Sung Soo Kim, who endorses Sal Albanese for Mayor, is a leading small business advocate (see below) in Queens for three decades, now accuses the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY) a powerful lobby, of “killing our democracy” by “taking control of our city’s Democratic lawmakers and the election process.”
The outspoken Kim charges “When New Yorkers vote shortly, they will be unaware they are really voting for which lobby or union will be empowered to make policy at City Hall, which will impact their lives, economy, jobs, taxes, and their democratic rights.”
In a statement from NYC’s Small Business Congress, an independent small business organization, Kim states, “When it concerns economic policy and jobs, REBNY controls the positions and platforms of all incumbents Democratic candidates through:
• REBNY’s influence with media
• huge campaign funding
• threats of supporting opponents
• rewards with government jobs
• promises of future business for political consultants
• sway with party bosses in the selection of a new Council Speaker
• control of the biggest high salary jobs’ revolving door with bureaucrats
• and most importantly, being viewed as the only pathway for Democratic career politicians to higher offices.”
Kim believes that the above “permits REBNY to dictate the issues and debates of our economy and jobs in the city’s elections. REBNY is the 800-pound gorilla you don’t see or hear of in the election. REBNY’s influence with lawmakers and the Democratic Party has made the topic of our city’s economy and jobs a non-issue in the past two elections.”
He further explains, “In 2009, REBNY created a bogus legal roadblock to stop a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a bill to stop our small businesses from disappearing by giving rights to commercial tenants. The bill had seemed certain to pass, with all members of Small Business Committee and 32 Council sponsors.”
“But REBNY then apparently managed to get the leading outspoken champions of a populist bill, which gave rights to commercial tenants and regulated landlords, to ‘flip.’ And once flipped, to persuade them to either join in rigging the system to stop any future vote on legislation giving rights to business owners and remain silent on the rigging against mom & pop owners facing a struggle to survive, yet still referring to them as “the backbone of the economy.”
“While powerful lobbies in Washington have the influence to hand pick committee chairs and exert influence within government agencies on regulations and policy, no modern day lobby in the city has the power like REBNY to control the city’s economic policy and hand pick entire committees to assure no challenges to that policy.”
“A walk down any NYC main street shows the outcome of REBNY’s stranglehold on City Hall, with empty storefronts, sometimes for years, where once long established vibrant businesses were. Some landlords demand “cash under the table” from immigrant owners. Tenants are turned into virtual indentured servitude when given only short term leases, sometimes a year or month to month, receiving a notice from their landlord to “vacate in 30 days.”
“The single biggest cause of long established businesses closing are the exorbitant rent increases being demanded in a manipulated, speculative market. The NYC Courts evict on average 500 commercial businesses each month. Over 1,200 businesses close each month and over 8000 jobs every month lost since Mayor DeBlasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito came into office.”
“Once, both were outspoken champions of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, but upon election both abandoned their progressive SBJSA stance in favor of REBNY’s money and political influence. Both, along with other “progressive” lawmakers who apparently sold out to REBNY for their own political careers, “flipped” and joined the rigging to keep the status quo favoring only big real estate.”
SBJSA advocate Kim says there are three things voters can do to “challenge REBNY’s power and influence over our city’s government:
1. Elect candidates running for public office especially against an incumbent who refuse campaign funding from REBNY.
2. Ask for a call for an honest public hearing to find a real solution to end the crisis destroying our small businesses.
3. Hold elected leaders responsible for all the businesses that have been forced to close and jobs lost.
Know that if re-elected these lawmakers who have done nothing to save a single business or job will continue to work to keep the status quo favoring only their campaign contributors, REBNY.
All the incumbents are telling the voters they are proud of their progressive record as landlords are robbing the city’s struggling small business owners of their American Dream. Our Democratic lawmakers have betrayed the principles of Democracy, respect for our city’s entrepreneurs, art community, immigrant families who own the majority of small businesses, all workers, the hard to employ, seniors on fixed incomes, and New Yorkers who love their neighborhoods."
About Sung Soo Kim:
Mr. Kim consulted in the original and all subsequent versions of the SBJSA. He founded the Korean American Small Business Service Center 32 years ago, refusing city funding support. He is creator of the Small Business Bill of Rights, rejecting a Business Improvement District. He has negotiated more than 50,000 commercial leases. Kim served without salary as Chairman of the Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. Reach him at Small Business Congress, at email@example.com