Small business help
This week we have bad news to report about two small businesses that are special parts of the Downtown community. Klatch, a relative newcomer, was forced to close this week because the cafe’s owners were behind on their rent. They are hoping to reopen and we hope they succeed because in just six years, Pam and J.C. Chmiel were able to bring a little of the Tribeca neighborhood feeling to the Wall St. area. As Downtown residents, the Chmiels have a stake here and that showed in the friendly way they ran their business.
Rocco and Electra D’Amato have run the Bazzini gourmet food store and cafe for the last 26 years and have helped foster Tribeca’s small town rhythm. A.L. Bazzini has been on Greenwich St. for over a century and the store is also one of the last historic ties to the nabe’s wholesale food days. Bazzini was hurt by the new Whole Foods and it will be sad to see it go, but fortunately, the D’Amatos have other business interests and appear prepared for the time when they choose to close.
But more struggling businesses are like Klatch, which was severely hurt by construction projects Downtown and are now coping with the worldwide economic downturn. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has offered $5 million for businesses near ripped up streets but most of that money has still not been spent. We have been warning about this problem for years and although the L.M.D.C. has provided some help, it has not been enough. The corporation has a little money left and much more of it should be focused on small businesses.
As New York begins spending billions in federal stimulus money it should heed the lessons learned Downtown: set aside money for big projects to help small businesses that will bear the pain during construction. And there’s still time for government to help the small businesses Downtown and for all of us to shop a little more locally.
Liberty-loving Americans received good news when same sex marriage became legal in Iowa and Vermont over the last week. We believe that a sense of fairness and equal protection under the law demands that lesbians and gays should be free to marry everywhere. That’s the reason gay marriage should be legal, but this argument has not yet worked in our State Senate, New York’s last obstacle to marriage equality. Here’s a different reason that may sway wavering senators: economic stimulus.
New York has thousands of wedding venues from the Hudson Valley to Niagara Falls to Long Island to here in New York City. Hotels, restaurants, jewelers, and many others are denied tens of millions of dollars in business because gays are going to other states to get married.
Gov. David Paterson, a gay marriage supporter, quite properly ruled last year that under centuries of legal precedent, he is compelled to recognize all legal marriages performed in other states. All of New York is hurting economically and we’re not in a position to lose more jobs. New York once was progressive and it is also becoming increasingly embarrassing how far behind the curve we are.
Senators who have no concern for the gay couples in their district, the children in these families, or for equal rights, should at the very least care about the hard-working heterosexual families struggling to pay the bills. If it takes the wrong reason to do the right thing, so be it.