Tomorrow afternoon the City Council will hold hearings on three bills pertaining to small business, Intros 709, 713, and 715. All three proposed pieces of legislation strive to ameliorate some of the obstacles mom and pop stores face regarding fines and regulations. For more we turn to testimony of attorney and small business advocate Robert Bookman: I am appearing today in support of Intros 709, 713 and 715 as the representative of a number of business groups, including the 1000 member City Chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, The New York Nightlife Association, and the NYC Newsstand Operators Association, as well as the attorney for many individual small business owners. The message I have been asked to convey is simple and straightforward: THE SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY OF THIS CITY, THE LIFEBLOOD OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, IS UNITED IN SUPPORT OF THESE BILLS. Of particular urgency is Intro. 709, which protects small businesses from truly unreasonable fines. No one says that violators of the law should not be punished. But the punishment should be fair and the interpretation of the law should make sense. This Intro. corrects nightmarish examples of abuse of the intent of laws passed by the Council. When a sidewalk café is in compliance with its space limitations, and has put outside the proper number of seats, it should not be fined because the table configuration is slightly changed. Yet that is what happens. And when an agency is given the power to enforce a State law that is identical to a City law, a business should not be fined twice for the same occurrence. As to Intros. 713 and 715, it is Intro. 713 that provides the most practical idea for making the lives of small business owners just a little bit simpler. I have concerns with Intro 715 in that relying on a clerk to advise you what licenses you may need for a new business can get very tricky and raise issues of liability. What is needed, however, is a small business ombudsman in each agency that regulates small businesses, one who is independent from the Commissioner of that agency and who reports directly to the Commissioner of Small Business Services, similar to the I.G. system. Then small business owners will have a person to go to with complaints and ideas and will feel confident that he or she is being listened to.