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Why Comptroller Lander should resign! 

Comptroller Brad Lander played a key role in over a decade long lobby’s scheme to deny economic justice and rights to desperate small business owners.  He betrayed his oath of office and abandoned his progressive values to serve the goals of special interests, resulting in the forced closings of many thousands of good businesses in NYC. His loyalty to lobbies and his blind political ambitions cost tens of thousands of New Yorkers to lose their jobs.

Year after year, for over a decade, New Yorkers have seen or read in the media countless human interest stories of long established local beloved mom and pop businesses being forced to close, mostly due to sky high rent increases. Many New Yorkers themselves have experienced firsthand their own beloved popular business, some an icon in the neighborhood, forced to close.

Yet, what is never asked by the media is if the government can do something to stop the closings. Never is any lawmaker confronted as to why they failed to take any real actions to protect their own local businesses from being forced to close. Also, why no focus has been upon the worker’s jobs being lost and their dire plight?

Why has it become the “norm” to our lawmakers when long established successful local businesses creating good jobs are forced to close when their leases expire and then remain empty for sometimes years?  How can any lawmaker give a rational explanation which makes any economic sense for when successful businesses close and remain empty on vibrant neighborhood main streets?

Would any New Yorker be surprised to learn that there has been a law bottled up in Committee for well over a decade, that would have stopped the closing of their favorite neighborhood businesses if ever voted on?  Would they be even more surprised to learn that this pro small business bill had the sponsorship of the majority of the City Council and even one call for a vote on the bill until Jan. 1, 2022 (not reintroduced into the new Council), would mean easy passage in the Council? A real solution sitting there supported by the majority of the City Council members and they did not vote on it for well over a decade? Surprise, your favorite merchant did not have to close if your Council Member upheld their oath of office, kept their campaign pledges, or kept their progressive integrity.

If this reality sounds like many in Democratic leadership in the City Council had the opportunity to save their local businesses by making the commitment to finding a real solution to stop the closings, then those empty storefronts on every main street would be filled today. Those local shops would all or mostly still be here, with vibrant businesses creating more jobs for the neighborhoods. The crisis destroying our small businesses grew worse year after year, while a real solution, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, sat stalled in Committee. Why? Because wealthy special interests had undue influence over these same Democratic leaders, and they still do today.

For those New Yorkers who have any doubts that lobbies, led by the real estate lobby REBNY, powerbrokers and dark money campaign funders have a stranglehold over our city’s government, the history of their creation of the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS, would remove any reservations.

 

The Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS, a lobby inspired bill, is the most anti-immigrant family, anti-jobs, and anti-small business legislation ever introduced in the City Council.

This is a bill that in any other democratic city government that practiced good government would never be allowed to exist.  Also, in any other true progressive government would lobbies be given total control over economic policy, especially in a time of crisis.

The CRS bill was illegally created by the real estate lobby with the goal to stop a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, and then replace it in the new Council in 2022. The Jobs Survival Act gives business owners the right to renew long term 10-year leases and equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms.

The CRS bill was cleverly contrived to disguise the fact that it would keep the status quo favoring only the landlords in the one sided, grossly unfair, and destructive commercial lease renewal process. The commercial lease renewal process is the root cause of good businesses being forced to close in NYC when their leases expire.  This lobby created, status quo bill, gave no real rights to the business owners, not even the right to renew their leases when their leases expired. Yet, with the lobby’s collusion with several in the Democratic leadership who used their power to rig the system on behalf of special interests, the lobby’s scheme has now worked. Its true intent is to deny economic justice and rights to desperate small business owners facing a crisis to survive every time their leases expired, and it was successful.

