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The new litmus test to become Speaker is the pledge of loyalty to special interests to never vote on legislation giving small business owners any rights when their leases expire. To promise to continue to use the Speaker’s Office to deny economic justice to all business owners in NYC, even in a time of crisis.


When the Council votes to pass the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act the Speakers will show that they kept their pledge.


After the dreadful experience of MMV abandoning her progressive values and flipping to serve special interests to become Speaker,* advocates would not be surprised of another pro real estate Speaker was appointed.  Knowing the political power of the real estate lobby after every election, we were cautious when Corey Johnson was selected Speaker. What was promising in his selection for the advocates was his widely difference public views on the fate of Village small businesses from those of former Speaker Quinn. He proclaimed that he was a “proud sponsor” of the Jobs Survival Act and promoted it as a real solution to give the merchants a fighting chance to survive. 


He also did not skirt away from acknowledging that a growing crisis existed in the Village which was threatening every established business owner when their leases expired. 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.” Johnson, “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, I am working with Councilmember Annabel Palma to encourage my colleagues to sign on and sponsor this critical piece of legislation…the Jobs Survival Act would give our mom & pop stores a fighting chance.” Johnson tweet: I support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and as Speaker I would ensure that it gets a hearing and the rigorous debate that it deserves. 


All his statements turn out to be totally disingenuous. Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson knew first hand that our cities’ small businesses faced a crisis to survive caused by the out of control commercial real estate market frenzy. Greed ruled an unfair one-sided commercial lease renewal process giving all the rights to the landlords and none to the tenants. This made it next to impossible for little mom and pop business owners to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed them to make a reasonable profit and remain in business. Both knew from the empty stores on every main street, many remaining empty sometimes for years that the crisis was growing worse and spreading to every borough. Both knew that the Jobs Survival Act was the only real solution to stop the closings and end the crisis. Both at one time championed this bill!


  As the most powerful lawmakers at City Hall either one could have easily used their Office and political power to bring the Jobs Survival Act to a vote ( the bill had 28 sponsors). In Aug 2009, then Councilman de Blasio said, “ have the Small Business Committee vote on the Jobs Survival Act so that the full Council can vote it into law and lets begin to stop the closings of our neighborhood small businesses.” Regrettably, for the future of our small business owners, both abandoned their progressive values and flipped for the real estate lobby’s campaign money and political influence.


Speaker Johnson’s first act showed clearly that he had sold out his own merchants as well as all business owners in NYC. The price for him to become Speaker would be paid by the city’s small business owners and their workers, even still today. Every business owner’s American Dream would be in grave jeopardy every time their leases expired and they had no rights. The greatest transfer of wealth from business owners to landlords would continue unabated in NYC under Johnson’s watch.   


Johnson willingly allowed the real estate lobby to hand pick the new Chairman of the Small Business Committee, CM Mark Gjonaj. Without any debate he was the most pro real estate lawmaker ever in the Council. He owns his own real estate firm and got record contributions from big real estate for his election. If that was not enough “conflict of interests” proof that he would never have been Chair of this Committee in any other government in America, his strong public opposition to the Jobs Survival Act or any bill regulating landlords should have disqualified him.  


The growing city’s “empty store blight” forced Johnson to hold a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, nine years after the last hearing. But unlike the last hearing which was an honest debate before a Committee fully committed to find the best solution to save our businesses, this hearing was a sham. Johnson abdicated the entire hearing to a lobby.  A lobby orchestrated sham hearing with the goal to stop any call for a vote on the Jobs Survival Bill. Also, the sinister scheme was to bring out the entire lobby’s cronies to testify to oppose the Jobs Survival Act and call for amendments to the bill prior to a vote. The lobby’s scheme under the disguise of amending the bill was to water down the bill after the hearing to keep the status quo with the landlords still in full control of the commercial lease renewal process. The lobby had their Speaker, Committee Chairman, Mayor, and dozens of lobby shills, all in full control to carry out this mockery of democracy and injustice against desperate small business owners.


As authors of the original version of the Jobs Survival Act and all seven amendments made over 34 years, the real small business advocates lead by Sung Soo Kim always met with Committee staff to organize the hearing. There had been 11 hearings over three decades on this bill.  Sung Soo Kim wrote Chairman Gjonaj a letter requesting to meet to help plan this hearing on OUR bill.  We stressed that we knew the best speakers to give testimony supporting the bill.  For the first time in 3 decades, a Chairman refused to meet with us, the authors and advocates of the bill which the hearing was on!  The advocates and authors who would know best about the merits of a bill to defend any criticism. We immediately issued a complaint to Speaker Johnson’s staff of the unprecedented discrimination and bias of Chairman Gjonaj. NO RESPONSE and a refusal to even meet to discuss our complaints of the upcoming planning of the hearing on OUR BILL.


