OP ED

Part II 

Corruption Hits A New Low At City Hall!

Unethical Lawmakers Continue Rigging For the

Real Estate Lobby,

To Stop Any Real Lifeline to Save Small Businesses.

  

In July 2009 the most anti democratic act at City Hall was committed by then Speaker Quinn.  In collusion with the real estate lobby, they cooked up a merit-less legal claim that stopped a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, that was certain to easily pass with 32 sponsors including every member of the Small Business Committee. This shameful act stopped good government from fulfilling its oversight responsibilities of holding honest hearings to recognize real problems and find real solutions to address them.  By stopping a vote on the only real solution to end a proven growing small business crisis, it guaranteed the crisis, as predicted, would continue unimpeded and only grow worse, which it has “with a fury.”*  Also, this collusion at City Hall to deny economic justice for small business owners triggered the beginning of the real estate lobby, REBNY taking over all authority of the future for our city’s small businesses. 

 This wicked act by the Speakers’ Office, carried on by former Speaker Mark Viverito and Speaker Corey Johnson, would assure the prediction would come true by the then Small Business Committee Chairman David Yassky, made at a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, , “It's not an option to do nothing. The mom and pop stores on the commercial strips in our neighborhoods are the heart of the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now. The major creator of our jobs, our small businesses are going out of business. That is what is at stake, if we don’t keep our small businesses we will not keep those jobs.  The one thing we cannot do in the face of this Crisis is nothing.”

 * MBP Brewer, May 13, 2015 . “even as the mom-and-pop crisis has intensified with a fury.” 

 Why the disgraceful act of government colluding with a lobby in order to stop a vote on legislation which would end a crisis is so relevant today is because had either Speakers Quinn, Mark Viverito, or Johnson would have allowed good government to work and easily passed into law the progressive legislation, Jobs Survival Act, then today’s businesses would have minimum long term 10 year leases, reasonable rents  and much more money in the bank.

More profits due to an end of rent gouging and tenants forced to pay their landlords’ growing property taxes, money going into the tenants’ pockets and not greedy landlords. This reality would have made all our small businesses far less vulnerable to closing today and given them at least a real fighting chance to survive today’s coronavirus crisis. 

 If the voices of real progressive lawmakers, who promoted decency,  humanity, and justice for all were not silenced by our dishonest democratic leadership and allowed to vote and pass the Jobs Survival Act into law, NYC would have had a vibrant small business community benefiting from the decade long economic boom. Main streets would have had very few empty stores, and those empty would have quickly been reopened. Businesses with fair leases and rights and control over their futures could have been in a much better position to survive today’s covid crisis. Instead, with all three Speakers and Mayor de Blasio giving REBNY total control over the future of our small businesses, the rigging to deny economic justice to small business owners has continued for over a decade, making the crisis worse and making NYC businesses the most vulnerable to closing in the nation.

 The real estate lobby, given their undeserving authority, which they bought with their campaign donations, has hand picked every small business committee chairman as well as stacking the committee to make certain the small business owners would never get an honest hearing again at City Hall. An honest hearing needed today to find the best solution to save small businesses facing the worse crisis ever.  Out in plain sight, the rigging of the system to deny any rights to small businesses continued without any protest from a single lawmaker! NOT ONE! The real estate industry and corrupt political machine cronies empowered and disguised pro real estate agencies and groups to be the new voice for small businesses. 

 More BIDS controlled by landlords were created, Chambers whose board members were mostly fat cats from real estate and banks were given a bigger voice and supported, political community and business groups were funded to promote lawmakers’ agenda, which was really the lobby’s agenda.  Community boards were silenced by pro real estate lawmakers. Once this huge pro real estate network was established, REBNY, with the full support and cooperation of many loyal lawmakers they funded to get elected, orchestrated the greatest charade and sham to cover-up the city’s growing small business crisis and to deny economic justice and a “lifeline” to desperate small business owners. This disgraceful network is still working full time today at City Hall as our businesses' futures are in a dire state. 

 In the face of a growing small business crisis the “norm” at City Hall for a decade was a campaign of distraction, misinformation and outright lies on the Jobs Survival Act, fake studies, worthless bills, useless initiatives, countless tedious forums and workshops, and lots of disingenuous speeches from political hypocrites on how important our small businesses were, even as businesses closed in record numbers in all five boroughs. These hypocrites are continuing this failed fake democratic process while our small businesses now face TWO crisis to survive.  One created by the virus and one created by a corrupt government. 