One lawmaker who played a key role in this successful lobby orchestrated conspiracy of collusion and rigging the system to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and replace it with the lobby’s CRS bill was then Council Member, CM, Brad Lander.* Once elected to office he remained silent to the growing small business crisis and stayed in the shadows in this over decade long lobby orchestrated charade and political theater pretending to help our small business owners while rigging the system and betraying small business owners. Only when the lobby’s scheme to water down the Jobs Survival Act and pass it failed did Brad Lander come out of the shadows and showed his true loyalty to the real estate lobby*. *https://www.savenycjobs.com/brad-lander-leads-rigging

His betrayal of democracy, small business owners, and their workers by playing a major role in stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act years before and during the Covid crisis resulted in an estimated several thousands of good businesses forced to close and tens of thousands of jobs lost. The Covid crisis only greatly sped up what had already been taking place in NYC for over a decade, record closings of good businesses. Brad Lander knew for an absolute certainty that the passage of the Jobs Survival Act, giving every business the rights needed to level the playing field when their leases expired, would give many businesses that were just hanging on a real hope and opportunity to survive the Covid Crisis.

During this crisis, his words were inspiring, but his real conduct was as only a pawn for the real estate lobby. In a time when merchants faced two crises to survive, his pledge to serve special interests whose only goal was to stop a vote on the only real lifeline giving merchants the only real fighting chance to survive when their leases expired was: indefensible, appalling and unconscionable.  

A strong case could be made that then CM Brad Lander’s role as co-founder and co-chair of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus is partly responsible for the city’s “empty store blight.”   The lobby’s scheme to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act depended upon the abandonment of progressive values and basic decency by many bad actors in government. Their goal was to use government shills for the real estate industry: BIDS, Chambers, SBS, EDC, Speaker, Small Business Committee Chair, and political funded organizations to cover up the growing crisis created by greedy landlords.  Also, to cover up the existence of the Jobs Survival Act, the only real solution to end the city’s small business crisis, and the crisis’ outcome, the “empty store blight.”

For years, CM Brad Lander remained silent and complicit to both the covering up the growing crisis and the existence of the real lifeline, the Jobs Survival Act. He did this disgraceful act fully knowing that his own predictions given at the last hearing on the bill back in 2009 were coming true. Brad Lander’s own testimony before the Small Business Committee on the Jobs Survival Act in June 2009, Lander, “As you know, the challenges facing small business have grown from a problem to a real crisis in the city. ….I just think the evidence is there before us if we let the free market reign, we know without any additional regulation what it's going to continue to give us. In two years, three years, five years, we'll be back here with fewer of the small businesses that make our neighborhood great, with fewer of the jobs that we have here today.” 

 

Yet, here when Brad Lander’s own predictions were coming true on every main street in NYC, he never ONCE used the power of his progressive caucus to call for ONE honest hearing to find a solution to stop the closing of long established businesses whose leases expired and that they had no rights to negotiate fair lease terms which would give them fair profits needed to remain in business.

 

A citywide growing urgent crisis under CM Lander’s watch and a “do nothing Progressive Caucus”, what is wrong with this picture? The Jobs Survival Act, the most progressive legislation in the City Council that gave rights to business owners needed to protect their investment and the jobs of their workers. This one JOBS SURVIVAL ACT would end a crisis destroying the “backbone of local economies” and for Lander's eight years no call for an honest hearing! NOT Even once! That is collusion with a lobby in the extreme!

 

Brad Lander’s knowing the truth, that the Jobs Survival Act offered the best solution to save the city’s small businesses and end their crisis and refusing to “do the right thing” the “progressive principled thing,” and give even one honest hearing to desperate business owners was indefensible and contributed to making the already severe crisis worse resulting in our city’s “empty store blight.”  Yes, it was our own progressive lawmaker’s betrayal, silence, complicity to the rigging the system for a lobby and lack of political courage and any sincere empathy for mostly multigenerational immigrant families that caused our city’s “empty store blight.”

