REBNY DREAM TEAM!
Which Progressive Lawmakers Joined in the Rigging to Deny Economic Justice to Small Business Owners?
Who is Responsible for Burying the only
Lifeline to Save Mom & Pop?
In August 2009, democracy was stopped in the Council, good government ended for small business owners when a cooked up bogus legal claim stopped a vote on the only real solution (lifeline) to save small businesses, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. This collusion began between a powerful real estate lobby and the Speakers Office. A conspiracy that expanded over the years to include once proud progressives with blind ambitions enticing them to abandon their progressive values and ethics.
For more than a decade this collusion would deny economic justice to small business owners, even as the crisis grew to every borough. Record business closings and job loss continued without any effort from City Hall to stop the closings. A corrupt government would not even try to save a single business, even though a real solution sat bottled up in committee never to receive an honest hearing or any effort to amend it and move it to a vote. The message from a powerful lobby, who bought off our democratic leadership, to all businesses in NYC was clear, “crisis or even two crises, No lifeline was coming out of this council we control, they serve only the wealthy not small businesses.”
How is it possible for over 10 years, that during a period of national economic growth across America, NYC courts would issue 56,378 warrants to evict businesses, an estimated 170-175K businesses closed, an estimated 1.3-1.5 million jobs lost, and empty store fronts on every main street where once thriving business were, and yet not one law was passed to save a single business or job? How is it possible that the only real solution to save small businesses or give them a fighting chance to survive, the Jobs Survival Act, sat bottled up in committee for over 10 years, and now with two crises growing and putting all businesses’ futures in doubt, not one lawmaker will demand it be voted out of committee to allow the full council to vote it into law? The corrupt council leadership will easily fast track any legislation created by REBNY, as they did demonstrate, but never move to vote on any legislation giving rights to small business owners they need to survive.
This injustice against desperate small business owners could never have happened without the full complicity of lawmakers to the rigging by the real estate lobby and the Speaker’s Office to stop the Jobs Survival Act or any law regulating commercial landlords. Every lawmaker in some manner has sanctioned, by their actions or non actions, a powerful lobby to control the destiny of legislation that will determine the future of every small business owner and their workers. Why would any progressive lawmaker empower the very identity that created a small business crisis in the first place, the responsibility to determine a solution to save our small businesses?
For more than 10 years at City Hall, every worthless bill, useless initiative, phony study, valueless forums and workshops, false narratives, misinformation campaigns and sham hearing all claiming to help small businesses had the real estate lobby, REBNY’s finger prints on everything. They have orchestrated the greatest charade at City Hall to protect the windfall profits of their wealthy members, and unethical lawmakers have eagerly joined them to see they are successful.
Who are these unscrupulous corrupt progressives who insult democracy and good government by serving and placing the interests of a wealthy few over the suffering and survival of our small business owners and working class families?
We have selected several lawmakers who played a major role in allowing our government to become corrupted by a real estate lobby.
A few who have joined in the collusion to deny justice and rights to business owners facing the greatest crisis to survive ever.
REBNY DREAM TEAM !
Captain Mayor de Blasio
If then Public Advocate de Blasio would have kept his campaign pledges, progressive principles, or fulfilled the role of the PA, the Jobs Survival Act would have easily passed years ago, ending the city’s small business crisis. Passing a law allowing our city’s small businesses to prosper from the economic recovery and boom taking place in America. Grow and create more jobs and collect more revenue for our city. Instead, he choose his own career over the survival of our small businesses and the jobs they created. By doing so, Bill de Blasio holds the most responsibility for the dire state our small businesses face today to survive.
Never in the long 30 plus year struggle to pass the Jobs Survival Act has a lawmaker so changed his position as has Mayor de Blasio. As councilman he was one of the strongest voices for passing the Jobs Survival Act. He attended many gatherings of immigrant business owners and always pledged to end the illegal extortion of cash demanded from immigrant owners when their leases expired.
In fact, bodega owners were so moved by his promise to fight to pass the bill and save their businesses, they put posters in their windows supporting him. Once elected, all his support abruptly ended and never again would he commit to supporting the Jobs Survival Act, or any legislation giving owners any rights which they needed to survive. Never again would he even mention stopping the abuses committed against mainly immigrant family owned businesses.
