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Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 5:10pm
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced that Jacqueline Ebanks will serve as the new Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. Created in June 2015, the Commission is an advisory body that works across City agencies to help achieve the Mayor’s commitment to reduce gender-based inequity and build a safer, more inclusive city for women, girls, transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers. As Executive Director, Ebanks will oversee the City’s first-ever Commission on Gender Equity, leveraging the power of City government to expand and increase opportunity for all New Yorkers regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation in order to build a city that is safe and free of discrimination. “New York City is built on the ideals that every single person, regardless of their gender, should be given the tools necessary to succeed. The Commission’s role is now more important than ever as we fight the forces of inequality that our trying to reverse the progress we’ve made,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Jacqueline has a proven track record standing up for women and girls, and her passion and commitment to NYC will serve us well as we look to create a fairer and equitable city for all.” “Jacqueline Ebanks brings a wealth of experience to this Administration as an advocate, policy practitioner and thought leader with a deep passion for social justice. With her strong and capable leadership, the Commission on Gender Equity will continue fighting discrimination and inequity in all forms to make NYC a better place for women, girls and everyone in our gender non-conforming communities,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Co-Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “The Commission on Gender Equity plays a critical role in ensuring that women, girls, transgender, and gender non-confirming individuals are full beneficiaries of the City’s vast resources. I am honored to join the de Blasio Administration and help build a more inclusive and equitable New York City,” said Jacqueline Ebanks, Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. The de Blasio Administration is committed to fighting inequality across the five boroughs, and has placed gender at the center of this mission. The Commission on Gender Equity is charged with supporting agency initiatives by utilizing a gender lens to review policies and their impact on women, transgender and intersex individuals, and men in order to achieve greater gender fairness in the City. New York City has made significant strides towards gender parity over the last three years, including: * Signing Intro. 1253 which prohibits all NYC employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history. * Establishing a historic partnership with UN Women and becoming the first American city to join the United Nation’s Safe Cities Initiative. * Creating first-ever maternal mental health services through ThriveNYC, a mental health initiative led by First Lady Chirlane McCray. * Providing Universal Pre-K and 3-K for All. * Expanding paid sick leave to many of the lowest paid industries that employ disproportionate amounts of women. * Making unprecedented investments in domestic violence response and education through the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. * Signing legislation to provide six weeks of fully paid parental leave to City employees * Establishing the City’s Commission on Human Rights as the first human rights agency in any major U.S. city to certify U and T visas for immigrant victims of crime and human trafficking. * Creating lactation rooms for new mothers at social service agencies across the city * Appointing and promoting more women to leadership positions in agencies and City Hall than ever before – with women serving in more than 50 percent of the Administration's senior leadership positions. State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “New Yorkers are lucky to have Executive Director Jacqueline Ebanks at the helm of our city's efforts to fight discrimination and violence, guarantee access to quality reproductive healthcare, and support and empower women and girls to reach their highest potential. I'm thankful to Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for making this important appointment, and I look forward to working alongside Executive Director Ebanks to prioritize gender equity and justice in our city.” Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said, “As a women’s advocate and a firm believer in gender equality, I welcome the appointment of Jacqueline Ebanks as Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. I trust that her extensive experience on women’s rights will help further CGE’s mission to ensure women have access to equal opportunities, regardless of their national origin, race or sexual identity. I commend Mayor de Blasio and the First Lady for their commitment to include more women in leadership roles at City government.” As co-chair of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus, I offer my heartiest congratulations to Jacqueline Ebanks on her appointment as head of the Commission on Gender Equity. Ms. Ebanks’ years of work on behalf of the New York Women’s Foundation and the Women’s City Club of New York exemplify her commitment to advancing and strengthening the voice of women in our community. Her deep focus on questions of equal opportunity and social justice has been critical in the ongoing fight to eliminate gender-based inequity in NYC, and I greatly look forward to supporting her efforts as CGE Chair,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. About Jacqueline Ebanks Jacqueline Ebanks is an innovative manager and policy maker with extensive experience in philanthropy and the non-profit sector. She has worked for over 30 years to promote economic and social justice for women and girls, and marginalized communities. Since 2014, Ebanks has served as the Executive Director of the Women’s City Club of New York, where she guided the civic-engagement organization into its second century of activism. Previously, Jacqueline served as the Vice President of Programs at the New York Women’s Foundation and worked at Citigroup as their Vice President & Director of U.S. Partnerships and Program Development for Global Community Relations Division and then as their Regional Community Relations Director for the Northeast and Puerto Rico. Prior to Citigroup, Jacqueline served as the Vice President for Community Investment at the United Way of New York City. Ebanks began her career at citywide and community based service organizations services, serving as Child Welfare Policy Analyst at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Director of United Neighborhood Houses’ Staff Development and Human Resource Management Initiative, Director of Program Development and Quality Assurance at the Society for Seamen’s Children, and Director of Development at Harlem United Community AIDS Centers. Ebanks holds a M.S. in Policy Analysis and Public Management from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She resides in the Bronx with her husband and their three daughters.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 7:35am
Brian Lehrer: It's the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, good morning everyone. And we begin with our weekly Ask the Mayor series with Mayor Bill de Blasio. And as we've announcing – been announcing this will be the last Ask the Mayor until the November election because we're heading into the serious campaign season and it would be unfair to other candidates to keep having the Mayor on once a week. Of course we'll invite Mayor de Blasio or if it challenger beats him we'll invite that person to get the series going again after the November election. And listeners, last call for Ask the Mayor for now at least. But, Mr. Mayor I can tell you as you join us this morning and good morning, that this series has apparently become such a success that before I give out the phone number our lines are already full. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well Brian I want to thank you, I think it's been a tremendous experience hearing from so many New Yorkers calling in with, you know, every kind of concern. And I think it's been very good for the civic discourse of this city, so I commend you. Lehrer: And I commend you and I thank you really for being accessible to our listeners for the last year and four months since you've started coming on, I know people appreciate being able to ask you questions directly. And also hearing you in longer than soundbite form which is something that we like to offer elected officials and others as well here as much as we can. So I'll start with a follow up from one of those listeners then we'll get to the phones. When you were here two weeks ago you promised to come back with more information and a policy response to a listener who's active in trying to get more enforcement of the law against electric bicycles and have it focused on finding businesses rather than the delivery people who work for those businesses. And I understand you did follow up and you have a response now, so do you have a new e-bikes policy to announce? Mayor: Well I'm ready to say we're going to move for City Council legislation to change the approach because I think the caller was right that to penalize the delivery people and not those who employ them made no sense and obviously wasn't working sufficiently. I want to be clear, despite a really imperfect law, the NYPD has been increasingly cracking down on e-bikes, there's been three times as many confiscations of e-bikes in the last year than the year previous, and that's good. But we came to realize after the caller raised the concern is that the law is just – it's too vague, it does not make enforcement of the business logistically practical, it's not tough enough. So we will engage the City Council and certainly other stakeholders, we'll talk to the business community, the restaurant community, excreta. But I want tougher legislation. I want a law that makes enforcement easier, more straightforward, and directs the enforcement at the businesses that employ the delivery bicyclists. So, that's the shape of things to come, and I'll be getting to work on that with the Council in the coming weeks. Lehrer: So what would that mean then specifically? Stiffer fines for repeat offenses? Or what would you be proposing specifically? Mayor: Yes, I think it – so right now it's very circuitous law that makes it hard to simply say okay here's the employer, we're going to fine the employer directly like we do in so many other situations and it's going to be a substantial fine that then increases with any kind of repetition. That's the model we need we just don't have that, but we can repair that with the City legislation. And I think there'll be a lot of receptivity in the City Council to get that done. Lehrer: I know that one of the caller's concerns was that the law is in place or a law is in place, but the NYPD hasn't been enforcing it very much. Like the NYPD considers it not worth their time compared to other things that they could be spending their time on. So do we need – maybe we need a new law but maybe what we need is a directive from you for the NYPD to take this more seriously. Mayor: Well I want to challenge that assumption. Again, there's been three times as many confiscations of bikes as in the previous year. It's about 700 that have been confiscated so far in 2017. So I think the NYPD has been focused on it. It's unquestionably. Look, there's a safety concern that goes along with these e-bikes. There are other challenges the NYPD addresses that maybe even more critical but this one is very real. But when you have a law that makes enforcement difficult, it makes it unwieldy and less effective. It does not encourage, you know, putting as many resources, as much energy into the enforcement because it doesn't work the way you need it to, right? I mean, it's – there's a little bit of a concern here that when we apply the energy of our officers we have to know that it's going to have a substantial outcome. So yes, there has been enforcement but enforcement that is hindered by a law that is not workable enough and not strong enough. But the good news is we can fix it. So in terms of democracy, Brian, you know, your caller raised a concern directly to me that caused me to ask a lot of questions internally about what was working and what wasn't that led to us understanding that we needed a new piece of legislation, and in fact we have the ability to get that new piece of legislation working with the Council. So, you're going to see changes on this I think in the near term. Lehrer: Let's take a phone call. Lynn in Manhattan, you're on WNYC with the Mayor, hello Lynn. Question: Hi, thank you so much for taking my call. Mayor: Hey Lynn, how you doing? Question: I'm good thank you. I first want to thank you so much for the 80/20 Affordable Housing Program, and my family has been applying for that for a while. And both my husband and I are freelancers, and as freelancers the program is really not set up to address the situation of self-employed people or freelancers. We've continually been told we're too high, too low for the same income bracket that we're trying to get into. And, you know, like for somebody with – surely W2 income they say you know give six paychecks whereas for freelancers they're looking at three years. And they're also – they don't take into the account that a freelancer's pay does go up and down and that their expenses go up and down. So the expense that I had two or three years ago is not necessarily an expense that I have now. And so I've been through a huge process with several of the companies and with HPD talking back and forth, and Corey Johnson's office has tried to help us out, and it's just – it's been kind of crazy – Mayor: Alright, Lynn. Question: – I give paperwork and they say – Mayor: Yes, now I get it, I get it. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, go ahead. Mayor: Yes, Lynn thank you for raising this and it's an important point. I mean look, first of all, the affordable housing plan, this is part of the plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable apartments and that's going to be enough for half a million New Yorkers. And we've done about 78,000 so far in the last three years have been either subsisted or financed to be affordable for the long haul. But the good news is it's not actually an 80/20 program anymore. We passed a law with the City Council to mandate in any new development that requires City permission the developers must provide either 25 percent or 30 percent affordable housing depending on the income levels involved. So that old idea 80/20, we're actually have surpassed that as a matter of law in this city, and we have the most progressive affordable housing law in the country now. But your point about freelancers is very well taken. The – we've been working with the City Council on a number of pieces of legislation over the last few years to recognize that we have more and more of an economy based on freelance work and yet our laws did not recognize it properly. And we're making some major adjustments, and I think you're right. We need to continue to make adjustments including with our housing – our affordable housing plans. I want you to provide your information to WNYC so one of the folks from our Housing Department can talk to you directly. I would only note, I think if the income fluctuates a lot that may cause us to need to have a longer timeframe to understand what income looks like for you. But that should not stop us from being able to say here are the things you do qualify for. And we're producing a lot of affordable housing at different income levels so there should be matches that you should be competitive for, you should be able to apply for. So I want our folks to talk to you directly and sort it out in your case but also use your example to learn from so that we can make other adjustments to include folks with freelance income. Lehrer: Lynn I'm curious, is there any way you're applying for these affordable housing income categories, because your income fluctuates as a freelancer where they could look at, let's say, a five year average of what your income has been? Is there a mechanism – is that – is it a mechanism for that is lacking? Question: Well, what's tricky is that as a freelancer, like I'm a freelancer with a growing business so like we had, you know, did a lot of business expenses a few years that we don't have now, we're making different kinds of money now than we did then. So really what I did is I got my accountant to write, you know who I've been with for many years, to kind of write a statement of what she would have calculated my income, and they were not accepting that even. Lehrer: I see so, so that, okay. We're going to use that. Hopefully the Mayor's office will use that to inform exactly what they look into. So thank you for that. And I'm going to move on to Sally in Brooklyn. Sally, you're WNYC, hello. Question: Hi, good morning Brian. Good morning Mr. Mayor. I'm a tenant's rights attorney working at large legal non-profit that's receiving grants from the City, and my question relates to the overall strategy in the fight for affordable housing and preserving affordable housing particularly your commitment, Mayor, to protecting rent stabilized units. I'm really excited about the right to counsel and the major changes that are probably going to come with it as a result of the new legislation; it's a really historical achievement. But what I'm concerned about is as far as I can tell the right to counsel legislation and the City agencies that will make referrals to it aren't going to be prioritizing rent stabilized units. Will your administration take a closer look at how the funds are being spent to ensure that the lawyer getting the grants can spend time fighting for these cases? It often takes a lot longer to fight a rent stabilized – to a protect a rent stabilized unit. Mayor: Sally thank you for the question and your question is very timely. Today I will be signing the right to counsel legislation, and it is historic for this city. It literally says that any New Yorker threatened with legal eviction by an unscrupulous landlord or harassed by a landlord or deprived of repairs, deprived of heat and hot water has an opportunity to get legal assistance. And for all New Yorkers whose household income is up to $50,000 they will have the right to a City financed attorney. So they're literally get an attorney for free to defend their interest in housing court. We believe as this program builds out its going to serve as much as 125,000 New Yorkers a year. So it's a very, very big deal. You know this is something that people have been working for for years and years, and it's finally going to become law today. Look, I would say to you that my full understanding is that we want to do a lot to help folks in rent stabilized housing. It's well over two million New Yorkers. Often it is folks in rent stabilized housing that bear the brunt of these kinds of actions by unscrupulous landlords, so, you know, I'll have – again, be happy to have our folks follow up with you directly if you give your information to WNYC. But my full understanding is that's very much a part of our targeting and in fact an area where we can get a lot done because of what rent stabilization law gives us in the way of tools that then we can help the tenant fight with by giving them a free lawyer. Lehrer: So to follow up on that caller and to inform people who don't know the issue. Council has passed a bill for funding lawyers for low income tenants in housing court where there's such an imbalance of who gets legal representation. You will sign that bill, you're committing to signing that bill? Mayor: Absolutely. And I've been working closely with the City Council, and this was a very good process to figure out a way – and again something people have dreamed of for years that we could actually stop evictions on mass if there was legal representation provided by the City. It took a lot of work to figure out how to get it right and make it sustainable, but we got there and now this is going to be something that New Yorkers can depend on. They can know they're going to get legal assistance if they're threatened with eviction. Lehrer: And sometimes the landlord is the City, so you're okay signing a bill that includes the City paying for lawyers to oppose it in court? Mayor: Yes, you know, it's an excellent question, Brian, and you know I – when this was first brought up I asked people how are we going to create both fairness but also make sure that the public sector trying to provide affordable housing for example, through our Public Housing Authority, through NYCHA that we can make sure we're getting things done the right way. And we came to the decision that if we're running things the right way there's no reason there shouldn't be representation for tenants, for residents and it also creates good accountability. It's an encouragement to everyone up and down the line to do things right, knowing that the resident will also have legal representation. So yes, we will be holding ourselves to the same standard. Lehrer: I also want to follow up on the first caller whose question of course was about affordable housing which I think as you would agree the most common call that come in during these Ask the Mayor segments – Mayor: Absolutely. Lehrer: Right? On affordable housing, if we did not give any direction or plant any ideas about what else we might talk about it would be affordable housing, affordable housing. So in a political context, and as we move toward campaign coverage here, the Democratic primary for City Council in Crown Heights seems to have become to some significant degree about opposition to your plan to develop the Bedford Avenue Armory for a mix of market rate and low income housing. And it seems to be representative of the kind of push back that maybe has surprised you citywide. In this case there are fears it would lead to too much gentrification that of course replicates a lot of other neighborhoods' objections. Both candidates in this primary are opposed to the plan but incumbent Laurie Cumbo, as I'm sure you know, is taking heat from challenger Ede Fox for not opposing it earlier. Now Politico New York reports that you and your team are quietly helping Cumbo reelection with operational and other assistance. So my questions are, are you officially endorsing Laurie Cumbo for reelection, and if not, does it mean your model of affordable housing development has become a political liability such that you can only help a favorite candidate behind the scenes? Mayor: Let me first speak to the Armory and then to your question about the campaign. You know, look, this is one idea of many all over the city of how to address the need for more affordable housing and I think what is being left out of a lot of the discussion is what people at the community level want in these kind of situations. The Armory itself has not provided a benefit to the community and would be turned into a recreation center available to the community, made accessible financially to people of a whole range of incomes in the community. We're talking about a huge recreation space that has been yearned for for a long time and you know we had the same exact situation in other parts of the city where you look at these hulking buildings doing nothing anymore, these vacant armories and not serving the community and here is a way to actually have a sustainable model that would provide a permanent, huge recreation facility particularly for the young people of that community. I think there's a whole lot of people in Crown Heights and the surround neighborhoods who want that kind of thing. Obviously a lot of affordable housing would be created, that is not going to be created if you don't have some context to build. You know, that's what we have to be real about. People want affordable housing; they want to know they can stay in their neighborhood long term and in the city long term. Our obligation is to subsidize as much of the existing affordable housing, protect it with things like free lawyers to stop people from being evicted, stronger rent laws which I want to fight for in Albany, but also to build new affordable housing. And this one of the ways we do it. So I think there's a lot of people in the community who when they look at all of the specifics here are going to like the pieces, understand that a certain amount of private development is necessary to fund all of it and make it sustainable. To the political dynamics, look, I think every neighborhood is different and I think every specific development project is different. We had a big citywide, or I should say neighborhood wide discussion in East New York, Brooklyn about that proposed rezoning. It went on for a long time, well over a year. And ultimately a lot of people in the community came to believe that the affordable housing that would be created, that jobs that would be created, the new school space, the new open space was all ultimately worth it for the community, and the City Council member there voted for it. So I think what we need more of is an honest dialogue and a detailed dialogue about what each specific idea, what each specific project will bring to a community, and what the community needs. On the campaign issue, look, I have to date not gotten involved in hardly any City Council races. And I have to make the decision as we get a little closer as to whether to get involved. That's something I'll decide as we get closer. Right now of course we're focused on my own campaign, we're about to start debates as you know. But, there's still time to sort that out. I think in the end most people in most districts want to know where is there going to be a longer term solution on affordable housing. They understand that there's going to be a certain amount of private development in New York City. They want to see it balanced by some real guarantees of affordability and something long term that people can rely on and that's what I'm trying to provide. Lehrer: Are you supporting Laurie Cumbo's campaign behind the scenes even while not endorsing her publically? Mayor: I am not supporting anybody in that race at this moment. There are people in my world who know her very well and like her and of their volition are helping here and that's perfectly normal, not surprising in a political context. But again, I'll make decisions on whether to get involved in that or any other race as we get a little closer. Lehrer: Danny, in Rockaway Park, Queens. You're on WNYC. Hello. Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. And Brian, my wife and I love all your shows. Lehrer: Thank you. Question: Mr. Mayor, congratulations for surpassing the million-ridership mark on the New York City Rockaway and Brooklyn ferry service. I'm asking you directly since I've already been in contact with one of your representatives at City Hall and the New York City EDC, and so far I've had no responses on the request for the necessity of installing a kiosk information board at the Rockaway landing. I'm a big ferry advocate, as you probably know already, so I'm often at the ferry terminal. People arriving have – ask me where things are located like the beach, the [inaudible] Jamaica Bay, and I think the kiosk would be a real benefit to all. So, I'm just asking you if it's possible that you can get this accomplished because there's plenty of space and room there to do this. As the people come in, as they consider 'where do I go? [Inaudible] Where can we get something to eat?' I think that would be a benefit. Mayor: Well, you know there's a phrase – when you're right, you're right. So, Danny, I think this is a good idea. The Rockaway Ferry, it's been a huge, huge success. We've actually added a whole lot more capacity to it because it's been so popular. But I agree with you and I've been out to that exact ferry landing and there is space there. And I'm absolutely convinced from talking to a lot of people who have used that you're right. They need more information to orient them and to recognize all the things they can do while they're out on the Rockaways, all the stores they can go, restaurants they can go to. We want to encourage people to spend their money while they're there. So, I will direct the EDC to put such a kiosk in. I think this is a fine idea. Lehrer: Danny, I think you've just got yourself a campaign promises there. [Laughter] Question: Thank you very much. Lehrer: Danny, thank you for your call. We also take, listeners as many of you know, questions for Ask the Mayor on Twitter. Just use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. And here's one that's come in that also represents something that keeps coming up since the first time we talked about it on an early Ask the Mayor. You directed the Police Department to kind of ease back on the way they enforce some quality of life crimes so there aren't as many arrests, more summonses for small things. But people have complained that turnstile jumping was not included in that category. And similarly turnstile jumping, I believe, is not one of those things that you would protect people for if they were arrested for it in the sanctuary city program – correct me if I'm wrong. So, here's a question that has come in in Twitter that says – "I guess my question for the Mayor," after a series of tweets that this listener gave us – "is, how can you justify condemning turnstile jumpers when the MTA can't assure working machines." Mayor: Okay. A lot of pieces to what you raised and I'll and break them down quickly. No, first of all, turnstile jumping is not one of the offenses under City law that triggers cooperation with ICE. It's 170 offenses. The information is available online. You can see what they are. They are serious and violent felonies, and major crimes. Certainly, turnstile jumping is not one of the ones where we cooperate with ICE. We have been reducing, steadily, the number of arrests for turnstile jumping. I think the reduction in arrests is about 21 percent if I remember correctly in the last year for fare evasion. We're more and more going to summons as an alternative. Let's be clear. People shouldn't evade the fare. They just shouldn't. I understand the MTA is broken that's why I've proposed the millionaire's tax to get a lot more money into the MTA and also to provide half-cost fares for folks at or below the poverty level. And I think asking millionaire's to pay a little more so everyday New Yorkers can have a better subway and low-income folks can have a half-priced ride makes a lot of sense. I'll be fighting for that in Albany. But in terms of turnstile jumping, people shouldn't do it, let's be clear about that. We're never going to turn a blind eye to it. The fact is if someone does it once, they're not going to be arrested, they're going to get a summons. If someone does it a lot of times and there's a record of consistent recidivism that's where you run the risk of arrest – or if someone, God forbid, has a weapon on them or commits some other kind of crime at the same time. But we have been steadily reducing the number of arrests overall by the NYPD in many, many quality-of-life areas. And the way we're training our officers now is to say, hey, look with any kind of quality of life crime if a warning will do, use a warning; if a summons will do, use a summons. Arrest is actually the last resort not the first resort. So, I would say to folks – look, we've gotta work for the kind of structural change like the Fair Fare that we could do with the millionaire's tax that really will address the part of fare evasion that might be related to someone's economic circumstance. But not everyone who is jumping the turnstile is doing it because of economics, I assure you. And it's still not appropriate. And, so, we're still going to enforce but less and less with arrests. Lehrer: What do you think in general of the DAs in the boroughs looking now to revisit a lot of small crimes and reduce the offenses from the ways they were originally charged? Mayor: I think there's a very healthy effort going on here in this city. I think we're one of the cities leading the country now in everything from reducing mass incarceration. You know the population on Rikers has gone down 23 percent since I took office and obviously we're going to be closing Rikers Island – on through to using summons much more than arrests and reducing the number of arrests. Now, remember the NYPD has been driving down crime for four years now while reducing arrests while increasing gun seizures. And that's all because of neighborhood policing and a strategy of much deeper communication and partnership with communities. And then what you're referring to just in this week – four of the five DAs working with the NYPD agreed to cancel low-level offense warrants that were older than ten years. So, you've got hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants for low-level offenses, non-violent offenses, that were hanging out there and creating a lot of concern because folks had those hanging over them but they were not major issues. There was a decision with four of the DAs and the NYPD to literally cancel all of those. It was hundreds of thousands of warrants that now are in the process of being cancelled and it will mean a lot of people will not have to suffer because of that. This is all pointing in the same direction. And what's amazing, Brian, is that I think we're sold a bill of goods for many years and this was particularly true during the stop-and-frisk era that the only way to keep the city safe was with a very aggressive, high-intensity policing with lots of stops, lots of arrests. Turned out it was actually the exact opposite that was true. The best kind of policing is the kind of policing that is deeply communicative with communities – officers trained to engage communities, build trust, build relationships. And a lot of arrests is not actually the way to get crime down. We're improving more all the time. So, this reduction in the warrants is very consistent with that overall philosophy. Lehrer: Campaign question – because of suspicions that you do too many favors for big donors, Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis is calling you on your promise last year to release a list of major donors who you have not done favors for or turned down for requested favors. You said it at a news conference and never delivered, and then said you would publish an op-ed on it and you never have. So, what do you say to Nicole Malliotakis and anyone else who has been following that unfulfilled promise? Mayor: It's a pretty small thing in the scheme of things but I still intend to do it. I want to do it the right way to explain what I'm trying to say and I think there's been ample evidence. You've seen a lot of very detailed reporting on all sorts of individuals who tried to get certain outcomes from the government and were rejected in those efforts. I will put it together in an op-ed. I will help to make that clear but, you know, I think the bottom line here is we have to be straightforward about the fact that if we live in a society where you're going to go through a political campaign, you're going to ask people for support in that campaign, the question really is will [inaudible] treated fairly at the end of the day? And I've used ample examples from town hall meetings – I've done over 30 town hall meetings, for example, around the city – where people I've never met in my life that raises a concern, a tenant raises a concern, a neighborhood resident raises a concern, and I literally right then and there will ask the commissioner of the agency to follow up personally and go meet with that resident or meet with that tenant or go to their building, go to their block. That's what I try to do in a wide range of circumstances. And then, Brian, a crucial question is will whatever be done be done on the merits and I believe that's been a consistent pattern. Sometimes people raise a concern and they're right, sometimes they raise a concern and they're wrong. But at least they will get looked – you know the issue will get looked at and there will be a judgement. Lehrer: Will you commit to publishing that op-ed before the Democratic primary? Mayor: I commit to publishing the op-ed and I have to find the time to do it and I'll try and do it as soon as possible. Lehrer: Will you commit to publishing that op-ed before the general election? Mayor: Sure. Lehrer: Two weeks before the general election? Mayor: I'm not going to get into micromanagement of the op-ed. It's a small thing but I'll get it done. Lehrer: Amy in Manhattan, you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello. Question: Hello. Hi Brian and Mr. Mayor. Mayor de Blasio, a few weeks ago – just now you talked about affordable housing and a few weeks ago you talked about not necessarily giving to people who are begging on the street because just because they're out there doesn't mean they're homeless. And I've actually talked to some of the people I give money to. I know some of them – I'll give one example. A man in my neighborhood who had been begging for a long time. And one day he looked very happy, he said he was going to get – he had gotten [inaudible] housing he was going to move into but once in a while he was still back out asking for money because he's not making enough to afford the rent that month. So, please don't equate homelessness with begging. [Inaudible] ask people for money. Mayor: Well, that's perfectly fair point. My – what I was trying to say is I think, again, every New Yorker who has been here a while certainly would recognize this point. We all know there are some very, very needy people on the streets. And we all know there are some people who are street homeless meaning they literally live on the streets. This is a particular tragedy that I want to talk about what we're about it. But just to make a point, we also know there's some people who go out and, just as a way to make money, panhandle. And some of them do have other options in life and some of them do have homes, and it's not just about poverty. And I just want to say it's a real life reality and I think panhandling makes people uncomfortable. And our job is to try and create a dynamic where people don't have to. And I don't think people should want to if they don't have to honestly. We're trying to provide so many different supports for people starting with the fact, if anyone needs a roof over their heads, the City of New York is going to find a way to help them. And someone who is street homeless, we've literally, we've created the most intensive outreach effort called HomeStat where we will send a homeless outreach work to any – if you call in 3-1-1 we're going to send trained workers to that location to talk to that person. Someone who is homeless, someone who may have a mental health issue for example, we're going to keep working with them for months or even years if that's what it takes to get them off the streets. And so far, that effort has gotten 700 people off the streets already and we're going to deepen that. So, that's my point. I know there's a lot of people who are desperately in need of help. We're going to give them every conceivable form of support but I also know, we've seen some people who are there for other reasons and we have to be honest about that. Question: And we're not there yet as far as getting help to everyone. Mayor: Well, you know, I want to challenge that. I know we're not in a utopian society but I can guarantee you if you call 3-1-1 and you say there's someone at a particular corner on a regular basis, we're going to engage. We do have the resources for this. We're going to engage that individual consistently, offer them shelter, offer them food, offer them medical care, offer them if mental health or substance abuse services. That's happening right now in this city and we do have the capacity to that for anyone who is willing to accept that help. Lehrer: Let me get in two quick ones before you have to go. Just about every political analyst I've seen is reacting to your proposal for a new stream of City funding for the MTA and subsidized MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers paid for by about a half a percentage point City income tax increase for just the top one percent. Singles making $500,000 or more, couples making over one million – just a half a percentage income tax hike, City income tax hike for the people in the top one percent. But all the political analysts I'm reading say even if that is fair and right, there's probably no scenario in which you'll have the votes in the Republican-controlled State Senate. So, this may look like good populist politics but it's not realistic for actually getting money to the subways. Can you argue that it is? Mayor: Sure I can. There's never been a millionaire's tax for the MTA. There should have been a long time ago. The MTA – look, let's be very blunt about this – the MTA for years has done the wrong thing. They've been mismanaged, they should have invested in all the basic things that keep the subway system going. They didn't do it. And they also to be fair have not had the kind of consistent revenue streams they needed. And for years and years taxes on the wealthy were cut and cut and cut, by the way, in Democratic and Republican administrations in the State of New York. And that's something should be examined – why Democratic governors and Republican governors, both, kept cutting taxes on the wealthy. Times are changing. You've seen what's happened in the last few years not only in the city and state, Brian, but in the whole country. People are recognizing that the millionaires and billionaires are not paying their fair share. So, a millionaire's tax [inaudible] time has come. There's tremendous popular support for this kind of idea. It's not just a huge amount of money that could sustain the MTA – by the way the half-billion a year it would produce for the physical fixes for the NYPD, I mean for the MTA, that half-billion a year could be used to bond. It could bring in eight billion a year for the MTA for the kinds of major repairs that are needed for the long haul. The Fair Fare, that means that the folks who are low-income or at or near the poverty level, below the poverty level would get a half-price MetroCard fare. That's an idea that has tremendous support. I also would remind that there's going to be a lot of changes politically in this state and you could have a change in the State Senate including in some of the special elections coming up soon and certainly next November given particularly all the frustration with President Trump all over the state. So, this idea could come into being very quickly and could have an impact very quickly. I'd like to hear less punditry and more thinking about how we can get it done. I fundamentally believe this is an idea that will be passed in Albany ultimately. Lehrer: So, you think the Long Islanders and State Senate Majority Leader Flanagan's district are going to pressure him for this? Mayor: I'll tell you what. One thing – they're not going to be paying for it. Let's be real about it. This is, remember, partly patterned on the tax I proposed originally for pre-K. Now, we got the money for pre-K another way but we got that money because I proposed the tax and it forced the discussion. But this is a tax on New York City residents only. And I would actually argue a lot of the suburban representatives might say, you know what, they depend on the MTA too. Their constituents depend on the MTA but they'd sure rather have it be paid for by wealthy New Yorkers and there are plenty of wealthy New York City residents who could pay a little more in taxes so we could fix the MTA. Lehrer: Alright, I know we're over time. I know – I wonder if you can give me 30 seconds on the President being in town for a few days beginning Sunday. His first somewhat extended stay in the city since taking office. And special precautions or anything the public should know? Mayor: Absolutely. I'm glad you asked, Brian. The public should know this – don't drive on Fifth Avenue, in that part of Midtown. Fifth Avenue will be open throughout the President's visit. The NYPD has done extensive preparations working with the Secret Service and they certainly are ready to handle anything and everything. But anyone who wants to actually get where they're going avoid Fifth Avenue in the 50s and 60s. Avoid 57th Street crosstown around Fifth Avenue, around Madison. You know, it's just a smart thing to get around it because for those three days – from Sunday night to Wednesday night – is going to be really clogged up. But he, from what we understand at this point, is going to be essentially located at Trump Tower the whole time and we don't have any indication of other events. And we're ready for it. We're certainly ready for it. It's not that different that when Presidents in the past have come, for example, for the UN General Assembly and stayed at the Waldorf or something like that. If he doesn't move around a lot it particularly makes it a little bit easier. But everything will be under control but just avoid that part of Midtown for your own sanity would be my case to all New Yorkers. Lehrer: Well, that concludes our weekly Ask the Mayor series for now as we suspend it to be fair to all the candidates in the mayoral campaign. Mr. Mayor, thanks again for all these weeks. You've even carved out the time when you were on the road. So, you've been on from Chicago, you've been on from the West Coast, you've been on from Germany, and probably other times I didn't even know you were away. And if you're re-elected I hope we'll pick it up again after that. Mayor: Looking forward to it. The people will have to make that decision but if they do I look forward to it, Brian. Lehrer: Thank you very much. Mayor: Take care, now.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 7:35am