 

NO, not Amazon, too many fines, too much over-regulation, or changing times that caused good businesses with loyal customer bases and willing and able to pay reasonable rents to be forced to close when their leases expired. It was simply self proclaimed progressive lawmakers lacking any moral obligation to save our business owners and their failure to honor their progressive values that resulted in our city’s empty store blight. Lawmakers who sold out the city’s small business owners for their own political ambitions. Brad Lander was at the top of that disgraceful list.

 

Brad Lander’s role in helping the real estate lobby’s scheme to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act and hide from the business owners and the public the existence of a real solution to save our businesses is justification for calling for his resignation from any public office.  He has shown he cannot be trusted to stand up against powerful special interests, especially at election time, and instead to stand up for the rights of business owners, their workers and the will of the people.

 

A stronger case for calling for the resignation of Brad Lander from public office can be made for when a Council hearing was finally held on the Jobs Survival Act. A lobby orchestrated sham hearing with the primary goal to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, and a scheme to water down the bill after, in order to keep the status quo. 

Brad Lander remained silent for nine years and never once called for even one honest hearing to find a solution to save our businesses and jobs. Now, due to the “empty store blight”  a hearing was scheduled in the Small Business Committee in Oct 2018. Would he attend this hearing and testify to the truth, like he did at the last hearing he testified at in 2009? Would he again support the Jobs Survival Act as being “a reasonable regulation,” Lander “ I believe that one being proposed here today (Jobs Survival Act) of a fair lease renewal process comes out high up at the top and I strongly support it. “  Would he again make the predictions that the SBS would never make a priority to save the small businesses, Lander, “ The City's Department of Small Business Services, as we've heard, have many fine programs, but the evidence is before our eyes, they just aren't working to save mom and pop businesses in our neighborhoods.”

Or that the unregulated free market would result in keeping the status quo with more and more businesses closing? Finally, would he again be a strong voice for those mostly immigrant owners being extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords?  Would Brad Lander again demand an investigation be made to get to the bottom of the illegal extortions of cash from immigrant owners under the threat of being thrown out from their businesses? Lander, “I might just add one thing that was very clear from the testimony and the conversation earlier is the need for some enhanced investigation. ..I don’t know who it is here that needs to  step in and investigate, whether it's the IRS,  whether it's the state attorney general, whether  it's a city investigative agency.”

 

The Oct 2018 hearing was the most disgraceful lobby orchestrated sham hearing ever held in the City Council.  Every main testifier was hand-picked by the real estate lobby to oppose a vote on the Jobs Survival Act. All testimony, including the Speaker and Chairman was coached to give only the lobby’s disinformation narrative talking points. Prior to the hearing, the Chairperson of the Committee had refused to meet with the authors and advocates of the Jobs Survival Act, in order to organize the best spokespersons for the bill. Instead, the real estate lobby would hand pick who would speak for the Jobs Survival Act, but not the authors or the advocates of the bill!  Pure corruption of a Council Committee by a lobby!

For the first time since being elected, Brad Lander came out of the shadows to show whom he really stood with, and it was not the small business owners or their workers. Unlike the first hearing on the Jobs Survival Act where he supported a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and predicted the fate of the city’s merchants if no regulation of the free market happened. He flipped to mimic only the false narrative of REBNY.

The biggest betrayal of Brad Lander happened after this sham hearing when the bill’s prime sponsor CM Rodriquez blew up the lobby’s scheme. The lobby’s plot was to wait until after the hearing to water the bill down so that it would keep the status quo for the landlords. But at the last minute, CM Rodriuez got cold feet and refused to water the bill down. Speaker Johnson pledged repeatedly at the hearing that, “the Jobs Survival Act must be amended to omit any protections of big Fortune 500 type companies… Then it will be moved quickly for a vote.”  Also, every lobby loyalist who testified repeated the lobby’s game plan, “stop a vote on the bill, amend it (code for water it down) and vote the status quo bill into law.”