The entire REBNY network at City Hall has only the goal of keeping the status quo for their wealthy members. Nothing was done at City Hall for over 10 years that would give a single right needed by small business owners to address a single major problem nor anything that would save a single small business or job. This grave injustice and atrocity against hard working families and the destruction of the backbone of our local economy, job creators, and revenue generators was acceptable to every lawmaker at City Hall!  Why is it still acceptable today?  

The late Martin Luther King was asked about his strong statements to stop the war in Vietnam, his reply, “ Silence is betrayal”.  For a decade, lawmakers knowing the bogus legal claim against the Jobs Survival Act had been soundly debunked numerous times, nevertheless, never once called to amend the bill and move it to a vote, like the practice with other legislation. In the face of a growing crisis spreading to every NYC main street, not a single lawmaker called for a hearing to find a solution to stop the closings.  Today, not a single lawmaker has called for a hearing to immediately find the best solution to stop the closings and give the businesses the best chance to survive.  Why?  They know the best solution to save small businesses has been " bottled up"  in committee with 29 sponsors, and they played a role in "bottling it up". 

Knowing the major role small businesses play in generating revenue for our city, not one lawmaker questioned the foolish policy of allowing thriving businesses to close and remain empty, just to allow a greedy landlord to make more money.  In fact, not one lawmaker brought to the attention of the public the vital role businesses play as a major revenue generator in NYC. Not one lawmaker ever questioned the role of sky high property taxes resulting from years of real estate speculation in forcing businesses to close or workers laid off.  A corrupt democratic machine collaborating with powerful lobbyists was destroying the backbone of our economy and the American Dream for countless small business owners. Yet, lawmakers were remaining silent and betraying not only progressive principles, small business owners and their employees but also democracy.

 Over a decade of this REBNY created charade and cover-up with no push back or out cry from self proclaimed progressive lawmakers has now produced the worst small business crisis in America, years before the coronavirus.  The courts have issued warrants to evict over 50K businesses, an estimated 140-155K businesses closed, with an estimated loss of over 1.2 million jobs.*  When New Yorkers walk by empty stores they should not be angry at the landlords or buy into the REBNY false narrative that its Amazon or changing times at fault. The closing of our long established businesses during a decade of a booming national economy is the fault of a bunch of political cowards with no ethnics who lack any political will to do the right thing to stand up to corruption and fight against injustice.  *https://www.savenycjobs.com/nyc-court-evictions-

 City Hall today is nothing but political soldiers serving the Dons of the real estate mafia and corrupt political bosses.

 What did the fake progressive lawmakers know and when did they know it?

Every NYC lawmaker knew in 2009 from the Latin Small Business Study* that our immigrant small businesses faced a crisis caused by hyper real estate speculation and greed, while the SBS and EDC covered it up with phony programs.    Largest independent study ever done on small business.  *   https://www.savenycjobs.com/latin-chamber-study

 Every lawmaker knew since 2009 that the only real solution to save our small businesses was the Jobs Survival Act, giving rights to businesses when their leases expired, rights needed to negotiate fair lease terms and survive. 

Former Small Business Chairman David Yassky, Aug 2009 City Hall rally, “The cornerstone to stopping the closing of our small businesses and saving jobs is the Small Business Survival Act.”

 Every lawmaker knew that the crisis was growing out of control yet did nothing to try to end it. *https://www.savenycjobs.com/nyc-court-evictions-

 

Queens Petition 

https://d8a95dd6-9af1-41e3-84be-6d86b49943c0.filesusr.com/ugd/44ef2f_6cfd8e5908184f4cab54042810cc561c.pdf

 Every lawmaker knew the real estate lobby was colluding with the Speakers’ Office to deny an honest hearing and economic justice and rights to small business owners and yet none spoke out.

 Every lawmaker knew since 2010 that the claim that the Jobs Survival Act was unconstitutional had no legal merit, yet several REBNY cronies continued to lie to give political cover to hide behind and “do nothing.” And they still use the same lie today.

 Everyone knew that the appointment of Councilman Mark Gjonaj was made by the real estate lobby and was an affront to good government and an insult to desperate small business owners. Gjonaj raised $1.3 million dollars from mostly real estate in his campaign, making his appointment a clear gross conflict of interest because he owned his own real estate company and was the most pro landlord in the council. Gjonaj tenaciously opposed any regulation of landlords, yet no lawmaker protested his despicable appointment as chairman to resolve the small business crisis caused by the landlords. Indefensible!

