Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NYC: Closed for Business

As our friend Steve Null on the Newgeography blog points out, the Bloomberg legacy for small business is basically an epitaph: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg owes 200,000 small business owners an apology. When Michael Bloomberg was first elected Mayor of New York City in 2001, the city’s small business owners were hopeful and confident that finally a successful businessman would be creating the city’s economic policy."

But what has happened since is a litany of betrayal: "The small business community anticipated that Bloomberg’s first change would be to appoint a small business owner as Commissioner of Small Businesses. The best choice would be a Hispanic business person with no ties to the real estate industry. This would be a major change in policy because previous policy makers were closely tied to the real estate industry, and none had ever owned a small business. A Hispanic Commissioner would be justified because Hispanics owned between 42 and 45% of all the city’s small businesses."

What did they get instead? Rob Walsh: "To the disappointment of the city’s desperate small business owners, Bloomberg appointed Robert Walsh Commissioner of Small Businesses. Walsh had never owned or operated a small business. He was in North Carolina at the time of his selection, managing the Charlotte Center City Partners, a property owners/banks organization promoting a business district in that city. His background included working for the property owners as director of a Business Improvement District, the Union Square Partnership, in New York City. Walsh’s selection would create the worst anti-small business environment of any city in the nation."

Walsh, for his part, hasn't disappointed his critics; and as Bloomberg's lackey has presided over a neighborhood retail calamity: "During the last full four years under Bloomberg, 2005-2008, 27,809 warrants were issued to evict, with about 83,000 small businesses forced to close. Since the successful businessman Bloomberg took office, around 152,964 small businesses have been forced to go out of business."

But the mayor has great commercials, no? And the Small Business Services agency is a puffery spouting waste of tax payer dollars: "The circus is not the greatest show on earth; Walsh’s Small Business Services department is. For the past seven years, on paper, the department has had numerous programs to assist small businesses. If you did not see for yourself the long established neighborhood small businesses that have been forced to close every month, and the empty stores on every block in every neighborhood, you might believe that the SBS was actually helpful. The testimony by Walsh and Bloomberg on the state of the city’s small businesses before the city council is a long list of SBS programs and their successes."

Success? Like that of the apocryphal operation where the patient dies: "Bloomberg did not follow the leadership of President Obama, who called for quick actions to save small businesses. Walsh expanded his “dog and pony show” with a citywide PR campaign which claimed that the city’s small business problems resulted from the recent decline in the economy, and by offering a series of government programs: business conferences, business forums, loan programs, initiatives, all intended to stimulate start-ups and expansions. But at a recent city council hearing, Councilman Robert Jackson asked “Does the SBS have a single program to save or keep a single small business from going out of business in New York City?” Walsh reluctantly had to answer “no”.

Which is precisely why the city and the state have the worst business climate in the country: "New York ranks dead last in the country for its economic outlook, falling from the 49th spot last year, according to a new report by a national group representing state legislators...The report bases New York’s low ranking in part on high taxes, low wages and the quality of the state’s legal system."

But Bloomberg is essential for the city's economic recovery-and we need to over turn referendums in order to be able to once again benefit from his tough leadership in hard times?
The record doesn't demonstrate this; and his re-election campaign is a complete fraud.