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DECEPTION ALERT: The Street Vendor Project The available evidence suggests that the Street Vendor Project

(SVP) is a corporate sponsored, government-funded, front group for the NY City Council, the BIDs [Business Improvement Districts] and the NY Times (founder of the Times Square BID), which promote it at every opportunity. It is not a legitimate vendor advocacy group. Judge these 9 exhibits for yourself. Exhibit #1. The SVP is funded by the NY City Council The main funding for the Urban Justice Center, the umbrella group which sponsors the Street Vendor Project (SVP), is the NY City Council, as stated in the Urban Justice Centers 2008 Annual Report. SEE: According to their annual report, the City Council donated more than $300,000 to them in 2008. The exact figure is not revealed. Previous annual reports note that other top contributors have been the US Department of Justice as well as many of the wealthiest banks and law firms in NYC. These corporations, law firms and Wall Street investment funds are closely associated with the real estate industry, the traditional enemy of NYC vendors. They are also the real powers behind, and in many instances the founders of, each BID (Business Improvement District). Exhibit #2 The NY City Council and the BIDs that promote the SVP have persecuted street artists and vendors for decades. They write all the laws that the NYPD enforces against street artists, vets, food vendors, general merchandise vendors and illegal vendors. As of March 2009 there were more than 23 newly proposed anti street artist and anti vending laws pending before the NY City Council, virtually all of them written by the BIDs. The SVP has publicly supported, and in some cases helped write, proposed vending bills sponsored by some of the most anti vendor City Councilmembers, bills which if passed would have destroyed vending. It is therefore legitimate to question why the City Council is funding

and promoting a so-called vendor advocacy group at the same time they are actively trying to destroy vending. Exhibit #3 It is a standard political tool of corporations and business groups to fund their own opposition as a means of exerting control. A good idea of why the BIDs and the anti vendor NY City Council would select, fund and promote one vendor activist group while completely ignoring all other vendor advocacy groups in the city can be found by reading this book: "Managing Activism: A Guide to Dealing with Activists and Pressure Groups" An excellent review of it is at this address: The book is a guide written for corporations by a public relations expert on how to defeat, compromise and coopt activist groups. Dictionary definition of Coopt: "To neutralize or win over through assimilation into an established group or culture: co-opt rebels by giving them positions of authority." Making an activist group dependant on your funding is the most basic technique. Oil companies, as just one example, routinely fund, and in some instances, run, anti pollution environmental groups as a way of controlling dissent. Exhibit #4 Most NY City Councilmembers are controlled by their local BID Each BID has at least one City Council member on it's board of directors. In some instances the Councilmember founded the BID they sit on the board of. Political contributions from the various BID member businesses are the single largest source of funding for all of the City Council campaigns. Members of the legislative staffs of many City Councilmembers work as lobbyists for the BIDs after leaving public service. If you read the annual reports of the BIDs you will find that eliminating vendors is their #1 priority and in most BIDs it was the original purpose for which they were created. That's why every City Councilmember is preoccupied with regulating and eliminating NYC vendors. It is not a coincidence that these same anti vendor councilmembers, are

supporters of the SVP. In other words, the evidence indicates that the Street Vendor Project (SVP) functions as a front group for the NY City Council and the BIDs, both of which promote it at every opportunity. This promotional activity includes numerous puff pieces on the SVP that appear regularly in the most anti vendor, anti street artist mainstream media newspapers and on the anti vendor TV stations. By falsely claiming to be the advocates for all NYC vendors, which they do at every public hearing on vending and throughout their literature, the SVP helps the City Council and the BIDs weaken vending advocacy by marginalizing the voices and viewpoints of legitimate NYC vending organizations. In some instances the SVP has actually written the proposed anti vending legislation being considered by the City Council. The City Council routinely cites the SVP as an example of, "vendors supporting our legislation." BIDs have become the real, unelected government of NYC. The Parks Department and even the NYPD have become totally subservient to the BIDs. Many former high ranking NYPD officials go to work for the BIDs after they retire. BIDs have funded and built entire NYPD precincts, pay for NYPD uniforms and patrol cars and in some instances station their private BID police in the local NYPD stationhouse. This explains why most vending enforcement is initiated by the BIDs. Downtown Alliance BID pays for NYPD station. SEE: Even the NY Criminal Court system has been severely compromised by the BIDs. BIDs built and operate their own Midtown criminal court where many vendor summonses are adjudicated. SEE: Media outlets like the NY Times (founder of the virulently anti-vendor Times Square BID) feature glowing reports on the SVP on a regular basis while refusing to report one word on legitimate vendor advocacy groups. Not surprisingly, the NY Times is a financial contributor to the umbrella group that funds the SVP. It's BID (The Times Sq BID)