If Johnson had any degree of respect for good government or for the desperate small business owners, the very least he would do for them is to have his legal staff resolve all legal issues prior to the hearing. The advocates did not want a repeat of the rigging after the last hearing where a vote was stopped on a bogus legal claim. The Speaker’s legal staff had 9 years to resolve the legal issues which they brought up and then purposely ignored. This contrived lie that benefited a lobby had no place in a Council hearing’s outcome. But once again Johnson refused to resolve this decade long bogus claim cooked up by his own legal department and soundly debunked several times.


For the first time in 11 hearings on the Jobs Survival Act, we were forced to call for a boycott of the hearings on the bill that we created and spent 9 years advocating for a hearing. Yes, unprecedented in Council history.  But the corruption of the Democratic leadership by lobbies that gave them total control over our city’s economy was also unprecedented. Even more unprecedented was government allowing long established businesses with loyal customers being forced to close and left empty for sometimes years and the government did nothing to stop this economic insanity. 


Speaker Johnson was not going to allow good government to work for small business owners under his watch.  


Under Johnson’s watch this 2018 hearing would be the most lobby controlled disgraceful sham hearing ever held in the Council.  Every speaker was coached to only repeat the lobby created narrative, even fake advocates were hand picked to speak on behalf of the merchants.  At all previous hearings the Jobs Survival Act’s supporters easily won every hearing when their narrative was aggressively and accurately promoted. Not so at this hearing where only a few late in the day testifiers called for an immediate vote on the bill with its 28 sponsors.


The lobby’s misinformation narrative was simple, oppose the bill even on nonsensical grounds, like the bill includes protection for Goldman Sachs and other big corporations. Then call for amendments to the bill prior to a vote.  Offer no real solutions to substitute for the Jobs Survival Act or any real solutions to stop the closings and end the crisis.


This hearing was pure panic from the lobby knowing their member landlords were responsible for creating a small business crisis on every main street in NYC. Knowing the lobby’s year’s of collusion with Democratic leadership to rig the system prevented a real lifeline to save the businesses, was responsible for  the City’s “ empty store blight.” 


The biggest change from all previous hearings was the role the Speaker played. No previous Speaker ever attended a hearing on our bill and no Speaker had ever made a comment before or after a hearing. Speaker Johnson came to the hearing with a purpose. That purpose was to assure that the lobby’s goals and narrative were successful, and he succeeded. Johnson and Chair Gjonaj mimicked only the lobby’s distraction message the entire hearing. Every testimony was followed by Speaker Johnson and Chair Gjonaj gaining confirmation that the bill had to be first amended and that it would only then be moved to a vote.


The lobby’s scheme to amend the bill after the hearing by watering it down to keep the status quo blew up when the bill’s prime sponsor CM Rodriguez refused to water it down and backed out at the last minute. The lobby was again in a panic mode after having the Speaker repeating and proclaiming the bill would be amended and moved to a vote. The Jobs Survival Act had 28 sponsors and any vote would mean easy passage.


Why is this Council’s legislation history relevant to Speaker Johnson’s legacy and to the fate of today’s small business owners?  Because the failed outcome of this sham hearing and lobby scheme triggered a panicked lobby to high jack democracy in the Council. To conspire with Democratic leadership to illegally violate Council rules in order to take over the role of the Council to create legislation. 


The outcome of this conspiracy of collusion and rigging to bail out and benefit only a lobby was the denial of economic justice to every small business owner in NYC, and still is today. Also, the outcome of stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, certain to easily pass, giving rights needed by business owners when their leases expired, resulted in thousands of good business closings and tens of thousands of jobs lost. Without the rights to renew long term leases and rights needed to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit for business owners, it made every business owner more vulnerable to closing when the virus crisis hit NYC. As a result of the failure of Speaker Johnson to allow good government to work, every owner would have to find a way to survive two crises at the same time.


Long term, the most destructive outcome for our business owners when this plot failed to water down the Jobs Survival Act to keep the status quo for landlords was the creation of a much worse bill for the future of our businesses.  Today’s Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS, was born from a lobby’s failed scheme and a lobby’s taking charge over the Council’s sworn responsibilities and duty to abide by the rules when creating legislation.   


Speaker Johnson played a key role in the most sinister Machiavellian scheme ever in the Council.


