Media Advisory Contact: Steven Barrison
June 8, 2021
Immigrant Small Business Advocates Angered by AOC Endorsements.
AOC Endorsements A Grave Insult to Desperate Immigrant
Family Owned Businesses and
To All True Progressives.
Dateline NYC June 8, 2021: The city’s last true immigrant small business advocate, Sung Soo Kim*, is deeply disheartened by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsement of Maya Wiley for Mayor and Councilman Brad Lander for Comptroller. He fears both are a potential danger to the future of immigrant families.
Kim fears either’s election would mean the end of any hope to save our city’s immigrant family owned businesses. Contrary to NYC lawmakers using the purposely misleading term of “minority small businesses,” usually followed with “women owned businesses,” to reference small businesses, while, the majority owners of NYC small businesses are in fact multi generational immigrant family owned (64-68%).
For accuracy, black owned businesses are less than 3% in NYC with the majority being immigrant owners from the Caribbean islands. The majority of women owners are from immigrant families. Why the deception?
The reason is a massive dishonest campaign to cover-up the injustices, abuses and true dire state of our immigrant owned and run businesses produced by a handful of unethical ambitious lawmakers. Corrupt lawmakers who have conspired and colluded with the real estate lobby to rig the system for over a decade to deny economic justice to our immigrant owners, which has made their now extreme crisis worse. These lobby crony lawmakers are our Democratic leadership at City Hall. Their betrayal of our immigrant families has resulted in the most anti immigrant business environment in the entire Nation, one that has been destroying immigrant’s American Dream in record numbers.
Why is this relevant to AOC’s endorsements? Because both her endorsements are directly connected to people who played a major role is denying economic justice, rights and a real lifeline of survival for our immigrant family owners. AOC with her social progressive platform can profess a profound ignorance of basic economics. But while she was working in a small business in NYC during this hyper real estate speculation period, she cannot claim willful ignorance of the dire crisis all businesses faced when their leases expire and the owners having no rights.
She must have walked by many empty stores on her main street where once thriving businesses were. AOC could likely name a dozen businesses she patronized that were forced to close due only to having no rights while landlords demanding insane rent increases or unfair lease terms, and that was BEFORE COVID. Why didn’t AOC ever wonder who at City Hall was responsible for allowing this unjust and insane economic policy to happen and then deny a real lifeline to the victims?
Nevertheless, here she is, AOC is endorsing one (Brad Lander) who played a key role in throwing immigrant owners under the bus for his own political ambitions. She is endorsing another (Maya Wiley) whose policy director (Lena Alridi) also played a key role in stopping a vote on the only real lifeline to save immigrant businesses and went further to collaborate with Lander to then substitute a landlord’s bill to kill the Jobs Survival Act and end any hope to save our immigrant businesses and jobs.
Does AOC want her followers to believe she carefully screened her endorsement’s backgrounds to assure they were true progressives who would fight for progressive legislation needed to change a corrupt government and save the victims of unchecked greed? The truth is her endorsements of Brad Lander and Maya Wiley, if helped get elected, would continue the policies of the big New York real estate lobby that were destroying the “backbone of our economy, our immigrant family businesses and jobs” for a long time.
Her endorsement of Brad Lander for Comptroller is an
insult to every informed immigrant family, good government, and
to true progressive values. CM Brad Lander
gives new meaning to the word “hypocrite”. I have direct eye witness and
a thorough investigation of Lander’s shameful record of disrespecting,
discriminating against and betraying our city’s hard working immigrant
families. The despicable betrayal of democracy and of our immigrant
community is far too long to go into detail now, but
these links* show the truth of this progressive fraud
and the damage to our economy as well as the suffering to many immigrant
families he has caused by his abandoning progressive values and his abuse of
his office. https://www.
A disgraceful record of lack of integrity and betrayal.
The key to unlocking this fraud’s true blind ambition lies with an independent study of immigrant owned businesses* and his testimony at a hearing on finding a real solution to our small business crisis.
In April 2009, the largest study of Hispanic businesses showed conclusively a crisis existed for businesses. A crisis caused by years of unchecked real estate speculation on Main Streets forcing the rents to insane levels. A crisis immigrant owners could never hope to survive without government intervention to give them rights when their leases expired.
Upon the release of the study’s findings, then Chairman of the Small Business Committee David Yassky in public proclaimed, “that is what is at stake if we lose our small businesses we lose the jobs … ….. the one thing we cannot do in the face of this Crisis is nothing”.*
Brad Lander read this study and agreed with all the progressives “you cannot do nothing in the face of a crisis.” Brad Lander would testify at the hearing on what he thought the government should do. June 29, 2009 a hearing was held to find a solution to our city’s small business crisis.
I testified at this hearing and listened carefully to all the testimony given. I especially liked what I heard from Brad Lander who also had an opinion on what government should do to stop the closings of businesses. As well as predicting what would happen to small businesses if they did nothing.
