PART I I
MBP Gale Brewer Continues To Deny Economic Justice to Small Business Owners.
Even When Facing Two Crises!
In Part I* the foundation was laid on the true dire state of our small businesses and their ever-ending struggle to survive, without a real lifeline from City Hall. What lawmakers and their supported candidates do not want the voters to know. Only NYC small business owners stand alone among the entire nation in that they are facing two crises to remain in business. Our small businesses are facing the greatest challenge to save their American Dream because of the failure of lawmakers to resolve over a decade long growing crisis caused by hyper real estate speculation and greed. A crisis that had a real solution, Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. But our political system was so corrupted by big lobbies protecting their member’s windfall profits that lawmakers did nothing to save even one business or job in over 10 years.
Owing to Democratic leadership’s denial of economic justice to small business owners and bottling up the only real lifeline to save small businesses, several ambitious lawmakers have contributed to making a growing crisis worst. A crisis that business owners will have to face after the virus crisis has ended. Owners will go back into the “fire” even weaker than before due to the virus crisis consequences. For many lawmakers that challenge to the long term survival of our small businesses does not matter. Ambitious politicians who abandoned their progressive values to side with the very same real estate lobby whose members created our small business crisis in the first place, are today forced to cover-up the roles they played in rigging the system against small business owners. Hiding their lack of integrity and corruption that has made our businesses even more vulnerable to closing. Each one a hypocrite at election time, jockeying for the “I take no real estate money or influence” crown.
Our exposure of the real records and actions of some lawmakers in leadership positions will help voters to elect only true progressives eager to stand up to the corrupt machine and powerful lobby and restore democracy by throwing a real lifeline to save our businesses. I have given fair warning to the voters that our small business owners are past the tipping point of needing immediate government intervention to survive. Due to a lobby controlled City Hall avoiding a solution to a growing crisis for over a decade, this non action has eliminated all options to save our businesses, except one. The lone essential option is, our business owners must have the right to renewal of long term leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms that allow a reasonable profit, they cannot pay high rents and their landlord’s property taxes anymore or they will eventually close and trigger an economic catastrophe.
Lawmakers and their supported candidates can no longer hide the truth from the voters. That shameful truth is the reality; every lawmaker knew our government was exclusively and excessively promoting real estate speculation in NYC which grew out of control. Every lawmaker knew the main victims of this out of control greed were our small business owners and their employees. Every lawmaker knew in April 2009 from the results of the largest immigrant business survey that a crisis existed for our businesses.* That few owners could survive the sky high rents and abuses the government sponsored speculation generated. They also knew the Small Business Committee agreed on the best solution to stop the closings was the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, giving business owners rights. Every lawmaker knew the powerful real estate lobby in collusion with the Speaker’s Office was rigging the system to stop the Jobs Survival Act. They all knew from the empty stores on every NYC main street where once thriving business were that the crisis was only getting worse. They also knew that without a real lifeline every business was in jeopardy of closing when their leases expired, and their landlords could care less if they went out of business and remained empty. * https://www.savenycjobs.com/latin-chamber-study
Yet, not one lawmaker at City Hall had the political will or moral imperative to stand up and call for a vote on the only real lifeline to save our businesses, the Jobs Survival Act. A bill bottled up in committee for over a decade and having 28 sponsors, would make for easy passage if just voted on. With our businesses facing two crises at once, our lobby/machine controlled government still refused to throw a lifeline to save even one business. It is for this reality that voters need to step up to restore democracy at City Hall and save our businesses, jobs, and the spirit of our neighborhoods by electing new independent progressive candidates. City Hall politics has been too corrupted for too long to be reformed.
The Corruption of Ambition
MBP Gale Brewer continues to deny
Economic Justice to business owners.
Only through the collusion of former Speaker Quinn with the real estate lobby was the status quo kept with landlords in full power and control of the commercial lease renewal process. Landlords still held the full power over the futures of every business in NYC, and still do today! Then CM Brewer played a key role with her silence of the truth of the bogus legality claim against the Jobs Survival Act which helped make this disgraceful scheme successful, and still is today. The real estate lobby dogged a bullet with the help of the betrayal of our small businesses by ambitious lawmakers at City Hall. The lobbies, corrupt party machines, ambitious politicians and grossly overpaid bureaucrats would conspire to rig the system to deny small businesses a voice or justice at City Hall for over a decade, and still do today! The powerful real estate lobby that controlled our city’s economic policy now were given total control of government’s oversight responsibly for small businesses in NYC. Did CM Brewer play a major role in this travesty of injustice against small business owners, and still does today?