 Finally, with the lobby’s scheme foiled and with the Jobs Survival Act having 28 sponsors and being the only real solution to end the “empty store blight,” the hope was that small business owners would get rights when their commercial leases expired. Rights to renew long term leases and rights to negotiate fair lease terms that would allow them to make a reasonable profit. Brad Lander and then Speaker Johnson would dash that hope!

The simple amendment promised by Speaker Johnson at the hearing would not be challenged (nothing but a red herring) and would involve changing only the language of one paragraph in the scope of the bill, about 2 hours’ time. During a major unresolved growing crisis, in a progressive Council with 28 sponsors, how could a lobby stop a vote on a critical lifeline bill that every merchant, their workers and the public would fully support? That is, if they were ever made aware of the bill and if good government was allowed to work.

 How could they stop it? By an immoral lobby calling upon all the lawmakers they helped put into office or who have political ambitions to abandon their progressive values and look the other way as the lobby cooks up another scheme to stop a vote. This time that scheme would be far more sinister, more illegal, and more immoral than the last one. It would also be the most unprecedented and corruption of the legislative process ever in the City Council.

The real estate lobby would high-jack the City Council’s democracy role of creating legislation. They would break every Council rule and ethical boundaries to blatantly create their own legislation, The Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS.

 

For the lobby’s scheme to be successful, it would need to call for then Speaker Johnson to stall making the promised 2 hour amendment to the Jobs Survival Act, which he did for over 3 years.  Also, to persuade the bill’s prime sponsor CM Rodriguez to not call for a vote on his bill, even with its 28 sponsors, which he did for over 3 years.  To have the Small Business Committee never promote another hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, or any legislation to address the city’s small business crisis, which it did for over 3 years.  The lobby’s shills: BIDS, Chambers, SBS and EDC would continue to falsely claim to speak on behalf of the small business owners while covering up the crisis and by pretending to want to help merchants with many worthless initiatives, which they did for over 3 years. The lobby would use their influence with local media to never mention the Jobs Survival Act, which was successful for over 3 years.  And finally, to muzzle any true progressive’s voice calling for a vote on the bill and demand giving rights to merchants in the commercial lease renewal process, which no lawmaker called for in over three years. 

The real estate’s scheme was so blatantly unprecedented against good government  that CM Brad Lander was the one lawmaker who had to make the choice for the integrity of the City Council. It would be a choice that would be a litmus test for any true progressive.

Brad Lander, as co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and as City Council’s Deputy Leader for Policy had a major role to play as watchdog, in assuring that special interests could not interfere with the legal authority and responsibility of the City Council’s legislative process. As head of the Progressive Caucus Brad Lander must assure that lobbies do not impede any progressive legislation supported by the majority of progressive Council Members.

Concerning the Jobs Survival Act, Brad Lander had a choice to make on behalf of the City Council and every small business owner and their employees.  A choice that would impact the survival and future of every business owner and their workers. A choice that would determine if the city’s business owners would receive fair treatment in the City Council, and have a real future in NYC. 

That choice should have been any easy one for any true progressive. After all, the Jobs Survival Act was the oldest pending legislation in the Council. For over 34 years the bill always played fairly following the rules of the Council and was strongly supported by progressive lawmakers beginning with its prime sponsors CM Ruth Messinger and later CM Ronnie Eldridge. It was written to give rights to every business owner needed to have a fighting chance to survive in business and save jobs. It was widely accepted as the only real solution to stop the closings of long established neighborhood businesses and save jobs when a commercial lease expired. '

Over the decades it has had over 11 public hearings and was amended seven times to make the commercial lease renewal process simple, legally sound, and fairer to all parties. It had 28 Council Member sponsors ready to vote it into law. At the hearing there was no real rational reason ever given for not voting for the bill. Nor was any other reasonable solution ever presented that would stop the closings of good businesses willing and able to pay reasonable rents if given the opportunity to negotiate fair lease terms. Simply put, it is a RIGHTS bill for business owners, who desperately need rights when their leases expired. What true progressive does not want the “backbone of their local economy” and major job creator to not have rights?

