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BIDs exploit immigrant vendors

BIDs exploit immigrant vendors

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Published by artistpres
Shows how BIDs try to use vendors against each other
Shows how BIDs try to use vendors against each other

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Published by: artistpres on Feb 02, 2013
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09/11/2013

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BIDs Exploit immigrant Vendors: Using Intro #846 To Destroy Vending Citywide  by Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. artistpres@gmail.com(SEE: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nycstreetartists/ for a detailedanalysis of each of more than 20 vending Intros now before the CityCouncil) [B.I.D.s are Business Improvement Districts. Sunset Park is aneighborhood in Brooklyn] I just finished reading the Sunset Park BIDs 50 page proposal for anew set of vending laws (also known as Intro #846). If passed into law by the NY City Council, this BID would assume total control over allforms of vending within a 26 block area. But this BIDs agenda is far more ambitious than just that. Their  proposal describes Intro #846 as, "A model that will create the positive momentum for a review of all citywide vending regulations andthe creation of a clear and fair set of regulations for the entirecity." All the BIDs are awaiting the outcome to see if they can applyIntro # 846 to their section of NYC. A PILOT PROGRAM TO DESTROY VENDING RIGHTS CITYWIDE During the 11/14/08 City Council hearing on Intro # 846, Councilmember Comrie, the Consumer Affairs Committee chair, called Intro #846, "a pilot program for the entire city." If this law passes, ALL the BIDs and their City Council puppetsabsolutely plan to use it as a precedent for putting ALL vending intothe hands of the BIDs, including vending by First Amendment protectedartists, book vendors, disabled vets, food vendors and generalmerchandise vendors. Intro #846 gives this BID the right to assign all vending spotsincluding those used by artists and veterans; to severely limit howmany artists and disabled veteran vendors can sell there (it proposes2 per block); to run lotteries to determine which vendors will beallowed work, and to decide where vending will be tolerated (it willonly be allowed on side streets). The proposal further describes it's plan for the vendors to themselves become part of the BID, which would mean that they would have to paythe BID it's assessed fee just as all stores do. In other words, theseimmigrant vendors must finance the very BID that is marginalizing themto side streets.
 
 The BIDs proposal describes vendors in the Sunset Park area as not paying taxes, creating filth, obstructing streets and sidewalks,unfairly competing with businesses, selling shoddy merchandise,cheating customers etc. Only a fool would believe this BID is tryingto "help" immigrant vendors. THE BID AGENDA IS ALWAYS THE SAME: Get rid of the vendors Most NYC BIDs were created for just one purpose: getting rid of legalvending. For example, page 1 of the Sunset Park BIDs proposal states: "For a decade, street vending has been the number one concern of theBID and it's 500 members." Since the BID is only ten years old, thatmeans limiting vending has been their entire focus. * A granddaughter of the founder of the Fifth Avenue Association BID(the first in NYC) discovered a manuscript written by another relativeof that BIDs founder many years ago. It describes the Fifth AvenueAssociation as being created to, "Keep Jewish peddlers off of FifthAvenue." * The Manhattan BIDs initiated the city's street artist arrest policyin 1993. While wrapping themselves in the flag at every public event,these same BIDs have spent decades trying to eliminate a handful of disabled war veteran vendors from Midtown. * In the mid 1990's the 125th Street BID got Mayor Giuliani toeliminate the entire community of African American vendors fromhistoric 125th Street. The Fulton Street BID similarly destroyed avital African American vending community in Brooklyn.One could list every single BID and find that a local effort by their area's leading business and real estate people to destroy vending has been the main focus and in many instances, the only purpose, for eachBID existing. BIDs are anti immigrant, anti homeless and anti vendor to the core.The very nature of BIDs is antithetical to democracy, freedom andcivil liberties. Their essential purpose is to privatize all publicspace on behalf of corporations and real estate interests. Freedom of speech and the right to exercise it in public space is the necessarytarget of everything BIDs do. BIDs are far more of a threat to public safety than even the worst behaving vendors could ever be. Every sidewalk obstructing planter inthese BIDs districts (there are thousands) exists, according to sworn
 
testimony by a top NYPD vending official, for the purpose of stoppinglegal vendors from setting up in legal vending spaces. These same BIDs wrote most of the proposed vending laws now before the NY City Council. Today, many NYC Councilmembers are nothing more thanBID finger-puppets. EXPLOITING IMMIGRANT VENDORS IN ORDER TO PRIVATIZE VENDING For more than 100 years NYC BIDs and the business protection groupsthat were their predecessors have demonized immigrants, minorityvendors, street artists, disabled veterans and book vendors. But thistime, they are taking a novel approach to the issue of vendor extermination. The Sunset Park BID has managed to convince a number of advocates for Latino vendors in their area, that turning their fate over to the BIDwill allow their abused clients to survive. Frankly, I'm surprisedthat politically savvy activists like these would allow themselves to be duped into aiding a plan as reactionary, undemocratic and elitistas Intro # 846. But it's not hard to understand how the BID accomplished it. These Latino vendors have been brutally targeted by the BID, harassed,arrested and had their merchandise confiscated on a regular basis for years. No group of vendors gets harsher treatment. Who is behind this excessive enforcement; is it mean spirited, racist police? No. All the anti vendor pressure in Sunset Park is coming 100%from the Sunset Park BID. Every single summons, arrest or confiscationwas done at the request of this same BID. GOOD COP, BAD COP The BID has played a very ingenious scam on these vendors, trickingthem into thinking it wants to create a vendor market like the onesthey are familiar with in Mexico and other Latin American countries.First they played "bad cop," driving them to desperation by constantharassment. Of course, neither the BID nor the police ever told thevendors exactly who was ordering their arrests. Then they approached the vendors and their advocates with "good cop"offers of "compromise" and the notion that what the BID wanted was just order and to "help the poor vendors" create the kind of vendingmarket they knew from back home.

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