Johnson would lead an anti democratic collusion that would be successful and result in the end of the Jobs Survival Act and instead replaced a lobby created bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS.


These are the shameful facts of Speaker Johnson’s betray of small business owners, his own Council, and democracy by colluding with the lobby to rig the system to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and replace it with a bill created by the lobby, CRS.   Of course a lobby created bill that would keep the status quo and give no rights to the small business owners that they needed to survive or make a reasonably profit.


Disgraceful facts and timeline of a lobby scheme:


This Council conspiracy with special interests to stop a vote and substitute their own bill started in Nov. 2018. A vote by the full Council should have happened if the Democratic leadership was sincere in wanting to stop the closings of our businesses and end their crisis.  The call to amend the bill prior to a vote would not be objected too because it was an obvious “red herring.” Cooked up as justification to stop a vote and amend the bill to eliminate big Fortune 500 type companies.  Without any objections and keeping fully the intent of the bill giving rights to the business owners, an amendment should take less than 2 hours. It would involve changing the language in one paragraph of the scope of the bill.

Once amended, and with the bill having 28 sponsors, the Council could then finally throw a real lifeline to the business owners and restore their American Dream.


Speaker Johnson had no intentions of amending the bill and moving it to a vote as he promised. Instead, he had his then COS Erik Bottcher stall by falsely claiming he was meeting with small business advocates to “tweak and fine tune the bill.”  The amendment promised would finally be made one year later but NOT in the Jobs Survival Act!  Instead, the amendment showed up in a new lobby influenced bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS.  This was blatant collusion and rigging the system in plain sight.


While the Speaker’s Office stalled the amendment on the Jobs Survival Act a lobby orchestrated charade pretending to help small business was carried out. This was cunningly disguised as the Council’s taking action to address the empty store blight: a parade of worthless bills, useless studies, and insignificant initiatives were touted as solutions to save our small businesses.  Nothing out of the Council or Mayor’s Office would save one business owner or one job. 


Just one example of these insulting Council acts was CM Rivera’s law requiring the dept. of Small Business Services to assess the state of storefront businesses. The city has a “empty store blight” on every main street and she wants the property owner board BIDS who were responsible to give an assessment every three years.


 Hiding behind the political theater being carried out in the Council was the real estate lobby colluding with leadership to create their own substitute legislation, the CRS bill. Their calculated scheme was simple: stall any amendment to the Jobs Survival Act, use the entire government to look and sound like action was about to help small businesses, and all the while create their own lobby bill that would give no real rights to the business owners and thus keep the status quo favoring only the landlords in the commercial lease renewal process.


   The successful collusion and rigging for the special interests produced the introduction of the Commercial Rent Stabilization bill on Nov. 14, 2019 (intro 1796.)


In no democratic government in America would this bill ever exist. Every Council rule governing Council legislation was broken. The integrity of the Council was shattered by this lobby bill. Speaker Johnson allowed political corruption to occur in the open. He removed CM Rivera and CM Ayala from the Small Business Committee.  Later in the new Council they would co-sponsor the lobby’s CRS bill.


A few months after the 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act the advocates were tired of prime sponsor CM Rodriguez’s stalling in demanding the Speaker to quickly amend his bill and bring it to a vote as promised. The bill could not be voted on until the amendment was made. Yet, CM Rodriguez admitted in the media that he had never met with the Speaker’s staff to review the bill’s changes.  Why was the prime sponsor not fighting to gain a vote on his bill that had 28 sponsors and easy passage? For the same reasons he never called for a vote on his bill for over 3 years!  For the same reason he let his bill expire on Dec 31, 2021 to be replaced in the new Council by the lobby created CRS bill.  Rodriguez first ran for Public Advocate and lost and next ran for Congress and lost again.  He was more concerned with his own career than saving the city’s desperate business owners.


 The moral bankruptcy of the Council was shown when prime sponsor Rodriguez was placed on the Small Business Committee just weeks before the lobby created Commercial Rent Stabilization bill was introduced Nov 14, 2019, one year after the hearing on the Jobs Survival Act.  Reprehensible corruption of the Council in plain site with the 5 member Small Business Committee stacked with 3 from Manhattan, one from Brooklyn ( new bills prime sponsor Levin ) and pro real estate Chair Gjonaj representing the Bronx. NO MEMBER was on the Committee representing Queens. For the first time in Council history a Committee has two prime sponsors of bills dealing with the same issue introduced at the same time. CM Rodriquez was prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act sitting next to CM Levin who was the prime sponsor of the CRS bill.  This was the most blatant violation of Council rules ever seen in the Council. 