Most relevant to Brad Lander decision was the fact he testified at the past hearing on the bill that “the Jobs Survival Act being a fair lease renewal process comes out high up at the top and I strongly support it! … So let's put in place this one very reasonable additional regulation (Jobs Survival Act).”

At the past hearing Brad Lander also called for an investigation of the extortion of immigrant owners being demanded to give cash to remain in business. The passage of the Jobs Survival Act would stop the extortion immediately. The majority of our city’s small business owners are multi-generational immigrant families. What true progressive would not welcome the opportunity to give this discriminated and marginalized group the basic rights they deserve? Rights needed to end their long crisis and save their American Dream.

His other choice was the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS. A bill created by the real estate lobby after their scheme failed to water down the Jobs Survival Act, in order to keep the status quo.  The CRS bill was the most blatant violation of the Council’s rules for the legislation process ever. The CRS bill had no public hearing nor was it even debated at the Oct. 2018 hearing. A hearing 100% controlled by the real estate lobby. If they had a better solution to end the city’s small business crisis and “empty store blight” why didn’t they bring it up at this Council hearing that they controlled? They did not bring it up because they only wanted to keep the status quo and that meant giving the merchants: no right to renew their commercial leases and no rights in the negotiation process. Which is the foundation of the CRS bill.

If the city’s 200K plus merchants were given the choice between these two bills: the Jobs Survival Act giving the merchants the right to renew a 10 year lease and equal rights to negotiate the new lease terms or the CRS bill giving merchants no right to renew their lease and no rights in the negotiation process, thus keeping the status quo, 100% would choose the Jobs Survival Act. But Brad Lander made the choice for them, the lobby’s choice of the status quo, the CRS bill!

On Nov.19, 2019 the integrity of the City Council was shattered.

The real estate lobby’s CRS bill was introduced into the City Council. Two bills with the same intent at the same time is a clear violation of Council rules. Not only would Brad Lander sanction the lobby’s illegal “status quo” bill but would willfully promote their disgraceful bill. Even knowing the better solution to save the city’s small businesses was the Jobs Survival ActBrad Lander never once would ever mention the Jobs Survival Acts’ existence.  Even when sitting in Committee with 28 sponsors ready to be voted on.  In over 34 years of the fight to pass the Jobs Survival Act, no lawmaker promoted a petition to have the public support the bill. Yet, Brad Lander promoted a petition* for the public to support the lobby’s status quo CRS bill! His dishonest actions of aggressively supporting and giving credibility to the CRS bill was reprehensible and an insult to every small business owner. Carefully read the last line of his petition, “can continue to thrive in our communities.”  Every small business owner would strongly disagree with Brad Lander’s assessment that they were thriving. What happened to the crisis he proclaimed in his 2009 testimony?

No business owner in NYC for the past decade has seen a reasonable rent and few were thriving because of the unreasonable lease terms.   * Sign the petition to build support for this critical legislation.

For nine years Brad Lander had remained silent to the truth that the Jobs Survival Act is at the “top of the list” of legislation to save our small businesses. But he will purposely give a false statement that the CRS bill will save the small business owners, while knowing for certainly it will not save even one business or job unless the landlord wants to keep that business open. 

 

The CRS bill was the worst case of collusion by a lobby to rig the system to deny economic justice to desperate small business owners, and Brad Lander made this betrayal of both democracy and of our small business owners a major success for the lobby.

His shameful actions on behalf of special interests and the dire consequences to the futures of our small business owners is more than enough justification to call for him to resign.

Brad Lander’s most shameful act on behalf of special interests occurred when he played a major role in the lobby’s scheme to kill the Jobs Survival Act, once and for all.  He played a role in helping the lobby stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, for over three years! An even bigger role in allowing the lobby to break every Council rule to illegally create their own legislation, the CRS bill. But the biggest role he played for the special interests was remaining silent and complicit to the lobby’s goal of substituting their “status quo” bill for the Jobs Survival Act in the new Council in 2022. 

