DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and NYC Hospitality Alliance head Andrew Rigie are proclaiming that they speak on behalf of restaurant owners. Both are touting the success of their Open Streets program and predict that making it permanent will save even more restaurants in the future.
Should you trust either one? Not when they speak only for the BIDS, the real estate lobby, corrupt politicians and their own self interests. Their records show they never cared for the future of restaurant owners before the virus crisis.
If our city’s restaurant owners and the public knew the true records and loyalty of both Rodriguez and Rigie prior to the virus crisis, they would be appalled and angry. These two give new meaning to the word “hypocrisy” as both loudly call for more government intervention to save our restaurants. Where was this urgent call for government intervention to save our restaurants years before the virus crisis? A call to save them from the decade long unresolved “forgotten crisis” caused by insane rent demands and oppressive lease terms demanded when a commercial lease expired, and the restaurant owners had no rights.
Both Rodiguez and Rigie eagerly take credit for fighting to save our restaurants during the virus crisis but hide the truth that both played major roles in the years of collusion and rigging at City Hall to deny economic justice and rights to restaurant owners needed to survive, make a reasonable profit, or have a real future in NYC.
For years, both Rodirguez and Rigie had the best opportunity to be strong voices for restaurant owners by calling for legislation giving them rights when their leases expired. For over a decade in NYC, the root cause of long established successful restaurants, willing and able to pay a reasonable rent, to close when their leases expired was due to not having any rights to negotiate fair lease renewal terms that allowed a reasonable profit. Only the landlord’s profit mattered. In most cases only maintaining windfall profits mattered.
The legislation existed in the Council to stop these successful restaurants from closing and restore their American Dream. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, would give every restaurant owner the right to renewal a minimum 10 year lease, equal rights to negotiate in good faith fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit for all parties, and an arbitration process to stop rent gouging and landlord abuses. If either Rodirguez or Rigie used their special positions to call for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, the closings of long established restaurants would have ended in Nov 2018! Also, every restaurant in NYC would have been in a far better position to withstand the virus crisis when it arrived. Also, likely, if the Jobs Survival Act were enacted it would offer more options for the restaurant owners to take to remain open. The passage of the Jobs Survival Act would have meant that NYC restaurants would have been less vulnerable to closing and there would likely have been no need in the first place for the Open Streets program in NYC.
Rodirguez and Rigie want all the restaurant owners and the public to overlook the unresolved “forgotten crisis” that restaurant owners have to return to when their leases expire and they have no rights. What about addressing the root cause, for over a decade, of forcing good restaurants to close? What good is any government program if a restaurant is forced to close when their lease expires, because they have no rights? Common sense needs to prevail to discount the nonsense these two are pitching to the public. Restaurant sales are up because of less competition resulting from so many restaurants closing the past few years. For the past decade in NYC how much profit a successful restaurant made had little or no impact to the landlord when their lease expired. How many highly profitable restaurants were forced to close in NYC because of the one sides and grossly unfair commercial lease renewal process? Open Streets empowers the very same BID property owners who rent gouged out of business countless good restaurants. Open Streets without government addressing the "root cause" of restaurants closings will not restore a real future for the business owners.
Rodirguez and Rigie would want every restaurant owner’s future solely left in the hands of their landlords when their leases expire. The same status quo that created our city’s “empty store blight” before Covid.
The truth of the greatest betrayal of restaurant owners by a lobby controlled City Hall.
Firstly, former CM Ydanis Rodriguez was the prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act. As prime sponsor of the only real lifeline to stop the closing of restaurants and give them a fighting chance to survive, he would determine their futures in NYC. Also, he was the greatest voice for economic justice for restaurant owners. His voice was strong at an Oct. 2018 hearing on his bill. Even though this hearing was a real estate lobby orchestrated sham hearing, the first ever that the authors of the bill called for a boycott, it produced a positive outcome for the business owners, or should have.
CM Rodriguez statements were strong and committed. CM Rodriguez announced that he got the Progressive and Black, Latino/a, and Asian Caucuses of the City Council to endorse his bill.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez testified :
· “ We are here to get the Small Business Jobs Survival Act across the finish line.”
· “ The goal of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is simple, to protect small businesses and address the large number of forced closings happening across the city.”
· “ We are now experiencing a crisis in our small businesses which cannot wait any longer to address.”
· “ The Small Business Jobs Survival Act is the only real solution to stop the closings of long established small businesses.”