co-founded the Midtown Criminal Court, a privatized criminal court where thousands of vendors summonses and arrests are heard. Exhibit #5 The SVP makes numerous unfounded claims about vending and vendors On the Street Vendor Project website they absurdly claim to represent ALL of the approximately 10,000 vendors in NYC, including all of the city's 1,500 street artists, yet their registered membership as described on their own website is only 750. Even that number is highly exaggerated. In reality the SVP is one of the smallest vending groups in NYC. Most of its members are not in any sense activists. The majority paid a large fee to join the SVP solely in order to get legal advice concerning a vending summons, advice which ARTIST and other legitimate vendor advocacy groups provide to anyone for free. If one only looks at the surface of the SVP website, it appears to be a grassroots organization run by vendors. That is a carefully orchestrated illusion. Unlike genuine vendor advocacy groups in NYC, the so called vendor advocacy that SVP engages in is largely performed by the staffs of corporate run foundations, by the SVP's paid staff and by unpaid college interns rather than by actual working vendors. It is the only "vendor advocacy" group in NY that was not founded or funded by actual vendors. Exhibit #6 The SVP falsely claims to be advocates for street artists Here is the entire reality of the SVP concerning street artists. In it's 10 year existence, the SVP has brought one lawsuit involving street artists. The case is called, Mastrovincenzo v City of NY. In the 2006 2nd circuit Federal Appeals Court ruling to this poorly written lawsuit, the craft-artist plaintiffs lost their right to sell on the street, yet, as of March 2009 the Street Vendor Projects elaborately updated website still proudly claims the case was a great victory for artists. In fact, the deceptive SVP website does not even acknowledge the existence of the 2006 Appeal Court ruling in their own lawsuit,

preferring instead to only cite a lower court ruling from 2004 that was later overturned. As of January 24, 2011 on their website they are still claiming to have won the case, despite losing it in front of the Second Circuit Federal Appeals Court! They never appealed the decision. This one paragraph below is the entire information available on this case from the Street Vendor Project website: *[Mastrovincenzo v. City of New York The Street Vendor Project represents two graffiti artists, Christopher Mastrovincenzo and Kevin Santso, who have been arrested and harassed for selling their work because the police did not believe it was art. In a very important opinion on April 8, 2004, federal judge Victor Marrero granted our motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the city to let the vendors vend. The city is appealing. Pro bono counsel Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering]* What kind of a legal advocacy group outright lies about the ruling in their own Federal lawsuit, the only major lawsuit they attempted in their entire history? Here is what the NY Times wrote about the case: NY Times 1/7/06 ARTISTS CAN'T SELL HATS ON STREET "Two New York City artists cannot sell hats painted with graffiti on the street unless they have a vendors' licenses, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled. In a 2-to-1 decision Thursday, the court overturned a 2004 decision from Manhattan Federal District Court that said the hats were artwork protected by the First Amendment and prevented the city from regulating the artists, Christopher Mastrovincenzo and Kevin Santos. The appeals court ruled that the city's regulations were content-neutral and meant to alleviate traffic congestion. The court also said that the hats were different from canvas paintings, which are protected by a ruling. Deborah Brenner, the city's chief lawyer in the case, said the decision would help address "significant congestion problems caused by unlicensed street vendors." Sean Basinski, an Urban Justice Center lawyer who represented the artists, said, "We respectfully disagree with the court's opinion and we are examining our options." The SVP did not appeal this damaging ruling despite it contradicting the same exact courts previous rulings on street artists in the cases brought by members of ARTIST.