In fact he would knowingly first play “dim-witted” by confusing commercial rent control with arbitration bills, then outright “lie” when asked about the arbitration bill, always state that ‘the bill has legal problems.”* Though never detailing the problems or who made the claim, but always hiding behind this false statement to allow him to continue to “do nothing” to save our small businesses or end the abuses against mainly immigrant family owners. Recently at his press conference he was asked about the Jobs Survival Act, his answer showed his total lack of any ethics or progressive principles. De Blasio, “but to the arbitration bills.. the bill as written, I don't think works. I think there's another approach that could work with arbitration and mediation, and that is being worked up right now.” He thought it worked in 2009 when he called for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act to “begin stopping the closing of our small businesses.”
His administration faced a growing small business crisis from day one. Yet, he now “thinks it ( Jobs Act) does not work”, why not amend the bill in 2010 to make it work? What did de Blasio promote as a better solution to “work” and stop the closings? NOTHING from his entire term to save a single business! Our small businesses are facing two crises, one allowed to grow unchecked under his administration and the other caused by the coronavirus, and NOW he is “working with arbitration and mediation”, who believes these lies anymore from Mayor de Blasio?
Who de Blasio is working with on small business policy is the same real estate mafia gang since his first day in office, lobbies and corrupt democratic machine cronies.
It would take 10 pages to detail his betrayal of our city’s small business owners, these links show this immoral politically driven person’s real record and its an embarrassment to good government and a disgrace for the progressive cause.
De Blasio aways knew the Jobs Survival Act was fully legal!
One fact de Blasio cannot cover up showing his corruption and control by the real estate lobby is this: the NYC Courts issued warrants to evict 34,446 businesses, an estimated 110-115K businesses closed, an estimated 800-850K jobs lost, and every main street had empty stores under his watch and a crisis was growing out of control under his watch. Yet, as Mayor, de Blasio did not pass one piece of legislation that would give any rights or save a single business or job. Nor did he call for a single honest hearing to find the best solution to stop the closing of our small businesses. His entire administration, worked only for the lobbies. Even in the face of two crises, Mayor de Blasio will not even try to move the Jobs Survival Act to a vote, even knowing it is the only real solution to save our small businesses and give them a fighting chance to survive. Appalling!
De Blasio gets F grade on economy 2017
Most damaging to our city’s economy under his administration is keeping our hard working entrepreneurs a deprived social class with no rights and no voice in making economic policy in New York City. This creates a distrust in our government to be treated fairly and destroys the spirit of our best entrepreneurs to want to grow their businesses and have a future in NYC. “Kim”
True for Mayor de Blasio
Co Captain Speaker Corey Johnson
If it would take 10 pages to detail the corruption and unethical actions of Mayor de Blasio against democracy and our small business owners it would then take 20 pages for Speaker Corey Johnson.*
Speaker Johnson sold out small businesses to become Speaker and has continued to sell them out while trying to become Mayor. Even though then Councilman Johnson was a sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act and acknowledged that a crisis existed for small businesses with the Jobs Survival Act as the solution to save businesses, once elected Speaker, he withdrew his sponsorship of the bill. Furthermore, disgracefully, he allowed REBNY to hand pick the new Small Business Chairman. Their choice was the most pro real estate and anti tenant lawmaker in the council, Mark Gjonaj. Besides owning his own real estate company, Gjonaj was on record opposed to the Jobs Survival Bill and any law regulating landlords. Gjonaj would never be Chairman in any other city in America, only our corrupt City Hall would this be allowed. Gjonaj as chairman, in time of a growing small business crisis caused by the landlords, Indefensible!
If choosing a wealthy real estate owner as Chair was not enough rigging, Johnson allowed REBNY to stack the Small Business Committee by cutting the number from 9 to 5 with NO member representing Queens! The lone voice representing all of Brooklyn’s small businesses was machine loyalist Councilman Stephen Levin.
Speaker Johnson again betrayed the small businesses by allowing REBNY to orchestrate a sham hearing on the Jobs Survival Act.