A new policy citywide was launched to cover up the crisis created by greedy landlords. CM Brewer would become part of this charade and dog and pony show where she was always looking and sounding like she cared about small businesses. The real estate lobby would influence the selection of every Small Business Committee Chairman, and still do today! Every member of the committee would be screened to assure that none would demand a hearing or vote on the Jobs Survival Act, and none have, even today! The SBS would never mention the crisis or the Jobs Survival Act or any legislation regulating commercial landlord’s control over the lease renewal process, and still never do today! The SBS, Chambers, BIDS, and business organizations with real estate or banks on their boards would all never recommend an actual solution to stop the closings of small businesses, and still refuse today. Any time the Jobs Survival Act was mentioned the lobby coached narrative for lawmakers would be to lie and claim the bill had legal problems or lie again and say it could never be passed. How successful was this collusion by a lobby to stop good government from working in a time of a growing crisis? With the NYC Courts issuing warrants to evict businesses on average 470* each month and estimated 1,200-1,400 closing each month, no hearings were ever held to find a solution to stop the closings in over 8 years, and still none are called for today! It would take an empty store blight citywide before a hearing was held 8 years after stopping the Jobs Survival Act. Then, even that hearing was a total sham with the real estate lobby orchestrating the entire hearing. This shameful hearing would go down as the most anti-small business and anti-immigrant family hearing ever held at City Hall.
A decade of a lobby orchestrated charade of fake studies, phony forums, worthless bills, more property owner’s BIDS and countless programs and in the end not a single right given to small business owners needed to survive, and still none given today!
All the political theater of bells and whistles possible with always great praise of the importance of the “backbone of our economy” and yet not one act to save even one business or to stop even one landlord abuse was passed in 10 years. It is undeniable; our government is controlled by lobbies, and still is today.
After stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act in late 2009 the bill was reintroduced in 2010 by CM Jackson and the bill would have three other prime sponsors after him: CMs Chin, Palma, and Rodriguez.
None were committed to fight for a vote on the bill or call for honest hearings. In the case of CMs Chin and Palma neither even called for a hearing! Since the 2018 sham hearing on the bill, prime sponsor Rodriguez has done nothing to move the bill, even with the virus crisis speeding up the destruction of many immigrant owned small businesses. The entire system was rigged against mom & pop and nobody had the courage to stand on the side of the business owners, which included CM Brewer.
CM Brewer would withdraw her sponsorship from the Jobs Survival Act, and never again would be a sponsor or supporter. The same bill her former boss CM Messinger first introduced and the one she fought hard for its passage. If a lawmaker truly wanted to stop the closing of their businesses they would have three options. The first is the most commonly used by lawmakers, which is to call for amendments of a good bill, one with support, but was stalled. Amendments of the bill to make it better, gain votes, or address criticism or challenges of being unconstitutional.
This option CM Brewer would be the most familiar with because that is exactly what CM Messinger did when she reintroduced the original Jobs Survival Act in 1989. I was present when CM Messinger worked with our coalition’s attorney Sherri Donovan to make amendments to the Jobs Survival Act based upon the recommendations of the Council’s legal department.* CM Messinger made it clear in her memo that she knew the bill was legal and in agreement with the Corporate Council but she was open to any recommendations from the Council’s legal that would satisfy any legal concerns they may have. Sherri Donovan made the recommended amendments to the bill and CM Messinger reintroduced it. Former prime sponsor CM Guillermo Linares also amended the same bill in 1994 based upon recommendations from Council’s legal department.*
Even though the Jobs Survival Act had seven amendments over the years, with 9 prime & co sponsors and reviewed by the Council’s legal department and approved every time it was reintroduced, and 12 hearings where the real estate lobby’s attorneys could challenge the legality of the bill ( but they never did), and where two amendments originated from recommendations of the Council’s own legal departments, and that Bronx President Rubin Diaz Jr. in 2010 held a Legal Review of the Jobs Survival Act which concluded the bill was “fully constitutional and would stand up to any court challenge,* not one lawmaker ( including CM Brewer) at City Hall has ever requested to see the legal documentation substantiating the bill’s legal problems. Nor has the unidentified source at City Hall, relied upon for a decade by lawmakers and the real estate lobby to make their legal meritless challenge, ever made a public appearance to defend his/her challenge. It is rigging right out in the open to stop good government from working and CM Brewer was allowing it to happen without any protest!
CM Brewer never recommended the Speaker’s legal department produce and substantiate through legal review their objections and recommend amendments to the bill to satisfy those concerns, so the bill could be voted on. To this day the updated Jobs Survival Act has never been amended, and never will as long as fake progressives controlled by the lobbies are in office. Why didn’t CM Brewer call for the Jobs Survival Act to be amended so it could be voted on?
