would survive to be voted on and which would be destroyed.  The reason for his having a vital role in this critical decision on legislation that would impact the survival and future of the “backbone of our economy” was due too how anti-democracy the CRS bill came to exist in the first place.  


While the Jobs Survival Act faithfully always followed the rules of the legislative process for all legislation, the CRS

bill followed only one, the lobby’s rule.  The real estate lobby orchestrated conspiracy to have Democratic leadership collude and rig the system to create a lobby inspired bill (CRS) to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act while laying the foundation to replace it when all bills expired on Dec. 31, 2021: is why PA Williams had a major role to play. 


A role he should never have had if the Democratic leadership would have allowed good government to work instead of betraying their own oaths of office for their own political ambitions.   To be clear, preventing special interests from hijacking democracy in plain sight was a major reason why the PA’s office was created. When given the full facts of PA Williams’s role and actions and non-actions taken in the name of New Yorkers and especially the victims of this corruption of government, it will be clear he failed his oath of office. 


In no city government in America, with a PA or ombudsman, would ever have an obvious special interests created status quo bill like the CRS ever been allowed to exist!   


Yet, under PA Williams watch, not only did it exist, it accomplished the lobby’s goals of stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act for over 3 years, even with its 28 sponsors and even more so, during the worst crisis (Covid) faced by our small business owners to survive.  Under PA Williams watch for the first time in the 38 year history of the Jobs Survival Act it was not reintroduced into the new Council after a major election turnover.  Instead, the lobby’s status quo CRS bill was reintroduced in its place.  


Did PA Williams truly believe that the city’s struggling business owners facing 2 crises (high rents and covid) would be better off with legislation that gave them no right to renew their commercial leases, no right to negotiate the terms of their leases, a Mayoral panel to decide the annual rent increase percentage when a lease expires (and can only go up and never down), the landlord could kick them out of their business when their lease expired, and could demand the business owner pay the landlords growing property taxes?  Or did he know the truth from Mr. Kim of a bill he once sponsored both as CM and PA!  The truth that the merchants needed rights to survive and to negotiate fair lease terms that would allow them to make a reasonable profit. Rights found only in the Jobs Survival Act that gave every owner the critical right to renew a 10 year lease, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms and an arbitration process that assured fair rents for all merchants. In fact, only under the Jobs Survival Act the rents could be lowered in those neighborhoods with record closings of good businesses and empty storefronts.


The choice PA Williams faced to address was not just a tenant’s rights bill vs a landlord’s bill but good government vs a lobby controlled government.  If PA Williams would have used his powerful mandated platform just once to promote just one honest hearing or forum debating on which legislation would offer the best solution to stop the closing of established businesses willing and able to pay a reasonable rent if allowed to negotiate fair lease terms, then the destructive status quo CRS bill would not exist today.  If just once during the Covid crisis PA Williams would have used his office to debate which bill would offer the best fighting chance for business owners to survive the crisis as well as, when their leases expired, then the Jobs Survival Act, with its 28 sponsors,  would have been immediately voted into law.  Those honest debates never happened under PA Williams watch.


Within one month of PA Williams being sworn into office a vote by the full Council on the Jobs Survival Act should have been taken, with certain easy passage.  That is if good government was allowed to work under PA Williams watch. 


A lobby’s Machiavellian scheme to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act was set in motion in the Council in late 2018 and was successful under PA Williams watch.


On Oct 22, 2018 a hearing was held in the Council on the Jobs Survival Act. It was a lobby orchestrated sham hearing with the goal to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act, even with its 28 sponsors and an unchecked small business crisis out of control. The Jobs Survival Act was the only real solution to stop the closing of our businesses and seriously address the city’s “empty store blight.” The outcome of the hearing was when then Speaker Johnson repeatedly pledged that the Jobs Survival Act cannot be voted on until it is first amended to exclude any protections for larger Fortune 500 type companies, like Goldman Sachs.  He pledged that once amended, the Jobs Survival Act would be quickly voted on by the full Council.


Nov. 2018,  Then prime Sponsor CM Rodriquez threw a wrench in the lobby’s scheme when he refused to allow the bill to be amended and watered down to where it would remain a status quo bill with no real rights for merchants. 


The real estate lobby’s Plan B:  The big stall!

The Speaker’s Office would only comment when asked about the progress of the pledged amendment to the bill, then COS Erik Bottcher said “we are speaking with small business advocates to “tweak and fine tune the bill.”  The amendment pledged by Johnson involved the word changing to one paragraph of the scope of the bill. Without being challenged, this amendment would take about 2 hours in total to make.  The only real lifeline to save our businesses, the Jobs Survival Act sat in Committee (with 28 sponsors) for over 3 years without the 2 HOUR amendment ever being made!! Even during the Covid virus crisis there was no call from the prime sponsor, Speaker or PA for a vote!  Never in the long period of the challenges faced by small business owners to survive was there a greater need to pass the Jobs Survival Act and give thousands of owners a fighting chance to survive the Covid crisis.  In the so-called progressive Council there were no Atticus Finch lawmakers calling for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act to save even one business owner or one job.