If you guessed that neither prime sponsor would call for a hearing or vote on their bills you would be correct. Any true progressive lawmaker who was a prime sponsor of a bill with 28 sponsors waiting for a vote would be outraged if another Council Member even tried to introduce another similar bill. Especially a Council Member on the Small Business Committee who was ALSO A SPONSOR of the Jobs Survival Act. Ydanis Rodriguez did not protest in any meaningful manner to the outrageous breaking of Council rules to introduce the CRS bill. He never once even challenged the CRS bill’s sponsors to hold a hearing to allow the business owners to compare the two bills to see which would be the best solution to save them. 


 After the fanfare announcement of the CRS bill and its claim to save the merchants, there was no effort made by CMs Levin or Lander to move the bill. Even during the most challenging times for small business owners fighting to survive the virus crisis their fake lifeline (CRS) sat in the Council with no movement.  Only a few months prior to all bills expiring on Dec 31, 2021 did the lobby orchestrated CRS bill come to attention. Just like the sham hearing in Oct 2018 another lobby orchestrated sham hearing was held for the CRS bill only.  There would be no mention of the Jobs Survival Act at this hearing. Nor any effort to compare the two bills to see which was the better bill.  This hearing set up a rush to gain sponsorship for the CRS bill that would equal the 28 sponsors of the Jobs Survival Act. In one month the CRS suddenly gained sponsors to end the year with 28, the same as what the Jobs Survival Act had for over 3 years! The same 28 number, imagine that. 


Speaker Johnson ended his term with a successful campaign of collusion and rigging to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act and replace it with a lobby created bill. He could never have accomplished this unconscionable act against democracy and against the city’s small business owners without help from other elected officials. But the reality was Johnson as Speaker played the key role in this lobby scheme to deny economic justice to desperate business owners. He went from being a “proud sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act..I encourage my colleagues to sign on and sponsor this critical piece of legislation…the Jobs Survival Act would give our mom & pop stores a fighting chance,” to playing a key role to kill the bill.  Speaker Johnson betrayed his own Village merchants and every business owner to serve his own political ambitions. After Nov 2018 ever business that was forced to close due to not having any rights when their leases expired, can blame Johnson.



Since June 1986 when the original version of the Jobs Survival Act was first introduced by then CM Ruth Messinger, no Speaker was able to stop the bill from being reintroduced into the Council. That was until Jan 2022 when Speaker Adams was sworn in. Quickly the lobby moved to substitute their CRS bill for the Jobs Survival Act which was the oldest pending legislation in recent Council history.  For many of the new Council Members their first sponsorship would be the CRS bill which gained over 20 sponsors. With the exception of the two co sponsors CM Ayala and Rivera all the sponsors were new members.


Can Speaker Adams claim willful ignorance of not knowing about the existence of the Jobs Survival Act?  Or for that matter, claiming to not have known which legislation would be the better bill to save the city’s small business owners. With the backbone of every local economy struggling from the virus crisis as well as the “forgotten crisis” wouldn’t she only want to present a real lifeline to stop the closings and level the playing field for the merchants to negotiate fair lease terms. At the very least wouldn’t she promote honest hearings to compare the two bills to allow the merchants the opportunity to voice what they wanted and needed to be passed into law.


You be the judge but Speaker Adams sounds just like Johnson did prior to flipping to serve the real estate lobby. 



Small business advocates continue 33-year fight for rent protections

May 16, 2019

Seven of the bill’s 29 ( Small Business Jobs Survival Act) co-sponsors represent parts of Queens, but none have elaborated on the steps necessary to ensure its passage. There are no Queens council-members on the Council’s Committee on Small Business.


"For years, even before I was elected, I have advocated for small businesses and [minority and women-owned businesses] in Southeast Queens for their contributions to our local economy," said Jamaica Council-member Adrienne Adams. "Our city is at a critical juncture and the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is desperately needed as small businesses are closing at an alarming rate. We have the opportunity to change the course for small businesses on the brink of closure and we must act now. I am committed to support this bill as it advances through the legislative process and urge my colleagues to do the same."


This looks and sounds like former Speaker Johnson all over again, disingenuous.  Is this what a candidate has to do to become Speaker?  Pledge to the real estate lobby that they will throw the small business owners under the bus and only allow lobby created legislation like the CRS bill to be moved to a vote. When the Council passes the lobby’s status quo CRS bill keeping all the rights to the commercial lease renewal process solely in the hands of the landlords, then Speaker Adams will be responsible for every long established business that is willing and able to pay a fair rent that is forced to close and every job lost.

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