The second option for CM Brewer to save her small businesses and jobs would be to call for a hearing to find the best solution to stop the closings of small businesses. A repeat of former Small Business Committee Chair David Yassky in 2009. Yassky, “I will say simply as an opening statement that I believe that we absolutely have to do something, period. It's not an option to do nothing…. We cannot allow them(small businesses) to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now. …call on administration witnesses here is we have to have some solutions to offer.” As COS of CM Messinger, Brewer organized some of the largest hearings ever held at City Hall on the topic of saving our businesses. Even though CM Brewer’s businesses were closing at record rates and many remaining empty for long periods of time, never once did CM Brewer call for a hearing to find a real solution to stop the closings, and still will not today.
Instead, she would begin the big delay and parade around holding forums, CB meetings, or workshops with the same pro big business conspirators who opposed our bill or any bill regulating commercial landlords. Groups and people who had benefited from the real estate speculation with windfall profits or grossly overpaid government jobs. All with the agenda of seeking to keep the status quo and never offering any real solution to save our small businesses.
If you saw CM Brewer at any event concerning small businesses you would likely also see the pro real estate BIDS, big business Chambers, anti small business SBS, city agency like Consumer Affairs to cover-up de Blasio’s failed policy, or people claiming to represent business owner but only mimic the real estate lobby’s false narrative, like the real problems of small businesses are over regulation (red tape) and to many fines. If she attended a media rally protesting the closing of a popular business or supermarket she always turned the public anger toward the landlords, never holding lawmakers responsible for doing nothing to stop the closings in the first place. Always, she would then eagerly volunteer to intercede as the “champion” on behalf of the business owner to negotiate with the landlord. The public failed to realize that if CM Brewer and others allowed good government to work and pass the Jobs Survival Act the businesses would not need to close nor need lawmaker to “grandstand” and negotiate their futures with the landlords. Given equal rights, our small businesses could negotiate their own futures.
The third option for lawmakers committed to save their businesses is to write their own legislation and lobby for support. Clearly, CM Brewer knew from the many past public hearings on the small business crisis, that she did not have a better solution to save her businesses than the Jobs Survival Act. Yet, at the end of her term she passed another giant distraction, a zoning law for her district. What was totally dishonest was her touting her zoning law to business owners that this zoning law would help keep them in business. It was a knowingly false hope, nothing could be further from the truth.
Over the many years since the zoning law went into effect, now MBP Brewer would repeatedly refer to the success of her zoning law as a reasonable solution to consider saving small businesses. A total deception on her part because she knew from listening to hundreds of testimony from the business community that the root cause of business closings was having no rights to negotiate reasonable lease terms when their leases expired. It was common knowledge the main reason for long established businesses closing citywide in record numbers was the insane rent increases. Yet, MBP Brewer concealed from the public the truth concerning her zoning law, that it had nothing to do with commercial lease renewals! It only pertained to new leases and only for store frontage for specific types of businesses. MBP Brewer’s zoning bill was 15 years too late with banks and chains already well established on every block in her district. In fact, she knew her zoning would not save a single established business if the landlord wanted the business closed. Zoning would not protect a single business from rent gouging; her bill was a lobby Trojan Horse to distract from the Jobs Survival Act.
Years after her zoning went into effect, MBP Brewer would be counting empty storefronts which attests to the fact zoning was never a real solution to save small businesses. In fact, zoning retail storefronts had always been one of the real estate lobby’s main substitute suggestions for our bill. As COS for CM Ruth Messinger Gale Brewer set through many public hearings, many times sitting next to me, and heard from every type of business owner what they needed to stop the closings and it was never zoning they wanted or asked for.
The truth of CM Brewer’s term in office was she was never committed to use her office to fight to stop the closing of her small businesses and save jobs. She fully participated in the lobby orchestrated charade of fake forums, phony studies, useless programs and worthless bills deceptively being pitched by SBS, Chambers, and BIDS as helping our small businesses. CM Brewer knew better than any lawmaker in the Council what the business owners needed to survive or at least have a fighting chance. She knew from years of first hand experience our businesses needed rights to renewal long term leases, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms and an arbitration process to protect tenants from rent gouging and being forced to pay the growing landlord’s property taxes. She knew that the only real lifeline to save the businesses was the Jobs Survival Act, the very bill CM Brewer withdrew her sponsorship and support from.
Why didn’t CM Brewer want her small businesses to have any rights when their leases expired? Why did she only want the landlords to have all the rights, even after seeing the terrible outcome of empty stores on her main streets?
CM Brewer would go through her entire term in office knowing her businesses faced a crisis when their leases expired, and would be in jeopardy of closing. She did nothing her entire term to give them the rights needed to survive and all her programs, bills, zoning, forums, and resources, etc would not save a single business or job.
Speaker Quinn’s despicable act to stop a vote of the Jobs Survival Act was the most anti immigrant act ever committed at City Hall. MBP Brewer’s effort to substitute a Landlord’s bill for the Jobs Survival Act was the second.