For over 3 decades the real estate lobby has tried unsuccessfully to kill the Jobs Survival Act and substitute their own status quo bill. Seven times the small business advocates were successful in exposing their plots to corrupt the Council’s legislative process by destroying good progressive legislation.

After 3 decades, on March 24, 2022 the real estate lobby was finally successful in killing the Jobs Survival Act and substituting their own bill into the City Council, the CRS bill. This was the bill CM Brad Lander’s actions gave life too and touted on behalf of the lobby. When the CRS bill was first introduced in Nov. 2019 Brad Lander had a choice to make concerning the bill he was promoting to save our small businesses. He should have followed the ethical thing to do, the Council rules and process for legislation and called for a public hearing to tout the merits of his bill in an open forum.  To have an honest debate on why his bill was the better solution to save our small businesses than the Jobs Survival Act.  To give the victims of the small business crisis, the merchants themselves an opportunity to compare the two bills and voice which one they preferred.  That honest hearing never happened for three years! The reason is obvious to any merchant. The Jobs Survival Act gave the owners the right to renew 10 year leases while the CRS bill gave no right to renew their leases, end of debate. One honest hearing and the CRS bill would be killed instead of the Jobs Survival Act. More corruption of City Hall in the extreme!

What is so despicable about the actions of Brad Lander was the fact that he knew first hand that the Jobs Survival Act would save many desperate owners and the jobs of their workers during the Covid crisis and yet he refused to promote the only real lifeline legislation to save many small business owners.  The choice he made to abandon his progressive values to continue to serve only the fat cat real estate lobby over the city’s small business owners facing the greatest challenge to survive is inexcusable and shameful.

Furthermore, his choice to promote a bill, the CRS bill as a substitute for the Jobs Survival Act knowing that the CRS bill would keep the manipulated so called “free market” solely in the hands of the landlords would result in even more businesses closing and more jobs lost in the future, disgraceful!.  Brad Lander sold out his progressive values for his own political ambitions. He threw desperate small business owners and their workers under the bus and should never be trusted again by the voters. Especially by the multigenerational family owners who are the largest victims of his betrayal. 

 

Brad Lander knew that the immigrant owners were being targeted for extortion of cash being demanded when their leases expired. At one time he called for an investigation to stop it. Yet, the bill he helped get introduced in the Council and that eventually replaced the Jobs Survival Act would not stop the illegal extortion of the immigrant owners. And he knew it! Shameful!

The longest conspiracy by a lobby to corrupt our government and deny economic justice and rights to small business owners and Brad Lander played a major role in making it successful. The full outcome of his collusion for a lobby could be catastrophic for the future of the backbone of our economy.  A 2021 survey of only immigrant owners gives clear proof of the outcome of this lobby’s conspiracy. https://www.savenycjobs.com/2021-immigrant-business-survey

  18. Can you survive in business without government intervention to give you rights when your lease expires? 

           Yes   _17%__  No__83%____

 

       19.  Have you heard of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act giving owners 10 year leases and no property         taxes?   Yes __6%____  No___94%___

 

       20.  If our government passed the Jobs Survival Act would this motivate you to remain in business and look to a   brighter future in business?  Yes_87%__ No_13%____

 

       21. Can you remain in business by continuing to pay your rent and landlord’s property taxes? 

       Yes _18%____  No__82%_____

       22. Did you feel you faced a crisis to survive prior to the Coronavirus crisis?

           YES__69%_______  NO___31%_______

The vital role Brad Lander played in helping the real estate lobby stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, illegally create their own legislation, the CRS bill, kill the Jobs Survival Act and replace it in the new Council,  and cover up the true intent of that legislation being: to keep the status quo for the landlords in the commercial lease renewal process, disqualifies Brad Lander from being viewed as a true progressive leader. 

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