At this hearing Johnson repeatedly pledged to change the Jobs Survival Act to not allow protections for Fortune 500 type companies and move it to a vote. That pledge was made in Oct 2018 and he never intended to keep it. Instead of making the changes and moving the bill to a vote, the changes show up in Dec 2019 in a new bill cooked up with REBNY’s oversight! This fake bill had only one goal, to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act. The fake bill gives NO rights to the business owners and keeps the status quo. More Shameful rigging!
What “lifeline” was Speaker Johnson going to throw small business owners he knew faced a crisis to survive? Speaker 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”. Like de Blasio , his solution was DO NOTHING, instead he would use the full power of his office to “bury” the only real lifeline, Jobs Survival Act.
If Speaker Johnson had kept his pledges and changed the Jobs Survival Act as promised, and moved it to a vote, then every small business owner today would have a much greater chance to survive the coronavirus because they would have 10 year leases and not have to pay their landlords’ growing property taxes. Speaker Johnson buried the only lifeline to save our small businesses and has continued the rigging at City Hall to keep it buried. He is a disgrace to good government.
How much does REBNY have their clutches into Johnson?
When it was clear Johnson was continuing the rigging to stop the Jobs Survival Act and the coronavirus would be the nail in the coffin for countless businesses, I sent a dire plea to compromise. For the sake of saving the small businesses and throwing them a lifeline, a fighting chance, as many were drowning from the virus. I did something I pledged for 30 years never to do, compromise the Jobs Survival Act. Speaker Johnson and Mayor de Blasio left me no choice when it was clear they would never stand up to REBNY and pass the Jobs Survival Act. I wrote to Speaker Johnson* asking that if he was sincere in wanting to save our small businesses and end the crisis the three (prime sponsor Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Speaker and myself) should quickly meet for 48 HOURS to make major compromises to the Jobs Survival Act and move it immediately to a vote. For the first time I would give REBNY major concessions in order to save thousands of businesses that the virus would close for good. Councilman Rodriguez immediately agreed to meet and compromise but Speaker Johnson refused to even REPLY!!
Johnson was never sincere in his political rhetoric to save our small businesses facing two crises. His “political theater” at City Hall is an embarrassment to democracy and a disgrace to humanity. He lacks any decency or humanity when he would not even TRY to save desperate families facing the crisis of their lives. The most iconic neighborhood in America, the Village, was being destroyed and Johnson puts his own ambitions over saving it. He sunk so low as to secretly remove Councilwoman Rivera off the Small Business Committee where she was the only voice for the Village merchants. He is the picture of political corruption; the poster child for REBNY.
Speaker Johnson would not give desperate small business owners 48 hours to save their businesses and jobs!! This letter shows who Speaker Johnson really serves!
He has betrayed every immigrant family in NYC by denying them economic justice in their dire time fighting to keep their American Dream alive, trying to keep the pathway for social mobility for immigrant families alive, trying to keep the number one source of jobs for immigrant families alive, and trying to keep the centuries old “NYC as the gateway for immigrant entrepreneurs” alive. Yet, Speaker Johnson has colluded with the very same real estate profiteers who are killing the soul of our immigrant community. He has no respect for the role immigrant families have played in contributing to the character, spirit and economic stability of our city. He is a disgrace to the principles of democracy and humanity.
Speaker Johnson along with Mayor de Blasio must be held accountable for their discrimination and corrupt acts causing the dire state that our small businesses are in today.
Co- Captain Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander
Brad Lander gives new meaning to the word “hypocrite.” At the June 29, 2009 hearing he testified supporting the Jobs Survival Act, “I believe that one (solution Jobs Act) being proposed here today of a fair lease renewal process comes out high up at the top (to preserve small businesses) and I strongly support it. As you know, the challenges facing small business have grown from a problem to a real crisis in the city. But you're still seeing a stunning number of places where when a lease renewal comes up, what people are being forced to do is absurd. If we don’t do something about it soon we're going to lose them more and more and more. The City's Department of Small Business Services, as we've heard, have many fine programs, but the evidence is before our eyes, they just aren't working to save mom and pop businesses in our neighborhoods. So something new and serious is needed. I just think the evidence is there before us if we let the free market reign, we know without any additional regulation what it's going to continue to give us. In two years, three years, five years, we'll be back here with fewer of the small businesses that make our neighborhood great, with fewer of the jobs that we have here today. So let's put in place this one very reasonable additional regulation.”
