Councilman Ben Kallos Joins in Rigging to Stop The Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Throws Manhattan’s Mom & Pop and Professional Businesses Under the Bus!

Dateline, NYC Jan 23, 2020,

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos recently switched from supporting the Small Business Jobs Act, Jobs Act, to actively supporting a new bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization, introduced by Councilman Stephen Levin. Even though both bills deal exclusively with the commercial lease renewal process, the outcomes for the commercial tenants when their leases expire are the exact opposite under each bill. Under the Jobs Act the tenant has rights and is protected while under the Rent Control Bill  the tenant has no rights and no protection.

As a longtime sponsor of the Jobs Act, CM Kallos knows the Jobs Act does not discriminate against any owner who has invested and scarified to build a business, create jobs, and needs the protections in this bill to remain in business.  The Jobs Act bill gives rights to renewal of 10 year commercial leases to all commercial tenants. Also, rights to equally negotiate reasonable lease terms that will allow the tenant to remain in business and make a reasonable profit.  Finally, the right to an arbitration process if mutual agreement cannot be reached.  The Jobs Act gives rights to protect any tenant from landlord abuses like illegal extortion and very short term leases.  In reality, the Jobs Act is a true tenants’ rights bill for any commercial tenant who would need these rights when their leases expire.

CM Kallos also knows the new bill he is championing, Commercial Rent Stabilization, will give no rights to the commercial tenant. The bill will maintain the status quo by keeping all the rights, except one, solely in the hands of the landlords. That one right is, only if the landlord decides to renewal the lease, the new rent increase percentage will be decided each year by a special taxpayer funded rent guidelines board. This new bill will not save a single business because that new rent increase will be on top of the market rate of 20 years of hyper real estate speculation resulting in manipulated and artificially insane rent increases which caused long established businesses to close.  The small business advocates rightly call this new bill CM Kallos champions, the Landlords Rights Bill. 

Sung Soo Kim, the city’s leading small business advocate and authority for 3 decades, “ a message to all Manhattan small business owners, especially professional business owners, do not rely upon Councilman Kallos to have the political will to stand up to the real estate lobby and fight for legislation, like the Jobs Act,  to save your business.  In the face of a growing small business crisis CM Kallos’s actions and record shows conclusively he lacks the leadership needed to give small business owners economic justice and fair treatment at City Hall. 

Since his time in office, not once has he stood up to demand legislation to stop the closings of small businesses. Not once has he called for an honest hearing to find the best solution to stop the closings of small businesses. During his entire term in office he has remained silent and complicit to the collusion and rigging by the real estate lobby to stop any vote on the Jobs Act. Today, CM Kallos has joined in that rigging to stop the Jobs Act, he has abandoned and betrayed small business owner by his sponsorship of the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, a bill written by REBNY with one goal, to substitute for the Jobs Act.” 

CM Kallos demonstrated his “willful ignorance” of the dire state of our small business crisis and his indifference to seeking a real solution to save small businesses at the Oct. 22, 2018 public hearing on the Jobs Act. This hearing was a sham hearing orchestrated by REBNY to deny small business owners justice and a voice.  The SBS Commissioner Bishop came to the hearing with no intention of seeking a solution to save even one small business.  Instead, Bishop was given center stage to oppose the Jobs Act and give disinformation on the bill and on the crisis and to distract with calls for useless studies and worthless programs.  Councilmembers also came into the hearing to be part of this disgraceful charade by being coached on only REBNY talking points and never holding SBS accountable for “doing nothing “ for a decade as the crisis worsened or demanding SBS do their job and find a real solution to stop the closings.  Councilman Kallos came into this hearing with no commitment to seek a real solution to save his small business owners. Instead, CM Kallos showed he was coached to go along with this sham hearing.   His questions show his ignorance of basic economics and especially the small business crisis.  His first question to Bishop was, “ How big is the empty storefronts problem?”  Which allowed Bishop to promote the need for a storefront registry keeping track of empty stores.  This insult registry was later passed into law by the council.  Why didn’t CM Kallos ask him “what is SBS doing to stop the closings?”

CM Kallos second question was again a soft ball question to Bishop, “looking at the tools used and programs (by SBS) can they help small businesses?”  How absurd a question asked after you ask him to count the empty stores.  Doesn’t CM Kallos not realize the empty stores are proof the SBS programs are a monumental failure, and their spreading to every main street in the city shows SBS will never do anything to stop the closings or address the crisis with a real solution because they serve the real estate industry? 

CM Kallos shows he has given no serious thought to the small business crisis by asking Bishop, “ Does mom and pop zoning law work (to stop closings)?”  CM Kallos does not know zoning has nothing to do with commercial lease renewals only new leases and therefore would not save one business. He has not taken the time to learn that zoning on the upper west side was a failure in stopping the closings. The empty storefronts on every block attest to this fact. 

CM Kallos wants to be Manhattan Borough President, yet he fails to even try to resolve the biggest crisis facing the local economy in Manhattan. Instead he follows the same failed path of BP Brewer and her REBNY symphony of distracting programs all which offer no solution to the closings and will not save one business.

He ended his questions with a statement on how many of the mom and pop businesses he grew up with had closed.  CM Kallos’s statement of his sadness of business closing is not sincere or he would have taken some actions long ago to save the remaining mom & pop businesses. Sentiment doesn't bring those businesses back, nor save even one. What CM Kallos was confessing by his statement was that he knew small businesses in his district were closing but he wasn’t going to take any action to save them. Kallos did nothing to promote the passage of the only solution sitting there in front of him and the council, the JOBS ACT.

At the sham hearing CM Kallos did not even confront Bishop as to what was wrong with the Jobs Act or why can't the bill be amended like other legislation to satisfy everyone's concerns?

Since CM Kallos was elected to office, the NYC Courts have issued warrants to vacate 56,378 commercial businesses. An estimated 168K small business closed under his watch, many likely the very ones he testified to that closed in his district, and yet in the end CM Kallos’ turned his back on small business owners and promoted a bill written by a real estate lobby whose members are responsible for the closings of the majority of the city’s small businesses.  CM Kallos is now supporting legislation keeping the status quo destroying Manhattan’s business community. Callous Kallos should be ashamed.

Kim, “ It is clear CM Kallos’s loyalty is to the real estate industry and not to small business owners.  What Manhattan professional business owners need to know about CM Kallos is that he, like SBS, does not recognized professional businesses as small business owners.  Every proposal, initiative or program of SBS purposely excludes 70% of small businesses who are not “retail storefronts.”  In 2015 Manhattan President Brewer was ready to introduce into law a bill that was only for Retail Storefronts that claimed to address the high rents.  Manhattan has the largest numbers of professional businesses in America and yet it was acceptable to CM Kallos that legislation discriminated against professional businesses by excluding profession businesses from any protections when their leases expired. Why was this discrimination and lack of respect for profession businesses ok with CM Kallos?

CM Kallos is running for Manhattan President yet he does not know that the crisis facing small businesses also is impacting all professional businesses in Manhattan. If the small businesses are facing a crisis to survive when their leases expire, the businesses above them are also in jeopardy of closing because they have the same landlords who have all the rights to decide the future of all NYC businesses.  For whatever justification, CM Kallos switching from the Jobs Act to support the Commercial Rent Stabilization bill showing CM Kallos wants to deny any rights to our city’s small business owners, especially the professional owners, when their leases expire.”