In reality, the SVPs disastrous Mastrovincenzo case was a huge victory for the City Council and the BIDs and an unprecedented loss of freedom for all NYC artists. The result of Mastrovincenzo v City of NY was that every NYC craft vendor and artist making handpainted clothing, printed tee shirts, jewelry, pottery, original furniture or other crafts lost their rights. Despite this, the SVP ludicrously claims to be the sole advocate for the city's craft vendors. Previous to that ruling, craft artists were informally considered by the NYPD and the courts to be exempt from a vending license along with painters, printmakers, photographers and sculptors - who today remain completely exempt from any license and fully protected by the ARTIST group's Federal Court rulings. In other words, when NYC craft artists are arrested, confiscated or summonsed, as has become commonplace since 2006, they can directly thank the SVP's legal advocacy for it. The negative effects of the SVP's "advocacy" for artists has been far reaching, damaging artists' rights from coast to coast. All street artists in Venice Beach California recently lost their right to sell without a permit or license when the local legislators used the ruling in the SVP's Mastrovincenzo case as a precedent to strip artists there of their existing First Amendment rights. From: Michael Hunt and Matthew Dowd vs. City of Los Angeles 9th District Federal Court 1/14/09 "January 30, 2006, the Los Angeles City Council amended section 42.15; the new ordinance took effect on March 25, 2006. According to the City, the Council modeled the amended ordinance on two court decisions, Mastrovincenzo v. City of New York, 435 F.3d 78 (2d Cir. 2006), and People v. Foote, 110 Cal. Rptr. 2d 260 (2001) Although an item may have some expressive purpose, it will be deemed to have more than nominal utility apart from its communication if it has a common and dominant non-expressive purpose. Indeed, the Second Circuit in Mastrovincenzo - the case on which the City primarily relies to support the 2006 version [of it's permit requirement] analogized decisions regarding expressive purpose to the difficult line-drawing problems that courts must resolve in First Amendment

cases. See Mastrovincenzo v. City of New York, 435 F.3d 78, 95-96 (2d Cir. 2006).. And the Second Circuit now specifically tasks courts with performing this analysis. Mastrovincenzo, 435 F.3d at 95-96; see Note 17, supra, pp. 37-38. A number of factors may signal the predominant purpose of such a sale, depending on the circumstances. Medium is one way to make such a determination. See White, 500 F.3d at 955-56." Despite the many references to street artists on their website and in their literature, and the false claim to representing all NYC street artists, you will not find a single mention of the ARTIST groups' 16 years of successful advocacy or a single reference to the ARTIST Federal Court rulings anywhere in the SVP literature. Yet, much of their literature is quoted without attribution from the ARTIST website. Even their protest signs and slogans are taken directly from the ARTIST group. Exhibit #7 The SVP actively works against the interests of street artists The SVP helped write and publicly endorsed legislation (Intro #621) that proposed forcing First Amendment protected artists back into a vending license program, limiting them to 2 per block, fingerprinting all vendors and other gross violations of the First Amendment. Here is an excerpt from the SVP website on Intro# 621: "In April, 2005, after much advocacy from the Street Vendor Project and other groups, City Council Member Philip Reed introduced Intro. 621, a proposal that would dramatically reshape the city's vending laws...Kudos to Council Member Reed for having the courage to take on this complex and controversial issue, and for taking input from vendors as well as the business community." The "other groups" advocating for Intro # 621 referred to above are the BIDs and other real estate interests. No vendor group (except SVP) supported the bill. Was it just a coincidence that the only "vendor advocacy" group in NYC supporting the City Council's efforts to severely limit street artists and all other legal vendors was the one group funded by the City Council? Exhibit #8 The SVP defends the vending of copyright infringed and bootleg merchandise, depicts vendors as an underclass and damages the image of all NYC vendors.

