Letters to The Editor, Week of May 3, 2018

Prove us wrong, Johnson!

To The Editor:

Re “New push for S.B.J.S.A.” (news article, April 26):

The Small Business Congress did not participate in last week’s press conference because, based upon the actions of the new City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, we feel the rigging of our bill is continuing, with the likely outcome resulting in changes to the bill. This will water it down to become worthless to protect small business owners when their leases expire.

The new speaker’s public acknowledgments of the crisis faced by mom-and-pop businesses and his pledge to hold a public hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, to find a solution to end the crisis, is a welcome change from former Speakers Quinn and Mark-Viverito doing nothing during their tenure other than to serve the Real Estate Board of New York.

Regrettably, for our suffering business owners, when it came time for the new speaker to back up his progressive rhetoric with real actions, he acted exactly like Quinn and Mark-Viverito by serving up a REBNY agenda to keep the status quo.

Actions speak louder than words, especially politicians’ words. S.B.C. founder Sung Soo Kim, in a talking point in The Villager prior to Johnson winning the speakership, made it clear: “The litmus test for the new speaker on his leadership qualities, progressive values, respect for democracy and commitment to save our small businesses and New Yorkers’ jobs is easy to identify. Very simply, the litmus test will be who the speaker selects as the new chairperson of the [City Council’s] Small Business Committee, as well as its members.”

Who did Johnson pick as the new committee chairperson? He appointed a real estate company owner who is on record opposing any regulation of landlords — even residential landlords — and who was heavily funded by big real estate in his election.

The second action by Johnson that made it clear the rigging would continue was Johnson’s office refusing to meet with Kim to discuss the best lawmaker to be the bill’s prime sponsor. Even though Kim had written the S.B.J.S.A. and all seven changes to it, and selected seven past prime sponsors to champion it, Johnson refused to allow Kim or the S.B.C. to have any say on the new sponsor.

Johnson’s choice for who would carry the bill was Councilmember Ydanis Rodriquez, who twice before, in 2012 and again in 2014, had tried unsuccessfully, with the support of the speaker’s office, to be a co-prime sponsor. Both times Rodriguez was rejected by S.B.C. for privately speaking against the bill and telling merchant organizers not to fight for its passage.

In short, we feel Speaker Johnson has no intention of stopping the rigging against this bill, and so S.B.C. will not participate in this fake democracy taking place at City Hall. We feel the S.B.J.S.A. is in danger of being changed into a REBNY Trojan horse proposal. If we are wrong, and the rigging is stopped, allowing the bill to be passed unchanged, then we will be the first ones to acknowledge this, and champion Johnson to be the next mayor of New York City.

Let’s hope the most vetted bill possibly in all of New York City’s history gets swift passage as written.

Steven Barrison
Barrison is spokesperson, Small Business Congress


S.B.J.S.A. vote will happen

To The Editor:

Re “New push for S.B.J.S.A.” (news article, April 26):

Friends of S.B.J.S.A. was proud to stand with our citywide coalition partners, the Hispanic and Women’s Chambers of Commerce and City Council sponsors, including prime sponsor Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. After Corey Johnson’s promised public hearing, we are confident that we will have the necessary votes on the Small Business Committee to bring the bill to the floor.

We urge all New Yorkers to take a minute and contact your city councilmember to urge him or her to sign up as a sponsor and pass an S.B.J.S.A. that guarantees a right to a 10-year lease renewal to commercial tenants in good standing; legally binding arbitration to establish a rent increase reasonable for both landlord and tenant; and inclusion of all commercial tenants not just storefront retail tenants.

David Eisenbach
Eisenbach is a member, Friends of S.B.J.S.A.


R.G.B. needs Harvey

To The Editor:

Re “Epstein romps” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 26):

I write because I did not vote for Harvey Epstein. And your readers shouldn’t have, either.

By all accounts, Mr. Epstein did a spectacular job representing us on the Rent Guidelines Board. He was one of nine players, a pitcher who threw no-hitters every time he got the ball.

Now, he’ll be one of 150 players, with an even smaller percent of them trying to advance our cause. No star pitcher would leave baseball to play football on special teams.

We have displaced Mr. Epstein and, with history as precedent, placed him in an ineffectual environment despite his talents. The Manhattan County Democratic Party has to be more foresighted.

One hundred years ago, my grandfather, who became the Democratic Assembly leader, fought for the same home rule that Mr. Epstein will be fighting for.

Not only that, he’s my fourth assemblymember in fewer than 19 years. So, how good is that job these days?

Billy Sternberg


E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to [email protected] or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

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