Rosanna Scotto: Alright, so let's talk about subways right away. You had a big announcement. You talked about funding, taxing the one percent for a little bit more to fund the MTA. Mayor Bill de Blasio: That’s right. Scotto: As you know, Albany is not so crazy about the idea. They’re talking about resurrecting congestion pricing – our feeling on that? Mayor: Well, first, on why we should have a millionaire’s tax, because everyone knows the MTA’s in trouble. It’s been decades, I think, since the MTA was this bad, and it’s been a crisis particularly the last few months. I hear it from New Yorkers all the time that they’re late to everything. They’re late to work. They’re late to a job interview, to get their kids after school, to a doctor appointment. We’ve got a crisis on our hands. Now, the State runs the MTA. This has been something I’ve talked about a lot, and I think people are really getting the message. State is responsible for the MTA. The Governor is responsible for the MTA. They need to step up more in my opinion, but we do have a long term problem we gotta to fix. The MTA needs a lot of investment. I think those who have done really well – the 1% – the folks who – individuals make half-a-million or more, married couples make a million or more can pay a little bit more so that the subway can work for everyone. That’s the way forward. Now, I know there’s been other things talked about in Albany. Scotto: Would you be in favor of congestion pricing? Mayor: I’ve always had a lot of concerns about it to be honest with you. I’ve never been in favor of those proposals because I haven’t seen one that I thought was fair particularly to folks in the outer boroughs. Now the other fact is that these proposals to-date never had any political viability. The last time I think it was attempted was 10, 15 years ago and went nowhere in Albany. So I don’t really see a scenario where that gets taken seriously, but we know something like a millionaire’s tax could pass because there already is a State version, and this would be adding on. Scotto: I know, but they’re not – there’s a lot of people who are not saying that they’re going to, you know, support this. Joe Lhota, first of all, says – and he’s running the MTA right now – he’s saying basically I need the money now. I can’t wait for a year from now. Mayor: And Joe Lhota does need the money now, and he can get that money from the State of New York that took literally $456 million dollars of MTA money they took from the MTA and put into the State budget for other uses in the clear light of day. The State of New York needs to just give that money back. That would literally solve Joe Lhota’s immediate problem, according to Joe Lhota’s own numbers. So look, we’re not fools here in New York City. When we see someone take money they’re not supposed to take, they’ve got to give it back. Scotto: You know, some people say the City has $4 billion in surplus. Why not use part of that money right now to solve the problem? Mayor: Because if we give away more City money to the State of New York, and then we have huge budget cuts from Washington, which unfortunately are very likely, we’re going to be left holding the bag. We’re going to have to make tough choices on what to cut then in this city. I don’t buy that. I think if the City of New York is managing our resources very responsibly and carefully, and we’re making smart investments in police, in education, and in things that make this city better for everyone, I’m not going to give away money to the State when the State in fact – once again – took money from the MTA. This was tax money meant specifically for the MTA. It was literally mandated to go to the MTA, and they diverted it to other things. [...] Sotto: I’m sure that you want to probably just put this to rest – big article today about you taking a nap after the gym. Mayor: Ridiculous. Ridiculous. Sotto: Is it that true? Do you take a nap after the gym? Mayor: No, it’s ridiculous. And by the way – Sotto: Maybe you’re meditating. Mayor: No, I don’t have a chance to meditate. Sotto: Is there a couch that you like that you like to put the newspaper over your head? Mayor: No, this is, look – I’ve spoken many times about the problem with New York Post, and they just make things up, and they're a right wing propaganda operation – and here they go again. You know, nameless sources, which is always a giveaway, it’s ridiculous. It’s sad. It’s sad how much they want to focus on everything negative even when it’s not true. That’s what they do. I’m ignoring it because it’s not true. [...] Rosanna Scotto: Let’s talk about you and the Governor. [Laughter] Scotto: Do you see – foresee any time in the future maybe getting along a little bit better? Mayor: I’ve always said that it is about each issue that comes down the pike. For example, we did work very closely at the end of the legislative session in Albany on mayoral control of education. But it’s issue by issue. Scotto: But – I know but I feel like in general people feel that you and the Governor don’t get along, and it may be to the detriment of the people of New York City – Mayor: I disagree. Scotto: Even on the subway situation? Mayor: No. I disagree, and I’ll tell you why. It’s true that there are times where we don’t get along because I follow an idea that Ed Koch first laid out. When the Governor of New York does something good for New York City, praise him, support him, thank him. When the Governor of New York does something that hurts New York City, call him out, oppose it, take it on. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Scotto: But wouldn’t you like to have a relationship with the Governor where you sit down and have a glass of wine, a slice of pizza, and kind of talk things over? Mayor: Yes, and look, he and I have known each other a long time, and I’ve said it very clearly to him, and I’ve said it publicly, do right by New York City, do the right thing for New York City, and that kind of relationship can happen more and more. But I would not be doing my job for the people of this city if I saw our interests affronted and didn’t do something about it. I – look, New Yorkers don’t want a mayor who’s going to be a pushover when dealing with Albany, and, by the way, again I’m using the example of Ed Koch who I think did a lot of great things and stood up to Albany when he thought they were doing the wrong thing for New York City. If you don’t stand up to Albany, if you don't stand up to Washington when they’re hurting your own people what good are you? And so yes, it’d be great to have a wonderful relationship, here’s the way to have a wonderful relationship – be fair to the people of New York City. Scotto: So, Cynthia Nixon really wants to run for Governor? Mayor: Well, you’ll have to ask Cynthia Nixon that. I don’t know. Sotto: But did you encourage her because – Mayor: I have not talked to her about it at all. Sotto: Because I know you don’t get along so well with the Governor. Mayor: Well, that’s a true statement. And again I‘d like to get along better with him, but that means I want him to be fair to New York City. Sotto: So, but Cynthia Nixon’s wife works for you right? Mayor: Yes. Sotto: Okay, and you’re not encouraging through back doors – Mayor: I have not talked to – Sotto: – Cynthia Nixon to run for Governor? Mayor: – her, her wife, anyone about it. Cynthia Nixon, if you know her work, has got very strong view and has been an activist for many, many years on LGBT rights, on education, on a host of issues. I respect her immensely; I think she’s a really smart and effective advocate. Sotto: Can she be Governor of New York? Mayor: She has to decide what she wants to do. I’m only saying I think she’s a great person, I think she’s a great New Yorker who has done a lot for this city. [...] Scotto: Okay, let’s talk about the emails that were recently – Mayor: Yes. Scotto: – released from your organization. Some of them, a lot of people say – reporters are looking into them very, very closely and say there looks like, on the surface, a pay for play scenario that happens in City Hall – some of the emails for example with NYCLASS. Basically, “you were there for so long. We were there for you, to tell us this now after just spent $500K is totally ridiculous, puts us in an impossible situation, we are very upset.” Mayor: Right. Scott: Do they have access to people who volunteer, who give you money for your campaigns – do they have special access and favor with you? Mayor: No, and I’ll tell you why. This whole notion is wrong. The portrayal of it is wrong – Scotto: In what way? Mayor: Because it ignores the outcome which is the thing that people care about the most. How are the decisions made? Are they made fairly? Is someone who you have a relationship with going to get their point across but also someone you don’t have a relationship with going to get their across? Are you going to weigh them fairly? And the answer is yes. There’s a particular group that didn’t like the outcome of something. We did what we thought was right. And if they didn’t like the outcome, it didn’t matter how much money they gave or where they were politically – and a lot of the situations where the emails have been released. Well, first of all, the emails were requested and they were released. That shows there’s transparency – Scotto: But it took some time to get those emails. Mayor: Sure but there’s a process with anything like that and there’s a law that says, here’s how you ask for emails and it has to go through a process and then you get them and here they are. And all the folks who donated money, that’s public record. So [inaudible] people are complaining a lot of times that they didn’t get something they wanted. I think that shows that we’re actually making the decisions based on the merit. Scotto: So, will you be doing things differently this time around? You’re running for re-election. The people who donate to your campaign, will they have that special email to, you know, try and get in touch with you? Mayor: There’s no – this is what the fallacy here is, there’s no special email. Meaning I have people who I know all over the city – community activists, civic leaders, business leaders, elected officials, labor leaders – they all have my email. They all have my phone number – people I’ve known for years and years. And they’ll call me and they’ll make their case and I’ll listen, but I’ll make my decisions based on what I think is right – Scotto: But maybe these people who think they are giving and donating to your campaign feel like they will have a special relationship with you – Mayor: Is this about their feelings or is this about how government actually works? I don’t care what their feelings are, with all due respect to them, because I will tell them to their faces, you should be supporting me if you think I’m doing a good job, and if you agree with what I’m trying to do. If you don’t, don’t support me. I’m fine with that. Scotto: Let’s talk about the next four years. The last four, you came in on Universal Pre-K – Mayor: Yes. Scotto: You accomplished that. What are your goals for the next four years if you are re-elected? Mayor: Rosanna, I got to tell you, pre-K has been – I’m so proud of it. It’s been such a big success. And it’s for everyone. It’s for people of all backgrounds, all incomes, all neighborhoods. And it’s really worked. Seventy-thousand kids now each year are getting full-day pre-K for free. The next step is 3-K. Three-year-olds. Because, you know what’s happening with so many families? People are working longer hours than ever, a lot of two-income families, a lot of people who need help with their kids – a good safe place to be. And also, we want kids to learn earlier because we know that that’s when they can grow intellectually and be ready for the future. So, we want to do the same thing we did for pre-K with three-year-olds, and I want to build that out over the next four years. That’s one piece. And then when it comes to policing, look, we’ve had extraordinary success. Four years in a row, crime is going down. I’m very, very proud of that. Relationship between police and community is really starting to improve because of the neighborhood policing strategy that Commissioner O’Neill was really the architect of. I want it to get even better. We have, actually, the lowest number of complaints from community members against police in 15 years. I want that to go down even more. I want us to get even safer. […] Scotto: By the way the Mayor did give a shout out to Ray Kelly, former Police Commissioner – Greg Kelly: Oh yeah? What did he say? Scotto: Well, he said that they started the ball rolling on crime going down in New York City. [...] Scotto: You talked about charter schools and that you got mayoral control of the schools. But there was a little contingency about the charter schools that that was part of the packaged deal of getting mayoral control over the schools. Okay. So, Eva Moskowitz is saying basically she’s still waiting for approval for 27 openings in schools, in already established schools, where you have, I think, over 100 empty classrooms. When will you sit down with – or just sign on off on giving charter schools more space in schools? Mayor: So, we have given charter schools space consistently. Here’s where I think there’s been a lot of misinformation and obviously I have real differences with Ms. Moskowitz and you know political differences, differences of belief. But you have to look at the charter school movement as a whole. There’s a lot of different organizations in the charter school movement. A lot of them we work with very, very well. A lot of them we’ve approved space for exactly as they asked. Others have asked for space that we didn’t feel we could give them. For example, if someone says, ‘I want to put an elementary school in a high school building.’ We’re not going to do that. If they say, ‘Hey, I have a school that I want to end up being 1,000 students.’ But there’s only enough room in the building for 300 students ultimately, we’re not going to let them start something that can’t grow the right way. So, there are differences is but [inaudible] is if we say, ‘Hey, you’re plan doesn’t work.’ The charter school has a right to go through a very straightforward appeal process and they end up getting funding and they can find private space and use that funding. And everyone knows that – Scotto: Yeah, but she wants to go into the public schools. It’s obviously a lot easier to go into already established classrooms. Mayor: Yes and no. I’ll tell you why I say that. When there’s enough a space to build out properly and when it’s the right kind of school for what’s there – again if it’s the same grade levels or one thing or another – yeah, a lot of times, we’re able to approve that. But when not, we’re going to say if we don’t think something is going to work for the existing school that’s there, we’re going to say that. But you still get the money. In fact, a lot of charter schools have told us, they’re very comfortable getting the money and getting their own space they could run they want. So, it’s a lot more nuance. She is particularly extreme. Everyone knows it – Scotto: But very successful. Mayor: Look, she has a model that has achieved certain things. There’s also a critique of that model that in many cases it has excluded kids who do not take tests that well, excluded kids who have problems with special needs or are English-language learners – kids who speak a different language originally. There’s a big critique of her model. There’s a lot of other charter schools that approach it differently and I want to be really clear about that. I have seen charter schools which I really admire that go out of their way to take on the kids who have some of the biggest challenges – Scotto: And you think Eva’s academies do not? Mayor: I think there’s a real critique out there of how they approach it. I think there’s been a lot of documentation of the fact that they don’t look kindly upon kids that don’t take tests well. In the public school system, we take everyone. We don’t care what your situation is. We don’t care how well you take a test. Our job is to help you learn. Some charter schools do that, others don’t. Scotto: So, do you think Eva Moskowitz should start looking at other places to move in? Because she says she’s waiting on 27 open requests for space. Mayor: And look, there’s always a certain amount of propaganda to what she says. I would discount it immediately. We will look at every single one. We have certainly granted her organization space in some of our schools where we thought it made sense. Again, in other cases they’ve simply gotten the money to go find space for themselves. We’ll look at each one individually but I have long since understood she has an axe to grind politically. When she puts out something like that, take it with a grain of salt. [...] Scotto: When you go to sleep at night do you worry about a possible terrorist attack? Mayor: I constantly think about the threat of terror and, in fact, when I meet with our police leadership often in this room each week we talk about it pretty much every single time and what we’re doing. But I’ll tell you what gives me confidence. I think the NYPD has the best anti-terror operation of any police department in the country and we built it up. You know, there was a lot done previously and I want to give Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly credit because they responded properly after 9/11 saying, ‘Wait a minute, we have to have our own capacity for intelligence gathering because obviously our federal government didn’t do enough.’ But then what we added first under Commissioner Bratton and then Commissioner O’Neill is the Critical Response Command and we beefed up that and the other specialized units. We now have 550-plus officers who do nothing but anti-terror, preventing terror. They’re trained. They’re well-armed to handle that. You see them out there in bigger numbers than ever before with a lot of weaponry, with the vests, the helmets because that’s the world we’re living in today. So, I think we’re very, very well positioned to prevent. And I think the bad guys can see it. They can see how prepared New York City is and that has helped a lot. So, do I think about it all the time? Of course. But do I feel confident in the NYPD? Absolutely. Scotto: The President’s coming to town next weekend – Mayor: Yes – always an adventure. [Laughter] Scotto: Sometimes when he’s in town, you’re out there protesting. Is there anything planned for next week? Mayor: We don’t even know what it is yet is the answer. Scotto: You don’t know when he’s coming to town, yet? Mayor: We don’t have the details. The NYPD has been talking to the Secret Service but it has not been shaped up. And you know with this President, it’s not surprising he would send out something and then it might change in a lot different ways. So, we don’t really know what it is. There is no plans yet. We’re going to make sure we’re ready as a city and the NYPD is ready to handle whatever he’s doing. There’s a lot to disagree with him on, in my opinion. But what I’ve been doing more than just protesting is working with mayors around the country – by the way Democrat and Republican alike and this is real interesting. A lot of Republican mayors around the country didn’t agree with the notion of repealing the Affordable Care Act and we all worked together to try and stop that, and I’m thrilled, because of Senator McCain, it was stopped. We’re going to be working, Democrats and Republicans together, to stop some of the big budget cuts directed at our cities. You know, Rosanna, it’s weird, the cities of America are the economic core of this country more than ever before but a lot of what’s being proposed in Washington would hurt the economies of our cities. So, it’s actually is backwards. It’s going to hurt everyone. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m working with folks all over the country who can actually help stop some of these bad ideas. Sometimes there’s a cause for protest. Sometimes the thing to do is roll up the sleeves and we figure out how do we win the votes to protect the cities – Scotto: So, nothing planned for when the President comes to town? Mayor: Well, reserving my rights. [Laughter] Scotto: Have you adjusted to living on the Upper East Side? It took you a long time. You were living in Brooklyn and you still have some roots in Brooklyn – Mayor: I do indeed. Scotto: Do you like living on the Upper East Side? Mayor: I like Brooklyn. And look, God bless the Upper East Side and all the other parts of New York City but look, we’re all defined by our neighborhood. My neighborhood is in Brooklyn. It’s where my kids were born. You got to remember – my kids were born about ten blocks from my house. I got married about ten blocks [inaudible] Prospect Park. It’s, like, the last 25 years of my life have been in that neighborhood in Brooklyn and it’s where I’m most comfortable but in the same way everyone is most comfortable – Scotto: But is there any place you like to go – you and Chirlane – hanging out on the Upper East Side? Mayor: We like to go everywhere. Well, yeah, there’s some great places on the Upper East Side – Scotto: Do you have a favorite one that – Mayor: I very, very, very much like this pizzeria and espresso bar called San Matteo – which the guy’s from Salerno – Scotto: I know which one. Mayor: You like it. You know it. Scotto: Yes, the one on 89th Street – 90th Street – Mayor: 90th Street. Yes. Yes. Scotto: The one on 89th Street or the one on 90th Street because there’s two of them now. Mayor: Yeah, there’s two next to each other. So, I go to the one closer to 90th. Scotto: Okay. Mayor: And they’re from Salerno, which is not far from where my grandfather comes from. And the pizza is amazing. The espresso is fantastic. They do the pizza dough with the Nutella in it – Scotto: It’s good. Mayor: Which is not something I should be eating too often. But if they put it near me, I’m going to eat it. So, yeah, there’s some great places. The Mansion Diner which is a classic – Scotto: Very good – they have very good chicken soup there in case you’re ever sick. Do you ever call in? Do you and the Mrs. ever call-in to – Mayor: Call-in? You mean take-out? Is that what you’re saying? Scotto: Yes. Like, ‘Hello, the Mrs. and I don’t feel like cooking tonight can you deliver?’ Mayor: We don’t. We usually go over there but that’s a great diner and that family has had that diner for a long, long time. And they make a great raisin bread French toast [inaudible] Orwasher’s raisin bread, they use, which is wonderful. Scotto: Yes – very good. Mayor: So, there are great places on the Upper East Side. I’m simply saying to your question, you know, I feel comfortable in the neighborhood that has been like where my family – I mean I coached Little League there, the whole thing. That’s my neighborhood. I like going back there all the time and that’s how I think a lot of people live. Scotto: So, what does that Y have in Brooklyn that you can’t find at a Y in New York City? Mayor: It really makes sense if you think about it. You know, you remember the show, Cheers? Scotto: Yeah, of course. Mayor: Everybody knows your name? Well, when I go to that Y not only does everybody know my name but everybody just treats me like a regular person because I’ve been going there for 20 years. [Inaudible] have that experience. You know this kind of work can put you in a bubble and you can get very disconnected from the real world and it’s nice to be someplace where you just can be yourself, can be connected to your regular life, and it, to me, it’s part of how I keep grounded. It’s a place I know, a place that knows me. Everything is normal and that counts for a lot. You go to some other places, of course, people are going to come up and bring up their issues or one thing or another. That’s okay but if you try and just go about your life like a regular person you want to be where you can do that. Scotto: Obviously, you know, like so many people have criticized you about going to Brooklyn to work out. Mayor: And I don’t understand that. Because first of all, what people should be concerned about again is the results. This is where – I don’t know if it’s so many people, honestly. I’ve had 30-something town hall meetings and we do call-ins on the radio every week. People don’t talk about it. The press talks about it. Regular people don’t talk about it. Regular people want to know – are you giving them results? They care about things like pre-K. They care about things like crime going down. They care about getting affordable housing. They care about the subways getting fixed. They don’t care if you go to the gym. They want to know if you produce for them. And I’m very proud to say this administration has produced for people. If going to the gym is one of the things that allows me to do the best job I can do, I don’t think most people begrudge that.
Monday, August 14, 2017 - 7:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everyone. I just have a brief statement on a couple of important topics. First, I want to update you on President Trump's visit to New York City. I want to say at the outset, the White House has changed their plans a couple of times, and it’s still subject to further change. At this moment, the last we’ve heard is he’s coming in tomorrow and staying through Wednesday evening. But again I emphasize subject to change. Let me state the obvious, the NYPD is prepared. There’s no police force in the world that does a better job of handling presidential visits than the NYPD. We’ve been planning closely with the Secret Service, and we are ready for any eventuality. At this time, our understanding is President Trump will essentially remain at Trump Tower during his stay here. So if it’s 48 hours – if it’s more or it’s less – things will be focused on Trump Tower. Obviously the NYPD has proven clearly in the time up to the inauguration their ability to secure the president, his family, his team while keeping things moving in the surrounding neighborhood. But I do want to remind all New Yorkers, as long a President Trump is in town at Trump Tower if you have any ability to avoid that part of Midtown, please do. It’s going to by definition going to be slow moving around there, particularly 5th avenue and in the 50s and 60s and 57th street on the East side. Both of those are going to be jammed up a lot of the time and slow. Traffic will be continuing to move on 57th street and 5th avenue but expect delays, expect times when the traffic is stopped for security reasons. So the best thing is if you can avoid that part of town is please stay away from that part of Midtown. We are very confident we can handle any situation including if the president decides to go out a restaurant or anything like that. NYPD and Secret Service are ready. And we will make sure you will get regular updates as the president’s plans develop. Now I want to talk about the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. At first I want to express my condolences to the families of all those who were lost yesterday – the protestor and the two Virginia state troopers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost and with so many who were injured yesterday as well. I want to be very clear – and this is not something that should be hard for anyone to say – this was an act of domestic terrorism. Period. This was an act motivated by a philosophy of hate and white supremacy. It is an unacceptable philosophy that goes against the very values of this nation. The President of the United States needs to do more. President Trump needs to speak out. He needs to say this was an act of domestic terror. He needs to condemn the white supremacist movement clearly. It’s not hard to do. He needs to recognize what a danger this right wing, white supremacist is to our country. And by the way, those who bear the brunt of this horrible extremist movement are our law enforcement officers. All over the country for years militias and other white supremacist have physically confronted law enforcement, and they have been regarded for a long time as the number one domestic threat. The President of the United States needs to recognize this. He needs to talk about it. His fellow Republicans, many of them in the last 24 hour,s have said that. He can’t continue to pull his punches when it comes to the white supremacist movement. This is a president who clearly speaks in blunt terms on many, many topics, but unfortunately we’ve seen him hold back when it comes to right wing terror. We saw it at the time he got offered some support from the KKK and other white supremacist groups and had trouble condemning them and refusing to take their support. It’s time for him just to say squarely he will not accept any support, any friendship, any alliance with right wing white supremacist groups who attack innocent civilians and attack law enforcement. Look, we have to remember why people gathered, and I’m very sorry that some gathered because they want to maintain the evils of our past. The leaders of Charlottesville made a decision, a democratic decision, to remove a confederate statue as so many other had done all over this country and to take down confederate symbols. And by the way it’s been bipartisan. I commend my colleague Mitch Landrieu the Mayor of New Orleans who’s removing confederate statues. I commend then-governor Nikki Hayley of South Carolina who agreed a confederate flag did not belong on the grounds of the state house. This is a national consensus, but what you saw in Charlottesville is a small, dedicated group of extremists who are opposed and want to maintain hateful symbols. They cannot be allowed to prevail. From the point of view of New Yorkers, we look on with sorrow. We look on with disgust at what happened in Charlottesville, and this kind of hate is not tolerated here. New Yorkers know who we are. We’re very proud of being a city for everyone. We’re very proud, and we’ve been this way for generations. We’re proud to be a city that respects all faiths, respects people of all backgrounds, respects immigrants. Any time you’re in a crowd of New Yorkers you’re with people of every background. You’re with people who their parents, their grandparents, maybe they themselves are immigrants. If New Yorkers understand on thing, it’s that we all have to get along. We all have to make it work. We have to live and let live, and that’s why this place works for everyone. So we are particularly pained when we see an overt display of hatred, and we don’t tolerate it here. I’ll conclude by saying this. President Trump is coming back to his hometown. I hope while he’s here he thinks about the values of this place. I hope he thinks about New Yorkers and what we believe. I hope he thinks about the people he grew up with who would never tolerate a white supremacist movement, who would never tolerate innocent protestors being mowed down out of hatred. I hope the president reflects on that, and I hope he remembers why New York City is the greatest city in the world – because it is a city for everyone. And we continue to be a beacon for our nation for that reason. Thank you, everyone.
Sunday, August 13, 2017 - 7:35am
"The white supremacists have taken their hate, violence, and intolerance to the streets, but we will not be intimidated by domestic terrorism. We will continue to fight against the deep-seated racism that exists in our country wherever it appears."
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I think Randy just put it all in perspective, didn’t he? Audience: Yes! Mayor: And we are here to serve each other, and we’re here to make sure there’s fairness, and we’re here to make sure that that good family does not end up in a shelter when they could be staying in their apartment and that children have opportunity to achieve what Randy’s child have achieved. I think that was an incredibly powerful testimony, but Randy is one of those people I admire who when they understand what truth is, they then want to spread it to other people and make sure that no one suffers; everyone has opportunity. That story is so powerful because it was a spark for Randy to become the leader he became. And that’s part of why we’re here today – because of leaders like him. Let’s thank Randy. [Applause] I want to thank Jose for the story he told us, another story of bravery, of a man, of a family standing up for their rights, finding that they could win, and then determining it was time to help other people win. And Jose said something that really struck me. He said, you know, this law we’re singing today – the most powerful of its kind in the whole United States of America – that tenants will have the same opportunity as landlords to defend their interests. It’s as simple as that. [Applause] And you think about that and how fundamental that is because we’ve all seen plenty of times when someone had all the money, someone had all the power, and it was David and Goliath. And good people lost because they just didn’t have the opportunity to defend themselves. But now we’re creating fairness. We’re creating actual equality. And I want to remind everyone that the last months in our city and certainly looking at the situation all over the country – sometimes people have been discouraged. They see some things happening in Washington, and they feel powerless at times. They feel confused. They feel worried. What I keep saying to people is don’t always think about Washington. Think about what you can do right here at home. And what we’re doing today right here at home in New York City is going to protect hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers – hundreds of thousands of people. And that’s not only an example of what we are capable of in this city, but it sends a message everywhere else. You may not understand the tweet you read this morning coming from the White House. [Laughter] You might not be able to follow what they’re doing in the Congress each day because it seems to change every hour. But guess what? You can do something right where you live to create better laws, to create more fairness, to create a society for everyone. That’s what we’re doing here in New York City. [Applause] And Jose is absolutely right. When you do something like this, it starts to spread. I think there’s a lot of people here who have strong voices – am I right? You have strong voices? [Cheers] See, that was a test. Well, we’re going to make our voices heard, and you all have family and friends. You know activists all over this state, all over this country. This is exactly the shape of things to come. This is what working people deserve. Jose is right. We’re striking a blow today for people everywhere. Randy is right. We’re striking a blow today for humanity. And I want to thank Jose, I want to thank Randy for being the exact examples we needed of the change we had to make. Thank you. [Applause] Now, I want to say up front we have so many wonderful people here. This is – you know that famous phrase “success has many mothers and fathers”? Many people contributed to this success, and I want to acknowledge some of them who are here today from my administration. Our great Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks who’s been right in the middle of all of this for years and years. [Applause] And our wonderful Administrator of the Human Resources Administration Grace Bonilla, thank you so much. [Applause] You’re going to hear from several of the elected officials, but I want to acknowledge and thank others who are gathered with us. Senator Marisol Alcantara. [Applause] Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa, Assemblymember and Bronx Democratic Chairman Marcos Crespo, thank you. [Applause] Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and Councilmember Ben Kallos, thank you. [Applause] Now, you know sometimes people who get elected to office have a little trouble giving credit where credit is due, so I think we have to right that wrong, too. Let’s give the original credit to the Right to Counsel Coalition for this fight to make this law. Thank you everyone who’s been a part of this coalition. [Applause] And I want to thank everybody who is hosting us today in this wonderful facility – everything it stands for – and a special thank you to your executive director Jack Doyle. Thank you so much. [Applause] And a special thank you to one of the leaders of CASA who I am also proud to say serves on our Rent Guidelines Board that has guaranteed a lot more fairness for our tenants Sheila Garcia – Sheila, I’m sorry Garcia. [Applause] So, look, I am going to say this quickly. I just want people to feel the difference this is going to make. For a long time when that eviction notice came, it felt like the ball game was over. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years. Who when that notice came they felt absolutely powerless. They did not know what to do; they did not know where to turn. They only their life was about to spiral downwards. That’s not what’s supposed to happen in a place that believes that everyone is equal and everyone deserves opportunity. You’re not supposed to have people feel that they’re facing a dead end and they’re alone. But that’s what people have felt for years and years when that notice has come. We today start a whole new chapter in this city. God forbid anyone gets that notice; the next thing they’re going to do is they’re going to reach for their phone and they’re going to call 3-1-1 and they’re going to get a lawyer to defend them. It’s going to be as simple as that. [Applause] And I want you to understand that that is not only going to change the lives of individuals and families but it’s also going to send a message to unscrupulous landlords. The message is don’t even try it. Don’t even try to illegally evict a tenant. Don’t even try to illegally harass a tenant, or illegally deprive them of repairs, or illegally deprive them of heat and hot water. [Applause] Because the game is up, used to be that a landlord the lawyers and a tenant didn’t. It was not a fair fight, and a landlord depends on an unleveled playing field. The game was rigged and families suffered. But now when you have a lawyer you can win. When a tenant has a lawyers a tenant can win, when a tenant has a lawyer then everything the landlord is doing gets looked at. And if they’re committing illegal act, well, they’ve got a bigger problem on their hand if they’re caught, committing an illegal act. Because more and more of what we’re doing is when we find harassment, when we find people deprived of what they deserve because a landlord is trying to flip that apartment. Sometimes that rises to the level of being a criminal charge. And we want to send a very clear message fly right, do the right thing, and treat your tenants with respect. There is not going to be any problem. But if you treat a tenant in an illegal manner, you the unscrupulous landlord, you will pay the price for what you do to these tenants. That’s the message we’re sending, because now everyone has a lawyer. [Applause] Law is very simple, everyone has access to legal assistance, and the household makes up to $50,000, or $50,000 less you get a full free lawyer at your disposal. I want you to know, we started down this road, providing more and more lawyers to tenants. I want you to understand something extraordinary. As we have given lawyers to tenants, more and more tenants walk into court represented. So, just a few years ago in 2013, only one percent of tenants had a lawyer when they went to housing court – one percent. We started giving out lawyers that went up to 27 percent of tenants walked in the door with a lawyer. Before even this bill, more and more tenants got a lawyer. What happened, we saw a 24 percent reduction in evictions. Thousands and thousands of families got to stay in their apartment. [Applause] And as this legislation takes effect, we predict that it will reach as much as 125,000 New Yorkers each year. And everyone in this room, everyone who works so hard for this day, everyone who’s been dreaming of this moment now think about, not just the thousands, the hundreds of thousands of people who are going to benefit from all the work you put in. That’s what starts today. [Applause] So ill conclude with an important point right now. If there is anyone in this room who needs help or knows of someone who needs help, pick up that phone and call 3-1-1. If there is anyone who needs help, we have our tenant support team. City government representatives who go out and talk to tenants and fight for their rights. These are new things; these are things that didn’t used to exist in this city. But together we’ve created a new way of protecting working New Yorkers and struggling New Yorkers and helping people to make it in this city. That’s what today is about. My friends, everyone here should be very proud. Sometimes it’s really frustrating fighting City Hall, but sometimes it actually works, okay. [Applause] Before I introduce my colleagues a few words in Español por favor – [Mayor speaks in Spanish] It’s as simple as that, just call 3-1-1. Sounds good in both languages, and now she has with her leadership with the City Council set a whole different tone in this city and made clear that legislation like this was a priority. And I want to really thank our speaker for extraordinary leadership, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. [Applause] […] Alright, I’m going to sign the bill in a moment, but we’ve got the two leaders here from the Council who lead the charge on this legislation, and we thank them, and we’re going to hear from the Public Advocate and the Borough President as well. And at some point they’re going to – my staff – tell me when I have to sign before I have to depart, so if everyone speaks quickly we can get everyone in before I sign. But we want to sign it because it takes effect, apparently according to the lawyers, now. [Applause] So first I want to introduce – he has been an extraordinary force for change and I’ll tell you he was incredibly persistent, and every time I turned around Mark Levine was reminding me he needed action on this bill, and the leadership that got us to this day. Let’s thank Council member Mark Levine. [Applause] […] Okay, now the Bronx’s own – a lot to be proud of today, let’s give a big around of applause to – Council member Vanessa Gibson. [Applause] […] Mayor: Alright, now I want to bring up two more speakers and then we’re going to turn this into law right now. [Applause] Instant gratification speaker – I have served beside Tish James for a long, long time. And she, she’s a lawyer – a long, long time Tish. She’s a lawyer who understands the power of a lawyer to do good, and to empower people who have been left behind too often. So I know this is a big day for our Public Advocate. That’s the kind of thing she’s been fighting for, for a long, long time – Public Advocate Tish James. […] Mayor: I did not think of that Oprah Winfrey idea. That was very, very good. Finally, for years the Borough President has spoken about the challenge of people deserving things like a living wage, and a decent place to live. And this fits with so many of the efforts you’ve seen in the last few years in this city to finally respect the needs of everyday people and of hard working people. So I know this is a gratifying day, and I know the Borough President worked long and hard to see this moment. Let’s welcome Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. […] Mayor: Okay, I have two questions before we move over to the desk to sign. I have two questions and I believe the answer to both questions is the same. When do you want me to sign this bill? Audience: Now! Mayor: When do you want this bill to take effect? Audience: Now! Mayor: Okay, let’s do it.