PA Williams silently watched the stalling of a vote on a critical bill impacting every small business owner and their workers’ future while facing two crisis at once.  PA Williams year after year of silence and non-action to stop an injustice against merchants while looking the other way as the lobby successfully stopped a vote on the Jobs Survival Act was not the only justification for calling for PA Williams’ resignation.


The greatest failure of the PA office in preventing special interests from corrupting the legislative process for their own benefit was the introduction of the Commercial Rent Stabilization bill.


November 14, 2019,  The most unprecedented act ever in the legislation process was when CM Stephen Levin, as prime sponsor, introduces the lobby inspired Commercial Rent Stabilization Bill, CRS. This bill represented the low point of morality for the City Council. It also shattered the integrity of the Council.  The bill was a blatant violation of Council rules dealing with legislation creation. Its creation was done in total silence and followed only the “lobby’s rules.”  The Council’s rules do not allow two similar bills with the same intent to be introduced at the same time.  There is a legal process every bill must go through before it can be introduced, gain a hearing and be voted upon.  With the help of lobby loyalists at City Hall, the CRS skipped most of that process.  The Jobs Survival Act already had a public hearing, majority Council Members sponsors and was waiting to be amended and voted on by mid Nov. 2018.


Why would another similar bill be created prior to a pledged vote on the Jobs Survival Act?   The CRS’s prime sponsor, CM Levin was also a sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act and was a member (sole member of Brooklyn) on the Small Business Committee. A member who remained silent on the need for another bill at the Oct 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act. Clearly, the refusal of CM Rodriquez to water down the Jobs Survival Act after the hearing triggered the lobby to panic and create the CRS bill.


For over two decades in NYC, no real solution except for the Jobs Survival Act was put forth by any agency of government, the City Council, or any lawmaker to save even one single business or one job when their leases expired! On Nov. 14, 2019 two bills were in the City Council to choose which one would be the best legislation to stop the closings of good businesses and end the “empty store blight.”  PA Williams appeared as a co-sponsor of this newly introduced CRS bill, while he also was listed as a co-sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act!!   One of these bills had to offer the better solution for the small business owners to remain open and be profitable.  PA Williams always knew which bill the better solution was to save the American Dream for business owners. But he would remain silent and instead join in the collusion to keep both the merchants and public in the dark concerning the two bills.


If PA Williams used his office to investigate who was really behind the creation of the CRS bill and its true intent, especially its breaking Council rules, the CRS bill would not exist today.  But he remained silent, and the CRS bill not only stopped a vote on the Jobs Survival Act but eventually replaced it in the Council.


Due to the lack of morality of several Democratic leaders and to the failure of the PA’s Office the real estate lobby was successful for 3 years in stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, with its 28 sponsors.  Now being unimpeded by the PA, would the special interests be successful in destroying the Jobs Survival Act?  Prime sponsor Rodriquez was too busy making deals to run for offices to care about moving his bill. The future survival of the Jobs Survival Act would be solely in the hands of the PA.


It was not too late for PA Williams to use his office to bring justice to small business owners by foiling the lobby’s scheme to kill the Jobs Survival Act. Now that two bills were in play with both claiming to save our small businesses then one honest hearing debating the bills would easily show that only the Jobs Survival Act as being the real lifeline to save our businesses.  In all conscience how could any true progressive allow the true lifeline bill to be killed while supporting the survival of a destructive “status quo” bill?


 An honest debate would also expose the CRS bill as a status quo bill that the small business owners if made aware of would unanimously reject.  After all, what small business owner would not prefer the right to renew a 10 year lease over keeping the status quo of the CRS bill giving no right to renew the lease? Once again, PA Williams refused to use his office to expose the truth to the small business owners.


How badly did PA Williams fail his oath in stopping the denial of economic justice to small business owners?  Even though the choice between these two bills would impact the futures of every business owner in NYC, very few small business owners had any knowledge of the existence of either bill!! The public had also been kept in the dark of these two bills.  The majority of New Yorkers have known for some time that their local business owners have been in deep trouble, struggling to survive high rents when their leases expire, even long before the Covid crisis. What they did not know was that there has been legislation ( Jobs Survival Act) to stop the closings and save most mom-and-pop businesses sitting in committee for years.  


PA Williams had still another chance to save the Jobs Survival Act while at the same time foiling the scheme of the lobby to substitute their own status quo CRS bill. 