Wow, Lander was spot on in his predictions: SBS is not working to save small businesses, a real crisis, if we do not pass Jobs Survival Act will be back in 2, 3, 5 years with fewer businesses. Lander should have said back in 10 years because lawmakers like himself flipped and abandon their progressive principles to serve REBNY.
Lander was elected councilman and became a sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act. Obviously, he made a career decision to move up in the council leadership by removing his name from the bill and never once mentioned the bill again or the crisis he so accurately detailed in his testimony. Nor taking any real action to prevent what he predicted, “unregulated failed free market forcing businesses to close and SBS doing nothing to save them.” Lander’s excuse for doing nothing with his entire term to save one business or jobs, the same as other REBNY cronies at City Hall, falsely claim the bill has legal issues. Shameful!
At every rally to save small businesses or protest a business closing in his district, Brooklyn's Brad Lander would show up showing anger and give a “let’s save our businesses speech.” While the majority of time as the Council’s deputy in charge of policy, he would collude with the fat cats, who would later donate to his campaign, to keep the status quo and never even attempt to find a true solution to save a single business. Despicable!
As the council’s policy man, Lander could not feel good about the city’s empty stores on every block during an economic boom. Exactly what he predicted! All the “political theater and dog and pony shows” schemed by REBNY were not working to cover-up the obvious growing small business crisis. Evidently the policy of protecting the profits of REBNY’s members was making the crisis worse. If City Hall’s policy of doing nothing was making the crisis worse then as policy director, Lander was responsible for making a small business crisis worse.
Lander showed his true colors and who he really serves at the Oct. 22, 2018 hearing. Firstly, understand how unethical he is by working behind the scenes to deny an honest hearing for years on the Jobs Survival Act. Even the growing crisis and closings of his own district’s small businesses would not move him to call for a hearing to find a solution to stop the closings.
The hearing was a total REBNY orchestrated sham and Lander knew it. Lander’s testimony was a far cry for the one he gave in 2009. No support for the Jobs Survival Act or not calling out the council or SBS for not taking any real action to even try to pass legislation to save small businesses. But the most telling statement on the unethical character of Lander was what he remained silent on. At the June 29, 2009 hearing many small business owners gave testimony of the growing problem of illegal extortion of cash targeting immigrant owners. The hearing was in response to the findings of the largest independent study of the city’s immigrant small business owners*. *https://www.savenycjobs.com/latin-chamber-study
At the hearing, former Councilman John Liu was critical of the lack of response from the SBS spokesperson on the findings of the study that showed 31% of Hispanic owners had been extorted for cash to remain in business. Liu called out the SBS for not making the illegal extortion of immigrant owners a priority, and for not even caring. The response from SBS was an insult to every immigrant owner, “have them call us if extorted.”
Brad Lander made the strongest statement on the illegal extortion of immigrant owners by calling for an investigation of the extortion:
BRAD LANDER: “I might just add one thing that was very clear from the testimony and the conversation earlier is the need for some enhanced investigation. I don’t know who it is here that needs to step in and investigate, whether it's the IRS, whether it's the state attorney general, whether it's a city investigative agency. There are clearly things going on ….the survey that was done is obviously one great step, but having a government agency in is critical.”
Once Councilman Lander gained a leadership role in the council he never once took any action to prevent the illegal extortion targeting immigrant owners. NEVER ONCE! How progressive is a lawmaker who remains silent knowing immigrant owners are targeted by unscrupulous landlords who rob them of their life’s saving? Why did Lander stop calling for an investigation into this shameful act? Maybe because some of his big cash donors from real estate did not want him too. Did any of the extortion money from the immigrant business owners end up in his campaign donations? There has to be a reason why Lander dramatically changed and allowed this extortion to go on unimpeded. Councilman Lander does not deserve a single vote from any immigrant family in NYC. His lack of sympathy for the dire plight of hard working immigrant families and his turning his back as they are extorted and robbed of cash savings proves he is a fake progressive unworthy of their votes.