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 5:05pm
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Intro. 214-B into law, and solidified the City’s commitment to providing all low-income tenants facing eviction with legal representation in Housing Court. The program, which is overseen by the Civil Justice Coordinator at the Human Resources Administration, will serve 400,000 tenants when it is fully implemented in five years. “New York City will be the first city in country to ensure anyone facing an eviction case can access legal assistance thanks to this new law. New Yorkers should not lose their homes because they cannot afford a lawyer and stopping wrongful evictions from happening makes both ethical and economic sense,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Council for bringing this legislation into fruition and helping keep New Yorkers in their homes no matter their income level, making our city an even fairer city for all.” "Everyone deserves access to legal services, especially when it comes to something as important as their home," said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Access to counsel is about leveling the playing field and providing all tenants facing eviction with access to legal advice or representation. No tenant should fear losing their housing simply because they could not afford a lawyer. This is landmark legislation that will greatly impact the lives of residents of this city and I want to thank Council Member Mark Levine and Council Member Vanessa Gibson for working diligently on this bill and the Mayor for his support on this critical issue of tenants' rights." Prior to this legislation, nearly no tenants had legal representation in Housing Court – estimated at just 1% in 2013 by state court officials – which resulted in high incidences of evictions and unchecked tenant harassment. To help close the gap, the Administration dramatically increased the availability of City-funded legal services for low-income tenants, increasing funding for legal assistance for tenants facing eviction and harassment from $6 million in 2013 to $62 million in 2016, a tenfold increase. The program successfully increased tenant representation in Housing Court from 1% in 2013 to 27% in 2016, and provided more than 50,000 households with legal services since 2014. At the same time, residential evictions by marshals declined by 24 percent, allowing 40,000 people to remain in their homes during 2015 and 2016. Last February, the Administration agreed to more than double this financial support, dedicating an additional $93 million at full implementation for a comprehensive program to provide access to legal representation to all low-income tenants facing eviction proceedings in Housing Court earning up to 200% of the federal poverty line and brief legal assistance for all tenants facing eviction in court whose income is above that level. In total and once the program is fully implemented, the City will spend $155 million annually to cover the costs of the initiative. Beginning this October, the program will also start providing legal services to NYCHA tenants in administrative proceedings to terminate their tenancy. There are approximately 3,200 cases that go through NYCHA administrative hearings annually. To ensure that tenants know their rights and at-risk communities have access to these services, the City’s Public Engagement Unit and the Human Resources Administration will be conducting outreach across the program areas. Tenants are encouraged to call 311 if they are facing an eviction and/or visit HRA offices located in housing courts. “Universal access to counsel in housing court will level the playing field for tenants facing eviction and prevent more New Yorkers from facing homelessness,” said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks. “This is the culmination of everything we have done over the past three years to expand access to counsel for tenants, and we’re looking forward to working with our partners in the legal services community as we implement this groundbreaking access to justice initiative.” “By enshrining in law that all tenants facing eviction in court will have access to legal services, New York City has again demonstrated national leadership in providing access to justice and a firm commitment to a fair and accessible justice system,” said Jordan Dressler, Civil Justice Coordinator, Office of Civil Justice. “The Office of Civil Justice is honored to have the opportunity to make this historic initiative a reality for thousands of New Yorkers in need.” “Too many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers face eviction simply because they don’t have the means to hire an attorney. The Council’s passage of this bill marked a new beginning of a new era for tenants in New York City, and I’m proud to stand with the Mayor as he signs this landmark legislation,” said Council Member Mark Levine, lead sponsor of Intro 214. “New Yorkers have a right to affordable housing and to a fair justice system. No longer will low-income New Yorkers have to fend for themselves in Housing Court. This new law is a historic step forward in the fight against unlawful evictions.” “This is a monumental day for tenants and a historic day for the City of New York. After four years of advocating, rallying, and marching, the ground breaking legislation that will curb the homelessness epidemic and end the cycle of eviction we've fought tirelessly to create will become New York City law. With access to counsel in place, tenants facing eviction will finally be on an even playing field with the landlords taking them to court. I am proud to have spent four years fighting for this critically important legislation and am so thankful to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, my partner in this endeavor Council Member Mark Levine, the many elected officials, advocates, tenant leaders, clergy leaders, and civil legal service providers who joined me in securing universal access to counsel for New Yorkers and bringing equity and justice to our housing court system,” stated Council Member Vanessa Gibson, co-sponsor of Intro 214. “Too many tenants in New York City have been evicted from their homes simply because they cannot afford legal representation,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Providing access to counsel to all low-income tenants in housing courts will go a long way in ensuring our City’s most vulnerable citizens are protected and defended. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this landmark legislation, introduced by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, into law and guaranteeing our tenants have the rights they deserve.” “We’re facing affordability and housing challenges like never before, and this bill demonstrates that New York City believes in fairness not just in words, but in action. For decades in housing court, the deck has felt stacked against tenants. We know it’s hard to have justice when only one side is heard – and that’s why ‘Access to Counsel’ is such a game-changer. It signals to the world that New York City stands up for everyday families,” Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “I congratulate the Mayor, Council Members Levine and Gibson, and all the advocates who fought tirelessly to make this law a reality.” “For too long the deck has been stacked against low-income tenants, most of whom do not have attorneys, because most landlords have representation in housing court. That is no longer the case, thanks to the new system laid out by this incredibly important 'Access to Counsel' legislation," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their strong commitment to tenants' rights, and for leading us to where we are today. I especially want to thank two of my colleagues from the City Council, Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, for their tireless advocacy on behalf of this important piece of legislation. Together, we have struck a blow for a more fair and just housing court, and that is something we can all be proud of.” “Today we are making progress for the people of New York,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “It has been a long haul securing universal access to counsel for low-income residents in housing court, and today’s bill signing is the realization of many tenant advocates’ and activists’ efforts over the years. New York City is taking a step in the right direction, and we would not be doing so today without leadership from Council Member Mark Levine and CASA, and the entire Right to Counsel Coalition.” U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney said, “Nothing does more to ensure that all players have their say in court than access to legal services. For low income tenants, it is critical to have an advocate who understands the law and can explain their rights and obligations. I am proud that New York City is making an affirmative effort to ensure that no one has to face the possibility of losing their home without an attorney.” "Ensuring tenants have adequate legal counsel protects those who have faced abuse from dishonest landlords and serves as a deterrent against future unscrupulous actions. I applaud the passage of this landmark legislation, which will take important steps in protecting tenants’ rights," said U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez. “Today, New York City is making history with our efforts to protect tenant rights and ensure residents have access to legal representation when facing housing court,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “This especially holds true for low-income tenants and all residents who fear legal consequences or the fear of eviction. I commend Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council on the success and implementation of this initiative to protect tenants and promote progress in housing for our city.” “Appropriate and stable housing is essential for families for their health, to succeed in work and school, and to remain safe,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of Finance Committee. “Providing legal counsel in housing court for all New Yorkers is the right thing to do and an essential way to protect the rights of tenants. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for all the steps they have taken to bring more justice to our communities.” “Too often, low-income New Yorkers are faced with unjust evictions but don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer to defend them in court. This legislation levels the playing field for tenants and gives them a fighting chance. I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor DeBlasio, Council Member Levine and Gibson and the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition for their leadership on this important piece of legislation” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of Committee on General Welfare “Low-income New Yorkers are one of the more vulnerable populations in the City, and in turn are in need of added resources and assistance. Unlike in criminal court, tenants are not afforded free legal counsel in housing court, giving landlords, who almost always have legal representation, an advantage. Given the housing crisis in this City and the record high number of New Yorkers living in homeless shelters, it is our duty as legislators to give all New Yorkers a level playing field in housing court,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. “The historic enactment of the Access to Counsel law will ensure that residents will now be able to have access to legal representation that can mean difference between eviction and staying in one's home. This will also apply to NYCHA residents who face tremendous obstacles when having to deal with the court system. I applaud my colleagues and the Mayor's Office for working together to make this a reality and for putting residents first,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of Committee on Public Housing. “The severity of our City's housing crisis requires strong action,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of Committee on Health. “That is why we must do everything in our power to keep tenants in their homes. Providing those threatened with eviction with access to counsel will help level the playing field and give tenants a fighting chance. I congratulate Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Members Levine and Gibson, and Mayor de Blasio on this progressive win for all New Yorkers.” “Access to Counsel is an important victory for New York City tenants. For too long, the deck has been stacked against tenants in Housing Court, as many low-income New Yorkers could not afford legal representation. The result of this injustice was that individuals and families were left to defend themselves and oftentimes evicted from their homes. Ensuring that every city resident facing eviction has access to counsel in Housing Court will give tenants a fighting chance to defend themselves and help keep families together," said Council Member Rory I. Lancman, Chair of Committee on Courts and Legal Services. “Predatory landlords are a tenant's worst nightmare," said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "Helping renters stay in their homes prevents homelessness, but more than that, it lets low income renters exercise their rights as tenants. This law will help level the playing field between tenants and the landlords who prey on them.” Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said “For decades tenants have been left to fend for themselves against greedy slumlords looking to force them out onto the street. My district has seen this happen time and time again and it rips the fabric of our community at the seams. By establishing access to counsel for tenants in need, we can stem the tide of homelessness in our city, while keeping valuable members of our neighborhoods at home. I commend Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Levine and my many colleagues who worked so tirelessly to move this landmark bill forward.” "Housing is right that will now be protected by providing every New Yorker facing eviction with consultation or representation by a lawyer," said Council Member Ben Kallos, vice-chair of the Progressive Caucus that carried the Right to Counsel in their platform. "Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Department Social Services Commissioner Bank for their commitment to fighting homelessness with a universal access to counsel to keep residents from being evicted, in their homes and off the streets." “Access to Counsel is a huge victory for millions of New Yorkers as we can now fight back against the prevalent injustices and victimization of low-income tenants in New York City. Leveling the playing field by providing legal representation in housing court will provide security and economic stability for many working-class families,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “With the enactment of this legislation, New York City is sending a clear and uncompromised message that we believe tenants are entitled to safe and affordable housing free from market pressures that promote illegal harassment and displacement.” “The Access to Counsel bill, or Intro 214-B, provides a crucial line of defense against the vicious cycle that dooms low-income residents to eviction,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “With this legislation, residents who are facing eviction and are already struggling with financial or language barriers should not have to go to Housing Court on their own. As the first city to provide universal access to counsel for low-income tenants with eviction cases, our New York City is leading the fight against displacement, and I am proud to co-sponsor this landmark bill.” "For too long, it's been a David vs. Goliath story for tenants in housing court -- and today we're bringing this chapter to an end," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "Tenants are being challenged in too many ways and I am proud to see our city take another bold step towards supporting tenants across the five boroughs." “When 90% of landlords have lawyers in housing court and 70% of tenants do not, Housing Court is simply not a level playing field. By investing in lawyers for tenants, we can help keep New Yorkers in their homes, and ensure that this unjust imbalance finally comes to an end. This is a historic step in the effort to protect New York City tenants, safeguarding them from unjust and unreasonable evictions and tackling one of the leading causes of homelessness in the city. I salute my friend and colleague Council Member Mark Levine as well as Mayor de Blasio for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Council Member Debi Rose stated, “Providing civil legal services to tenants not only prevents coercion and abuse, but it saves money, as well. When tenants are unsuccessful in our complex legal system—or simply give up out of frustration—their unmet legal needs invariably take a toll on local government and on the taxpayers, as evidenced by the record numbers of people housed in our city’s shelter system. I thank Council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson for introducing this legislation, and Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill, which I was proud to co-sponsor, because the long-term costs of unrepresented individuals in our legal system touch all aspects of a community.” “New York City is making history by providing free legal advice for all tenants in housing court and full legal representation for low-income tenants. Tenants face nearly impossible odds of a just outcome in housing court without legal assistance. Universal access to counsel will help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year and will help alleviate our City’s displacement crisis,” stated Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “No tenant should be threatened with the loss of her home and then forced to face housing court alone,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “I am proud NYC is taking this wise step to support our most vulnerable New Yorkers in their greatest time of need. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, my colleagues and tenants all over our city!” "I am proud to be a cosponsor of the groundbreaking Access to Counsel legislation," said Council Member Andrew Cohen. "Universal Access to Counsel will keep so many families in their homes. No one should be evicted simply because they can't afford a lawyer and this legislation puts an end to that." “I was pleased to support my colleagues Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson in voting for what I think is game-changing legislation for tenants across New York City,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “I want to commend Mayor de Blasio, my colleagues in the City Council, and tenant advocates for their work on the Universal Access to Counsel bill. This important legislation is a crucial step in creating a more level playing field for tenants facing unlawful evictions. As elected officials, we must continue to do everything in our power to protect the rights of low-income tenants who face uncertain outcomes in housing court. With the signing this bill, we are making an investment in the safety and security of our hardworking families,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “No tenant should be threatened with the loss of her home and then forced to face housing court alone,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “I am proud NYC is taking this wise step to support our most vulnerable New Yorkers in their greatest time of need. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, my colleagues and tenants all over our city!” "I am proud to be a cosponsor of the groundbreaking Access to Counsel legislation," said Council Member Andrew Cohen. "Universal Access to Counsel will keep so many families in their homes. No one should be evicted simply because they can't afford a lawyer and this legislation puts an end to that." “I was pleased to support my colleagues Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson in voting for what I think is game-changing legislation for tenants across New York City,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. Council Member Stephen Levin said, “Too often, low-income New Yorkers are faced with unjust evictions but don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer to defend them in court. This legislation levels the playing field for tenants and gives them a fighting chance. I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor DeBlasio, Council Member Levine and Gibson and the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition for their leadership on this important piece of legislation.” Council Member Debi Rose stated, “Providing civil legal services to tenants not only prevents coercion and abuse, but it saves money, as well. When tenants are unsuccessful in our complex legal system—or simply give up out of frustration—their unmet legal needs invariably take a toll on local government and on the taxpayers, as evidenced by the record numbers of people housed in our city’s shelter system. I thank Council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson for introducing this legislation, and Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill, which I was proud to co-sponsor, because the long-term costs of unrepresented individuals in our legal system touch all aspects of a community.” “Access to Counsel is a huge victory for millions of New Yorkers as we can now fight back against the prevalent injustices and victimization of low-income tenants in New York City. Leveling the playing field by providing legal representation in housing court will provide security and economic stability for many working-class families,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “With the enactment of this legislation, New York City is sending a clear and uncompromised message that we believe tenants are entitled to safe and affordable housing free from market pressures that promote illegal harassment and displacement.” "Housing court should be a place where all parties compete on an even playing field. The current state of affairs, wherein low-income tenants often represent themselves against their landlord's professional counsel, means that many tenants who have the right to stay in their homes are in fact evicted. I am glad that the De Blasio administration has made universal access to legal services a priority, as it is one of the most potent tools our government has to preserve affordability in our neighborhoods and ensure basic fairness under the law," said Senator Marisol Alcantara. "Some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers are low income tenants that are close to facing eviction if they aren't already going through proceedings. Often times they find themselves at a disadvantage because of their lack of access to adequate representation and legal resources against their landlords. I am glad to see Council Members Vanessa Gibson and Mark Levine join the mayor in support for advocating and protecting the rights of New York City tenants," said Senator Jamaal Bailey. "The treat of displacement and the loss of rent stabilized apartments is an issue our communities must confront each and every day." The vast majority of constituents who walk into our offices are in imminent danger of losing their homes, mostly due to frivolous eviction notices filed by landlords." said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa "Having universal access to legal services for all low income tenants facing eviction will provide a needed lifeline to these tenants and help keep our communities intact. I commend Mayor de Blasio for making this issue a priority and for investing to protect the most needy New Yorkers so that they stay in their homes." “For far too long most tenants in housing court have been at a disadvantage because they have faced landlords represented by expert lawyers while they have had to represent themselves. Ensuring that tenants have access to legal representation is a tremendous step towards levelling this imbalance of power,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. “Previously, landlords could manufacture eviction proceedings as a scare tactic to increase tenant turnover which lines their own pockets through vacancy increases and rent deregulation, at the expense of everyday working New Yorkers. This legislation is an important step in the fight for affordable housing, and I applaud Councilman Levine, Councilwoman Gibson, and everyone who championed this cause.” “All New Yorkers should have access to our legal system and it is crucial to ensure that tenants in housing court have attorneys available to represent them,” Assembly Member Latoya Joyner. “By providing access to counsel, the legislation being signed into law today by Mayor de Blasio will strengthen the pillars of our legal system and move towards ensuring that the phrase ‘Justice for All’ becomes a reality for all Bronx families. I greatly appreciate Mayor de Blasio’s role in making this legislation a reality.” “New York City’s legislation guaranteeing universal access to counsel for tenants who face eviction is a monumental, groundbreaking, transformative step forward. This is victory for human and civil rights; for equality and justice; for the right to be treated with dignity and respect in court; and for the right to safety and security in one’s home and community. This never would have happened without the masterful organizing and advocacy of the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and its many member groups and allies, the visionary, tenacious leadership of Councilmembers Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, and the de Blasio administration’s unwavering commitment to economic justice. New York City is the first place in the country to take this inspiring step. It surely will not be the last,” said Andrew Scherer, Policy Director, Impact Center for Public Interest Law at New York Law School. “This is a huge victory for fundamental human and civil rights at a time when those rights are under attack,” said Randy Dillard, a tenant leader at Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) and a leading advocate for a right to counsel since 2013. “For low-income families, keeping their home is as consequential as it gets. For the first time, New York City’s low-income tenants facing eviction will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and will have a fighting chance to stay in their homes and communities.” “When we meet with our members In New York City, one of the first thing they always mention to us is the cost of housing and the challenges to hang on to where they live. The establishment of universal access to counsel in Housing Court is a nationally landmark moment in the prevention of homelessness and the preservation of affordable, sound housing. We are proud of our UAW members in the tenants’ rights advocacy community who have fought for decades to make access to counsel a reality. Finally, we congratulate Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Councilmembers Levine and Gibson for taking this historic step to make sure tenants have the tools they need to save their homes,” said Julie Kushner, Director, UAW Region 9A. “Universal access is a historical and groundbreaking achievement – the first program of its kind in the country,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Whether it’s a right to shelter for displaced and homeless New Yorkers or legal services for immigrants mired in deportation proceedings, this legislation reaffirms New York City as a champion of progressive policies that help society’s most vulnerable. We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, and others who fought tirelessly to make this dream a reality.” “Housing Court Answers congratulates Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council on this historical legislation. Enactment of the Access to Counsel for tenants facing eviction will mean fair treatment in Housing Court and in administrative proceedings for tens of thousands of low income tenants. Thanks so much to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for working with the Right to Counsel Coalition – and to the hundreds of tenants who worked on this campaign to win full access to justice for New York City tenants,” said Jenny Laurie, Executive Director, Housing Court Answers. “It’s intimidating for tenants threatened with eviction to go to housing court alone to face landlords armed with lawyers,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP New York. “Happily, the city today is leveling the playing field by ensuring such low-income tenants have their own lawyer – and saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in the process. AARP applauds Mayor de Blasio for signing the first universal access to counsel law in the nation to help low-income tenants stay in their homes and out of expensive shelters. AARP thanks the Mayor, City Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, Speaker Mark-Viverito and the entire Council for coming together to set a new national standard.” “The passage of this Universal Access to Counsel bill means that, for the first time anywhere in the United States, all low-income tenants will get the legal help they need to keep their homes,” said Legal Services NYC Executive Director Raun Rasmussen. “This new law will be life changing for thousands of New York City residents who no longer need to live in fear of the catastrophic impact of eviction on their health, education, safety, and general welfare. Thanks are due to the Mayor, the Speaker, Council Members Levine and Gibson, and the Right to Counsel Coalition for their strong leadership. These days, when much of the news is grim for our clients, this is a historic moment that we all should celebrate.” “Personally and on behalf of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (“Brooklyn A”), I want to express how thrilled we are at this historic moment of the Mayor signing the Universal Access bill, and taking the first and very big step in beginning the process of achieving true Access to Counsel for all lower income New Yorkers threatened with loss of their homes. Indeed, for over two years, as part of the Right to Counsel Coalition, we have been fighting to reach this day. A big, big thank you to the Mayor, and to the City Council, as well as the tenants, community organizations, and legal advocates that I have made this happen! Now onward to full implementation!” said Marty Needelman, Executive Director & Chief Counsel. “NYLAG applauds the Mayor and City Council for taking this historic step, which makes NYC the largest jurisdiction in the nation to provide attorneys to low-income tenants facing eviction and homelessness,” said Beth Goldman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “Effective representation to tenants in Housing Court and NYCHA administrative proceedings is essential to keeping people in their homes, preserving neighborhoods, and preventing homelessness. NYLAG is proud to be part of this extraordinary effort and looks forward to working with the Administration and Council to make this commitment a reality.” “We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for making access to representation available to all New York City tenants,” said Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation. This groundbreaking legislation will make our families less vulnerable to eviction and mistreatment, and our City a fairer and more stable place to live. It is a model for tenants' rights that we hope other cities across our nation will soon follow.” “We applaud the mayor for signing this historic legislation, organizations like Housing Court Answers and CASA who worked for years to bring it about, and leaders in the City Council including Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, for making it a reality. Access to lawyers will help thousands of families avoid homelessness, and keep thousands of apartments affordable,” said Kenny Schaeffer, co-chair of Met Council on Housing, a city wide tenants rights organization. “This is a historic moment for New York City and its tenants,” said Donna Dougherty, Attorney-in-Charge, JASA/Legal Services for the Elderly in Queens. “The Universal Access to Counsel bill will enable JASA’s clients, many of whom are low-income seniors, to remain in affordable housing without the fear of facing unjust evictions by themselves. Thanks to the Mayor and City Council they will now have legal support, lawyers who can fight for their right to stay in their homes and in their communities.” “Today marks a tremendous victory for New York City and the beginning of an unprecedented effort to ensure that every low-income New Yorker at risk of an eviction gets free and adequate legal representation," said Runa Rajagopal, Managing Director of the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders. "It has been a true honor to work alongside so many dedicated advocates to make this vision a reality and we look forward to working with our colleagues to support its implementation." “We thank Mayor de Blasio for signing into law the Access to Counsel. This legislation will protect tenants facing eviction in Housing Court. Now low income tenants have the long awaited resource to have free legal representation in housing court, this will contribute to keep tenants in their homes. We thank Mayor de Blasio for standing with low income New Yorkers,” said Luz Rosero, United Neighbors Organization UNO, President. "We are extremely excited to celebrate this vital step forward for tenants' rights," said Andrew Reicher Executive Director of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. "Access to Council recognizes the injustices tenants face, particularly in housing court and shifts this power imbalance which allows unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of low income tenants. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council for understanding the importance of supporting tenant attorneys and organizers who are often the last line of defense for vulnerable families fighting to protect their homes." “It is about time that the residents of New York City have access to the legal advocacy that is needed to ensure that their rights are protected and so that they are given a fair chance to obtain a positive outcome,” said Marlen Valarezo, Esq. Supervising Attorney, N.A.I.C.A., Inc. “In a city where affordable housing is enormously challenging for so many, this front-line legislation will help protect the most vulnerable," said David Garza , Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement. "Since 1972, when Henry Street opened the nation's first shelter for homeless families, we have been a leading advocate and service provider for New York City's homeless residents, those at risk of losing their homes, and other underserved communities. We appreciate the Mayor positioning the City to take an important step forward in the fight against housing instability by providing critical support to those facing eviction.” “We are glad that the playing field will finally be leveled in Housing Court for tenants facing eviction from their homes. Just the fact that tenants will have legal representation should curtail many of the frivolous cases being brought by landlords eager to displace long term low income tenants,” said Barbara Schliff, Director of Tenant Organizing for Los Sures (Southside United H.D.F.C) “As a member of the Right to Counsel NYC coalition, University Settlement is fully committed to preventing homelessness. Leveling the playing field in the courtroom by providing access to attorneys is an essential step on the path to keeping vulnerable New Yorkers in their homes. We applaud the New York City Council for taking this vital action,” said Eric Weingartner, Chief Executive Officer of University Settlement, The Door, and Broome Street Academy. “As a community advocacy organization, we are very proud to support this legislation and we thank Mayor de Blasio for keeping his promise. This is a major step towards justice and equity. This is the beginning that every low-income resident living in a rent stabilized building has asked for. It is just justice and a victory in defense of the most vulnerable. Having access to legal services will keep tenants in their homes and will protect families from evictions and to reduce homelessness in New York City,” said Maritza Munoz, Housing Director for Woodside on the Move. "Chhaya believes that access to counsel is an essential step towards establishing housing justice in our city. Far too often low-income and immigrant tenants are faced with the overwhelming responsibility of navigating the housing court system alone and find themselves severely disadvantaged from the start. This law will significantly help to level the playing field for tenants and landlords in New York City," said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC. “As a member of the Right To Counsel Coalition, CAAAV applauds the effort of thousands of tenants citywide who fought for the passage of the universal Access to Counsel bill. We thank all the Council Members who made this possible, the Mayor, and the City for listening to struggling tenants and helping to protect tenants homes and our affordable housing through RTC. Tenants in our neighborhoods are targeted by landlords for mass displacement and this critical law will help prevent displacement and loss of affordable housing. CAAAV worked with other members of the Coalition to make sure that NYCHA tenants would also be included in the legislation. CAAAV will continue to work on the implementation process to make sure that Limited English Proficient (LEP) and undocumented tenants can access the resources fairly,” said Cathy Dang, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities James Hong, Co-Director at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, stated, “As one of the city's only legal resources for Korean-speaking tenants, the MinKwon Center recognizes the deep need for all New Yorkers, especially immigrants, to have access to an attorney when facing eviction. Universal Access to Counsel is a historic bill, helping to level a playing field in which odds are stacked massively against tenants. A chance to see justice in today's legal system is often impossible without the assistance of an attorney - and many New Yorkers lack the resources to get this chance. We applaud Mayor De Blasio and the City Council for addressing this reality.” “Tens of thousands of burdened tenants across the city will now have a fair chance to win their cases in Housing Court, in many instances against unscrupulous landlords who use eviction proceedings unfairly and as harassment. Hopefully, this will make a small dent in the escalating numbers of homeless New Yorkers. I look forward to the rollout of universal access to counsel across the city to neighborhoods where the need is most severe,” said Delsenia Glover, Director of Education and Organizing, Tenants & Neighbors. “Access to Counsel is an essential tool to save tenants from landlords attempting to push them out. We want to make sure it is effective by implementing it well with legal partners. It is also essential that the certificate of no harassment is passed as well to be sure this is a strong as it can be,” said Corine Ombongo-Golden, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Housing Committee Leader. NMIC is proud to stand with the Mayor and City Council in implementing Access to Counsel for low-income New Yorkers facing eviction. This historic legislation will provide the most vulnerable residents in our city the protection they need to preserve their homes thereby reducing evictions and strengthening communities,” said Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Director of Legal Services. “Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Viverito are to be applauded. Today, New York City shows great foresight in its pioneering effort to expand access to justice to and preserve affordable housing for working poor New Yorkers and others in need. This approach is fiscally prudent in the long run as well as reflective of New York City's history and culture of diversity,” said Dora Galacatos, Executive Director, Feerick Center for Social Justice. “The Access to Counsel law is a monumental victory for tenants’ rights and the protection of vulnerable communities Citywide” said Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development. “An Access to Counsel will help shift the balance of power between tenants and landlords, discourage unscrupulous landlords from using the courts as a mechanism for harassment, and keep thousands of New Yorkers in their homes.” “NDS thanks the City Council and the Mayor for ensuring that those most vulnerable and in need of affordable, essential and stable housing will be provided access to justice. NDS is proud to be a member of the coalition, led by tenants and organizers that made this moment possible and looks forward to working with the City to bring this right to our communities,” said Vichal Kumar, Managing Attorney, Civil Defense Practice. “This is truly an historic moment in the tenants’ rights movement. The legislation will help to stem the loss of affordable housing by providing legal representation to New York City’s low-income tenants facing eviction, thereby leveling the playing field in Housing Court where landlords have historically had the upper hand. We thank Council Members Levine and Gibson for sponsoring this legislation, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio and HRA for their leadership in passing this legislation, and the Right to Counsel Coalition – led by tenants and tenant organizations – for its leadership in bringing the long struggle for a access to counsel to this point,” said Jeanette Zelhof, Executive Director, Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services). “CAMBA applauds Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for their tremendous leadership and vision passing a new law to ensure universal access to a lawyer for tenants facing eviction. This important new protection – which demonstrates the City's commitment to ALL New Yorkers, especially its poorest and most vulnerable – is a huge step forward for tenants here in New York City and across the nation,” said Joanne M. Oplustil, President & CEO, CAMBA, Inc. “The world and the country appreciate NY's leadership with HR-214, which recognizes that access to justice can make all the difference, not only by saving the home, but also in the cascade of good consequences: holding the family together, keeping the kids in their schools, saving the parents' jobs, stabilizing the surrounding neighborhood, and, too, reducing the flood of people into the criminal justice system,” said David Udell, Executive Director, National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School. “Because of the tenacity of tenant advocates and the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, New York City tenants facing eviction will finally have the right to legal counsel in Housing Court. As tenants are increasingly forced into homelessness by stagnant wages and escalating rents, this important protection will ensure that they can defend their rights against unjust displacement. We are proud to have supported this effort and applaud all of those who helped make it a reality,” said Helen Schaub, New York State Director of Policy and Legislation, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “We thank the Mayor and the City Council for making New York City a leader in the fight for access to housing justice. This landmark legislation will help thousands of New Yorkers remain in their homes and communities, including the many clients we serve who are vulnerable to eviction and homelessness. It’s important to remember that investments in eviction prevention are also investments in public health and economic stability,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services . 
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 5:05pm
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, good morning everyone. And we begin with our weekly Ask the Mayor series with Mayor Bill de Blasio. And as we’ve announcing – been announcing this will be the last Ask the Mayor until the November election because we’re heading into the serious campaign season and it would be unfair to other candidates to keep having the Mayor on once a week. Of course we’ll invite Mayor de Blasio or if it challenger beats him we’ll invite that person to get the series going again after the November election. And listeners, last call for Ask the Mayor for now at least. But, Mr. Mayor I can tell you as you join us this morning and good morning, that this series has apparently become such a success that before I give out the phone number our lines are already full. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well Brian I want to thank you, I think it’s been a tremendous experience hearing from so many New Yorkers calling in with, you know, every kind of concern. And I think it’s been very good for the civic discourse of this city, so I commend you. Lehrer: And I commend you and I thank you really for being accessible to our listeners for the last year and four months since you’ve started coming on, I know people appreciate being able to ask you questions directly. And also hearing you in longer than soundbite form which is something that we like to offer elected officials and others as well here as much as we can. So I’ll start with a follow up from one of those listeners then we’ll get to the phones. When you were here two weeks ago you promised to come back with more information and a policy response to a listener who’s active in trying to get more enforcement of the law against electric bicycles and have it focused on finding businesses rather than the delivery people who work for those businesses. And I understand you did follow up and you have a response now, so do you have a new e-bikes policy to announce? Mayor: Well I’m ready to say we’re going to move for City Council legislation to change the approach because I think the caller was right that to penalize the delivery people and not those who employ them made no sense and obviously wasn’t working sufficiently. I want to be clear, despite a really imperfect law, the NYPD has been increasingly cracking down on e-bikes, there’s been three times as many confiscations of e-bikes in the last year than the year previous, and that’s good. But we came to realize after the caller raised the concern is that the law is just – it’s too vague, it does not make enforcement of the business logistically practical, it’s not tough enough. So we will engage the City Council and certainly other stakeholders, we’ll talk to the business community, the restaurant community, excreta. But I want tougher legislation. I want a law that makes enforcement easier, more straightforward, and directs the enforcement at the businesses that employ the delivery bicyclists. So, that’s the shape of things to come, and I’ll be getting to work on that with the Council in the coming weeks. Lehrer: So what would that mean then specifically? Stiffer fines for repeat offenses? Or what would you be proposing specifically? Mayor: Yes, I think it – so right now it’s very circuitous law that makes it hard to simply say okay here’s the employer, we’re going to fine the employer directly like we do in so many other situations and it’s going to be a substantial fine that then increases with any kind of repetition. That’s the model we need we just don’t have that, but we can repair that with the City legislation. And I think there’ll be a lot of receptivity in the City Council to get that done. Lehrer: I know that one of the caller’s concerns was that the law is in place or a law is in place, but the NYPD hasn’t been enforcing it very much. Like the NYPD considers it not worth their time compared to other things that they could be spending their time on. So do we need – maybe we need a new law but maybe what we need is a directive from you for the NYPD to take this more seriously. Mayor: Well I want to challenge that assumption. Again, there’s been three times as many confiscations of bikes as in the previous year. It’s about 700 that have been confiscated so far in 2017. So I think the NYPD has been focused on it. It’s unquestionably. Look, there’s a safety concern that goes along with these e-bikes. There are other challenges the NYPD addresses that maybe even more critical but this one is very real. But when you have a law that makes enforcement difficult, it makes it unwieldy and less effective. It does not encourage, you know, putting as many resources, as much energy into the enforcement because it doesn’t work the way you need it to, right? I mean, it’s – there’s a little bit of a concern here that when we apply the energy of our officers we have to know that it’s going to have a substantial outcome. So yes, there has been enforcement but enforcement that is hindered by a law that is not workable enough and not strong enough. But the good news is we can fix it. So in terms of democracy, Brian, you know, your caller raised a concern directly to me that caused me to ask a lot of questions internally about what was working and what wasn’t that led to us understanding that we needed a new piece of legislation, and in fact we have the ability to get that new piece of legislation working with the Council. So, you’re going to see changes on this I think in the near term. Lehrer: Let’s take a phone call. Lynn in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor, hello Lynn. Question: Hi, thank you so much for taking my call. Mayor: Hey Lynn, how you doing? Question: I’m good thank you. I first want to thank you so much for the 80/20 Affordable Housing Program, and my family has been applying for that for a while. And both my husband and I are freelancers, and as freelancers the program is really not set up to address the situation of self-employed people or freelancers. We’ve continually been told we’re too high, too low for the same income bracket that we’re trying to get into. And, you know, like for somebody with – surely W2 income they say you know give six paychecks whereas for freelancers they’re looking at three years. And they’re also – they don’t take into the account that a freelancer’s pay does go up and down and that their expenses go up and down. So the expense that I had two or three years ago is not necessarily an expense that I have now. And so I’ve been through a huge process with several of the companies and with HPD talking back and forth, and Corey Johnson’s office has tried to help us out, and it’s just – it’s been kind of crazy – Mayor: Alright, Lynn. Question: – I give paperwork and they say – Mayor: Yes, now I get it, I get it. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, go ahead. Mayor: Yes, Lynn thank you for raising this and it’s an important point. I mean look, first of all, the affordable housing plan, this is part of the plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable apartments and that’s going to be enough for half a million New Yorkers. And we’ve done about 78,000 so far in the last three years have been either subsisted or financed to be affordable for the long haul. But the good news is it’s not actually an 80/20 program anymore. We passed a law with the City Council to mandate in any new development that requires City permission the developers must provide either 25 percent or 30 percent affordable housing depending on the income levels involved. So that old idea 80/20, we’re actually have surpassed that as a matter of law in this city, and we have the most progressive affordable housing law in the country now. But your point about freelancers is very well taken. The – we’ve been working with the City Council on a number of pieces of legislation over the last few years to recognize that we have more and more of an economy based on freelance work and yet our laws did not recognize it properly. And we’re making some major adjustments, and I think you’re right. We need to continue to make adjustments including with our housing – our affordable housing plans. I want you to provide your information to WNYC so one of the folks from our Housing Department can talk to you directly. I would only note, I think if the income fluctuates a lot that may cause us to need to have a longer timeframe to understand what income looks like for you. But that should not stop us from being able to say here are the things you do qualify for. And we’re producing a lot of affordable housing at different income levels so there should be matches that you should be competitive for, you should be able to apply for. So I want our folks to talk to you directly and sort it out in your case but also use your example to learn from so that we can make other adjustments to include folks with freelance income. Lehrer: Lynn I’m curious, is there any way you’re applying for these affordable housing income categories, because your income fluctuates as a freelancer where they could look at, let’s say, a five year average of what your income has been? Is there a mechanism – is that – is it a mechanism for that is lacking? Question: Well, what’s tricky is that as a freelancer, like I’m a freelancer with a growing business so like we had, you know, did a lot of business expenses a few years that we don’t have now, we’re making different kinds of money now than we did then. So really what I did is I got my accountant to write, you know who I’ve been with for many years, to kind of write a statement of what she would have calculated my income, and they were not accepting that even. Lehrer: I see so, so that, okay. We’re going to use that. Hopefully the Mayor’s office will use that to inform exactly what they look into. So thank you for that. And I’m going to move on to Sally in Brooklyn. Sally, you’re WNYC, hello. Question: Hi, good morning Brian. Good morning Mr. Mayor. I’m a tenant’s rights attorney working at large legal non-profit that’s receiving grants from the City, and my question relates to the overall strategy in the fight for affordable housing and preserving affordable housing particularly your commitment, Mayor, to protecting rent stabilized units. I’m really excited about the right to counsel and the major changes that are probably going to come with it as a result of the new legislation; it’s a really historical achievement. But what I’m concerned about is as far as I can tell the right to counsel legislation and the City agencies that will make referrals to it aren’t going to be prioritizing rent stabilized units. Will your administration take a closer look at how the funds are being spent to ensure that the lawyer getting the grants can spend time fighting for these cases? It often takes a lot longer to fight a rent stabilized – to a protect a rent stabilized unit. Mayor: Sally thank you for the question and your question is very timely. Today I will be signing the right to counsel legislation, and it is historic for this city. It literally says that any New Yorker threatened with legal eviction by an unscrupulous landlord or harassed by a landlord or deprived of repairs, deprived of heat and hot water has an opportunity to get legal assistance. And for all New Yorkers whose household income is up to $50,000 they will have the right to a City financed attorney. So they’re literally get an attorney for free to defend their interest in housing court. We believe as this program builds out its going to serve as much as 125,000 New Yorkers a year. So it’s a very, very big deal. You know this is something that people have been working for for years and years, and it’s finally going to become law today. Look, I would say to you that my full understanding is that we want to do a lot to help folks in rent stabilized housing. It’s well over two million New Yorkers. Often it is folks in rent stabilized housing that bear the brunt of these kinds of actions by unscrupulous landlords, so, you know, I’ll have – again, be happy to have our folks follow up with you directly if you give your information to WNYC. But my full understanding is that’s very much a part of our targeting and in fact an area where we can get a lot done because of what rent stabilization law gives us in the way of tools that then we can help the tenant fight with by giving them a free lawyer. Lehrer: So to follow up on that caller and to inform people who don’t know the issue. Council has passed a bill for funding lawyers for low income tenants in housing court where there’s such an imbalance of who gets legal representation. You will sign that bill, you’re committing to signing that bill? Mayor: Absolutely. And I’ve been working closely with the City Council, and this was a very good process to figure out a way – and again something people have dreamed of for years that we could actually stop evictions on mass if there was legal representation provided by the City. It took a lot of work to figure out how to get it right and make it sustainable, but we got there and now this is going to be something that New Yorkers can depend on. They can know they’re going to get legal assistance if they’re threatened with eviction. Lehrer: And sometimes the landlord is the City, so you’re okay signing a bill that includes the City paying for lawyers to oppose it in court? Mayor: Yes, you know, it’s an excellent question, Brian, and you know I – when this was first brought up I asked people how are we going to create both fairness but also make sure that the public sector trying to provide affordable housing for example, through our Public Housing Authority, through NYCHA that we can make sure we’re getting things done the right way. And we came to the decision that if we’re running things the right way there’s no reason there shouldn’t be representation for tenants, for residents and it also creates good accountability. It’s an encouragement to everyone up and down the line to do things right, knowing that the resident will also have legal representation. So yes, we will be holding ourselves to the same standard. Lehrer: I also want to follow up on the first caller whose question of course was about affordable housing which I think as you would agree the most common call that come in during these Ask the Mayor segments – Mayor: Absolutely. Lehrer: Right? On affordable housing, if we did not give any direction or plant any ideas about what else we might talk about it would be affordable housing, affordable housing. So in a political context, and as we move toward campaign coverage here, the Democratic primary for City Council in Crown Heights seems to have become to some significant degree about opposition to your plan to develop the Bedford Avenue Armory for a mix of market rate and low income housing. And it seems to be representative of the kind of push back that maybe has surprised you citywide. In this case there are fears it would lead to too much gentrification that of course replicates a lot of other neighborhoods’ objections. Both candidates in this primary are opposed to the plan but incumbent Laurie Cumbo, as I’m sure you know, is taking heat from challenger Ede Fox for not opposing it earlier. Now Politico New York reports that you and your team are quietly helping Cumbo reelection with operational and other assistance. So my questions are, are you officially endorsing Laurie Cumbo for reelection, and if not, does it mean your model of affordable housing development has become a political liability such that you can only help a favorite candidate behind the scenes? Mayor: Let me first speak to the Armory and then to your question about the campaign. You know, look, this is one idea of many all over the city of how to address the need for more affordable housing and I think what is being left out of a lot of the discussion is what people at the community level want in these kind of situations. The Armory itself has not provided a benefit to the community and would be turned into a recreation center available to the community, made accessible financially to people of a whole range of incomes in the community. We’re talking about a huge recreation space that has been yearned for for a long time and you know we had the same exact situation in other parts of the city where you look at these hulking buildings doing nothing anymore, these vacant armories and not serving the community and here is a way to actually have a sustainable model that would provide a permanent, huge recreation facility particularly for the young people of that community. I think there’s a whole lot of people in Crown Heights and the surround neighborhoods who want that kind of thing. Obviously a lot of affordable housing would be created, that is not going to be created if you don’t have some context to build. You know, that’s what we have to be real about. People want affordable housing; they want to know they can stay in their neighborhood long term and in the city long term. Our obligation is to subsidize as much of the existing affordable housing, protect it with things like free lawyers to stop people from being evicted, stronger rent laws which I want to fight for in Albany, but also to build new affordable housing. And this one of the ways we do it. So I think there’s a lot of people in the community who when they look at all of the specifics here are going to like the pieces, understand that a certain amount of private development is necessary to fund all of it and make it sustainable. To the political dynamics, look, I think every neighborhood is different and I think every specific development project is different. We had a big citywide, or I should say neighborhood wide discussion in East New York, Brooklyn about that proposed rezoning. It went on for a long time, well over a year. And ultimately a lot of people in the community came to believe that the affordable housing that would be created, that jobs that would be created, the new school space, the new open space was all ultimately worth it for the community, and the City Council member there voted for it. So I think what we need more of is an honest dialogue and a detailed dialogue about what each specific idea, what each specific project will bring to a community, and what the community needs. On the campaign issue, look, I have to date not gotten involved in hardly any City Council races. And I have to make the decision as we get a little closer as to whether to get involved. That’s something I’ll decide as we get closer. Right now of course we’re focused on my own campaign, we’re about to start debates as you know. But, there’s still time to sort that out. I think in the end most people in most districts want to know where is there going to be a longer term solution on affordable housing. They understand that there’s going to be a certain amount of private development in New York City. They want to see it balanced by some real guarantees of affordability and something long term that people can rely on and that’s what I’m trying to provide. Lehrer: Are you supporting Laurie Cumbo’s campaign behind the scenes even while not endorsing her publically? Mayor: I am not supporting anybody in that race at this moment. There are people in my world who know her very well and like her and of their volition are helping here and that’s perfectly normal, not surprising in a political context. But again, I’ll make decisions on whether to get involved in that or any other race as we get a little closer. Lehrer: Danny, in Rockaway Park, Queens. You’re on WNYC. Hello. Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. And Brian, my wife and I love all your shows. Lehrer: Thank you. Question: Mr. Mayor, congratulations for surpassing the million-ridership mark on the New York City Rockaway and Brooklyn ferry service. I’m asking you directly since I’ve already been in contact with one of your representatives at City Hall and the New York City EDC, and so far I’ve had no responses on the request for the necessity of installing a kiosk information board at the Rockaway landing. I’m a big ferry advocate, as you probably know already, so I’m often at the ferry terminal. People arriving have – ask me where things are located like the beach, the [inaudible] Jamaica Bay, and I think the kiosk would be a real benefit to all. So, I’m just asking you if it’s possible that you can get this accomplished because there’s plenty of space and room there to do this. As the people come in, as they consider ‘where do I go? [Inaudible] Where can we get something to eat?’ I think that would be a benefit. Mayor: Well, you know there’s a phrase – when you’re right, you’re right. So, Danny, I think this is a good idea. The Rockaway Ferry, it’s been a huge, huge success. We’ve actually added a whole lot more capacity to it because it’s been so popular. But I agree with you and I’ve been out to that exact ferry landing and there is space there. And I’m absolutely convinced from talking to a lot of people who have used that you’re right. They need more information to orient them and to recognize all the things they can do while they’re out on the Rockaways, all the stores they can go, restaurants they can go to. We want to encourage people to spend their money while they’re there. So, I will direct the EDC to put such a kiosk in. I think this is a fine idea. Lehrer: Danny, I think you’ve just got yourself a campaign promises there. [Laughter] Question: Thank you very much. Lehrer: Danny, thank you for your call. We also take, listeners as many of you know, questions for Ask the Mayor on Twitter. Just use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. And here’s one that’s come in that also represents something that keeps coming up since the first time we talked about it on an early Ask the Mayor. You directed the Police Department to kind of ease back on the way they enforce some quality of life crimes so there aren’t as many arrests, more summonses for small things. But people have complained that turnstile jumping was not included in that category. And similarly turnstile jumping, I believe, is not one of those things that you would protect people for if they were arrested for it in the sanctuary city program – correct me if I’m wrong. So, here’s a question that has come in in Twitter that says – “I guess my question for the Mayor,” after a series of tweets that this listener gave us – “is, how can you justify condemning turnstile jumpers when the MTA can’t assure working machines.” Mayor: Okay. A lot of pieces to what you raised and I’ll and break them down quickly. No, first of all, turnstile jumping is not one of the offenses under City law that triggers cooperation with ICE. It’s 170 offenses. The information is available online. You can see what they are. They are serious and violent felonies, and major crimes. Certainly, turnstile jumping is not one of the ones where we cooperate with ICE. We have been reducing, steadily, the number of arrests for turnstile jumping. I think the reduction in arrests is about 21 percent if I remember correctly in the last year for fare evasion. We’re more and more going to summons as an alternative. Let’s be clear. People shouldn’t evade the fare. They just shouldn’t. I understand the MTA is broken that’s why I’ve proposed the millionaire’s tax to get a lot more money into the MTA and also to provide half-cost fares for folks at or below the poverty level. And I think asking millionaire’s to pay a little more so everyday New Yorkers can have a better subway and low-income folks can have a half-priced ride makes a lot of sense. I’ll be fighting for that in Albany. But in terms of turnstile jumping, people shouldn’t do it, let’s be clear about that. We’re never going to turn a blind eye to it. The fact is if someone does it once, they’re not going to be arrested, they’re going to get a summons. If someone does it a lot of times and there’s a record of consistent recidivism that’s where you run the risk of arrest – or if someone, God forbid, has a weapon on them or commits some other kind of crime at the same time. But we have been steadily reducing the number of arrests overall by the NYPD in many, many quality-of-life areas. And the way we’re training our officers now is to say, hey, look with any kind of quality of life crime if a warning will do, use a warning; if a summons will do, use a summons. Arrest is actually the last resort not the first resort. So, I would say to folks – look, we’ve gotta work for the kind of structural change like the Fair Fare that we could do with the millionaire’s tax that really will address the part of fare evasion that might be related to someone’s economic circumstance. But not everyone who is jumping the turnstile is doing it because of economics, I assure you. And it’s still not appropriate. And, so, we’re still going to enforce but less and less with arrests. Lehrer: What do you think in general of the DAs in the boroughs looking now to revisit a lot of small crimes and reduce the offenses from the ways they were originally charged? Mayor: I think there’s a very healthy effort going on here in this city. I think we’re one of the cities leading the country now in everything from reducing mass incarceration. You know the population on Rikers has gone down 23 percent since I took office and obviously we’re going to be closing Rikers Island – on through to using summons much more than arrests and reducing the number of arrests. Now, remember the NYPD has been driving down crime for four years now while reducing arrests while increasing gun seizures. And that’s all because of neighborhood policing and a strategy of much deeper communication and partnership with communities. And then what you’re referring to just in this week – four of the five DAs working with the NYPD agreed to cancel low-level offense warrants that were older than ten years. So, you’ve got hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants for low-level offenses, non-violent offenses, that were hanging out there and creating a lot of concern because folks had those hanging over them but they were not major issues. There was a decision with four of the DAs and the NYPD to literally cancel all of those. It was hundreds of thousands of warrants that now are in the process of being cancelled and it will mean a lot of people will not have to suffer because of that. This is all pointing in the same direction. And what’s amazing, Brian, is that I think we’re sold a bill of goods for many years and this was particularly true during the stop-and-frisk era that the only way to keep the city safe was with a very aggressive, high-intensity policing with lots of stops, lots of arrests. Turned out it was actually the exact opposite that was true. The best kind of policing is the kind of policing that is deeply communicative with communities – officers trained to engage communities, build trust, build relationships. And a lot of arrests is not actually the way to get crime down. We’re improving more all the time. So, this reduction in the warrants is very consistent with that overall philosophy. Lehrer: Campaign question – because of suspicions that you do too many favors for big donors, Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis is calling you on your promise last year to release a list of major donors who you have not done favors for or turned down for requested favors. You said it at a news conference and never delivered, and then said you would publish an op-ed on it and you never have. So, what do you say to Nicole Malliotakis and anyone else who has been following that unfulfilled promise? Mayor: It’s a pretty small thing in the scheme of things but I still intend to do it. I want to do it the right way to explain what I’m trying to say and I think there’s been ample evidence. You’ve seen a lot of very detailed reporting on all sorts of individuals who tried to get certain outcomes from the government and were rejected in those efforts. I will put it together in an op-ed. I will help to make that clear but, you know, I think the bottom line here is we have to be straightforward about the fact that if we live in a society where you’re going to go through a political campaign, you’re going to ask people for support in that campaign, the question really is will [inaudible] treated fairly at the end of the day? And I’ve used ample examples from town hall meetings – I’ve done over 30 town hall meetings, for example, around the city – where people I’ve never met in my life that raises a concern, a tenant raises a concern, a neighborhood resident raises a concern, and I literally right then and there will ask the commissioner of the agency to follow up personally and go meet with that resident or meet with that tenant or go to their building, go to their block. That’s what I try to do in a wide range of circumstances. And then, Brian, a crucial question is will whatever be done be done on the merits and I believe that’s been a consistent pattern. Sometimes people raise a concern and they’re right, sometimes they raise a concern and they’re wrong. But at least they will get looked – you know the issue will get looked at and there will be a judgement. Lehrer: Will you commit to publishing that op-ed before the Democratic primary? Mayor: I commit to publishing the op-ed and I have to find the time to do it and I’ll try and do it as soon as possible. Lehrer: Will you commit to publishing that op-ed before the general election? Mayor: Sure. Lehrer: Two weeks before the general election? Mayor: I’m not going to get into micromanagement of the op-ed. It’s a small thing but I’ll get it done. Lehrer: Amy in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello. Question: Hello. Hi Brian and Mr. Mayor. Mayor de Blasio, a few weeks ago – just now you talked about affordable housing and a few weeks ago you talked about not necessarily giving to people who are begging on the street because just because they’re out there doesn’t mean they’re homeless. And I’ve actually talked to some of the people I give money to. I know some of them – I’ll give one example. A man in my neighborhood who had been begging for a long time. And one day he looked very happy, he said he was going to get – he had gotten [inaudible] housing he was going to move into but once in a while he was still back out asking for money because he’s not making enough to afford the rent that month. So, please don’t equate homelessness with begging. [Inaudible] ask people for money. Mayor: Well, that’s perfectly fair point. My – what I was trying to say is I think, again, every New Yorker who has been here a while certainly would recognize this point. We all know there are some very, very needy people on the streets. And we all know there are some people who are street homeless meaning they literally live on the streets. This is a particular tragedy that I want to talk about what we’re about it. But just to make a point, we also know there’s some people who go out and, just as a way to make money, panhandle. And some of them do have other options in life and some of them do have homes, and it’s not just about poverty. And I just want to say it’s a real life reality and I think panhandling makes people uncomfortable. And our job is to try and create a dynamic where people don’t have to. And I don’t think people should want to if they don’t have to honestly. We’re trying to provide so many different supports for people starting with the fact, if anyone needs a roof over their heads, the City of New York is going to find a way to help them. And someone who is street homeless, we’ve literally, we’ve created the most intensive outreach effort called HomeStat where we will send a homeless outreach work to any – if you call in 3-1-1 we’re going to send trained workers to that location to talk to that person. Someone who is homeless, someone who may have a mental health issue for example, we’re going to keep working with them for months or even years if that’s what it takes to get them off the streets. And so far, that effort has gotten 700 people off the streets already and we’re going to deepen that. So, that’s my point. I know there’s a lot of people who are desperately in need of help. We’re going to give them every conceivable form of support but I also know, we’ve seen some people who are there for other reasons and we have to be honest about that. Question: And we’re not there yet as far as getting help to everyone. Mayor: Well, you know, I want to challenge that. I know we’re not in a utopian society but I can guarantee you if you call 3-1-1 and you say there’s someone at a particular corner on a regular basis, we’re going to engage. We do have the resources for this. We’re going to engage that individual consistently, offer them shelter, offer them food, offer them medical care, offer them if mental health or substance abuse services. That’s happening right now in this city and we do have the capacity to that for anyone who is willing to accept that help. Lehrer: Let me get in two quick ones before you have to go. Just about every political analyst I’ve seen is reacting to your proposal for a new stream of City funding for the MTA and subsidized MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers paid for by about a half a percentage point City income tax increase for just the top one percent. Singles making $500,000 or more, couples making over one million – just a half a percentage income tax hike, City income tax hike for the people in the top one percent. But all the political analysts I’m reading say even if that is fair and right, there’s probably no scenario in which you’ll have the votes in the Republican-controlled State Senate. So, this may look like good populist politics but it’s not realistic for actually getting money to the subways. Can you argue that it is? Mayor: Sure I can. There’s never been a millionaire’s tax for the MTA. There should have been a long time ago. The MTA – look, let’s be very blunt about this – the MTA for years has done the wrong thing. They’ve been mismanaged, they should have invested in all the basic things that keep the subway system going. They didn’t do it. And they also to be fair have not had the kind of consistent revenue streams they needed. And for years and years taxes on the wealthy were cut and cut and cut, by the way, in Democratic and Republican administrations in the State of New York. And that’s something should be examined – why Democratic governors and Republican governors, both, kept cutting taxes on the wealthy. Times are changing. You’ve seen what’s happened in the last few years not only in the city and state, Brian, but in the whole country. People are recognizing that the millionaires and billionaires are not paying their fair share. So, a millionaire’s tax [inaudible] time has come. There’s tremendous popular support for this kind of idea. It’s not just a huge amount of money that could sustain the MTA – by the way the half-billion a year it would produce for the physical fixes for the NYPD, I mean for the MTA, that half-billion a year could be used to bond. It could bring in eight billion a year for the MTA for the kinds of major repairs that are needed for the long haul. The Fair Fare, that means that the folks who are low-income or at or near the poverty level, below the poverty level would get a half-price MetroCard fare. That’s an idea that has tremendous support. I also would remind that there’s going to be a lot of changes politically in this state and you could have a change in the State Senate including in some of the special elections coming up soon and certainly next November given particularly all the frustration with President Trump all over the state. So, this idea could come into being very quickly and could have an impact very quickly. I’d like to hear less punditry and more thinking about how we can get it done. I fundamentally believe this is an idea that will be passed in Albany ultimately. Lehrer: So, you think the Long Islanders and State Senate Majority Leader Flanagan’s district are going to pressure him for this? Mayor: I’ll tell you what. One thing – they’re not going to be paying for it. Let’s be real about it. This is, remember, partly patterned on the tax I proposed originally for pre-K. Now, we got the money for pre-K another way but we got that money because I proposed the tax and it forced the discussion. But this is a tax on New York City residents only. And I would actually argue a lot of the suburban representatives might say, you know what, they depend on the MTA too. Their constituents depend on the MTA but they’d sure rather have it be paid for by wealthy New Yorkers and there are plenty of wealthy New York City residents who could pay a little more in taxes so we could fix the MTA. Lehrer: Alright, I know we’re over time. I know – I wonder if you can give me 30 seconds on the President being in town for a few days beginning Sunday. His first somewhat extended stay in the city since taking office. And special precautions or anything the public should know? Mayor: Absolutely. I’m glad you asked, Brian. The public should know this – don’t drive on Fifth Avenue, in that part of Midtown. Fifth Avenue will be open throughout the President’s visit. The NYPD has done extensive preparations working with the Secret Service and they certainly are ready to handle anything and everything. But anyone who wants to actually get where they’re going avoid Fifth Avenue in the 50s and 60s. Avoid 57th Street crosstown around Fifth Avenue, around Madison. You know, it’s just a smart thing to get around it because for those three days – from Sunday night to Wednesday night – is going to be really clogged up. But he, from what we understand at this point, is going to be essentially located at Trump Tower the whole time and we don’t have any indication of other events. And we’re ready for it. We’re certainly ready for it. It’s not that different that when Presidents in the past have come, for example, for the UN General Assembly and stayed at the Waldorf or something like that. If he doesn’t move around a lot it particularly makes it a little bit easier. But everything will be under control but just avoid that part of Midtown for your own sanity would be my case to all New Yorkers. Lehrer: Well, that concludes our weekly Ask the Mayor series for now as we suspend it to be fair to all the candidates in the mayoral campaign. Mr. Mayor, thanks again for all these weeks. You’ve even carved out the time when you were on the road. So, you’ve been on from Chicago, you’ve been on from the West Coast, you’ve been on from Germany, and probably other times I didn’t even know you were away. And if you’re re-elected I hope we’ll pick it up again after that. Mayor: Looking forward to it. The people will have to make that decision but if they do I look forward to it, Brian. Lehrer: Thank you very much. Mayor: Take care, now.
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 5:05pm
Video available at: Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Alright. Thanks for being here. The Mayor’s going to make a statement and I’ll give you the details of the incident. Mr. Mayor? Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Commissioner. Commissioner O’Neill and I have just visited our very brave officer. We’re not going to be giving you the name right now, but I want to just tell you some very basic points – young officer, two years on the job, did what our officers do every single day – responded to a call, in this case for someone acting erratically – an emotionally disturbed person. What could have been just another day, just another call turned into something much worse, and thank God our officer is going to come through it. He’s a brave young man. He had a great attitude. He was actually trying to even make light of the situation in his own hospital bed, showing a lot of spirit, a lot of energy. His partner was really, really worried about him. We spent time with his partner as well. All he wanted to know was how his fellow officer was doing. But this is an example of the bravery of the men and women of the NYPD. This is an example of the fact that our officers go into any situation and never know how it might turn on a moment’s notice. But thank God our officer is going to come through okay in this case. I want to thank everyone at the 7-5 Precinct, all of his fellow officers who quickly rushed to his aid – everyone at EMS. It’s important to not – and I know the Commissioner will go into detail – this young man was definitely saved by his vest. It made all of the difference here that he was wearing a vest that stopped some of these shots and protected his life. In fact, I think they’re going to show us the vest right now. Commissioner O’Neill: It’s a small caliber round, so you’re not going to be able to see where the impact was, but I did see the blunt force trauma and injuries on the officer’s chest. This vest definitely saved his life. Mayor: And this is something important – that the right protective gear made all the difference. I want to thank everyone at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. They have been outstanding in their response. We appreciate very much everything they've been doing. I want to thank our Public Advocate Tish James and the acting District Attorney of Brooklyn, Eric Gonzalez, for being here with us in support. So – a day where the Commissioner and I were in a meeting when we both heard about this. We immediately of course worried about what this could mean for our officer, but, thank God, the news today is a lot better than it might have been. Commissioner? Commissioner O’Neill: Thanks, Mr. Mayor. So, at approximately 4:35 pm this afternoon, uniformed police officers from the 7-5 Precinct responded to a 9-1-1 call for an emotionally disturbed person at a private house located at 149 Ridgewood Avenue in Brooklyn – that’s in the 7-5 Precinct. The caller reported that her 29-year-old son was not violent and reported to be unarmed and present with her in the home. The first responding radio car team was admitted into the residence, along with EMS personnel. One officer approached the rear of the apartment, along with EMS personnel. Another officer went to the rear of the building after being told by the mother that her son may try to flee through a backdoor. As the first officer approached the rear bedroom, the subject fired several shots, striking the officer several times. He was struck once in the right arm and twice in the protective vest. The officer did not return fire. The injured officer, who is 30-years-old, has been on the force for just over two years, was treated by EMS on the scene, and moved here to Jamaica Hospital where he’s alert and in state condition. And the Mayor spoke about our conversation with him – a brave young man. Immediately after the shooting, the 29-year-old subject remained in the rear bedroom. And we just got an update from the scene that ESU – Emergency Services – did make entry into the apartment, into the bedroom where they discovered the subject was diseased with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and two guns were recovered by his side. I also wanted to thank the responding EMS technicians and the medical staff here at Jamaica Hospital not only for today, but for every time we come here – the absolute professional way that they treat us. And I’d really like to thank Jamaica Hospital for all of that. So, police officers, once again, doing their job, called to the scene, and thank goodness the officer’s going to be fine. His recovery might take a while, but I saw the injuries, spoke to him, spoke to his partner, and they’re going to be fine – might take a little time though. Unknown: We’re going to get an update from the scene – just ended a short time ago. DCPI will have the information and we’ll be able to get you some more details about what transpired, alright? Thank you very much, everyone. Mayor: Thanks, everyone. Commissioner O’Neill: Thanks.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 5:10pm
Errol Louis: We are back on the Road to City Hall and as we discussed before the break, Mayor de Blasio today proposed a tax on the rich to pay for repairs to our decaying subway system. This comes as he once again faces questions about his relationship with donors after a series of emails were released by City Hall on Friday afternoon. Joining us now for our final Monday’s with the Mayor interview before the November election is Mayor Bill de Blasio. Welcome and thanks for joining us one last time. Mayor Bill de Blasio: One last time, Errol. Louis: One last time. Let me start with this millionaire’s tax. How did you arrive at 500,000 for singles or a million for a household as sort of the threshold? Mayor: So the original concept I had four years ago was my number one platform plank when I ran for mayor was a tax on the wealthy for pre-K. So when that didn’t happen, of course we got the next best thing, which was the funding from Albany and that allowed to create the pre-K program we have today. You know, obviously the idea stuck in my mind. That this was a fair vehicle for addressing major problems, asking those who had done really well to give a little more to help address something for the city as a whole, which I think is fair by the way to wealthy people. Here is why, wealthy people – you know, they’re doing very well in New York City. The society has benefited them in many ways, our laws; our tax code benefits them in many ways. The MTA benefits them because their workers get to work; their customers get to all of their business. You know, asking them to do a little bit more to help everyone to help our society work, I felt with pre-K that was perfectly justified. That didn’t happen, the idea stuck in my mind. You saw Senator Gianaris and Assembly member O’Donnell put forward a different variation on this. I thought about it, and thought it was a good concept but we should modify it to some extent based on original vision with the pre-K tax. And also what really became clear in the last view days, was why not marry that with the Fair Fare notion, a notion that providing extra support for folks who are at or near the poverty level so they could get a discount on their rides. That was something that I wasn’t willing to do out of city resources, but would be willing to do out of a dedicated tax. So it really came together as an idea for borrowing a little bit from the old, you know the previous ideas and putting together with these new ideas. Louis: Yeah, well, I mean – going back to the 2013 campaign when I was moderating all of those debates, I mean I saw the reaction you got, and it struck me at the time you know with all due respect as sort of a tax in search of a purpose rather than the other way around. And everything subsequent that sort of suggested that that’s what it was, was that universal pre-K struck me as an unobjectionable reason. Nobody would object to it, because it was universal, and its babies, you know its kids, and — Mayor: Education – Louis: So everybody would support it. Mayor: Right. Louis: and that’s a good reason to tax the wealthy, to tax the rich. And then you know you wanted a tax on you know, home sales of a million dollars and - Mayor: Well, that’s a totally different concept – Louis: And that’s a good reason to- Mayor: Hold on, hold on. These are two different concepts. The pre-K tax at the time, we didn’t have an evident way to pay for full day pre- K for all of our kids through the regular Department of Education budget. We needed the funding stream. I had seen – you remember the Safe Street Safe Cities program way back when in the 90’s had been a dedicated tax to increase the number police and it helped, it really helped turn the tide in this city. So I was around for that, I was a staffer at City Hall during that, under Mayor Dinkins. So a notion of a dedicated tax for a specific purpose something I think can really work and the public can buy into. So I proposed back in 13’, I proposed for pre-K and after school only, nothing else. And had Albany been willing we would have gone forward with that, and that would have been the way we fund it. Instead you saw the resistance but people knew pre-K was a good idea; there was a lot of support. They had to answer that demand. They went with direct funding. The mansion tax is a tax on sales; it’s a tax on sales. It’s a different concept that’s not an income tax; it’s a tax on sales of homes of 2 million or more. That was for senior affordable housing and only senior affordable housing. So this model of a dedicated tax, dedicated revenue stream is very important to me as one of the ways we can address some thorny problems, like affordable housing, and transportation. But, what I’ve also felt is let’s face it; the taxes on the wealthy have declined for decades. Since Reagan in particular, the wealthy had paid less and less in taxes. The golden age of this country’s economy in the 1950’s Dwight Eisenhower was President and we had one of the highest tax rates on the wealthy we’ve ever had. We’ve also had some of the best spending on infrastructure, some of the best investment in education research. The country was doing great, the wealthy were doing fine. Louis: Well that’s my point. It sounds like you know, for social justice reasons you think that they should be taxed and then you can figure out what to do with the money later. Mayor: No, I think when you have a specific need; you should align the tax system to that need in a progressive manner. Now what’s been the history? A lot of times it’s been regressive taxes, like sales tax that hits lower income higher, than harder than it does for folks with higher incomes. I believe in progressive taxation, you can certainly do that through income tax, you can certainly do that for a tax on people who buy expensive homes. But these are just deal with very specific needs that have come up; the affordable housing crisis has grown overtime. It has to be addressed in new ways. The MTA crisis you and I think can both agree last few months, we haven’t seen anything like that in a long, long time. Louis: Sure. Mayor: It needs to be addressed in a new way. Louis: Well I wonder if you’ve considered as you were sort of rolling out this proposal if you’re going to tax 32,000 people to pay for something as important as you know, critical repairs to our mass transit system. Only a small number of them, a thousand or two thousand need to be harmed. You know bankruptcy, Wall Street crash, another you know, housing crisis. Just a flat out recession or they move away or they die, right. And then you’ve got a really unstable situation. Is this the right way to fund something so important? Mayor: Yeah, I’m going to argue that, that’s a fair question. But I am going to argue with your analysis. First of all I think you can see, not only do we have a growing population, the biggest population we’ve ever had in this city. We have a growing economy and we have sectors that are growing like never before to the technology sectors, these 350,000 jobs. Film and TV is booming, life science is starting to grow. My point in that, as you’re going to see more and more wealthy people either coming to New York City to be part of these businesses or becoming wealthy here. You know, New Yorkers who make it here and become wealthy. It’s not as if someone leaves, no one replaces them. People are coming are coming from all over the world who to be here, including wealthy people who like the lifestyle here. They do not want to split time with Florida or Connecticut they want to be here. And that’s going to mean they will pay taxes to go with it. And for a lot of folks bluntly they are not going to be paying those taxes. They’re still going to have plenty of money. Because we’ve seen a system over recent decades that rewards the wealthy more and more and they get richer and richer and the top one percent have concentrated more wealth and power than we’ve ever seen before. So I think there is a big supply if you will of people who want to be in New York who don’t want to leave, who are willing to pay the taxes because that part of the equation. Louis: No, fair enough. So I mean you’re conscious that you could raise the tax to a level where people actually would start to leave. You’re just saying this is not that level? Mayor: Well, this is certainly not that level. As we’ve said today, if you make a million bucks you would pay $7 dollars more per day. It’s not that level. Yeah, in theory you have to always be mindful of all the factors. But I would say there has been a series of tax cuts over years for the wealthy and probably there is going to be another very big tax cut, when President Trump and the Congress get through with the tax code at the end of this year. So I think it’s safe to say tis not going to fundamentally affect the behavior of the wealthy. Louis: As far as the timing, will it actually affect the needs of the MTA, right. I mean at the best the legislature might look at it well after election day by the way. You know, in the next session. Even if that happens, the collection of it and the making of it available to the MTA is at least a year off from now, right? Mayor: I’d say a couple of things, as Senator Gianaris said today. He said what’s more important than the MTA crisis. You know if the legislature wants to have a special session they could deal with it more quickly. They may be coming back for other reasons as well. But let’s say the natural time would be the April budget. That’s just not that far away in the scheme of things. You would talk about money that would start to be collected quite quickly. And we’re talking serious amount of money. It starts at 700,000 million a year and goes up to 800,000 million. Remember, it allows for two things. That allows for the Fair Fare proposal, so half priced metro cards for folks at the poverty level, below the poverty level. And it allows for about a half a billion each year that goes directly to the MTA and it would be lockbox. I would be dedicated to the MTA. That can be used to bond and bring as much as $8 billion to fix the fundamental physical realities of the MTA. That can start quickly. So I think it makes a big difference. And here’s the thing. It’s a way to get something done, which we have available right now, because the legislators didn’t do that tax on pre-K and never took that opportunity to ask the wealthy to do a little more. Here’s another very universal thing – by the way ask most New Yorkers they would say that’s one of things they care about the most. Again, the wealthy benefit too, from a good functioning MTA. Why not pay a little bit more to make sure this whole city can function. Louis: Okay, we’ve got to take a quick break here. […] Louis: I wanted to quickly wrap up our transit discussion. This is from a viewer named Amanda - “has City Hall decided to scrap very expensive, non-essential project like the BQX now that the MTA needs are so pressing and clear?” Mayor: I think, with all due respect to Amanda’s question, we need as many transportation options as we can get right now. We need NYC Ferry, which has been a huge success, to keep growing. We need more Select Bus Service, which carries a huge number of people very efficiently. It’s become a big hit. Citi Bike obviously has been growing. We want to keep it expanding, and we need light rail. I think light rail is going to be a smart project. We believe the increase in value it’s going to bring is going to bring in additional tax money and largely pay for itself. But why would you want more transit options all over the outer boroughs in particular? Louis: No, I think the notion was to postpone it and put the money towards the immediately, pressing emergency needs. Mayor: But because it generates value this is the point – and it’s very much based on the concept with the number 7 line extension to the far west side of Manhattan – the idea wasn’t just ‘hey, let’s build an extension.’ It was that if you build an extension it’s going to increase value. That value comes back as property taxes. Louis: Yes, but you know that the line on the BQX from Red Hook to DUMBO has already exploded in value, right? The value is already there, and there’s no light rail. Mayor: But more – I’d say more transportation always increases value, and for a lot of people in that community it’s hard to get around. You’re talking about 40,000 public housing resident who don’t have enough options. You’re talking about communities like Red Hook and Astoria, right up at Astoria Houses, they’re cut off in many ways. We want to provide maximum options. We want to show that we can provide new mass transit options quickly – in this case, self-sustaining. And the bottom line on the MTA situation, which is why this is tax is so important is we need big solutions to the MTA. This is not a nickel and dime problem. This is a big structural solution problem, which is why a tax on the wealthy with bonding of the money can get you $8 billion to invest in MTA capital. That’s the kind of bigger solution we’ve been needing. Louis: Alright, let me switch topics here. Another series of City Hall emails were released on Friday afternoon. You know, we see this repeatedly. I suppose you think we’re going to forget about it, but we’ve got to ask about it. Mayor: I would never suggest such a thing. Louis: It happens all the time. It looks terrible, I would think, to the average viewer that you’ve told us that Rechnitz and Reichberg – you hardly knew them, you didn’t know what they were up to – and then we see the emails, and you seem very chatty and very chummy, and you’re entertaining all kinds of increasingly outrageous proposals. They want to sell you land to build a new police precinct. They’re recommending who you should hire to be the housing commissioner. Mayor: Errol, I think you’re wrong about the average viewer with all due respect. I spend a lot of time with everyday New Yorkers, and I have for years. I don’t think this is what they fixate on. I think they care about – where’s a good job going to come from? They care about mass transit. They care about their schools. They care about policing. [Inaudible] They I think they rightfully look at and say, if someone is reaching out to the Mayor, and the Mayor says ‘okay someone will take a look at it,’ and then we ultimately found that their ideas were not good ideas, and we passed on them – that’s fine. Because I have elected officials who reach out to me, community leaders that reach out to me, union leaders who reach out to me, people I meet at townhall meetings. People raise ideas all day long. I listen respectfully and then the specific agencies look at them. And in this case with these guys they passed on them regularly. They said these are not good ideas, we’re not going to do them, and we didn’t do them. But I didn’t know them personally. I only met them – as I said earlier today – a lot of people suddenly wanted to know me when I became mayor. Louis: Well, but that’s not necessarily a great thing, right? Mayor: But not just people – Louis: You’re a charming, handsome guy. Mayor: Well, thank you, Errol. Louis: You know that they weren’t sending – you didn’t give them your email because you like them, and they weren’t writing to you on your personal email because they liked you. Mayor: Errol, but this is my point. When I say a lot of people I mean every kind of people – including community leaders, including elected officials, including tenant leaders. Everyone wanted to get their two cents in. And my approach has been throughout my career has been I’ll listen, but that’s not the same thing as agreeing. You can send me an email. I’ll do my best to respond. If you call me, I’ll do my best to call back. But that’s not the same as agreeing. And here’s what I find troubling about some of the analysis. Look at the outcomes – I thought that’s what we really cared about in life – the results. The results are these folks were judged on the merits, and the merits found them wrong. Louis: A lot of people, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio recognized that buying access or the perception of buying access and influence peddling is a problem for government whether it polls well or not, right? Whether it breaks the law or not it’s a problem. Now is it not a problem, or is it a problem for everybody else except you? Mayor: What I talked about as Public Advocate was the results of the Citizens United decisions by the Supreme Court that created unlimited flow of money into politics, which is a huge problem; money that came from unidentified sources – there was no disclosure, which I have opposed always. You know those guys gave to my campaign because we disclosed it, including anyone who gave to something like Campaign for One New York, which we were not required to disclose. We disclosed it anyway, voluntarily. So no, I think in fact you’re always going to have people from every kind of interest – community interest, labor interest, business interest – are always going to have their things they want to get done. If you’re open about who’s giving you support and who hasn’t, and it’s all out there in the open, and you’re open about what they asked for and what the outcome was, well, that’s good. That’s transparent government. What’s bad is a huge amount of money following into our system that no one even knows where it came from, and in a lot of cases causing policies to change. I can say with assurance – and now you’ve got a lot of evidence of it – people who wanted certain outcomes didn’t get them. Louis: Well, obviously it’s not super transparent to, you know, go through the FOIL process, wait months and months, and then dump it on a Friday afternoon in August, right? Mayor: I’m sorry, I disagree with you. All – every donations disclosed, and you look at those emails, they tell you exactly – there’s a process to get the emails. There should be a process. It’s part of the law. It says there should be a process. There you have it. Now I don’t care if you get them on a Friday or a Monday. You have them. They’re out there in the open. Louis: No regrets, no changes if you get reelected? We can expect you to personally handle these kinds of things? Big donors will have your email, and they’ll make all kinds of requests? Mayor: Again, there are people I know from every part of New York City life. There are people I’ve known for decades from my neighborhood. There are people I’ve known from the business community, the labor community, and they’re always going to come to me. Do you think that’s going to stop, Errol? That’s not going to stop. It’s part of the public process. And this is what I do find a little confusing about how some in the media look at this. So what is the line you would create? Are elected officials okay? They can come to me with all their ideas and all their proposals and all the things they want for their district? Is it okay for labor leaders? Is it okay for community leaders? Is it okay for tenant leaders? Is it not okay for business leaders? Is it only okay if someone’s never given a donation? What is that line? I think what’s right is anyone can bring forward an idea or concern. It needs to be looked at fairly. If it’s looked at fairly and judged on the merits, that’s what people should want to see some assurance of. And if you look at all these cases, you see that assurance. That’s the outcome to prove that the process actually worked. These things were decided on the merit. Louis: And not even – even a seemingly cosmetic difference like ‘I, the mayor, will not personally spend all of my time answering these kind of inquiries – I’ll use my staff differently.’ Mayor: Again, so where do you want to draw the line? I – it is the nature of a representative democracy that you’re going to all day long meet different people who represent different ethnic communities, representing different business communities, whatever, and they’re all going to want to put their idea across. They’re all going to want to argue their case. If someone comes to me, for whatever reason they – my email has been out there a lot – someone can email me, or I’ve met them, I’ve given them my email, and they bring a request forward. I typically say ‘okay, whoever in whichever agency will follow up with you.’ And if someone gives a concern at a townhall, that’s what I do. Even to the point of saying I’m going to send the commissioner to meet with you. If someone meets me in the subway and raises a concern, I literally take down the information, ask an aide to get a specific person in touch with them. It’s the same across the board. I’m not going to start saying ‘no, I’m not going to read emails from email and not respond to them.’ It’s part of what we do in this work, but what we have to be really careful about – and should consider a major value in public service – is treat everyone the same way. So if someone at a town hall meeting – if a tenant leader in a town hall meeting says there’s something wrong in my development, I say I’m going to have the general management of the public housing authority call you, that’s cool. If a business leader asks for some consideration, I say I’ll have someone call you. But on both of them – I don’t care if it’s a tenant leader or a business leader – the agency needs to make a decision based on the merit. That’s the continuity. It’s not to cut off contact. It’s not to say you can’t raise your issues. But to make sure decision are on the merit. Louis: And you’re comfortable that this flows all the way through, I mean because we’ve seen you know cases of corruption. Where some of these same individuals are trying the same approach on police commanders, you know and they’re buying favors, they’re you know they’re getting gun permits; they’re doing all kinds of stuff, they’ve got a lot of people in a lot of trouble. Mayor: As Preet Bharara made clear and I say this with sorrow that started in the [inaudible] administration. And you know that was a fact that those acts of corruption happened previous to our time in the Police Department. There has been nothing like that since we took over. And I think the message has been well communicated to all of my commissioners, they should make the decisions based on the merits and I see it all day long. I’d literally see it. If I didn’t see it, I’d be concerned. But I don’t have a question in the world that commissioners know even something comes from me or comes from City Hall, they still are going to do what they think is right based on the merits. And that’s the way I wanted it to be. No one had, I’ve never suggested otherwise. Nor has anyone else, because I don’t know the nuances of each subject matter. You’re a generalist, I’m a generalist. I literally have people all day long and they come to one of the town hall meetings and I don’t know if you’ve been to one but for three hours you’re going to get 50 different issues thrown at you. I can’t answer the nuances of it each. But I can say the transportation commissioner – Louis: Yeah, but those are – those are you know, there is a totality different – Mayor: Listen to the point – Louis: It’s in the public, the cameras are rolling. It’s not even [inaudible] – Mayor: You’re missing my point there is not dark or night here. If someone raises a concern, I know on its face, I don’t know the nuances of the issue. Whatever agency or whatever law it’s about whatever. I pass it to the folks who do. It’s not the dark of night, they figure out what they’re going to do with and they make a decision. That’s how government should function. Now that’s not, you and I both know – go back to sadly the Koch years and that’s not to take away from what was good about Ed Koch. But you and I both know in those days for example that’s not how decisions were made in a lot of agencies. It was very much about political machines and favors to certain elected officials. I can safely say now because times have changed in the city and a lot of reform happened over a lot decades. Something comes to an agency – by the way the same for an elected official or a business leader. There is plenty of times where they tell the elected official no we don’t think that’s the right way to do things – Louis: No, no I mean look, I realize that you know, you are aware of the idea that people will say, I don’t like what the people told me on the merits but I happened to be a big donor so let me go straight to the mayor if I can overrule them. That’s what was going on with [inaudible] case – Mayor: And it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. This is the point, it does not work. It’s going to be ultimately a decision made by agencies. And by the way do you think agencies sometimes shouldn’t be questioned on a decision. I think it perfectly fair if someone says “hey that agency didn’t treat me fairly I want to look at that”. Great, perfectly fair, but in the end the decision has to be made on the merits. Louis: At least one of these questions is now in court, so I guess we’ll get an answer on that. We’ve got one more break. Let me sell a little soap here Mr. Mayor if you don’t mind. We’re going to take a short break; we’ll be right back with more from Mayor de Blasio. Louis: We’re back on the Road to City Hall; Mayor de Blasio joins us again for the final part of our interview. We have a President who has not come to New York very often since getting sworn in. Even when he’s in the region, he’s on the wrong side of the river. But we hear that he may be back. Mayor: I would say it’s the right side of the river in this case. Which I actually think it’s – I appreciate him staying on the Jersey side for the good of the ability of all us to get around here in New York City. Louis: Is it a substantial logistical and or financial burden for the city? Mayor: Look, it always is when the President of the United States is in, let be clear. His last visit – you know everyone knows how much I disagree with Donald Trump on so many issues, but I do appreciate that he has been very modest about coming back here, and the last visit was only a few hours and was pretty much contained to one event, and that really reduced the negative impact on traffic and the expense to the City. We don’t know what this next trip is. We haven’t gotten any detail. NYPD has spoken to the Secret Service. Everyone is waiting for clarity on this, but I think it’s fair to say – you know, a President of the United States coming through for a few hours or even for a few days around the UN General Assembly? That’s normal. That’s happened for decades. The fear has always been well, if he sets up shop in Trump Tower for a prolonged period of time then Midtown will ground to a halt. To date we see no indication of that. And in fact obviously his family did move down to Washington, which was something that wasn’t clear was definitely going to happen, but it did. So hopefully this next visit is a brief one that has minimal impact, and I’d certainly it rather happen in summer when there’s a little bit fewer people around. Louis: You talked at one point early on about your relationship with Jared Kushner. I know that there are a number of developers – people in the real estate and media worlds – who are connecting with him. Do you have any kind of conversation going with the administration through those folks? Mayor: No. Look, I’ve been disappointed. When I met with the then president-elect, you know, I got the distinct impression that he was arguing the notion he would be open, and you know, maybe not govern the same way he campaigned. And unfortunately we’ve seen an approach to governance that’s just as extreme as the way he campaigned. I haven’t seen a lot of moderating influences, so you know, there are folks – you’re right – there are some key figures in New York City business world that have been involved in the administration. I’ve certainly said to a few of them ‘hey, make this point, remind the president of what it means for New York City’ but I don’t have any illusion. I don’t think necessarily they do either that it’s making a big impact. It seems like it’s a right wind agenda that’s locked on. That’s not changing. And you know Bannon isn’t getting a lot of attention anymore, but it sure seems like his agenda is ruling the day. Louis: Yes, indeed. Let me ask you a few question before we say good night. Evaluating your three and a half years in office, what would say is the biggest problem that you wanted to solve that you haven’t solved yet? Mayor: I never thought I would quote-unquote “solve” homelessness, but I would say this has been the one that has been the toughest. I thought we did some of the right things early on. I, you know, was struck by how even with a lot of new policies, new investments it’s been such a thorny problem. Obviously supercharged by the cost of housing, which is a factor that we’ve never seen a challenge like this in the past decades. I think we’re turning the corner on a couple of levels. I think the new plan in terms of shelters is going to ultimately work but it’s going to take a long time honestly. I think the HOME STAT initiative, going out on the streets in a real concentrated fashion to get homeless folks to come in – we’ve seen that succeed now with about 700 people who have come in and stayed in in the last year or [inaudible], but let’s be clear. This is going to be a long, slow battle, and I was hoping honestly for something better. But I do think these tools are beginning to work and it’s just trying to be honest with people about the difference between anything where we can claim quick victory versus what’s going to be a long, long battle. Louis: What’s your favorite thing about the job and your least favorite thing about the job? Mayor: Favorite thing about the job, I would split it into two if I may. One is the people I meet, and that is every kind of people. I mean it’s the people I meet during Queens week for example, out there playing bocce in Corona, and things like – you just meet really wonderful people. You meet great New Yorkers with New York stories. That part I love, and you meet really interesting people from all over the world who come through. That’s amazing. But the more eternal thing is getting something done that feels like a real contribution in a sort of soul satisfying way, and that was pre-K is the best example. I hope to do a lot of good in that job, but I’m very, very clear that that was something that really worked, and I will know for my whole life was something good to do for kids. You know, the most challenging part is it’s endless, right? I know that it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don’t know how to describe it to people, but you cannot stop thinking There is no such thing. And I think most people have a life, even people who have busy lives and all or maybe they can tune out sometimes. There is no such thing, it’s the first you know, from the first email in the morning to the last email before I go to bed or a phone call or whatever. Everyday it’s just – it is endless and it’s always changing and there is all the incoming. And it’s what I excepted on one level. But the problem is you always want to kind of stop and get something done and really finish something and then the next thing is on top of you right away. That’s just the nature of the job. Louis: So you figure you’d do it for another four years if possible. Mayor: I am ready, I’m ready. Louis: Okay, good enough. There is a real chance you may end up in a debate with Sal Albanese [inaudible] are the debate sponsors and we’re hoping for a good robust discussion, one way or another. You served with him in the council, right? Was he a good councilman? Mayor: No, Sal and I did not overlap in the Council, when he, he was in the Council ahead of me. And I think he did some great work in the Council and that was obviously years ago. And I supported him when he ran for congress and the seat now held by Dan Donovan. Louis: Did you support him 97’? He ran for mayor along with Ruth Messinger. Mayor: No, I supported Ruth Messinger then, yeah. Louis: Okay. And so, as a good councilman as you, your own experience suggests a good councilman can make an okay mayor, right? Mayor: Well it depends on the individual, but no look, again I want to give full respect to the work he did in the City Council some of which I think was very, very important. We’ve obviously had a lot of disagreements since. That’s not shocking to me; he was in the 2013 campaign as well. But, look, you know there are ground rules as you know, and we’re going to see what happens with the debates, and I’m ready, and I want to talk about what’s happened in these four years, because even though I’m honest with you about some of the challenges. Hey I want to talk about pre-K, I want to about more affordable housing, I want to talk about crime being down and stop-and-frisk being down and all of these changes we’ve made. I’m very comfortable having that discussion. And I think people want it, I think they want to, they understand they have a choice to make and they want to hear the facts. I am optimistic that people in this city can see a lot of these new approaches are working. And it’s good to put it out there in front of people. Louis: Okay, we’re going to put it out there on August 23rd. We look forward to seeing there. Mayor: Thank you. Louis: Best of luck with everything thanks for spending so much time with us. Mayor: You’re very welcome. Louis: Alright, we’re going to take a short break now, we’re going to be returning to this by the way in November when all of this is over.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 5:10pm
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Daniel Garodnick today marked the City Council’s unanimous approval of the Greater East Midtown rezoning . Years in the making, the plan will foster the new, modern office buildings needed to spur jobs and keep New York a global capital of commerce. The plan ties that growth directly to improvements in the district’s public transit and public space, so as new buildings rise, New Yorkers will see major investments in subway stations, less congested sidewalks and expansive plazas for office workers and visitors. East Midtown is the city’s largest business district, generating 250,000 jobs and 10 percent of the city’s property tax revenue. But its office buildings average 75 years-old and have become increasingly out-of-date and inefficient for today’s companies. The district’s historic growth was driven by access to public transit, but today its subways and streets are at capacity. To overcome these challenges and revitalize the district, Councilmember Dan Garodnick and Borough President Gale Brewer led a host of community stakeholders in an extensive planning process that was advanced by the de Blasio administration and then the City Council. The approved rezoning covers 78 blocks between the east side of Third Avenue and the west side of Madison Avenue, from East 39th Street to East 57th Street. “East Midtown’s growth is now directly linked to real-time improvements in its public transit and public realm. In the years ahead, this neighborhood will see major upgrades to subway stations, more expansive space for pedestrians, investments in its iconic landmarks, and a new generation of office buildings that will spur good jobs for New Yorkers. I thank the City Council, and congratulate City Planning Chair Lago, Council Member Garodnick and Borough President Brewer on this achievement," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "With this vote, we are breathing new life into New York's most important business district," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "Not only will we see sensible growth, but the public will benefit from extraordinary new investments in above-ground public spaces and in below-ground subway infrastructure. Better transit, new jobs, top-of-the-line office space: East Midtown is back, full of optimism, and open for business." “The Greater East Midtown rezoning plan is a victory for everyone who lives, works, walks, or rides a subway through the East Side, and it also proves that stakeholder-driven planning works,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Putting all the stakeholders around a table before the plan was certified meant we could forge consensus on a sound blueprint for East Midtown’s future. This plan, based on that blueprint, will spur new, state-of-the-art office construction, attract jobs, and deliver major investments in transit and street-level infrastructure, open space, and local landmarks.” “It doesn’t get any bigger than East Midtown. This is where New York City competes for a huge number of jobs and an enormous slice of our tax base. We made this a priority from Day One, and today’s vote is a signal that New York City is serious about investing in its economic future,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. "The adoption today of this plan marks a significant achievement in our quest to assure that Greater East Midtown remains the globe's premier business district - one that works for the employees, residents and tourists who fill its streets every day. Incentivizing as-of-right redevelopment of aging buildings, facilitating the upkeep of beloved landmarks, and providing a private-sector funding stream for transit and streetscape improvements - that's a winning combination. Today's success has its roots in the excellent work of the many individuals who participated in a steering committee led by Borough President Brewer and Council Member Garodnick," said City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago . “This vote represents a turning point in future of East Midtown and will produce new state of the art office buildings, improved transit connectivity, additional resources for some of New York's most treasured landmarks, and significant new public space,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I congratulate Council Member Garodnick on his years of hard work to build consensus within the community and for his work with the administration to craft a zoning proposal and negotiate modifications that secure capital funding to kick-start public space improvements” New and Upgraded Office Buildings The zoning changes will enable the development of new Class-A commercial buildings, cementing East Midtown’s position as a world class business district that offers modern amenities and a range of office types. Buildings would be able to achieve higher density provided the developments support enhancements to the area’s public realm by providing transit improvements and/or purchasing unused floor area from the district’s landmarks. The zoning framework will generate 6.8 million square feet in new commercial office space over the next 20 years, along with an additional 6.6 million square feet of older office space that will be upgraded into Class A office space. The resulting development is expected to create up to 28,000 new, permanent jobs and 23,000 construction jobs in the next two decades. Improved Subways In “Transit Improvement Zones” near transit hubs, new buildings are allowed to exceed current Floor Area Ratio (FAR) provided they undertake important improvements to subway stations like new and expanded entrances, escalators, elevators and stairwells, as well as full station rehabilitations. New buildings cannot be granted certificates of occupancy for their increased space until those improvements are completed. The specific stations and improvements were selected in close consultation with the MTA and encompass: * Lexington Avenue / 53rd – 51st Street (E,M,6) * Lexington Avenue - 59th Street (N,Q,R,4,5,6) * Fifth Avenue / 53rd Street (E,M) * 47th / 50th Streets – Rockefeller Ctr (B,D,F,M) * 42 St - Bryant Park / 5th Avenue (B,D,F,M,7) * Grand Central / 42nd Street (4,5,6,7,S) Strengthening Historic Landmarks The plan permits property owners to purchase unused development rights from landmarks throughout the district on an as-of-right basis, a departure from current regulations. Those landmarks include a dozen buildings designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last year in advance of the rezoning which include some of the most historic and beloved icons in Midtown. This greater flexibility would increase the market for area landmarked buildings to sell their unused development rights, and thereby raise funds for their continued maintenance. Improving and Expanding Public Space New public realm projects across East Midtown will be funded by a minimum contribution of $61.49 per square foot or 20 percent of air rights’ sale price, ensuring that as development rights are sold to spur new development, the public reaps a steady funding stream to make commensurate improvements including shared streets, pedestrian plazas, thoroughfare uprgrades. The City will commit $38 million in capital funds for eligible public realm projects selected by the East Midtown Governing Group. Up to 12 million additional dollars will be committed to public benefits that include: * Shared Street on 43rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue * Pershing East Plaza * 53rd Street Thoroughfare Improvements * Park Avenue Turn Lane Improvements * Lexington Avenue Improvements “In a City growing with historic levels of population, jobs and tourism, the rezoning of East Midtown offers a welcome antidote in the most crowded of Manhattan neighborhoods,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “For transportation, the rezoning intelligently prioritizes the most efficient uses – by building much-needed new subway entrances and improvements, while further expanding pedestrian plazas and shared streets. With the detailed plan passed by the Council today, congratulations are in order to Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Garodnick and the entire Council for their productive partnership in getting it done.” “NYC Parks is greatly supportive of this plan, which involved extensive community engagement and will ensure East Midtown remains a competitive business district while improving the neighborhood at large. Tying public realm improvements to development ensures that all New Yorkers will benefit from this plan,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Today’s Council approval is a successful conclusion to a robust process that integrated planning and landmark preservation to ensure that Greater East Midtown remains at the forefront of the global economy. The City’s comprehensive approach resulted in the designation of 12 outstanding historic buildings — bringing the number of protected individual landmarks in East Midtown to 50. Many thanks to the Greater East Midtown Steering Committee, led by Borough President Brewer and Council Member Garodnick, for their support of the Commission’s work in this neighborhood. The approval of this plan, along with the Commission’s landmark designations, fosters East Midtown’s growth and protects and preserves the heart of a district exemplified by its proud historic buildings,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “Providing accessibility to these subway stations will allow people with disabilities access to new job opportunities creating a more inclusive and accessible city,” said Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise. "This rezoning ensures that East Midtown, with its legendary buildings and firms, will remain the place where the world comes together to do business for generations to come. The vision and leadership of Council Member Dan Garodnick and Borough President Gale Brewer drove a nuanced, participatory planning process with few parallels in our city's history. I thank and congratulate them both deeply as well as my colleagues and friends in the Council and the de Blasio administration for such a praiseworthy outcome,” said Council Member David Greenfield, chair of the Land Use Committee. "This rezoning will finally tap into the true potential of East Midtown and deliver transit improvements, office space, open space and preserve historic landmarks," said Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. "This has been a long time coming, but residents and business owners will feel the benefits of this plan for decades to come. I'd like to congratulate Council Member Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for showing true leadership in negotiating a big victory for their residents and business owners." Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “The rezoning approved by the New York City Council will transform east midtown, easing the way for state-of-the-art buildings in the city’s central business district, while generating funds for critical amenities. The end result will be a vibrant business district with buildings designed for the 21st Century, new jobs, investments in transportation and much-needed parks and open space.” State Senator Liz Krueger said, "I am very pleased that a deal has been reached to move forward on the East Midtown rezoning after a long, comprehensive, and inclusive process. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for working diligently with Borough President Brewer, Council Member Garodnick, and an array of stakeholders to ensure that this extremely complex rezoning balances the needs of those who already live and work in East Midtown, vital infrastructure and open space improvements, and our historic structures, while encouraging the planned development of 21st Century commercial buildings." State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "I’m grateful to the Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and the City Administration for their efforts on the East Midtown Rezoning. Through years of work and community engagement, they’ve ensured that the rezoning of East Midtown not only updates the building stock in one of the world’s most important business districts, but also contributes to improvements that will benefit the public for years to come, including open space, pedestrian walkways, improved subway stations and historic preservation." "These rezoning changes are pivotal to the future success of East Midtown," said Assemblymember Dan Quart. "This plan is a culmination of years of community input, inclusive planning, and careful consideration of diverse suggestions. I look forward to the coming transformation that will encourage economic development and spur public infrastructure projects. This is a major victory for our city and I applaud Council Member Garodnick for his leadership." “The rezoning of Greater East Midtown provides the blueprint to transform and modernize commercial office space and spur new development in New York City’s premiere business district. It also creates the mechanism for much needed improvements to the unmatched mass transit system serving our area while also giving us the opportunity to work on enhancing the public realm with the involvement of our stakeholders, which is critical for success,” said Alfred C. Cerullo, III, President and CEO of the Grand Central Partnership. “This rezoning initiative ensures that East Midtown will remain a competitive and viable center of international business activity. We thank Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Glen, Borough President Brewer, Council Member Garodnick, and all those who spearheaded this effort and worked to keep most of the vital Third Avenue corridor in the new subdistrict, while making certain that new development will bring with it new public space, which is sorely needed in this community,” said Rob Byrnes, President of the East Midtown Partnership. “The City Council’s approval of the Greater East Midtown rezoning is an important milestone in an on-going effort to ensure the area remains one of the world’s leading office districts. We want to thank Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick, City Planning Chair Marisa Lago, all the Community Board Members and the many other stakeholders who worked tirelessly and understood that encouraging development in East Midtown generates the tax revenue that pays for vital city services that benefit all New Yorkers,” said John Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The Greater East Midtown Rezoning will help to revitalize one of New York City’s most important neighborhoods, create new jobs for the community, and assist landmarked houses of worship to generate funds through the sale of air rights to maintain and preserve sacred structures, such as Central Synagogue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, both of whom supported this rezoning, for generations to come,” said Reverend Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, Rector, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. "Today's passage of the East Midtown rezoning is the next critical step to ensure that New York City remains competitive in the global marketplace," said Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. "We applaud Mayor de Blasio and his administration, the City Council led by Speaker Mark-Viverito and Councilmember Garodnick and as well as Borough President Brewer and all the stakeholders. Their vision and perseverance led to the passage of a rezoning plan that will help further the revitalization and modernization of East Midtown, improve and expand our infrastructure and open space, and protect the landmarks that have made this area great." “Making East Midtown's subway stations more accessible with escalators and elevators and ensuring adequate pedestrian and park space in this busy area are positive steps toward creating a livable New York City for people of all ages. AARP commends Council Member Garodnick, Borough President Brewer and Mayor de Blasio for pushing real, every-day improvements in East Midtown – which could serve as a model for making the entire city more age-friendly,” said Chris Widelo, Associate State Director for AARP. Fred Kent, President of Project for Public Spaces said, "Quality of Place is a key factor in where businesses locate. Adding density can help do that. This zoning opens the door, but it requires a sustained commitment from both the public and private sectors. Our global work on Placemaking and Innovation could be a foundation for that to happen, and we look forward to following and participating in the work of the East Midtown governing group." “We’re encouraged by the City’s well-measured response to East Midtown’s dire need for upgrading obsolete office buildings, and protecting landmarks. The Design Trust for Public Space looks forward to the upcoming concept plan from the Public Realm Governing Group. A well-functioning commercial district in a vibrant world capital requires a quality open space network. The Plan must include a comprehensive streetscape and open space strategy that provides new plazas and POPs, and ensures adequate sunlight on existing public spaces. It also must include substantially expanding our pedestrian and subway capacity for these new workers and visitors which is key to long term success of this district,” said Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space. "We applaud the approval of this rezoning for East Midtown, which has long been an important economic driver for New York City," said Hector Figueroa, president of SEIU 32BJ, which represents over 800 commercial cleaners and security officers in the area included in the rezoning plan. “This plan will help ensure that East Midtown remains an influential economic center with good, family sustaining building service jobs for generations to come.” "The members of the New York Hotel Trades Council would like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Garodnick, and Borough President Brewer for listening to our input throughout this critical rezoning process. Revitalizing Midtown East will allow our city to maintain its status as the world leader in providing the premium office space and public transit options that attract and retain the modern workforce. And this plan will ensure that new development in the district will be thoughtful and responsible," said Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council. “The Greater East Midtown rezoning will not only help the city’s largest business district maintain its supremacy as a global leader in commerce, but it will also create thousands of good paying jobs in construction and other related industries,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “I want to thank the Mayor and City Council for working together on behalf of all New Yorkers to pass the rezoning and ultimately make these critical investments in our city's infrastructure. “ “The final approval for the Greater East Midtown rezoning is a major victory for one of the world’s most quintessential business districts, and the city as a whole. Thanks to the dedicated efforts and the collaborative spirit exhibited throughout the process by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the City Council, led by Council Member Dan Garodnick, the path has been cleared for the construction and renovation of a new generation of iconic office towers, which will ensure the long-term viability of the neighborhood and create thousands of jobs in the process," said Carlo Scissura, President & CEO, New York Building Congress. ‎"This rezoning paves the way for the next generation of redevelopment and modernization of an aging portion of the city's central business district. It will bring jobs and enhance values that will benefit all New Yorkers‎," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “This reinforces New York’s draw as a headquarters location for companies generating good-paying jobs for our residents,” said Jessica Walker, president and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “Thank you to all of the stakeholders who worked tirelessly over many years to make this happen for our city.” "Among the biggest winners from the East Midtown rezoning are the hundreds of thousands of riders who regularly use one of the big six subway stations that serve the area," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. "All of these crowded and hard-to-navigate stations - from Grand Central/42nd Street to Rockefeller Center - will receive major rehabilitation from developer funds.” John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, "This rezoning will not only reshape East Midtown; it will also lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed investment for public transit infrastructure. The transit system has suffered from decades of underfunding and neglect, resulting in today's dire situation of regular breakdowns, delays and unreliable service. We should look to creative tools to find the billions of dollars we will need to modernize our subways and buses, and the East Midtown rezoning is a step in the right direction." “This is rezoning done right because it manages density with key improvements to improve transit and the public realm. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and Councilmember Garodnick for leading this landmark context-sensitive change to the fabric of our growing city,” said Paul White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The Greater East Midtown rezoning will enable much needed commercial development capacity while preserving area landmarks, improving the pedestrian experience, and bringing desperately needed improvements to surrounding MTA stations. It’s an excellent example of how to do planning the right way, bringing a diversity of stakeholders with very different interests to the table early in the process, and encouraging genuine dialogue -- a step in the direction of the proposals that will be made in RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan this fall,” said Pierina Ana Sanchez, New York Director of Regional Plan Association. "With the passage of Midtown East Rezoning, a critically-important area of our city will become re-vitalized as a 21st-century global business district. This transformative vision promotes investment in public spaces, transit-oriented development, and hyper-efficient sustainable buildings. These changes consider meaningful improvements in accessibility, workplace productivity for companies and commuters, and an enhanced quality of life for New York’s citizens,” David Piscuskas, FAIA, President, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter. “As a disabled New Yorker, I strongly support the East Midtown Plan as part of which 6 inacessible subway stations being totally rehabilitated to be fully accessible. In addition, the plan includes upgrading sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and public plazas,” said Edith M Prentiss, Vice President Legislative Affairs for Disabled in Action. “Under the leadership of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Daniel Garodnick, the East Midtown Steering Committee process created a model of stakeholder engagement worth replicating. Particularly with respect to open space and historic preservation, this plan is a meaningful improvement on the 2013 proposal,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of The Municipal Art Society of New York. “However, the work is not yet done. This rezoning will undoubtedly bring great change to the neighborhood, and we must continue to find balance between private development and the public realm. Together, we can make East Midtown not just an appealing place to build, but an appealing place to live, work, and visit.” "While we weren’t always in agreement with the City's priorities for the rezoning of East Midtown, we applaud and deeply appreciate the efforts of our Council Member, Dan Garodnick, and Borough President Gale Brewer, who worked with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration to make it a better plan. We succeeded in creating more public space and a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly environment for the tens of thousands of workers who will spend their days around and within these new towers," said Vikki Barbero, Chair of Community Board Five. "I applaud Councilman Dan Garodnick and Borough President Gale Brewer for the Greater East Midtown Rezoning. The City of New York, its residents, businesses and tourists will reap the benefits for years to come. The rezoning will now enable East Midtown to compete with other big cities in the United States and throughout the world," said James G. Clynes, Chairman of Manhattan Community Board 8.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 5:10pm
Rosanna Scotto: Alright, so let's talk about subways right away. You had a big announcement. You talked about funding, taxing the one percent for a little bit more to fund the MTA. Mayor Bill de Blasio: That’s right. Scotto: As you know, Albany is not so crazy about the idea. They’re talking about resurrecting congestion pricing – our feeling on that? Mayor: Well, first, on why we should have a millionaire’s tax, because everyone knows the MTA’s in trouble. It’s been decades, I think, since the MTA was this bad, and it’s been a crisis particularly the last few months. I hear it from New Yorkers all the time that they’re late to everything. They’re late to work. They’re late to a job interview, to get their kids after school, to a doctor appointment. We’ve got a crisis on our hands. Now, the State runs the MTA. This has been something I’ve talked about a lot, and I think people are really getting the message. State is responsible for the MTA. The Governor is responsible for the MTA. They need to step up more in my opinion, but we do have a long term problem we gotta to fix. The MTA needs a lot of investment. I think those who have done really well – the 1% – the folks who – individuals make half-a-million or more, married couples make a million or more can pay a little bit more so that the subway can work for everyone. That’s the way forward. Now, I know there’s been other things talked about in Albany. Scotto: Would you be in favor of congestion pricing? Mayor: I’ve always had a lot of concerns about it to be honest with you. I’ve never been in favor of those proposals because I haven’t seen one that I thought was fair particularly to folks in the outer boroughs. Now the other fact is that these proposals to-date never had any political viability. The last time I think it was attempted was 10, 15 years ago and went nowhere in Albany. So I don’t really see a scenario where that gets taken seriously, but we know something like a millionaire’s tax could pass because there already is a State version, and this would be adding on. Scotto: I know, but they’re not – there’s a lot of people who are not saying that they’re going to, you know, support this. Joe Lhota, first of all, says – and he’s running the MTA right now – he’s saying basically I need the money now. I can’t wait for a year from now. Mayor: And Joe Lhota does need the money now, and he can get that money from the State of New York that took literally $456 million dollars of MTA money they took from the MTA and put into the State budget for other uses in the clear light of day. The State of New York needs to just give that money back. That would literally solve Joe Lhota’s immediate problem, according to Joe Lhota’s own numbers. So look, we’re not fools here in New York City. When we see someone take money they’re not supposed to take, they’ve got to give it back. Scotto: You know, some people say the City has $4 billion in surplus. Why not use part of that money right now to solve the problem? Mayor: Because if we give away more City money to the State of New York, and then we have huge budget cuts from Washington, which unfortunately are very likely, we’re going to be left holding the bag. We’re going to have to make tough choices on what to cut then in this city. I don’t buy that. I think if the City of New York is managing our resources very responsibly and carefully, and we’re making smart investments in police, in education, and in things that make this city better for everyone, I’m not going to give away money to the State when the State in fact – once again – took money from the MTA. This was tax money meant specifically for the MTA. It was literally mandated to go to the MTA, and they diverted it to other things. [...] Sotto: I’m sure that you want to probably just put this to rest – big article today about you taking a nap after the gym. Mayor: Ridiculous. Ridiculous. Sotto: Is it that true? Do you take a nap after the gym? Mayor: No, it’s ridiculous. And by the way – Sotto: Maybe you’re meditating. Mayor: No, I don’t have a chance to meditate. Sotto: Is there a couch that you like that you like to put the newspaper over your head? Mayor: No, this is, look – I’ve spoken many times about the problem with New York Post, and they just make things up, and they're a right wing propaganda operation – and here they go again. You know, nameless sources, which is always a giveaway, it’s ridiculous. It’s sad. It’s sad how much they want to focus on everything negative even when it’s not true. That’s what they do. I’m ignoring it because it’s not true. [...] Rosanna Scotto: Let’s talk about you and the Governor. [Laughter] Scotto: Do you see – foresee any time in the future maybe getting along a little bit better? Mayor: I’ve always said that it is about each issue that comes down the pike. For example, we did work very closely at the end of the legislative session in Albany on mayoral control of education. But it’s issue by issue. Scotto: But – I know but I feel like in general people feel that you and the Governor don’t get along, and it may be to the detriment of the people of New York City – Mayor: I disagree. Scotto: Even on the subway situation? Mayor: No. I disagree, and I’ll tell you why. It’s true that there are times where we don’t get along because I follow an idea that Ed Koch first laid out. When the Governor of New York does something good for New York City, praise him, support him, thank him. When the Governor of New York does something that hurts New York City, call him out, oppose it, take it on. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Scotto: But wouldn’t you like to have a relationship with the Governor where you sit down and have a glass of wine, a slice of pizza, and kind of talk things over? Mayor: Yes, and look, he and I have known each other a long time, and I’ve said it very clearly to him, and I’ve said it publicly, do right by New York City, do the right thing for New York City, and that kind of relationship can happen more and more. But I would not be doing my job for the people of this city if I saw our interests affronted and didn’t do something about it. I – look, New Yorkers don’t want a mayor who’s going to be a pushover when dealing with Albany, and, by the way, again I’m using the example of Ed Koch who I think did a lot of great things and stood up to Albany when he thought they were doing the wrong thing for New York City. If you don’t stand up to Albany, if you don't stand up to Washington when they’re hurting your own people what good are you? And so yes, it’d be great to have a wonderful relationship, here’s the way to have a wonderful relationship – be fair to the people of New York City. Scotto: So, Cynthia Nixon really wants to run for Governor? Mayor: Well, you’ll have to ask Cynthia Nixon that. I don’t know. Sotto: But did you encourage her because – Mayor: I have not talked to her about it at all. Sotto: Because I know you don’t get along so well with the Governor. Mayor: Well, that’s a true statement. And again I‘d like to get along better with him, but that means I want him to be fair to New York City. Sotto: So, but Cynthia Nixon’s wife works for you right? Mayor: Yes. Sotto: Okay, and you’re not encouraging through back doors – Mayor: I have not talked to – Sotto: – Cynthia Nixon to run for Governor? Mayor: – her, her wife, anyone about it. Cynthia Nixon, if you know her work, has got very strong view and has been an activist for many, many years on LGBT rights, on education, on a host of issues. I respect her immensely; I think she’s a really smart and effective advocate. Sotto: Can she be Governor of New York? Mayor: She has to decide what she wants to do. I’m only saying I think she’s a great person, I think she’s a great New Yorker who has done a lot for this city. [...] Scotto: Okay, let’s talk about the emails that were recently – Mayor: Yes. Scotto: – released from your organization. Some of them, a lot of people say – reporters are looking into them very, very closely and say there looks like, on the surface, a pay for play scenario that happens in City Hall – some of the emails for example with NYCLASS. Basically, “you were there for so long. We were there for you, to tell us this now after just spent $500K is totally ridiculous, puts us in an impossible situation, we are very upset.” Mayor: Right. Scott: Do they have access to people who volunteer, who give you money for your campaigns – do they have special access and favor with you? Mayor: No, and I’ll tell you why. This whole notion is wrong. The portrayal of it is wrong – Scotto: In what way? Mayor: Because it ignores the outcome which is the thing that people care about the most. How are the decisions made? Are they made fairly? Is someone who you have a relationship with going to get their point across but also someone you don’t have a relationship with going to get their across? Are you going to weigh them fairly? And the answer is yes. There’s a particular group that didn’t like the outcome of something. We did what we thought was right. And if they didn’t like the outcome, it didn’t matter how much money they gave or where they were politically – and a lot of the situations where the emails have been released. Well, first of all, the emails were requested and they were released. That shows there’s transparency – Scotto: But it took some time to get those emails. Mayor: Sure but there’s a process with anything like that and there’s a law that says, here’s how you ask for emails and it has to go through a process and then you get them and here they are. And all the folks who donated money, that’s public record. So [inaudible] people are complaining a lot of times that they didn’t get something they wanted. I think that shows that we’re actually making the decisions based on the merit. Scotto: So, will you be doing things differently this time around? You’re running for re-election. The people who donate to your campaign, will they have that special email to, you know, try and get in touch with you? Mayor: There’s no – this is what the fallacy here is, there’s no special email. Meaning I have people who I know all over the city – community activists, civic leaders, business leaders, elected officials, labor leaders – they all have my email. They all have my phone number – people I’ve known for years and years. And they’ll call me and they’ll make their case and I’ll listen, but I’ll make my decisions based on what I think is right – Scotto: But maybe these people who think they are giving and donating to your campaign feel like they will have a special relationship with you – Mayor: Is this about their feelings or is this about how government actually works? I don’t care what their feelings are, with all due respect to them, because I will tell them to their faces, you should be supporting me if you think I’m doing a good job, and if you agree with what I’m trying to do. If you don’t, don’t support me. I’m fine with that. Scotto: Let’s talk about the next four years. The last four, you came in on Universal Pre-K – Mayor: Yes. Scotto: You accomplished that. What are your goals for the next four years if you are re-elected? Mayor: Rosanna, I got to tell you, pre-K has been – I’m so proud of it. It’s been such a big success. And it’s for everyone. It’s for people of all backgrounds, all incomes, all neighborhoods. And it’s really worked. Seventy-thousand kids now each year are getting full-day pre-K for free. The next step is 3-K. Three-year-olds. Because, you know what’s happening with so many families? People are working longer hours than ever, a lot of two-income families, a lot of people who need help with their kids – a good safe place to be. And also, we want kids to learn earlier because we know that that’s when they can grow intellectually and be ready for the future. So, we want to do the same thing we did for pre-K with three-year-olds, and I want to build that out over the next four years. That’s one piece. And then when it comes to policing, look, we’ve had extraordinary success. Four years in a row, crime is going down. I’m very, very proud of that. Relationship between police and community is really starting to improve because of the neighborhood policing strategy that Commissioner O’Neill was really the architect of. I want it to get even better. We have, actually, the lowest number of complaints from community members against police in 15 years. I want that to go down even more. I want us to get even safer. […] Scotto: By the way the Mayor did give a shout out to Ray Kelly, former Police Commissioner – Greg Kelly: Oh yeah? What did he say? Scotto: Well, he said that they started the ball rolling on crime going down in New York City. [...] Scotto: You talked about charter schools and that you got mayoral control of the schools. But there was a little contingency about the charter schools that that was part of the packaged deal of getting mayoral control over the schools. Okay. So, Eva Moskowitz is saying basically she’s still waiting for approval for 27 openings in schools, in already established schools, where you have, I think, over 100 empty classrooms. When will you sit down with – or just sign on off on giving charter schools more space in schools? Mayor: So, we have given charter schools space consistently. Here’s where I think there’s been a lot of misinformation and obviously I have real differences with Ms. Moskowitz and you know political differences, differences of belief. But you have to look at the charter school movement as a whole. There’s a lot of different organizations in the charter school movement. A lot of them we work with very, very well. A lot of them we’ve approved space for exactly as they asked. Others have asked for space that we didn’t feel we could give them. For example, if someone says, ‘I want to put an elementary school in a high school building.’ We’re not going to do that. If they say, ‘Hey, I have a school that I want to end up being 1,000 students.’ But there’s only enough room in the building for 300 students ultimately, we’re not going to let them start something that can’t grow the right way. So, there are differences is but [inaudible] is if we say, ‘Hey, you’re plan doesn’t work.’ The charter school has a right to go through a very straightforward appeal process and they end up getting funding and they can find private space and use that funding. And everyone knows that – Scotto: Yeah, but she wants to go into the public schools. It’s obviously a lot easier to go into already established classrooms. Mayor: Yes and no. I’ll tell you why I say that. When there’s enough a space to build out properly and when it’s the right kind of school for what’s there – again if it’s the same grade levels or one thing or another – yeah, a lot of times, we’re able to approve that. But when not, we’re going to say if we don’t think something is going to work for the existing school that’s there, we’re going to say that. But you still get the money. In fact, a lot of charter schools have told us, they’re very comfortable getting the money and getting their own space they could run they want. So, it’s a lot more nuance. She is particularly extreme. Everyone knows it – Scotto: But very successful. Mayor: Look, she has a model that has achieved certain things. There’s also a critique of that model that in many cases it has excluded kids who do not take tests that well, excluded kids who have problems with special needs or are English-language learners – kids who speak a different language originally. There’s a big critique of her model. There’s a lot of other charter schools that approach it differently and I want to be really clear about that. I have seen charter schools which I really admire that go out of their way to take on the kids who have some of the biggest challenges – Scotto: And you think Eva’s academies do not? Mayor: I think there’s a real critique out there of how they approach it. I think there’s been a lot of documentation of the fact that they don’t look kindly upon kids that don’t take tests well. In the public school system, we take everyone. We don’t care what your situation is. We don’t care how well you take a test. Our job is to help you learn. Some charter schools do that, others don’t. Scotto: So, do you think Eva Moskowitz should start looking at other places to move in? Because she says she’s waiting on 27 open requests for space. Mayor: And look, there’s always a certain amount of propaganda to what she says. I would discount it immediately. We will look at every single one. We have certainly granted her organization space in some of our schools where we thought it made sense. Again, in other cases they’ve simply gotten the money to go find space for themselves. We’ll look at each one individually but I have long since understood she has an axe to grind politically. When she puts out something like that, take it with a grain of salt. [...] Scotto: When you go to sleep at night do you worry about a possible terrorist attack? Mayor: I constantly think about the threat of terror and, in fact, when I meet with our police leadership often in this room each week we talk about it pretty much every single time and what we’re doing. But I’ll tell you what gives me confidence. I think the NYPD has the best anti-terror operation of any police department in the country and we built it up. You know, there was a lot done previously and I want to give Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly credit because they responded properly after 9/11 saying, ‘Wait a minute, we have to have our own capacity for intelligence gathering because obviously our federal government didn’t do enough.’ But then what we added first under Commissioner Bratton and then Commissioner O’Neill is the Critical Response Command and we beefed up that and the other specialized units. We now have 550-plus officers who do nothing but anti-terror, preventing terror. They’re trained. They’re well-armed to handle that. You see them out there in bigger numbers than ever before with a lot of weaponry, with the vests, the helmets because that’s the world we’re living in today. So, I think we’re very, very well positioned to prevent. And I think the bad guys can see it. They can see how prepared New York City is and that has helped a lot. So, do I think about it all the time? Of course. But do I feel confident in the NYPD? Absolutely. Scotto: The President’s coming to town next weekend – Mayor: Yes – always an adventure. [Laughter] Scotto: Sometimes when he’s in town, you’re out there protesting. Is there anything planned for next week? Mayor: We don’t even know what it is yet is the answer. Scotto: You don’t know when he’s coming to town, yet? Mayor: We don’t have the details. The NYPD has been talking to the Secret Service but it has not been shaped up. And you know with this President, it’s not surprising he would send out something and then it might change in a lot different ways. So, we don’t really know what it is. There is no plans yet. We’re going to make sure we’re ready as a city and the NYPD is ready to handle whatever he’s doing. There’s a lot to disagree with him on, in my opinion. But what I’ve been doing more than just protesting is working with mayors around the country – by the way Democrat and Republican alike and this is real interesting. A lot of Republican mayors around the country didn’t agree with the notion of repealing the Affordable Care Act and we all worked together to try and stop that, and I’m thrilled, because of Senator McCain, it was stopped. We’re going to be working, Democrats and Republicans together, to stop some of the big budget cuts directed at our cities. You know, Rosanna, it’s weird, the cities of America are the economic core of this country more than ever before but a lot of what’s being proposed in Washington would hurt the economies of our cities. So, it’s actually is backwards. It’s going to hurt everyone. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m working with folks all over the country who can actually help stop some of these bad ideas. Sometimes there’s a cause for protest. Sometimes the thing to do is roll up the sleeves and we figure out how do we win the votes to protect the cities – Scotto: So, nothing planned for when the President comes to town? Mayor: Well, reserving my rights. [Laughter] Scotto: Have you adjusted to living on the Upper East Side? It took you a long time. You were living in Brooklyn and you still have some roots in Brooklyn – Mayor: I do indeed. Scotto: Do you like living on the Upper East Side? Mayor: I like Brooklyn. And look, God bless the Upper East Side and all the other parts of New York City but look, we’re all defined by our neighborhood. My neighborhood is in Brooklyn. It’s where my kids were born. You got to remember – my kids were born about ten blocks from my house. I got married about ten blocks [inaudible] Prospect Park. It’s, like, the last 25 years of my life have been in that neighborhood in Brooklyn and it’s where I’m most comfortable but in the same way everyone is most comfortable – Scotto: But is there any place you like to go – you and Chirlane – hanging out on the Upper East Side? Mayor: We like to go everywhere. Well, yeah, there’s some great places on the Upper East Side – Scotto: Do you have a favorite one that – Mayor: I very, very, very much like this pizzeria and espresso bar called San Matteo – which the guy’s from Salerno – Scotto: I know which one. Mayor: You like it. You know it. Scotto: Yes, the one on 89th Street – 90th Street – Mayor: 90th Street. Yes. Yes. Scotto: The one on 89th Street or the one on 90th Street because there’s two of them now. Mayor: Yeah, there’s two next to each other. So, I go to the one closer to 90th. Scotto: Okay. Mayor: And they’re from Salerno, which is not far from where my grandfather comes from. And the pizza is amazing. The espresso is fantastic. They do the pizza dough with the Nutella in it – Scotto: It’s good. Mayor: Which is not something I should be eating too often. But if they put it near me, I’m going to eat it. So, yeah, there’s some great places. The Mansion Diner which is a classic – Scotto: Very good – they have very good chicken soup there in case you’re ever sick. Do you ever call in? Do you and the Mrs. ever call-in to – Mayor: Call-in? You mean take-out? Is that what you’re saying? Scotto: Yes. Like, ‘Hello, the Mrs. and I don’t feel like cooking tonight can you deliver?’ Mayor: We don’t. We usually go over there but that’s a great diner and that family has had that diner for a long, long time. And they make a great raisin bread French toast [inaudible] Orwasher’s raisin bread, they use, which is wonderful. Scotto: Yes – very good. Mayor: So, there are great places on the Upper East Side. I’m simply saying to your question, you know, I feel comfortable in the neighborhood that has been like where my family – I mean I coached Little League there, the whole thing. That’s my neighborhood. I like going back there all the time and that’s how I think a lot of people live. Scotto: So, what does that Y have in Brooklyn that you can’t find at a Y in New York City? Mayor: It really makes sense if you think about it. You know, you remember the show, Cheers? Scotto: Yeah, of course. Mayor: Everybody knows your name? Well, when I go to that Y not only does everybody know my name but everybody just treats me like a regular person because I’ve been going there for 20 years. [Inaudible] have that experience. You know this kind of work can put you in a bubble and you can get very disconnected from the real world and it’s nice to be someplace where you just can be yourself, can be connected to your regular life, and it, to me, it’s part of how I keep grounded. It’s a place I know, a place that knows me. Everything is normal and that counts for a lot. You go to some other places, of course, people are going to come up and bring up their issues or one thing or another. That’s okay but if you try and just go about your life like a regular person you want to be where you can do that. Scotto: Obviously, you know, like so many people have criticized you about going to Brooklyn to work out. Mayor: And I don’t understand that. Because first of all, what people should be concerned about again is the results. This is where – I don’t know if it’s so many people, honestly. I’ve had 30-something town hall meetings and we do call-ins on the radio every week. People don’t talk about it. The press talks about it. Regular people don’t talk about it. Regular people want to know – are you giving them results? They care about things like pre-K. They care about things like crime going down. They care about getting affordable housing. They care about the subways getting fixed. They don’t care if you go to the gym. They want to know if you produce for them. And I’m very proud to say this administration has produced for people. If going to the gym is one of the things that allows me to do the best job I can do, I don’t think most people begrudge that.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 11:35am
“The safest big city in America is taking yet another step toward being the fairest big city in America by clearing more than 644,000 warrants for low-level, non-violent offenses committed at least 10 years ago. These warrants can derail lives, disrupt families, and lead to job loss and missed opportunity to contribute meaningfully to society. We are all safer when our police officers are focused on preventing crime and arresting dangerous criminals instead of processing the arrests of those who pose no threat to public safety. “I want to thank our partners in law enforcement, especially the NYPD and the District Attorneys, for keeping our city safe and making it fairer as we continue to drive crime to record lows and deepen trust between police and the communities they serve. I also want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her advocacy on this and other crucial criminal justice initiatives.”
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 11:35am
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for and signed seven pieces of legislation into law—Intro. 671-A, in relation to pedestrian countdown displays; Intro. 1000-B, in relation to NYPD reporting for seized property data; Intro. 1234-A, in relation to notifications for muni-meter installations; Intro. 1411-A, in relation to pedestrian access to park facilities; Intro. 1519-A, in relation to SNAP enrollment and recertification for seniors; Intro. 407-A, in relation to notice of changes to Parks capital projects; and Intro. 1646-A, in relation to gratuity for for-hire vehicles. The Mayor also held a hearing for Intro. 214-B, in relation to providing legal services for tenants. “These bills enrich the lives and ensure the safety of New Yorkers, by improving transparency and access to government services. This Administration is committed to helping low-income New Yorkers and making this a fairer city for all,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito and the sponsors of these bills for their tireless efforts to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.” “The legislation being signed represents essential quality of life improvements for New Yorkers,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “With some of the highest rates of food insecure seniors nationally, increasing coordination between the Department of Social Services and the Department for the Aging to increase awareness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a vital initiative to be taking on. Similarly, requiring the option to tip for-hire vehicles helps ensure that our residents are that much more empowered to provide for themselves. I thank my colleagues on the City Council for their work in developing these items, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing them into law today.” The first bill, Intro. 1000-B, requires the NYPD to issue regular reports about property they have seized. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Torres. “The civil forfeiture process has stripped many low-income citizens of their property and belongings without due process and in violation of their constitutional rights. This first-of-its-kind transparency legislation will shed light on the reasons why the NYPD has seized someone's property, whether revenue is generated from property seizure, and if an individual has been able to get their property back. The legislation will help ensure that the civil forfeiture process is used legitimately,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. The second bill, Intro. 1234-A, requires that the Department of Transportation notify Council Members and community boards at least 10 days before a muni meter is installed in their district and provides an opportunity for public comments on the installations. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Salamanca. “Empowering our communities when it comes to the siting of things like muni-meters only works to benefit all of us, which is why I initially proposed this legislation and was proud to see it unanimously pass the Council last month,” said Council Member Salamanca. “I’m proud to see the Mayor sign this bill into law today.” The third bill, Intro. 1519-A, will further enable the enrollment of low-income New Yorkers in SNAP food assistance at senior centers. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Koslowitz. “Currently couples with a pre-tax monthly income of $1736 receive a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit of $357. It is readily apparent how critical this benefit is. Yet, we have too many needy seniors who are not availing themselves of this SNAP benefit. I believe this bill is an important step in expanding the nutritional safety net for seniors in our city,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz. The fourth bill, Intro. 1646-A, requires a tipping option for for-hire vehicles through the same method that riders use to pay their fares. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rodriguez. The fifth and sixth bills, Intro. 407-A, requires that the Parks Department notify Council Members if there is a price change of at least 10 percent for construction projects costing more than $500,000. Intro. 1411-A mandates that all athletic facilities are safely and directly accessible from roads via sidewalks and paths. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bills’ sponsors, Council Members Vacca and Borelli. “When my colleagues and I fund capital projects in our communities, we want to see them completed in a timely and efficient manner,” said Council Member James Vacca. “Unfortunately, there are frequently massive cost overruns in Parks projects and it feels like we are allocating funds into a bottomless pit. We need accountability when it comes to the public's money and my bill increases transparency by requiring the Department of Parks to proactively notify Council Members when there are changes to projects we have funded. By being made aware of these change orders, we can effectively exercise our oversight role and make the entire capital process run more effectively.” “Intro. 1411 was derived of the frustration of countless parents and children who, in trying to safely enter their local parks for weekend soccer matches, have had to carry equipment and push strollers on Arthur Kill Road because no sidewalks were ever installed to provide safe pedestrian access from the street. Over the last year, I’ve worked with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the administration, and a host of other municipal stakeholders to ensure that the issue would be resolved and the solution would be feasible for the city to implement. I’m grateful for the support of Council Member Levine, whose staff has been an asset throughout this process, I’m glad we’ve reached our goal, and I hope to continue to expand safe access to our city’s parks in the future,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli. The seventh bill, Intro. 671-A, requires the Department of Transportation to study the potential impact of pedestrian countdown timers near schools and parks and install them where appropriate. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Vallone. “I’m proud to stand with our principals, teachers, parents, students and seniors in our combined fight for safety around our schools and parks. This is an issue that must be addressed before another child or senior is injured just crossing a public street, in our community and throughout the city,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “The well-being of our children should be our number one priority and this bill will provide a major boost for the safety of all students and their families.”
Monday, August 7, 2017 - 5:15pm
Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation: Thank you, Danna. That was great. It is great to hear from a rider of the system and to be reminded how, as we all know, the mass transit – so important for everyday New Yorkers and for the health and economy of this great city. And now, it’s my honor to introduce the mayor of this great city, Mayor Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you to Polly Trottenberg for all you do to keep this city moving. And thank you for your service on the MTA board where you have been one of the consciences calling for more fairness for the people of this city. Let’s thank Commissioner Trottenberg for all she does. [Applause] And I want to thank you, Danna. That was really wonderful and it’s not easy to get up in front of all the cameras and talk about your own life but you did it very powerfully. And I think you spoke on behalf, really, of millions of New Yorkers who every day are dealing with these struggles. And I hear from New Yorkers all the time what it means. You, to your great credit, talked about your patients – the people you want to serve, your clients, and your concern for them. There’s so many other stories I hear – people who can’t get to work on time and that affects their paychecks, people can’t get to a job interview on time and that affects the ability to get that better opportunity, parents who can’t pick up their kids at the end of school or daycare on time, folks who are trying to get to a medical appointment and miss it because of subway delays. This is what’s going on. This is not just a subway crisis, it’s a human crisis, and New Yorkers are experiencing this every single day. And that demands new solutions. The status quo is not working. Let’s be clear. So we need new solutions right now and that’s what today is all about. I want to thank all of the folks who are here in support, all the folks around us who have been working for change in this city in so many ways. I want to thank the Borough President of Brooklyn, Eric Adams, and his team for hosting us here in Borough Hall. I want to thank the advocates who have been fighting for a sustainable MTA and for fairness for riders – a special thank you to John Raskin, of the Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. [Applause] Paul Steely White, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. [Applause] Someone who I’ve worked with for years and years, and understands what every-day New Yorkers go through because she helps their families in so many ways – the Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services, Sister Paulette Lomonaco. Thank you for being here. [Applause] And you’re going to hear from another two of my appointees to the MTA board in just a moment but I want to thank one other who has done such great work for decades for New York City – Carl Weisbrod, thank you for all you do for the city. [Applause] So, everyone look, we understand that in recent months, what New Yorkers are experiencing on the way to work, on the way to school is delays like they’ve never seen before. And we hear the reports every day – the track fire, the signal malfunction, the electrical breakdown. Look, there’s been challenges for years but in the last few decades I can’t remember a time when there was such a concentrated set of problems as just in the last few months. That’s why I call it a crisis. All those years, in fact decades, when the State should have been investing in solutions they didn’t and it’s all coming back to hit us now. Everyday New Yorkers are really feeling the brunt. So, we know we can’t go on like this and we know New Yorkers are frustrated. Let me ask this group of New Yorkers, are we frustrated? Audience: Yes! Mayor: Do we need a change? Audience: Yes! Mayor: This is what I hear everywhere I go. People do not want to see this madness continue. So, you know about the definition of insanity – when something isn’t working you can’t do it the same way over and over again, and expect a different result. It’s time for something new. Now, to get to the changes we need, it begins with a recognition – I think this has actually been happening in the year 2017 more than ever before. It begins with a recognition of who is responsible for the MTA. And I will say it again. The State of New York runs the MTA. The Governor of New York appoints the leadership of the MTA. If that point becomes clear to more and more people it is part of the pathway to a solution. It’s clear – the State of New York controls the personnel of the MTA. We’ve seen that in recent days yet again with yet another appointment. The State of New York controls the budget of the MTA. Taking responsibility is the first step towards a solution. So, it’s clear that if we’re going to get it right, if the MTA is going to right work for everyday New Yorkers, the State has to continue to acknowledge its responsibility and, in fact, take fuller responsibility. And I’ve said very clearly for decades the people of New York City have paid into the MTA over and over again and have not gotten their fair share back. I mentioned to you the other day – four dollars spent per subway ride per bus ride versus $19 spent per ride by the MTA for a suburban commuter. There’s always been an imbalance and it has to be addressed for the long term good of this city and the region and the state. So, when you think about the history of unfairness, when you think about what New Yorkers give to the MTA every single year – typical year, $10.5 billion from New York City residents and people in New York City, contributing to the MTA through their fares, there tolls, and so many other ways. And that’s about two-thirds of the operating budget right there before you talk about all the other things that the City of New York does to support to the MTA. Notably, a great example is the $2.5 billion in capital funds we devoted two years ago to the MTA not because we were obliged to but because we thought it was the right thing to do. The City and the people of the city have done their share and now it’s time for the State to step up. And unfortunately, we haven’t seen that. In fact, the State has syphoned off money from the MTA, we’ve documented it – almost half-a-billion dollars taken from taxes and revenues meant specifically for the MTA, syphoned off, diverted to the State budget – never returned. Taking full responsibility means owning up to facts like that. So, it’s time for the State to return that money to the MTA to address the immediate challenges that the MTA faces. Are we ready for a little of fairness? Do we want to see that money given back to the MTA? [Applause] So that will help to address the short term challenges. But we’ve talked also about the big picture – the long term. And I’ve said repeatedly, we’re ready to work with anyone to help figure out the long term future of the MTA. It’s in everyone’s interest to get it right. And that means we’re going to have to invest in the kinds of things that were ignored for so long, those basic things that make the subway system run, and we’re going to need the revenue to do it. But this time we need revenue that will be sustainable, we need revenue that will make sure the system gets stronger, and we need fairness something, as I’ve said, we have not had enough off. Too many people who have paid in have not gotten their fair share back. And too many people who could have been paying a little bit more haven’t been so it’s time for fairness when it comes to supporting the MTA. That is why today I am calling on Albany to pass a millionaire’s tax to support the MTA. [Applause] And we need a millionaire’s tax so that New Yorkers who typically travel in first class pay their fair share so the rest of us can get around, so the rest of us can get to work, so the rest of us can live our lives here in this city. It’s a matter of fairness. And I want to take this moment to commend two leaders who really helped to crystalize this idea in Albany. And I give them a lot of credit for it. I want to thank Senator Mike Gianaris and Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell who are here with us. Let’s give them a big round of applause. [Applause] They started this ball rolling and we are now working in common cause. And I want to describe the tax we are proposing. It is a modest increase in State income taxes for those who make half-a-million or more. That means, in fact, fewer than one percent of New York City taxpayers – and this will be focused on people who live in the five boroughs and are doing very, very well. It would, to give you an example, for an individual making about a million dollars a year and obviously doing very, very well – I think we’d all like to be making a million dollars year, wouldn’t we? We’d be pretty happy with that. That individual will pay about $2,700 more in their annual taxes. What does that mean? If they’re paying $2,700 more, it means about seven dollars a day. To give you perspective that’s about a half-hour of parking in a typical Midtown, Manhattan garage. So, we know there are plenty of people who make a million dollars or more who go in and pay for parking, buy expensive meals, do all sorts of things. They’re not going to miss seven more dollars a day. But for working New Yorkers it could make a huge, huge difference. What would it mean for the MTA? Well, to begin with, we believe this tax would raise $700 million a year. And we think in short order that would grow to over $800 million a year. And we want to do two things with that money. And I want to be very, very clear the legislative authors are going to make sure in the bill draft that these things are stipulated, that they are required because we’re not interested in the bait-and-switch at the MTA or by the State of New York, we want this to be dedicated funding specifically for this purpose. So, first of all, half-a-billion of that money would go to modernize the system. If the MTA chooses to, that money could be used in the bonding process and that could support up to eight billion dollars in capital projects. That half-a-billion each year would allow the MTA to bond up to eight billion dollars in capital projects. And they would be specifically for New York City subways, New York City buses, and of course the Staten Island Railway as well. It would be money devoted to improving service for everyday New Yorkers. But there’s a second thing we want to see happen with this money, also, specific, dictated, clear terms that show it would only go to this second purpose as well – and that would be $250 million a year for Fair Fares for New Yorkers who need them. [Applause] This means half-priced MetroCards for 800,000 New Yorkers who are at or below the poverty level. Almost one-tenth of New York City will get a break on their subway fare. [Applause] Now, to put this in perspective, the MTA has been around a long time, this would be the first millionaire’s tax in MTA history and it’s about time. And let’s be blunt about this. There are a lot of wealthy New Yorkers. The folks I mentioned, that less than one percent – 30, 35,000 people who would be paying this tax are doing very, very well. And they, in fact, do well in part because of the MTA. When the rest of us get on subways and buses to go to work, the folks who own those companies do well. When customers go to their stores and businesses, they do well. If it wasn’t for subways and buses that function they couldn't do as well. So, it’s about time they pay a little more so the rest of us can actually lead a better life and particularly so those 800,000 New Yorkers who are struggling so much every single day to make ends meet can actually afford to live in this city. That’s what this is about. Now, I’ll conclude with this, I want to be very, very clear – in the legislation, it will be clear there’s only two proper uses for this money. Again as – for those who are enthusiasts of rock music from the 60s and 70s, we won’t be fooled again, to quote The Who. We’re going to be very clear, in the legislation this money cannot be diverted, cannot be sent over to the State budget for some other purpose, cannot be used by the MTA for some other kind of need. It is explicitly going to be for two things and two things only, capital improvements to fix the basic operations of the MTA and the Fair Fare for those 800,000 New Yorkers. Two things, two things only. No three-card monte. No bait and switch. No moving money away and never giving it back. It’s going to be very clear that it has to be used for this purpose. [Applause] And in conclusion before I give you a few words in Spanish – look, the status quo today isn’t working. It’s not working. We know the MTA is not working properly, we all are experiencing that. But we also know it’s not fair. We’re just not going to continue on the same path any longer. It’s time to do something that will really break the mold here. There hasn’t been a millionaire’s tax for the MTA. It should have happened a long time ago. But with the one percent becoming wealthier and wealthier, it’s time for a millionaire’s tax so that regular New Yorkers, every day New Yorkers can get to work, can get to that doctor appointment. It’s time for a millionaire’s tax so parents can get to school to pick up their kids. It’s time for a millionaire’s tax people who need to get to the doctor don’t miss their appointment. It’s time for some basic fairness, and that’s what we aim to achieve. And we’re all going to work hard to make sure that happens. Are you ready to fight for it? Audience: Yes! [Applause] In Español – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that, I want to bring forward a man who has been a champion of the Fair Fare. And I’m honored to have him as one of my members of the MTA board, the CEO of the Community Service Society of New York, David Jones. [Applause] [...] Thank you very much, David. Well done. [Applause] Yes, David, you have been obsessive but it’s for a good cause and thank you so much. I want to note we have two wonderful leaders and advocates here, one of whom has been literally synonymous with the needs of subway riders and the fight for fairness for subway riders for decades. I’d like to thank the chief spokesman for NYPIRG’s Straphangers’ Campaign, Gene Russianoff. Thank you for being here. [Applause] And a great leader from Brooklyn who has stood up for communities all over this city, Dr. Una Clarke. Thank you so much for your leadership. [Applause] Oh, and the shy and retiring Hazel Dukes, the President of the state NAACP. Thank you for your support and leadership. [Applause] And now it is my honor to introduce another one of the appointees to the MTA board and she has been a tremendous advocate for a better MTA, the Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Veronica Vanterpool. [Applause] I’m going to give you extra height – [...] I now want to bring up the two authors of the legislation in Albany and I really want everyone to thank them for their vision and their leadership and we look forward to fighting side by side – Senator Mike Gianaris and Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell. Come on up – [Applause] [...] Thank you. And now my great pleasure to bring forward a voice for working people not only in his district but all over this city as well – Congressman Adriano Espaillat. [Applause] [...] Now, my pleasure to introduce a man who has been travelling the subway system talking to everyday New Yorkers and really bringing accountability that we need – the Chair of the Transportation Committee in the City Council, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. [Applause] [...] Now, I want to introduce a man who represents one of the biggest unions in this country, who represents over 100,000 New Yorkers who need to get to work every day. He understands their challenges and their needs, and he’s in support – the Executive Director of DC 37 [inaudible] Henry Garrido. [Applause] [...] Well done, Henry. I want you to hear from two more people. First, she has never been able – never been willing, let me start again. Never been unwilling, always been able to take on powerful interests and she, in fact, understands what subway riders are going through because where she lives, we have some of the most overcrowded subway stations in all of New York City – the Borough President of Manhattan, Gale Brewer. [Applause] [...] Finally, a long time ago – 20 years ago there was a realization even back then that the rich were getting richer and that working people were not being represented enough in the political process. And a group of people got together to do something about it. One of them is with us here today – the Director of the New York State Working Families Party, Bill Lipton. [Applause] [...] Okay, we’re going to take questions on this topic and then we will take questions on other topics. Dave – Question: [Inaudible] Albany – Mayor: Dave, I really like you but do you have a vote in Albany? Question: No, but you see the comments – Mayor: Ah, wait a minute. I’ll challenge you right away. I have experts. Mike and Danny will speak to it, who live it every day. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: But, wait a minute, there’s an urgency, here, Dave. You heard it. You heard it. Things are profoundly different. The statistics Gale just gave – something has changed in just the last few years, particularly the last few months and it’s driving New Yorkers crazy. The subway is not working and that’s creating a tremendous amount of pressure on Albany to actually do something different. So, I think you would agree, in moments of crisis, the political landscape starts to change. I also think at the same time, this has been brewing for years. You certainly saw it the last couple of years on the national level. More and more people believe the wealthy should pay their fair share in taxes. So, there’s two things going on here at once. One – the people are demanding a solution to the MTA crisis. Two – people want to see the wealthy pay their fair share. This proposal addresses both simultaneously. And I think it’s going to be very hard for a lot of people in Albany to say no to that. Does – my colleagues want to speak to that? Senator Michael Gianaris: Just to be clear, the proposal we’re introducing would apply only to city residents. So, anyone that represents areas outside of the city as a lot of the Senate leadership does, their constituents won’t be affected other than getting better train service which in theory they should want, right? Because all the LIRR riders, all the Metro-North riders, when they get off at Grand Central or Penn Station, they’re then getting on the subways. So, if you don’t think you’re hearing about the problems from their own constituents then you’re missing the boat. They may posture now at the beginning but the more pressure they get from the people they represent about how bad the system is, I think there’s room to maneuver in Albany. Never mind the fact that there’s actually more Democrats than Republicans in the State Senate. And so, if all the Democrats get together at least behind this proposal, never mind the leadership proposal, we should be able to make progress on it. Question: Mr. Mayor, how do you ensure that a dedicated revenue stream like this would just not [inaudible] give the State an excuse to then scale back on what they contribute [inaudible]? Mayor: Well, I’ll start on that. I mean, again, you know that that money that was taken – that half-billion – was from tax revenue explicitly by law dedicated to the MTA. And it’s time for the State to give that money back. And I won’t be surprised if that becomes a legal issue unto itself if that doesn’t happen. But in this case you’re talking about brand new legislation written by these two leaders that will stipulate – legally binding language – that the money has to go to those purposes. I’ll give you a great example which you're familiar with. One of the most effective taxes we ever saw in the history of this city was the Safe Streets, Safe City tax which was explicitly and only for the increase in the number of police officers and the after school programs. And it went to just those purposes. So, you can stipulate that in the legislative process. Question: [Inaudible] not that they would take this money away. We know this money could go there. What’s to stop the MTA from saying okay all this money is now going their – Mayor: Absolutely. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: No, very important question. I’ll start and my colleagues can speak to it because they’ll be the engineers of this. This is classic and legislative wording to have language that avoids a plantation that continues maintenance of effort that requires you can’t bait and switch. So you can’t take this new revenue and suddenly syphon off other revenue and send it somewhere else. You have to keep all your previous efforts in place and this is additional to it. And that’s a matter of law, that way it’d be written. Senator Gianaris: The State has promised eight billion dollars plus another billion when the Governor made his State of Emergency declaration for the capital plan. The legislation will require that that money continues to be spent for the purposes intended, and this will be on top of that. Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell: It’s not just the intent or the words. It’s also the general public sentiment of what that is that drives a lot of this. I think the Mayor is entirely correct. We’re in a crisis mode here and when there’s a crisis mode, people pay attention to things that sometimes they don’t pay attention to. I think the public is paying attention to what the MTA is, who runs it, who appoints them, and what they’re doing with the money. And so, this bill, when it comes into law will further focus the attention on the MTA and the need for a world-class public transit system. Question: People that you’re essentially trashing, actually take the 4, 5, 6 to Wall – Mayor: People that I’m what, please? Question: The people that you’re essentially trashing – Mayor: That’s your editorial comment, my friend. I don’t – there’s nothing trashing – Question: [Inaudible] down to Fulton Street, Wall Street [inaudible] – Mayor: Wait a minute, are you editorializing or are you asking a question? Question: I want to know how are they not taking the 4, 5, and 6 every single day down Wall Street and Fulton and they themselves are not essentially taking a Jaguar, a Lexis, down to their jobs and are not hard-working – Mayor: Which outlet are you with, may I ask? Question: I’d like to know – Mayor: Just asking you a question. Which outlet are you with? Question: Daily Caller as well as [inaudible] Mayor: Uh-huh. Question: I’d like to know – Mayor: Yeah. Question: How is it not you essentially trashing the people who – Mayor: Okay, so you obviously have a political axe to grind, and let me be clear. We said it very clearly. We’re not begrudging anyone’s success but the success that many wealthy have achieved have been because of government policies that favored them – a tax code that favored them. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Sure and we think that’s great. And they also can afford to pay a little more for the good of the whole society because right now there are laws that are helping to be as wealthy as they are. Question: [Inaudible] class warfare scheme – Mayor: It’s not class warfare at all. It’s saying that people should pay their fare share. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Okay, way back there. Question: [Inaudible] congestion pricing, that, you know, it’s not going anywhere [inaudible] non-starter. Considering the resistance to [inaudible] what makes you think that this has more potential to not be a non-starter [inaudible] – Mayor: Yeah. It’s apples and oranges to me. When the City of New York is requesting just to be able to tax our own people, I think that changes the dynamics in the State Senate. Obviously, some other things affect suburban residents as well. This would not. And you are very familiar with the political realities in the State Senate. That’s a big fault line right there. So, I think the fact that there is a subway crisis, it’s affecting everyone including suburban residents – but we’re saying we’re only asking that New York City residents who are wealthy pay that tax, I think that’s a sweet spot. Again, my colleagues can speak to the Albany conditions better than I can. But I think it hits a couple of different notes that makes it something that can pass in Albany. And the urgency of the moment is a central point. There has to be a solution and here’s an available one that can make a difference in a very big way including for all those folks who can’t afford the subway fare right now. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Hold on. I’ll come back to you. Question: How did you come up with the threshold for [inaudible] how much to tax? Mayor: For me, it was following up on the model that we originally put forward around pre-K in 2013. Same basic concept, there are a few adjustments but the same basic concept that half-a-million in terms of folks who are single, a million for folks who are married. But – and it’s consistent also with the work that the Senator and the Assemblymember were doing. So, it, for me, was based on what we had been doing four years ago and then working together with them to craft something that we thought would make sense. Yeah, Azi. Question: [Inaudible] Governor’s Office, yesterday, put out a statement suggesting they would explore the possibility of testing congestion pricing [inaudible] done before. What do you make of that [inaudible]? Mayor: It’s the first I’m hearing of it. I haven’t seen that previously, so I don’t know what to make of it honestly but, you know, right now, I think this is the solution that can start to have a real impact and also is one that a lot of New Yorkers could get behind. I’ll let my colleagues jump in anytime you want. Yes, sir. Question: What makes you think that the Governor, who already wants you to pay $400 million to immediately repair the subways, is going to sign off on this plan? Mayor: I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure. It’s the political process. I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure from the grassroots for this change to happen. I talk to more and more New Yorkers who understand that the Governor and the State control the MTA. They want accountability. They want change. This is a way to bring new resources in. And look we see it every passing year that folks who are doing well are doing better and better. I mean, it’s literally – we see the statistics. You heard that example of what’s happening with CEO pay compared to what it used to be. This is matter of fairness to say okay, here is something that right now can start to put resources in the hands of the MTA. It’s available. It could be done very quickly. It’s based on models that have worked before. So, I think that’s why. I think it’s the urgency and the fact that it’s a readily available plan. Question: Joe Lhota said over the weekend and this morning that [inaudible] emergency repairs are so dire, he needs money now. He can’t wait on the legislature [inaudible] – Mayor: I’ve said it many times. That money is available right now. The State just has to give back the money that it took away from the MTA. I imagine, for example, if we were having the same conversation about anything else at the City level and you had evidence that I had taken money away from say the Department of Education, and then there was a crisis in our schools that needed to addressed. You would be asking me right now, why don’t you give that money back? Let’s just be real. Let’s be consistent. Ask the same question of the State that you ask you of the City. The money was taken from the MTA budget. Put it back. That will fund Lhota’s plan. It’s that simple. [Applause] Mayor: You would be asking me right now, why don’t you give that money back? Question: Right. Mayor: Let’s just be real, let’s be consistent. Ask the same question of the State that you ask of the City. The money was taken from the MTA budget; put it back. That will fund Lhota’s plans, that simple. [Applause] Mayor: Go ahead. Question: [Inaudible] program [inaudible] quality undocumented New Yorkers because of the [inaudible] program – Mayor: What was the first part, I couldn’t hear the beginning. Question: Who will qualify, and how? Mayor: Who will qualify, alright? I want to see which member of my team or of our legislative leaders wants to speak to the specific construction around the Fair Fare standard? Unknown: Dean. Mayor: Dean? Dean Fuleihan, the mysterious Dean Fuleihan has emerged, our budget director. Director Dean Fuleihan, Office of Management and Budget: I’m mysterious? It would apply to about 800,000 New Yorkers below the federal poverty level. That is the proposal; it’s very consistent what David Jones and the group had put out. And it would be half price on the the Metro Cards. Question: [Inaudible]? Director Fuleihan: It would be to all residents of New York. And it would take, we’re assuming about a two year phase into fully get to that number. Mayor: David. Question: A couple of weeks ago you were asking whether New Yorkers would support you know, paying more money to the MTA. [Inaudible] money that they have, what [inaudible]? Mayor: Well one, David, the money that they have, I just referred to I think it was a minute and half ago. That the money the State has it needs to give back to the MTA, point one. I said at the time and you’ve been in the room a bunch of times. There is a long term issue that has to be resolved with everyone at the table. Here is a way to start to resolve the long term situation, but the short term situation should be based on the money the state has right now. Question: [Inaudible] 2013 – Mayor: Yes. Question: [inaudible] in Albany – Mayor: Yes. Question: [inaudible]. How [inaudible]? Mayor: I think they’re all different situations. So, let’s do all three of them. We proposed a tax for pre-K and after school, we got the next best thing, we got consistent funding line from Albany. So I am going to score that one as a victory. Proposing a tax got us the money and guess what, there is 70,000 kids going to pre-K right now, and we’ve doubled the number of kids in after school at the middle school level. So, we proposed the mansion tax, which is a very different kind of tax fund, those who buy expensive homes – there was a lot of support in the city. We could not yet prevail in Albany. I think there is obviously the chance there will be major changes in Albany going forward. I think that that option is going to be smiled on in the near future in Albany. There is a ton of support because 25,000 seniors will get affordable housing, and they certainly want to see that change. This now is about a crisis that all of you rightfully have been talking about non-stop for months, and you will continue to until it’s resolved. There is a lot of pressure on Albany to address it. We’re taking a model that had a lot of support in 13, applying it to a crisis moment which I think adds urgency and intensity to the fact that there has to be a response from Albany. Also, David, I would say on this one, a big change in the course of this year is a recognition among more and more New Yorkers, that the State controls the MTA. Which, for a lot of people they did not know and more you see it in every public opinion poll. More and more people get it, and now they’re demanding accountability. So, we’re offering an option working with our colleagues. Here’s a way to solve it. State Senator Michael Gianaris: I just want to frame the question – the answer a little bit differently. The difference here is everyone agrees that money is needed. Okay, the Governor has said the MTA is underfunded. The Mayor obviously believes that, the legislature believes that, even the Senate Republicans I believe, believe that the MTA needs more money. Then it just becomes a question of well, who is going to pay? And where is that money going to come from? And if you look at it through that lens, how on earth can we justify further punishing the people who are already suffering due to bad subway service by asking working people to fit the bill for that? The fairest thing, the easiest thing is to ask those who can most afford it, to do it. And on the short term question I just want to point something else out. The MTA amended its capital plan maybe a month and half ago. What was it John, a month a half ago, a month ago? Something like that. They moved over a billion dollars away from signal fixes and new subway cars, to things like subway station beautification, okay. That happened during this crisis. So for the MTA to say they need the money from somewhere else. How about pulling that money back that they just moved away from the exact things that were needed and making sure we can get the job done. [Applause] Question: Two part question, the first is this. You’ve said it, certainly one option, or other options, Governor Cuomo has floated an idea in the last 24 hours to look at congestion pricing and possibly putting some kind of a surcharge on for hire products like Uber and Lyft and others. Do you think that this is the only way that you could raise money? Or would you support other options? Mayor: I have to see other options to be able to judge them. I think this is the best way to get something done immediately that would have a very a big impact. And I think it’s clear Marcia that the wealthy are not paying their fair share in taxes, and we could get a lot done by asking them to pay just a little bit more, both in terms of fixing the fundamental problems in the MTA and providing a lower cost fare for New Yorkers who can’t afford the MTA. So I think this is the best option. But you know, we’ll certainly look at any other proposal that comes along. Question: The second part of my question is this. Since the Senate Republicans, [inaudible] – the Senate Republicans have already said that they don’t support this. What would you do personally to lobby for this? Are you going to go up to Albany? Are you going to meet with them? And the Governor is signaling that he doesn’t exactly like it either, given the fact that he’s pushing congestion pricing. So, what do you think that you can do to use your good offices to make this fly? Mayor: I’ll do whatever it takes. If it’s helpful to go to Albany, I’ll go to there, ill obviously work closely with the legislator’s here who are leading the charge. But I think the demand from the people of New York City is what’s really going to make the difference Marcia. I think that people of this city are fed up; they’re hurting every day because of what’s happening in the subway. They want to see a solution; there is no long term solution on the table. Here is one that would work. And by the way I think people have eyes to see, they know the rich are getting richer, and they know the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes. When you add all of that together, I think there is going to be a long of support and that will change things. [Applause] Question: [Inaudible] Fare Fair [inaudible] year that you believe in something that the MTA or the state should be paying [inaudible]. So I am wondering what would change about that dynamic, because this is still money [inaudible] used [inaudible] anything [inaudible] – Mayor: Look, I think if we had the ability to determine our own taxation, instead this semi-colonial dynamic we live with where to be able to tax our own people we have to go to Albany. We could have a whole different discussion. But given the reality today, I thought this made a lot of sense. When originally I was talking about some of the options, this idea did not occur to me certainly of using this kind of method to both address the ongoing physical needs of the MTA and to address the need for the Fair Fare. I didn’t hear those ideas put together originally. Again, while I give a lot of credit to Senator Gianaris and Assembly member O'Donnell because they got the ball rolling on the idea of a Millionaires Tax and a lot of people started thinking about it said here’s with that tax a way we could address both issues. So that idea made total sense to me, and yeah it comes from New York City tax payers, but it comes from New York City tax payers who should be paying more anyway in my opinion. I don’t get to decide that, that has to be done in Albany. To the previous point, I think this one that actually could get passed in Albany because of the crisis. So I would consider that a net gain for everyone and a fair way to resolve the issue. And I think it’s a pretty impressive combination of pieces that all of these folks you know here today are fighting for; it combines a couple of different efforts in the one thing that really had not occurred to us until very recently. Erin? Question: [Inaudible]? Mayor: Would I accept the State giving us a lot more money? Yes. [Laughter] Mayor: Call me old fashioned. Erin, look, I think a tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to address the MTA problem is fair and it could be the most sustainable solution particularly since it will be written to dictate that that money only go the MTA and only to the these specific purposes. But, if Albany once again if leaders in Albany for whatever reason are not willing to tax the wealthy but they want to put additional money into the MTA to achieve these same goals, that would clearly still be a victory. Gloria? Question: So, Mayor, two questions, can you address some of the criticism people have said that a tax like this is going to cause for mass exoticism for city’s millionaires too leave? And when you talk about congestion pricing and the problem that the city has with congestion. Why not tax, why not make the drivers pay more? When you talk about the drivers who drive their cars and pay for parking spots, why not ask those folks to pay more? Mayor: Look, again, I for many years have never seen a scenario where this was a realistic option in terms of Albany. I have never seen a proposal that addressed a lot of the equity issues that would be created for people in the outer boroughs, for people who are with low income and use their cars. There’s a host of issues, and again I’ve just never addressed in this discussion. I think this is a better way to go about addressing the immediate challenge. Because it – ask those who’ve done very well, to do a little more, and it goes to some of the most immediate needs to the MTA system. Its clean, its straight forward, it’s something that could be acted on very, very quickly. So I have not seen that in other proposals. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Say again – oh, I’m sorry. You know, that is – there’s two things I’ve heard over the years, and my colleagues may want to jump in, and Bill Lipton may have special expertise on this question because he’s been involved in every effort to raise the minimum wage and every time – every, every time – we were told business would collapse, jobs would plummet, and the exact opposite happened. So every time we’ve talked about raising taxes on the wealthy, we get the concern ‘will the wealthy leave?’ From what I’m seeing, the wealthy have been coming to New York City in record numbers. Look at all those tech entrepreneurs who are streaming into New York City. Look at all those people who want to live here, who have the money, can afford the lifestyle that they want to live in New York City and are not interested in being somewhere else where they can’t have that lifestyle, they can’t have the opportunity to do business that they find here. So I’m always willing to look at data, but I’ve never seen any data that proves that point. Question: How will you make sure that the money will go towards the capital improvements and the fair fares and won’t get siphoned off? And also what if this just doesn’t work, what are you going to do? Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell: Then you write a new law, and that’s part of the problem with legislating in general. Obviously there are mechanisms where you can use dedicated revenue and define what the dedicated revenue is to be used for. Most specifically you need in this crisis to come up with a solution that’s recurring. Throwing $50 million, $500 million, $5 billion at the problem once is not going to fix the problem that exists two and three years going down the pike. We need to ensure that there is a funding source that is available, dedicated, recurring to keep and maintain New York City’s subway system as a world class system, and if we don’t, we have failed. And, you know, Mr. Mayor would like to get rid of all of us in Albany because we’re in his way. Every mayor I’ve been through has wanted to get rid of Albany. We’re there, and Senator Gianaris and I will continue to make sure that we fight to ensure that the money is used the way we dedicated the money to be used. Mayor: Let me see – I’ll come right back to you. Let’s just get Anna who hasn’t gotten a chance. Question: I have a couple of questions. New York City tax payers already shoulder the burden of most of the MTA’s capital plan, so this would essentially raise that burden for a certain number of those tax payers? Mayor: Yes, 32,000. Question: Can you talk about whether that’s fair if – Mayor: Because 32,000 people have done very, very well because of what they – most of them – have experienced here in the city. They have benefitted from being in the city. They benefitted from the MTA, again, getting their workers to work and their customers to their businesses, and to ask them to do a little more is absolutely fair. Again, maybe this is a moment in history challenge, but you heard some of the previous speakers talk about what the tax rate used to be on wealthy people. It’s been a very cynical reality, Anna, over the last few decades how the tax rate has been consistently knocked down for wealthy people, and the country’s been suffering and the city’s been suffering as a result. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: No, but I’m saying it’s absolutely fair to ask that 32,000 to pay more. I don’t consider them to be in the same boat as the other 8 million-plus people who are struggling in so many cases to make ends meet. I think that group can afford to pay more. Question: What I was trying to ask was why not make this a statewide thing since city taxpayers have been funding capital improvements statewide? Mayor: Very fair question, but I think this is where I believe it maximizes our chance to get the thing done. To have it be a tax focused on wealthy New York City residents – in terms of Albany, we all understand the challenges getting something done in Albany – I think this makes it more palatable to a lot of the upstate legislators and suburban legislators. And the money is there. That’s the other fact. The money is there. You hear the dollar figure this would achieve. It would make a huge difference for the MTA, so that is a tip of the cap to practicality. I think it’s the best way to get it done. Question: And then follow up congestion pricing from Move New York. That plan has been out for, I believe, at least two years now before all this attention started being paid to the subway crisis. Have you read that plan, and I don’t understand why raising the tax on the wealthy would be more practical than a bipartisan plan that’s been out for multiple years? Mayor: Okay, I have no idea how bipartisan or not it is. I was briefed on it in 2013. I have not looked at it since because I’ve never had any reason to believe it had any chance of passage. I think this is a very different proposal we’re putting forward here that has an equity core to it that’s really, really powerful. I can’t speak to that other plan because I’m just not up to date on it. This one, as I said, four years ago was the last time I looked at it carefully because I realistically understood it had no chance of going anywhere. The plan that we’re putting forward speaks to equity. It asks those who have done well to pay more, and it addresses the needs of 800,000 in so many cases can’t afford to get on the subway. That’s why this plan, right now, is available and one that can make a difference, and one that I think that can be passed. Question: Mr. Mayor the MTA has many problems, not only the subways but they have Metro North, the Long Island Railroad, and generally speaking they’re going to need money for those things as well. I’m wondering given the fact that the MTA is going to want to do something more globally, I would imagine, if you would support a millionaires tax in the metropolitan – the MTA region, Long Island and Westchester – on millionaires in the broader area, so that you could support the transit needs of everybody who lives in the area. Mayor: Look, I think there needs to be more fairness across the board, and I think those who have done well all over need to pay their fair share in taxes. I’m not as knowledgeable about what those models might be for the region or for the state, but here’s what I would say. I think this plan makes sense right now because I think it’s the one that has the best chance of getting passed, and because there certainly are enough millionaires and billionaires in this city to pay this tax to allow us to make these changes. If there’s other things we can do beyond that, I’m all ears. But this is the one I think has the best chance of getting done. Rich? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Rich, what I have always found is there are some who are and a lot who are not. That’s just typically been the case. I know a lot of people who are wealthy who recognize that the wealthy are paying a lot less in taxes than they used to and recognize a lot of problems in our society that need to be addressed, and I certainly have met wealthy New Yorkers who have said ‘I’m ready to pay more.’ I’ve met other who are not, but in the end that’s not where the vote is. The vote is among the members of the Senate and the Assembly. It would be great to have some wealthy people come on board in support, but I think the voices of millions of New Yorkers is really what’s going to make the difference here. Is there anyone over on this side on this topic? Go over to this side – yes, Melissa? Question: Stop you if this is what Marcia asked, I couldn’t hear her question – but if the leaders in Albany were to coalesce around the congestion pricing plan before this plan, will you continue to push for a millionaire’s tax and will you [inaudible] criticism that you’re just interested in taxing the wealthy? Mayor: If the criticism – if there’s a criticism that I’m taxing the wealthy more, I’ll accept that critic because I am interested in taxing the wealthy more. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I think it’s about righting the wrongs of the last few decades where the one percent have been asked to pay less and less in the way of taxes. I want to move the plan that has the best chance of getting something done. I think this is that plan. If other plans start to move, we’ll certainly look at them. Question: [Inaudible] have you addressed this plan [inaudible] governing Senate majority have you spoken to senator Marty Golden, have you spoken to Senator Simcha Felder [inaudible.] Mayor: There will be time for all of that. It’s just being announced with our colleagues. Obviously they have put this idea in the bloodstream previously. We’re working together now. We have time to go to all of those leaders. I’ll certainly talk to all of them, and we’ll start organizing New Yorkers to get it done. You know, I understand a lot of the questions here are about will I talk to a leader. We’ll do that. That’s not how change happens. Change happens from the grassroots, and what I think is going to happen here is more and more New Yorkers are going to say ‘yes, I want the subways fixed, and this is a way to do it. I want the wealthy to pay their fair share.’ And that’s what’s going to move the spectrum, not charming conversation. Question: What is your response to TWU workers who are here? Mayor: Look, I want to say that first of all, and I want to ask everyone to join me in this, I have some political differences with their union leadership on some issues, but the people who do the work every day in our transit system every day deserve our respect and our praise, and I want to thank them. [Applause] Okay, last call. Any other questions on this topic, and we’ll go to others? Question: If the millionaire’s tax – if you don’t see any movement of that in Albany will you look to fund fair fares through other city resources? Mayor: Again, I believe this is something that is absolutely caught up with the question of who is responsible, right? And I made the point about a millionaire’s tax would have to be approved by Albany, and if it were structured to ask those who have done very well to pay their fair share I would consider that a fair outcome. It still means Albany stepping up and taking responsibility for the situation, not forcing expenses on the city. I want to remind you this has to been seen in light of a number of other forays in the last few years. You all saw the budget effort a year and half ago to make us pay more for CUNY, make us pay more for Medicaid. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of that by the way – I warn you all right now. You’ll constantly see efforts coming out of Albany to make the City pay more, and I say the same thing to it every single time. First of all, Albany needs to step up and take responsibility for the things they run. They run CUNY. They run the MTA. I run the police. I run the schools. I run the Sanitation Department. I run the parks. That’s my responsibility. I’m not going to see our money taken away in an atmosphere where we all know just a few months from now we might be on the verge of losing a huge amount of federal support, and then the State will also cut support to us. And this is something anyone watching can do this math really quickly. Federal budget deep cuts to housing, education etc. There will be cuts to the State. There will be cuts to the City. The City – the State, excuse me – will turn around and take away money from the City. So we’ll be hit twice, double jeopardy. We’ll have to survive on our own. The only thing we have is our own resources to get by. There will be no cavalry coming to help us. By the way, we’re also not going to be shocked at the same time if the wealthy get a huge tax break from Washington. So all of these things are happening at once. My answer is we’re going to protect our prerogatives here. We want the State to take their responsibility for their piece. Alright let’s go to other topics. Other topics, yes? Question: [Inaudible] you preparing for Trump’s visit next week? Mayor: Look, the NYPD is the most expert police force on Earth in terms of handling visits by an American president. They do an outstanding job. I think we’re going to be ready by any measure, and I do want to say it’s been a lot less than we expected. We expected President Trump might be back a lot. He’s only been back once previously, and to his credit he kept the time here very limited and the disruption very limited. So hopefully that will be the same this time. Yes? Question: Rahm Emanuel, he’s going to sue the Justice Department – Mayor: He what? Question: He’s going to sue the Justice Department over the sanctuary city policies. Are you going to join him on that lawsuit? Mayor: Well, if there is a specific effort to withhold funding we’re ready to join in legal action to stop it. So far there has not been any funding withheld, so our message is if funding actually starts to be withheld then we will take legal action. Yes? Question: [Inaudible] lawsuit filed this morning by [inaudible] taxpayers regarding your [inaudible] your response to it? Mayor: It’s the definition of frivolous. Simple standard, anyone who works for an organization, and there’s a legal issue related to their work – and this would be true if every one of you. If there’s a legal issue related to your work at your job, it would be right for your job to cover those legal expenses. That’s the conclusion I came to. It’s been the history for decades. It’s just a frivolous lawsuit. Erin? Question: [Inaudible] you previously said you barely knew these two – Mayor: I’m just – speak up a little more. Question: [Inaudible] I’m wondering if you can explain how you square saying you do not know them with this ongoing relationship? Mayor: Both are true. I never knew them well. I’ve told you guys many a time these were part of a slew of people who suddenly wanted to be connected to our world when I won the election. Didn’t know them. I heard that they had been involved in the community. Just never knew the personally, and then you saw they sent emails and what typically happened was they didn’t get what they wanted. Yes, David? Question: On that same topic, some of the interactions you had with them [inaudible] you would email back within minutes, is that typical of your interaction with constituents in New York City? Mayor: It’s typical of my interaction with people I know. I get emails all the time, and if I’m looking at my email I try and respond right away because I want to get it off my plate. It’s consistent. Look, people come up to me all the time. People reach out to me all the time. I don’t know if you were at the town hall meeting in Harlem last week, but this is sort of typical of what I experience whether I’m on the street or in the subway or at a town hall meeting. People say ‘here’s a problem.’ I have a witness – I often say the commissioner will follow up or even in many town hall meetings I’ve said the commissioner will come to your block or come to your specific organization and sit with you and meet with you. It’s one of the ways to do things. Question: [Inaudible] no other way of getting to you. These folks had a direct line within weeks of you being elected? Mayor: Well, so do you. There are people who – there’s the media, elected officials; there’s community leaders, folks like those sitting in the front row here who I’ve known for years and years – they’re people you know who, you know, if they reach out to you, you respond. I think that’s part of human life. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Look, this rezoning is unusual compared to all the others because it’s the Speaker’s own district, and the Speaker and I, as you know, work very, very closely together and have for years. We’ve had multiple conversations about the rezoning, and we’ll continue to. So this is true of many situations when it comes to land use that a real concern is raised at the community level, a real concern is raised by elected officials – I think what’s good is when you then hear those concerns and try and work them through and try to find a solution that people feel pretty good about and certainly most importantly the person whose vote matters the most –the representative of that district in the council – feels good about it. And there’s plenty of time to do that, and we’ll stay at the table having those conversations. Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, getting back to the emails, did [inaudible] people who donated to your campaign who had your personal email – in fact one of you felt so close to you that he sent a recommendation for an appointment, and you sent back an email saying ‘Jona, I’m all ears.’ I wonder what kind of a message that sends to people about a possible pay-to-play culture at City Hall? Mayor: I reject that notion. I reject it out of hand because people offer their ideas all the time to me whether they are elected officials, community leaders, people I meet on the street – just everyday citizens. I listen. Sometimes those are good ideas. Other times they’re not. I’ll listen. Those ideas those guys were putting forward, typically were not good ideas and not given the time of day by those who looked at them. Question: [Inaudible] personal email? Mayor: Because people you know have your personal email. It’s as simple as that. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Well, you have a different relationship with me than many, many other people. Question: [Inaudible] your donors who had your personal email. Mayor: I have people who I’ve worked with for years, as I’ve mentioned – leaders, community activists, elected officials, business leaders – who reach out to me in all sorts of ways. And donors are allowed to reach out in a democratic society and put their ideas on the table. The question is what happens with them. Anything they put forward is looked at on the merits, and then typically – in their case – rejected. Yes? Question: Just a really quick question. When was the last time you’ve ridden that Staten Island railway if you’ve ever ridden it? Mayor: I have ridden it, but not for quite a while. I can’t give you an exact date. Question: In the last decade? Mayor: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’ve ridden it, but I don’t know when. Question: Does the city intend to more vigorously [inaudible] triple-X businesses around the city, particularly the Times Square? Mayor: Well, explain the question. What do you mean by that? Question: [Inaudible] in June, the State repealed [inaudible] rule banning some triple-X establishments in parts of the city. Some businesses in the Times Square area were able to get past that 2001 ruling by having a certain amount of material that was not considered triple-X, but still selling some. Some businesses were concerned that [inaudible] in June will jeopardize their businesses. Mayor: So they’re concerned that those types of stores would be able to assert themselves in some way? Question: [Inaudible] they’re going to have to go out of business [inaudible] Mayor: Look, this is – I’m not an expert on the ruling at all, but I can state the obvious. This is always a tension in terms of what rights people have under the Constitution versus how we want to have a certain quality of life that respects everyone. This is always a challenge. We will enforce the law vigorously. So if the law has been amended, we will work with that amendment, but for those who are concerned about the reinvigoration of those types of businesses, I can say very squarely we’ll use all of our powers to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll stay within the law, but we’ll be very aggressive in our enforcement. Thanks, everyone.
Monday, August 7, 2017 - 5:15pm
New, dependable revenue source will provide up to $800 million in annual funding for transit system & its riders NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled today a progressive City tax proposal aimed at raising as much as $800 million annually for New York City’s deteriorating subway and bus system. The proposed tax adjustment – levied on fewer than 1% of the city’s wealthiest tax filers – would also allow the City to cut in half subway and bus fares paid by 800,000 low-income New Yorkers. “Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move or transit system into the 21st century,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn't exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement and to better hold the State accountable for the system's performance. Our subways and buses are the veins that make life in the greatest city in the world possible. This fair funding source will provide immediate help to straphangers – and it will help New Yorkers get around our city reliably for the next generation and beyond.” The new tax would increase the City’s highest income tax rate by 0.534%, from 3.876% to 4.41%, on taxable incomes above $500,000 for individuals and above $1 million for couples. This tax will be paid by an estimated 32,000 New York City tax filers – 0.8% of the city’s filers. The tax is projected to raise $700 million in 2018, before rising to $820 million a year by 2022. This new investment will add on to an annual $1.6 billion in City operational support for subways and buses, and a $2.5 billion commitment in 2015 to the long-term needs of the MTA. The $500 million in revenue dedicated to modernizing our aging subways and buses could support borrowing up to $8 billion for capital upgrades. The Mayor believes this funding should be immediately directed toward core infrastructure improvements like signal improvements, new cars and track maintenance key to reducing delays and disruptions that have paralyzed the system in recent months. Half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers will be financed by an expected $250 million of the revenue raised by this tax. As many as 800,000 New Yorkers are expected to qualify for half-priced MetroCards based on their income levels.
Monday, August 7, 2017 - 11:30am
Leon Goldenberg: So I’m sitting here this afternoon or this evening since the show is on a Saturday night, but the truth is – I will tell the audience – Mayor Bill de Blasio: Tell the truth. Goldenberg: It was not taped on Saturday night. And I am sitting here with somebody that you all recognize I hope and as soon as you hear his voice and that’s non other than really someone I like to consider a very good friend of mine, like a personal friend of mine. And that is Mayor de Blasio – Bill de Blasio. So, welcome to the show. Mayor: Thank you Leon, and guests our friendship goes back a long way. Way back to the time when I was first running for City Council in a district that included Borough park, Kensington, and my neighborhood Park Slope. And we’ve been together ever since, that was 2001. We’ve been together ever since, and its been a great friendship and I congratulate you again on this show and its been my pleasure to be on it. Goldenberg: And it’s been my pleasure having you on as always. We’re going to get to some things that are going on in the city some that are [inaudible] our community and some that are really because I always say and I will say it again what happens in the City of New York effects our [inaudible] community and every [inaudible] community that help with vibrancy of New York impacts us more than any of what we can get as a community from the City. Am I correct in that? Mayor: Yeah, absolutely correct, and look I’ve been blessed to have a close relationship now well over 15 years [inaudible] particularly in Brooklyn but also all over the city. And this statement you’re making is profoundly important. I have leaders of the community and members of community coming to me all the time on issues specific to the community and those are real, and those are important. I think I can give some great examples of improvements we’ve made to help the community. But you’re exactly right, when you think about big, big things happening in the city, our economy is strong, every community benefits including the Jewish Community, if its not, everything suffers. If we reduce crime, if we create a stronger social [inaudible], more unity between the communities in the city, less tension and that’s good for every community, including the Jewish community, if we improve education in the city in every kind of school that creates a stronger city for the future, obviously a better workforce for the future. There’s so many reasons to understand that they’re all interconnected. So, I think [inaudible] this is not true just about the Jewish Community. Every constituency has their own specific issues. But your point is very powerful, come forward with your specific agenda and fight for it, while recognizing that some of these more universal issues may actually have the biggest impact on your day-to-day life. Goldenberg: Right, so let’s talk about, first let’s talk about some [inaudible] issues and then we’ll get to some of the larger ones. Israel — Mayor: Yes. Goldenberg: You’re a progressive – Mayor: Yes. Goldenberg: Clearly. Mayor: Yeah. Goldenberg: And yet a strong supporter of Israel. I was happy and lucky enough to accompany you to Israel a year and a half ago. When you made a visit, when we came during the beginning of [inaudible]. Its critical for our community, its critical for Israel, for people to realize that friends are on the progressive side in the Democratic party are our most important allies. First, I want to thank you for that and just describe a little bit your feelings about Israel. Mayor: And thank you again Leon for being a part of that. That journey with me was very sensitive very tough time for Israel, and particularly you remember when we went to [inaudible] hospital and we saw the victims of the terror attacks, and made it very personal very real. In fact, just last week the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mayor Barkat was here – was here in the city, and I’ve got to spend time with him. We’ve become dear friends. And we compared notes because our cities are going through so many of the same challenges obviously. But here is the bottom line. I’m a Democrat, I’m a progressive, I am a strong supporter of Israel. I am intensely opposed to the BDS movement and any effort to undermine Israel and it’s economy. And I think that is what Democrats and progressives should feel. We should see Israel for everything it means in history as a beacon of democracy and as an answer to so much history that included oppression and discrimination against the Jewish people and violence against the Jewish people of Israel is an answer to that history and Israel must exist, must survive. Its part of creating a more humane and a decent world that people know that they have homeland and a place that they’re safe. And I wish I could say you know, all those bad things to millennia of crimes perpetrated against the Jewish people are all over. But you and I know they’re not over, there is anti-Semitism all over Europe there is anti-Semitism all over world it’s propping up here in the United States. Israel is more important than ever for that reason. Progressives should understand we cant bring peace in the Middle East if we don’t use economic incentives, economic opportunity as part of the solution. How on earth is undermining Israel’s economy going to help bring about peace? It makes no sense whatsoever. As I’ve gone and spoke about this publicly and I intend to continue, including in front of progressives. So I think you need to hear this message. BDS is taking things exactly in the wrong direction and I am going to stand up and fight against it. Goldenberg: So BDS is really, and if you speak to them and when we had the hearings at the City Council resolution that did pass, Steve Levine – Mayor: Levin, Levin Goldenberg: He is part of that, you know of that sub group – Levine, Levin – Mayor: Yeah. Goldenberg: And then they also have [inaudible] and [inaudible]. Mayor: Yeah, right. [Laughter] Goldenberg: They actually merged. But in the mean time he asked when prior speakers that were pro BDS were anti resolution he asked them a simple question. Do you support a two state solution? They refused to answer, he asked the question – three times he asked that question. And there were five of them sitting up there, and they refused to answer that. So BDS is not about trying to force Israel economically it’s about destroying Israel and ending a two state solution that most of us stand for. Mayor: Look, I think the central point here is how are we going to foster a peace if we take away the opportunity to create jobs for every kind of person in the region. Right? I mean we know, we know that a lot of times in human history crisis has occurred where there was economic tension and one of the things that helped heal wounds is that there is opportunity for everyone. We’ve got to a have a strong Israeli economy to create that opportunity for Jews and Arabs alike. That’s one of the clearest ways forward. And I sometimes find some people get lost in abstract ideologies and forget the human dynamic. The human dynamic is a way if we can just get to more of a discussion of how to create a future of peace and prosperity for everyone in the region. That’s actually what could finally, finally end this conflict. But no, any effort undermining Israeli economy stands in the way peace and undermines a place that is needed as an ultimate refuge for the Jewish people. And that’s what I say as a progressive. If you, if progressives are supposed to hate oppression, progressives are supposed to hate discrimination, progressives are supposed to look at the reality of people who have been the underdog and have been oppressed throughout history. Well, all of those conditions are met here. But in the case of the Jewish people to their great credit, they did something about it by creating the State of Israel and having one place that they could know is theirs. And again it might be a different discussion if you could say no, no, no you know look at Western Europe where everything is fine there, its not. It’s not, look what’s happening in France – it’s an obvious example that causes French Jews, the third largest Jewish community in the world to feel very, very insecure in a country that many of them been there for generations. So, this is what I would argue with any progressive anywhere, if you really want to stand up, up against oppression then of course everyone needs to know there’s one place where they’re truly safe. Goldenberg: Lets move to New York City. This week crime statistics came down at 17 percent since last year, eight percent since last month. Mayor: Yep. Goldenberg: A safe city is a safe city for everybody. A safe city which I [inaudible] thank the NYPD who first off – stop and frisk almost completely gone, only used when necessary. Mayor: Yep. Goldenberg: I think the height was 600,000 thousand people stopped – Mayor: Almost 700,000. Goldenberg: Almost 700,000 people stopped and frisked. Mayor: In one year. Goldenberg: In one year. Not one decade. One year. Mayor: One year. Goldenberg: How many have been stopped in 2017? Mayor: At this point, this year I would estimate something like 10,000 or so. And here is what’s so amazing Leon. Crime is down across the board as you referenced. The reduction just from this point last year to this year 17 percent reduction in shootings almost a 17 percent reduction in homicide, overall crime is down, gun seizures are up, and all of this has been achieved with the reduction of stop and frisk, a reduction of tension between community and police. And here is another thing that is amazing; we have the lowest number of complaints against police by community members in fifteen years. So, less stop and frisk, fewer complaints, more dialogue and corporation between police and community. Crime down, gun seizures up, it’s a beautiful picture and I want note because I know a lot of your listeners are in my beloved Brooklyn. If you look at the Precincts in Brooklyn, look at the 6-1 Precinct, which covers the Sheepshead Bay and a lot of the surrounding communities crime is down 14 percent. 6-6 in Borough Park, you and I both know so well, crime is down 14 percent. This is over the last couple of years, consistent reduction in crimes. 7-0 Precinct in Midwood and Flatbush – crime is down 14 percent. It’s very striking and consistent across the city. But look, Leon, here’s the amazing point – we’re not done. I say this every time – Commissioner O’Neill believes this, Commissioner Bratton before him believed it – there is an opportunity here to become even safer. Goldenberg: Under 300 deaths – you’re heading for this year? Mayor: Look, we always – but this is something I feel in City Hall and I know all the leadership of the NYPD feels that’s a particular goal that we never talk about publicly out of respect for what a historical, extraordinary achievement is might be, and we’re all very, very careful never to overstate. We will have that discussion on midnight on December 31st, but, I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing how much progress is being made. And I’ll tell you another thing, it’s not just this neighborhood policing philosophy that Commissioner O’Neill really offered, getting police and community to know each other better, communicate more, work together more. It’s also – remember, with the City Council – I give them a lot of credit – we added 2,000 more officers on patrol. It’s amazing how – Goldenberg: And they’re living in New York? Mayor: Well, and that’s the other thing – Goldenberg: More and more? Mayor: So, 2,000 more officers on patrol than just two years ago – the biggest the NYPD has been since 2001. But, yeah, you’re exactly right – the report came out just last week of, for the first time in a long time, over 50 percent of the NYPD is now New York City residents – that’s very healthy for the city. Obviously, any officer that lives in the city, when they’re off-duty, they’re still looking out for their neighborhood, which is great. But also, it means more and more officers who community members see as part of their communities, representing all of the communities of the city. It’s a very promising trend, and we’re getting really talented people. The new generation joining NYPD is the, I would think without question, the most talented we’ve ever seen – lots of military veterans, lots of folks who have gotten a lot of education, and they’re unquestionably the best training by the NYPD, which is putting more and more energy into training to help our officers be the best they can be. So, this s a powerful, powerful moment. But, Leon, I’m telling you, we’re going to get safer still. Goldenberg: Okay, we’re ready. We’re ready. One last thing – the economy – that we brought up. Mayor: Yes, one little thing, right? Goldenberg: One little thing, the economy, which is, thank God, humming along. Mayor: Yes. Goldeberg: Where do you see the jobs of the future? Where should all of the communities be heading for for jobs that are not paying minimum wages? Mayor: Yes. Well, you’re exactly right – it’s one thing to have a lot of jobs, it’s a much better thing to have a lot of jobs that pay a really good wage that are good-paying, solid jobs you can make a career out of – that’s what we’re aiming at. So, I’d say a couple of things – there where is a very important question. All five boroughs is the first answer, if you’re talking about geography. By the way – strongest job growth in the city is now happening in Brooklyn. Goldenberg: Wow. Mayor: Well, I like the way you think, but, you know, once upon a time, no one would have believed that sentence, right? If you said job growth, you would have been saying Manhattan. Manhattan’s doing well too, but Brooklyn is having fantastic job growth, Queens is having fantastic job growth. In the Bronx, they’ve cut the unemployment rate in half in the last four years. There’s amazing things happening – Staten Island, you see a lot of really extraordinary things happening in Staten Island – new development. So, what we want is a five-borough economy that also encourages opportunity for a lot of folks who didn’t have as much economic opportunity. Look, let’s face it, in every community, if the jobs are nearer to you, there’s more chance you’ll get them. If we – now, to the type of job, for example, the tech community, which has already gotten to be very strong n Brooklyn continues to grow. Let’s talk about something you and I both know about, the Jewish communities of Brooklyn having really nearby access to those wonderful tech jobs could be a great opportunity, right? And starting in places like Dumbo, but it’s going to grow throughout the borough. And so, the areas of the economy – tech community, unquestionably – 350,000 jobs right now – could get to as many as a half-a-million jobs in the coming years. Life Sciences – the creation of all sorts of new medical products – huge growing area for the city. Film and television, of course, is booming. Healthcare – more and more opportunity in the healthcare field. Engineering, design – the city has always been a capital – more and more a capital of those fields. So, look – oh, here’s another one – cyber security. We did an announcement the other day – cyber security, more necessary than ever. Goldenberg: And now, working with Israel a lot. Mayor: Of course, but we want New York City to be the capital of cyber security development here in the United States, and with the financial industry here, and the academic centers here and all, it makes all the sense in the world. So, our vision is 100,000 new, good-paying jobs. I define that as jobs that pay about $50,000 or more. And we want to see them be in all five boroughs. But here’s a wonderful fact – we have the most jobs in the history of the city. We have 4.4 million jobs in New York City – the most we’ve ever had in our history. And why? Because the bad days are over, people want to be here from all over, not only the metropolitan region – the country, the world. The talent is coming here. Goldenberg: I can tell you, they’re from all over. Mayor: Correct. And the great news is, people who want to start businesses, people who want to build businesses and create more and more jobs for everyone else. So, it’s an amazing time. My job – and this is what I ran to do four years ago – is to make sure that that economic opportunity is spread across all five boroughs and to every kind of New Yorker. And I believe that that’s really starting to happen in a big scale and we’ve got a lot more to do. Goldenberg: I want to thank you very much. It’s been my pleasure. As always, I look forward to having you again on this show and discuss the half-a-dozen items that I didn’t get to. Mayor: Leon, I will always come back for a return visit and I want to thank you, again, for the friendship and for all the good works we’ve had the joy to do together, and many more years ahead. Goldenberg: Amen. Mayor: Amen.
