Councilman Van Bramer’s Favoring Big Real Estate over Commercial Tenants
Is The Reason for Queens Closings!
Deadline NYC, Jan. 10, 2020:
Yesterday the Queens Public Library announced that their Court Square Library will close on Feb. 15, 2020 due to being unable to find suitable long term space and reasonable lease terms in an area with sky high rents. Councilman Van Bramer disagrees with their reason for closing and blames the Library for dragging its feet in finding a new location.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer made clear who was responsible, “This could and should have been avoided…...this is about the library failing to plan for this community.” The truth is CM Van Bramer is fully to blame for this library closing as well as all Queens businesses willing and able to pay a reasonable rent but forced to close because they have no rights when their leases expired to negotiate reasonable lease terms. They have no rights because CM Van Bramer has fought against any legislation giving them rights.
CM Van Bramer should be ashamed of the critical role he played in using his office to work to prevent a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, giving all commercial tenants rights when their leases expire. Rights needed to remain long term in business and rights to equally negotiate fair lease terms that would allow owners to make a reasonable profit. Instead, CM Van Bramer actions has favored the real estate lobby’s interests and he has worked to “keep the status quo”, which is destroying the backbone of Queens local economy.
These are the facts CM Van Bramer does not want the Queens residents to know which shows how hypocritical his statement is, “This (closing) could and should have been avoided.” All of the Queens business closings for the past decade could and should have been avoided, if not for lawmakers abandoning their progressive values and selling out to big real estate for their own political ambitions.
CM Van Bramer was the Majority leader of the City Council from 2014 thru 2017. A leadership role that offered a platform to be a strong voice for Queens small businesses. Adding to this political influence was the fact the majority members of the Small Business Committee were Queens council members (5 of 9 members). Other than the Speaker, no council member was in a better position to influence legislation to save Queens small businesses than CM Van Bramer. What did CM Van Bramer do with all this political power to
prevent the growing small business crisis from coming to main streets in Queens?
For the entire term of CM Van Bramer he did absolutely “nothing” to save a single business, job, or give rights to businesses to survive. Only once under the many Speakers in over 30 years has the Jobs Act not been allowed to have an honest hearing in council. That was under Majority leader Van Bramer’s term with the majority members on the Small Business Committee from Queens. Not only was the Jobs Act denied a hearing but NO hearing was held under Van Bramer’s watch to address the sky high rents and the growing crisis forcing the closing of small businesses citywide, even when the crisis came to Queens. Just one honest public hearing on the Jobs Act would have shown the bill to be only solution to save small businesses. The Queens desperate small business owners, especially the immigrant owners, would have NO Voice at City Hall under Van Bramer’s entire leadership. His recent sponsorship of the worthless Levin Commercial Rent Stabilization bill shows they still have NO voice.
CM Van Bramer is Chairman of the Arts and Cultural committee and not once as Chairman did he hold a hearing specifically on finding legislation to stop the closing of our city’s art and cultural tenants.
Under CM Van Bramer’s watch no effort was ever made to have the Council’s legal department resolve any legal issues with the Jobs Act. For every legislation introduced in the council, the legal department will review and give recommendation to its legality and recommend amendments to resolve any real or potential legal issues. The one exception to this policy is the Jobs Act, whose unsubstantiated legal claims remain for over a decade. CM Van Bramer claims he is a proud sponsor of the Jobs Act and yet never once did he use the power and influence of his office to insist that the legal department due their duty and treat the Jobs Act like other legislation by resolving any legal claims. During his entire tenure as Majority of Council, Van Bramer remained silent and complicit to the rigging by the Speakers’ Office and REBNY to stop the Jobs Act.
In May 2016, 87 Queens Associations signed a petition calling upon Queens lawmakers to stand up for small businesses as they face a crisis to survive caused by exorbitant rent increases. Community leadership signed this petition calling on Queens lawmakers to “ address the crisis quickly by passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which gives rights to owners to protect and preserve Queens’s businesses and jobs”.
What was the Majority leader of the Council’s response to the largest Queens community groups’ plea to do something? CM Van Bramer did not respond and continued his policy in the face of this crisis, to “do nothing.”
CM Van Bramer should be embarrassed by allowing the Small Business Committee to have NO members on it representing Queens small businesses. It is bad enough to allow, without protest, CM Mark Gjonaj, a real estate owner and an anti small business chairman, but to also allow a vital committee that in a time of crisis will determine the future of every Queens small business owner and the future of their employees to have NO representative is a disgrace. Clearly, CM Van Bramer is going along with the rigging by REBNY to stop the Jobs Act.
CM Van Bramer’s statement on the Court Square Library closing, “I believe they dragged their feet and now we’re in a crisis where this community is faced with the loss of a public library.” No lawmaker has dragged his feet more than CM Van Bramer in pressuring the Speaker to make the changes in the Jobs Act and bring it to a vote.
On Oct 22, 2018 at the hearing on the Jobs Act, Speaker Johnson repeated many times the Jobs Act would be changed to not include or protect big Fortune Companies like Goldman Sachs, and then moved to a vote. In the face of a growing small business crisis Speaker Johnson, when questioned on the progress of the Jobs Bill repeatedly said, “it’s being tweaked and fine tuned.” The changes to the Jobs Act that Speaker Johnson pledged to make would take one hour to make. A simple change in the definition of who the bill covers, one paragraph. Yet, 14 months after the hearing and no changes to the Jobs Act have been made!! With Queens businesses closing monthly, why didn’t CM Van Bramer go to Speaker Johnson to encourage him to “ stop dragging his feet” and make the changes so the Queens commercial tenants, like the Court Square Library would have rights to renewal their leases for 10 years, which would stop the closings?
The reason CM Van Bramer did not “push” Speaker Johnson to make the changes to the Jobs Act and move it to a vote and begin saving Queens businesses was because CM Van Bramer was promoting another bill written by the real estate lobby. On December 13th, Councilman Van Bramer held a rally in Sunny Side Queens proclaiming his endorsement of Councilman Levin’s new bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization. A bill touted to save small businesses by having a commercial rent guideline board set rent increases for businesses,
This bill is an insult to every business owner in Queens and an affront to good government. What CM Van Bramer has done was throw Queens businesses under the bus by promoting legislation to kill the Jobs Act. CM Van Bramer was promoting legislation that would substitute for the only real solution to save small businesses, and promote legislation that would keep the “status quo.” destroying small businesses. This new bill was written by REBNY to keep all the rights solely in the hands of the landlords and would give NO rights to business owners. CM Van Bramer along with CM Lander and CM Levin were serving big real estate interests by stopping a Tenants Rights Bill ( Jobs Act) and substituting a Landlords Rights Act (Levin Bill).
How does CM Van Bramer explain why the simple change to the Jobs Act was never made and instead, 14 months later end up in another bill which was written by the real estate lobby? How does CM Van Bramer explain how the council ends up with two bills at the same time dealing with Commercial Lease Renewal Process? In the long 34 year debate on the Jobs Act, never once has two bills been in play, but today CM Van Bramer is promoting one of bills while he is a proud sponsor of the other. The public may be confused by CM Van Bramer’s actions but the small business advocates who wrote the Jobs Act are not. Sung Soo Kim, Godfather of immigrant businesses, “ CM Van Bramer has joined in the rigging to stop the Jobs Act.”
How shameful that CM Van Bramer remains silent on the small business crisis for his entire term and only now speaks loudly in support of a Landlords Bill that was created for only one purpose, to kill the Jobs Act, and with it the hope for survival for countless Queens businesses.