After the sham hearing in late 2018, Lander continued the discrimination against small business owners by turning a blind eye as the rigging by REBNY and Speaker Johnson continued. What was schemed and cooked up by these unethical lawmakers was a so- called “basket of worthless bills” fast tracked and orchestrated by the real estate lobby as a substitute for the Jobs Survival Act. What an insult to both our small business owners and to good government. I will not detail these worthless excuses for legislation but give only one as an example of fake legislation. Councilwoman Rivera’s bill called for 21 districts to count the empty stores and give a report on the status of the businesses, every three years!! The city has 76 BIDS whose board members own the majority of buildings in main shopping strips. It would take one hour to count the empty stores and one and half hours to issue a report on the status of the district. RIGGING for REBNY! In the middle of a major crisis this is what REBNY cooked up for their cronies to pawn off as helping small businesses. As the council’s policy director, Lander had to sign off on these rigged disgraceful bills orchestrated by REBNY.
Just when you believed Councilman Lander could not show any less integrity he steps up and hits a grand slam home run for team REBNY. One year passes from the Oct 2018 hearing where Speaker Johnson promised to make changes to the Jobs Survival Act and move it to a vote. One year of Johnson’s chief of staff Eric Bottcher repeating to media, “meeting with small business advocates and we are tweaking and fine tuning the bill, soon will have it ready.“ A one paragraph change in the bill covering the scope of the bill is taking over one year? More delays, stalling, and empty promises of Bottcher “ we are still seriously considering the SBJSA ( Jobs Survival Act).”
What is going on at City Hall as small businesses are forced to close as the crisis worsens? In Nov. 2019 Councilman Lander lets everyone know what is going on, it the worse case of rigging in council history. Every since his testimony in June 2009, Brad Lander has remained silent on the Jobs Survival Act and the small business crisis in NYC. He took his name off the bill soon after being elected and never promoted it once, or any solution for that matter. Now one year after the hearing on the Jobs Survival Act which he attended and where he heard, as everyone in attendance heard a dozen times, from Speaker Johnson of his pledge to amend the bill and move it to a vote.
But Lander was secretly sponsoring a new bill. A new bill with the changes in it that Johnson had promised to make to the Jobs Survival Act; it was rigging in plain sight. What is so shameful is this bill was orchestrated by REBNY with only one goal, to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, the only lifeline to save small businesses. Speaker Johnson lied to the public and desperate business owners. He never had any intentions to change the Jobs Survival Act and move it to a vote. While he lied and stalled, Councilman Levin and Lander worked in secret to rubber stamp this absurd substitute bill for the Jobs Survival Act. Atrocious!
This was a clear violation of council rules, having two bills doing the same exact action (determining commercial rents when leases expired). In the long 30 year debate on the Jobs Survival Act never once has there been two bills in play at the same time!! Despicable Rigging out in the open.
Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander became the first NYC lawmaker in 30 years to issue a petition to Save Small Businesses, and not mean it. CM Lander is championing a new bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization, claiming it will save small businesses by putting a cap on commercial rent. It is a knowingly false claim and he knew his bill would not save a single business. Why would you secretly promote a real estate created bill that you know is grossly inferior to the Jobs Survival Act? What happened to his testimony on the Jobs Survival Act, “ at the top (to preserve small businesses) and I strongly support it.?”
Nine years of remaining silent during a small business crisis and one year past a hearing on the only real solution to save small businesses and Councilman Lander secretly announces a new bill to save small businesses. How sincere is Councilman Lander promoting a real estate created substitute bill for the only lifeline to save small businesses? No progressive should trust him.
A strong case can be made for Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, and Councilman Lander to be fully responsible for putting our small businesses in the most vulnerable position to survive the coronavirus.
For colluding with a real estate lobby to “bury a lifeline” to save desperate small businesses or at least give them a fighting chance to survive. The majority owners of small businesses are immigrant families (64-68%). These three are totally responsible for promoting the most anti immigrant acts that will allow the continued destruction of immigrant family businesses, loss of immigrant jobs, and continued unscrupulous landlord abuses targeting immigrant owners.
Any New Yorker who respects our immigrant community and demands honest good government should never give these three their vote. Only vote for true independent progressives not controlled by special interest or the corrupt political machine. The only hope to save our small businesses and prevent a major economic catastrophe is a major change in our government in the 2021 election.
Sung Soo Kim
NEXT: REBNY ALL STARS: STRINGER, BREWER, AND CORNEGY