Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SBJSA Hearing

Yesterday was the SBJSA hearing before the City Council at City Hall. Thank you to everyone who showed up for the rally and the hearing itself, and thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council for giving this the time and space it deserves.

At noon, a large crowd of about 100 SBJSA supporters gathered on the steps of City Hall for a rally and press conference. David Eisenbach, who is running for Public Advocate, led the rally at which several people spoke on behalf of the bill.

At the same time, supporters of REBNY, the powerful real estate lobby that opposes the bill, streamed in. At the gates they received blue baseball caps printed with a white slogan making the claim that the SBJSA is commercial rent control. (It is not.) The optics on this had an unsettling effect. Later in the day, SBJSA supporter James Klein said during his testimony, "If New Yorkers have learned anything over the last two years, we have learned that when a mob shows up in colored hats, New Yorkers lose."

As DJ Cashmere reported in his thorough account of the day at Bedford & Bowery, "Council member Mark Gjonaj, chair of the Committee on Small Business, asked whether the hats had been purchased from a local small business. Nope, came the reply from REBNY. They were purchased online."

The hearing, hosted by Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Mark Gjonaj, chair of the Council's small business committee, lasted until 9:00 at night, with a tremendous 200 people signed up to speak. For the first two hours, Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop represented Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, which does not support the bill.

Johnson repeatedly spoke passionately about the loss of the city's mom and pops--and he talked about it today on the Brian Lehrer show.

Next came panels both for and against the bill, including speakers Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, David Eisenbach, and Ruth Messinger, the former Councilmember who first introduced the original SBJSA in 1986.

I testified on a panel of pro-SBJSA activists, including Harry Bubbins of GVHSP, Kirsten Theodos of TakeBackNYC, and Justin Levenson, who created Vacant New York to track high-rent blight.

It was a long day -- you can watch the whole 8 hours here -- the first big step in what will be a complicated and important process.

If you support this bill and want to see it come to a vote, write to the City Council. Here is a quick and easy guide to doing that.

And the fight to save small businesses in New York goes on.

For more coverage on the hearing:
Commercial Observer
Real Deal


JQ LLC said...

Why didn't Gregg Bishop, purported to serve small businesses according to his job title, just wear one of those cheap stupid blue hats? Because all he did was repeat REBNY's talking points like a good trained seal.

Beautiful New York Tours said...

The redheaded lady in the opening photo (with the pink sign) is my old friend Cynthia Crane, a brilliant cabaret performer who has been a splendid voice for conservation of our city's treasures for many years. Go, Cynthia!