At the same time that the SVP has been trying to severely limit the rights of legal street artists and other legitimate First Amendment protected vendors, it's director publicly defends the practice of illegal vendors selling copyright infringed, bootleg and counterfeit merchandise. Many of these bootleg vendors are members of the SVP. Excerpt from: Queens Courier 11/22/06 City Council targets 'bootleg' vendors "Vendors of counterfeit goods, beware. A bill introduced to the City Council recently would let the City's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) levy higher fines and summonses to peddlers selling bootleg DVDs, fake designer jeans, and faux bags. However, Sean Basinski, director of the Street Vendors Project, a non-profit dedicated to helping the estimated 10,000 street vendors in New York City, said that the new bill could hurt financially struggling vendors more than it helps. "Going after vendors is really going after the smallest fish in the pond," Basinski said, "Many street vendors can barely support themselves with their earnings, said Basinski, who guessed vendors opted to sell counterfeit goods because they can usually fetch higher prices and better profits. All vendors who sell counterfeit goods are unlicensed, he said. "Even if you sell totally legitimate merchandise you are going to be arrested," Basinski said. "Vendors think that you might as well sell what will make you money in those few hours that you have to sell before you have to run from the police." According to a survey of city vendors by the Street Vendors Project, the average vendor supports 4.2 people with their earnings and receives 6.7 summonses per year." SVP has issued a number of slanted "academic" reports on vending which are frequently cited as supporting evidence by the very City Councilmembers who propose the most outrageous anti street artist and anti vending legislation. These studies appear to be aimed at undermining the existing legal protections won by artists and other vendors and turning all vendors into dependent clients of various NYC social service agencies. These are the same agencies that fund both the SVP and the Urban Justice Center. The image of vendors that is often promoted by the SVP is that we are an underclass similar to homeless people, drug addicts, the mentally ill and to sex workers. These are exactly the other "client groups" represented by the Urban Justice Center, SVP's sponsor. While people in these categories of misfortune are unquestionably deserving of help from the city government, the question is, does it

serve the long term interests of vendors to be depicted in this way? Are street artists and other legal vendors a social problem like drug addiction, prostitution, homelessness or mental illness? Many of the proposed vending laws now before the City Council treat vending as if it was exactly this type of social problem rather than a social benefit or a legitimate occupation. Among the suggestions made by Councilmembers associated with the SVP are relocating vendors off the streets, getting them training for other employment and putting them in rehabilitation programs. The image promoted by SVP is totally in alignment with this viewpoint. Despite receiving large amounts of taxpayer money from the City Council, the Street Vendor Project nevertheless charges even the poorest vendors a substantial fee to be members, to get legal advice or to be represented by them in court. There is no evidence to suggest that the outcome they get in court is any better than for vendors who represent themselves or who make use of a free Legal Aid attorney. Exhibit #9 SVP deceives its own staff and puts its members at risk The SVP has falsely claimed credit for the contributions of many legitimate vending advocates, as well as appropriating slogans, signs and literature from other vendor groups without permission or acknowledgement. The deception involved in the operation of the SVP extends to keeping the actual vendor-members of it (many of whom speak little English) in the dark about it's goals, as well as deceiving the many well-intentioned college interns who work for the SVP without salary. The vendor members and these interns all mistakenly believe themselves to be part of a legitimate vendor advocacy group. If these well-intentioned interns were working with genuine vendor advocacy groups, they might actually be making a great contribution to vending rather than helping the City Council destroy it. On the Street Vendor Projects website are displayed photos of hundreds of it's vendor members. Considering that many are described in SVP literature as illegal immigrants and/or illegal vendors, one might ask why the SVP is making this elaborate photo display of "mug shots" so publicly available to the NYPD, the Department of Justice and to immigration authorities. Conclusion:

No legitimate vendor organizations in NYC work with the SVP because we have all come to view it as a compromised government-controlled front group that cannot be trusted. While the individual members and most of the staff have nothing but good intentions concerning vending, the net result of the SVP's advocacy is harmful to the interests of all NYC vendors at the same time it is extremely helpful to the BIDs and to City Councilmembers with an anti-vending agenda. Don't be fooled. The SVP is a tool of the City Council and the BIDs. -------------------------------Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. To visit the ARTIST website go to: (only subscribed members can access the materials) NYC Street Artist Videos For videos about how we won our rights see: