Jerry Kassar’s Common Sense: The Business of New York


I attended the Real Estate Board of New York’s (REBNY) annual dinner last week with State Senator Golden, whom I serve as chief of staff, at the New York Hilton hotel.

REBNY represents the many commercial landlords in the city and is a must-stop for anyone running for citywide office. It is also a barometer of how the city is doing, at least from a commercial real estate perspective.

And this is important because they are the landlords for businesses – large and small – finance to manufacturing and everything in-between. If they are busy leasing, building and dealing with low vacancy rates, it usually means that New York is working.

The dinner had 2,300 attendees and was very upbeat. From the short film to the speeches and the conversations in the room, you would get a definite impression that the REBNY group was very upbeat on the city real estate future. These people talk deals and there was a lot of talk.

In as much as I have been to six of the past eight dinners, I can say with some authority that the buzz in the room was different. Let’s hope so because taking some liberties with a famous Calvin Coolidge quote, “the business of New York City is business.”

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Whatever your view of the recent public safety legislation signed by the governor which affected the ownership of assault weapons and ammunition, there is one point that almost everyone agrees upon. The governor should not have used his emergency powers to put the bill before the legislature without time to review.

There simply was no emergency in which you could not wait the traditional three days before a vote. The only real emergency was the governor’s concern that President Obama would beat him to the punch. The emergency was all about Governor Cuomo’s presidential ambitions.

As a result, the legislation was flawed. Incredibly, by accident, it outlawed essentially every weapon used by law enforcement in the state including cops, state police, FBI, Secret Service, etc., in the provision limiting ammunition magazines to seven bullets. The standard weapon used by law enforcement these days contains 10 bullets and some even 15.

It also failed to take into account retired officers who many, including myself, consider part of our public safety network. And if that was not enough, at present off-duty police officers cannot enter a school to visit their child if they are carrying their service weapon. The department wants officers to carry their service weapon off duty, yet the school system prohibits them from entering a school with the weapon even to meet their child.

So that’s what you get when the governor gives you a few minutes to review a 70-page legal document before you vote, which is exactly what happened in the State Senate. It’s not to say that the legislature is not also responsible. Obviously, they should have done their best to slow things down if questions arose.

Hopefully, by the time this column appears, the parts of the legislation that affect active and retired law enforcement will have been corrected. In the meantime, the governor’s office issued a statement saying that no police officer would be charged with a crime if he or she violated the new law. Very reassuring.

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A New York State Dream Act has been introduced in the New York State Assembly that would use taxpayer dollars to, among other things, help finance a college education for the children of illegal immigrants. Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the daughter of Greek and Cuban immigrants, has strongly denounced the effort. If you agree with her, and I suspect most do, you should reach out to her office at 718-987-0197 or write to her at to offer your support.

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