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Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 5:29pm
Collaborative outreach effort with Mayors For Our Lives and launch of new City website will make it easier for youth to stay informed about the latest opportunities to get civically engaged: nyc.gov/studentvoice NEW YORK––To mark National Voter Registration Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio teamed up with Mayors For Our Lives to register students to vote in schools across New York City. This is a continuation of an effort that began last spring which successfully registered more than 10,000 first-time student voters in New York City. Mayors For Our Lives is a national movement led by March For Our Lives that aims to register high school and college students to vote and increase civic engagement. Mayor de Blasio is a leading voice in this effort, helping to mobilize a bi-partisan group of 200 mayors from across the nation who are also participating in this effort. The Administration also launched a new website where students can sign up to be a #DemocracyNYC leader to help register fellow students to vote and promote civic engagement in their schools. Students interested in participating in these efforts can find more information at nyc.gov/studentvoice . “Our students are the future leaders of our country, and their voices matter as much today as they will years from now,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They should know that their vote and civic participation at all levels of government is crucial in our effort to strengthen our democracy. Our non-partisan outreach with Mayors For Our Lives will remind them of this and mobilize countless young people to have their voices heard.” “Our job as educators is to create active, engaged citizens who are going to change the world. By bringing voter registration into our schools and combining it with the work our teachers are doing every day, we’re making it easier for our students to have a say in the future of this City and this country. I’m proud to stand with Mayor de Blasio to support a new generation of leaders, activists, and citizens,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Today’s leaders have a responsibility to make civic participation as easy and equitable as possible for every New Yorker. I am excited that we are taking the lead to proactively help New York City’s youth learn about the importance of playing a direct role in our community and democracy. We will continue using the tools at our disposal to increase participation in elections while advocating for the State to modernize archaic laws that create unnecessary barriers to voting,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “It is the responsibility of all Americans, young and old to vote. Since the march, we have traveled the country meeting, talking and listening to people of all backgrounds. While many agree with our platform to prevent gun violence, one thing we can always agree upon is that it’s in our country’s best interest to have an informed and representative electorate committed to protecting all people. We believe that the more Americans we have participating in our democracy, the better off our country. That is why we are proud of the over 200 members of Mayors For Our Lives working to empower voices in their communities by encouraging and registering them to vote.” said March For Our Lives Co-Founder David Hogg. To kick off this outreach effort, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, New York City student activists – including Ramon Contreras – and Stoneman Douglas High School student activists David Hogg and Delaney Tarr visited City-As-School, a high school in Manhattan, to help register students to vote. They also joined a civic engagement discussion with City-As-School students. As part of this outreach effort, the Administration distributed a Civics for All toolkit to all public schools that includes voter registration lesson plans for teachers; guidelines on where to access and how to fill out voter registration forms; and information on the new DemocracyNYC website where students can sign up as school leads for future voter registration drives. “The City’s Civics for All initiative includes Student Voter Registration Day (SVRD), the first-ever citywide event through which more than 10,000 students registered to vote this past spring, as well as new curricula, funding, and teacher training to promote instruction in civics and hands-on civic engagement opportunities. The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit also will be sending multilingual outreach specialists to 25 schools with the largest population of eligible student voters. PEU staff will be working directly with these students to help them register to vote and encourage them to sign a DemocracyNYC pledge to become a voter registration lead at their school. This registration effort is part of Mayor de Blasio’s 10-point democracy agenda known as DemocracyNYC, which aims to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy locally and nationally. “New York City’s students represent the next generation of leaders and we are excited for their voices to be heard in the upcoming elections,” said Mayor’s Public Engagement Acting Director Eric Rotondi. “Our democracy works best when it’s shaped by everyone it represents and I encourage all New Yorkers – especially students who are eligible for the first time – to register to vote and cast a ballot this November. “The Mayor's Community Affairs Unit is proud to be part of the National Voter Registration Day effort. A democracy is only as strong as the generation that will inherit it and we look forward to continue engaging young people throughout the city,” said Marco Carrión, Commissioner of the Community Affairs Unit. "We spent all summer traveling across the country registering and encouraging thousands of young voters, telling them their vote is their voice." said March For Our Lives Co-Founder, Jaclyn Corin. "Today is National Voter Registration Day, and we’re letting young people know once again that their voice and their vote matter more than ever. We are incredibly grateful for the participation of The United States Conference of Mayors, African American Mayors Association and cities across the nation, who today are working to help millions of young people understand the issues, lift up their voices, and vote." "For too long, the young people of this country have not been heard," said March For Our Lives Co-Founder, Delaney Tarr. "Today with the help of over 200 mayors, in cities big and small, we are changing that. All across America, young people are stepping up and raising their voices. We have already started to see this energy in elections in places like Florida, Georgia, and New York City. We have felt this energy since the march, and it continued this summer during our national bus tour. Most importantly, we know that our work today will help deliver that same energy in November and in future elections.” “I am very proud of the work being done in New York City, my home. I am thankful we have had this opportunity to partner with these mayors, and I know that this effort will reach young people everywhere. The work we do today is just half of the equation. Our cities and our country need these young people to show up to the polls on Election Day and vote! Not only do they need to show up, they also need to bring everyone they know with them. We realize that if we want real change, then young people must stand up and deliver the change that we want to see; no one can do this for us. It means heading to the polls this November and in every election.” said Ramon Contreras of March For Our Lives, and Co-Founder of Youth over Guns. “Today, September 25, is National Voter Registration Day, and I’m so proud and excited to be fighting for change. We are seeing one of the largest youth voter registration increases in history, powered by a youth-driven force. Having the support of our local politicians is incredibly significant – they understand that we can lead a fight and they can help and support us in the voting revolution,” said Arielle Geismar, NYC Student Activist and Director of NYC Says Enough. “As someone who is unable to vote in this year's election but has many peers eligible to vote, I have seen how youth involvement has changed my generation's outlook on voting. National Voter Registration Day provides a unique opportunity for Americans of all ages to register to vote and verify their registration status. With midterms in 6 weeks, it is our obligation as Americans to ensure that our voices are represented in democratic government regardless of one's political stance or values,” said Felix Tager, student activist, Founder of Shattering the Silence. “As Americans it is important to register to vote, and in turn actually vote because that is the most effective way to fight for issues that matter to us. There are decisions being made about the well-being of all people, and we should all have a voice in that. Get political, and register to vote today,” said Luis Hernandez, student activist, Youth Over Guns; Executive Director / Justice League NYC; Coordinator “Today’s youth are our future decision makers, and it is important they are engaged in the political process as early as possible. On National Voter Registration Day, I encourage our young people to get registered and get involved, especially given the consequences of the upcoming mid-term elections. I also want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Mayors For Our Lives for their commitment to increasing civic participation through voter registration, and for launching this important initiative,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "Civic participation is crucial and necessary, I applaud Mayor Bill De Blasio for taking the initiative and encouraging our youth to register to vote and become civically engage. His leadership in organizing a non-partisan coalition of mayors across the country for this initiative is admirable and commendable. The youth are our future leaders and their voice matters from a young age," said State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey. "At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault from all corners, New York must live up to its reputation as a progressive leader,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair. I am proud to have written bills to enact Automatic Voter Registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds as part of our efforts to empower voters." "Voting is the most fundamental right of a citizen in our democracy, but really just the minimum of what we each must do to ensure our government functions for the good of the many, not just the few. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for reaching out to the students of our city to help set them on a path toward a lifetime of civic participation,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. "On National Voter Registration Day we are reminded that we all have a role to play in maintaining and strengthening our democracy, by registering to vote, casting a ballot on election day, and encouraging others to do the same. It's especially important that we engage young people who are newly eligible to participate," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, the Ranking Democrat on the Committee on State Senate Elections. "It's also a good day to remember that we have much work to do to in New York State to reform our election laws to remove unnecessary obstacles and antiquated procedures that make it much more difficult to register and vote than it ought to be. I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio for championing voter registration among students today and for his many years of stalwart advocacy for election reform." “Today, on National Voter Registration Day, I am happy to lend my support to Mayor de Blasio's new initiative, DEMOCRACY NYC. It imperative that we encourage and inform our children of this important civic duty beginning at a young age. Not only do students now have the availability to learn about the importance of voting, they are being provided direct access to learn how they can be engaged in their communities all year-round," said State Senator Kevin Parker. “As a State Senator of a district with a high concentration of low-income and minority communities, I know how important it is to empower, educate and mobilize individuals who have been historically underrepresented. Since being elected, I have constantly worked to improve civic participation in my district by consistently holding civic classes for members of the community especially our youth," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud this administration's ongoing efforts to involve more young people into our democratic process so they can shape the future of our City and our State," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “Now, more than ever, it is critically important that we fight both voter apathy and repressive actions to dilute and prevent voting, especially by minorities. We need to stress the need for registration, and reach out as much as we can to increase the voting rolls, to ensure that democracy truly reigns in our state and nation,” said State Senator Luis Sepulveda “Mayor Bill de Blasio’s concerted student voter registration effort is truly inspiring,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. “We must make every effort to ensure that our young people are civically engaged, our democracy will need a new generation to engage with it. I want to commend the Mayor’s efforts on this front and his participation in the bi-partisan Mayors For Our Lives initiative.” “Whether you're young in age or young in heart, it is critical for your voice to be heard at the ballot box by first being registered to vote. On this #NationalVoterRegistration Day, I commend Mayor de Blasio for collaborating with young leaders and Mayors For Our Lives to ensure that New Yorkers are registered to vote. From Dominicanos USA to New Leaders Council to Generation Citizen, our team is collaborating with leaders across New York to register our Sisters and Brothers so we continue moving New York forward for the people,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake. "Voting is the key to empowerment for all young adults and a powerful way to assert yourself as an active, participating member of our democracy," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. "I urge all eligible students to get themselves registered and make sure their voices are heard." “Ensuring that our youth have the tools to continue to be civically engaged and amplify their voices is critically important for them and for our communities. ” said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa. “We have seen what the power of our children’s voices can do as change agents across our nation and today on National Voter Registration Day we are ensuring that their power is abundantly clear at the polls by making it easier to register to vote.” Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "In an age where the protections of our government are being tested like never before, it is important to remember who actually holds the power in our democracy: the people. Today's students are tomorrow's leaders and that leadership begins with the simple act of registering to vote. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his focus on engaging students in the electoral system on this National Voter Registration Day and encourage all people who are eligible to register to do so without further delay." “For many young people, voting is a symbol of adulthood where they get to engage in local government and exercise their civic right. The Mayors For Our Lives student registration initiative is a great way to equip them with the resources needed to make this important decision. No matter how young or old, every vote counts, every voice matters, so be heard and make a difference” said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. "Voting is a right, not a privilege in New York. Our young people who vote as soon as they are eligible send a strong message that their vote counts and matters. Let's get every high school student to register. They are our future," said Assembly Member Felix Ortiz. “Nearly one hundred years ago, women obtained the right to vote, after persistent struggle over numerous decades to amend the Constitution of the United States. The civil rights battle for all Americans was waged to assure that voting rights would no longer be trampled upon by those seeking to retain power by controlling access to the ballot box. By registering to vote, we honor Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Medgar Evers, The Reverend Martin Luther King, and all those activists who dedicated their lives to the enfranchisement, registration and turnout of new voters. Honor their legacy and the future of America by registering to vote now,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. Assembly Member Latrice M. Walker said, "Getting students registered to vote is detrimental to their first amendment right- freedom of speech. Voting is one of the loudest ways for your voice to be heard especially in New York City. DemocracyNYC is the best way to bring young adults out to the polls and educating them about utilizing their civil liberties.” "Our city and our country are at their best when our students are invested in the well-being of the communities they are a part of. National Voter Registration Day is an important opportunity to help students understand the significance of being engaged in the civic process and our democracy. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for spreading this message and connecting our city's students with powerful, vocal activists who embody that spirit,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 5:25pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, Klaus. And Klaus, I want to thank you for so often convening people from around the world in common cause and for being such a global voice of conscious. Let’s thank Klaus for all he has done. [Applause] I want to thank all of you for being here. Everyone in this room has an opportunity to be a forceful agent of change in the days, the weeks, the months ahead. And I’m not saying the years on purpose because this changes that we need is so urgent – particularly when it comes to the topic of climate change that we all have to think about all we can do and how quickly we can do it. And that’s why this gathering is so important. I want to thank the wonderful panel that will speak in a moment and the leadership they provide. We are honored to have you all in our city and all of the participants. And a particular thank you to a member of my administration, my Commissioner for International Affairs who work so closely with the UN which we are honored to host, Commissioner Penny Abeywardena thank you so much. The New York attitude, you’ve probably all seen it over the years – New Yorkers are not known for modesty. So I will say this with a typical view point of a New Yorker, I can’t think of a better place in the entire world for this meeting to be happening. [Laughter] We as a city have been focused on achieving sustainable development goals for many years as Klaus indicated. We believe the best way to do that is to put those goals out publically and hold our own feet to the fire. And I want to say to anyone in the room, who has a constituency, who is an elected official or has a board to answer to, or shareholders to answer to. It is not always comforting to put your goals out publically because of course, they are often hard to achieve and everyone is watching. But I can tell you it forces action, it forces an entire organizational mindset to take hold, an urgency becomes the norm. So we put our goals out and in July, we became the first city on the planet to hold ourselves publically accountable for reporting our progress to the United Nations. This is important because we are trying to set an example, not only to our own people, but to cities around the world. We should declare these goals, we should own them, we should live up to them. I’m very happy to say that Helsinki has just joined us in this effort and I’d like to ask all of you to urge the cities, the governments, in the cities that you live in to take on this challenge as well – to put the goals out publically and live up to them. And in no vein is that more important than when it comes to climate change. We are proud of some of the actions were taken but there is no such thing as resting on our laurels when it comes to climate change. Every time we take an action we have to ask ourselves, what is the immediate next thing we can do? Because there is no government on this Earth, there’s no company, there’s no person who is per say doing enough to address climate change. That’s not a hopeless statement. We know this is a battle that can be won but we know it can only be won with intense urgency and there isn’t enough of that right now. So we always are asking ourselves, what’s the next step? How can we be bolder, how can we more audacious? Because we know there is no time to waste, there’s literally no time to waste. And I will speak from the perspective of this city, we had our before and after moment in the history of this city – the worst natural disaster we ever experienced, October 29th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy. We lost 44 people to that storm, $19 billion in damage. Whole neighborhoods of our city literally flattened. I can tell you this with assurance, since that day there are very few climate deniers left in New York City because we lived it. And we see now what’s happening around the world. I was just in San Francisco for the Climate Conference, the summit. It was such an encouraging, positive gathering but at the same time all over the state of California there were wildfires that were unprecedented. All of this, what’s happened in California, what’s happened just now in the Carolinas and the Philippines, and Hong Kong, all of it from the same root cause. And we can see it and more and more people are being touched by it and more and more people are ready for action as a result. That is particularly true when it comes to our young people and I imagine everyone in this audience has had conversations with the younger people in your lives and your families, were you work and their urgency is remarkable because it’s entirely personal for them. So we now need to think about how we upend our way of doing things that got us into this jam and by definition can’t get us out. We have to do something different. We have to think in a different collective fashion. We have to think about our policies and our power to vote for change. We have to think about what we do in our personal lives and we also have to think about how we invest our money. And this would seem to be the most obvious option, the most obvious potential and yet we are only scratching the surface of what could be done. The problems we face may seem daunting but we actually have more tools at our disposal than we realize. And I want to tell you how this city is trying to use our economic power in this crucial moment to address the climate crisis because we believe we can make an impact, we believe everyone in this room can make an impact and quickly. In January we became the first United States city to begin divesting our pension assets from fossil fuels investments. We don’t believe there is a future for fossil fuel investments. We are taking $5 billion out of that broken and dying industry. Earlier this month, we took another important step. We joined forces with London, obviously one of the other preeminent financial capitals of the world, and we announced that we will form a coalition of cities around the world that will also divest their assets from fossil fuel. We want to unleash the power of the local level, the power of the grassroots, to forge ahead when nations falter, and we will keep acting even when nations fail, including our own. [Applause] Now just days ago we made another important announcement, and this is the positive side of the coin. Divestment is necessary to wean us off the negative, but we have a tremendous opportunity on the positive side. And we looked around the world and we saw the number of institutional investors were committed to the notion of putting one percent of their investments into renewable energy and climate solutions. We looked at that and we said we have to do more, our planet requires it – we have to do more. So we made an announcement that we will invest from this point on two percent of all our pension assets in climate solutions and that means an immediate investment of $4 billion for renewables, for retrofitting, for the things that will save us. It’s one step, and we’re just one place, and we know that over all estimates have indicated we’ll need a trillion dollars in investment each year to really rid ourselves and have the kind of renewable energy sources we need. But, we can get there if everyone acts. We have a saying here in New York City, and we’re trying to live up to it – put your money where your mouth is. We believe in these ideas, we need to back them up with action. So we are not just investing in hydro, and solar, and wind – we’re investing in momentum for change. Every time one of us acts, it helps the other one to act next. Now I want to give you a sense of the scale of this because if it sounds at first like how could that possibly be enough, watch how these numbers grow very, very quickly. If the top 50 United States pension funds invested two percent of their assets in climate solutions, that would be enough to convert half the homes in the United States of America to solar power. Isn’t that extraordinary? If every major United States pension fund invested two percent in climate solutions, that would be $200 billion. That would be a major step towards what we need globally. So I’m asking investors around the world, and all investors in this room, to join us in this effort and join us quickly. Pull your money out of the doomed fossil fuel industry. Commit two percent of your assets to climate solutions and help all of us to create a lasting groundwork for change. And, I’ll tell you something – you will not only be doing the right thing for the Earth, you’ll be doing the right thing as investors, you’ll be doing the right thing for your retirees and all the people who depend on your investments. Because why on earth would we put our money into an industry that will likely end up leaving two thirds of its assets in the ground. And we hope it will end up leaving two thirds of its assets in the ground. Fossil fuel investments aren’t just toxic for our planet they’re toxic for our portfolios as well. And we know that these investments in fossil fuels are toxic for people we see it around the world. We know, and so many people in this room have devoted their life to uplifting people in need. We know it’s the world’s poorest who bear the brunt. Millions flooded from their homes, millions of refugees, millions afflicted by heatwaves. The whole underlying value of focusing on sustainable development – it all comes home to the climate issue. And we all in this room know too there’s a growing understanding and growing concern for what happens to everyday working people. And how can they lead good and decent lives while fossil fuel investments won’t help them do that. You know in our country today, and we saw it play out so deeply in the 2016 election, the sense of economic insecurity and fear that interrelates with this issue – well today in our country, in the coal mines of West Virginia and the shale fields of North Dakota, the oil refineries of Louisiana – folks feel trapped. Their jobs simply won’t last. But they don’t see an alternative. We all owe them something better in this country and all over the world and we actually can provide it for them. It’s not a matter of just retraining people for new jobs, it’s about creating new jobs and creating a new economy. And those jobs by definition are not in the dying industries of the past. They’re in these extraordinary, hopeful, grand possibilities of the industries of the future. Now, we can make this happen. I want to emphasize this – I know I am preaching to the converted in some cases, but I know there is also a lot of people around the world who doubt whether we can achieve what we need to in the time we have. I am convinced we can do it but it will take relentless action. We will literally have to build a whole new economy. So that people can in their own homes, in their own towns, in their own backyards if you will – they can have an economy that offers them both a paycheck and a planet they can live in. That’s the mission for all of us. Let me conclude with one more thought and with my deep appreciation to everyone in this room for all you do. And I know a lot of people here have been working on addressing climate change for not just years but for decades. I know you’ve come up against the climate deniers and you’ve come up against the cynics many of times. You’ve come up against people who ignore the reality even though we see storm after storm and disaster after disaster. And you’ve certainly met many people who are people of good will but say it’s just too hard to fix. Well the next time you encounter any of these people – please tell them that you were in New York City. Please tell them the biggest city in the United States of America is taking action. And we believe this action can make a huge difference. Tell them to join us as quickly as forcefully as they can. You know at the end of a speech, it’s customary to quote a great mind, a great philosopher, a great historical figure. I’ll do that now and quote Frank Sinatra. [Laughter] Who said – who sang once of New York City – if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. I say if we can make it happen in New York City – financial capital of the world. If we can make it here, you can make it happen where you live. You can put your money into the technologies that will save us all. You can help us break the vicious cycle that we’ve been living in. We know how much carbon has been pumped into the air already. We know the path we’re already on. We know we have to break it. And we know that every step and every action is needed. And I will conclude with this simple thought. We have to feel an energy everyday as so many of our younger citizens do. We have to feel an energy, an urgent energy – at least that is a reusable bottle. [Laughter] That’s very good, because if he had knocked over a plastic bottle, I would have had to lecture him right there. [Laugher] But as so many of our younger citizens feel, we need to get fossil fuels out of our lives once and for all. We have to do it fast because fossil fuels my friends belong only one place – stranded in the ground. Let’s make sure they stay there. Thank you. God bless you all.
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 5:25pm
In partnership with NYC-based S'well, every NYC public high school student will receive a S'well reusable water bottle NEW YORK—To kick off Climate Week NYC and to support the City's Zero Waste by 2030 goal, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, with support from the Department of Education, announced BRING IT , a multi-channel campaign focused on helping students, and by extension their family and friends, reduce waste through advocacy and action. BRING IT launches with a year-long partnership with reusable bottle company S'well. Through this initiative, more than 320,000 high school students across all five boroughs will receive S'well or S'ip by S'well reusable bottles with the goal of displacing more than 54 million single-use plastic bottles in New York City. "To reach our goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, we have to upend our whole way of doing things. The BRING IT campaign will help create a cleaner, fairer city for all by empowering youth to lead the way. We're proud to partner with a New York City company, S'well, to get this off the ground," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The first year of BRING IT will engage and mobilize NYC public school students and be supported with a wide range of programs and events that foster knowledge around sustainability, cultivate green job mentorship opportunities and encourage students to take action for their schools, city and planet. "I am so proud to be a part of a program that is creating real impact for New York City, S'well's home," said Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO, S'well. "Together, we are developing a platform for change, offering today's youth and tomorrow's leaders the knowledge, resources and inspiration to address the global challenges posed by waste and single-use plastic bottles through meaningful actions." "We cannot simply leave young people to inherit and then solve our environmental crisis tomorrow, we must equip them with the resources to take action and make different choices today," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "We are honored to partner with S'well, our students, and our schools to end single-use plastic waste and transform how we live, work and play in our city." "We are so proud to be a part of BRING IT, and we know New York City students are ready to be leaders in creating a cleaner and more sustainable City," said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. "I thank our partners at the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and S'well for empowering our students to make a difference, and for making us an important part of the efforts towards the City's goal of zero waste." To celebrate the launch of the program, MOS, DOE and S'well kicked-off a five-day challenge to inspire and mobilize high school students to 'bring' not only their bottles, but their ideas, passions and unique perspectives to the challenge of creating a sustainable city. To that end, programming also includes the chance for NYC students in elementary to high school to participate in designing S'well's 2019 Earth Day Collection and participate in activities that promote storytelling and sustainable change. The Department of Sanitation is also a supporting agency in this program. Over the course of the year, S'well will continue to collaborate with DOE and MOS to support a variety of existing sustainability programs. This includes supporting engagement with school sustainability coordinators, teachers and administrators who help develop green initiatives, as well as the Borough Student Advisory Council and Chancellor's Student Advisory Council. Single-use plastic is a major source of preventable waste in New York City, as well as for our country and globe. Nationally, Americans throw away enough plastic water bottles to fill the Empire State building one and a half times each month. That is plastic that never goes away but breaks down and seeps into our water and ultimately our food, impacting our health. The production of plastic water bottles in the United States also uses 1.5 million barrels of oil a year, which is enough to power 250,000 homes or 100,000 cars all year. Engaging New Yorkers to adopt waste-reducing behaviors, like bringing reusable water bottles, is critical to achieve the City's Zero Waste goal by 2030 and enables New Yorkers to save money and make healthy drink choices easier. Using national averages, each student with a reusable bottle will be able to displace 167 plastic water bottles from NYC's trash and save about $250 in buying plastic bottles this year. To learn more, stay up-to-date on BRING IT initiatives and get involved, visit BRINGIT.NYC "Making real change that lasts requires partnership across government, industry and community, and we are thrilled to see partners like S'well working with City government to empower our next generation of leaders with the knowledge and tools to take action on environmental sustainability," said Darren Bloch, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. "We're proud to stand with S'well and our City partners as we embark on this important campaign in support of the City's Zero Waste goals." "The Mayor's Fund is thrilled to support the launch of BRING IT. We know that it is important to engage young people in the City's efforts to reduce waste and promote environmental sustainability," said Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. "The partnership launched today will foster behavior change and encourage high school students to think differently about our collective impact on the environment." "Young people's partnership and support is vital in creating a sustainable New York," said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. "Students are the future of our city and programs like BRING IT are helping them reduce waste and empowering them to become active partners in reaching our City's zero waste goals." "Using reusable water bottles to drink our award-winning NYC tap water will not only lead to a healthier environment, but a healthier you," said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. "The production of plastic water bottles in the United States uses 1.5 million barrels of oil a year, which is enough to power 250,000 homes or 100,000 cars all year. Our tap water is a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages and at roughly one penny per gallon, it is the best deal in town." "Conservation and sustainability cannot just be abstract goals, they need to be values we practice in our daily lives," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "This gift is about more than water bottles – it will put a visible reminder in our students' hands and backpacks of what's at stake and that we each can make a difference in saving our planet." "With humans around the world consuming a staggering one million plastic bottles per minute, we are thrilled to see the launch of the BRING IT campaign, putting NYC youth at the lead for reducing single-use plastic bottles," said Debby Lee Cohen, Executive Director of Cafeteria Culture. "NYC's BRING IT campaign will not only reduce the unacceptable amounts of fossil fuel derived plastics entering our oceans, landfills and incinerators, but can shift entire school communities away from costly and polluting single-use plastic to-go lifestyles and towards a healthy reusable culture. This is really a great way to drive home the concept that one simple local action can have a global impact!"
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 12:24pm
The “Love Your Block” Program will award 25 community groups with a grant, City services, and project support to improve their neighborhood NEW YORK— NYC Service and Citizens Committee for New York City launched the 2019 Love Your Block application to support residents in transforming public spaces and engaging neighborhood volunteers to make local change. Twenty-five community groups will be selected as Love Your Block winners and rewarded a $1,000 grant, project management support, and City agency services to improve their neighborhood. The application will remain open through Wednesday, November 7th. NYC Service and Citizens Committee for New York City encourage resident-led volunteer groups to submit project proposals that engage local volunteers to address community concerns. Successful applications highlight how the project will transform public spaces, like City blocks or community gardens, and engage residents to be change makers in their neighborhoods. Successful proposals will also utilize City services to address important community concerns and contribute to building stronger communities by engaging neighbors to work together toward sustainable improvements. The 2019 Love Your Block application can be found at nyc.gov/loveyourblock . “Love Your Block is about partnering with residents and giving them the support and resources to become neighborhood change agents,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Building a healthier democracy means engaging our residents in opportunities to make a difference in the life of their community, so I encourage every resident-led group to apply and propose community solutions that will help us continue to build thriving neighborhoods.” “NYC Service believes that volunteerism is a catalyst for civic engagement in New York City,” saidNYC Chief Service Officer Paula Gavin. “Love Your Block supports residents to engage their neighbors and address local needs through service. Over the last ten years, the program has helped over 260 resident groups improve over 400 public spaces and City blocks. NYC Service is proud to continue Love Your Block with Citizens Committee and our sister agencies to inspire and empower 8.6 million New Yorkers to come together and serve each other.” “There are more than 60,000 blocks in our City. While Citizens Committee for New York City’s, Love Your Block focuses on only a very few, it should serve as a model for every New Yorker on every block to get to know your neighbors and to join them in making your block the envy of every New Yorker,”said Citizen’s Committee for NYC Executive Director Peter Kostmayer . In addition to a $1,000 grant and project planning assistance, Love Your Block winners will receive city services from the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Sanitation, and the Department of Transportation. City agency services include; pest control and removal; tree stewardship workshops; graffiti removal; repair of and installation of street signs and street lights; traffic safety surveys; and installation of bicycle racks, speed bumps, and more. NYC Service and Citizens Committee for New York City encourage resident-led volunteer groups across all five boroughs to apply for a Love Your Block Grant by November 7th. Visit nyc.gov/loveyourblock for more information. Interested participants may also attend a Love Your Block Information Session on October 16th or October 23rd from 6:00 - 7:30pm. Contact MGonzalez@citizensnyc.org or call (212) 822-9579 for more information and to RSVP. Love Your Block applications will be evaluated on the following: * Groups must be volunteer-led, without paid staff and must demonstrate the ability to mobilize a minimum of 20 volunteers * Groups must work with two (2) out of the four (4) City agency partners for services * Projects must help address a shared community need (e.g. Tree planting, graffiti removal, speed bumps) “The Love Your Block program is a great way to support innovative community-based projects proposed by residents that protect the environment and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods on a block by block scale,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “DEP is proud to partner with NYC Service, Citizens Committee for NYC, and community groups from all five boroughs on the Love Your Block program.” “As the steward of more than 30,000 acres of public land, we value the contributions of volunteers who work to move our system forward,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Through initiatives like Love Your Block, citizens are encouraged to help maintain and sustain thriving green spaces that all New Yorkers can enjoy. In the 10 years since its inception, this program has spread love through our streets, our communities, and our hearts.” “Residents are our best partners in keeping New York City healthy and clean,” said Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “They have valuable insights, knowledge and strong community relationships, which is why we encourage resident-led volunteer groups to put their best ideas forward and apply to the Love Your Block initiative. Love Your Block provides residents with the opportunity and resources to beautify their neighborhood, initiate progress, and take pride in their communities. We are proud to continue being part of this important initiative that is helping keep our city neighborhoods healthy and clean.” “Love Your Blockis an exciting initiative that has borne out community-driven ventures that have made a lasting impact on many of Brooklyn’s diverse communities,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “I applaud NYC Service for continuing to lead this effort that empowers individuals and organizations to make a tangible difference in their communities through grassroots-led, small-scale projects. I encourage Brooklynites to get involved and apply for one of these grants so that our communities are improved for future generations.” “Civic activism is a hallmark of life in Queens and across the five boroughs,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “New York City is at its best when citizens take the lead in their communities, and the resources available through the Love Your Block initiative will go a long way toward helping residents make their neighborhoods better places to live.” “I am happy to see initiatives like Love Your Block and encourage Staten Islanders to get involved,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Community members who feel a genuine call to action to make New York City safer and cleaner should consider applying to this program.” “We have many vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in South Brooklyn including Sunset Park, Red Hook and Bay Ridge,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “I urge community groups and block associations toapply to the Love Your Block program to help improve our neighborhoods. These grants can go a long way improving the way we live.” “Love Your Block Initiative is innovative and the potential for improving our neighborhoods is limitless,” said NYS Senator Roxanne Persaud. “I urge everyone to get involved because the entire community benefits from participation in this program.” “Thank you NYC Service and Citizens Committee of New York City for the Love Your Block grant,” said NYS Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright.“I encourage my constituents who are leaders of Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island community organizations to apply and continue to build upon their successes by engaging and empowering neighbors with vital resources and services.” “To care for one’s block, ones community; speaks volumes about the devotion our neighborhoods showcase for their communities,” said NYS Assembly Member Jaime Williams. “The Love Your Block grant is a marvelous program that will not only foster dedication amongst residents, but help further long standing principles of community partnership.” “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our communities, giving up their own personal time and effort in order to make their neighborhood special,” said NYS Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. “When we talk about civic engagement, it cannot start and finish on Election Day but rather must be persistent and long-lasting. I am excited about Love Your Block and the $1,000 grants from NYC Service and Citizens Committee that will go directly to residents who are taking the initiative to transform public spaces and engage their neighbors. I strongly urge anyone who has a vision for their neighborhood to apply for this grant program before the deadline on November 7.” NYC Service NYC Service is a division of the Office of the Mayor which promotes volunteerism, engages New Yorkers in service, builds volunteer capacity and mobilizes the power of volunteers and national service members to impact New York City's greatest needs. The vision is to inspire and empower all New Yorkers to serve their City and each other through New York City’s nonprofits businesses, and city agencies. For more information and to find an opportunity to #ServeNYC , visit nyc.gov/service . Citizens Committee for New York City Citizens Committee for New York City’s mission is simple: to help New Yorkers – especially those in low-income areas – come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Residents are uniquely situated to define and act on the issues affecting their communities. When provided with modest support, neighborhood and school groups can effectively mobilize community resources to improve quality of life. Citizens Committee for New York City supports these grassroots efforts by offering grants, skills-building workshops and further technical support in the form of project planning assistance and an equipment share library. In 2017, we provided 450 projects with $1.9 million in grants and services, and our staff facilitated 68 workshops to close to 700 social entrepreneurs. Since 1975, we have promoted the spirit of volunteerism, local engagement and social justice that drives our work. Visit us online at .
Friday, September 21, 2018 - 5:13pm
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning everyone and we begin as usual on Fridays with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment, my questions and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Good morning Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning Brian. Lehrer; And listeners our phone, our phones are open at 212-433-WNYC, 211-433-9692. Or tweet a question with a #AsktheMayor. Mayor: I think it’s our last day of summer here. Am I right? Lehrer: Oh my goodness. Mayor: This is it. Lehrer: So are you a summer person and you’re depressed? Or a fall person and you’re relieved? Mayor: I am a East Coast resident who loves all four seasons honestly and I feel bad for people in other parts of the country who don’t have seasons. So I say a happy goodbye to summer and I welcome the fall. Lehrer: You’ve spoken like a New Yorker and a politician I think. Mayor: I actually believe it. [Laughter] Lehrer: So this is the first time you have been on since the primary and you never did endorse in the governor’s race, did you do right by your conscious and by the needs of the city? Mayor: Well look, this kind of decision takes in a lot of factors. And I am the shepherd of this city government and have to think of the needs of 8.6 million people and I said in the statement that I put out that was an important part of my consideration. I think the primary was one of the most productive, helpful primaries I’ve ever seen in my whole life because that primary debate for a host of offices, down of course down to state senate – led to a fundamental change. Had it not been for that primary debate, I’m not sure we would have seen the reunification of the democrats in the State Senate. I’m not sure we would have seen the destruction of the IDC which we absolutely needed for the good of this state and this city, and a whole host of other issues, criminal justice reform, electoral reform. We have some of the most backwards election laws in the whole country. That was brought to the floor. So I think this primary moved forward a host of issues that now we can act on 2019 in Albany. And I feel very good about how it all ended and I think I played the role that I needed to play, thinking about the overall needs of the city. Lehrer: If Nixon was the progressive, Democratic socialist versus Cuomo as the establishment – were you surprised by the geography of the results? For people who don’t know, the counties that Nixon won were upstate, Albany, Rensselaer, Green County, Columbia County, Schoharie County, Saratoga, here in the progressive city, Cuomo got 60 percent in Brooklyn and Manhattan, 70 percent in Queens, 80 percent in the Bronx, the poorest county in the state which arguably could benefit the most from some democratic socialism. And beyond that some districts that roundly threw out those IDC state senators for not being Democrat enough, voted majority for Cuomo, not Nixon. How does it all fit together for you? Mayor: I don’t think you can take any one election or any one race and extrapolate too conveniently. I think it’s a very fair question but I would argue, look we are talking about a year where it’s been abundantly clear across New York State and across the nation that change is in the air, that progressive candidates, newer candidates are winning all over the place – candidates who look like America, look like New York State. Something very big is happening, there’s tremendous moment for the progressive side of the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean every race follows the pattern perfectly, there are a whole lot of other issues – how well known candidates are, how much money they have to spend. And that’s not always the decisive factor but you know in this case, I think it’s fair to say there was a huge money mismatch. But I think what we see here is that folks upstate for a long time have felt they’ve gotten in general a tough situation. They’ve had a tough situation with their economy and we’ve been seeing this for years, for almost a decade or two I would argue that they have been saying in general they want to see more solutions for upstate. I think that’s a different impulse than the kinds of solutions that people are looking for in the city. But there is economic frustration, economic insecurity running through all of it and I think that certainly did play out down ballot in terms of the decisions people made on State Senate. Lehrer: Should the Working Families Party take Nixon off their ballot line to avoid splitting the Democratic vote and risk electing the Republican Marc Molinaro? Mayor: Look, first of all I have tremendous, really tremendous respect for the Working Families Party because for 20 years they have been the force that helps us create progressive policies in the state. We would never have gotten a minimum wage increase a decade or more ago and I don’t think we would have gotten the more recent one had it not been for the WFP and a lot of activists who share their values. So they’ve had a very, very productive role. They need to make that decision, I’m not going to tell them what to do. I think it’s fair to say, it’s a time for Democrats to unite. It’s a time for progressives to unite around the Democratic ticket in the age of Donald Trump. I believe that, that’s why I have endorses all of the democrats at the top of the ticket. But I also think that it’s fair to say that this election, thankfully, looks like it’s going to be a very, very strong year for Democrats in this state. So I want to believe, I don’t know what they are going to do but I want to believe whatever else happens out there, we are going to see a strong Democratic victory. Lehrer: Paulette in Brooklyn, you are on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio, hi Paulette. Question: Hi, thank you for having me. Lehrer: Sure. Question: Mayor de Blasio my question for you is – first I work in Brooklyn and I work with many homeless New Yorkers across the city. So my question to you is you campaigned on a promise to end the tale of two cities and clearly we have, still a homelessness crisis in New York City. Over 61,000 people are homeless. Homeless single adults continues to rise in New York City so my question to you is your affordable housing plan currently has 300,000 units dedicated to New York but only five percent of those units, or 15,000 units of those are going to homeless people. Will you commit to dedicate ten percent of that affordable housing plan, so 30,000 units to homeless New Yorkers with 24,000 of those units going to new construction so that homeless New Yorkers can be quickly rehoused? Mayor: Paulette thank you for the work you do and I appreciate the intent of the question but I disagree with the premise and I want to be straight forward. I have been asked this question Brian in public at town hall meetings before and I am going to give you the same answer. No is the answer and I ‘ll tell you why. The fact is that right now we are through our initiatives at the Department of Homeless Services and other agencies, stopping the number of people from ending up homeless. HRA is another agency that does this by providing anti-eviction legal services, by providing rental subsidies, there’s a huge initiative to stop people from ever becoming homeless to begin with. That has reduced, for example the eviction rate markedly, to have those legal services in place. So we are focused on prevention. Second of all we’ve had about in the five years I’ve been in office, about 90,000 people I believe have gone through the shelter system and on to some form of affordable housing. And that initiative has worked but we, I believe fundamentally have to address homelessness with a variety of strategies and it is not as simple as saying we are going to create affordable housing specifically dedicated to the homeless. I just don’t believe that’s the best approach. I believe the best approach is to create the maximum amount of affordable housing as quickly as possible. In the last fiscal year that was almost 30,000 apartments, were either subsidized and preserved or financed to be made, built as permanent affordable housing, that’s the highest number in a year in the city’s history. We are going to keep up that very intensive pace. But those apartments are needed for every kind of New Yorker. Homeless folks get some of them, seniors get some of them, veterans , folks who are disabled, lower income New Yorkers, middle class New Yorkers, working class New Yorkers, that plan is predicated on the notion that there are units are available for a whole host of different needs and we are going to keep it that way. But the notion that we can – given the dynamicness of the homelessness crisis, simply take people you know into shelter and automatically into affordable housing, it’s a much more complex dynamic than that. And I think our best hope going forward is the preventative efforts and the broader efforts to raise wages and benefits to get at the heart of the matter. So much of homeless today is economic, we’ve made progress in the state, we all pushed hard for it – higher minimum wage, paid family leave, paid sick leave, the things we are doing in the city like paid sick leave. All of that has to keep growing to stop homelessness of an economic level. That prevention strategy to me is our biggest hope. Lehrer: So when will we see more results, really lower numbers? Mayor: Well we put forward a plan a year and a half ago and we said this is going to be a long, difficult fight to get those numbers down because of the overall economics of the city. Everyone who is listening right now understands what’s happened to the price of housing and our job is to do this prevention work better and better, stopping the evictions, we have proof that is working, providing the subsidies that keep people in their apartments, we have proof that is working, and continuing to build the affordable housing. And also gaining the benefits of the higher wages and benefits, now that’s happening as we speak. The minimum wages increases have been coming in year after year, that’s really going to start to change things as they fully are felt by people in this city. The economy keeps growing thank God and the wage levels are starting to go up. All of these things are going to have an impact. The other X factor here, it’s really important – we’ve got almost 2,000 people who were living on the street, who we have gotten off the street and into shelter and who have stayed in shelter and off the street. I think it’s – most New Yorkers I talk to, their number one concern related to homelessness is folks who are living on the street. It’s very, very important to reduce that number but when we do that it does increase shelter population for a period of time while we are building more supportive housing. That’s the kind of housing that is not only affordable but comes with social services and mental health services. We have a 15,000 apartment plan to build supportive housing. I think all of these pieces start to come together but it will be – I have been very honest from the beginning. It will be incremental progress. We are not going to see a massive reduction in the short term. We lost a huge opportunity in 2011 when the then City and State administrations took away our best subsidy program and that shot the amount of homelessness upward, shelter population upward. We are still trying to rebound from that We’re still trying to rebound from that but I do think the strategies we’re putting in place are ultimately going to reduce the number steadily and then we’re building a lot of more shelters that are purposely built to get out of the paid by the day hotel, to get out of the cluster sites which were substandard. Those shelters when they’re no longer needed will be converted to permanent affordable housing. That’s how the plan ultimately plays out. Lehrer: [Inaudible] in the Bronx, you’re on the WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, [inaudible]. Question: Hi, I’ve been impressed with de-escalation training for police. And I wonder are there any plans for de-escalation training to be available to the NYPD? Mayor: Well, I want to make sure I heard the question. You said the police, and then you said the NYPD. So I want to make sure I am hearing you correctly. The de-escalation training has been given to all officers on patrol in the NYPD, and certainly it is being given to all new recruits who are coming on the job. And I’ve been impressed by it too. It unquestionably has reduced the number of problematic incidents, and I think it’s been a key part of neighborhood policing, and improving the relationship between our police and our communities. So this is working for sure. It is now absolutely required training of anyone who puts on a uniform and walks the streets of the city. Lehrer: But I also saw an article this week that said the NYPD is missing its training goal for dealing with emotionally disturbed people by thousands. Why is that? And is that not the same thing the caller is talking about? Mayor: Well, the caller said de-escalation, which is a different question than the what’s called the CIT training, which is the training to deal with emotionally disturbed folks, folks with mental health challenges. That number of officers is about 10,000. We need that number to go up quickly. So we do have to go back and improve that situation rapidly. I think the challenge right now is – I’ll give you the whole host of things right now we’re dealing with. We of course have to constantly train new recruits in general to get them ready to be officers. We have now 2,000 more officers on patrol than we had two years ago. So our training needs are bigger there. All officers are getting regular retraining in areas like de-escalation. That’s all officers, that never happened in the past. That’s a constant updated training. We’re doing the implicit biased training, which we never did before in the city and is necessary to help improve the relationship between police and community. And we’re doing the CIT training on mental health. That’s a lot of activity, and a lot of our trainers’ time taken up in all of our facilities being taken up. So what we’ve got to do is find a way to rapidly increase that mental health training. It has been working with our officers – the ones who get training, certainly have benefited greatly from it. Now, that said and I want to be straight forward. There are times where even with all the right training, even with all the right backup, still something happens where an officer’s life is immediately in danger and they have to respond. But we do believe fundamentally in the training, and we will find a way to speed up that timeline. Lehrer: I want to ask you about the announcement that you made yesterday, approving the integration plan for school District 15 in Brooklyn, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park. Including at M.S. 51 where your kids attended. For people who don’t know it eliminates middle school screening in pursuit of genuine race, and class integration. For some parents who might have their doubts Mr. Mayor. What’s your vision of how it will work when kids with maybe very different academic starting points after elementary school all start the term together in sixth grade? Mayor: So I want to start by saying this is my home district where I first got involved with the community as a school board member, when we had elected school boards. And I know this district very [inaudible]. You pointed out, it’s a district that has some areas that are economically very strong, and some areas where people are struggling more like Red Hook, and Sunset Park. The community based process here was outstanding. I really want to commend everyone. There was a diversity working group in District 15 that really thought long and hard about how to create diverse learning environments while ensuring a high quality education for everyone. And I can say about District 15 that when I was first was on the school board almost 20 years ago there were probably only a few middle schools of people that say we’re really top notch. Now just like elementary schools in the district, a lot more are stronger and can provide a great education for a whole range of kids. I give credit to the previous administration, the Bloomberg administration for some of the work they did. I think my team over the last five years has done a lot of work to expand on it. So now we have a lot better options to choose from. And I think parents increasingly know that. So what the balance has been struck here is to say we’re going to create a system that really gives everyone an opportunity and takes some of the arbitrary elements out of the equation and then we’re going to provide the support and the resources to our principals and our teachers to make sure that each school can really maximize and live up to its potential. It will take a while to get all the pieces to work perfectly. But I do think the energy for it among the principals and the educators and teachers, and the parents at District 15 is outstanding and I said yesterday this how we will make a real change. This is as you know Brian, extraordinary complex decades and decade of challenges and complexities around the question of how do you create diverse classrooms. Rarely has it been addressed productivity through public policy. This is a grassroots solution where there’s really a high level of buy in. And I think that’s the wave of the future and that’s something were going to have to take across the city. Lehrer: I think the history includes that screening only started in that district in the early 2000’s promptly as a way to keep white families from fleeing the public schools. Why be confident that while families won’t flee the public schools now? Mayor: Excellent question – and Brian to your credit and to the credit of this show. These are the kinds of things we need to talk more about in our city. Because I think you’re right. I think the way these schools were created. I don’t think it was ignoble, I don’t think it was badly intended. I do think there was a point – certainly think about the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s even into the beginning of the 90’s where we were losing middle class people of all races by the way and that was a danger to the future of the city, and a danger to the future of our school system. And I think there was a very noble effort by a lot of folks to come up with better public school options that would keep every kind of family in the public schools to create that mix alone. To bring kids of all different abilities together strengthen the public schools, but also have a lot parents invested in the public schools I think that makes sense. But I think there’s a massive unintended consequence. And it’s – I’ll make a parallel. We couldn’t address some other issues in this city as a whole until we got safe. We’re now the safest big city in America. Well, we also probably couldn’t address some of these education fully enough until we became a stronger school system overall. And now since the advent of mayoral control our graduation rate is up 50 percent. We have the highest graduation rate we’ve ever had, lowest dropout rates, the highest college readiness rate. All of these indicators show that this is a school system that really can work for everyone. Obviously we have things like pre-K that change the dynamic and make it appealing to everyone and more effective for everyone. So I think we’re poised now to make a historic changed that honestly I am not sure would have played out the same way 20 years ago but can work now. Lehrer: Bell, in East New York, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Bell. Question: Hi, I’ve been tweeting about this concern. I’ve made multiple complaints to 3-1-1. There are excessive numbers of commercial traffic trailer unhitched parked in East New York, particularly on Flatlands Avenue. Every compliant comes back with there’s no finding. But the tractor trailer unhitched stays there weeks, and months, and years on end, and nothing is being done about it. Now when you developed – when they developed Gateway Estates they included a plan for parking but they probably did not consider the fact that they were going to be using it as a commercial parking space and as a result the residents in East New York in that area are getting an excess number of parking tickets because they can’t park. Mayor: I – first of all, will you please give your information to WNYC and we’ll follow up with you right away. I really appreciate you raising this and Brian one of the things we’ve learned in this process over the last few years with your show is that it is a very effective way to get attentions acted – issues acted on, and members of my staff are listening as we speak. So I will instruct them through you that I’d like the precinct captain for the area being discussed to call directly to this caller and lay out a plan for how to address this issue. This is a big issue all over the city. I have had I think 58 town hall meetings and this is really extreme. This issue comes up at a very high percentage of town hall meetings and NYPD is able to very aggressively, not only fine, but tow even the biggest vehicles and make a big impact. But we have to make sure there is focus on it. We will have the precinct captain talk to you directly about what that plan will be. Lehrer: Bell, we’ll take your contact info off the air right now, hang on. Mr. Mayor can you update us on the school bus situation, 100,000 bus hotline complaints so far this school year, as I’ve seen it reported, up 20 percent from last year. So many kids not being picked up or dropped off correctly or at all and now revelations from the Daily News I believe about lack of screening for past criminal convictions by drivers. How big a mess and what’s the solution? Mayor: It’s a real problem. The – it’s unacceptable. I just want to make it really, really clear for all New Yorkers and all parents. My kids used to ride the school bus, you know, this is not acceptable for anybody. I can relate to this. It’s not acceptable. A lot of these issues have come up very starkly in the last few weeks in a way they did not come up previously. So we’re changing a whole host of things. The Chancellor announced today that he will appoint a new “bus czar.” So there will be a new leadership structure for our school busses. All bus drivers are now going to be fingerprinted. Everyone who is on – they’re not our employees. It’s very important to point out right at this moment. We contract with private companies and I think there are some good elements of that but also some problematic elements and we have to look at that situation more closely and see how to address that reality unto itself. But what we will do now is, all current bus drivers will be fingerprinted, background checked. If any issues come up, we’ll go through a full investigation formally through the legal department at the DOE. We’ll not accept any driver who has any kind of inappropriate criminal history and we have to get this right both in terms of the safety of our kids and our kids getting around and getting to school on time. And I’m not going to accept anything less than a school bus system that actually works. And if we have to take stronger measures, we will. Lehrer: Sheila in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Sheila. Question: Hi, thank you. Mr. Mayor, I really want to applaud you for taking steps to cap the growth of Uber and Lyft and for-hire vehicles. But I don’t think the City has gone far enough to restore the devastation to the small yellow cab medallion owners who are really the segment that’s been hurt the most. I was at a hearing at City Hall on Monday and didn’t feel that there was a real interest in restoring the loss to the small yellow cab medallion owners and I think it’s really the wrong side of history to be on. I’m glad that drivers are being helped – that all drivers are being helped but many of them are new to the industry and are not facing the same devastations. Without yellow cab medallion owners there won’t be yellow cab drivers. In the future, are we all going to be forced to have smart phones and credit cards in order to get a cab – Mayor: No, Sheila, I appreciate the question but – I really – I know you didn’t you mean it as a statement as much as a question. And will answer the question – no, I do not believe for a moment that we’ll have a future without yellow cabs. They play a very, very important role in this city – not only are they iconic and they’re one of the historic ways that people have come here and worked their way to the middle class but they also fill a niche that’s really needed. There’s a whole lot of people who do not want to go through the process with a smartphone or want the speed and spontaneity of stepping out on the street and putting out your up and there’s a cab. There’s obviously the airports – there’s a whole host of reasons why yellow cabs will certainly be an important part of our future. And I look – a couple things real quick. Thank you for what you said about the decision to cap the for-hire vehicles. It was the right thing to do. My only regret is that when I called for it three years ago and tried to get that to the City Council that there wasn’t the agreement in the Council to do that, and I think that was a lost opportunity but I’m very glad that it happened now. The medallion values, we do believe they will rebound – maybe not to their historic highs. But look, we’ve now limited the supply. We’re not doing any more auctions of new medallions. It’s a very finite resource. The yellow cabs are now, to their credit, that whole industry is converting to use some of the new technology to maximize opportunity for yellow cab drivers. I think that’s going to increase the medallion value and help to correct the situation. I also would say – I think the City Council, and certainly on my side of City Hall, we want to find additional things we can do to help drivers and I think you will see some new policies coming forward from the City Council and from the TLC to address the realities of drivers today. I would just caution on only one other point that in the end this is still government licensing private sector activity. That’s what the medallions are and any private sector activity comes with challenges. There’s no guarantee about what any individual’s profitability level is going to be. So, we absolutely want to help the drivers and the small medallion owners. I think there will be new policies soon that do a lot more of that. But I would say in the long run there will absolutely be a place for yellow cabs in this town. Lehrer: While we’re on transportation, Mr. Mayor, now that the Cuomo’s MTA hashtag didn’t make much of a difference in the primary – what happens with subway funding? You saw probably that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is floating a plan for the City to enact its own congestion pricing scheme without the State, and maybe for the City to take over New York City transit. What do you think? Mayor: Well, first of all, I’ve been working very closely with Corey Johnson on a host of issues and consider him to be a real partner in everything we do. The big picture – I would disagree with your premise. I think the election focused a huge amount of attention on the MTA and our subways. I think it consolidated the understanding that the State runs the MTA and that is very healthy. This is what we’ve been needing in this town for decades, to finally find responsibility. I always make the parallel – if you have a concern about our schools or our police or sanitation, come to me. Well, now we know very clearly if there’s concern about the MTA, it needs to be directed to the State. And that’s good – accountability is good. I think that intense debate will help to fuel solutions and I also believe what we’ve – the other piece of the equation we need in addition to a clear accountability structure has been honestly, bluntly a Democratic State Senate because it was quite clear the Republican leadership in the State Senate was not going to agree to any proposal. I said let’s do a millionaire’s tax. The Governor talked about congestion pricing. Other people had other solutions but the State Senate Republicans are not willing to do any of them just like they weren’t willing to act on speed cameras. So that was really the politics of no. I think with a Democratic State Senate, we will finally have an historic moment in 2019 this coming spring to solve the MTA funding crisis once and for all. And so that’s the ideal. To answer the second part of your question, Brian, the ideal is with the current leadership structure to finally provide the MTA with real permanent resources to fulfill that Fast Forward Plan that Andy Byford’s put out which I believe is thirty or forty billion over ten years. That is reachable with a permanent funding source like a millionaire’s tax or arguably congestion pricing or some other combination of pieces. That’s the way forward to fix the situation with the current structure. To Corey Johnson’s point – look, if the State in the next year or two still can’t resolve a way to address this then we have a structural crisis, and of course we need to talk about what other options may exist but I don’t think it’s time for that yet. I think we may be on the verge of finally solving this funding issue and getting the structural changes that we need so these trains will run on time. Lehrer: A couple of things, quick, before you go. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this yet but WNYC’s Matt Katz obtained tapes of the Bergen County Sheriff, Michael Saudino, making racist comments, anti-Sikh comments with respect to the New Jersey Attorney General who wears a turban. He commented on Sheila Oliver, wondering if she’s gay because she’s never been married. I only ask this of you because it’s a lot of New Yorkers who are detained, or immigrants picked in New York who are detained in some of the facilities that the Bergen County Sheriff oversees. Do you – have you heard and do you have any reaction to that? Mayor: I haven’t heard and I’d be cautious any time I haven’t heard both sides of the story. But I’d say if it proves to be true, I don’t know how someone who has those views can play that role, and it’s not just about the detention of immigrants. It’s about everything else. I mean anybody in a position of public authority, particularly law enforcement, who can have those views on people’s race, religion, sexual orientation – that’s just not acceptable and not part of what should exist in the modern world. So, you know, again, I will reserve judgement on the specifics because I haven’t heard it but as a question of standard, I would apply the same standard to this individual that I would to the President of the United States that this is not acceptable behavior. Lehrer: And I don’t know if you’ve seen the Staten Island Advance today. But they’re hoping you’re going to endorse The Wheel – the big Ferris wheel and observatory that they’re hoping to build on the North Shore by approving some bonds. What do you say? Mayor: Not under current conditions. If there is a new proposal, we’ll certainly look at it but here’s the reality. This was an idea approved in the previous administration. It was always a somewhat speculative idea. I understand very deeply why the people on Staten Island want to see more economic development, want to see more jobs. I understand, absolutely, the frustration of a bunch of tourists take the Staten Island Ferry, go right back to Manhattan, don’t spend money in Staten Island. I do think the outlet malls which are about to open – or the outlet mall, I should say, is about to make a big difference on Staten Island in terms of jobs and tourist spending. But The Wheel was a private sector endeavor that was supposed to pay for itself, and I think the economics were a little shaky from the beginning and they’ve proven to be shakier. And we are very careful about exposing any public resources when we’re not sure something is going to work and also is not – it’s a for-profit entity. It’s not something built for a pure public purpose. So, the specific requests that have been made of the City, we’ve said no so far. If there’s a new option, a new request, we will evaluate it but the bar is high on that one because, you know, I think we have a long history of the public sector getting involved in private sector activities and subsidizing or bonding in ways that prove later on to be not the best use of public resources. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thank you as always. We’re out of time. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thanks very much, Brian.
