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Which Council Member will stop REBNY?



It is fourteen years, long past the time for true progressive Council Members to take back responsibility for the futures of their small business owners and their workers. To again be responsible for the stability, prosperity and vitality of the “backbone of their local economy.” To again be committed to protect the life’s investment of their small business owners and the jobs of their employees. Finally to stand up and stop REBNY from continuing to destroy the “backbone of local economies.”

*Links to the backstory of the longest conspiracy of collusion in the City Council with the real estate lobby.

In August 2009, two weeks prior to a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act,* the real estate lobby, REBNY, in collusion with then Speaker Quinn’s legal department cooked up a successful bogus legal roadblock in order to stop a vote on the bill.  The Jobs Survival Act had an honest hearing on June 29, 2009, when good government still worked and was not influenced by special interests, like REBNY.  An emergency hearing to seriously address a survey’s* shocking results of Hispanic immigrant owners that showed a small business crisis caused by sky high rents and growing property taxes.


The pro lobby SBS and EDC came to this hearing (and will at all future hearings) to oppose the Jobs Survival Act, or any bill that would regulate commercial landlords in the vital commercial lease renewal process. They presented no rational justification for opposing the bill nor even attempted to suggest any real solution to the crisis. Instead, they presented their usual list of worthless programs and initiatives that few business owners ever asked for, wanted, or would use. The policy of SBS has always been to never ask business owners what their real problems were or what they needed to be more profitable and remain in business. But instead, to be a strong voice for the real estate lobby and only follow the demands of property owners of what they wanted to protect and maximize their profits. The Committee members were not buying SBS’s lobby’s talking points of diversion.  Instead, the entire Small Business Committee members selected the Jobs Survival Act as the only real solution to stop the closing of businesses when their leases expired and the owners had no rights. All members of the Committee became sponsors of the bill that gave business owners the right to renew their leases and arbitration to assure fair rents in every neighborhood!

* The Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act is a bill written by the true small business advocates giving every owner the right to renew a 10 year lease, equal rights to negotiate the new lease terms under the supervision of non-binding mediation and a binding arbitration process based upon a case by case guidelines to assure fair rents for all parties in every neighborhood of the city. Guidelines used successfully by the courts for over 18 years under a NYS Commercial Rent Control Law in effect from 1945-1963. This bill is the oldest legislation in the Council and was amended seven times since June1986 to make it the fairest, most legally sound, and simplest regulation of the commercial lease renewal process.

Even though this bill had 32 sponsors ready to vote it into law, and no rational objections were ever presented, and no other real solution was ever presented to protect our small business owners in a time of sky high rent forced closings, the real estate lobby would not allow good government to work for small business owners. And they still will not today, and NEVER will!!  As long as true progressive Council Members refuse to be a strong voice for justice and rights for our city’s small business owners, the destruction of the backbone of local economies will continue unabated in NYC.

For over a decade, the real estate lobby refused to allow the City Council to do its mandated job of creating legislation to address crises, as well as, legislation for the betterment of the small business owners. The real estate lobby would hijack democracy in the Council to assure that their landlord members would never be regulated in the very critical commercial lease renewal process. A destructive and grossly one-sided process controlled solely by the landlords. A commercial lease renewal process, a “take it or leave” process, that has been the root cause of long established successful businesses being forced to close when their leases expire and the business owners having no rights. For far too long in NYC, it became an accepted common scene and the “new norm” when good long established business owners, even with a growing loyal customer base, were being forced to close only because they could not negotiate fair lease terms where their profits matter. 

How would the Council’s progressive members respond to this anti -democracy and anti- Council Committee system’s hijacking by a lobby?

Progressive Council Members, CMS, response would shatter the integrity of the City Council for over 14 years, including today.  For whatever the reasons the CMS abdicated to a lobby their own mandated responsibility to have honest and unbiased oversite in order to create needed legislation that would address the real problems faced by all business owners.


  Reprehensible but true, beginning in August 2009 and continuing today the stability, profitability and futures of every business owner and their workers has been put solely in the hands of the real estate lobby, REBNY, by the City Council. If left unchallenged, the corruption of the ambitious Democratic leadership by a lobby will result in the continued destruction of the American Dream for our business owners and a certain future economic catastrophe for Society. 

