U-turn on Silver is bad for tenants: Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot

Following a stunning decision last Thursday by a federal judge to overturn the conviction for corruption against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Brad Hoylman is predicting more of the same bad behavior in Albany.

“I am concerned that the overturning of the Silver verdict might give a green light for some public officials to engage in legal graft,” said Hoylman, who’s been pushing for ethics reforms for years. Those reforms include the closure of the so-called LLC Loophole, limiting outside income for legislators, prohibiting convicted legislators from using campaign cash on their own defense and taking away convicted legislators’ pensions.

Additionally, Hoylman said he believes the court’s decision will hurt tenants in New York City.

“The Silver case props up the status quo and the status quo if left alone will result in the end of rent stabilization as we know it,” said Hoylman.

Hoylman added, “It’s up to the legislature to provide clarification (on what constitutes corruption). It’s up to the state of New York to pass laws that prevent that from happening, but given what we’ve seen, I don’t think the current Senate leadership has any desire to address this disaster, especially since their former leader may get off using the same argument that Sheldon Silver’s attorneys did.”

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Editorial: Small businesses need pols’ help and ours

City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal have been doggedly pushing a bill that if passed would give some relief to many of the Manhattan retailers who are forced to pay Commercial Rent Tax. The tax, they’ve argued, is discriminatory as it punishes retailers and restaurants for the crime of doing business below 96th Street and above Chambers. We have to say, we agree it’s obviously unfair, and we hope the legislation doesn’t face any obstacles in getting signed.

However, as any Manhattan storefronter can attest to, taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. Amazon is an ever-present competitor and the rent is too damn high with commercial tenants not having much in the way of bargaining power when it’s lease renewal time.

Rosenthal, following the press conference that was held for the CRT bill, said the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which is aimed at giving business owners an automatic ten-year lease renewal, is being looked at by the council’s counsel. The legislation has been languishing for decades though recently it has gained steam as neighbors have grown weary of seeing their local small businesses get pushed out by chains.

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Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

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Two bills aim to save city’s mom-and-pops

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer introduces her bill at a press conference in March.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer introduces her bill at a press conference in March.

By Sabina Mollot

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has promised to make 2016 the year of the mom-and-pop shop.

Nine months after proposing new legislation she believes will throw a lifeline to small businesses forced out of their premises by steep rent increases, Brewer said she now considers it priority.

“It’s definitely imminent. Robert Cornegy, the chair of the small businesses committee, has been trying to carve out the best possible bill,” said the borough president, who has been holding roundtables with proprietors of small businesses over the past several months.

The legislation has been likened to a bill that’s collected dust at City Hall for about 30 years called the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act (SBJSA).

Brewer has faced criticism for not supporting the SBJSA but she insists it is a folly that would never be passed by the City Council. Critics, including the Real Estate Board of New York, have blasted SBJSA as being unconstitutional.

REBNY President John Banks, said, “For nearly four centuries, the one constant about New York City has been that it is always changing. The city’s dynamism, in part, is driven by its ever-changing population, building stock and mix of businesses. Understandably, some don’t like change. However, such feelings don’t justify unconstitutional legislation like the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.”

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