Friday, September 21, 2018 - 1:13pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Welcome to M.S. 51 everybody. [Applause] Neal, I want to thank you, I want to thank you for all the work that you have done on the Community Education Counsel and on the Diversity Working Group. And I think you summarized it beautifully, but I also want to thank you for talking to people about your own life’s journey and why this is such an important moment for your family, and providing for your kids the things that maybe you did not get to experience the way you should have, but they are going to get to experience, and the kids after them are going to get to experience because of your work, and everyone else’s work here. Let’s thank Neal. [Applause] Success has many mothers, and fathers. I want to thank people here who are all part of this process in District 15. District 15 is my home in every way, and I honor and appreciate the people of this community, and folks who have come forward as leaders. I want to thank the DOE leaders for our community, Executive Superintendent Karen Watts, and District 15 Superintendent Anita Skop. [Applause] When Chiara, and Dante went here for part of the time they were here – Lenore DiLeo-Berner was a principal. She is now on a fellowship training other principals. And I want to thank her, and I want to thank the Acting Principal of M.S. 51, Greg Stanislaus for the extraordinary work they do in this school. [Applause] To the District 15 Diversity Plan Working Group, you put a lot of time and energy, and heart, and soul, and creativity, and intelligence into this process. I am so proud of you and so thankful for all of you. Let’s all salute your neighbor. [Applause] And there’s been a lot of support for this process as well from the organizations who represent our educators and with us here today I want to thank him as the first Vice President of the CSA, Henry Rubio, thank you for being with us. [Applause] First, on a very human level – so this gymnasium I spent a lot of my life in this gymnasium right here. And I am flooded with wonderful memories. Chiara and Dante both were part of the 7-8 Precinct Youth League that had its basketball games here. And I remember so fondly on these very basketball hoops, great historic moments in our family history. And I also want to note for the record that in her very last game in the league, Chiara sprained her finger on a play, but as a result she got two foul shots. And she had a sprained finger, we didn’t know it yet. But she had a sprained finger. And although she missed the first shot, on the very last shot of her basketball career she scored, so I want to honor her for that. [Applause] So I am, was, and am and will always be a District 15 dad. But today I stand here as the Mayor of this great city. And on behalf of the City of New York, and the DOE, I am here to formally approve the District 15 Diversity plan. [Applause] Congratulations to all of you. [Applause] Now I want to make clear, these are big complicated, challenging, historic issues. But why this plan is so powerful is it was created by this community for this community. This is truly an expression of grass roots leadership. And people deciding that we could reach farther and doing the hard work to figure out how we would get there. I know there’s been a really extensive full dialogue in this community. And it’s very gratifying to see this kind of democracy playing out. People at the grass roots working with the educators in the Department of Education, figuring out an approach that had not been used before but we all believe is the right approach. I want to tell you something else from personal experience that speaks to how far we have come and it’s just a small example from my own life. But it speaks volumes I think. So I was part of group sort of like this one a while back when Chiara and Dante were at P.S 372 here in this community. And it was a wonderful school, a wonderful familial school community. But it did not sufficiently reflect our district and everyone knew it. There weren’t enough kids from Sunset Park; there weren’t enough kids from Red Hook. So we formed what we called the diversity committee. And we came up with different models of how we could address the issue and everyone felt very good. And I’m sure somewhat like folks feel today, that they did a lot of hard work, and I came up with a plan. But they are the parallel stops, because this was about 15 years ago. And we brought our plan to the Department of Education and got the coldest shoulder you’ve ever seen. We believe there was a way for kids of all backgrounds to learn together that everyone would benefit. But the DOE did not share that commitment. And so that effort went nowhere. 15 years ago that DOE blew us off. What a difference 15 years makes. This DOE has said thank you to all these parents and educators, and yes we can. [Applause] So it’s a very different thing when you come up against a bureaucracy that shuts you down versus finding that your ideas are received and respected at City Hall, and at the Tweed Building. And this time these ideas are going to turn into action, because everyone is on the same page. These are changes we need and changes we can achieve for the good of all. And you can feel in the air in this city – momentum for diversity is growing, momentum for change is growing. We saw it in District 3 on the West Side of Manhattan. We saw it in District 1 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now, District 15 Brooklyn. And this movement is growing. And what’s so powerful is that it is coming from the grass roots. And these are the most personal of issues. Particularly what I am talking about the grade school level, and the middle school level. For parents nothing could be more personal than their children at which school they go to, and what those schools are like. That’s why it’s been so important that these decisions be made with the grass roots, and listening to what people think will work and what they think won’t work. And asking them what they need to make it work, and getting them the support and resources to bring this to fruition. That’s what happened here. I have believed for a long time that the most profound social change comes from the grassroots, but also the most lasting social change. It is incumbent upon us as we step into a new era that we get it right, and that we prove the model can work for everyone. That’s why this grass roots process was so important as well. The amount of buy in and support is crucial. And again we will keep providing the resources needed not only here in District 15 to make this reality work but also in other districts that are exploring what they can do next. The City of New York is providing grants to support that kind of community planning. The State of New York is as well and that’s crucial to getting it right. The goal is absolutely consistent with the message we talked about over the last five years and it is summarized by the simple phrase, Equity and Excellence. It’s not one of the other, it has to be both. And what’s beautiful about this plan is that, that view, that belief suffused everything that people did. They did not say let’s have diversity but schools in which kids can’t succeed and they did not say let’s have schools in which some kids in succeed and other kids don’t succeed. They said we need a common standard of schools where every child succeeds and kids learn together with children of all backgrounds. That’s what Equity and Excellence is all about. It is not an easy process and I want to be blunt about this – this is not easy, it takes a lot dialogue. It takes a lot of work. It takes some time. These are issue that we have been grappling with in this city and in this country for many decades. And I have to say there’s not a huge number of models to draw upon that have worked. It’s part of why we have had to keep experimenting, but I have more confidence than ever that what’s been done here in District 15 is going to be one of the models that works for the long haul and really serves all of our kids. And that’s an amazing achievement. Everyone I will complete my remarks with just one point and then a few words in Spanish. I have faith that we will make big changes. Yes, again it will take time, it will take work, there will be challenges but I have faith that working together and listening to parents, and listening to educators, that we will surely get there in this city. And I have faith in all of you. Thank you, thank you. [Applause] A few words in Spanish. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that, a man who, very first conversations I had with him he talked about social justice and he talked about equity and pretty much every conversation I’ve had with him since, he’s talked about social justice and he’s talked about equity – our Chancellor Richard Carranza. [Applause] Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: So thank you Mr. Mayor and I want to thank everyone that’s here on this momentous occasion. I want to just take it a step further Mr. Mayor and with everyone’s permission I want call out by name individuals that spent months and months, long hours here in this working group – for District 15 crafting what we, what you have now approved Sir and we embrace. So I want to thank our superintendent, Anita Skop, thank you for your leadership. [Applause] But I also want to recognize and I feel like graduation, let’s save applause until I read everybody’s name. [Laughter] But I want to recognize Antelma Valdez, Benji and Eliza, our student representatives, Carrie Mclaren, Coletta Walker, Denise Watson, Feryal Abuhammoud, Julie Stein Brockway, Laura Espinosa, Leonor DiLeo-Berner, Lin Sean, Maria Diaz, Miriam Nunberg, Neal Zephryin, Raymond Chen, and then also from our office Sadye Campoamor and Andy McClintock and it would not be right to also not mention an incredible organization that helped us with the facilitation and the community engagement. WXY. A big round of applause. [Applause] But Mr. Mayor it’s also very important to note that your leadership has been transformational in this process and this conversation. But there are two individuals who are seated here as well that I want to personally congratulate as well because they have taken the political mantle and they have said that our hopes are that this process would come to fruition but knowing that hope is not a strategy they actually put their political weight behind it and have been absolutely unflappable supporters of this process so I want to thank Councilmember Brad Landler. [Applause] And Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. [Applause] This would not have been possible without your hard work and your leadership and your steadfastness so I want to thank you. And so to all of our partners and our parents, our advocates, our students, our elected officials and our community members – I want to say to you thank you, today is literally the shot heard round the world as it pertains to equity in our city. In June I had the opportunity as the brand new chancellor to meet with members of the D15 Diversity Group. I was then, and I continue to be now, extremely proud of the thoughtful work done by this community where the Mayor has spoken so eloquently about how difficult this work really is. This D15 Working Group took that challenge, invested themselves, invested their neighbors and came out with a plan that I think is actually a template for many others in our community. The process brought everyone to the table, stack holders and community members from across the district and they had those tough conversations in what I especially appreciate in different languages. They asked why do we have academic screens at almost all of our middle schools? I think I have been asking that question too. [Applause] Why are we putting nine and ten-year-olds, nine and ten-year-olds through such a stressful process as our parent shared us with his daughter. Why are we segregating our students? These are questions that the Working Group was asking and through all of those questions the irrefutable line that I heard from every one of those Working Group members is our public schools belong to everyone and we want to make sure that that happens. [Applause] What I also appreciate is that they just didn’t come together and have a big screamfest. They looked a data, they looked at potential solutions, they had real back and forth as a community. They arrived at an answer as a community and put forward a plan as a community. This my friends, is real action with real buy in, with real ownership of this plan and its success. And now, just because the plan is approved doesn’t mean this is over. It is not over. The DOE that our Mayor described is not the DOE of 2018, 2019 and going forward. We welcome these plans and we welcome these conversations. And you also have to remember it’s not just about admissions, it’s about curriculum, it’s about inclusive practices. It’s about social emotional learning so that all students, regardless of schools, are supported academically and with a school climate that fosters even greater academic achievement. The District 15 community is going to keep having these conversations and I encourage you to continue to have the conversations but I’m particularly excited today because we are not just announcing the Mayor’s approval of the plan. You see it’s a top down, bottom up approach. So from the top, we are signaling that we want communities to do this work and that we will pay for it, we will invest in this work. [Applause] We will respect the plans that are put forward that are put forward to us. And from the bottom up we are empowering communities where the hard conversations will need to happen. You see they can’t happen at Tweed, they have to happen in the neighborhoods, in the boroughs where people know the best. Our public schools belong to everyone and this next step in making that vision a reality could not be more important to the future vitality of New York. Thank you to the D15 community. I want to thank you to everyone who has participated – to you I say my hat’s off but more importantly my hand is out. Let’s work together, let’s get to work. [Applause] [Chancellor Carranza speaks in Spanish] […] Mayor: Alright, we’re going to take media questions on this announcement. We’ll be taking thereafter questions on all other topics, but first on this announcement. Yes? Question: Just wondering, I know you’ve been giving money to other districts, District 15 is anomalous in many ways. You have a lot of parents here who’ve had the time to actually volunteer their efforts over the last year. At what point in districts that may not have the same sort of glut of volunteer parents does the City have to come in? What do you see as the cities ultimate role in districts that are obviously very different from this one, or is it purely sort of, giving money to have them create their own plan? Mayor: Great question, I would say first of all 32 districts have their own reality. Any one of our 32 districts would be the size of, you know, a major American school system in most other parts of the country. But I would disagree with one element, and I think your question is honest, but I want to disagree with one element of it because I’ve worked with parents all over the city. There’s no district that doesn’t have a lot of active parents. [Applause] And I think it’s fair and objective to say, in some places people may have more time and energy to give for economic reasons for example, but there’s nonetheless extraordinary – extraordinary parent activism and energy all over the city. When you look at the CEC’s alone, you know, right there is a well spring of parent involvement, obviously the PTA’s as well. So we’re never going to lack for parents to engage the process. I think the second point you raised, the notion of the DOE providing that consistent support absolutely is necessary. We believe in the broad vision but we think it has to be done district by district in the right way, and so we have to be there with expertise and we have to be there with time and energy of educators to work with the parents and we will make that happen. And by the way, as I said, not only our own direct resources, but the state is putting resources in as well which is fantastic. The last thing I’d say which is really I think your question has sparked a memory that I have tried to sublimate and get rid of, there was a day, as you know I have a complex set of views about my predecessor, but there was one day where he was being asked I think on his weekly call-in show about some issue involving parents and their views on education. And he said well all these parents aren’t particularly educated themselves and they don’t know what a good education looks like. And then went on to offer his views on what the result it was from that assumption. I was deeply upset when I heard that because everyone of us comes from families that at one point, in many cases not so long ago, were not blessed with every educational opportunity. My grandparents who came from Southern Italy and came here not speaking English, according to Michael Bloomberg’s comment at that time, would not have understood what a good education was for their children but their three daughters went to college, my mom went to Smith College in Massachusetts, they certainly figured it out and they knew that nothing was more important than a great education for their kids. So I say that to say, if the inference – no disrespect to the question – if the inference is that folks that may have fewer resources or folks that may be immigrant aren’t going to be as focused or as concerned, I think it’s quite the opposite. I think folks that have had less fair treatment want better education for their kids and put more time and energy into achieving it. [Applause] Other questions, yes? Question: Can you talk about how the new grants will work? Are districts going to apply to them? Are there already certain districts [inaudible]? Mayor: Josh Wallack, our Deputy Chancellor is going to come up, and I want to, you know, Brad Lander gave him credit because Brad Lander employed him before I did and I stole him from Brad Lander back when I was a City Councilman in this district. So that was Brad trying to claim some origination there. But, Josh has done an outstanding job as our Deputy Chancellor including his heroic efforts in creating Pre-K and 3-K and he’s been one of the driving forces here, so as to how we’re going to support those districts and which districts. Go ahead Josh. Deputy Chancellor for Strategy and Policy Josh Wallack, Department of Education: So thanks. So we are going to have an application process for districts that are interested to step forward and do this work and we’ll take those applications this fall and then work with each district for an approach. And we’ve already seen 14 school districts across the city step forward to take State grants, as the Mayor alluded to, to start the planning process. So we’re hopeful that these resources can help them continue that work much the way that District 15 did. Mayor: Just say which districts are [inaudible]. Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Sure, the districts that have received State funding so far are Districts 1, East Village, Lower East Side; District 2 which is the East Side south of 96th Street and the West Side South 59th Street; District 3, Upper West Side, Morning Side Heights - so some of these are districts that have already done work but want to continue it - District 10, The North Bronx; District 13, Brooklyn Heights East to Clinton Hill; this District, 15; 20 in Southern Brooklyn, Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Dyker Heights – I won’t name every neighborhood in each district - 21 which Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst East; 22, Midwood, Mill Base, and Sheepshead Bay; 24 in Queens, which is Corona, Elmhurst, Maspeth; 27, which is Ozone Park, Howard Beach, and the Rockaways, Broad Channel; 28, Forrest Hills, Kew Gardens, Regal Park, Jamaica; And 30 which is Western Queens, Long Island City, Astoria, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside; And District 31, Staten Island. So, real interest from all over the city. Mayor: Excellent, a man with his facts. Back there. Question: Mr. Mayor, should district parents expect a demonstrable, narrowing of the achievement gap? Mayor: Also a great question, I appreciate that. That is certainly the goal. There are so many important values to consider here and we believe in educational opportunity for all and we believe in the value of people getting to know each other and breaking down boundaries. But we are also very focused on closing that achievement gap. We’ve been – all of us proud – I want to thank all the educators in the room. The city’s continued to make progress on graduation rate, on college readiness and kids going to college readiness and kids going to college on test scores, but what we still struggle with is closing that achievement gap and I do think this strategy is going to be one of the things that becomes a difference maker along with pure equalization strategies like Pre-K for All and 3-K for All, which probably to me are the single most foundational to closing the achievement gap, but I think strategy will also be an important contributor. Dave? Question: Just two things, this is going for next year I take it because we don’t have anything to show how this school, M.S. 51 for example, has changed, it’s for next year – Mayor: So Chancellor Josh, whoever wants to speak about the mechanics of the timeline on this and when it will affect the admissions process? Deputy Chancellor Wallack: So that’s right. This will begin for this coming applications process which will open at the end of October - [Applause] For the group of students that enters school next fall, so you’ll see the impacts next fall. Question: So my main question – and I know this is a loaded question – but what do you tell parents of children who are very successful already in school, they’re doing very well, and they are fearful that if the number of kids increases in their school where their children are doing well who, for example, are homeless, don’t do as well on scores, speak English as a second language, and their fearful that will dilute the overall quality of the education they are getting. I know it’s a loaded question, but what do you tell those parents who are fearful? Mayor: So I am going to offer my thoughts and the Chancellor may have his thoughts and I also want to see if Leonor and Laura who I know well would come forward and offer there – I’m just going to deputize you – and offer your thoughts as principals from our community. The question to me is, are you going to have an education for your child that works for your child? That’s the essential question a parent asks themselves. And what we’ve found over the years is that parents had some information but a lot times often had to rely on reputation and word of mouth and a lot of information that proved not to be the whole store. And that there were many schools that were really very good but didn’t get the credit they deserved and there were many teachers that were very good, laboring in places that didn’t get the renown, and that infect the whole – the whole kind of dialogue was off kilter from the beginning. But the other thing that I think is very fair and very true, and I do want to now, just because I offered a critique before, I also want to give some credit where credit is due to the previous administration. You know a process of starting to improve our school system started then when mayoral control was brought in and certainly a number of schools moved forward, not all but a number. That has continued in our administration with different strategies that have moved a number of other schools forward. So, I think today you have a universe of schools in this city, and certainly in this district, where, by every objective measure, there are more and more strong schools than we’ve ever seen. And so parents have more and better options, and there’s also a commitment here, in the DOE and in this district to get it right, to make sure that every child is served well. So, I went through this very same process that Josh describes – starts next month – I went through it ten years ago right now. And you know I think from that perspective parents want to know that something’s going to work for their kid and they want some evidence of that. And I think what’s been so beautiful in this process is that the educators speak with such passion about why they believe it will work and why they believe they can provide a great education for all the kids. So, that’s why I want you to hear from them. But first, Chancellor, do you want to add? Chancellor Carranza: Yeah, so to all of our parents – there are incredible options for all of our students in our schools. Sometimes parents don’t take the time to look because the word on the street is you only have to go to one school or to another school. But I can tell you, there are incredible opportunities and incredible options for parents in – for students in our school system. And again, I’m going to very respectfully push back on the notion that diversity waters anything down. I think it’s the wrong question. [Applause] If that was the case, then New York City would not be the successful city it is because we are diverse. So, students in the city are in a diverse city. Students in their classrooms should be in diverse classrooms. It’s the cornerstone of our democracy and I can tell you that we are going to make sure that all students have what they need to be able to not only learn but flourish in our schools. [Applause] Mayor: One of the joys of being MC is you can just put people on the spot. So, Lenore and I think I saw Laura here. Come on up. [Inaudible] These are two principals that I have known really, really well for years and years in this district including Lenore who has, as I said, oversaw the education of my children. So if you would both speak to why you think this will work. Lenore DiLeo-Berner: Well, I have to really talk about the teachers. Teachers, not only in our district, but all over the city are truly amazing and don’t get the credit they deserve. They are trained – [Applause] It’s a bit of a myth that any school has any one type of student. Our teachers have been trained to teach all kinds of students, all kinds of learners at every different level. And certainly with the proper supports with this plan. I know that they can do greater things to a greater extent to meet the needs whether it’s culturally or academically for all the students in this district. [Applause] Laura Scott: Hi, Laura Scott, P.S. 10. I agree with Lenore about the teachers but I credit my parents as well because I – my community is a very diverse one and my parents will embrace and include anyone who is different or unique or has some disability that needs to be addressed. And when we – our children are moving forward into middle schools we do the same exact thing. And we had a group of parents a few years ago get together as a cohort and say, let’s try this other middle school together and let’s see if we can support our kids and also make a difference. And they did. And that’s going to be our attitude moving forward with this new plan. We’re really excited about it. We think that all kids should have equal access to any or every school that is out there and we can’t wait to get started. [Applause] Mayor: See. I know who to call on. So, I also want to say, Dave, to your question I want to give a very personal reflection on the fact in this community which I started representing in the – what was then the school board – District 15, 1999. If – I’m going to be cold – if a parent happened to have the blessing of a higher education and lived in the community here, they were probably not looking to send their kid to P.S. 10 where Laura is now the principal. So if you go back in time – 1999, not that long ago, under Laura’s leadership, parents are knocking down the door to go to P.S. 10. It’s one of the great schools in this community as well regarded as that. But that happened in the course of just a few years. And what she said also about parents saying, hey wait a minute, here’s a middle school, this looks really promising, why don’t we all go and make this part of our lives, and also help it be great? And that’s a really important part of this equation too. Parents increasingly are not just bystanders. If they go into a school community, they aim to make it as strong as it can be and that’s something that’s an important part. There’s a different attitude now about not just accepting what is given to them by the DOE but trying to make it something greater. Question: [Inaudible] about school districts that either don’t want to do this work or that there’s a working group that does do the work, maybe even with the funds that you’re providing but then overall the rest of the school district isn’t as excited about putting the plan in place. At some point, does the City have a responsibility – if you believe this is the right thing for children, do you have a responsibility to all children in the city that they have diverse schools as well? Mayor: The broad answer is yes but the challenge – the honest challenge of geography and housing realities is a real thing we have to look at in this equation and the different approaches in each district will be different because of that. Some – I mean District 15, if you look at it carefully has had way too much separation even though the opportunity for diversification within the district was staring us all in the face because you have this rich variety of neighborhoods that all connect. But in some other places, that’s less true. So, I think it will be different district by district. I think we have to first maximize community involvement, parent involvement, and believe that that will get us to a good place in certainly most districts. And then if we find there’s some place where there’s something that we think we can be done and parents are not yet there, we’re obviously going to work hard to get them there and to engage them. But I want to emphasize that this is a beginning. I think this is – now with the successful efforts in CEC 3, CEC 1, and here, we have more of a template than we’ve ever had. It still is not necessarily a one size fits all to say the least for the whole city because it’s a big complex city but I’m hopeful. And I think – the honest answer is we want to go down the road. You heard that list that Josh read off. That’s a lot of work ahead. Those next set – that next set which really covers a lot of the city is going to tell us a lot more about how we ultimately get to a citywide vision. Yes, please? Council Member Brad Lander: That is a good and important question but I also really want to credit the forward motion that has come from the work people have done. Each time something kind of works I think you see the fear go down a little and the courage go up a little. So, as a result of the work that was done in District 1 and District 3, I think the working group felt the courage to go further and I know when the school-by-school [inaudible] admissions policy was developed you guys said well that’s not going to be enough and you were right. It’s not enough. But I don’t have any doubt that the work that took place in the elementary and middle schools of this district through that plan is part of what built people’s courage and confidence to move forward into this one. So, it’s not going to be enough but I really think you can see the kind of momentum from not just the planning and implementation but step-by-step helping people see it can work makes it a little easier to be confident that it will. Mayor: Alright. Yes? Question: Thanks. I’m curious. A school like has been such a gifted and talented orientation with teachers who are used to really accelerated programs. So, I’m wondering if you get kids with more different skill levels, do you see more tutoring, do you see more classes by preparation level? How is that going to work? Mayor: I’m going to – obviously I’ll defer to Chancellor first but I also think if Lenore would come back, and Greg, to talk about this school and how they’re going to approach it, that would be great. Chancellor Carranza: So, again, what we want to do is to meet the needs of all students. So, we’re going to take students where they are and what we want to do is accelerate students whether it’s a gifted and talented student that’s been identified as such or the student that is learning English or the student with an individual education plan – we’re going to meet students where they are and our job, quite frankly, is to accelerate student learning in all different kinds of ways, shapes, and forms. And part of what we are committed to doing is working very closely with our executive superintendent, our superintendent, and our principals to make sure that we have the right prescription, if you will, to meet the needs of our students. But it’s better – it’s always better if you hear from our principals because they’re doing this work every day. DiLeo-Berner: You know a lot of this work we’ve already started. If we could use our students with disabilities as an example – a lot of people don’t know that Middle School 51 has over 20 percent students with disabilities and we’ve included them in everything that we do in our programs. So whether it’s the arts, physical education – they’re involved in every aspect of the school to the point also where we offer the Living Environment Science Regents to all our students including the students with disabilities. And this year we are also doing that with our algebra class. So, all students will be taking algebra. So, again, that speaks to the fact that over the years we’ve had time to create a curriculum that is beautifully differentiated so that all students can have access to these courses and all students are finding success in these courses. And you know that didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of work on the part of the teachers and the parents also trusting us that we can make this work. So, that’s just one example of making a high school level course in the 8th grade not just available to the gifted students but to all students in the school and to show that we can find success with all of our students. So, moving forward, that includes students at all levels. So, bring it on. We’re ready. [Applause] Greg Stanislaus: I do believe the question has already been answered – [Laughter] But I will add this since the Mayor called me – the sign behind me says Equity and Excellence For All but there was a time growing up in East New York in the Brownsville Houses, Van Dyck Houses in Brownsville, that it was Excellence and Equity For Some. And the thing was in my community [inaudible] want a good education, you better go to a white school. And so I just happen to be one of those brown boys in the white school. But it bothers me to think that I was the one who got through but now with this plan it’s a plan that says everyone has an opportunity to get through – thank you. [Applause] The key for me was simply this – my parents did not have the education but they knew that education would be my key out of a bad situation. And so teachers gave me the key – not all teachers. I’m being honest with you. There were some teachers along the way that just believed in me and gave me the ticket to the next level, and so I stand here today because teachers gave me that opportunity. Teachers are not educated so that they can teach a certain group. Perhaps there’s a mindset that has to now be changed to understand that we were educated to teach all people. [Applause] Mayor: Well done. Greg tried to be shy and it failed. [Laughter] Well done. And to all the principals – can we all give them a round of applause. Thank all the principals here. [Applause] I do have to say one other rejoinder on Greg’s point because what he said is just profoundly sharp and true. But again Equity and Excellence – the core notion is every school has to become a good strong school. And so whatever community you’re in, whatever the demographic mix in that community, whatever plan is created for diversification, every school has to be a school parents can be proud to send their kids to. And I want to be real. I think some people – and this not what Greg was suggesting but I think it’s out there in the ether – some people think the only way to get to a good education is if it is in a particular demographic community. The very goal of what we’re trying to do is to break down that mistake and that problem as well. [Applause] So, in fact, it is in Brownsville that we began one of the most audacious things this department has ever done with 3-K For All and with the Single Shepherd program to make sure that that district and that community would soon experience truly great schools on a regular basis. So, it all wraps together. Let me see if there’s any more questions on this announcement – Question: Last time you have a press conference related to diversity and [inaudible] specialized high school, that’s obviously inherently, profoundly a top-down method, right, of integrating schools in which you have the State pass legislation that changes the test. Some parents felt they weren’t adequately consulted at that time. Can you sort of compare the bottom-up work you’re seeing in elementary and middle schools versus top-down for high schools? Mayor: You are very deep today. [Laughter] Social change – I’ve spent my life trying to understand it, and to be an actor in it, and it’s exceedingly complex, and I really do believe that from the ground-up is the best way to make lasting change. I think there are times where there is a top-down approach that’s needed. The challenge on specialized high schools is it’s a citywide admissions process. So, the intimacy of having a community dialog is impossible. You can try and foster a dialog with 8.6 million people, that’s an entirely different endeavor than when we talk about a working group in a particular school district or a community participatory budgeting in a Council district. So, in that instance, it felt very necessary to put forward a different vision and to recognize that we needed sharp, immediate change – that this instance had to happen from the top-down, because it also was a matter of Albany. It would be a very different discussion if we controlled it all entirely. But the numbers – and I keep coming back to the Stuyvesant number, because I cannot take my eyes off it because it’s so wrong. The last admissions process for Stuyvesant – three percent Latino, one percent black. It’s unconscionable. It’s unconscionable. So, I think you hit a really important fault line there. Sometimes it is necessary to do top-down, that’s true. Sometimes something can only be achieved through legislation. But this kind of change, for it to work and for it to last should be bottom-up, ideally. And we think it can be bottom-up. And the other thing to remember – and, you know, a lot of you may know that one of the single most influential elements of my personal formation was being a long person in a city that was trying to embrace diversity in the 1970s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And literally on our border was a city that was at war on this question – and I mean, at war – a city that had fallen into violence over these questions with the Boston busing crisis. And I saw there that it was the absence of an attempt to find a community-based solution that really took some of the very best intentions and ran them aground. So, I think this is the right way and this can work, but for the specialized high schools I think the only viable approach was to make it a public debate and take it to Albany. And by the way, it’s been an extraordinary public debate and I want to thank all of you in the media for fostering it. I’ve seen more intelligent, thoughtful – very, very broad range of views, but I’ve seen more intelligent and thoughtful dialog on the specialized school issue than on almost anything else that’s been talked about in this city lately. Few more on this topic – Question: Do you have any projections about how the middle school demographics are expected to change? There are lot of numbers like that [inaudible] District 3 – Mayor: Josh, if you wouldn’t go all the way over there you could get here more quickly. Just stand next to Carla, this is going to be fine – [Laughter] Deputy Chancellor Wallack: So, we have – we’ve done some preliminary work looking at this. And basically what we do is, we look at last year’s admission cycle and sort of project what would happen under this one. And what we see is – and I want to stay loose here because they are just projections – is that we would see several schools becoming much more representative of the district as a whole, and most of them making some progress. And we can get more specific about that as we go and learn more – Mayor: Why don’t you describe the district as a whole student makeup? Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Sure – Mayor: Do you got that? Deputy Chancellor Wallack: – I do, hold on one second – Mayor: It’s going to take going – Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Yeah, it’s going to take going into – Mayor: Okay, you can come back. Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Okay, I’ll come back – [Laughter] Mayor: I thought that would handy, it’s all good. Okay, last call on this proposal, and let’s just take Marcia’s questions on education and then we’re going to let everyone escape to do good work. But hold on one second, let’s just finish this piece. Go ahead, Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, actually I have several education questions, but first of all I’d like to talk to you about school bus drivers. I know there are about over 100 who weren’t given background checks, but there are also six who actually have criminal convictions. I’m wondering if you feel that you need to fire the people who have criminal convictions, especially for drunk driving and domestic abuse – that they should be – you think they should be driving students? And then what are you going to do about the people who did not have adequate background checks? Mayor: So, I will certainly let the Chancellor speak to some of the specifics. This has been an absolutely unacceptable situation. We will not allow it to continue. There are already major changes underway in the supervision of our bus program, our program to get our kids to school every morning – those changes are needed. There should have been background checks for absolutely everyone, that is now being instituted, including fingerprinting. And no, I do not believe anyone who has been previously convicted of drunk driving should ever drive a child or anyone who’s been convicted of any kind of violence should ever drive a child. Again, I’ll let the Chancellor speak to the administrative work. Chancellor Carranza: So, I also share the Mayor’s sense of outrage at what has happened at the start of the school year with transportation. The good news is that every day is better. We have reassigned bus routes for the most problematic bus routes. We have also instituted a number of changes and part of those changes – and again, I want to be clear, as part of the hiring process – it is not like bus drivers do not get screened. Everybody gets screened through the DMV background check. But what we are doing in New York is even a step beyond that, we do a secondary check. So, as the Mayor has announced, what we are doing now is that bus drivers will be subject to the same kinds of background checks as every other employee in the DOE, which includes fingerprinting, which includes a nationwide search of criminal records. In addition to that, what I have immediately done is I’ve reassigned the unit that does background checks from the Office of Pupil Transportation – OPT – that work now is moving to Human Capital, our Human Resources, where they do that every single day. We are also moving the investigations when there is a complaint against a specific individual, where that investigative unit used to reside in the Office of Pupil Transportation that function now will be within our legal department and our Special Investigations Unit. So again, what we’re doing is we’re reconstituting, rededicating ourselves to making sure there are no loopholes. For some of the drivers that have been mentioned as having problematic background checks, we’ve jumped on that right away. Some of those drivers never, ever drove for us because they were caught. But again, I want to reemphasize what we are doing in New York City is above and beyond what our colleagues do in the State of New York. We don’t just take that DMV background check, we’ve added a secondary level of background check, which is much more rigorous. Question: Have you fired any of the bus drivers? Chancellor Carranza: I can’t speak to that at this point. Mayor: We don’t employ them directly. Chancellor Carranza: They’re not our employees as well, they get cleared by us to be able to work for their company. So again, I don’t have any of those details. Question: [Inaudible] be fired? Mayor: Well again, Marcia, we’re going to make sure they’re not driving our kids. We don’t run the private companies, but we can sure as hell make sure they’re not driving our kids. Question: [Inaudible] could you talk about – Mayor: Could you hold on one second, I’m sorry to interrupt. I just want to make sure Josh answers the previous question that we had hanging there for a moment on the demographics on this district. Deputy Chancellor Wallack: In terms of the racial demographics for District 15 and the way we identify them, middle school students are identified as 42 percent Hispanic, 31 percent White, three percent Other, 12 percent Asian, 12 percent black. 52 percent of the students qualify for free, reduced lunch. Nine percent are identified as English-language learners. And 26 percent have an individualized education program – those are students with disabilities. I want to say again that our projections are based on last year’s numbers, and I think one thing I want to point out is that we expect that families will be making very different choices this year because we’re going to be working very hard with each family to reach out to them directly and through our partners in schools to help inform them about a really wide range of excellent options. So, while our projections show that we’ll do better in each school, we think we can stand to improve even more with the work that we’re going to do in partnership with this community. Mayor: Thank you. Well done, Josh. [Applause] Question: [Inaudible] also talk about the teacher who was arrested yesterday with child pornography? Mayor: Again, absolutely unacceptable and someone who will not be teaching in this school system, going forward. But, Chancellor, you can talk about what happens next. Chancellor Carranza: So, Marcia, was that the question about the teacher yesterday who was arrested? Yeah, so the teacher that was arrested yesterday has not been in the classroom – was reassigned – since January. Obviously, with that arrest we are pursuing firing that teacher forthwith. Question: On the bus issue, just, you know, on the long – those sort of long times [inaudible] do you have any sort of plans, going forward – I know you’ve said you’ve re-routed some of them. Have you given any consideration to using GPS? I know that was something that was in use in your former district. Do you have any plans, concrete plans like that going forward that you want to look at? Chancellor Carranza: Yes, so we already are using GPS in all of the buses that transport students with disabilities. GPS is part of that bus. We are using GPS. Again, these are all private companies, so we’re working with them to get GPS into those buses as well. Routes for busing is – it seems like a very simple notion, you have stops, you pick up kids and that’s all you do. When you think about the level of complexity that we’ve added to our routing system, just for the simple fact, for example, just one of the many variables – we are now picking up and transporting students in temporary housing. And as students in temporary housing – we’ve added thousands of students to the routes, which then we have to calculate how many stops, how many pickups. Again, it’s not an excuse, but it is a complex issue and that’s why I’m saying every day it’s getting better and better. Our goal is that we don’t have these kinds of delays and no-shows at all. That’s our goal – to have a great system right from the beginning. Mayor: Two quick additions that – one is, I’m really distressed about this situation with the school buses and we’re going to be looking at the whole structure, because we need to solve the immediate problem, but I think it begs some bigger questions about how we make it a much more efficient system, going forward. But that said, to the Chancellor’s point, remember that kid in shelter used to not get busing consistently. It was a decision we made a couple of years ago. It does add complexity. It’s not an acceptable state of affairs either in truth, because we’re trying to reorient the entire shelter system to get kids back to their home communities where hopefully they will not need buses or need them for much shorter routes. But it is one of the complicating factors that we’ve had to grapple with here. But the bottom line is, we’ve got a lot we need to change here. Okay, I’m going to say that’s it on education, and say to all of these great folks – congratulations and run while you can. [Applause] Mayor: Okay. Alright, room is almost cleared. We are a second away. Okay, let’s get that door closed please. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Almost, almost, almost. And it’s closed. Off topic. Question: Mayor, I have two questions about the Robert F. Kennedy initiative to pay the bail of certain detainees. The first one is your administration has said you can support something, generally speaking, like that as long as it focuses on lower level offenders and those who don’t pose a public safety risk, but the group said it will not make all bail decisions based on the crimes that the individual is charged with, so I’m wondering if you have any concerns about that and whether you intend to kind of share those concerns— Mayor: Yeah, it’s a wonderful organization I respect a lot – obviously named after one of the greatest leaders in this country’s history, but I do have a concern. I think the impulse to say that people who have committed low-level offenses, non-violent offenses should not be in jail awaiting trial because of money, I think that is a very fair concern and it parallels what we are trying to address in a much bigger way which is the need for State legislation to reform the bail process and ensure that no one who commits those kinds of offenses is sitting in a jail only for economic reasons. It’s not good for anyone, it’s costing the taxpayers a huge amount of money, it’s not fair in terms of incarceration levels and there’s so many reasons why that’s good policy and we want to get that State legislation next year. But to the organization, we’re certainly going to communicate our concerns and I would argue their intention is noble but they should focus on low level and non-violent offenders only. Yeah? Question: I have a question about that. Apparently there’s a State law that limits the bail that a charity can post to $2,000 for misdemeanor offenses but it’s reported that the organization is going to use volunteers to actually post the bail— Mayor: Yeah, I’m just not familiar with the law and the complexity so I just don’t want to get into something I don’t know the nuances of. Go ahead. Question: I have a question about your meeting with the Red Sox— Mayor: Yes, an important topic. Question: Your staff members say that you were meeting to discuss the Red Sox Foundation and how New York fans of the Sox could contribute to their charities in Boston. Have you ever met with the New York Mets’ or the New York Yankees’ front office to talk about how New Yorkers can contribute— Mayor: I have certainly talked to – it’s a little different and I want to make sure you understood. I got the invitation the day before and it was an intriguing invitation that a bunch of folks at Goldman Sachs who happen to be Red Sox fans were having the whole Red Sox leadership in, and they said well we know you’re a fan maybe you’d enjoy this. And we asked why was this happening and they said it was a benefit for the Red Sox Foundation. So it was the first time that they’d ever asked me to participate in anything. I’ve had a lot of conversations with the Mets leadership and the Yankees leadership over the years, on a whole host of issues. I don’t think either of them have asked me to do something with their foundations. But they’ve certainly raised to me other things that they’re doing in the community and other ways we can talk together and work together. So, I will work happily – I spend a lot of time at Citi Field and I’m always happy to work with the Mets and even though I don’t happen to go to Yankee games, I would always work with the Yankees on charity and civic issues, and I have a lot of respect for that organization. But this just literally was more a spur of the moment thing but for a great cause, they’re doing really good work. Question: Would you like to go to Yankee Stadium to discuss that with them? Mayor: I would go to Yankee Stadium, I would go to the middle of Times Square, anywhere that would help the City of New York. Go ahead. Question: Mayor, I just want to get you reaction to a lawsuit that was filed by Councilman Rory Lancman and I think an MTA board member regarding the NYPD not complying with the law asking them to turn over data about turnstile jumping. What do you think of that lawsuit? I know this has been an ongoing conversation. Mayor: Yeah, I’m – I’m surprised by this lawsuit, honestly, the conversations have been going on a daily basis, it’s well understood that we’re close to resolution. It’s been a very productive conversation with the council leadership about this and I was surprised to see a Council member decide to talk such an action. But it will not dissuade us from the work we’re doing. We’re going to come up with a resolution here because we’re on the verge of it right now. And be able to have transparency with that data but in a way that also takes into account real security concerns. Question: Are there any other people or entities given the leeway to not comply with the law until it’s changed into a way that they might— Mayor: This is a brand new – again, I would be careful not to mischaracterize it. It’s a brand new law which I was proud to sign, which then required specific work to figure out how to implement it which is true of laws of all kind. That work has been happening steadily between the Council and the Mayor’s Office and the Police Department. I think the authors of the law, understandably, because they’re not police professionals, hadn’t been as focused on some of the unintended consequences and the Police Department has raised them and said we have to find a way to address these and balance them. And it’s been happening consistently. The conversation’s been very productive and again I think we are on the verge of resolution. So we’ve said from day one we’re going to get there and we will. Yes? Question: Are you satisfied with the City’s preparedness for hurricanes? We’ve been talking about Puerto Rico, but the city, after Sandy, set a schedule and I think that’s according to our expert, Josh Robin, on it, the City’s far behind on its own preparedness schedule set after Sandy. Mayor: The level of preparedness today is much greater than it was at the time of Sandy. There’s no question about that. We learned a lot from Sandy, we’ve made a lot of changes. The way we build buildings is different. A number of buildings were repaired as a result of Sandy and their mechanicals were taken out of their basements and put on higher levels. A whole lot of buildings have been reinforced in a variety of ways. We’re got new barriers. The Rockaway Boardwalk is a great example, it’s five-and-a-half miles long and it is also built as a storm protection barrier. There’s a lot of changes that make this a much more resilient city. That said there’s a huge amount of work, it’s billions and billions and billions of dollars of work to do ahead, and a lot of it will take years and I’m not sure exactly of what timeline you’re referring to, but I would say from the point of view of my team, this is going to be decades of work, honestly, including some of the big projects that have been talked about with the Army Corps, like a barrier out at the mouth of the harbor. This work is going to go on for a long, long time. Every year we will get more resilient. I’m absolutely convinced. Everything that’s being built is being built much more effectively than what was built in the past. And every new project that’s on the water has a resiliency mindset to it, but I also want to say it’s going to be a long, long haul. Yes? Question: You’re [inaudible] from the Mets and the Yankees [inaudible] conversations, would you actually have a sit down meeting with executives of the Mets or the Yankees [inaudible]? Mayor: I have sat with the leadership of the Mets several times. I’ve talked on the phone with Randy Levine several times, but I want to just make sure everyone understands the context. I have not gotten a request, from either one of them, that I can remember, to do a particular thing with their foundations. I would have happily done it. I have, for example, in the case of the Mets, they’ve invited me to the first game of the season where they’re honoring first responders or families of first responders who we’ve lost in the line of duty. So again, I’m very happy to participate. This thing the other day was much more ad hoc but was for a great cause, and was also, as a fan, it was absolutely fascinating. So I was happy to have done it, and if Jeff Wilpon or Randy Levine want to call me today and suggest something we can do together, my phone line is open, they have my number, I assure you. Yes? Question: I wanted to ask about jointly operated playgrounds, I know there was a council hearing this week about, you know, some concerns that they’re not protected the same way park land is because they’re kind of in this gray area. DOE owns them but Parks run them. I just wanted to see if you had any thoughts on protecting these park lands. I know a lot of people are concerned because there is an Upper East Side park that is, you know, possibly being developed. Do you have any thoughts on it? Mayor: I think the basic approach is the same whether it is parkland owned by the Parks Department or a playground owned by the DOE, we want to keep the same recreational opportunities for the community. Sometimes it makes sense and we’ve seen this with lots of parks from the Parks Department to say well we can do something on this particular piece of land, but we need to compensate with other land nearby to make work and to keep everybody whole and that’s a good model. We have some real educational priorities we have to address in some communities and I think if you talked to parents they’ll say first you need classroom space, first they need their kids to get educated and obviously Chancellor, feel free to chime in, but what we want to do in each case is find some way to compensate and balance the equation. Separately, but very important, and I want to thank the Chancellor and his team for their commitment, we’re creating physical education capacity in a lot of schools and near a lot of schools that never had that before as part of a goal of making sure every school has that. Okay, last call? Yeah? Question: How do you feel about the state’s plan to change Sheridan Expressway to a boulevard so that you can have bikeways and you can have bridges that will [inaudible] people from the communities to get over to the water? Mayor: I think it’s a good idea, I haven’t seen every detail, and I have talked lately to my Department of Transportation if they have any particular concerns but if you’re asking the question, is it a good idea, yeah it’s a good idea because what happened in cities all over America, Marsha, you’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, for years is these big highways were put through that cut off communities from each other and often with really isolating effects and I think there’s been a reevaluation of that everywhere and in some places it may be impossible to turn back the clock, but I do think the Sheridan Expressway is an example of someplace where you can restore the natural neighborhood and I think that’s a smart idea. Question: [Inaudible] members of the community? Mayor: I think for anybody in a community where their community is made whole and they can more comfortably get around to the waterfront, to parks, and not feel like a highway divides them it’s a better way to live, obviously. Last call, going once, twice – Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:10pm
NEW YORK – Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced the next steps in the City’s school diversity plan – approving a diversity plan to increase middle school diversity in Brooklyn’s District 15 after a year-long community-driven process and proposal, and launching a $2 million school diversity grant program for other school districts and communities across the City to develop their own community-driven diversity plans. The Mayor and Chancellor also announced that the City’s independent School Diversity Advisory Group will continue to advise the City after issuing its initial report this December. “We believe that our schools can reflect our whole city and we are proud to support and invest in the future of New Yorkers for generations to come. This isn’t going to be one size fits all. This is a ripe moment and this community built a powerful grassroots plan. Now, we have to execute and deliver on it to show parents across the city this approach can work,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The research is clear – integrated schools benefit all students,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “There’s a groundswell of support from parents, educators, and students across the City, and today, we’re taking a real step towards integration in District 15 and citywide. I’m going to be working closely with Districts 1, 3, and 15 to implement their plans, and encouraging superintendents and school leaders across the City to take on this work in their communities.” “The District 15 middle-school integration plan is a real step forward for our students, and for inclusive democracy in our city. We can’t teach our kids that they all have equal potential, or that the future of our city depends on working together across lines of race and class, when we don’t put it into practice for our middle-school students,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The current D15 admissions process presents itself as a system of choice and meritocracy, but it functions as a system for hoarding privilege. That’s why we’ve been working closely with parents, students, and educators for the past 5 years to push for change. Thank you to the District 15 Diversity Plan Working Group, to everyone who took part and helped to organize it, and to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for approving it. Integration is not zero-sum. I genuinely believe that this plan will be better for all students, and that a less segregated, less divided city will be better for all of us.” “This plan was built from the ground up. It is the result of more than a year of community input from every corner of District 15. Engaging parents and students together has given us a roadmap to ensure every middle school in the district is a fully-funded, high-quality school," said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for listening to the people and approving this plan. However, we have to make sure that as we implement it, we continue the dialogue with the parents and stakeholders that got us here, and that we stay laser-focused on providing a more equitable distribution of resources to every school.” District 15 Last school year, as part of the citywide school diversity plan, Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools , the DOE supported District 1 and District 3 in Manhattan to develop and launch the City’s first districtwide diversity plans. In August 2017, the District 15 community began to develop a plan that would create more diverse and meaningfully integrated middle schools, and further support school quality in Brooklyn’s District 15, which includes Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Gowanus, Kensington, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Windsor Terrace. Working with the urban planning firm WXY, the DOE convened a 16-member Working Group to help the community – including District 15 educators, parents, a Community Education Council member, advocates, and representatives of community-based organizations. The Working Group led the process of the developing the plan, which included four public workshops, several additional meetings, and community outreach. The Working Group released final recommendations in August 2018. The approved District 15 diversity plan will become the City’s second districtwide middle-school diversity plan. It will go into effect for students entering 6th grade in fall 2019, and has two primary components (admissions changes and additional supports): 1) The District 15 middle school diversity plan will remove screens from all middle schools, and will prioritize 52% of 6th-grade seats for students from low-income families, English Language Learners, and students in temporary housing. Previously, ten of District 15’s 11 middle schools used a screened admissions method, which meant they considered students’ grades, test scores, attendance, and/or other factors when making matches. 2) The City will invest $500,000 to support the admissions changes, including resources to support teachers and schools. The DOE will create a District 15 Middle School Admissions Coordinator position and Outreach Team that will call all families of 5th graders in the district with information about District 15 middle schools and their unique offerings. They will also visit and host community meetings and information sessions throughout the year to share information about the diversity plan and the district’s middle schools. The DOE will also create a District 15 Diversity, Equity, and Integration Coordinator position and provide funding for teacher training and the arts, technology, and supports for middle schools in the district as needed. The District 15 diversity plan has the unanimous support of the district’s elementary and middle school principals. The plan will be continuously reviewed to ensure it is advancing the goals of diversity, equity, and student achievement in the district. “In District 15, we believe that our children should learn together and that’s why our parents and educators are so excited about this plan. District 15 parents have always been committed to providing great learning opportunities for all children,” said District 15 Superintendent Anita Skop . “All of our District 15 middle schools are strong, and this is an opportunity for more of our students to attend the school that’s right for them. The current process is intense and difficult for such young children, and the changes are going to make it better for students, families, and educators across the district.” “New York City public schools need to reflect the diversity of the city. We are pleased to see District 15 educators and parents working together to help ensure their middle schools provide the best opportunities for all students in the district,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators believes that students of every race, religion, gender and socioeconomic status benefit from diverse and inclusive classrooms,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro . “We believe in the potential of District 15’s plan to increase middle school diversity because school leaders within the district have been consistently included in dialogue and development throughout this process, and this plan has the support of the district’s elementary and middle school principals. Our school leaders face the critical task of successfully implementing any diversity plan and must always be given the necessary time and resources to educate and align their school communities and create inclusive classrooms. We look forward to our continuing collaboration with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza as other school districts further develop their own diversity plans.” “Diversity in our schools is an incredibly important issue,” said Assembly Member Robert Carroll. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor, Chancellor Carranza, other colleagues in government and parents to ensure that our schools are representative of the diversity of our population.” “Our District 15 middle schools are strong, but they have lacked in the diversity that can make them even stronger and provide a more enriching middle school experience for all of our students. With this plan, middle schoolers will have equal and exciting opportunities to attend a school that is right for them. This is not only the right thing to do, it will also make the admissions processes better for the students, their families and their school communities,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “We are excited to see Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza stand in full support of the D15 Diversity Plan,” says Chris Rice, the D15 Project Manager and a planner at WXY. “The final plan represents a tremendous effort by the Working Group and District 15 school community, who came together to have challenging conversations and to think comprehensively about school diversity, in terms of both integration and inclusion within schools.” “New York City and the Department of Education embraced a forward-looking approach to addressing this complex issue by allowing for data analysis, public engagement and a diverse group of community stakeholders to guide the process and the plan,” said Adam Lubinsky, WXY Managing Principal. “District 15 and the DOE have created a model for other school districts to take on the challenging and necessary work of school integration.” “District 15 Parents for Middle School Equity is proud to have been part of the process that led to the elimination of a system of barriers to schools for children. We are hopeful that the new approach will be rolled out with the thought and patience needed to make the middle schools of District 15 successful models of equitable and inclusive learning communities. We thank the DOE for its hard work in listening to all parts of this diverse district, and its continued support of this ambitious project,” said Miriam Nunberg, Parents for Middle School Equity. “I commend the Mayor and the Chancellor for approving this ambitious and visionary plan to integrate middle schools in District 15. This is an incredible step forward to begin to dismantle systemic racism and to create a more just education system that serves all our children. I am deeply grateful to the District 15 community for having paved the way for a thoughtful process in developing desegregation plans and sincerely hope that more districts will follow,” said Shino Tanikawa, Co-Chair of the Education Council Consortium, CEC2. “We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza for a bold step towards the work of integration and equity in New York City. The approval of the D15 Diversity Plan and the launch of the School Diversity Grant Program, represent a true commitment to community-driven solutions, coupled with decisive leadership,” said Matt Gonzales, Director, School Diversity Project, New York Appleseed. “The D15 plan is smart, prioritizing equitable enrollment policy, alongside initiatives for culturally relevant education and restorative justice. The Grant program can support the many districts across New York City already interested in integration. We are grateful to Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the entire District 15 community, Superintendent Anita Skop, the Community Education Council, and advocates like Principal Jill Bloomberg and Parents for Middle School Equity for their many years of work leading to this plan. Last but not least, WXY facilitated the best community-engagement process in the modern history of DOE and threaded the needle over and over again to produce a workable plan for the district.” “When our schools reflect the diversity of our city, we will ALL face the most urgent problems facing our city and nation. When all schools are responsible for addressing these problems, our curricula, pedagogy, and disciplinary practices will be challenged and transformed. Schools should be centers of social change and justice, and we desperately needed this to get everyone on board,” said Lynn Shon, Working Group member and STEM teacher at M.S. 88 “IntegrateNYC is grateful that the DOE has partnered with us because we believe student voice is essential in the process of creating policy that affects them. Providing anti-bias and culturally relevant education training for all middle school staff is an essential part of ensuring a transformative approach to integration that creates meaningful equity and inclusion within the school environment. Students will be empowered to thrive in their schools with supportive staff,” said Julisa Perez, IntegrateNYC Executive College Director. “Public schools are for are for all kids and we need our schools to look like our city. That is why the District 15 Diversity plan is such an important model for integration for all of NYC,” said Eliza Seki, IntegrateNYC Middle School Lead and 7th grader at MS 839. “Kids go to school every day and know what’s happening. This is an exciting start to making all schools fair,” said Benji Weiss, IntegrateNYC Middle School Lead and 6th grader at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies . $2 Million Diversity Grant Program Using the work in District 15 as a model, the City will launch a $2 million grant program for other school districts and communities across the City to develop their own community-driven diversity plans. The $2 million will primarily be used to support community planning processes similar to the one in District 15, including engaging community planning firms with expertise in this work, selecting and developing Working Groups, hosting community meetings and providing materials and translation, and developing final proposals. School districts will be able to apply for the grant this fall. We expect approximately 10 districts to participate in this round of grants. The new $2 million grant program also draws from initial discussions of the City’s independent School Diversity Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will remain in place to support implementation and share recommendations into 2019 and beyond. Research The research is clear that all students benefit from diverse, inclusive schools and classrooms where all students, families, and school staff are supported and welcomed. * A 2016 report from the Century Foundation reported that “school integration – by race and socioeconomic status – is good for children.” This report also notes that there is widespread agreement that there are positive academic outcomes for all students attending racially diverse schools, including reductions in racial achievement gaps.1 * Attending integrated schools is also associated with higher rates of high school completion for nonwhite students.2 * The National Center for Education Statistics found that white students do just as well academically in schools with high proportions of black students as in schools with low proportions of black students.3 * Integrated classrooms have been shown to enhance students’ critical thinking skills and intellectual engagement as they encounter peers from diverse backgrounds.4 * In another report, the Century Foundation found that setting clear, district-wide diversity goals played an important role in successful school integration efforts.5 These next steps in the City’s diversity plan are central to the Mayor and Chancellor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda. Together, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds through 3-K for All and Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms, including Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools are central to this pathway. ### 1. Wells, Amy Stuart, Fox, Lauren, and Cardova-Cobo, Diana: How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students. The Century Foundation. February 9, 2016. 2. Janet Ward Schofield, “Maximizing Benefits of Student Diversity: Lessons from School Desegregation Research,” in Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action, ed. Gary Orfield with Michal Kurlaender (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2001): 99-141 3. Bohrnstedt, G., Kitmitto, S., Ogut, B., Sherman, D., and Chan, D. (2015). School Composition and the Black–White Achievement Gap (NCES 2015-018). U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from 4. Patricia Gurin, “Expert Report of Patricia Gurin,” submitted in Gratz, et al. v. Bollinger, et al., No. 97-75231 (E.D. Mich. 1999) and Grutter, et al. v. Bollinger, et al., No. 97-75928 (E.D. Mich. 1999) 5. Kahlenberg, Richard D. “School Integration in Practice: Lessons from Nine Districts.” The Century Foundation, Oct. 14, 2016. https://tcf.org/content/report/school-integration-practice-lessons-nine-...
Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:10pm
Milestone in citywide training comes as New York recognizes Suicide Prevention Month NEW YORK—First Lady Chirlane McCray and Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot announced that 75,000 New Yorkers have now been trained in Mental Health First Aid as part of the City’s goal to train 250,000 New Yorkers by 2021. Mental Health First Aid, which is free as a part of ThriveNYC, is an evidence-based curriculum that teaches participants how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance misuse The curriculum, designed by the National Council on Behavioral Health, also provides trainees with the skills to respond when someone close to them is experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. The New Yorkers trained in Mental Health First Aid join over a million Americans who have also been certified. The training is free for New Yorkers as part of ThriveNYC, New York’s comprehensive plan to create a mental health system that works for everyone. New Yorkers can find a free class here. “There are now 75,000 New Yorkers who are mental health helpers and healers, and ready to serve as the FIRST first responders for their families and friends.” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “The training these New Yorkers have received is similar to CPR, but focused on behavioral health. Many of those trained will save lives, and many more will help people, in their faith communities, work places and neighborhoods. Any New Yorker, age 17 or older can take Mental Health First Aid for free. During Suicide Prevention Month, we want everyone to know that they can make a difference by joining us in our mission to train 250,000 New Yorkers in Mental Health First Aid.” “Under the Mental Health First Aid program, 75,000 New Yorkers have already received the necessary trainings to properly recognize when someone is suffering from substance abuse and mental illness,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “In this Suicide Prevention Month, I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and Acting Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot for their continuous efforts to not only shed light on the importance of mental health but, more importantly, to get rid of the stigma surrounding it once for all.” “By training New Yorkers how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse, the Mental Health First Aid program is helping make New York a healthier city and providing an important resource to help New Yorkers improve their mental health,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “Mental Health First Aid trainings play a critical role in equipping New Yorkers with the tools necessary to identify the signs of mental illness and substance misuse. I am pleased to learn 75,000 people have been certified and I look forward to collaborating with ThriveNYC to ensure our City meets its goal of training certifying 250,000 people by 2021,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction. “I commend First Lady MCray and Commissioner Barbot in getting Mental Health First Aid up and running so successfully as part of the ThriveNYC initiative,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Hospitals. “More importantly, I thank the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who have participated in this training which helps identify people who are facing challenges with addiction or mental illness, including suicide. I look forward to helping promote this program so that we can incorporate as many New Yorkers as we can into a support network for those neighbors who need it most.” “Through its Mental Health First Aid program, New York has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the behavioral health of its citizens,” said Betsy Swchwartz of the National Council on Behavioral Health. “With engagement in almost every sector, more people than ever will be able to recognize and respond to people experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis.” Trainees for Mental Health First Aid are taught about a variety of situations including: helping someone through a panic attack and assisting an individual who has overdosed. The program also focuses on how to engage with someone who may be suicidal. The risk of suicide is greater if any of the behaviors below are new, have increased, and if they seem related to a painful event, loss, or change. The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide: * Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves. * Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun. * Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. * Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain. * Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs. * Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly. * Sleeping too little or too much. * Withdrawing or isolating themselves. * Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge. * Displaying extreme mood swings. Mental Health First Aid training is offered six days a week in all five boroughs. Courses are offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Haitian Creole, and French. Courses are tailored to people who regularly interact with youth ages 12 to 18, older adults, or veterans and people who work in higher education and public safety. The adult MHFA course teaches participants a five-step action plan to help someone 18 years or older who is displaying signs of mental illness or emotional crisis. New Yorkers interested in taking a free MHFA class can sign up at nyc.gov/mhfa . New Yorkers experiencing suicidal thoughts or concerned about the mental health of their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to .
Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:10pm
Board kicks off planning efforts for the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan to be released in 2020; NYC’s 520 Miles of diverse shoreline are home to maritime and industrial businesses, residential neighborhoods and parks NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that the Waterfront Management Advisory Board held its first meeting today and formally launched the start of the planning process for the next Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, due to be published in 2020. “New Yorkers are turning to the water in ways we haven’t seen in a century. With the ongoing success of NYC Ferry, new businesses and homes, it’s critical that we create a comprehensive plan that helps us build a more fair and resilient city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The board members will advise the administration on matters related to New York City waterfront and waterways, and provide guidance to the Department of City Planning (DCP) on the development of the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. This plan, published every 10 years, provides a vision for the city’s waterfront for the next decade and beyond. DCP anticipates beginning broader public engagement on the plan in early 2019. New York City has approximately 520 miles of waterfront, ranging from the wetlands of Jamaica Bay to the Port facilities on the North Shore of Staten Island and the urbanized waterfront edges of the Bronx, Queens and Lower Manhattan. The City’s waterfront renewal has been remarkable, including for the creation of housing, new businesses and jobs, parks and, with NYC Ferry, transportation. New Yorkers are turning to the water in ways we haven’t seen in a century. With the ongoing success of NYC Ferry, new businesses and homes, it’s critical that we create a comprehensive plan that helps us a build a more fair and resilient city. “With the launch of the Soundview ferry and new city and state plans to increase access to the Bronx River and waterfront green spaces, it’s a critical time for The Bronx and all boroughs to delve into a comprehensive waterfront plan,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “We need to prepare our city, vulnerable coastline and waterfronts for climate change threats and natural disasters. I’m excited to join this Advisory Board, and work collaboratively and creatively with the other esteemed members.” “We have the biggest, busiest, and arguably most beautiful harbor in the world, one that serves businesses, ferry riders, boaters, fishers, kayakers and more, while serving as a defense against natural disasters. To ensure that we are harnessing the full value of this asset, my colleague Councilmember Ben Kallos, and I introduced a bill in the last term to reconstitute our Waterfront Management Advisory Board. As former chair of the Waterfronts Committee and a member of the board, I joined government, commercial and environmental stakeholders today to begin work on a comprehensive plan for our waterfront. My hope is that this is the beginning of a process that will engage all New Yorkers to develop a plan that will utilize the full potential of our waterfront for recreation, transportation, commerce and resilience,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “Even though it’s been nearly six years since Sandy, the lessons of that deadly storm are front and center in our hearts and minds as we focus on crafting a plan that protects and reflects the distinctiveness of New York City’s amazing waterfront,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago. “We’re excited to tap into the expertise and enthusiasm of the members of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board as we tackle the wide variety of issues facing the city’s waterfront today and into the future.” “The city’s 520 miles of waterfront is simultaneously one of the City’s greatest resources and challenges. I’m excited to tap the expertise of the Board members and engage the Board on how to increase equity of access, job opportunities, public safety and resiliency along the waterfront. By tackling these questions with the Waterfront Management Advisory Board and the larger public, we’ll craft a Comprehensive Waterfront Plan that keeps our shores strong for years to come,” said Michael L. Marrella, DCP Director of Waterfront and Open Space and Chair of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board. “New York City’s vast waterfront is a unique asset that deserves careful stewardship. The next Comprehensive Waterfront Plan is an critical opportunity to integrate resilience with other important waterfront functions, such as recreation, transportation, housing, and jobs,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “I look forward to engaging with the Waterfront Management Advisory Board to craft a plan that benefits neighborhoods, businesses, and all New Yorkers while strengthening the city’s 520 miles of waterfront.” The members include: * Eric Johansson, SUNY Maritime * Mychal Johnson, South Bronx Unite * Katina Johnstone, Staten Island Kayak * Edward Kelly, Maritime Association of NY/NJ Harbor * Aaron Koffman, The Hudson Company * Roland Lewis, Waterfront Alliance * Pete Malinowski, Billion Oyster Project * Geeta Mehta, Columbia University Professor * Michael Northrop, Rockefeller Brothers Fund * Kate Orff, SCAPE Landscape Architects * Kelly Vilar, Staten Island Urban Center * Peggy Shepard, WE ACT for Environmental Justice * Mandu Sen, Regional Plan Association * Kellie Terry, Surdna Foundation * Gerald "Jay" Valgora, Studio V Architects * Henry Wan, NY Dragon Boat Festival * Judith Weis, Rutgers University “The relaunch of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board is well timed and much needed. Opportunities abound in dozens of New York neighborhoods for transportation, recreation, education and jobs at the water’s edge. At the same time, we must adapt our coastal city to the existential challenge presented by climate change. The waterfront experts and activists on the WMAB will provide government with guidance and new ideas to address these issues and help the City develop a new Comprehensive Waterfront Plan,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of Waterfront Alliance. “I am excited to serve on the WMAB with such a talented and accomplished group. I'm hopeful that we can work together to advise towards a clean, abundant, diverse New York Harbor that is well used and accessible to all,” said Pete Malinowski, Executive Director of the Billion Oyster Project. “I expect that the convening of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board will lead to further city investment in improving access of underserved communities to the waterfront as well as an emphasis on waterfront jobs and resilience,” said Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice. “I’m proud to be able to serve on the Waterfront Management Advisory Board and help foster a more resilient, accessible and biodiverse shoreline,” said Kate Orff, Founder of SCAPE Landscape Architects. "It is an exciting time in New York City waterfront development, we know that the water quality in our waterway is improving, and I am looking forward to work with the advisory board and DCP to develop more sites for recreation uses. Which will in turn enhance the value of waterfront property, a key element in promoting affordable housing for New York City, one of the top priority on Mayor's agenda,” said Henry Wan, Chairman of the NY Dragon Boat Festival. “I look forward to serving on the Waterfront Management Advisory Board so I can help to lift the voices on community needs, highlight untapped opportunities and help NYC embrace our treasure - our waterways,” said Kelly Vilar, founder and CEO of the Staten Island Urban Center. “I am excited for the convening of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board. NYC’s waterfront is more people oriented than ever before, and a new plan is an opportunity to promote equitable access, climate change resiliency and a more harmonious relationship with nature,” said Mandu Sen, Program Manager at the Regional Plan Association. “Our waterways and shorelines add special beauty, character and are a grand resource to life in the City. I am honored to be a member of WMAB to help increase opportunities for New Yorkers to be in and on the water,” said Katina Johnstone, co-founder of Kayak Staten Island. "I am excited to be a part of the Waterfront Management Advisory Board," said Mychal Johnson, co-founder of South Bronx Unite. "And I look forward to discussing the important issues related to zoning, climate resiliency and public access, particularly in underserved communities of color throughout the city." “With record cargo volumes, expanding population, and restricted land transportation the time for a strong Waterfront Management Advisory Board is now. I am honored to be selected and truly look forward to working with my fellow board members to tackle water-borne transportation needs for a safer, cleaner, and environmentally sound solutions supporting the City and the region,” said Eric Johansson, Professor of Marine Transportation at SUNY Maritime. “Future facing, fun, socially and ecologically resilient - this is how I envision the transformation of New York's waterfront, and am delighted to have an opportunity to be part of this dynamic journey by serving on the Waterfront Management Advisory Board,” said Geeta Mehta, adjunct professor of architecture and urban design at Columbia University. “The waterfront intensifies the conditions that make New York the most remarkable and challenging city in the world: equity, resiliency, housing, jobs, the environment. Because the waterfront belongs to everyone, it must be designed to serve the needs of everyone,” said Jay Valgora, founder of STUDIO V Architecture. "With 520 miles of waterfront, now more than ever, it is important to have an advisory board in place to assist the City in making strategic decisions regarding one of our most treasured resources. I want to thank Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Johnson and the City Council in convening this Board and applaud them for choosing such a capable Board Chair in Michael Marrella," said Aaron Koffman, principal at the Hudson Companies Incorporated. Also on the Board are representatives from DCP, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the Department of Small Business Services, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and Councilmembers Debi Rose and Rafael Salamanca. The Board also assisted in the preparation of the previous Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released in 2011.
Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:10pm
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Amy Peterson as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. The office is responsible for equipping New Yorkers with a variety of skills and connecting them to quality jobs across the city. Peterson will continue to lead the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery and Build it Back as the office and program enter the final stages of their Sandy recovery efforts. “When I was elected, the Build it Back program suffered from bureaucratic entanglement, and thousands of New Yorkers were left to fend for themselves. Then Amy Peterson took over, streamlined the program and people finally began getting the help they needed to recover,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Amy has nearly worked herself out of a job, and she managed to do this while training and connecting over 1,600 New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy to quality jobs. I’m confident Amy will continue this great work at the Office of Workforce Development and connect countless more New Yorkers to high quality jobs, taking us a step closer to creating the fairest big city in America.” “The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development will create opportunities for all New Yorkers to build and benefit from our economy,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phillip Thompson. “Amy Peterson has a track-record of delivering results by engaging communities, which I know will be key to our success moving forward.” “Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to creating the fairest big city in America has resulted in remarkable progress over the last four years. His initiatives, stemming from Career Pathways to the numerous initiatives launched across City agencies, have taken us steps closer to building a more inclusive economy that works for all. I'm excited by the challenge that lies ahead and look forward to working with Deputy Mayor Thompson to build on these efforts and to continue helping New Yorkers find a pathway to the middle class,” said Amy Peterson, Director of the Mayor’s Office Housing Recovery and the Office of Workforce Development. Amy Peterson will lead the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and build on the work of the last four years to fully align the City’s work in advancing opportunities for New Yorkers. Some of her priorities include bringing together the many workforce initiatives across City agencies; establishing new initiatives that will provide good jobs for New Yorkers and setting ambitious goals focused on training and employment. Peterson also will engage with communities directly to build initiatives across neighborhoods linking community based-organizations, City agencies and local businesses in efforts to expand opportunities across the City. She will continue to lead the Office of Housing Recovery as it completes the Build It Back program and focus on priorities for recovery preparedness for the future. To date, 95 percent of 8,300 homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy are back in their homes, received reimbursement or have sold their homes to the City. 99 percent of City managed construction projects are complete. The City currently is working to complete the final most complicated elevations and rebuilds in Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay Courts and Queens. Under Peterson, over 1,600 New Yorkers were connected to high quality jobs through the Build it Back and Sandy Recovery Workforce1 programs. These jobs include union construction careers as roofers, plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Peterson also created the Sandy Recovery Hiring Plan which focused on training and connecting Sandy-impacted residents to construction jobs. Over 20 percent of trades workers in Build It Back were residents affected by Sandy. “Congratulations go to Amy Peterson on her new position in Mayor de Blasio’s administration. She has been an outstanding administrator of the Build it Back program, working tirelessly to help victims of super storm Sandy get their lives back together. She will do a great job,” said Council Member Alan N. Maisel. “The Build It Back program was an absolute nightmare when Amy Peterson took over and she turned the program completely around to deliver real results for more than 8,000 homes and provide thousands of New Yorkers with the training to sustain long-term quality employment,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “In her new role as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, I have no doubt she will bring her hard work and expertise to the job to help turn the tide for many more New Yorkers struggling to find a good job.” “Amy Peterson has accumulated a wealth of experience guiding workforce development programs across the city, and made local hiring, pre-apprenticeship training programs, and the building of community capacity a focus as she breathed life into a Build it Back program that had done little to help Superstorm Sandy survivors prior to her arrival. I partnered with Ms. Peterson to bring a Workforce1 Center to Coney Island that has been a beneficial resource for a community severely impacted by the worst storm in our city’s history, and I look forward to continuing to work with Ms. Peterson to ensure that our city develops the workforce initiatives necessary to expand opportunities for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. About Amy Peterson: Prior to her time at the Office of Housing Recovery, Amy Peterson managed workforce development programs at the New York City Human Resources Administration where she oversaw the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act, a federal program designed to help job seekers access employment, education and workforce training. She also oversaw the launch of new City contracts which assessed training and employment opportunities for New Yorkers. From 2007 to 2014, Peterson was President of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), which prepares, trains and places women in careers in the skilled construction, utility and maintenance trades, helping women achieve economic independence and a secure future. Amy Peterson was appointed Director of the Office of Housing Recovery in 2014.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - 6:05pm
Errol Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. Before the break we mentioned that First Lady Chirlane McCray’s political ambitions are a topic of discussion. And as we continue to analyze last week’s primaries – which saw big wins for Governor Cuomo, Public Advocate Letitia James, and seven challengers to incumbent State Senators – I wanted to talk it over with somebody who knows a thing or two about politics. I am joined now by Mayor de Blasio to get into that and more. Good evening, Mr. Mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good evening. Louis: Before we get into the politics, and I promise you that we will, I wanted to get some updates for whatever you can tell us about – I guess starting with that fire in Kings Plaza mall. I actually was there on Saturday. My car was there for like a couple of hours, very alarming to hear about this. Mayor: Yeah, well obviously there is a full investigation going on to find out what caused it. And we definitely need to understand if it was purely an accident or if there was anything at play. Thank God there were no truly serious injuries, no loss of life. But certainly a lot of our firefighters not only did admirable work, but felt the effects of it. But we need an investigation to find out exactly why. This seems awfully strange to have a fire in a parking garage. Louis: Yes. Mayor: We need an investigation to understand what happened here. Louis: Yeah, and it’s one of the more tightly packed ones too. It feels a little dodgy even under the best of circumstances. Let me move on – we’re also reporting about a police-involved shooting in Maspeth, Queens. What can you tell us about it? Mayor: I spoke to the Police Commissioner before coming on the air here. Obviously this is another one where we have very, very preliminary information. So we’re going to need to have a fuller investigation to be able to give you a clearer picture of what happened. As I understand it, originally it was a call related to a robbery, a 9-1-1 call related to a robbery, and we don’t know enough yet of what played out from there. But we have a full investigation going on right as we speak. Louis: Okay, we’ll find out more about that. When it comes to the school buses – that was another one of the big issues. Mayor: Right. Louis: And I understand at least one bus company has been sanctioned or dropped. What was the process, and what has happened to this company? Mayor: Well, Chancellor Carranza has spoken very passionately about this and I agree. You know, my kids used to the school, I mean that’s just unacceptable. We’ve seen problems in different places in the city. District 30 in Queens has been one of the areas that’s been bearing the brunt. It’s not acceptable for a bus company to not do their job. And if they’re not doing their job depending on the details we have the right to sanction, we have the right in some cases to cancel their contract. We obviously have to make sure that there are additional resources available to make sure those kids can get to school. That’s what’s going on right now – it’s determining how to best proceed. But the Chancellor has been very clear that we do not accept that, and we’re going to be very tough on any company that does not do the job. And these kids cannot be put through this, it’s not fair to them or their parents. Louis: There is the basics of picking up and getting kids to and from school. There was a related issue that came out about whether or not the DOE itself or through its contracting process was paying sufficient attention to the background checks of the drivers and the bus attendants. Mayor: And that also very much concerns me. Again as a parent who used to have my own kids on the buses, of course there have to be very careful background checks. And we’re going to review that whole situation and we will not allow, going forward, there to be any absence of background checks. It’s not acceptable. So I think for years, school bus service has existed with these private companies. By in large it’s worked. There’s always been a good share of complaints. This year has been very troubling the way it started out. Again it might be particular about one or two companies. But it begs the question of bigger changes we need to make in our approach to school bus service. We have to make sure there is those background checks, we have to make that any company that is not providing this service is gone or is deeply sanctioned. We have to look at every alternative we have. That’s exactly what’s going on now, and we’ll certainly have a lot more to say on that in the next few days. Louis: Okay, let’s get back to primary day last Thursday. What happened with Dante? What happened with your son? Mayor: I spoke to him directly about it, in fact I heard about it. Because he said, ‘Geez, a strange thing happened to me.’ And then after some of the hubbub I went back and asked more specifically as the Board of Elections put his signature up on screen and everything else. He said he came in with a card, which I held in my own hand because I left it for him. It said his name, it said his address, it said where he voted, it said which AD/ED, and it said he was a Democrat, and he presented it at the right place expecting to get a Democratic ballot. They gave him a ballot, he’s walking towards the machine, he looks at it, there’s almost no names on it, he says something seems strange. He went back and he said I don’t see the names of the people I’m – I thought were going to be here on the ballot, for Governor, Attorney General, whatever, and they then gave him a Democratic affidavit ballot instead of just giving him a Democratic primary ballot, which makes no sense in the world. He did not request it – Louis: Right. Mayor: He simply showed them the fact that he had what appeared to be the wrong ballot, clearly was it was some other party, and instead of just giving him the right ballot, they pull out an affidavit ballot, which makes no sense in the world. I don’t know why a supervisor or someone didn’t step in. Louis: Right, right. Mayor: I mean life will go on, but again, it’s another example – Louis: So – so with the affidavit ballot he had to sort of fill it out, put it in an envelope and give it back to them. Mayor: Yeah, yeah. It’s another example of why the Board of Elections is broken. It can’t serve people properly and it’s discouraging people from voting. We need legislation in Albany that will professionalize the Board of Elections. I mean look, my kid voting in person for the first time – this is the other part of the story that maybe wasn’t clear – he had voted from college previously. This was the first time in his life that he ever went into polling site in his life – Louis: With his home address as Gracie Mansion? Mayor: Yes. And this is a kid who, you know, he’s studying political science, he cares about the world, he wants to be involved, and he can’t even get the opportunity to vote normally for his first time ever. So, I imagined his was easy compared to a lot of other people I heard that had, you know, the wrong – were told to go elsewhere or were not given a chance to vote on the machine who had been voting for a long time. It’s broken and it needs to be fixed. And we know early voting, we need same-day registration, we need a host of other reforms that would make voting easy. Louis: Well, yeah, I mean we can start with the basis like give the guy the right ballot. Do you vote from the same address? Mayor: No, I have voted, as has the rest of the family, from our address in Brooklyn and at one point after Dante did jury duty, he checked a box I think not realizing it would lead to him being associated with his mailing address at Gracie Mansion, and it’s fine. He came in, he voted there. But we historically have been associated with our Brooklyn address and I’m sure he will be going forward. Louis: Okay, alright. Your first reaction to the primaries, what – where were you on primary night? Mayor: I was at Gracie Mansion. Louis: Okay. Mayor: And – because I had to leave, I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning to go to the climate conference in San Francisco, so I thought it was probably good not to go out frolicking to different political events. I was deeply moved by that election. The turnout, you know, is what I’m hearing, I think this is right, about twice the amount – double of what was four years earlier – the energy that you could feel in the campaigns, the defeat of the IDC, obviously, I think is a signature moment for our party and our state, and it was such a thorough message from the voters. I feel very, very good about what happened and look it speaks to me, as a progressive, we have seen election after election, certainly in New York City and New York State, but around the country where the progressive wing of the party is asserting itself. I think that’s good for the Democratic Party. I think that’s the future of the Democratic Party. I think it was a very good night. Louis: At the top of the ballet, the Governor – was that something you expected? Is that something that comports with what you just described? I mean what he said to reporters the day after the primary, he said look, there is a progressive wave and essentially I, the Governor, am riding the crest of it. Mayor: Look, I – I don’t want to interpret anyone else’s words, I just will give you my own sense of things. The – I think it’s quite clear from what happened earlier in the season in this city and this state and what’s happening now that progressives have the energy and are drawing out voters and are animating this whole process. There is a – look the fact that turnout doubled is I think is directly connected. Of course the response to Trump but also the growth of a progressive, activist movement in response to Trump that’s reaching down to the grassroots. And I saw it, I was out there for Zellnor Myrie in Brooklyn and for Jessica Ramos in Queens, I saw a ton of grassroots energy, so I think that’s a big part of what happened. Every election is different, and everyone is about the specific candidates and the specific office, but from my point of view it was a very good night for the progressive movement writ large. Louis: Okay, I’ve got more to ask you about, we’re going to do that after a short break. […] Louis: We are back Inside City Hall, I’m joined once again by Mayor de Blasio. Just to round out some of that primary night, that whole event – have you spoken to the Governor or to Cynthia Nixon since then? Mayor: I’ve spoken to the Governor but I have not spoken to Cynthia Nixon. Louis: What’s going to be different up there now and what would be your advice or any specific legislation you might recommend or request from the State Senate? Mayor: Well look I think this is not only important progress for the kinds of representatives we are going to have in the State Senate. You know I think we have a group now that is going to really represent real Democratic values, obviously not people who would align with the Republicans and conclude with the Republicans as the IDC did. I think you’ve got some dynamic new leaders that are going to bring new energy to the State Senate. Look I’ll give you a great example – I’m going to be focusing on strengthening our rent laws, you know we have a chance now to do the single most important thing we can do for affordable housing in New York City which is to have stronger rent laws that help us keep people in affordable housing longer, that stop folks from losing affordable housing because of MCIs, Major Capital Improvements, for an example. That law is broken, needs to be fixed. We have a chance now to do something that was never possible with a Republican State Senate and actually go affirmatively in the direction of stronger rent laws. That’s going to be seismic for the city. Louis: When you say stronger rent laws, you mentioned MCI – Major Capital Improvements. Does your concern or would your wish list include vacancy decontrol, luxury decontrol? Mayor: Absolutely. Yes, everything – look the whole construct now makes it tragically easy for people to lose their affordable housing and then that affordable housing lost forever. Things like luxury decontrol, vacancy decontrol, unfortunately just steadily reduced the amount of affordable housing. I will say, because we have been producing a lot more, thankfully there has been a counter pressure where we have nowhere near the net loss that existed just a few years ago. But the idea would be the City keeps producing new affordable housing, creating it, preserving it on a record level while simultaneously, the affordable housing we have is protected and is kept in place for the long term. And the MCI thing in particular bugs me because the notion that – it basically incentives landlords to make some improvements so they can jack up the rent a whole lot and keep the rent up high for a longer period of time. That’s absolutely unfair. So we have a chance to right those wrongs. Not only because we are well on our way to a Democratic Senate but because we have more progressive, you know grass roots candidates, true Democrats, true progressives who are getting elected in this wave we just saw on Thursday. For New York City, where the number one issue is affordability, that’s part of why I am so excited about the results of Thursday, I think this gives us the kind of group in the State Senate that will make that change. Louis: I mean, you also do want them, the landlords, to also have an incentive to like you know put in new plumbing and not wait for the whole building to fall apart. Mayor: Sure and pay – that’s fair. If you say I put in some new plumbing and I’m going to adjust the rent levels to help pay for that for the period of time it takes to actually pay for that. That’s great but the way MCIs are structured now, it’s a permanent increase, well beyond the cost of any improvement – it’s a boondoggle for landlords. Louis: Okay, let me play – we told you folks that we were going to play some of this. This is the