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Mike Nova’s favorite articles on Inoreader: New York Leaders Refuse a Lifeline For Small Business

The covid crisis has shown that the future of our small businesses cannot be left in the hands of powerful lobbies and ambitious politicians, or they will have no future. If City Hall continues to do nothing, as it has for over a decade, to stop the closing of our long established businesses, then lawmakers will be responsible for triggering the worse economic catastrophe in our city’s history. Lawmakers must stop playing politics and make a choice for the future of all New Yorkers. Either continue serving party bosses and the special interests and stand on the side of protecting the profits of real estate speculators and profiteers, or stand on the side of our small business owners who created the jobs for working class families. 

Democratic leadership is sending the message to business owners that, because our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, they are a priority to get help. Lawmakers are claiming  to be working tirelessly to see relief is on the way to get businesses though this crisis to return to normal and thriving again. Nothing could be further from the truth, total disingenuous political rhetoric giving a false hope!

NYC small business owners stand alone in the nation by facing a crisis to survive for over the past decade, while our government did nothing to save one business.  Today’s virus crisis has only greatly sped up what was already slowly happening to our long established businesses being forced to close when their leases expired and they had no rights to negotiate fair lease terms.

Pre-pandemic “normal” for NYC businesses prior to the virus were: the highest insane rents, highest taxes, highest utilities, highest cost of doing business, shortest leases, being extorted to stay in business, having no rights, and a government serving only wealthy campaign donors.  Normal was NYC Courts* issuing warrants to evict an average 473 businesses each month and an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 closing each month. The new normal for the backbone of our economy was empty stores, sometimes for years, on every main street where once thriving businesses were, while this was acceptable to career politicians. Why would any business owner welcome going back to the most anti small business environment in America, where their futures were solely in the hands of their landlords?

* NYC Court evictions

Our desperate business owners deserve the truth as they face their greatest challenge ever to save their American Dream. That truth is our Democratic leadership has no intentions of throwing them any real lifeline to save them, or even give them a fighting chance.  This is the shameful truth that exposes who really runs City Hall, even now in a time of a crisis.

Since April 2009,* our government knew our small businesses faced a crisis to survive. City Hall knew the cause of the crisis was years of unchecked government encouraged hyper real estate speculation which made our small businesses collateral damage to this economic policy. In June 2009 the Small Business Committee held a hearing to find an immediate real solution to save our small businesses. That lifeline to stop the closings of businesses was the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Actand still is the only hope today. Jobs Survival Act gives business owners rights when their leases expired, rights to long term leases and rights to equally negotiate fair lease terms, which was the only real solution to save them. The entire committee became sponsors, making 32 council members ready to easily vote into law and throw all our businesses the lifeline they needed to survive.

*LATIN CHAMBER STUDY | savenycjobs The vote was never taken, and it will never be taken under this government controlled by powerful special interests, the real estate lobby and corrupt party machines. Democracy was stopped with the collusion between Speaker Quinn’s office and the real estate lobby who schemed to cook up a bogus legal claim to stop the vote. After stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, which was reintroduced in 2010 and 2018, powerful lobbies took total control of our government’s oversight responsibilities on economic policy in order to protect the profits of a few wealthy, and they still are in control today. 

After stopping good government from working, for the next 10 years plus, right up to today’s virus crisis, every Machiavellian act possible has been carried out at City Hall to deny economic justice to our small business owners. A lobby orchestrated charade included: picking the Speakers, hand picking the Small Business Committee Chairs, selecting the committee members, refusing to hold public hearings on the Jobs Survival Act or any bill to address store closings, using the SBS, BIDS, Chambers, Business organizations, bogus business advocates, funded pro real estate Community groups, fake coalitions and corrupt lawmakers themselves, all to cover up the city’s small business crisis while promoting status quo legislation created by a lobby.  

City Hall’s leadership purposely lied about the legality of the Jobs Survival Act to stop any vote, while promoting a slew of fake studies, worthless initiatives or useless laws all with REBNY’s fingerprints on them. All substitute fake solutions for the Jobs Survival Act have the common factor of never giving small business owners any rights when their leases expired and none would seriously regulate the commercial landlords. In truth, no government action of any kind in the last decade would save a single business or job or protect a single business from their landlord’s greed or landlords’ having total control over a businesses’ future. Good government and the future of our small businesses did not matter to blind ambitious career politicians, and it still does not today. 

It is disgraceful, the political theater by lawmakers today pretending to care about saving our businesses while never mentioning the Jobs Survival Act, sitting with 28 sponsors and easy passage if allowed a vote. Total silence from lawmakers on the past unresolved crisis that was destroying our businesses and would continue after the virus crisis. Our lawmakers will not even mention that a real lifeline exists bottled up in committee that would save the majority of our businesses or at least give them a fighting chance to survive. Instead, lawmakers are touting only temporary band aids that would do nothing to protect business owners after the virus crisis. Lawmakers throwing all the blame for business closings on the virus and directing the public to blame Washington’s lack of response or Albany for the closings.  How about City Hall’s lack of response for 10 years for doing nothing to save our businesses?  These lawmakers only promoting lobby created solutions to keep the status quo proves our small businesses’ survive still does not matter, and never has.    Appalling, not one lawmaker has called for an honest hearing to find the best lifeline to stop the closings of our small businesses, and they never will!

