A message to all NYC lawmakers.
The majority of mom and pop businesses do NOT
want to return back to Normal.
Normal was returning to an unresolved growing crisis destroying small businesses. Normal was record breaking closings across
NYC BEFORE Covid 19!
Normal was having their landlords’ foot on the necks of every small business owner for over 15 years while our lawmakers remained silent and did nothing to save them.
Warning to all small business owners and New Yorkers who demand honest progressive government. Do not believe lawmakers claiming to take action to help save small businesses. None are concerned with saving small businesses or they would call for an immediate vote on the only real long term solution to save small businesses, Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. A bill giving all small business owners rights to renewal long term leases, rights needed to negotiate fair lease terms and rights to an arbitration process that will stop all rent gouging. A bill giving them a future. What lawmakers are really concerned with is to cover up their shameful records and roles in doing absolutely nothing for over a decade as our small businesses faced a growing crisis to survive. As well as, conceal from small business owners their complicity, and in many cases, collusion with the real estate lobby in rigging the system to deny economic justice to business owners which made their crisis worse.
Be prepared for many lawmakers promoting “dog and pony” shows to pretend they care about the future of our small businesses. None will even attempt to hold an honest conversation of how to stop our businesses from closing caused by the coronavirus crisis or determining which legislation is best for the long term survival from the longer small business crisis that existed prior to the virus. All the claims of caring for small businesses are disingenuous. Lawmakers touting their bills or initiatives to get our small businesses through the crisis are in reality only “political cover” to distract away from their years of serving only a real estate lobby whose members were the root cause of small businesses closing. Many lawmakers took large sums of real estate campaign funds to “look the other way” as our small businesses were being ripped off or abused by landlords.
Expect pictures in local media of lawmakers with their small business owners praising the lawmaker for helping get a loan or tax or fee break during the pandemic. These same lawmakers conspired with the real estate lobby for years to deny any rights or any real lifeline to save the same small business owners. Hypocrites! The business owners should be super pissed at their lawmaker for doing nothing to address the first crisis and thus making them the most vulnerable small businesses in America to closing.
Carefully examining every bill passed, shows that not one would save a single business or job long term. All of these bills were created to be certain to not give small business owners any rights or to not regulate any landlords. Thus keeping the status quo which was forcing the businesses to close in record numbers years before the virus crisis.
A few examples of disgraceful governing by unethical lawmakers are these bills:
Councilman Keith Powers introduced a bill to temporarily repeal the commercial rent tax for businesses for the remainder of the Covid-19 state of emergency. It would marginally impact only 5K businesses of 200K and do absolutely nothing for the majority of business. More importantly, it would do nothing for businesses after the virus passes. Powers proclaims how desperate the businesses need relief, yet he has never sponsored the Jobs Survival Act which would give real rights to his districts’ merchants. He acts like this is the first time his businesses are fighting to survive, yet he is trying to pawn off this legislation as saving small businesses. Disgraceful, he serves only big real estate and his record proves it.
Councilman Brad Lander in May launched a loan relief program. Like Powers, Lander never sponsored the Jobs Survival Act or any legislation that would save a single business or job. His program gave interest-free loans ONLY to his districts’ businesses with 15 or fewer employees. Loans they have to repay after the virus crisis. How about the other 99% of small businesses, why don’t they matter to Lander? Like Powers, Councilman Lander plays willful ignorance when it is convenient to cover up his disgraceful record on saving small businesses. Hypocrite Lander said, “One of the heartbreaking parts of this crisis has been walking past the darkened doors of many beloved neighborhood businesses.” How about for years walking by the many empty stores on his main street before Covid, why didn’t that break his heart?
Trojan Horses, basket of Council bills claiming to help small businesses survive the pandemic. While it has taken over 22 months since Speaker Johnson pledged to make changes to the Jobs Survival Act and move it to a vote, which he never intended to do, he can fast track legislation that does nothing to save a single business. In May 13th the council passed several bills falsely claiming they could serve as a lifeline for small businesses. What the bills did was put Band-Aids on the worse crisis ever faced by our small business owners. These bills were an insult to our desperate small business owners and to good government.
Speaker Johnson, “Small businesses are the heart and soul of New York City, and right now they are hurting,.. They need help and this small business package is designed to protect them during this pandemic.” Total disingenuous political rhetoric and nothing more.
Johnson’s statement, “and right now they are hurting …they need help”, is the most outrageous and disgraceful statement to NYC small business owners who have been fighting to survive for over a decade. He is fully aware of the decade long crisis but will do nothing to end it.
