V.I.D. (again) approves small business bill; Will Council?

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BY SHARON WOOLUMS |  Finally, a democratic voice has spoken for the Village’s silent majority all too accustomed to spotting dreaded signs in beloved, frequented stores, like: “Lost our lease, thanks to our customers for 30 years of patronage.”

We’ve all wondered, will anyone do anything to save our mom-and-pop stores in the Village from extinction?

Wonder no more! The Village Independent Democrats, led by the political club’s president, Tony Hoffmann, recently unanimously passed a resolution at its general meeting calling upon elected officials to once and for all take action to help save our small merchants.

The V.I.D. resolution states:

“WHEREAS an unacceptable number of our neighborhood, long-established, small businesses are closing mainly due to not being able to negotiate reasonable lease terms;

“WHEREAS forced business closings resulted in an unacceptable number of residents and families losing their jobs;

“WHEREAS closings dramatically changed the character of the Village area;

“WHEREAS businesses who remain in business have been forced to raise their prices to a level which stresses budgets of low-to-mid-income residents;

“WHEREAS small businesses have to lay off employees or cut back working hours to remain in business;

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOVED the V.I.D. urges all elected officials in the City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James to actively support and work for immediate passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (S.B.J.S.A.), now pending in the City Council.”

V.I.D. sent this resolution to elected officials and all progressive clubs throughout the city. It is fitting this “call to action resolution” comes from V.I.D., which 25 years ago, led political clubs in calling for passage of the original version of S.B.J.S.A.

A major advocate for then-Councilwoman Ruth Messinger’s bill, Attorney Sherri Donovan, the chief legal counsel for groups citywide fighting for the bill stated: “As a former district leader out of V.I.D., I am most pleased about the club’s recent passage of the resolution in favor of the S.B.J.S.A. I was first inspired, more than 20 years ago, to work on drafting and advocating for legislation that would assist commercial tenants when I saw firsthand in Greenwich Village the loss of family businesses and artists due to a lack of protection when facing evictions and exorbitant rent increases.”

There are many ironies here. The current resolution that was recently passed was the same resolution passed 25 years earlier by V.I.D. Both bills were bottled up in committee in the City Council for more than three years. Furthermore, even though each bill had the majority of councilmembers sponsoring it, no vote was ever taken by the full Council on either one.

One big difference, though, between today’s political climate and 25 years ago was the support and political will of elected officials. Back then, the major fighters for the bill, standing up courageously to the political machine and special interests, were City Councilmembers Carol Greitzer, Ruth Messinger and Miriam Friedlander.

Now, although the words “progressive” and “liberal” are thrown around during an election, politicians living up to the hype is another story.

V.I.D.’s democratic act in passing this resolution should remind our elected officials of the true meaning of “Progressive Democrat.”


Woolums is a member, Village Independent Democrats

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