The NYC Charter gives the authority to the PA to introduce or co-sponsor legislation. All pending bills expired on December 31, 2021.  At this point PA Williams had the authority to introduce his own legislation into the new Council.  He has the mandate as PA to represent only the will of the people and not special interests nor his own political career when deciding what legislation best serves the will of the people.  Also, only supporting legislation created that fully followed the legislative legal process and not influenced by special interests to serve only the special interest. 


The real estate lobby had successfully flipped their two loyalists, CMS Rivera and Ayala. Both CMs were to become co-prime sponsors of the Jobs Survival Act and resubmit it to the new Council. But instead, they betrayed the merchants and become co-prime sponsors of the lobby’s CRS bill and resubmit it.  PA Williams now has a choice to make as PA on behalf of all New Yorkers. He can resubmit the Jobs Survival Act into the new Council and because of his reputation as a progressive activist and the superiority of the Jobs Survival Act giving the tenants the right to renew 10 year leases, would likely gain the majority of new Council Members sponsorship. The majority of new Council Members are progressive and if made aware of the differences between the CRS and Jobs Survival Act, all would choose to give their merchants the right to renew 10 year leases over keeping the status quo with no right to renew to their business owners.


Would PA Williams again remain silent on the truth of which bill would save the business owners and better serve the will of the people?  


PA Williams was the only lawmaker who had the authority and power to stop the CRS bill and end the grave injustice against small business owners.  As the voice of the voiceless and protector against corruption of the government , PA Williams could have reintroduced the Jobs Survival Act in the new Council, his choice was to let it die.


If PA Williams would have reintroduced the Jobs Survival Act on behalf of the city’s desperate merchants and their workers his bill would have likely had over 30 sponsors and been voted into law in February 2022!  Instead, PA Williams betrayed the merchants by again willingly sponsoring the CRS bill. He would continue to remain silent to the destruction the CRS bill would cause small business owners if passed.


  The real small business advocates (not the lobby's shills BIDS, Chambers, and SBS)  correctly called the CRS bill the Council’s BIG LIE,* that CRS  would save small business owners.  CRS bill was nothing but a cleverly disguised status quo bill that gave no right to renew their leases to the business owners and no right to negotiate any lease terms. It would not save a single business owner unless the landlord wanted to keep them in business.   PA Williams knew these shameful facts, but still put his name on this disgraceful bill.


 Did he have the political courage and moral obligation to “do the right thing” and support the better bill?  Absolutely not!


He betrayed our city’s merchants and their workers by choosing the weaker CRS bill that gave no real rights to the business owners.


PA Williams fourth opportunity to keep his oath of office.

March 24, 2022  The lobby’s CRS bill was re-introduced in the Council. The PA never once promoted a hearing or public platform to highlight the claims of the bill to save our small businesses.  Yes, there were many new initiatives/programs all claiming to help small business owners but what good is any if the businesses continue to close when their leases expire, and they have no rights.  Once again, year after year businesses close because City Hall refuses to address the “root cause” of good businesses closing when their leases expire. That cause was a destructive one-sided and grossly unfair commercial lease renewal process.  A process where the landlords did not give a damn if their merchants made a profit.   Why is PA Williams still silent on a bill he has chosen to sponsor and support over the Jobs Survival Act?


Maybe because he knows the CRS bill does not address the root cause of businesses closing. 


He made his choice between the two bills in the new Council but refused to explain the real intent of the CRS bill to the merchants and their workers who must live with it. 


The final opportunity for PA Williams to live up to the reputation he has made. And to follow the progressive values he has proclaimed. And, to fulfill the oath of office he took.   Also, to follow the character and integrity of the late Dr. King and realize that his silence is a betrayal of NYC’s small business owners and their workers.   


On December 31, 2023 all pending legislation expired and must be resubmitted again in the new Council.  Once again PA Williams has a choice to make that will impact the future of the “backbone of our economy.”  A choice that will also impact the cost of living rate, property tax increases, character of neighborhoods, health of our city’s art community, pathway of jobs for immigrants and hard to employ New Yorkers, and if the American Dream can be restored for business owners in NYC. 


Does PA Williams have the political will and moral courage to stand up to the powerful real estate lobby and stand for a change on the side of the business owners and their workers?  He and he alone can resubmit or co-sponsor with a new Council Member the Jobs Survival Act into the new Council now.  He and he alone can call for an honest debate between the two bills and have the merchants themselves decide which bill they would need to survive, make a profit, and grow to create more jobs.


If PA Williams “did the right thing” which Dr. King said, “it is never too late to do the right thing”, he would finally be fulfilling his oath of office and producing a legacy of a great progressive.  Will PA Williams save the American Dream for mom and pop?  If his name again appears on the lobby’s CRS bill, and he remains silent on the better Jobs Survival Act, then sadly, you will have your answer.

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