At the June 29, 2009 hearing he testified supporting the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Lander, “I believe that one (solution Jobs Survival Act) being proposed here today of a fair lease renewal process comes out high up at the top (to preserve small businesses) and I strongly support it. As you know, the challenges facing small business have grown from a problem to a real crisis in the city. But you're still seeing a stunning number of places where when a lease renewal comes up, what people are being forced to do is absurd. If we don’t do something about it soon we're going to lose them more and more and more. The City's Department of Small Business Services, as we've heard, have many fine programs, but the evidence is before our eyes, they just aren't working to save mom and pop businesses in our neighborhoods. So something new and serious is needed. I just think the evidence is there before us if we let the free market reign, we know without any additional regulation what it's going to continue to give us. In two years, three years, five years, we'll be back here with fewer of the small businesses that make our neighborhood great, with fewer of the jobs that we have here today. So let's put in place this one very reasonable additional regulation.”
I waited and shook Brad Lander’s hand after his testimony. Not only because of his support for our bill but because of what he said about making a priority to stopping the illegal extortion of immigrant owners. Earlier in the testimony, then CM John Liu called out the SBS for ignoring the study’s findings that 31% of immigrant owners had been demanded to pay cash in order to remain in business, and SBS did not even care. Brad Lander was aware of this shameful act against helpless immigrant owners and gave his objections.
Brad Lander made the strongest statement on the illegal extortion of immigrant owners by calling for an investigation of the extortion:
BRAD LANDER: “I might just add one thing that was very clear from the testimony and the conversation earlier is the need for some enhanced investigation. I don’t know who it is here that needs to step in and investigate, whether it's the IRS, whether it's the state attorney general, whether it's a city investigative agency. There are clearly things going on ….the survey that was done is obviously one great step, but having a government agency in is critical.”
Brad Lander’s reply to my thanking him on behalf of immigrant owners being extorted was, “it is the right thing to do, landlords robbing these owners must be investigated and stopped.”
After the hearing if AOC were to have endorsed Brad Lander then as a true progressive, I would be the first in line to agree with her. But not today, not after Lander used his office and influence to keep the status quo for landlords and stop any law giving rights to immigrant owners when their leases expired. Rights needed to have a fighting chance to negotiate fair leases and make a reasonable profit for their hard work. Rights needed to stop the illegal extortion and short leases of sometimes month to month or one year.
When Lander left that hearing, that was his last words or acts to help small businesses in a true meaningful way. He would never again even mention addressing the illegal extortion of immigrant business owners!! His testimony was disingenuous like every time a media event happens to highlight a closed business and he appears crying crocodile tears and gives a “let’s save our businesses speech.” While the majority of time as the Council’s deputy in charge of policy, he would collude with the fat cats, who would later donate to his campaign, to keep the status quo and never even attempt to find a true solution to save a single business or job. The SOLUTION he so eloquently testified to in 2009, supporting and ending the crisis, he will never mention! Despicable! Lander was always pledging to do something, but never meaning it. Lander a true phony, a pretend progressive in campaigning only.
How progressive is a lawmaker who knows immigrant owners are targeted for extortion of their life’s savings and that is acceptable. Why is it acceptable to AOC to support a candidate who knowingly does nothing to stop this shameful act against immigrant owners? Worse, who willingly joins in the rigging at City Hall to stop any vote on the only real solution to save the immigrant businesses and stop the extortion and other landlord abuses against immigrant owners? In no major city in the world would the routine extortion of cash from owners in order to remain in business be tolerated. Yet, under Lander’s leadership as Council’s deputy in charge of policy, this deplorable act is allowed to occur unabated.
Once Brad Lander gained a leadership role in the Council he never once called for a vote on the Jobs Survival Act or any law giving actual rights to immigrant family businesses. Former Chair Yassky’s statement, “the one thing we cannot do in the face of this Crisis is nothing”, is exactly the opposite of what Brad Lander did under his leadership, nothing to save even one business or job. By Lander maintaining the real estate lobbies’ policy of protecting the landlord’s wealth, our small business crisis grew out of control to every main street in NYC. Under his watch as policy director a severe crisis became worse and yet, not once did he call for an honest hearing to find a solution to stop the closings. Brad Lander played a major role in rigging the system to protect big real estate and thus is responsible for helping to create our city’s empty store blight.
Under Lander’s watch NYC Courts issued warrens to evict on average 470 businesses each month for 10 years. An estimated 1,300 businesses closed each month in NYC creating the empty store blight. Brad Lander did nothing but collude to cover up this anti small business environment and crisis destroying our small businesses.
As the council’s policy man, Lander could not feel good about the city’s empty stores on every block during an economic boom. Exactly what he predicted in his very own testimony in 2009 was happening under his watch! Yet, he did nothing! Can you be anymore two faced than that?
Yet, AOC thinks it’s a good idea to put Brad Lander, who is policy chief and oversees the largest small business destruction in America, in charge of the City’s pension funds and has investigative powers. Really! Every city in America has small businesses that were prospering under a ten year economic growth. While in NYC only the landlords were prospering while long established small businesses were closing in record numbers. Brad Lander played a key role to deny them rights and a real lifeline to survive. Why would AOC think this lawmaker with a shameful failed record is worth endorsing? Did AOC or her staff or advisors bother to investigate truth, facts, of the real Bogus Brad?
