Monday, October 26, 2009

Small Business Error

The coalition that is behind the Small Business Protection Act, legislation designed to protect retailers against exploitation and eviction, has now launched a pre-election campaign that basically counsels, "none of the above;" advising Hispanic New Yorkers to vote for neither Mike Bloomberg nor Bill Thompson. This, in our view, is a big mistake-precisely because if the fact that the grave conditions facing immigrant businesses have not only happened on Bloomberg's watch, but have been exacerbated by his policies.

In addition, the counseling of abstention is actually promoting Bloomberg, since it encourages potential anti-Bloombertg voters to stay home. Albor Ruiz highlights this issue in yesterday's NY Daily News: "Dominican business owners in New York, well-known for their enterprising spirit and their work ethic, will not vote for Mayor Bloomberg in the upcoming mayoral election. Not that they like William Thompson, his Democratic opponent, any better. Actually, they won't vote for either one of them. As far as they are concerned, it doesn't make any difference who becomes the next mayor."

And the group's logic is faulty as well: "Dominican small businesses are in crisis," the poster reads. "Yet neither Bloomberg nor Thompson have done anything to alleviate the high rents, extortions and landlord abuse Dominican small business owners endure." Perhaps, but only Bloomberg has been mayor for the past eight years, and accountability for his non- and mal- feasance is important-even if Thompson is unlikely to truly address this pressing issue.

The group's leader Steve Null, underscores our point: "According to Steve Null, director of the Coalition to Save Hispanic Small Businesses, the merchants are upset that both men will come into their communities seeking support. They make speeches about how important they are to the future of the city but will do nothing to stop greedy landlords from destroying thousands of businesses, says Null."

Now Null is our friend-and we support his goals-but his group's actions are both wrongheaded and self-defeating. The key objective should be to sanction the incumbent for his misdeeds; and thus send a message to the challenger should he, by some divine intervention, actually win. Sometimes, the lesser of two evils is actually the right course, unless moral purity is more important than pragmatic political success.