ad by Max Rose, the Democrat who’s running on Staten Island and he mentions you very prominently in the ad and not in a good way. Let’s take a look at some of it. Max Rose: Look, I’m running against Dan Donovan but the truth is he’s not the only one doing a lousy job. Mayor de Blasio acts like Staten Island doesn’t even exist. And we need to get rid of all the leadership in D.C., Republican and Democrat. Now saying that won’t do much for me with the establishment but look around, the traffic, the drugs – what’s the establishment doing for you? I’m Max Rose and I approve this message because it’s not just Donovan – Louis: [Inaudible] Mayor: [Inaudible] Louis: I don’t know if it’s – not necessarily free but first of all what do you make of that? Mayor: I’ve never met this guy and I guess he doesn’t know much about what’s happened in the last year four-and-a-half years with my work on behalf of the people of Staten Island. Pre-K has seen a massive increase in Staten Island, more than almost any part of the city. We’ve done a lot to improve Staten Island ferry service, we’ve been repaving roads on Staten Island at a record pace, and I hear from a lot of Staten Islanders that they appreciate that. So, look nothing surprises me in campaign season. Louis: Well, but here’s something I did want – the minute I saw that, the question that popped into my head was Nancy Pelosi, when Democrats were on the verge of losing control and disaster was at hand for the Democrats in Congress, told members of her conference you can run with me, you can run against me, do whatever you have to but just win. You’ve talked multiple times here about the importance of the Democrats winning control of Congress, important for New York City, important for the politics that you support. Well there’s a Democrat – can you live with that if that’s what it takes for him to win? Mayor: Look, again I’m never surprised by anything in a campaign. I don’t know the guy, he’ll say whatever he wants to say, I’m just saying I hope the facts are clear to the people of Staten Island who I do care about deeply and that’s why we’ve taken a whole series of actions to try and help the people of Staten Island. I was out there a couple of months ago for the week we did in Staten Island. We did a whole series of announcement to try and address quality of life in Staten Island. I think there is a difference between politics and governing. I just want the facts to be clear on governing. Whatever position he wants to take politically, God bless him, that’s his choice. But the facts on governing are a little different. Louis: Okay, very interesting. And interesting and mature approach this. Mayor: Let’s try maturity. Louis: Your years in the business have, yes give you some – Mayor: You see these grey hairs, I earned them Errol, I earned them. Louis: You earned them, you earned every one of them. Every time there’s an ad, you get another grey hair. Let me ask you about the First Lady – Chirlane McCray said today that she’s not opposed to the idea of possibly running for Borough President. It’s not the first time that her possible intention to run for office has come up. Doesn’t it now open sort of a new line of questioning that you will be asked repeatedly, when she does an event like the one she did today, are you putting her front and center, is this in effect, government resources being used to advance her political possibilities? Mayor: Well people are going to ask the question but if they just look at the facts they will see that that’s outlandish. Chirlane has been front and center from day one of the administration. We made that very clear at the beginning that she’s my partner is everything I do. She’s the number one advisor, she’s the person I listen to the most. And you know she started particularly with the Thrive Initiative three years ago – taking a very vibrant leadership role on a whole host of things and making a whole host of announcements, has nothing to do with any potential political future. As she said, she has not made any formal decisions about her future but she’s a prominent leader in this administration and of course she is going to be the person who makes a certain number of announcements and leads key efforts. Louis: I raise this issue because I couldn’t thing and we were you know kicking it around in the political unit, saying when was the last time that we had somebody who was the spouse of a sitting official who you know – other than the Clinton analogy which is not quite the same thing because Bill Clinton was leaving the presidency when Hillary Clinton ran for the first time. The expectation would be or the one possibility would be that like others in New York politics, you might naturally let it be known or perhaps in political discussions outside of government, sort of try to clear the field to make her path into politics easier. It’s what you would do for an ally. Mayor: Well first of all we are in a different reality than I think people have seen. First of all this partnership is particular – I think there has been some examples of an elected official and their spouse working this closely together but there are relatively few. And Chirlane and I have our own particular version of it and on a very big stage obviously. So we are in a little bit of unchartered territory. The decisions about our future, you know she has not said she is definitively running for office at all. She’s been open about the fact that she thinks more and more women should for office and she said she can’t say that without considering herself, it would not be consistent. But she has not made any formal decisions. And you know I think the other salient point here is she’s been a prominent, important leader of this administration from the beginning, including having a very strong public profile on a host issues, starting with mental health and the Thrive initiative. We are just going to keep doing what we are doing. You know if it gets to the point where she makes a formal decision and there’s an announcement we will cross that bridge. But I think this is something people should get, not in the negative sense used to, in the sense of I think people should get used to it in the positive sense. There’s a lot of change happening in our society. You are going to see more and more of these partnerships. I hope you will. I think you will. And it’s a beautiful thing, I think it’s a positive thing because you know we are both equally devoted to public service and we are both giving to the city and I think it works the way it is. Louis: Okay fair enough. Before you go, your predecessor Mike Bloomberg, big story in the paper today that yet again I don’t want to use the analogy of you know Lucy and the football but once again – Mayor: Far be it from us. Louis: Actually you know what? There’s something new here where he’s being talked about not just as a possible candidate for president but as somebody who would try to be a leader in the Democratic Party. What do you think about that? Mayor: I respect Michael Bloomberg – there are some areas where I agreed with him quite a bit in some of his policies that I’ve been proud to continue. There are other areas where I disagree with him fundamentally and some things that you know we have made major, major changes on. I think it is certainly more coherent to talk about running as a Democrat but I think it is also fair to say I’m not sure that his particular demure, his particular approach fits the Democratic Party of today. I think that’s what a lot of people are saying today. It’s like is it a more practical step than running as an independent? Yes. Does he it this moment in this nation in this Democratic Party? I’m not so sure. Louis: Billionaire blue? No? Okay, we’ll see. Mayor: Trademark that. Louis: Thanks a lot. I want to talk to you next week about the Mayor’s Management report which came out today, haven’t had a chance to look at it but I will. Until then we will see you next week. Let’s take a short break here.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - 12:04pm
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phil Thompson announced that the City will connect Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) to City agencies with active business opportunities through a new event series called M/WBE Borough Forums. The series also will provide an opportunity for non-certified businesses to learn how to do business with the City. The M/WBE Borough Forums will kick off on September 26th in Flushing, Queens. “Our City works best when everyone – regardless of race, gender or ethnicity – have the resources they need to participate in our economy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With this series, we’re bringing business opportunities directly to our diverse and talented New Yorkers who provide our City with a variety of goods and services. It’s just another way we’re creating the fairest big city in America.” “With this first-time series, we’re stepping up the City’s already aggressive efforts to increasingly provide opportunity to M/WBEs,” said Phil Thompson, NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Mayor de Blasio is investing in minority and women-owned businesses at record levels because we know that when these types of businesses succeed, so do communities.” “This Administration continues to breakdown historic barriers faced by minority and women-owned businesses, specifically barriers to accessing government contracts” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs.“M/WBEs are vital to their local economies and communities, this new event series brings much needed resources and opportunities directly to these firms allowing them to continue to grow and thrive.” “The City’s commitment to building a more inclusive local economy is evident. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership, we’ve reached a record number of over 6,000 certified M/WBEs,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Now, we’re going one step further by bringing opportunities for success directly to M/WBEs’ neighborhoods through our borough forums.” The event series, which will be run by the Department of Small Business Services and the Office of M/WBEs, is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's larger commitment to increase M/WBE participation in City contracting, which includes: * Awarding $20 Billion to M/WBEs by end of FY 2025. * Certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by end of FY 2019. * Awarding 30 percent of the value of all City contracts by end of FY 2021. At the forums, M/WBEs will be able to connect with City agencies to learn about current and upcoming contracting opportunities. M/WBEs also will have the opportunity to learn how to certify their business with government entities; sign up for mentorship programs and workshops; market their business to City government; and access affordable loans to perform on City contracts. The M/WBE Borough Forum in Queens is being hosted in partnership with the Flushing Business Improvement District (BID). The event will take place on September 26th from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom, 135-20 39th Ave Flushing, NY, 11354. Representatives from the following 13 City agencies will be available at the forum to discuss contracting opportunities. Translation services will be provided in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Taiwanese and Spanish at the event. * Administration for Children’s Services * Department of Citywide Administrative Services * Department of Correction * Department of Environmental Protection * Department of Homeless Services * Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications * Department of Parks and Recreation * Department of Sanitation * Department of Small Business Services * Department of Social Services * Fire Department of the City of New York * Human Resources Administration * New York Police Department The M/WBE Borough Forums will then move to the Bronx in October, Manhattan in November, Brooklyn in January, and Staten Island in February. For more information or to register to attend the Queens forum, visit queensforum.eventbrite.com . For more information on forums in all other boroughs, contact email@example.com . "I look forward to partnering with SBS Commissioner Bishop on a M/WBE Borough Forum in Brooklyn this coming January. Diverse communities truly thrive when economic success is shared by businesses of all backgrounds. It is so important that we do more to connect more entrepreneurs with M/WBE certification support, as well as to connect more certified M/WBEs with active procurement opportunities," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “The MWBEs in New York City are the engine of our economy, generating jobs throughout our neighborhoods and contributing to our quality of life,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “These forums are an amazing opportunity for any MWBE to capitalize on a number of lucrative procurement opportunities. 30 percent of the value of all City contracts is nothing to scoff at, and I encourage all of our community’s MWBEs to take advantage of this opportunity to do business with the City of New York.” About the Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) As an essential component in tackling income inequality across the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio's Administration seeks to increase economic opportunity for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs). In September of 2016, Mayor de Blasio created the Mayor's Office of M/WBEs to address the disparity in City contracts awarded to ethnic and gender groups and their overall representation in City contracting. The Office is responsible for oversight, policy and accountability of the City's M/WBE Program. It serves as a One-Stop-Shop for M/WBEs interested in doing business with the city and its agencies. Follow the Office of M/WBEs on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn . About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/sbs , call 311, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .
Monday, September 17, 2018 - 6:01pm
NEW YORK—The de Blasio administration today released the Mayor’s Management Report for Fiscal 2018, an analysis of City agencies’ performance from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The MMR presents more than 1,700 metrics from 45 City agencies that measure the City’s performance in providing services to New Yorkers. “The MMR holds us accountable to our core mission of providing better services to all New Yorkers. This year, we’re seeing falling crime, the creation and preservation of more affordable apartments, and improvements in graduation rates for our kids,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Measuring the performance and progress of every City agency makes us more effective in our fight to make this the fairest and safest city in the world.” “It is at the center of our mission at Operations to find ways for the City to strive for improved efficiency, effectiveness and equity. The MMR is a key tool for measuring and tracking the City’s performance,” said Emily W. Newman, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “I thank the staff at Operations who work diligently year-round to make good on this commitment.” The MMR grew out of the 1970s fiscal crisis and today is a valuable tool for holding City government accountable. Both MMR and Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report (PMMR), which covers the first four months of the fiscal year and is released in January, are mandated by Section 12 of the New York City Charter. To view this year’s report, visit: Highlights include: ACS: The rate of Close to Home placement youth on staff assault with injury decreased 53.8%; investigations for children in detention that found credible evidence of abuse or neglect decreased from 18 to 7; for youth in detention, the rate of youth on youth assaults and altercations with injury decreased 15.8% and the rate of youth on staff assaults and altercations with injury rate decreased 36.4%; and the average number of children in foster care decreased from 8,921 to 8,732. DCA: Businesses educated through direct outreach increased 35.5% from 13,305 to 18,031. DCAS: City employees trained in DCAS training sessions increased from 44,074 to 76,997; cumulative estimated avoided energy cost from energy projects on or in public buildings increased from $40,310,000 to $54,010,000; cumulative estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from energy projects on or in public buildings, measured in metric tons, increased 32.5%; collisions involving City vehicles citywide decreased from 6,444 to 6,304. DHS: Families with children in shelters per day decreased from 12,818 per day to 12,619; exits from shelter to permanent, stable housing grew 5% across all shelter sub-populations through a variety of City, State and federally-funded rental assistance programs, with a notable 6.8% increase for single adults; HOME-STAT outreach teams increased placements of unsheltered New Yorkers into permanent housing, transitional programs, and other stabilization settings by 32.8%. DOB: The number of construction inspections completed increased 20.3% (from 156,508 to 188,221); days to complete first plan review for new buildings decreased 14% from 4.9 to 4.2. DOC: Stabbings and slashings decreased from 165 to 96, over 40%; incidents of use of force on adolescent inmates decreased 10%. DOE: 4-year high school graduation rate increased from 73.0% to 74.3%; dropout rate decreased from 8.5% to 7.8%; postsecondary enrollment increased from 54.7% to 56.7%; class sizes decreased for Kindergarten, grades 1 – 4, and grade 6. DoITT: The number of data sets available for download on increased 23.7% from 1,700 to 2,103. DOHMH: Syphilis cases decreased 6.9%; new HIV diagnoses decreased 14.3%; supportive housing units available to those at risk for developing serious mental health and substance use disorders increased from 7,800 to 8,400. DOT: Bicyclist/pedestrian fatalities decreased 13.5%; Citi Bike annual membership increased 11.8%; Citi Bike trips increased 14.7%; Select Bus Service annual ridership increased 13.2%; total Select Bus Service route miles increased 27.1%; bridge projects (structural work) substantially completed on schedule remains at 100%; EDC: Private investment leveraged on the sale/long-term lease of City-owned property increased 42.8%; private investment leveraged on closed projects increased 9.3%. HPD: Housing starts under Housing New York increased 32.2% from 24,299 units to 32,116. HRA: Adult families receiving preventive services who did not enter the shelter system increased 1.9 percentage points from 94.0% to 95.9%. NYCHA: Alleged elevator injuries reported to DOB decreased 36.4% from 11 to 7. NYC H+H: MetroPlus membership increased from 503,044 to 521,731. NYPD: Major felony crime decreased 3.2%; robbery decreased 8%; felonious assault decreased 2.5%; burglary decreased 4.8%; grand larceny decreased 1.6%; grand larceny auto decreased 5.6%; end-to-end average response time to critical crimes in progress decreased by 5 seconds. OCME: Median time to complete autopsy reports decreased from 57 days to 45; median time to complete toxicology reports decreased by 2 days. SBS: Unique businesses and customers served by SBS increased from 18,352 to 19,842; the annual MWBE recertification rate increased from 61.8% to 79.6%; total M/WBEs certified increased by one-third, from 5,122 to 6,829; M/WBEs awarded City contracts increased 23.4%. TLC: Active medallion taxis that are accessible increased 32.6%.
Monday, September 17, 2018 - 6:01pm
“New Yorkers who responded to the attacks on 9/11 and its aftermath are heroes. Their service helped us rebound stronger and more resilient than ever. I am committed to working with these brave men and women to get them the help they are owed by our City. I am confident we’ll find a solution that fully honors their service and sacrifices.”
Monday, September 17, 2018 - 6:01pm
Announcement comes as volunteer City delegation returns from week of providing pro bono help to hundreds of detained families at the southern border NEW YORK—As a group of volunteer attorneys recruited from several City agencies returns after spending a week assisting detained immigrant families near the southern border, the City announced that it has earmarked $4.1 million to provide legal assistance for migrant children, both unaccompanied minors and separated children in New York City. This funding will also provide access to legal risk assessments and screening for those seeking to be sponsors for migrant children. “The Trump Administration’s cruel and inhumane attacks on immigrant families seeking refuge in our country is un-American. Those are not New York City’s values, which is why we are stepping up and speaking out to help these families and call on the President to reunite the over 400 remaining separated children,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Mothers and fathers need to be able to hug and console their children and we are doing everything we can to help by providing free high-quality legal services.” "We are proud that New York City is a city of immigrants. And we are a city where people take care of one another," said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "The services available in New York City are an example of our commitment to reunite and support families torn apart by the inhumane policies of the federal government. In New York City, we will never stop fighting for immigrant children and families." “Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, the City made a tremendous investment to create a system for providing legal services that can mobilize quickly to address the emergent legal needs of immigrant New Yorkers,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Today we are using this system to shield immigrants against the draconian policies the federal government is implementing.” The Human Resources Administration’s Office of Civil Justice and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs have been working with the City’s legal services providers through the Administration’s Immigrant Opportunity Initiative (IOI) program to increase their capacity to meet urgent legal needs. These include the needs presented by separated children placed in federal facilities under the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in New York City, their families and loved ones seeking to become sponsors, and hundreds of unaccompanied minors settled here who are in need of legal representation. This announcement comes on the heels of the completion of a City employee delegation to provide pro bono assistance to families facing detention near the southern border. Last week, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi traveled to Dilley, Texas as a volunteer alongside fifteen colleagues—City attorneys and licensed clinical social workers—volunteering from the following agencies: Administration of Children Services, Department of Consumer Affairs, Law Department, Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, NYC Commission on Human Rights, and NYC Health + Hospitals. The delegation was made possible due to support from private funders working with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Organized by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the City volunteer group worked with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, a partner of the Immigration Justice Campaign. At the South Texas Family Residential Center, the largest U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) family detention center in the country, the volunteers assisted in approximately 300 cases. Among their duties, volunteers prepared families seeking asylum for credible fear interviews and provided mental health screenings for children and families, including once-separated families. Through the Administration’s IOI network of legal service providers the $4.1M funding allocation will allow the Administration to: * Further increase capacity for legal defense in deportation proceedings for over 900 separated and unaccompanied immigrant youth; * Increase funding for social work and case management resources to address the acute needs of these traumatized children; and * Provide resources to address legal screening and risk assessment needs of family members seeking to be sponsors of separated children in ORR facilities in New York City, facilitating their release from ORR facilities. The legal service providers include Catholic Charities, Catholic Migration Services, Central American Legal Assistance, Immigrant Justice Corps, Kids in Need of Defense, Legal Services NYC, New York Legal Assistance Group, Northern Manhattan Center for Immigrant Rights, Safe Passage Project, Sanctuary for Families, The Door, The Legal Aid Society, Urban Justice Center, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Make the Road New York. In FY 2014, Administration funding for immigration legal services was approximately $2.1 million. Since then Mayoral funding for immigration legal services has increased dramatically. In FY 2018, the Administration raised its commitment to funding free immigration legal services to over $30 million. "Several separated children who were brought to our city have been reunited with their families at the border, but they continue to languish in detention,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “It was a harrowing experience to speak directly to families separated by the Trump administration and to witness the systematic mistreatment of immigrant children and families up close. The de Blasio Administration will continue pushing to end both family separation and the erosion of asylum for those fleeing persecution and violence. With today’s legal services announcement, even more migrant children who arrive in our city will receive critical representation and services to help fight for their safety. “The Mayor’s Fund believes in the power of public-private partnerships because they allow us to respond quickly to immediate needs. We are delighted to work with our philanthropic partners to provide funding to support legal assistance for families at the border. We are also proud to stand alongside the City as they increase their support for separated families,” aid Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “I commend the First Lady and all the City volunteers who responded to the plight of immigrant families impacted by an inhumane federal government policy,” said Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter. “I am particularly proud of the of the Law Department attorneys who helped children and families navigate complex immigration laws and legal issues, including pursuing asylum in the U.S. This successful initiative and the additional funding to protect immigrant youth has indeed put New York values in action.” “New York City has and will continue to be a city that protects immigrants. We will not sit by the sideline while unaccompanied minors get lost in a system in which more and more is being stacked against them, ” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis . “Today’s new investment will go a long way in protecting these vulnerable children so that they can get access to the care and legal services they need. I am proud to serve this city and will continue to partner with our sister agencies and use our resources to make sure immigrant communities are safe and protected.” "New Yorkers have once again stepped up to help families separated by this inhumane federal policy. ACS is proud that Tanya Molina, an attorney with the agency's Family Court Legal Services division, was part of the team providing vital legal services to detained families," said ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell. "The City's critical investment will ensure that hundreds of unaccompanied and separated youth get access to the legal support that they need." “Here in New York, one in three of us were born in another country, myself included,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “The City is committed to protecting all of us through education, enforcement, and ensuring that all immigrant families here in NYC—and across the country—have access to free, trustworthy services. This initiative will provide crucial legal services to the many families who have been separated by the Trump administration’s egregious immigration policies. DCA is proud to stand together with our sister agencies in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters and will continue to fight for their rights.” "The cruel, heartless policies of the Trump Administration demand that we do everything in our power to fight back. This commitment of legal funding to our city's most vulnerable population at a time when the federal government is set on abusing the immigration process for political means is extremely welcome, and I appreciate Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray's commitment to justice for these children," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "Mayor De Blasio continues to stand with immigrants and their children like no other public official in the nation. The additional funding for legal resources to help reunite children and parents separated at the border will tremendously help alleviate the hardships facing these families. With no end in sight to the current immigration reform impasse, these efforts are needed and define our resistance to a morally intolerable situation," declared State Senator Luis Sepulveda, member of the State Senate Standing Committee on the Judiciary. “As New Yorkers we have an obligation to stand up for what's right. The Trump administration's barbaric treatment of immigrant families is antithetical to the values we hold as New Yorkers, and thanks to Mayor De Blasio, migrant children will receive the help they need to be reunited with their families. I commend him for his leadership,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “To rip a child from its mother is cruel and we must do all we can to make sure this incoherent practice stops. As immigrants we come to America in search of that “American Dream” and breaking families apart goes against the fabric upon which this nation was built. Today I am proud to applaud the De Blasio Administration for making a significant investment to ensure that the rights of these families are a priority,” said Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa. "This is a challenging time for children and families caught in a human rights crisis precipitated by the highest levels of our federal government," said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. "I'm proud that New York City has not abandoned its commitment to the values of inclusion and equity for every individual. This additional funding will go a long way to provide the basic rights and services our children deserve, and I applaud this administration's continued advocacy on these critical issues." "Over the summer, I traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border where I visited detention and processing centers," said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). "I saw kids being held in cages with thin tin foil-like blankets on top of them, and met with distraught mothers, most of whom had no idea where their children were located. It is appalling that hundreds of parents who had their kids ripped away from them are still separated from their children. The free legal assistance being announced today will be a tremendous resource for helping many of the immigrant children who are in New York City, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for allocating these critical funds." "The Dilley Pro Bono Project is tremendously grateful to the volunteers sent by the City of New York to further our mission of providing legal assistance to asylum-seeking families detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center," said Karen Lucas, Director of the Immigration Justice Campaign. "As the Trump Administration seeks to massively expand family detention and amend the Flores Settlement to detain children for longer periods of time, the need for attorneys, translators, social workers, and health care professionals advocating on behalf of these women and children is greater than ever. We wholeheartedly welcome New York City's commitment to these families and the fight for their rightful and fair day in court." "Now more than ever, migrant children fleeing violence and persecution and seeking humanitarian relief in the U.S. need access lifesaving legal counsel. Today's announcement reaffirms New York City's commitment to defending these vulnerable minors," said Beth Krause, Supervising Attorney in the Immigration Law Unit, The Legal Aid Society. "The Legal Aid Society looks forward to working with the Mayor Bill de Blasio on this and other critical initiatives that strengthen New York as a sanctuary city." "Immigrant Justice Corps commends Mayor de Blasio's administration for its rapid and effective response to the recent humanitarian crisis involving unaccompanied children separated from their families," said Jojo Annobil, Executive Director, Immigrant Justice Corps. “Time and time again, this administration has demonstrated its unprecedented commitment to protect New York City immigrants and to support and inspire legal services providers fighting zealously on behalf of these vulnerable populations. We look forward to continued productive collaboration." "In this time of threat and anxiety for young immigrants and vulnerable families, Catholic Charities continues to support those who are most in need and who seek protection, safe haven, and new opportunity, said C. Mario Russell, Esq. Director, Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities. “Catholic Charities welcomes the Mayor's renewed commitment to serve and support those affected by the administration's unjust actions and looks forward to a continued partnership in ongoing, important initiatives for immigrants. Our shared, longstanding tradition to welcome all newcomers-be they unaccompanied children, families, workers, refugees-is rooted in the belief that New York is stronger when immigrant communities of faith, family, and work are given new hope and possibility.” "Catholic Migration Services is proud to be part of a city that is committed to fighting for the rights of vulnerable New Yorkers wherever they may come from," said Sharone Kaufman, Managing Attorney for Catholic Migration Services. "We are proud today to stand in solidarity with the de Blasio administration as we fight to defend the rights of these vulnerable young New Yorkers. No child should face the immigration process alone, and now these children won't have to," said Rich Leimsider, Executive Director of the Safe Passage Project. "We are lucky in NYC to have a city that welcomes immigrants instead of demonizing them. The situation in Central America is indeed a crisis -- for those citizens and especially for children persecuted by criminal gangs," said Anne Pilsbury, Executive Director of Central American Legal Assistance . "NYLAG applauds Mayor De Blasio, Commissioner Banks, and the Office of Civil Justice for recognizing the crisis facing separated and unaccompanied immigrant youth in New York City," said Beth Goldman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). "The City's commitment to funding critical legal services for these children, many of whom faced unspeakable violence in their home countries and were cruelly separated from their families while seeking refuge in the United States, will ensure that those most in need will be provided with quality representation and an opportunity for a better life." "KIND greatly appreciates the de Blasio Administration's commitment to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children in New York City," said KIND President Wendy Young. "As a result of this funding, KIND's New York City office will be able to hire additional staff to provide free representation to these uniquely vulnerable children and help ensure that they are not returned to harm." "The de Blasio administration has, once again, shown its leadership and commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community," said Judge Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families . “Attorneys from Sanctuary for Families, the largest provider of legal services for survivors of gender violence in the country, represent thousands of immigrant survivors, far too many who are children. These immigrant children have lived through unspeakable violence and abuse. This infusion of funding for legal services will give service providers, like Sanctuary, much-needed resources to assist these children along the path to safety and healing."