True progressive Council Members must find the political will and courage soon to stand up to the real estate lobby and take back the responsibility for the futures of their own small business owners and their workers. Otherwise NYC will no longer be the nation's "gateway for immigrant entrepreneurs, center for art culture, or having the most diverse and ethnic main streets."  

For over a decade CMS have remained silent and complicit to the corruption and collusion of the Democratic leadership with the lobby in order to rig the system to deny economic justice and rights to desperate small business owners. The lobby’s success in silencing the voice of any true progressive CM fighting for the rights of small business owners was the low point of morality for the Council. The outcome of over a decade of an unchallenged lobby orchestrated charade of fake studies, insincere political theater, useless initiatives, sham hearings, worthless legislation, empowering property owner controlled BIDS, empowering developer friendly Chambers and disinformation campaigns with the goal to cover up the growing small business crisis and the existence of the only real lifeline Jobs Survival Act.

The result was record forced closings of tens of thousands of good businesses and the loss of countless jobs. Those businesses that remained open were forced to raise their prices and cut back planned growth and the potential for job creation.  Also, the Council’s purposely ignoring addressing the growing crisis lead to the city’s “empty store blight.The blight of the empty storefronts on every main street where once thriving businesses were was the responsibility of an unchallenged lobby controlled City Council.

After Aug 2009 the lobby would be the puppet master of the Speaker’s Office and hand pick every Chair of the Small Business Committee, as well as its members. The Jobs Survival Act would never get another honest hearing in the City Council, even during the destructive covid crisis and even today in the recovery period. Shamefully true, that even during the greatest challenging period for merchants to survive, no vote was ever called for on the Jobs Survival Act, with its 28 Council sponsors! The only real lifeline that if passed would have saved thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs.

Over the entire decade the real estate lobby built the largest political network in America of lawmaker loyalists and pro lobby shills to promote only their false narrative and their own game plan with the goal to keep all the rights and power of the commercial lease renewal process solely in the landlords’ hands.

No CM can today claim “willful ignorance’ of not realizing that the real estate lobby, whom they willingly entrusted and empowered to control their own merchant’s and worker’s futures, never had any intentions whatsoever to ever give their small business owners any rights needed to have a fighting chance to survive in business or make a reasonable profit when their leases expired. They must also admit that because of their submission to the real estate lobby’s interests and demands, that they helped throw their own small business owners and their worker’s American Dream under the bus.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “it is never too late to do the right thing.”  Today is the CMS last chance to do the right thing, the decent thing, the democratic thing, the humane thing, the smart economic thing, and the progressive principles thing to restore the American Dream for their business owners and workers. The last chance to save our small businesses is solely in the hands of those true progressive Council Members.

But if they continue to have no empathy for the dire plight of their own merchants and workers or feel no moral obligation to save them or the jobs of their workers, but instead continue to serve only the special interests and put their own political careers over their responsibility to be a strong voice for justice and rights for their business owners, then the real estate lobby, REBNY will continue to have their knee on the neck of every business owner when their leases expire.


For the true progressive CM, when is enough injustice enough.  After 15 years of merchants being the most “deprived social class,” being marginalized and treated only as second-class citizens by the City Council, and being viewed as only expendable collateral damage to the government promoted and protected real estate speculation machine that has taken priority over our city’s economic policy, each day more business owners can breathe no more.


Three times over the decades:  Aug 2009, Nov 2018 and March 2022, progressive CMS should have easily voted into law the Jobs Survival Act, with its majority CMS sponsorship and being the only true solution to stop the closing of good businesses when their leases expire. A bill that for absolute certainty, 100% of every CM’s small business owners, workers and public would enthusiastically welcome and want for their merchants to help keep them in business and save jobs.  But each time the lobby’s hijacking democracy and their “Machiavellian schemes” at City Hall stopped good government from working.  In plain sight and unprecedented in Council history, this betrayal of democracy and of the “backbone of the local economy” must be stopped. Unprecedented that the City Council’s Committee system would be manipulated by a lobby to purposely ignore for an entire decade a growing crisis that was destroying long established businesses in every neighborhood. Purposely ignored finding legislation to address the “root cause” of good businesses, willing and able to pay fair rents, being forced to close in every neighborhood.


