Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prisoners of Second Avenue

If you need a graphic depiction of the disdain that the Bloombergistas have for small business, no better illustration can be found in the editorial that Heather McDonald wrote for the NY Post about the plight of the 2nd Avenue retailers: “Construction of the Second Avenue Subway line is decimating shops on the Upper East Side -- but there's no sign that the MTA, the city or the state is willing to compensate the people who are being put out of business.”

Why the hell not? What’s the matter, are only the big guys important for Mike the Mogul? Apparently so: “Four years ago, Tae Shin put his life savings into opening a combined sandwich shop (ironically, a Subway) and nail salon at Second Avenue and E. 93rd Street. Within a year, the street outside his spiffy new establishment had become ground zero for the biggest city infrastructure endeavor in 50 years. The project threatens to end his career as an entrepreneur. As of March, the chaos outside his store had snuffed out 20 percent of the neighboring businesses and cost more than 150 people their jobs. "This feels like North Korea," says Shin, who came from South Korea 24 years ago. "I didn't know that in America, the government could kill you."

All of a sudden, the Bloomberg folks are getting all, “no special deals,” on us: “So far, no level of government has accepted responsibility for helping out these victims of a government-made catastrophe. The shop owners had suggested that they sell discounted Metrocards as a way to recapture customers. Not a chance, said the MTA. A sales-tax moratorium? Don't even think about it, various officials responded. In 2008, Gov. Paterson vetoed Assemblyman Jonathan Bing's bill to provide state matching grants for advertising assistance and business counseling. And Mayor Bloomberg has used his clout to block Assemblyman Micah Kellner's bill to give landlords in the construction area a property-tax abatement, which they'd be required to be pass on to their commercial tenants.”

As a result, the little folks are all in desperate straights: “Foot traffic, the lifeblood of New York retailers, is down 50 percent since construction began, estimates Joe Pecora, owner of Delizia Pizza at E. 92nd St. and head of the Second Avenue Business Alliance. Electricity, water and phone service are periodically cut off, sometimes without warning.”

Here we have a perfect example of the, “mind over matter,” attitude of the Bloombergistas when it comes to small business-they don’t mind, and the businesses don’t matter-from the Bronx Terminal Market, to the Kingsbridge Armory, to Willets Point, and finally to Flushing Commons; the disdain for small business is palpable on the mayor’s side of city hall.

McDonald captures this with some clarity: “The entrepreneurs' main problem is that they're not big, irresponsible or dependent enough to stake a claim on government attention. In 2003, the city and state gave Pfizer a $47 million package of tax abatements, caving in to the usual extortion about moving jobs out of the city. And New York spends billions each year on social services that no other city in America even attempts to provide. Officials argue that assisting businesses in the subway zone will set a dangerous precedent for future construction projects. But the length of this project and the intensity of the assault on the area set it far apart from ordinary road or building work. And if any similar conditions arise in the future, a precedent to help entrepreneurs survive a government taking of their livelihood is perfectly appropriate.”

But not in the rarefied circles that the class biased Mike the Mayor travels in-all that is missing is a Marie Antoinette-like statement to complete the haughty Bloomberg picture of disdain.