As prime sponsor his message was “spot on.” The message from the lobby loyalist was also clear, amend the bill before any vote! Even though the city’s top lobby loyalists and shills repeated the lobby’s false narrative and talking points of opposing the Jobs Survival Act on merit less excuses, none offered a real solution to stop the closing and end the small business crisis. It would turn out that even with the city's business owners facing the greatest crisis to survive caused by the virus crisis, no government agency would ever offer a real solution to save them.
Then Speaker Johnson make clear that his repeated message was going to happen after the hearing. His pledge was to amend the Jobs Survival Act by eliminating any protections for Fortune 500 type companies and move the Jobs Survival Act to a vote.
The bill’s true advocates were pleased with both the prime sponsors' commitment and the Speaker’s pledge because they knew the lobby's coached cries to amend the bill were nothing but “red herrings.” Therefore, there would be no objections because the bill’s intent and protections for all small business owners would still be in effect. With no challenge, the simple amendment involved the changing of words in one paragraph of the scope of the bill. A simple word amendment that should have taken two hours. If good government was allowed to work in the Council the Jobs Survival Act with its 28 sponsors should have easily been voted into law at the next Council Stated meeting in Nov 2018.
When it comes to “economic policy” powerful lobbies will never allow good government to work at City Hall. After the hearing Speaker Johnson had no intentions of keeping his pledge to amend the bill and move it to a vote. Instead, he willfully joined in the collusion and rigging to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act. He allowed the unconscionable and anti democracy act of a lobby to take over the authority and responsibility of the Council to create legislation. A lobby would hijack democracy and the Jobs Survival Act by creating their own legislation. By doing so they blatantly violated the Council’s own rules, any sense of decency, humanity and continued to deny economic justice to our city’s business owners. Would the bill’s prime sponsor Rodriguez allow this shameful betrayal of the Council’s responsibility and injustice to the extreme of our small businesses to occur unchallenged? Yes, an immigrant lawmaker lacking any moral obligation to save the mostly immigrant business owners.
First, the advocates were fooled by Rodriguez's positive rhetoric. The small business advocates held a press conference in Queens and wrote OP EDs to praise Rodriguez for fighting to save immigrant businesses. Sung Soo Kim, “finally we had a strong prime sponsor not controlled by the Speaker or lobbies, who recognized the dire plight of immigrant family owned businesses and who was committed to fight for a vote on our bill…. I call upon all the city’s immigrant communities to fully support and trust Councilman Rodriguez, because he is a strong voice for immigrant rights and will fight to see they receive justice and fair treatment at City Hall. He is committed to fight for the passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, our only hope to save our businesses. ”
If Johnson had no intentions of keeping his pledge to amend the bill and move it to a vote neither did Rodriguez ever intend to keep his pledge to call for a vote. Rodriguez, disingenuous statements, “ We are here to get the Small Business Jobs Survival Act across the finish line…. We are now experiencing a crisis in our small businesses which cannot wait any longer to address.” Rodriguez would eagerly join in the collusion and rigging by waiting 3 years and never call for a vote. Three years with 28 sponsors and a growing crisis, rigging in plain site.
What was Rodriguez waiting for? Ydanis Rodriguez was running for Public Advocate at the special Feb 26, 2019 election! What a perfect opportunity for him to call for a vote on his bill and show the voters that he has the courage to stand up to special interests who are blocking needed legislation. The perfect job description of the role of PA. A win win for Rodriguez by just doing the “right thing” a prime sponsor should do in a time of crisis.
Rodriguez is conned by the power-brokers to remain silent and he never highlights the Jobs Survival Act, the single most important legislation to stop the closings of businesses and save jobs. Of course he loses the Public Advocate race badly by following the advice of the political power-brokers that likely were backing another candidate.
Month after month we made a plea for him to call for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, all our calls were ignored. His excuse for waiting for Johnson’s amendment was no longer accepted. Johnson was stalling the amendment by lying that “we are working with small business advocates to “tweak or fine tune” the Jobs Survival Act. More stalling, when later it was a lobby charade of more distractions with worthless bills and useless studies. The lobby talking point was that Council Members needed more “information” before making the decision on legislation to stop the closings of businesses. Information like counting empty storefronts or laws having the SBS keep records of empty stores.
The entire Council along with the de Blasio administration’s support was colluding with the lobby to rig the system to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act. And prime sponsor Rodriguez was ok with this shameful collusion.
In Oct 2019, the one year anniversary of the hearing on the Jobs Survival Act a rally was held at Johnson’s district office demanding he amend the bill and move it to a vote. Rodriguez is invited as the prime sponsor to support the call for action to move his bill, he refuses to attend or even give a written statement.