 Every lawmaker knew that the Small Business Committee was stacked by REBNY to assure no votes would happen on the Jobs Survival Act, or any legislation giving real rights to business owners. They knew that the Small Business Committee had no representative from Queens, to be a voice for the Queens mostly immigrant small business owners. They also knew that only one councilman represented all of Brooklyn’s businesses on the committee. That sole representative was Councilman Levin, a product of the corrupt machine favoring big developers and was no friend of Brooklyn’s small businesses. Gjonaj represented all of Bronx, a sad joke as he was the champion of promoting the landlords’ false narrative, and Manhattan had three representatives on a committee of 5!  Rigging in the open yet only silence from council members.  Reprehensible!  

 Every lawmaker was a member of at least one BID and thru their role as both creating the BID and council oversight, could easily influence the BID’s policy. Yet, not one BID spoke up to support the Jobs Survival Act. Not one BID ever presented a solution to stop the closing of small businesses in NYC! In fact several testified opposing the Jobs Survival Act . For the first time ever at a hearing,  BIDS testified against the Jobs Survival Act. Shameful, but exposed who BIDS really represent, only landlords!

 Every lawmaker knew the big Chambers were never a voice for the small mom and pop businesses. Yet, every lawmaker supported their Chambers and participated in their sponsored forums, workshops and events, thus giving them the appearance of credibility as a voice for small businesses who really care, when they clearly don’t care and were always a voice for only big business. For the first time in 12 hearings the Chambers came out of the shadows and showed who they really serve by testifying against the Jobs Survival Act.

 Every lawmaker knew that several government funded community groups claiming to speak for immigrant small businesses were nothing but fronts for REBNY’s false narrative and part of the lobby’s grand plan to kill the Jobs Survival Act. For the first time a community group testified against the Jobs Survival Act at a hearing. For the first time a community group conducted a phony study on small businesses to allow them to lie and promote useless legislation as a substitute for the Jobs Survival Act.  

 Every lawmaker in NYC participated in one or more schemes cooked up by the real estate lobby, promoting a false narrative or worthless bills created to distract and cover-up the dire consequences to our small businesses and stall any legislation giving rights to small business owners.  https://www.savenycjobs.com/rebny-trojan-horses

Every lawmaker knew the big “myth”, that the claim that the majority of small businesses were minority owned was a lie to give political cover for lawmakers to hide behind for doing nothing to save immigrant small businesses.  Immigrant families are the largest owners of small businesses in NYC, 64-68%, and the most abused by their landlords. And yet not one lawmaker will take any action to protect them.  Lawmakers knew immigrant owned businesses were the targets of unscrupulous landlords who were extorting cash from immigrant owners under threat of being thrown out. Also, turning immigrant owners into indentured servitude to their landlords who gave them month to month or one/two year leases.

 

The majority of women owned small businesses are from immigrant families.  African Americans in NYC are 20-22% of population but have less than 2% of businesses, with the majority being Haitian and Jamaican owned.  Immigrant owned small businesses in NYC have NO voice at City Hall advocating for their rights, futures, or to stop the abuses against them.  For the first time in NYC’s history, the future of our immigrant businesses did not matter to the corrupt Democratic machine.   Appalling!  No government in the world is more anti immigrant in its economic policies than the self proclaimed progressive City Hall. Disgraceful!

 But the most despicable act by lawmakers was they ALL knew that the coronavirus would  greatly speed up the closing of businesses barely hanging on due to years of neglect from City Hall. Yet, dishonest lawmakers would continue to remain silent and maintain their “willful ignorance” policy and do nothing to save them, or even try to throw them a lifeline to give them a fighting chance to survive. Our big lobbyists and corrupt political machine controlled government is void of any moral obligation to save our small businesses and jobs.

 For over a decade most New Yorkers walking by empty stores worried if their favorite mom and pop business would survive the sky high rents.  Today, they worry if businesses are strong and stable enough to reopen and survive the coronavirus.  Will two crisis at the same time be a bridge too far for most to remain in business?  The question of whether our government is going to throw a lifeline to save small businesses or at least pass legislation that would give them a fighting chance to survive, was answered Oct. 22, 2018.  Regrettably, with a corrupted democratic leadership controlled by unethical lobbyists the answer was no. And is clearly still no today.

 Part III Blame unethical lawmakers for businesses closings, not Amazon or Coronavirus! The Virus crisis just “mach speed” what was slowly happening to businesses for over decade in NYC.

 

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.