Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Councilmember John Liu, clearly seeing the handwriting on the wall yesterday, withdrew Intros 699 and 731, bills that would have greatly increased the level of oversight over the city's 2100 mom and pop fruit stand owners. The withdrawal was a clear victory for Mr. Sung Soo Kim and the entire small business community who had worked hard to inform councilmembers about the clear and present danger to neighborhood stores posed by the measures.

It also needs to be emphasized that a great deal of credit must be given to the mayor who not only vetoed 699 but, through his hardworking legislative liaison Patrick Wehlie, helped rally support for sustaining the veto and defeating the proposal. We have been very critical of this administration's record on small business but the collaboration on this issue hopefully bodes well for a greater awareness in the mayor's second term.

Also deserving kudos is Deputy Commissioner Pauline Toole at the Department of Consumer Affairs, someone who we have also been at odds with in the past in relation to the Department's regulatory procedures. Toole's testimony – that if there is no visible problem with stoop stands and pedestrian safety why are we legislating to mitigate it – was right on point and helped speed up the evaporation of support for 699 that was already well under way at the Council.

At the Council itself, members Monseratte and Jackson spearheaded the original opposition to Intro 699, pointing out among other things that the rapidity with which the bill was introduced and subsequently passed didn't allow for a full and thorough review of the proposal's merits. It was left to Councilmember Koppell, a member of the Transportation Committee and another original opponent of the measure, to apply the final coup de grace to the Intro. Speaking at the final hearing Koppell ridiculed the necessity of Intro 731, indicating that if the Council needed to pass legislation to remedy defects in a bill it had just recently passed than there was something irreparably wrong with the original initiative.

Koppell also gave credit to the tenacity of the small business opposition. As he says in today's NY Sun, support for Intro 699 had faded when members:
took another look after the mayor vetoed the bill and the business activists had a chance to get in touch with their councilmen.
As a final thought, we would like to refer to our original posts on Intro 699, comments that were criticized by an anonymous Council staffer who, calling himself George Washington Plunkitt, accused us of "not reading the bill." Well Mr. GWP, it now appears that at least the councilmembers got around to reading it and the results speak for themselves!