 Unprecedented in the Council was when a hearing was finally given the Jobs Survival Act, it was a REBNY orchestrated sham hearing that shut out the voices of true small business advocates who wrote and advocated for the rights of business owners for decades. Instead of pro small business’ voices calling for “rights” and a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, REBNY’s crony shills: landlord controlled BIDS, developer friendly Chambers, lobby loyalists lawmakers and their funded groups, and SBS all opposed any vote on the bill. NONE gave any plausible justification for opposing a vote. The ridiculous claims that arbitration was a burden on the merchants was never a rational argument against the bill. Especially in NYC with high priced attorneys and the black hole of the endless pro landlord courts were a much higher burden by far.

All pro lobby shills refused to propose any rational alternative solution to end the city’s small business crisis, which should have been called out by progressive lawmakers. The absurd list of lobby inspired substitute legislation for the Jobs Survival Act, like giving fines to landlords for warehousing empty stores, or counting empty storefronts every few years, were nothing but distractions away from the real root cause of businesses being forced to close, landlord greed. 


The most despicable act of the City Council was remaining silent as the real estate lobby schemed to successfully stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and then illegally substitute their own inspired bill ( Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS ) to replace it in the new Council. For the first time in over 34 years the Jobs Survival Act would not be reintroduced into the City Council!! It is uncertain if this shameful act showed the growing power of the real estate lobby over the City Council or if it showed the lack of true progressive lawmakers in the Council. Had the Council become a body of ambitious pretenders who serve only the wishes of special interests and party bosses?


For those CMS not hand picked by the party bosses or funded by REBNY and friends, they must stand up now for justice, democracy, for their merchants, workers and for the will of the public. They must take back control of their main streets from REBNY!

These are the three options every CMS must choose from in deciding which would be best to save their own merchants and worker’s jobs. Each true progressive CM must ask, “which choice would level the playing field for my merchants when a lease expires. Which one would give their merchants the best opportunity to negotiate fair lease terms that would allow them to make reasonable profits and remain in business.”  * link to greater details of each option.



The late Dr. King once said, “there comes a time when silence is a betrayal.”

The first option is to continue to remain silent and complicit to the lobby's collusion and rigging the system and do absolutely nothing to seriously address the root cause for the past decade’s unresolved small business crisis. A crisis where each CMS’s successful long established businesses had no rights in the lease renewal negotiation process and many were being forced to close when their leases expire. While oppressive lease terms forced many others to struggle to make ends meet in order to remain open. A destructive status quo process that ignored our decade long small business crisis that resulted in our city’s “empty store blight”.


A 2021 survey* of only immigrant owners showed 69% were facing a crisis prior to the covid crisis. The covid crisis only greatly sped up what had been taking place over the past decade in NYC.


The low point of the Council showing any lack of scruples happened when the Jobs Survival Act’s vote was delayed while waiting for a simple amendment change. That pledged change by then Speaker Johnson should have taken less than 2 hours to make (involved changing one paragraph in the scope of the bill.) Even with the Jobs Survival Act having 28 sponsors ready to vote it into law, the change was never made in 3 years! The greatest betrayal of desperate small business owners happened during the most challenging times for merchants to survive the covid crisis. Yet a real lifeline to save thousands of businesses and jobs sat bottled up in Committee and not ONE LAWMAKER called for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act that would have given desperate owners a real fighting chance to survive. SHAME, for the Council’s 3 years of betrayal!

Most alarming in the survey was the merchant’s answer that showed that 82% could no longer remain open paying both the high rents and growing landlords property taxes.

As a starting point, CMS should realize that repeating the nonsensical SBS and lobby loyal lawmaker's false talking points that the major problems facing small business owners are: too many fines, being over regulated "red tape, and lack of affordable loans is an insult to every business owner in NYC. Every New Yorker knows the root cause of why their beloved mom and pop businesses were forced to close, insane rent increases. Why doesn't their local Council Member know this reality happening in plain sight on their own main streets year after year? 

CMS proudly proclaim sponsoring legislation, like the Jobs Survival Act but then never calling for an honest hearing is doing nothing. CMS sponsoring the Jobs Survival Act but remaining silent as the real estate lobby orchestrates a sham hearing on the bill promoting only the lobby’s false narrative with the goal to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act, is doing nothing. CMS, who for three years, even during the destructive covid crisis, never called for a vote on the only real lifeline legislation, Jobs Survival Act, with its 28 sponsors, is doing nothing. Promoting the SBS’s worthless lobby inspired programs, legislation, and misinformation is doing nothing.


Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, a mockery of democracy.


Choice two: Sponsor the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS, a lobby inspired bill to keep the status quo by giving every CMS’s business owners no right to renew their leases and no real rights in the negotiation process and no arbitration process to encourage compromises and fairness for all parties.  The CRS bill is a scam bill that was cleverly contrived to disguise its false claim that it addressed the high rent increases.  In reality, under the CRS bill the annual rent rate increases would only go up and never down from the decades of insane greed and speculation levels. Unlike the Jobs Survival Act where every business owner was treated on a case by case bases, under the CRS bill all businesses are treated the same. Yes, absurd when a small Bronx mom and pop owner pays the same rent increase rate as a Wall Street firm! 

The CRS bill would not save even one business or job unless the landlord wanted the business to remain open! The CRS bill is 20 years too late!


The Jobs Survival Act, and not the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, is the real “guard rail” legislation to check unjust high rent increases!

And the final choice would be to reintroduce the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act.  A bill written by the true small business advocates giving every owner the right to renew a 10 year lease, equal rights to negotiate the new lease terms under the supervision of non-binding mediation and a binding arbitration process based upon a case by case guidelines to assure fair rents for all parties in every neighborhood of the city.  

The Jobs Survival Act is the ONLY real “guard rail” legislation to check unjust high rent increases! In fact, in those neighborhoods with empty stores for sometimes years, where once thriving businesses were, the rents would be LOWERED!! Yes, lowered back to reasonable levels prior to the insane bidding between banks and chains for prime locations on main streets.  Why do you think the real estate lobby has had their shills attacking arbitration? Because they know from the empty stores on vibrant streets and the closings of even some banks and national chains that the manipulated windfall commercial rental market is wrecked and destructive to every established business owner and will be to every future business owner.

The lobby fears legislation giving tenants the right to renewal with binding arbitration. They know this combination (renewal with arbitration) would end their stranglehold on the most destructive and abusive commercial lease renewal process for merchants but has produced only windfall profits for the landlords.

An easy choice for any true progressive CM between the real lifeline legislation, Jobs Survival Act and the CRS bill, the most anti-immigrant,* anti- jobs, and anti-small business legislation in Council history.


The present commercial lease renewal process is the most anti-jobs* process for small business owners.  CRS is a jobs killer bill. This grossly unfair process can instantly take a successful business owner from well established, being highly profitable, paying good wages and planning for growth and job creation to being destitute and out of business.  The unfair process punishes the job creators while protecting the windfall profits of the landlords, the main destroyers of jobs in NYC for the past decade.

·       *


 Why would any true progressive CM abdicate to a lobby their own responsibility over the welfare of their small business owners and their employees? Especially putting the well being and futures of the “backbone of their local economy” solely in the control of a lobby at a time of an unresolved decade plus long citywide small business crisis. A lobby whose very members were responsible for creating our city’s small business crisis in the first place. A lobby who has opposed any effort to find a real solution to end the crisis.  A lobby who is obsessed with never giving business owners any rights needed to survive in business.


The Real Estate Board of New York strongly opposes the bill (Jobs Survival Act), pointing to rising property taxes and other factors as the true culprits crippling entrepreneurs, not high rents. Steve Spinola (former Head of REBNY,) in a Villager interview: “In general, as REBNY members see it, the S.B.J.S.A. ( Jobs Survival Act) would put way too much power in the hands of retail tenants.”


The last hope for our city’s small business owners to have a real future in NYC will rest only if the true progressive CMS can find their moral compasses and begin for a change to be a strong voice for the rights of their merchants and workers. The stakes for the city’s merchants could not be any higher.  

CMS must finally choose either a vision for their merchants of restoring their American Dream of vibrant main streets filled with profitable businesses creating jobs or keep the vision of REBNY . That vision is of giant cranes in every neighborhood building giant buildings that will cast giant shadows over main streets filled with more empty stores. Time is running out to pass legislation that will give real rights to the merchants in the critical commercial lease renewal process.

Every local main street in every borough, no matter where, is in your Council Member’s hands. Will they restore their main streets by saving their best businesses with the JOBS SURVIVAL ACT? Or will they continue to destroy their main streets and businesses with the lobby’s CRS BIG LIE?

  • Links to 2 decades of a lobby’s corruption of the City Council

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