These are the shameful bills that fall far short of what the small business owners really need and deserve. One claims to protect commercial tenants from harassment by their landlords with big fines to landlords who harass. Someone who has been in business should make our lawmakers aware that our small businesses have no rights when their leases expire and thus would NEVER turn in their landlord. A sad joke this bill is.
What about the decade long extortion of most immigrant owners for cash by unscrupulous landlords? Why doesn’t protecting immigrant owners matter to the Council or Johnson? Council-member Francisco Moya’s bill restricts third-party fees from Grub-hub and Uber and others delivery charges during the virus crisis. How about the exorbitant rents demanded by landlords for over 10 years, or landlords forcing their tenants to pay for their property taxes, why doesn’t that matter to the Council or Johnson? Moya is another councilman who never signed onto the Jobs Survival Act or any legislation giving rights to small business owners, even though the majority are immigrant family owned (64-68%).
Councilwoman Rivera’s bill suspends the personal liability provision of a lease only during a short period of time (March 7 - Sept. 30). It prohibits the landlords during this short period to hold tenants personally liable when they are unable to pay rent, which can lead to the seizure of a tenants’ personal property. The bill allows tenants to close their businesses if they are unable to pay rent, and not be held personally liable. Keeping with other Rivera legislation, this will not save one business or job. More distraction. Rivera is becoming a leader in the Council for worthless bills targeting small businesses.
Again, someone needs to make lawmakers aware the goal is to keep the businesses open and if Johnson had kept his pledge and made the one paragraph change to the Jobs Survival Act and moved to a vote as promised, businesses would not be forced to sign unfair commercial lease terms upon renewal.
Councilman Cohen’s bill waives the café fees on restaurants with existing outdoor tables until Feb 2021. Again, all these so called lifelines do little to stop the closing of small businesses and all do NOTHING long term to save a single business because they expire at the end of the virus crisis. Again, he is another councilman who refused to sign onto the Jobs Survival Act and save small businesses.
Do not be fooled, what New Yorkers and business owners need to be aware of is the many government funded organizations that serve and protect lawmakers’ failed policies. Be prepared for a barrage of phony studies, worthless forums, petition drives, and rallies declaring support for small businesses but with the hidden agenda of protecting their failed records and responsibilities of lawmakers. Be warned to look out for any legislation directed to Albany, a sure sign of collusion with the real estate lobby. In the long over 30 year battle for economic justice for small business owners not once has any lawmaker or organization called upon Albany to intercede with legislation. The beginning of a false REBNY narrative ( let Albany pass legislation) was Councilman Lander’s promotion of the real estate lobby’s substitute bill for the Jobs Survival Act which triggered many lawmakers and organization claiming to turn to Albany for legislation to save our small businesses. Its only false hope, that a lifeline will ever come from Albany! Truly pathetic.
Just one example of these insincere schemes cooked up by unethical lawmakers trying to cover their political asses is the Save our Storefronts campaign in the Village. Stealing/Using the SOS symbol first used by the true advocates, they have at the bottom of their signs "NYC small business are in crisis." How shameful, admitting a crisis exists and knowing a real solution exists in the Jobs Survival Act, yet directing Villagers to send your letter to state legislators and Governor Cuomo promoting legislation you know will not save one business or likely ever be voted on. Saving local businesses and jobs has always been a local council members' responsibility and should continue to be.
Never would former council members Miriam Freidlander or Carol Greitzer ever turn the future of Village businesses or jobs over to Albany. The truth is Speaker Johnson could save every Village and every small business, or at least give them a fighting chance, tomorrow by allowing a vote on the Jobs Survival Act with 29 sponsors. But he will not allow a vote because he serves the interests of a real estate lobby and not the will of the people.
With our small businesses facing two crisis at the same time, one made worse by our own government, and our government denying them economic justice, is there any hope to save them? Yes, the only hope to restore democracy at City Hall and pass progressive legislation like the Jobs Survival Act to save our small businesses is for voters to support a progressive candidate revolution in the 2021 election. Vote into office true progressive candidates not controlled by the corrupt machine or influenced by big PAC campaign funds. A revolution to kick out the corrupt democratic machine and end the unethical real estate lobby’s control over economic policy at City Hall.
In the meantime PASS the JOBS SURVIVAL ACT Now or stop distracting from the truth and facts. www.saveNYCjobs.org where reality can be found.
Sung Soo Kim is called the “Godfather of Immigrant Small Business” due to his founding the Korean American Small Business Service Center; co-founding the New York City Small Business Congress and Coalition to Save New York City Small Businesses; creating the Small Business Bill of Rights given to elected officials since 1993; and his chairmanship of the Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. He spent every day for over 35 years serving and fighting for the rights of small business owners.