Nov 2019 Rodriguez is put onto the Small Business Committee!! A small committee of only 5 with 3 members from Manhattan ( Rosenthal, Rodriguez and Perkins) and none from Queens and one representing the Bronx ( real estate owner Gjonaj) and one representing Brooklyn ( Levin). Clearly a stacked Committee but what was being planned to stop a vote? Why would the lobby put the prime sponsor of the bill they are trying to stop on the Committee that would vote for it? Also, put on the Committee the prime sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act, who could call for a vote anytime.
It did not take long to get the answer to why Rodriguez was on the Committee of five. Also the answer of why the delay in making the amendments promised by Johnson.
On Nov. 14, 2019, 13 months after the Oct 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, another bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS, was illegally and unethically introduced into the Council. A bill with the promised amendments to the Jobs Survival Act included in it!!!! More RIGGING!
Without debate the most anti democratic act ever committed in the Council! A lobby influenced bill that put into play two bills at the same time with the same intent, a clear violation of Council rules. Never before in the long 34 year battle for commercial lease renewal legislation had two bills been introduced at the same time.
More rigging in plain sight with the bill’s prime sponsor being CM Levin, the sole representative on the Small Business Committee for Brooklyn. CM Levin was present at the Oct hearing and heard Speaker Johnson pledge to amend the bill and move it to a vote. The Jobs Survival Act had 28 sponsors including Levin!! Why would any Council Member on the Committee decide to write a new bill, especially when he sponsored the majority bill? Why not just amend the existing bill that had 28 sponsors, including himself? Reprehensible conduct!
Any prime sponsor of legislation waiting for over a year with 28 sponsors for a simple amendment would be outraged if another bill were put into play. A bill that had the promised amendments in it instead of in the prime sponsor's bill. How would Rodriguez’s reaction be to this shameful rigging to stop a vote on his bill? Shameful silence!
Rodriguez was put on the Committee prior to this disgraceful bill for two reasons. One was to remain silent and not challenge this lobby inspired bill, even knowing it was created with the goal to stop a vote on his own bill. The second reason was to block any call for a vote on his bill. Rodriguez would faithfully fulfill his commitment to the real estate lobby and Democratic leadership by remaining silent to the new lobby’s bill and never once call for a vote on his Jobs Survival Act, with its 28 sponsors and it being the only real solution to save the city’s businesses and jobs.
Therefore, by the prime sponsor's own non actions to call for a vote on his bill and his non actions to challenge the lobby’s influenced bill designed to stop any vote on his bill, Ydanis Rodriguez betrayed every business owner in NYC , especially the immigrant family owned businesses. As well as, the
largest owners of small businesses in NYC, the restaurant owners.
After Nov. 2018, it would be justifiable for every restaurant owner who was forced to close due to not having any rights when their leases expired to hold Ydanis Rodriguez responsible for denying them the rights needed to survive, make a reasonable profit or have some security of their future in NYC.
Even with advocates knowing Rodriguez sold them out for his own political career, they continued over the next years to try to persuade him to find his moral compass and gain some empathy for the dire plight of the merchants and call for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act.
Rodriguez ran for Congress in the June 13, 2020 election. He refused to use this citywide platform to promote the Jobs Survival Act and call for a vote. With the Bronx Congress district being mostly immigrant business owned and with most jobs created by these businesses facing a crisis, he would gain instant approval by the voters for passing the lifeline Jobs Survival Act. Once again, he would be conned by others to remain silent on this critical issue. Once again he is soundly beaten.
As the virus crisis forced more businesses to close and caused layoffs, advocates moved quickly to convince Rodriguez to call for a vote. The authors of the bill amended the Jobs Survival Act themselves in May 2020 to eliminate the Fortune 500 companies that Johnson pledged to do. Rodriguez immediately submitted the amended bill to the legislative council to make the changes which would eliminate the excuse used to stall a vote. Those amendments were never made to the Jobs Survival Act. MORE RIGGING!
In desperation, for the first time in 3 decades Sung Soo Kim wrote to the Speaker to offer mediation to amend the bill so to move it to a vote and save as many businesses as possible from the destructive virus crisis. Kim was allowing the real estate lobby to dictate the changes they wished and have Johnson present them at the mediation meeting. Regrettably Mr. Kim’s offer was rejected by the real estate lobby. NO COMPROMISES of any legislation that regulated commercial landlords in the commercial lease renewal process. The lobby bought and paid for the Democratic leadership and thus controlled at City Hall all legislation that served their interests.
