Category Archives: Politics

Citywide Business Coalition Unites Against Paid Sick Time Bill

Irene LoRe, executive director of the 5th Avenue BID, and Carl Hum, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce after the City Hall press conference.

Small business owners from across the five boroughs of New York City, chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations, trade associations and more gathered on the steps of City Hall to speak out against the New York City Council’s proposed Paid Sick Time bill (Intro No 1059). The group, representing an unprecedented and diverse coalition, says the bill will hurt the city’s economy and local businesses.

“While Intro No 1059 is well-intentioned, its impact, both short and long term, will be damaging to the business community to the tune of about two to three billion dollars in new costs. Our business and non-profit communities are trying to weather current economic challenges, maintain current levels and look toward future growth through job creation, yet they are being asked to shoulder this latest burden,” said Jack Freidman, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “How can the City’s business community compete when they are at such a disadvantage?” he added.

“Our printing company has 32 full-time employees. We currently offer six paid sick days and forcing us to offer nine paid sick days will cost our business another $30,000 per year and that will be a burden on our company which is challenged by this current economy. I will have to cut down on their vacation time to cover these costs,” states KY Chow, GM Printing in Long Island City. In addition, other businesses have indicated that they will scale back on other benefits as well as reconsider new hires and expansion plans. Continue reading

The Evolution of Economic Development in the Outer Boroughs

One day in the mid-1980s while I was walking down 42nd Street near 5th Avenue I saw that someone had painted “New York City is a Marxist, Leninist Hell” on a piece of plywood outside a construction site.

I laughed out loud. I had recently arrived here, one of the thousands of young professionals elbowing their way into New York City every year like waves of soldiers storming the Normandy beaches.

What I found in my adopted city was a healthy dose of free market love on the corporate level, but a peculiar bias against free markets among all social classes on the local level.

For example, a highly compensated executive I knew lived with his professional wife in a rent stabilized penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side around 72nd Street that featured two bedrooms, two baths, and a wraparound deck with breathtaking views of Manhattan; all for a whopping $800! With the money he saved on rent, he invested in a country house in Connecticut where he retreated on weekends and holidays.

After growing up in a state where land and private property are revered, and only people with low incomes qualify for subsidized housing, I found the City’s rent control laws mystifying and extremely unfair, particularly to newcomers and young people. 

With a salary of less than $30,000, my housing options were limited so I headed to the outer boroughs. For around $850, which included rent and electric heat, I landed a tiny apartment in the attic of a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Continue reading

Anti-Business Party Wins City Elections

As if the commercial real estate industry in New York City doesn’t have enough to worry about, the Working Families Party, which launched a major campaign last spring in Albany to push for stronger rent laws, claimed major victories in the September 15 Democratic primary and September 29 runoff.

 A March 10, 2009, press release on the WFP Web site said repealing vacancy decontrol was a top priority. The measure died last spring, but Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, promised on the night of the runoff to revive the issue. 

John Liu, who was supported by the WFP, won the Democratic runoff for New York City Comptroller with a little more than 26,000 votes. Around 228,000 New Yorkers voted in the runoff, with about 127,000 voting for Liu and 101,000 voting for David Yassky.

The WFP Web site boasted that Liu and Bill DeBlasio, the winner of the runoff for Public Advocate, were victorious because of the WFP’s coalition of neighborhood leaders, union members, tenant activists, advocates for the homeless, and just good old-fashioned civic-minded citizens.

Less than 8 percent of New York City’s voters voted in the runoff and the winning candidates were supported by a coalition that is anti-business, hostile to the real estate industry, and an advocate for tax increases. This at a time when the city is suffering from more than 10 percent unemployment and New Yorkers are desperate to find jobs. The  unions making up the core of the WFP haven’t suffered massive job losses experienced by those working in small businesses, retail, media, advertising, finance, real estate, nonprofits and other sectors.

As part of its anti-business agenda, the WFP is now advocating that the City Council force small businesses to provide paid sick time. The Five-Borough Chamber Alliance affirms its opposition to Intro. No. 1059, Provision of Paid Sick Time Earned by Employees, that will mandate businesses – regardless of size – to provide paid sick time.  Businesses with 10 or less employees will be required to provide five days of sick time to all employees and businesses with 10 or more employees will be required to provide nine days sick time for all employees.  Businesses found in violation will be subject to $1,000 fine for each infraction.

Ed Koch and David Yassky wrote about the WFP threat in the New York Daily News on October 7, 2009.  “..as ‘liberals with sanity’ we see danger when narrow agendas overwhelm the public good. That happened this spring when the WFP masterminded a whopping 9% increase in state spending in a year when the state’s economy is actually contracting. The spending was financed by a steep tax hike and in part by more than $6 billion in one-time-only federal stimulus money–which will leave a gaping budget hole for next year.

“Or a few years ago,” the article continued, “when the WFP pressured a majority of the City Council members to sign on to a proposal for a ‘stock transfer tax’ in New York City. Sticking it to Wall Street may sound good to a lot of people–all the more so now–but a moment’s thought should tell you that the idea would be ruinous for New York.”

“The problem is the WFP is driven not simply by ideology, but also by the very specific interests of its component parts–namely, the city’s largest labor unions. These organizations have a very direct financial stake in the state and city budgets, an interest that is often at odds with public interest.”

See the full article here:

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/10/07/2009-10-07_the_working_families_threat.html