The outcome of this corrupt system of conspiracy, collusion and rigging to deny economic justice that exists at City Hall is the reason only NYC small business owners must now face two crises to survive. The first is the decade long crisis that our government refused to find a solution to end.  The other is today’s virus crisis, which the City Hall leadership again refuses to throw a real lifeline to end. Two crises without any real lifeline can only end with an economic catastrophe.It is fair to say that the failure of our government to give economic justice to our small business owners for over a decade has made our business owners the most vulnerable to closing than any businesses in America. City Hall lawmakers serving only their campaign donors and party bosses are responsible for making a growing crisis worse by doing nothing for over a decade and failed to throw our struggling businesses a real lifeline in 2009, 2018 and again today with the virus crisis.  Lawmakers knew in 2009 that without a real lifeline many businesses would not survive, David Yassky, former Chairman at 2009 hearing , “I will say simply as an opening statement that I believe that we absolutely have to do something, periodIt’s not an option to do nothingThe mom and pop stores on the commercial strips in our neighborhoods are the heart of the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now.”   Even with Yassky’s prediction coming true with record business closings from a growing crisis, and empty stores citywide, leadership refused to throw a real lifeline in 2018. Today’s two crises makes it an almost certainty every business is in jeopardy of closing, yet lawmakers still refuse to throw them a real lifeline to survive. Despicable, and the lowest point of immorality at City Hall. 

Most people with strong morals could not phantom that lawmakers would intentionally conspire to prevent any real lifeline to save small business owners in their time of crisis. But that is exactly what happened at the Oct 22, 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, triggered by the empty store blight in NYC. The Democratic leadership abdicated full authority over this critical hearing to the real estate lobby, REBNY. How shameful was this act? The very real estate industry, whose members created our small crisis and then bought off progressive lawmakers to “do nothing” to save the businesses, now had total control of the hearing and over our small business owner’s future. 

This REBNY orchestrated hearing will go down in history as the most anti small business sham hearing ever held. Firstly, the Chairman of the Small Business Committee CM Mark Gjonaj is a real estate owner on record opposed to the Jobs Survival Act or any law regulating landlords. CM Gjonaj set records in 2017 for campaign donations of over $1.2 million from mostly big real estate.  Never would Gjonaj be chairman of any small business committee in America, but this is NYC where conflict of interests means little. Where lobbyists are in City Hall offices making decisions more than elected officials.

Secondly, REBNY’s top cronies came to oppose the bill or give testimony distracting away from finding a real solution. Every group who made a financial killing from the real estate bubble boom was represented and gave testimony opposed to the bill. Lead by Commissioner Bishop, the entire administration came in force to oppose the bill and give misinformation and distractions only. Next came the fake small business advocates falsely claiming they were speaking for mom and pop owners. Finally, the fake heavily funded political community groups representing lawmakers opposed to the bill.

This hearing should have been to find the best lifeline to save small businesses, but instead, the real goal for the lobbies and Democratic party machine was the opposite, to stop any lifeline from being voted on. While the bad actors succeeded in stopping the Jobs Survival Act none offered a solution to save a single small business. After the hearing in Oct 2018, the collusion and rigging continued at City Hall to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act or stop any lifeline to stop the closings. Therefore, it is justifiable to blame the failure of our government to serve the will of the people and allow democracy to work which produced two crises that few business owners will be able to survive. If a business if forced to close today, do not just blame the virus, blame unethical corrupt lawmakers also.  

For the sake of the future of our small businesses, jobs, our neighborhoods, and society lets admit the obvious. In the past elections all the pledges made by candidates claiming to be progressive and ready to support progressive legislation to take the city in another direction from Bloomberg’s and de Blasio’s pro real estate policies were nothing but political rhetoric to con the voters into electing them. But nothing has changed, the real estate lobbies’ policies remain, REBNY controls City Hall economic policy and have gotten richer and more powerful.

Where is the conscience and basic decency from our lawmakers to allow this small business tragedy to continue knowing the terrible outcome to families?  It is clear from a decade of collusion and rigging for a lobby and the non action from City Hall to find real solutions to save our businesses, while showing no empathy for the dire plight of business and worker’s families to even attempt to save our small businesses, that the only hope for a future for our business owners and workers is to elect only new truly ethical progressive candidates to office. Candidates who have the political will and progressive values to stand up to the special interests and corrupt pollical machines and restore democracy again in our government.

 Sung Soo Kim, recognized as the city’s leading small business authority and advocate for over 3 decades. The “Godfather of immigrant businesses”  is the founder of the oldest small business service center in NYC, the Korean American Small Business Service Center, and was Chairman of the Mayor’s First Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. He is co-founder of Small Business Congress and sole creator of the Small Business Bill of Rights.  He has spent every working day for 34 years addressing the problems of immigrant small business owners. He never took a salary from government as Chairman of Small Business Advisory Board nor in consulting on numerous regulations. He turned down offers to run a BID in Queens and turned down government funding for his business service center.  In 34 years he has personally negotiated and re-negotiated an estimated 50,000-55,000 commercial lease for his Asian members. He has gone to court weekly for 34 years to fight over 5,000 times for his members in court. He personally consulted in the drafting of the original version of Small Business Jobs Survival Act and every version introduced by seven prime sponsors. 

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Mike Nova’s favorite articles on Inoreader