Saturday, September 15, 2018 - 10:49am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everyone, I want to start by giving a big thank you to our host, the indispensable Jerry Brown. [Applause] And I want to give my deepest thanks to all of you for being forceful agents of change. Give your neighbor a round of applause, please. [Applause] I am the Mayor of a city shaken to consciousness six years ago by a monster storm, Hurricane Sandy. October 29th, 2012 was the before-and-after date for us as New Yorkers – a day we can never forget and that we remember deeply as that moment when our lives changed. 44 dead, $19 billion in damage, whole neighborhoods flattened – you will not find a lot of climate-change deniers in my city anymore. And now in this state, so much of California is burning, and we think of the Carolinas with Hurricane Florence bearing down on them. The signs couldn’t be clearer, we could lose our planet. To survive we have to upend our whole way of doing things, and that begins with the way we invest in the future. In January, New York City became the first U.S. city to begin divesting its pension assets from fossil fuels. [Applause] We are taking $5 billion out of the hands of that dying and broken industry. [Applause] And then earlier this week we joined with another great city, one of the great financial capitals of the world, London, to build a coalition of cities dedicated to divestment. We want to unleash the power of the local level, the power of the grassroots to forge ahead when nations falter. We will act when nations fail, including our own. Yesterday we made yet another announcement. While some institutional investors are putting one percent of their assets into climate solutions, we looked at our portfolio and we looked at our planet and we decided, let’s do more, it’s time to go farther. So, we’re investing two percent of our pension assets – $4 billion in climate solutions. [Cheers] This is one step forward and one step toward a huge global response to climate change. It will take investing $1 trillion a year for three decades to keep this planet livable. But, brothers and sisters, we can do it. New York City isn’t just investing in hydro, and solar, and wind – we’re investing in momentum for change. Imagine what could happen is everyone took that two percent investment pledge. If the top 50 United States pension funds invested two percent, that would be enough to convert half the homes in America to solar power. [Applause] If every United States pension fund invested two percent, that would be $200 billion – a major step on the road to the $1 trillion we need to keep climate change at bay each year. So, I’m asking pension funds across this nation and all over the world to come join us. Pull your money out of a doomed fossil fuel industry. It’s time for something different and something better. Let’s make investments in climate solutions, the foundation of change. Now, I’m asking all of you, whether you run a pension fund or you just have your retirement in one, go home and demand a two percent commitment to saving our earth. I understand it’s a big goal, but the largest city in the United States of America has acted. Join us to push the boundaries of what’s possible. You know, a great philosopher, Frank Sinatra – Frank Sinatra once sang of New York City, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Well, I say, if we can make it happen in New York City, you can make it happen where you live. Put your money into the technologies that will save us all and help to break a vicious cycle that we’ve lived with for too long. [Applause] Because today in the coal mines of West Virginia, and the shale fields of North Dakota, and the oil refineries of Louisiana, folks feel trapped. Their jobs won’t last, but they don’t see an alternative. We can fund a whole new economy in their backyard that offers both a paycheck and a planet they can live on. [Applause] Let me conclude with this thought. I know many of you here have spent your lives fighting, fighting against the deniers and the cynics, the folks who ignore reality, the folks who say these problems are too hard to fix. Well, the next time you encounter one of them, tell them that New York City, the home of Wall Street, is divesting from the old and investing in the new. [Applause] And we’re saying loud and clear, fossil fuel investments aren’t just toxic for our planet, they’re toxic for our portfolios too. [Applause] Brothers and sisters, fossil fuels belong in only one place – stranded in the ground. [Cheers] Let’s all make sure they stay there. Thank you and God bless you all.
Friday, September 14, 2018 - 12:42pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Denise, first of all, thank you. We've talked a lot over the years. Thank you for all you have done, your leadership – and so many other people in Breezy Point who have done so much in the recovery effort since then. But what the picture you painted reminds us – anyone – and I don't know how many people here in this room where there in the days after Sandy in Breezy Point, but it looked like there had been a bombing run that had hit Breezy Point. It was literally devastated. The charred remains of so many houses, and a feeling – and what you just said was so powerful – that generations of families had lost everything that they had built, and that was because of climate change. I feel that it's profoundly clear that from that moment, New Yorkers have not doubted that climate change is real because it came home to us – our worst natural disaster in our history. And I want to thank you because it was tough to rebuild, I know, but you and so many others have. We remember that Sandy left an extraordinarily negative impact on this city – we lost 44 lives because of Sandy. We lost $19 billion-worth of property. The impact was $19 billion on our city. This is one storm, and we're having this discussion on a day when, as you said, the Carolinas are facing something that could be as bad or worse, all because of climate change. So, I don't meet a lot of deniers here. I don't meet a lot of people in New York City who question what we're up against, and that personal history that we've all been through – all of us who saw it, all of us who walked through the neighborhoods and talked to the residents who felt the horrible brunt of Sandy – that history has propelled us to this day when we're doing the kinds of things we need to do to finally address this issue, and we're going to need a lot of other people all over the country to do to finally address this issue. I want to thank everybody who is here with us. I want to thank our host – and this is a great facility we're in. The Building Energy Exchange is the kind of organization that we're going to need a lot more of, that works with government, that works with the business community, the real estate community, the design community to constantly look for ways to use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, right here, in this building, people are doing this work every day to make our city greener and to reduce the impact we're having in terms of emissions. Let's give everyone at the Building Energy Exchange a round of applause to thank them. [Applause] I want to thank the members of my administration. A lot of people have been working on this initiative, working closely with the Comptroller and his team. And I want to thank the Comptroller, all of your staff who have worked so hard. I want to particularly thank two members of my team who are here today, our Director for the Office of Sustainability Mark Chambers, and our Director for the Office of Recovery and Resiliency Jainey Bavishi. I want to thank them both for their great work. And all of the advocates who have been fighting for these kinds of changes for years and are setting the pace here and around the country, and a lot of them are here. When I call out the name of your group, let me make sure I can hear that you're present. The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance – [Applause] ALIGN – is ALIGN here? There we go. Environmental Defense Fund – you can all clap for each other too. [Applause] Okay, bloc power. Green City Force; 350.org; Natural Resources Defense Council – [Applause] Alright, all present. So, all of you deserve our thanks, and we want to welcome your advocacy, going forward, because we're all going to have to keep setting higher and higher goals to protect this city and protect this earth. We talked about the hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas at this very moment, and I am aware of another painful reality – I'm going to leave early in the morning to go to the climate conference in San Francisco. Leaders from around the world – [Applause] The idea of that conference is to keep pushing farther, because we all know the Paris Agreement exists, but there has to be a lot more done to live up to it and we all know our own nation has stepped back. I'm going to fly into San Francisco in an area that's been ravaged by wildfires. California is literally burning, and that's because of climate change too. So, this evidence just keeps mounting and that means that our solutions have to be even greater and we have to strive for things that we never thought we could do previously. The question always has to be, what's next? What's the next big thing we can do and how we can help other people to do it? So, that's the backdrop that we are working in. And look, it's not only going to be about New York City, of course, or even the entire United States of America – it's going to take a global response. There is an actual dollar-figure that has been estimated as what we need globally to finally create the kind of sustainable energy, renewable energy that could allow us to save this earth – as simple as that – to have energy sources that would no longer poison us and kill us, but would actually allow us to live. That dollar-figure, that estimate is $1 trillion per year, and that is something that will be needed over the course of the next few decades, all the way up to 2050 when we have the goal, all of us, of reducing emissions by 80 percent. A trillion-dollars a year might sound unreachable, but when you actually look at it, it's the kind of goal that can be attained if we are bold enough. And we, as New Yorkers, have to be the boldest. We have to lead the way. We have to show others it can be done. We, as of today, are announcing that we will be the first American city to commit two percent of our pension funds to investments in climate solutions. [Applause] And lest anyone hears two percent and think that might seem like a small number – that means, at current valuation, $4 billion – that's real money. [Applause] There had been an international effort, and it continues, to try and get all pension funds to commit to one percent. We're aware of that. But when we looked at the reality, we said, right now, we know already we've got to go farther than that. And everyone – every pension fund, every government, every business has to do the maximum they can do. So, we make this commitment today. And we're not just investing in solar, we're not just investing in hydro, we're not just investing in wind power and building retrofits – we're investing in momentum for change. That's what's so important to understand here – it's not just the physical impact of this $4 billion will have in terms of fostering better energy solutions, it also sends a message around the world. The financial capital of the United States, arguably the financial capital of the world, committing to this level of investment opens the door to many others doing the same. It builds momentum for bigger and bigger solutions. Now, I want to give you perspective on what it would mean if this two-percent goal became the norm. And again, to anyone who might be tempted to be cynical – I can name so many times in history where a goal was set that seemed impossible at the outset and was reached in just a few years. In many places in this country, a great example recently is the $15 minimum wage. The first time people heard it all over the country, dismissed out of hand. Within years, front-page news – now, in more and more places, becoming the norm in practice. We're going to have to do that on a very fast, intense level on this issue. But if the top 50 – the top 50 United States pension funds invested two percent, just like we're doing, that would be enough to convert half of the homes in the United States of America to solar power. [Applause] That's just the top 50 pension funds. If every major United States pension fund invested two percent in climate solutions, that would mean $200 billion. And I told you, the global goal is $1 trillion a year. Just the pension funds of this country could account for $200 billion in investment in climate solutions. That's why we have to create this intensity and this momentum right now. Just a couple of other very quick points – and I'll defer to the expert, our Comptroller, on this issue, but I'll only make a simple point. I want to talk about our obligation to protect our retirees and to protect their pensions. We know that these individuals who have done so much our city, they're relying on all of us to ensure their retirement will be secure and we have a duty to them to make sure we make the right investments. Here's my message about the history of investing in fossil fuels and the choice that we face today – fossil fuels aren't just toxic for our planet, they are toxic for our portfolios as well. And I actually think we would be doing a disservice if we were investing billions of dollars in a dying industry. [Applause] I will say that a few years ago I had the honor of being invited to the Vatican for a meeting of mayors from around the world, and it was related to Pope Francis' focus on fighting climate change. And at that meeting, I heard for the first time the notion that we need to strand fossil fuel assets in the ground, that they're actually a danger, they're not to be extracted, they actually have to be left there for our own survival. We have to understand that it is by keeping the carbon in the ground that we, and our future generations, get to live. So, we're going to keep asking every day what more we can do. This is a crucial, crucial step, and we're going to be looking for more and more as we continue on our mission of 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050. Once upon a time, that also sounded like an outlandish goal. Now, all over the world it's being accepted as the norm. That's why we know this pension goal can be accepted as well. Finally, I want to say, the fact is that even when the United States government pulled out of the Paris Accord, localities stepped up. And we understand, this is a – maybe a way to say it – this is a do-it-yourself movement. When the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement, over 300 American cities stepped forward and reaffirmed their commitment to those goals. Now, pension funds can step forward and do more. As we saw on the question of divestment – and I thank the Comptroller, again, for his leadership there – because of the leadership of New York City, London just came forward and agreed to divest their pension funds in fossil fuels. All of these pieces go together. This announcement of a two-percent commitment in investing in climate solutions is a major milestone, and a major step forward, but it will not be the last in New York City. [Applause] Very quickly in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] Now, I want to turn to the Comptroller. I want to tell you, he is very smart, very careful, very meticulous when it comes to his responsibilities. And we've had this conversation many a time, I know how personally, how passionately he feels a responsibility to our retirees. I know that he's always looking at the big picture. I also know he knows the difference between a good investment and a deadly one, and he has been in the lead – this could not have happened without him, I want to be crystal clear – he's been in the lead not only here, but around this nation as an investor in global solutions and climate solutions, and as someone who said it's time for a change that will protect our earth. Our Comptroller, Scott Stringer – […] Mayor: Michael, tell us how you really feel? [Laughter] Thank you very, very much for those passionate comments, right on the money. We are going to take questions first on this announcement. Then I am going to have something to say about Election day and of course we'll take questions on other topics as well and as I mentioned, Mark Chambers and Jenny Bavishi are here. They may have some of the questions, I may ask for their help on. But let's turn to any questions on this announcement from the media, any questions on this announcement? Question: Yes, so I just want to ask about the next step. So have all the boards that control the pension funds already voted on this or what's happening next? Comptroller Scott Stringer: We will bring our investment recommendations to the boards, and they as they always do will support us, critique us, and arrive at investment strategy. This is a – we have, we have already been able to allocate one percent. We think that we're not simply doubling by asset class, but we're going to be participating in all the asset classes, and we think we have a road map forward. And so we will bring the investments we always do to the boards. Question: So, it's not like a request for information or – Comptroller Stringer: No, no we will – my job is to – whether [inaudible] asset management. Our job is to bring our investment strategies to the boards, and then we have a discussion with the trustees as Michael made the point. We don't do this without our trusties. We have, we believe we can get to two percent in three years. We will bring those strategies and those investments in the different asset classes. So for example, we've had, we've had two billion dollars already in the pipeline. We believe we can get to that other two billion within three years. Mayor: But to your question, I just want to add. The Comptroller is absolutely accurate in everything he's saying, and he is obviously the person responsible for this process and to make sure it is all handled properly. I'll just state the obvious, if you look at the board composition on the two biggest boards and you think about all of us sitting up here. We've obviously consulted with others as well. We feel very confident this is the direction we're going in. Comptroller Stringer: Just to say – if I can also just if – because I know you want some more specifics. The – we think we can customize some of the indexes for more sustainability, for more sustainability investments in the public fixed income area we do think there a lot green bond investment and the private markets in real estate in particular we think there's a lot investment in energy efficient buildings investments in solar and wind. So we'll be brining those to the board as well. Mayor: Yes? Question: Just wanted to check in on the divestment process. When you announced it you said there are a couple of initial steps needed to commission on analysis from the trustees. I am wondering where that is? And also seek a legal opinion, whether divestment would be consistent with the fiduciary duties. Has any of that, where are we – Comptroller Stringer: So let me, so let me give you a quick update. So we, we mentioned that we were going to issue an RFI, which is a request for interest. We've gotten back 20 responses. We've reviewed those 20 responses and we've invited the proposers to address the trustees at the end of September. So we are on a very fast pace, an accelerated pace, but I like where we are. We're going to begin to have discussions with the trustees and I still think we're on schedule for an RFP to be issued later in the fall. So we're making headway in terms of what our legal obligation is we think very clearly that this is part of our fiduciary responsibility. We are very concerned about a continued investment in fossil fuel industries. We don't think that is the best way necessarily to invest money but here is the thing. We are going to experts, we are working with people who have real expertise in these areas and we are doing everything from a fiduciary perspective and we're making progress. We've already gotten I think some very interesting proposals. Obviously we have to turn that into an RFP. Question: These are proposals to do analysis or what – what are these proposals? Comptroller Stringer: To bring to us – do you want to? Susannah Vickers, Executive Director for Pensions, Office of the NYC Comptroller : Basically they're responses for the request for information and we ask certain questions in the RFI, and those were the responses that came from different experts in different areas that were informing how to draft the RFP. One of the questions had to do with fiduciary duty. And we have to recognize fiduciary expert – write a very lengthy response. And he's agreed to come in and brief the trustees at the end of September. So we'll be having that discussion as part of anything we do going forward. Comptroller Stringer: And so far we are on the schedule we laid out when we announced the initiative. Mayor: Okay, other questions? Yeah? Question: I just wanted to ask is there a similar process going on here? Does it require – you know I know you already invested in two billion. Does it require a similar level of analysis? Director Vickers: So – Mayor: I just want to start because you're going just on the big picture. We're on the three year time frame here to 2021. So I just want to start – you're asking an erudite question but I want to make sure we don't lose the forest for the trees. We can do this in a three year time frame we believe. Director Vickers: Yes, using our current investment process. So the Comptroller asked for the Bureau of Asset Management staff to do a very thorough analysis on pacing and asset allocation. How we could get to a goal. And it was understood that based on our current process, bringing recommendations to the trustees and within our current asset allocation and investment objectives and risk return profile that these investments could be made using those already established criteria. Comptroller Stringer: Right, we've already, we've already modeled this. So the good news for us is we're not in uncharted waters. We have a basic understanding of where our investments are. We think there's some new investments, and also some preexisting investments that could get us to the two percent within three years. Mayor: Please. Question: I just want to make sure that I am understanding, because it seems to me like with both divestment and then the new investments we're talking about today, that these are still goals because the boards that control the funds have not yet actually voted to go forward with the proposals. Is that correct that these are still targets? Comptroller Stringer: Well, we have outlined a process. Our goal has remained – the two goals are very clear. We have every intention of divesting from fossil fuel. Obviously there is a road map and a process to do that. That's what we're going to now. We have a goal of getting this now to two percent. We believe through our modeling, using our computer models and our pre-existing investments we can get to the two percent in three years. That's why we calculated that would could add two billion dollars, right? So we actually went out and looked at where we are with our existing asset allocation. So we don't have to go back to the trustees we believe and chain to the allocation. We believe we can add to it without radically changing it. Keep in mind that everything the Mayor and I do is with the full support of the trustees. So we'll continue to go back to Mike Mulgrew and Henry Garrido and the other trustees. Michael? President Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers: So, in terms of this divestment and fossil fuel I want to go back to other divestments. It takes a period of time, usually about three to four years to get it, two to four years really. We've divested many times for many different things; gun manufacturing is one. We completely – it's completely finished in our fund now. So we're completely out of gun manufacturing any sort of ammunition. We've made that decision. At the same time we have $746 million invested in smart energy. And that was done by our trusty saying these are good investments one, and plus they are things that we actually believe in. So it's a win, win. So now the trustees have said, since these investments are actually very good for us. We would like to continue to do even more, which is why we are here today. Because we're all saying together that we want to – all the pension funds to move forward. We also – on the fossil fuel let's be clear. Just on a regular investment. We believe those investments are going to be very, very bad in a short period of time, which is why we have also said we would like to get out. But it has to be done in a responsible way. People get their work done when we make these announcements the boards understand that this is the direction we're asking them to do. We're giving them the authority to do this in a responsible way. But it has to be done by all of the legal ways that they have to follow for their fiduciary responsibility. We get there. Executive Director Henry Garrido, DC 37: Can I add to that? I think – I'm sorry. Part of the problem with this, this isn't like all in one bucket. It's like you flip a switch and then all divestment from that is fossil fuel is in different assesses, right. Whether there's real estate, or where there is private equity, or whatever. So to divest as an idea an idea you vote as a goal you then have to go and undo all those asset without hurting the system. So every one of them, you divest in for multiple different things at the same time with this as a goal. Likewise, if you're going to invest two billion dollars, if you're going to invest four billion dollars into new climate solutions you also have to invest in different things, whether they are solar, wind, or real estate – or so you have to then reconstruct how that looks now, understanding that you still have a goal that the trustees have voted on. That's how it happens. So it's – it kind of gets into the weeds, it's complicated, but that's – that's how it usually happens. Mayor: Scott? Comptroller Stringer: Yeah, let me – I just want to make the point that three out of the five boards have asked me to begin a process of divestment, something I support, as well as the Mayor who's also a trustee. As we go through this process we have certain benchmarks to hit. We wanted very much to put out an RFI because we wanted to capture the best ideas and the best people, so that when we issued the RFP, we had really – we had our due diligence in place. I will tell you that we are absolutely on target. The pace as Susana mentioned is very much exactly where we want to be. This is – the second part of this, which I think Henry alluded to, which is that it's not just about what we take out of the system, it's what we put back in. And part of that is a continuation of the trustees desire to invest in clean energy. One because we'd like to play a role in saving the planet and our city, but equally important, there is a fiduciary need to look at the technologies of the future and there is by any measure, you know, we get a lot of interest in green bonds, we get a lot of interest in, you know, green investments, this is going to be, I think, the beginning of a broader portfolio question for us. Not just today, but ten, twenty years from now, and we are laying the foundation in the Comptroller's Office, with the Mayor's staff and the trustees, to be prepared to take advantage of those technologies and I think that's very critical for the retirement security of our trustees. Mayor: Amen. Yes? Question: For the Comptroller, how have the retirement funds performed compared to index ones? Comptroller Stringer: We are still a full percentage point ahead, if we indexed everything we are still ahead, at least a percentage point, and in the four years that I could speak of, we have hit our actuarial target over the four years – or now five years – I served as comptroller - with 7.4 percent. Mayor: Other questions on this announcement? I want to see if there is anything else on this – yes? Question: Yeah, just a last one. So obviously teachers and NYCERS trustees have voiced support, so do fire, police, and trustees from BERS also support this plan? Comptroller Stringer: So they have – they have not said yes or no, they want to look at each project as it comes and we're going to give them all the information so they can make the informed decisions. I do think we have the three funds and we'll certainly going to work with them. Mayor: Yeah and just in terms of achieving these goals overall - and you guys can confirm this - but I'll do the common sense point because so many of the assets are in NYCERS and in the Teachers Fund. We're talking about being able to achieve these goals either way. We look forward to the maximum involvement but you know any of these two alone would be huge any place else, and we can get there with what we have. Garrido: And I just want to add, I'm also – we also have the trustees on the Board of Ed Retirement System – that's the third one that you don't – the trustee is not here today, but we will be supporting that in BERS as well too. Yes. Mayor: Okay, last call on these questions on this announcement before we go to again I want to speak Election Day and all. Take other questions as well, last call? Going once, twice, okay, let me say that everyone who has been so patiently standing that if we're going to go into other topics now, so if you want to quickly escape, this is a great time to do it. If you want to stick around, your certainly welcome, and some of the sitting too. You're out of here. There has been a mass walkout. Thank you everyone, give them all a round of applause, thank you all – [Applause] […] Mayor: There we go, okay, everybody we're back. I just want to talk about the election for a moment. So we've got six hours left in this election day – hold on. Come on. Last chance. Okay. We've got six hours left in this election day, I want to urge all my fellow New Yorkers, get out and vote. This is a crucial election. Polls open until 9 p.m. and literally every vote matters. I have talked to a lot of people around the city in the last weeks about the election a year ago in Virginia, a single seat for the House of Delegates that literally determined the control of that legislature came down to a tie. A vote in a local election that was a tie, they had to draw straws or whatever they do to break a tie in Virginia, but that is another reminder of the power of a single vote. So please everyone get out there and vote. If you need to know where your poll site is, you can call 3-1-1 or go online, voting.nyc, the biggest part of the voting day is coming up. People, you know, particularly vote between roughly five o'clock and eight o'clock, this is the crucial moment. So I want to ask all of our colleagues in the media please get out there to people how important it is and how they can find their poll site if they need help with that. Now I want to say, we have felt the urgency of this moment. There is a very deep feeling in communities all over this city, and we're seeing all over the country as well, that people need to get involved more than ever. Our DemocracyNYC Initiative has been trying to in every way we can encourage participating, encourage voting, obviously non-partisan across the board, we want people to vote of every persuasion, the most important thing is that they participate. We have registered already this year over 10,000 New York City Public School students, seniors in high school, who will be voting for the first time. We held a voter registration drive in our correction system, because remember a lot of people who are in our jails are awaiting judgement and they need to have a right to vote. Folks who are found guilty of low-level offenses still have the right to vote. We want everyone voting. We have tried to make word about the primary clearer and more available, this is an unusual primary, obviously a Thursday primary. We've had ads on the LinkNYC kiosks, we've sent letters home with public school students reminding their parents of election day, we've posted signs all over the city. We're going to be doing that again in November and going forward. There has been in this city and this country over years a decline in voting. We have to combat that. I think this is a moment of history were actually that trend can be turned around, because there is greater interest, greater concern, people know how much there vote counts a lot more now, but that leads to the very important point that voting is very hard in New York City and New York State. It's too hard. It has to change. I wish I did not have to give you a personal vignette but I will give you a personal vignette. I heard from Dante as he was going today to his poll site and he was going in to vote and thought everything would be easy because he had a voter card that was sent to him by the Board of Elections telling him his poll site, alerting him to the primary election, and of course, indicating that he was a member of the Democratic Party. He presented that at the officials at his poll site and they said they could not find his name in the registration book and told him he could not vote on the machine, and would have to vote on an affidavit ballot. He was holding the card from Board of Elections that they sent to him. Perfect evidence of his registration and where he was supposed to be, and he was in that location, and they told him that he couldn't vote on the machine. The system is broken, it cannot continue this way. It's corrosive to our democracy. I've seen it time and time again. I've been involved in New York City public life for over 25 years, it's the same problem over and over again with the Board of Elections. It's got to end. So we can fix it in part with just better election laws, allow people to register same day, that allow people to vote early, that make the polling book electronic, all sorts of basic reforms, we also have to finally recognize that the Board of Elections as currently structured cannot provide fair and effective elections. It just can't. And there is legislation in Albany that would professionalize the board and give the executive director the power to actually run it like a modern agency, not something from the 19th century. So I think a lot is about to change, today in this state, I think a lot more is going to change in November, and we better make sure that the legislative session this spring, that once and for all we get reform of our voting system because I am so sick of people being told they can't vote when they've done everything right to be able to vote. We have to finally end that in this state. Just want to say a few words in Spanish about today. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] So everyone, despite my frustration, I reiterate that the best way to fix this process is to start by voting and everyone has a chance to do that today. With that we will turn to any questions about the election or anything else. Yes? Question: Where was that polling place that Dante went to? Mayor: East 88th Street. I can get you the exact address – I'll get you the name of I believe it's a school, but East 88th Street, Manhattan. Question: Given how all you just said about the Board of Elections, do you have confidence then in the results of the election and do you want to change your mind and tell us who you voted for? Mayor: My vote is between me and my ballot. The – do I have confidence? I have confidence that the results will be counted, I have confidence in that way. What I am concerned about is how many people are not voting because they have so many times been disappointed in the process, so you know, I think your questions is a good one. I want to answer the first question. Do I expect accurate election results tonight? Yes. I don't think we need United Nations observers or anything like that, we will have accurate counting of the votes that were cast. That's not my central problem. My problem is how many people are not voting because it is so hard to vote. There is an estimate of about two million people in the State who are eligible and not registered. I guarantee you if you had same day registration, that instead of two million people not participating in that number would be much, much less. If you had same day voting in the busiest city in the world, I think we can claim that title – excuse me if you had early voting, if you had early voting a whole lot more people would vote if it wasn't just reduced to 15 hours on one day of the year. The whole process is meant to inhibit participation. Let's be clear. This is a – there is a reality over decades and there's guilt on both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that the power brokers did not want to see an expanded electorate. They liked a smaller electorate that guaranteed there power. They do not want to see what it looks like to have more and more people voting, including more and more young people, more and more people of color, more and more people who are lower income, and that's shameful. In fact other states all over the country, including very red states, have better election laws than New York State. Think of all sorts of places that do early voting, how on earth do we not have it here? So this is something that should no longer be acceptable in this state. Yes? Question: [Inaudible] optimistic are you about those three swing seats [inaudible]. Mayor: Are you saying in the State Senate? Question: Yes. Mayor: I am optimistic. I mean obviously today is about the primary and I believe you will certainly see some of the seats held by members of the IDC switch hands to real Democrats. Everyone is trying to guess – I can't guess but I am fairly certain that some of those seats are going to switch hands and you are going to see therefore a strengthening of the Democratic delegation in Albany. But if the question is in November, will there be two or three pickups by the Democratic Party and therefore a clear Democratic majority in the State Senate? I believe yes. Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to get your reaction to the arrests of the NYPD – Mayor: Let me see if there is anything else on election and I'll come right back to you. On the election, Willy? Question: If Tish James wins and then goes on to become Attorney General you will have the responsibility as Mayor to call a special election – Mayor: Yes. Question: – the expectation is that lots and lots of people will run in that. People are – Mayor: Yes. That is an accurate statement. Question: -- I'd like you talk about what that might look like. Mayor: I mean we've haven't given – I haven't given it a whole lot of thought, we have to see what happens today obviously but I do think a lot of people would run for it and of course it would be a special election so unfortunately likely a lower turnout situation. But you know I think it's something whenever there's an unusual change in the electoral calendar a whole lot of pent up ambition comes out. I think that's a fact. Question: Do you think people will use it as a stepping stone to run for mayor? Mayor: I think some would and some wouldn't. I don't mean that to be coy. I think it is obviously a place where you are serving on a citywide level. And there's a very natural argument that if you can get to a citywide platform and do good work, of course that has ramifications for the future. But I think there will be other people that say it's not worth the bother if they feel they have a seat now that they feel good about and they feel is a good platform for what they are trying to do. So I don't think there's only one way to look at that. Question: Mayor, I wanted to get your reaction to the news that Larry Schwartz, someone who is really close to Governor Cuomo was the person who gave the final sign off on the mailer regarding Cynthia Nixon and his explanation that he didn't turn it over to see the other side. Mayor: I've known Larry a long time. He's a very smart guy. I wasn't there but anyone approving a mailer normally looks at the whole mailer but more importantly from my point of view we all need to know everyone who was involved. It's as simple as that. And I've said it – I know Comptroller Stringer said it too. Anyone who approved that mailer should be fired. So I don't think it should be hard for the state party and the Cuomo campaign to say here's everyone who saw it, and everyone who approved it. And I think it's very simple, it was unconscionable and to put it in the name of the state Democratic Party. That means that it's supposed to be reflecting the views of all Democrats, it's an affront to the Democratic Party, it's an affront to all of us as New Yorkers. How hard is it – I can certainly tell you in any one of my campaigns, first of all it never would have happened, but if there was any mailer that there was a concern about, I could show you very quickly every single human being who signed off on it. There's emails typically indicating that kind of thing. Just come forward with everyone who signed off and those people should no longer be a part of this party's operation. Anything else of the election – okay other topics. Yoav, you are starting. Question: Yes, I just wanted to get your reaction to the arrests of the NYPD members current, former, relating to the prostitution, gambling – Mayor: Yes, it's disgusting that they did that. And it's, anyone who took that oath should never be engaged obviously in criminal activity and it's unacceptable and you know, I have a very sharp view on things like this. It's very sad when people do something like this but it's also very important that they be caught and it be made public that they were caught. So I want to thank everyone at the police department who did this investigation and the DA's Office for bringing to light what happened here and everyone needs to understand there will be consequences. Yes. Question: Related to what you were speaking about a minute ago with the mailer – on NY1 on Monday you were asked about it and you said I think the media should demand to know everybody who approved that mailer, get the names, I mean this is what the media is very good at. And you went on to say it's really simple, give us the name of everyone who approved it. You have not always been so eager to reveal the names of people in your administration who made decisions or approved things. So I want to go back to the case of Harendra Singh where Emma Wolfe was put in charge of negotiations with Harendra Singh and Neil Kwatra who had associations with Emma and your administration. So in the spirit of what you said here will you please tell us everyone who approved or made the decision to have Emma Wolfe become involved in the negotiations with Harendra Singh? Mayor: I appreciate the abstract connection you are trying to draw but I will reject it out of hand. We are talking about something that in this instance that you raised has been fully investigated by numerous individuals and agencies and it has been covered and we are done and no I'm not going to comment further on it. The matter at hand right now is about the party apparatus representing all Democrats in New York State having sent out a mailing that was religiously insensitive, inaccurate, inflammatory, right before Rosh Hashanah – this is an extraordinary and unprecedented act. And it's been done in the name of all Democrats. It must be addressed. I am simply saying in this instance since we know very, very clearly there's not been a full investigation. There should be a full investigation but a way to answer our questions would be to give us the information on who approved it. It's a very straight forward equation from my point of view, yes. Question: My question is about the storm. Anything else that the City is going to be doing regarding the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, any other resources we are going to be sending there and when? Mayor: We have sent down an emergency response team, we got a request from those states, from the Carolinas and FEMA to send down some of our first responders who are very highly trained in emergency response, some of the same kind of folks who went down to Puerto Rico to help out. That team has been dispatched. I believe it is 80 members but we will check that for you. They are already on the ground, last I heard, in the Carolinas. Question: Anything additional though? Mayor: We will do whatever is needed. I can say from the very last reports there is no direct threat to New York City, thank God. We are ready to help everyone in the Carolinas and anyone who is threatened. We've done that, you know we've done it, we did it in Houston, we did it in Puerto Rico. We will always do that and people have done that for us in our hour of need. People came from all 50 states after 9/11. People came from all 50 states after Sandy to help us out and we will be there for them. Question: But is there any plan right now where you guys have gotten together and said okay we have sent the 80, now let's put you know these 90? Mayor: That's coordinated by FEMA and by the states so again we respond to requests. We don't just send people, we respond to requests and whatever is requested that we possibly can spare we will provide. Yes. Question: So I guess to go back, you were starting to talk about Hurricane Sandy so I thought if you had an update on the Build it Back program progress? I know back in 2015 you said it would be completed by 2016 – there's still homes in the area, people out of their homes. Mayor: Look I think I have expressed my tremendous frustration many a time. I'll express it again now. In retrospect it was the wrong approach from the beginning. And I wish we had understood that better in the very beginning of the administration. You know we felt that so much had already been put into that approach that it was probably the lesser of evils to see it through. For all intents and purposes the homes will be all done this year, there are a couple of very aberrant situations, Jainey you might be able to define it better than me but the couple of things where there's litigation or some physical situation that changed. But basically all the homes will be done this year. I've said publically we are never going to use that model again, it does not work the way it needs to. But at least thank God for the existing projects that the City is involved in, they will be concluded this year. Question: Just a follow up, I mean I guess you weren't Mayor at the time but what would you have done differently with this money from the feds on whether it would be a completely different program? Mayor: I think it would have to be more of letting each homeowner take resources and make their own decisions. If I had to be really you know simplistic about it but I do think it hits the core of it. We actually have been working on an analysis to have something on the shelf for the future, God forbid but we have to be ready. But if I had to boil down a lot of what I've heard from our team and again Jainey has been involved in some ways, not directly as much with Build it Back but in the whole resiliency effort so feel free to jump in. I would say the notion that the City would become a single family home builder was fundamentally flawed. We don't do that. It's not part of our expertise. We had to try and create it. It was a tough fit. I also think the rules from the beginning were really, really loose so homeowners felt they would have high level of choice and that slowed down the process and I think arguable people may have been better off with you know a sort of more stripped down approach but if you had to boil it down, arguably if folks had just been given the money to make their own choices and then if they wanted to go faster or if they wanted go slower, they wanted you know a certain approach, it would have been their decision rather than a government entity trying to sort all of that out, we might be in a better place now. Does that sound right? Director Bavishi: Sounds right. Mayor: Alright – yes? Question: Army Corps put out several proposals to fight storm surge, but they have gotten some pushback from local officials who are concerned they don't account for sea level rise, or won't combat the issue. Have you or the Mayor's Office of Sustainability taken a position on those proposals? Mayor: I'll start very broadly and then let my colleagues jump in. I met with the head of the Army Corps, General Semonite, I think it was January, and it was a very productive conversation, I was very impressed by his focus on New York. And, you know, I thought he had a very can-do attitude about the things that they would be able to do in the short term. That's all going to be clarified shortly, in terms of what particularly can be done for the Rockaways. But the bigger topic of an actual barrier did come up. It is, as best as I can understand – and I'll let the experts weigh in – but it is the smartest direction to go in to try and do something structural, but the problem is, it is a long-term project if ever there was one. We're talking – I believe it would be right to say, minimum 10 years. You guys will speak to that. So, we're going to keep pursuing that direction but we've got to do a lot of other things in the meantime. Director Bavishi: And the Mayor's talking about the barrier for Jamaica Bay, in particular – there are other barriers that the Army Corps is proposing. We're working with the Army Corps and the States of New York and New Jersey to sort through those proposals. They're tentative proposals at this point and we'll continue to provide them data and our best protections for sea level rise and storm surge to make sure that they are as well informed as possible. Question: Just to follow up on that, I know it's a federal project, but there's been some criticism that the communities who were even affected haven't even known about their public process of commenting on it. I mean, would the City try to do an outreach or something, kind of the way you guys have been doing the voter outreach? Mayor: Absolutely. I mean, as I understand, that process is starting soon for the next round of activity and we absolutely want a lot of involvement. There's a huge amount of interest, certainly I'm reflecting on meetings I've had in the Rockaways as one example, but in other communities as well. There's a huge amount of interest. Jainey, do you want to speak to what's next in that process? Director Bavishi: We'll be pushing the Army Corps to do outreach in all the affected communities. We've been working with them to – and advocating for those kinds of meetings, and we'll certainly be involved in getting the word out. Mayor: Okay, let me see if there's anything else before we close up. Last call? Yes? Question: How would the City be different if Cynthia Nixon were to win the Governorship? Mayor: Thank you for that broad and thoughtful question. [Laughter] There's no effort at entrapment there. Look, all I can say is, the voters are deciding as we speak and we're going to know very soon who the nominee of our party is. I just want to say, you know, what I think – whatever the outcome, this has been one of the most high-impact elections that I've seen in my life before a single vote ever was cast. And the presence of Cynthia Nixon clearly is one of the most important reasons why. And I really do believe – and I would tell everyone, brace yourselves for this spring – I think we're going to see a legislative session for the ages where the MTA, rent regulation, mayoral control of education, a whole host of things are going to be up for grabs at once, I believe, with a Democratic State Senate. But the fact is, it's going to be a different discussion about election reform than it would have been had she not run. It's going to be a different discussion about criminal justice reform than it would have been had she not run. There's going to be a Democratic majority that's unified, and she clearly is one of the reasons why that happened. So, whatever the outcome she has certainly performed a public service by stepping forward. Question: Sounds like you want her to win. Mayor: I just am offering an analysis. Thanks, everyone. Question: Has Dante endorsed – Mayor: Dante, to the best of my knowledge, has not made any public endorsements. It's East 88th – we'll get you the – Eric will get you the exact address. Question: [Inaudible] Unknown: Let's talk about it offline. Mayor: We'll see if he agrees to that condition. Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 6:39pm
NEW YORK –Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Stringer, and other trustees of New York City’s pension funds today announced a new goal to double the investments of the NYC Funds in climate change solutions to $4 billion or 2% of the City’s $195 billion pension portfolio over the next 3 years. In order to accomplish this objective, City pension systems will aim to double the existing $2 billion investment across all asset classes to reach $4 billion of investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate solutions. This new target builds upon the funds earlier, ongoing goal to divest City pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. “New York City leads from the front when it comes to the fight against climate change,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We’re taking a stand for generations to come with our goal to double our pension investments in job-creating climate solutions. I know that other cities will look to our example, and I implore them to join us.” “The future is with big ideas in clean technology, not with big polluters,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Today we’re showing that New York City will continue to lead the way in investing in sustainable investments that offer strong returns for New York City beneficiaries. By pledging to double our holdings in climate solutions we’re becoming an important part of that solution.” New York City is working to change the paradigm for public pension plans and set a new standard for how asset owners, such as pension funds, can use their substantial investments to both do well for our beneficiaries and do good for the planet. Climate change creates both risks to some investments and opportunities for other investments. As part of their fiduciary responsibility, city pension funds are working to address the risks and maximize the opportunities for its beneficiaries. Specific investments will be reviewed by the boards of individual pension systems consistent with their portfolio strategies. Climate change poses significant threats to New York City. Rising temperatures; stronger, more destructive hurricanes; and increasing precipitation tied to climate change have already affected neighborhoods and communities across all five boroughs and are projected to become increasingly severe and costly over the coming decades. Only by eliminating the use of fossil fuels and reducing the carbon pollution that drives climate change can these challenges be fully addressed. Since climate change is a global problem that cannot be solved by any one city, state, or country, Mayor de Blasio has committed to spreading tools, knowledge, and best practices by partnering with the City of London to create and co-chairing the Divest/Invest Cities Divestment Forum. “Climate change demands bold solutions. In January, New York City pledged to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director. “Today, we’re going even bigger by doubling our investments in climate solutions and putting $4 billion to work in fiscally responsible investments into clean energy and energy efficiency. If all investors followed our lead, we could leave fossil fuels behind us, deliver on the Paris Agreement, and build a better world for our children.” “Today’s announcement is an important step in finding clean energy solutions. I applaud the Mayor and Comptroller for their commitment to creating good paying sustainable jobs,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “As a NYCERS trustee, I will work with my colleagues to lessen the risks and maximize the opportunities for the beneficiaries of our pension funds.” “The Teachers’ Retirement System now invests about one percent of its assets in companies and initiatives concerned with renewable energy and sustainable development,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Our trustees are prepared to work with the Mayor and Comptroller to seek to double such investments consistent with the long-term financial health of the pension fund and their fiduciary duty.” "As a trustee of the New York City Employees' Retirement System, I am proud to help advance an increased investment in the climate change solutions of today and tomorrow. Sustainable investments are good for our environmental and fiscal health of our city. In fact, going green will earn us green,” said Brooklyn Borough President and NYCERS Trustee Eric Adams. “When we can prudently invest our public pension dollars in ways that make the world a better place, we should,” said Manhattan Borough President and NYCERS Trustee Gale A. Brewer. “Public pensions can be a tremendous force for good in an investment-driven world, and we must responsibly deploy all resources at our disposal to reduce or reverse the threat posed to our civilization by climate change.” "Over the past few years, extreme weather phenomena have directly impacted many neighborhoods in Queens," said Queens Borough President and NYCERS Trustee Melinda Katz. "These impacts show that we need to take bold action now to protect New York City from the future effects of climate change. Today's announcement is an important step in that direction that also makes sound financial sense for our funds, since investments in clean energy technology will prove increasingly profitable as the world turns away from fossil fuels." “Renewable energy sources continue to prove themselves as clean, affordable alternatives to fossil fuels,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Investing in climate solutions emboldens New York City’s role as a leader in sustainability while shoring our pension system. I will continue to fight for attainable measures that makes our air cleaner for all New Yorkers.” “Climate change is one of the most serious threats our city, country, and world face today and I am proud of NYC for once again leading the way and investing in solutions. We need to act now. We cannot and will not allow the Trump Administration’s agenda destroy our environment,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “As we are seeing from recent hurricane seasons, climate change is altering our planet in dangerous ways. I’m proud to see New York City take another valuable step to not only minimize contributions to climate change, but to proactively seek to encourage sustainable, green technologies that can help tackle this problem for the long term,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “In a time when climate change is currently being threatened by Washington, I commend Mayor De Blasio and Comptroller Stringer for being leaders in this fight. Investing $4 Billion in climate change solutions is a step in the right direction and is much needed to avoid future ramifications,” said State Senator Jamaal Bailey. "Every day it becomes clearer that divesting from fossil fuels is not only morally necessary, but also financially prudent. Moving money out of the dirty fuels of the past and into the innovative, job-creating clean technologies of the future is the right move for our pension funds, and for the climate we will pass on to our children and grandchildren. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer for leading the way on this important front in the fight against climate catastrophe,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “You show someone your values by demonstrating your budget and your investments. By doubling the investments of New York City pension funds in climate change solutions to $4 billion, we send a clear message that we can do good and do well simultaneously. We can ensure the financial health of our city and her pension portfolio while equally prioritizing a cleaner environment, better climate and increased energy standards,” said Assemblymember Michael Blake. “I’m pleased by the announcement by Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer of additional pension fund investments to address climate change. Not only does our economic future demand diversification into new fields of technology and renewable energy, but our very existence demands solutions to accelerating climate change,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. ”New York City continues to lead the way in the fight against Climate Change. Together we have divested from fossil fuels, cut CO2 emissions immensely, and by investing the city's pension fund in Renewable Energy, completely change the course of clean energy in our city.” said AssemblymemberLatrice M. Walker. “Investing in climate solutions delivers both financial and environmental returns. Hats off to New York City’s pension funds for recognizing that we don’t have to choose between the bottom line and a healthier, cleaner future for everyone,” said Andy Darrell, New York Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund. “Climate change is one the greatest threats facing our city — and this announcement takes New York a huge step toward protecting our environment for decades to come. With Republicans and the IDC blocking the Climate and Community Protection Act in Albany, the Mayor and Comptroller are taking this important cause into their own hands and doubling the city’s pension investments in climate solutions. It’s time to invest in the future of our planet and put the health of future generations first,” said Bill Lipton, Executive Director, NYS Director, Working Families Party. “Today’s announcement demonstrates more climate leadership from New York City and Mayor de Blasio. We must remember that cities, states and provinces hold the power to catalyze a rapid and just transition to a post-carbon economy,” said Naomi Klein, Inaugural Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. “New York City has always been a place that rises to global challenges. As a coastal city, the five boroughs face unique risks from climate change. That’s what makes the Mayor’s actions to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions so important. New York City is a partner and model for other cities in leading the clean energy revolution. We must continue to collaborate to transform the fossil-fueled economy and prepare for the future,” said Valerie Rockefeller, Chair, Rockefeller Brothers Fund . "This bold goal to double the City's pension investments in climate change solutions comes at a time when the significant threat of climate change is accelerating, particularly for our city's low-income communities of color. By divesting from a polluting economy and investing in a new, green economy - from renewable energy, to energy efficiency improvements in buildings - the city is not only taking an important step to protect today's and future residents, but also has the opportunity to create thousands of good career jobs. We urge these investments to be channeled fast, strategically, and with the needs of the city's black, brown and low-income residents at the forefront." said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN. "The Sierra Club applauds Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer for this important decision. Investing in climate solutions like clean energy is both a good decision for the health of our planet and our communities and a good decision for beneficiaries. The clean energy sector is one of the fastest growing parts of our economy, and these investments will only help it grow stronger while supporting hard-working city employees," said Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club. “It is truly excellent news that the NYC pension fund will double its investment in climate solutions. Taken alongside its historic decision to divest from fossil fuels and protect its beneficiaries from climate risks, NYC is forging a new model of climate action that is creating new clean energy jobs. Congrats to Mayor Di Blasio and Mayor Khan of London for launching the new divest-invest cities initiative to mobilize more capital for the clean energy transition,” said Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director Wallace Global Fund and founder of Divest-Invest Philanthropy. “New York’s goal of investing 2% of assets in clean investments is a significant advance, and will show investors and asset managers that it is possible to generate returns while taking care of the planet. If we can mobilize 2% of all pensions this way, it will make a massive difference to the goal of keeping planetary warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Real leadership from a leading world city,” said David Miller, North American Regional Director and Global Ambassador for Inclusive Climate Action, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. “Doubling New York City’s pension investments in clean energy is not only good for the climate, but good for our wallets,” said Donna De Costanzo, Director, Eastern Energy for the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Investing in more renewable energy, energy efficiency and other climate solutions is a smart choice that will help clean our air and bring multiple other benefits for New Yorkers.” “New York City’s pledge to invest $4 billion in climate solutions has great potential to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “Climate change is a significant and growing threat, and frontline communities have the most at stake. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer for their leadership and urge them to prioritize investments that advance equity and will facilitate a just transition to the clean, renewable energy that will power our future.” "As storms beat down on New York and the Carolinas, it is so good to live in a city where the mayor cares about the future of the environment. Congratulations Mayor de Blasio. This is not small, it is big. This is not short term, it is long term. This is not reactionary, it is proactive. THANK YOU,” said Rev. Donna Schaper, Judson Memorial Church.
Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 6:39pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: …power of music and create music and sending a message to the world. This bed-in today [inaudible] amazing moment in history, and if you look at the history of the bed-in, it shocked the world. It opened people’s minds. It made people feel something about the possibilities of change. Yoko, Ringo, I want to thank you for all you’ve done over the years and of course for what John Lennon did [inaudible]. [Cheering] And when we’re saying that simple line we all say, all we are saying is give peace a chance. That was a revolutionary line in its time. It still is revolutionary to imagine peace in the world but we have to be the authors of it. So, everyone, this is a day to give ourselves an extra charge of hope that we can be agents of change in the world. Thank you, you uplift us all [inaudible]. [Cheering]
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 10:34pm
Operators generated approximately $1 million from 5,000 visitors at seven buildings NEW YORK—New York City today announced a lawsuit against a group of illegal hotel operators for using deceptive practices to offer illegal and unsafe short-term rental accommodations in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. This is the first lawsuit that the City has filed against illegal hotel operators across multiple boroughs. For more than three years, the defendants used multiple host accounts with fictitious identities to illegally advertise at least 15 housing units in seven buildings across three boroughs. On several occasions, the defendants also misled guests about the legality of the listings using false addresses and deceptive explanations for guests’ interaction with city inspectors. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement has also identified 10 bookings for future dates. “Illegal hotel operators pose a threat to our housing stock and our neighborhoods. We will use any tools necessary to shut them down and keep New Yorkers safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is highly commercialized activity where operators are misleading visitors and taking housing units away from New Yorkers—and they’re making a fortune in the process. We’re taking action to preserve the city’s housing stock and to defend visitors’ rights to safe and legal accommodations,” said Christian Klossner, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. The defendants in the suit include Alexandra Pavlenok, Ekaterina Plotnikova, and Stepan Solovyev. The seven buildings are located at the following addresses: * 12 John Street, New York * 40 Water Street, New York * 151 Stanton Street, New York * 153 Stanton Street, New York * 159 Bleecker Street, New York * 238 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn * 17-12 Menahan Street, Queens OSE has taken extensive enforcement action to combat the defendants’ illegal activity, including issuing 80 violations from Department of Buildings inspectors, a partial vacate order based on “imminent danger to life or public safety,” nine fire violation orders, five fire summonses and one fire criminal summons issued to the owners of the buildings. Seven OSE advertising summonses were issued directly to operators. Brooklyn and Queens have experienced particularly significant growth in short-term rental listings over the past few years. The City’s recently passed information sharing requirements for short-term rental platforms (Local Law 146-A) will give OSE important tools to more effectively and efficiently identify unscrupulous operators and landlords, and help deter these violations. “Illegal hotel operators like the ones in this suit exacerbate the City’s housing affordability crisis. Shady profiteers like these that use our badly needed housing stock to turn a quick buck are shameful, and this is a perfect example of why we need to maintain enforcement efforts against this harmful behavior. I am thankful that the Office of Special Enforcement is continuing its work to combat this pressing problem. The Council will continue to address this crisis in any way it can as well,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Our ongoing housing crisis means we can’t afford to have units taken off the market to be used as hotel rooms. I thank the Office of Special Enforcement for its tireless work: shutting down illegal hotel operations, protecting tenants and tourists alike from illegal and unsafe conditions, and restoring residential apartments to the residential market,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The lawsuit filed today against three commercial operators of units on Airbnb and other platforms in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn is an excellent example of the Office of Special Enforcement’s precedent-setting efforts to rid our city of illegal hotels. These operators have earned over $1 million by engineering thousands of illegal hotel stays in apartments that should be homes for New Yorkers. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Executive Director Klossner for their ongoing efforts to protect our housing stock from illegal conversion – of profound importance as New York City continues to undergo an affordable housing crisis," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “With hundreds of thousands of families fighting tooth and nail to stay in their homes or languishing on the waitlist for affordable housing across the city – especially in Lower Manhattan – no one should be able to get away with shamelessly converting residential units into illegal hotels,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Thank you to the Office of Special Enforcement for holding operators accountable for depriving working New Yorkers of a chance to move into these units and potentially putting lives at risk. This lawsuit sends a strong message that our City is taking decisive action to operators who are taking advantage of the citywide housing crisis to prioritize profit over people.” "Illegal hotels threaten the security and well-being of everyday New Yorkers in their own homes, and exacerbate our city's affordable housing crisis. The commercial Airbnb hosts that are the subject of today's lawsuit have earned over $1 million dollars by flouting the law and illegally transforming more than a dozen homes that should have been rented to New Yorkers into short-term rentals. When people ask me why I am angry at Airbnb and their corporate model of not respecting our laws, this is why. I thank the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement for their work on these buildings, and for their continuing efforts to crack down on illegal hotels and protect public safety," said Senator Liz Kruger. “Illegal hotels pose a severe threat to our city’s affordable housing stock, the quality of life of my constituents and the safety and well-being of unsuspecting tourists. I’m grateful to the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement for throwing the book at these illegal hotel operators who are brazenly flouting the law on a breathtaking scale,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “Airbnb, and the commercial operators who use it, may think they can recklessly fleece our city’s housing stock for their own profit, but they are sorely mistaken,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. “The lawsuit filed today by the Office of Special Enforcement sends a crystal clear message to commercial operators citywide that our laws are there for a reason. As the sponsor of the state law to ban advertising of illegal short-term rentals, I am gratified that our city’s enforcement arm is working to ensure that the law is used to preserve affordability and protect tenants citywide.” “Mayor de Blasio’s Office of Special Enforcement is serious about cracking down on bad actors who profiteer off residential apartments by illegally renting them out as hotel rooms. Illegal hotel operators put the safety of legal tenants at risk and reduce New York’s stock of desperately needed affordable housing, and they face serious consequences for doing it,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. “We applaud the Mayor’s Office for sending the message that NYC will fight for its housing. Big time commercial illegal hotel operators will not be allowed to take away homes from New Yorkers,” Tom Cayler, West Side Neighborhood Alliance. About The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement is an innovative, solutions-oriented task force that ensures NYC communities are safe from harmful illegal and unregulated industries that one agency and one set of enforcement tools alone can't address. Our multi-agency enforcement team devises strategic solutions—ranging from public education to enforcement action—to complex problems.