Lander continues rigging for lobby!
Because of the empty store blight, a hearing was finally given to the Jobs Survival Act in Oct 2018. Would Lander step up to testify like he did at the last hearing and call for support of the progressive legislation the Jobs Survival Act? No, instead Lander would remain silent to the greatest anti immigrant and sham hearing ever held at City Hall. The entire hearing was turned over to the real estate lobby to orchestrate a total charade to deny economic justice to desperate immigrant owners. This sham hearing had only one purpose, to stop a vote on the only real lifeline to save our small businesses. This disgraceful hearing could never have taken place without the knowledge and full support of the Council’s deputy policy chief, Brad Lander and another impostor Speaker Johnson.
Lander then to continue the scheme like a good charlatan he promotes a substitute bill to kill Jobs Survival Act and all hope for immigrant owners to survive!
The final betrayal of our immigrant family owners by Brad Lander came in late 2019. At the 2018 hearing, Speaker Johnson pledged to amend the Jobs Survival Act to exclude any protections to Fortune 500 type big businesses, and then move it to a vote. This should have required changing the language of one paragraph concerning the scope of the bill. With the Jobs Survival Act having 29 sponsors and a growing crisis citywide this simple task, which was not opposed, should have taken a few hours at most, and a quick easy passage at the next Council session.
Speaker Johnson had no intentions of keeping his word and amending the Jobs Survival Act. The real estate lobby’s strategy was to stall a vote on the bill, and let it expire Dec 31, 2021.
The key player for this despicable anti democracy agenda was CM Brad Lander. If there was any doubts about whom Brad Lander really served, that was put to rest with his appalling rigging in plain sight.
No effort was made to move Speaker Johnson along to amend the Jobs Survival Act. The reason was simple, the real estate lobby had a team working in secret behind closed doors. There was no rational reason to not support the Jobs Survival Act and give small business owners the rights needed to survive. Therefore, the lobby must create a substitute bill and have City Hall leadership lie and tout it as a viable bill to save small businesses. Brad Lander was not a sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act but would eagerly promote a new bill influenced by the real estate lobby to substitute for the Jobs Survival Act. His new bill, was a violation of the Councils own rules of never having similar bills with the same intent.
Councilman Brad Lander became the first NYC lawmaker in 30 years to issue a petition to Save Small Businesses, and not mean it. CM Lander in championing a new bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization, claiming it will save small businesses by putting a cap on commercial rent. It is a knowingly false claim and he knew his bill would not save a single business or even one job. Why would you secretly promote a real estate created bill that you know is grossly inferior to the Jobs Survival Act? What happened to his 2009 testimony on the Jobs Survival Act, “ at the top (to preserve small businesses) and I strongly support it.?”
Kim, “ In the long 30 year battle over our bill, never once has two bills been in play at the same time. Now policy chief Lander thinks it is a good idea to introduce another bill, one that keeps the status quo for landlords. How does a new bill appear after 14 months from a hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, without collusion with the real estate lobby? Yet 14 months after the hearing, with the Speaker repeatedly claiming to be “tweaking and fine tuning” the Jobs Survival Act, the bill he pledged to “move to a vote”, no changes were made.
Instead, those same proposed changes (eliminate big business coverage) now appear in a new bill, which gives the tenants no rights whatsoever! This is called Rigging the system at City Hall. With a growing small business crisis now out of control citywide, CM Lander should be ashamed of using his office to create a policy that in reality is the real estate lobby’s policy to stop any law from giving any rights to small business owners when their leases expire. CM Lander’s actions are despicable and do not fool any small business owner with his lobby created bill that was created with only one goal, to stop a vote on the only real solution: Jobs Survival Act. No honest progressive should trust him. But one does, AOC.
Two key players, bad actors, who rigged the system against immigrant families.
I went into great detail exposing this fake progressive Brad Lander because he did not discriminate against and betray our immigrant small business owners by himself. The real estate lobby put together an "A Team" of unethical cronies and opportunist to protect their profits. A major player responsible for colluding with the real estate lobby to deny economic justice to immigrant owners and who joined with Lander in promoting this fake substitute bill was Lena Afridi, policy director for Maya Wiley. AOC manages to endorse candidates with a proven record of discrimination against immigrant family owners. This true display of ignorance or plain outright hypocrisy is on its own shameful. This is too critical at this point in time for NYC small businesses not to call out.
I will not go into the fine details showing which side Ms. Afridi is on. Read these links to give facts which show why I am alarmed Ms. Afridi could gain a position to influence small business economic policy. It would be the end of any hope for immigrant businesses to save their American Dream.
My warning to all New York voters, do not
trust AOC's endorsement of
Shame of Maya Wiley for not doing her homework and having an anti immigrant policy director formulate her small business policy.
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. At its peak, Kim had 17,000 immigrant business owners he served under 8 Asian business associations. He never took a salary from the government as Chairman of the 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 for his members in court. He personally consulted in the drafting of the original version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and every version introduced by eight prime sponsors. He organized 11 public hearings over 3 decades on the Jobs Survival Act.