Advocates drew up plans for Rodriguez to hold a forum and press conference calling for an emergency vote on the Jobs Survival Act. A vote justified by the virus crisis causing businesses to close. The forum, press conference, and call for an emergency vote were rejected by Rodriguez. Regardless of the challenges faced by businesses to survive two crises at the same time, he was committed to the special interests to never call for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act.
Enough betrayal by Rodriguez, Sung Soo Kim apologizes for trusting Rodriguez.*
Ydanis Rodriguez Betrayal | savenycjobs
Sung Soo Kim, “Godfather of Immigrant Family Small Businesses” Apologizes for Entrusting the Future of Small Businesses into the Hands of CM Ydanis Rodriguez.
CM Rodriguez Dishonors that Trust by Betraying Business Owners.
The final betrayal of all business owners and their employees by Rodriguez was the most disgraceful one. All pending legislation expires on Dec. 31, 2021. In plain sight, what the corrupt lawmakers serving special interests did was hold another sham hearing on the lobby’s bill, CRS, in Sept 2021 with the same cast of lobby loyalist from the 2018 hearing. All testifying in support of their status quo bill, CRS. From Nov 2019 when the CRS was first introduced until this hearing, not once was there a call to compare the two bills. Not once did any lawmaker ask the question, “is the CRS bill a better bill/solution to stop the closings than the Jobs Survival Act? What is shameful about this hearing was that Rodriguez was on the Committee and yet there was NO MENTION of the Jobs Survival Act, not even once during the entire hearing. MORE RIGGING!
After this hearing a campaign was launched by the CRS team to gain sponsors to match the 28 that the Jobs Survival Act had. The majority of the Council would be termed out of office but weeks prior to all bills expiring the CRS bill had the same 28 sponsors as the Jobs Survival Act. The majority of these sponsors were also sponsors of the Jobs Survival Act. MORE RIGGING! How could any ethical lawmaker sponsor one bill that gave their merchants the right to 10 year lease renewal, equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms and end rent gouging and being forced to pay their landlord’s property taxes, to a bill that gave no right to renew their leases, no right to negotiate terms and still pay their landlord’s taxes and where the rents would only go up each year starting from sky high rates as the base?
It was at this point that a last plea was made to Rodriguez that if there was any decency left in him or any degree of respect for his own Dominican business owners he must call for a vote on his bill before it expired and be destroyed forever. The grand scheme by the real estate lobby was to stall and run out the clock and replace their status quo bill for the Jobs Survival Act, killing any hope to restore the American Dream for our business owners. Last plea for Rodriquez to call for vote. *
PLEA TO RODRIGUEZ TO SAVE THEM | savenycjobs
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is the Only Prime Sponsor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act Who Today Has the Best Opportunity to Have the Full Council Vote It into Law, and HE CAN End the Crisis!
FOR 35 Years Our Business Owners Have Been Denied Economic Justice at City Hall, CM Rodriguez Can Stand Up on Their Side and Save Them. But Will He ACT before his time in office is done and End Our Small Business Crisis?
CM Rodriguez refused to call for a vote on his bill which had 28 sponsors, and easy passage. The first time in 34 years and 8 prime sponsors that a prime sponsor would allow the Jobs Survival Act to die and be substituted for by a lobby contrived status quo bill. A simple 2 hour amendment to the Jobs Survival Act, that never happened in 3 years allowed the continuation of the denial of justice to our business owners to continue.
Two hours of good government, became 3 years of corruption that would destroy the American Dream for our small business owners.
When Rodriguez speaks of having a great plan to save our restaurants, to return them to “thriving”, never forget who he loyally served for years prior and during the virus crisis. This program, like all programs and legislation at City Hall dealing with economics, was written to benefit big real estate, BIDS, Chambers etc., first and foremost.
For Rodriguez now today to claim he helped save our restaurants and that he has a plan to save even more and that more restaurants will prosper by his actions is the greatest hypocrisy ever stated. Thousands upon thousands of restaurants were forced to close as a result of Rodriguez’s betrayal of all business owners. His years of refusing to call for a vote on the only real lifeline for our businesses and his knowingly allowing his bill to die and be replaced by a status quo bill will put in jeopardy every restaurant owner’s future survival when their leases expire and they have no rights. Rights that they should have had if prime sponsor Rodriguez kept his pledge made at the 2018 hearing,
“ We are here to get the Small Business Jobs Survival Act across the finish line…..”
“ The goal of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is simple, to protect small businesses and address the large number of forced closings happening across the city.”
“ We are now experiencing a crisis in our small businesses which cannot wait any longer to address.”
“ The Small Business Jobs Survival Act is the only real solution to stop the closings of long established small businesses.”