Friday, August 4, 2017 - 5:05pm
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. We begin today with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Mayor Bill de Blasio. And with it, I’ll mention that after next Friday we will suspend the Ask the Mayor series until after the election in November because it’s getting to be campaign season and we don’t want to advantage one candidate over another. NY1, which also does a weekly mayoral interview, and is our journalistic partner in some of the mayoral debates, is also suspending there’s. We made the decision to suspend at this time jointly. And, of course, after the election, we’ll invite whoever wins to start doing an Ask the Mayor series again to keep giving you access. So, listeners, get your questions in now if you want to ask the Mayor something before the series goes on hiatus after next Friday – 212-433-WNYC – 212-433-9692 – any caller, any topic, any borough. Or tweet your question – use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. And good morning, Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Brian. Lehrer: And on the topic of the campaign, you agreed yesterday to take part in a Democratic primary debate, but I see you also got CFB – Campaign Finance Board – approval for the maximum amount of matching funds for the primary – more than $2 million – on the basis of having more than minimal opposition – that’s what they say is the standard. Considering that your opponents have raised very little money and have hardly any support in the polls or name recognition for that matter, how did you justify asking for $2 million of tax money based on running against Sal Albanese and Bob Gangi? Mayor: Well, first of all, Brian, I don't take any election for granted, and I think we’ve seen plenty in recent years, including, obviously, last year’s election where you cannot assume the outcome. People who do that often are sorely disappointed. I take this election very seriously – the primary and the general. My job is to tell the people of New York City what I’ve been doing and what I intend to do. Also, there are clear laws and rules here, Brian, and that’s what we follow. The laws say very clearly what qualifies any candidate for that match. We followed those laws, we qualified. The matching funds system – I think it’s one of the most important reform elements in New York City that we have. A public financing system – it’s one of the best in the country. And I believe in it fully and I’ve [inaudible] through every election I’ve been in. And I think we want to make sure that people can have all the information they need when they make a decision. And that’s what the rules say and we followed those rules. Lehrer: And the Campaign Finance Board had to allow this and they did, so ultimately we need to ask them too. But the Campaign Finance Board is cited in the Times today, saying they’ll consider asking in the future to make the threshold higher. They’ll consider that. All your opponents needed to do for you to get these millions of dollars in matching funds was appear in local media 12 times – we’re responsible for some of that, I guess – and have received significant endorsements. Is that the right threshold in your opinion? Mayor: Look, I think it’s perfectly fair to say we should, each year, after each election, look and see if there’s anything we want to change. And I haven’t looked at the nuances, but I think it’s a perfectly valid idea. They should be reviewed regularly. But that being said, I want to be careful here. You know, the whole idea of participating in a matching-fund program is to encourage candidates to seek out every-day New Yorkers for smaller donations – that’s been the focal point of our campaign, Brian. We’ve really focused on low-dollar donations from every-day people. If you start saying, well, now you’re not going to have matching funds available, it goes back to the, I think, the bad old days of encouraging people to go seek donations from wealthy people and big chunks of money at one time. I’d like to see ultimately a public financing system where we get out of the traditional notion of people fund raising from private individuals, particularly wealthy individuals. But I’d be cautious as we asses where to go from here that we don’t create a disincentive to focusing on every-day New Yorkers and smaller donations. Lehrer: The Campaign Finance System, to be sure, rewards small donations with these matching funds, but the Times notes sardonically that your filing request cited that Mr. Gangi has multiple Facebook posts with over 10 likes – 10 – as a measure of his seriousness. Mayor: Again, I want to focus on this point, Brian. So, when we started this campaign, it was really two-three years ago in earnest – just getting ramped up as everyone does, and we focused on house parties, and we focused on reaching out to every-day New Yorkers. Now, if you had said year in advance, actually, you’re not going to have access to a serious amount of matching funds, then that would encourage me or any other candidate to go try and find larger donations, and that’s not the world I think we should be creating. I think we should be constantly pushing away from the big donations towards public financing, and a heavy emphasis on matching funds. So, it’s a little bit of a double standard, Brian, to say, oh, you know, two years ago, three years ago, one year ago, you should be focused 100 percent on every-day New Yorkers and small donations, and then later on we’re going to say, you know, you don’t get those matching funds after all, even though you did everything right. I think there’s a bigger issue there. If we’re going to really encourage people to participate in the public financing system, and there’s still a lot of candidates who don’t. We want 100 percent participation. We have to make it a system that truly rewards a focus on the grassroots. Lehrer: Alright. Onto other things – Police Commissioner O’Neill announced murders and shootings are down 17 percent so far this year compared to last and are on pace for a record-low year – good news, indeed. Is the NYPD doing anything differently than under Commissioner Bratton? Mayor: Yes, and, in fact, Commissioner Bratton started the ball rolling, and then it was then–Chief O’Neill who was the architect of neighborhood policing. And I would say, Brian, strategically, it was the neighborhood policing’s philosophy and strategy, plus the 2,000 new officers on patrol that we agreed to with the City Council a couple of years ago – that’s made the difference. So, what it means is, there is a lot more communication at the local level between officers and community. It means officers are working a small area, walking a beat again, getting to know community residents. What that has also lead to is a lot more information being received by officers because they build real, personal relationships with community residents, and that’s lead to a lot more gun seizures. Here’s an amazing thing that we’ve seen – obviously, stop and frisk down 93 percent since we’ve gotten here. Arrests down – at the same time, gun seizures up, and that is because community residents are helping police to know where to look for illegal weapons, and they’re aiding police in the work they do. I think that’s where you see this extraordinary change – 17 percent reduction in homicides, 17 percent reduction in shootings since this time last year. And really – credit to the NYPD for an extraordinary job. Lehrer: And just to be clear on your answer, since I had originally asked you is it because the Police Department is doing something different than they did under Commissioner Bratton – Mayor: Yeah, and that’s what I’m – Lehrer: You said yes, but – Mayor: Yes, because of these two things – they were started – I want to be fair – started under Commissioner Bratton, but actualized under Commissioner O’Neill. Neighborhood policing was in its infancy when Commissioner Bratton retired. Commissioner O’Neill has taken it to, now, a truly city-wide phenomenon. And, of course, those 2,000 officers – we reached that level in January. So, the seeds were planted by Commissioner Bratton, but the larger changes have now been achieved by Commissioner O’Neill. Lehrer: How much do you attribute the decline to the kinds of policing that you were just describing and how much to any other non-police factors? Do non-police factors play any role? Mayor: Of course. I think there are a lot of ways we can look at this, and this is obvious something of great interest. You know, we obviously know some other cities in the country, unfortunately, have been going in the opposite direction with higher crime. New York has been setting records regularly for low crime. Why is that? I think the strategic approach – first and foremost, I really think it is neighborhood policing, and then pinpoint policing, which is taking CompStat and continuing to refine it. That strategic approach based on numbers and specifics in each neighborhood, changing strategies to address neighborhood problems – I think those two pieces, which are New York-specific, have had a huge impact. But of course there’s other factors, a stronger economy I’m certain helps. We have the most jobs we’ve ever had in the history of New York City right now – 4.4 million jobs. No question that helps. I think when you have an atmosphere where there’s more and more opportunities for young people. We put a big focus on after school programs, a big focus on summer jobs – I think that helps. I think the Cure Violence movement, which is the – they’re often called gang interrupters and the folks who work at the community level of, and by, and for the community to address violence, and stop it before it starts, and get young people away from gangs – that’s been a big piece of the equation too. And it doesn’t get a lot of attention, but those grassroots efforts had really helped. So, of course, Brian, it’s a lot of factors. Lehrer: And I do want to task you about the killing by a police officer of an apparently mentally disturbed man in Brooklyn this week, Duane Jeune. Commissioner O’Neill says the officer, Miguel Gonzalez, followed police procedures when the man wasn’t stopped by a taser while trying to attack another office with a knife. But as I understand it, Gonzalez was the only officer at the scene without training on how to escalate crisis situations with mentally ill people, and he had shot someone else in a similar situation last October. Does that raise questions for you? Mayor: Well, first of all, to the best of my understanding, the previous situation was in fact quite different. We always are going to look at every use of force, and they’re shockingly low. I think our officers discharge their weapons something like 80 times – all of our officers – something like 80 times in the year 2016. So, I want people to understand how rare it is for a New York City police officer to actually discharge their weapon. I think that situation was different from what I’ve heard. This current, horrible tragedy that we’re discussing, it’s under investigation. We can’t fully comment until we see the results, but here’s what we do know so far – this was a very unusual situation, Brian. The call came across to the NYPD as an emotionally disturbed person but with no indication of any violence. When the officers arrived and were welcomed into the apartment by the individual’s mother to assist, very, very quickly it turned into a different situation where the individual had a large knife and lunged at the officers in a very contained space. You know, that is a different dynamic than what we normally would confront, obviously. So, look, the answer to the bigger, structural question – we’re going to look at every situation and determine if we need to make changes. We are doing more and more training of our officers in how to deal with mental health situations. All of our – going forward, all of our lieutenants, all of our sergeants, all of our [inaudible] officers are going to get that training. All of the leadership folks who would be there to give direction will have that training. But I think the other thing is, look, this young man – I think he was 32 years old – there’s another way to look at this – the problem started long before this horrible tragedy. The problem started years ago and was not treated. So, the real focus here Brian, I think is to double down efforts to address mental health at the grassroots, in communities, in schools, get the root cause of so many of the problems in our society which is untreated mental health conditions. And that’s what obviously the ThriveNYC initiative seeks to do. This is something that could have been avoided if as a society, as a city we did a better job of getting mental health services to those who need them early in their lives. Lehrer: It’s our weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Mayor Bill de Blasio here on WNYC, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2, and Jessica in Park Slope, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello. Question: Hi, thanks Brian. Hello Mr. Mayor. You actually live on the block I grew up on. I just wanted to ask a question about construction, and if there’s like a master plan of how things get decided because I live on a block where there are two massive construction projects that are right next door to me. I work from home, by the way, so it’s a huge problem. It’s the front and the back of my unit, so it wakes me up at 6:30 am every morning and then I can’t be productive during the day. There’s no parking because there’s also construction happening on the block right below me, right to the left of me, two blocks down from me. Then, you throw on top of that things like television or movie production, and it’s a complete nightmare. I haven’t been able to find a parking spot in the reasonable amount of time in a year and a half. I can’t get a productive day of work done. I have to have my phone on mute whenever I have conference calls. If I go into my bedroom right now you can hear that there are nonstop sounds – Mayor: Okay I think – Lehrer: So, so Jessica are you advocating for less construction around the city as a matter of city policy? Question: I’m advocating for there to be some kind of a plan and an ability to determine what’s a reasonable amount of construction to have within a reasonable amount of space. Because the fact that there’s literally something happening on every – on my block, a block away, two blocks away – Lehrer: Yeah. Question: Like that’s insanity. Lehrer: Okay and there I’m going to leave it Mr. Mayor – Mayor: Okay Lehrer: – go ahead and respond. Mayor: Jessica is raising very real problem and by the way I think there’s a – it’s a subset of another very big discussion we need to have in this city which is how to address noise pollution which I think is a bigger problem and something I want to spend real time trying to figure out what we can do on in general. But, let’s break down this particular problem. In terms of how we figure out who’s allowed to do construction, that – look we’re still, whether we like it or not we’re in a private property based society, and if an individual has a home and they want to add to their home or rehab their home or whatever it is, the government doesn’t say no you can’t do that. It’s obviously someone’s right to do that if they follow the proper procedure. It’s a very fair question to say well should we limit the number of people who can do that on a single block at a single time. In theory, I think that’s an interesting question but I want to be real, that’s not where our laws are right now. There’s no law that says, you know, you can’t have two people on a block rehabbing their house at the same time. And what would you say to those homeowners if they say well hey you know what the first one could do it but the second one can’t, sorry. I think it raised its own complications. I think the parking issue is different. The parking issue related to construction, I think that’s something we can act on more Jessica. The – if there’s a valid use of some of the parking spaces because of construction that’s one thing. But we’ve often seen construction companies abuse that right and if that is happening in your neighborhood, my neighborhood we can have the precinct act on that and stop that from happening. So I’d like you to please share your information with WNYC and I want to follow up and see if there is something we can do that might address the parking problem per se. But, the conclusion I would draw is I’d like to see more efforts to coordinate but I don’t think we’re in a position to tell one homeowner they can do their work and then another one they can’t if they both have done everything properly to quality to do work on their home. Lehrer: Jessica, hang on we’re going to take your contact information off the air and make sure you get a follow up response. Since she raised construction, I saw that City Council’s progressive caucus is working on a set of bills to fight harassment of rent stabilized tenants through endless construction on apartment buildings to make living conditions unpleasant hoping the tenants will leave and then the landlords can start charging market rates. That’s obviously very different issue than Jessica called with but it’s also related to construction. Do you know about those bills and will you sign them? Mayor: Brian, I know about them, I have not seen them yet. But I’m sympathetic to the vision of those bills. I can’t speak to the details but I can say this, I want a really aggressive approach to any landlord who harasses. Obviously we’re providing free lawyers now, great work with the City Council we’ve done on the right to counsel so now anyone who’s faced with an eviction or harassment if they earn under $50,000 a year they can get a lawyer for free from the city. If they earn over $50,000 they can still get legal advice. And we’re working with the Attorney General on criminal prosecutions against landlords who harass and don’t provide services, and that I think is going to send a very powerful message. But I think we need to do even more, so I’m sympathetic to the idea of those bills and want to see if we can get to something really workable there. Lehrer: Michael in the Bronx, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Michael. Question: Hello Brian, hello Mr. Mayor, good to talk to you once again. The problem that I’m having and noticing is upon while driving we all know that it is illegal to be texting while driving and there’s some motorists who are still doing that, however there are plenty of motorists that feel just because they come to a red light that’s a time okay for them to be texting. I totally disagree with that because a – they’re still in drive gear, b – they’re still in the middle of the road, and c – they have to be attentive especially if a police officer comes about and starts directing traffic. As we all know, a police officer supersedes any and all traffic control devices and people are not following that, and I shouldn’t have to keep toot tooting my horn when the light turns to green and people are not – Mayor: Right I – that’s a good point. It’s a good point Michael, look; let me summarize it this way. I think you’re right that if people are busy texting and the light changes at all they’re not going to be in a position to respond to it properly and that could be dangerous for everyone involved, let alone delay people. So the bottom line is people should not be texting while driving, if you’re using a cell phone you should have the proper kind of headset or hands free. We have a big problem with that; NYPD is going to be very, very aggressive. Now I think generally the place for doing the enforcement is when we see people literally in the process of driving holding a cellphone or texting, and that’s incredibly dangerous. That’s where we’re going to put most of our energy. But, I would say the common sense thing to do is while you’re driving is just put that stuff away or have a hands free system because it’s just – it’s horribly dangerous. I also notice there’s been so many traffic delays lately because of accidents and I know a disproportionate number of those accidents were because people were texting while driving. So besides a safety issue, I think it creates a lot of other problems for people. So you will see a lot of NYPD enforcement, maybe less at the stoplights but in general a lot of NYPD enforcement on texting while driving. Lehrer: I know somebody who failed his road test as a young driver for taking his hands off the wheel when the car when stopped at a light or a stop sign I’m not sure which, so that is actually considered bad enough driving to get you to fail your road test if you’re taking your hands off the wheel for any reason no less texting. So I thought I would throw that in since I – Mayor: That is a true statement and good advice, Brian. Lehrer: Edward in Fresh Meadows, you’re on WNYC. Hello. Question: Hi, yes thank you to the show and the Mayor for providing this access. The issue I want to call about is I’m hoping for some advice is there’s a street in Corona, Roosevelt Avenue Junction Boulevard, the 7-Train passes over there. And if you go from Street 96 to 97 at least half the block is full of street vendors, they don’t have licenses to be selling food and vegetables, and it’s gotten so crowded that literally for half the block it’s a one line passageway. You have to go one by one and sometimes like last week, you can’t even cross the street, you can’t even walk down that block. So, I asked a police officer about it, they said they would look into but I don’t know if there’s Department of Buildings or if there’s some control stuff because it’s a hazard. You can’t park in the street; you can’t walk down half that block. Mayor: No, I appreciate it. That’s a very real problem. So, first of all, again, I want your local precinct to follow up and you. And if you could give your information to WNYC, we’ll do that. Here’s the bottom line. We’ve got a dysfunctional situation when it comes to street vendors. It’s really not fair to anyone – the vendors or the pedestrians or anyone at this point. We’re working with the City Council on new legislation trying to do a reset on this. I think the bottom line is look, we’ve got a lot of illegal vending in the city. That’s part of where all that extra congestion comes from. We’ve got to stop that and we’ve got to be really tough on it. One thing the City Council has thought about is an increase in the legal number of permits and better regulation of the legal number of permits. But at the same time more enforcement so that, you know, it’s you either have the permit or you don’t. If you don’t you’re not going to be able to be there plus some real clear geographical boundaries. Because a lot of times, there’s too many vendors in one place or the vendors are congregated around brick-and-mortar stores and really taking all their business from them when these are stores that have been in the community a long time and are contributing to the community. So, my hope is that in the course of the rest of this year, we get to a sort of a big reset on the vendor problem that helps address what you’re saying. But in the meantime, I’ll make sure your precinct addresses it directly with you. Lehrer: Selena on Staten Island. You’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Selena. Question: Hi, good morning. Mayor: Good morning. Question: Hi. I had a question in regards to the investigation between DoITT and Spectrum. Where do we stand – Lehrer: That’s the city’s office of – Mayor: Information Technology. Lehrer: And Spectrum, the cable company. Go ahead, Selena. Question: Correct, yeah. I wanted to know where does the investigation stand between DoITT and Spectrum in regards to the franchise agreement held here in New York City. Today, marks the 130th day, Mayor, that we’ve been on strike – 1,800 employees, here, throughout New York City. I mean, they’ve gone to the negotiation table and walked away several times. We’d love to know where we stand. Mayor: Yeah. I appreciated the question a lot. Listen, what’s happening here is just fundamentally unfair to the workers and I’ve been out on the picket line with workers in solidarity. Look, I’ve said many times to the leadership of Spectrum – I’ve reached out to them and have not gotten a response yet – that I would welcome them to come into City Hall with the union leadership and try and settle this with no preconditions, with an open negotiation process. Because this is very upsetting to have so many working people without pay and being subjected to this situation. The question about the franchise agreement. So [inaudible] an allegation was made recently that Charter Spectrum was not honoring an element of the franchise agreement related to the vendors the use and whether they had made every effort to get local vendors. That is now being fully investigated by our Department of Information Technology. I’m not going to prejudge that investigation but if negative findings occur it can have a very real impact on the future of Charter Spectrum’s business with New York City and their ability to be here and do their work here. So, that’s being taken very, very seriously. But in the meantime, that’s going to take a lot to play out. But in the meantime, my strong message to Charter Spectrum is – come to the table and work to resolve this. You know their predecessor company Time Warner had a contract with the same union with proper wages and benefits and things were working fine. I don’t know what has changed here and I don’t think it’s good for this city or for working people in this city. Lehrer: Beverly in Manhattan. You’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Beverly. Question: Hello. I wanted to ask the Mayor why they are spending $1,875,000 to alter and change bus stops – the number five bus – on Riverside Drive. I have walked it with a Community Board member. It doesn’t need it. I’m particularly interested in 104th Street. It has two wide cross walks to the bus stop going south. They platform at areas with benches. It’s a wide open street. There are doorman you can see. There’s a security guard when it’s dark. If you yell, someone is there. It serves as a playground on 105th Street – Lehrer: And forgive me, Beverly, how are they changing it? Question: They are changing it to 103rd Street which is small, no benches, faces the island separating upper and lower Drive – Lehrer: I see. And they’re spending a lot of money to do this. Is that what you said at the beginning? Question: Pardon? Lehrer: They’re spending a lot of money to this, did you say? Question: They’re spending $1,875,000. You got a federal grant for one-and-half million, and you’re adding $375,000. That money could be used for the subway. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, do you know this specific issue with the M5 bus? Mayor: No, I really don’t, Brian. And look, to the very fair question if it is something that was done solely by the MTA, and obviously, as we’ve talked before, the MTA is run by the State of New York, but we have members on the MTA board who can raise the concerns. So, we will get the details and definitely follow up on the concern. Some initiatives the City participates on like Select Bus Service, for example – but I don’t know this one. So, we will certainly follow up to figure out whether this plan was put together properly or whether some unintended consequences we have to address here. Lehrer: Beverly, let’s take your contact information off the air and we’ll find out more for you, and you can – relay it to you about that bus route. Here’s another mass transit question that I think is more directly related to the City. From Twitter, a listener asks, “What happened to BQX streetcar project and why won’t you support congestion pricing for work days in Manhattan to fund the subways?” And I will note there is a Village Voice article, I think it is, out right now asking – oh, yeah here it is. Village Voice, August 3rd – “The Mysterious Disappearance of Mayor de Blasio’s $2.58 Million Streetcar Plan,” by Neil Demause. Did it disappear? Mayor: No, it didn’t disappear. It’s a plan that we said from the beginning, construction would start on it in 2019 or 2020. So, it’s just the normal course of things. We’re doing all the preparation work to do the streetcar, to do the light rail from Astoria, Queens down to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There’s been a series of community meetings. There’s a lot of folks in the community who want it because a lot of these areas don’t have enough transportation options. There are a lot of folks who are raising real concerns and critiques that we are trying to address. But no, the light rail project is moving forward. I will have a lot more to stay as the next steps are ready. And then on congestion pricing, look, I’ve always felt there are challenges and problems with congestion pricing that no plan has sufficiently addressed although I think some of the more recent iterations have been more promising. But I’ve been clear, so long as we have the current situation with the State Senate in Albany, it’s just not going to happen. And I’m the first to say when I think something can happen that, you know, I think if there’s something that there can be a political breakthrough and have a real debate over something, I’ll say it. When I think something is absolutely a non-starter, and I honestly believe it, I’ll say it. This one is a true non-starter. So, I don’t think this is how address our problems right now. I think it’s everything else. It’s light rail, it’s ferry service, it’s Select Bus Service, it’s Citi Bike. It’s a lot of other things we can do to improve the flow of traffic. We added hundreds more traffic enforcement agents. These are the things we can do right now that we need to focus on. Lehrer: Alright. And we are out of time for Ask the Mayor today. I’ll mention again, as I did at the beginning of the segment, that the Mayor will be back next Friday but after that we will suspend the Ask the Mayor series until after the election because it’s getting to be campaign season and we don’t want to advantage one candidate over another. After the November election, of course, we will invite whoever wins to start doing an Ask the Mayor series again to keep giving all of you access. Mr. Mayor, we hope you will come on for a campaign interview during the campaign season as well. But first, we’ll talk to you in the Ask the Mayor series one more time next Friday. Mayor: I look forward to that next Friday and I look forward to coming on as a candidate and continuing to answer the questions you’re bringing forward from New Yorkers over all five boroughs. I want to thank you for doing that, Brian. Lehrer: Thank you very much.
Friday, August 4, 2017 - 5:05pm
More than 170,000 calls, texts and chats were made to NYC Well since its launch, exceeding maximum initial projections by 25 percent NEW YORK— First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced that NYC Well, the City’s free, confidential mental health support helpline, has exceeded maximum initial projections by 25 percent since its launch in late October 2016. During the first eight months of operation, NYC Well received more than 170,000 calls, texts and chats; the high demand for service prompted the Health Department to expand its capacity. NYC Well is a one-click, one-call connection to counseling, crisis intervention, peer support and referrals to ongoing treatment services serving all five boroughs. A cornerstone of ThriveNYC, NYC Well is available 24/7, accessible in more than 200 languages and staffed by professional mental health counselors at the NYC Well Call Center. The program is administered by the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC) and funded through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “For too long, too many New Yorkers didn’t know where to turn when they needed mental health services. Now, just eight months after launching, thousands of people have placed calls to NYC Well for help connecting to mental health services, for themselves or someone they love." said First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “NYC Well is a free and confidential helpline, which means no one has to struggle alone, and the popularity of the service helps lessen the stigma around mental health that still plagues our communities. I praise every person who has taken that courageous first step to call, text, or chat, and I applaud our incredible counselors who are committed to serving their fellow New Yorkers.” “NYC Well makes it easy for all New Yorkers to get the care they need by calling, texting or chatting. No one should be in a situation where they don't know what to do for themselves or a loved one who is experiencing mental health challenges. After eight full months of service it is clear that NYC Well is meeting a significant need across all five boroughs within NYC,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, who implements ThriveNYC. The NYC Well Call Center Staff provides support to New Yorkers at three different intervention levels: * Crisis – Counselors handle the majority of calls requiring immediate de-escalation services – offering safety planning strategies and other forms of support. * Support – Counselors cater to those in need of better coping mechanisms or assistance with de-escalating concerns. * Information & Referral – Counselors educate individuals about a variety of mental health and substance misuse services. Of those who contacted NYC Well from October 2016 to June 2017, 13 percent were identified as individuals in crisis, 47 percent were seeking support and 40 percent needed information or a referral for services. Since the beginning of the program, 7,679 people consented to follow-up services and 2,732 people requested to be transferred to immediate behavioral health services by NYC Well counselors. NYC Well received as many as 900+ calls a day during the weeks coinciding with the ad campaign “NYC Well Helps Me ” in May and June of this year. And in a given week, 10 to 15 percent of people opted to speak with an NYC Well peer specialist – someone who uses their own lived experiences with mental illness or substance misuse to support others. Fifty-six percent of people who utilized NYC Well sought help for themselves while 8 percent sought help for a friend or relative. The same is true for providers who sought help for their respective communities. And 29 percent of people did not reveal their connection to the person about whom they called. Through “NYC Helps Me,” the City has invested in expanding public awareness and community engagement to reduce the stigma around mental health and substance misuse. During the first week of the campaign, there was an increase of 757 contacts to NYC Well compared to the previous week. “NYC Well has gone above and beyond our expectations in providing New Yorkers a service that uses the ways we communicate now: call, text and chat,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I want to remind all New Yorkers who are concerned about their mental health or the mental health of a loved one that they can reach NYC Well at any hour of the day, any day of the year. Pursuing health is never a sign of weakness.” “NYC Well is key to how ThriveNYC is expanding the ways we think about access to mental health care, information, and real-time support,” said Dr. Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “It has provided solutions and a reliable resource for people with the full spectrum and severity of mental health and substance use needs. The ever-increasing demand only underscores that we press on with more needed change and attention to gaps in care.” “The increase to NYC Well's capacity has brought help and hope to more New Yorkers, especially in times when support is most needed,” said Kimberly Williams, President & CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York City , which administers NYC Well. “We’re committed to continuing our collaboration with the City and the Health Department to support individuals in crisis and connect those reaching out to the information and services they need.” “In an era where mental health is too often stigmatized or difficult to access, I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Health Department for bringing this important issue to the forefront and for providing New Yorkers with better access to vital mental health care through NYC Well. The NYC Well one-stop-shop hotline has been a vital resource for thousands of New Yorkers in-need, and provides confidential mental health support to those who may have no one else to turn to. New Yorkers should not be afraid to ask for help when it comes to mental health support and it is my hope that NYC Well continues to succeed,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The early success of NYC Well demonstrates what can be done to turn the corner on our national mental health crisis if we positive engage communities and support them adequate resources,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend the City for leading the way on shattering the stigma around mental health challenges. The support services provided by NYC Well are changing the lives of thousands of Brooklynites seeking help with a variety of treatable issues, including depression and substance abuse.” “From the moment NYC Well launched, we have been able to open our arms to more New Yorkers with mental health conditions by making it easier to access help and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “I’m thrilled the City is expanding their capacity to provide the services that so often improve and help save lives. I thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for making this program a cornerstone of their initiative to support New Yorkers. I have no doubt NYC Well will continue to have a positive impact on our communities.” “The NYC Well Mental Health Hotline has provided excellent services to New Yorkers, offering counseling, crisis intervention, peer support and referrals to ongoing treatment services in all five boroughs. I applaud NYC Well for exceeding their initial outreach goals by 25 percent. Those who are dealing with mental illnesses, distress, or addiction should not have to suffer alone,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “I’m glad that so many New Yorkers are using this valuable service, and encourage all those who may be struggling with mental illness to reach out to these counselors. This helpline to connect people to critical resources is an important component of comprehensive mental health services. No one should feel alone when they are dealing with a mental health issue or crisis,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “The success and expansion of NYC Well will help further our goal of ensuring no New Yorker has to struggle through mental illness or addiction alone,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I am extremely glad that New Yorkers now have immediate access to reliable and free mental health services. I commend the efforts of First Lady McCray, the Health Department, and MHA-NYC for providing these much needed resources in our City.” “NYC Well works,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Health. “People in need of mental and behavioral health services shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to find them, and this one-stop program is a model for public health outreach.” “NYC Well has exceeded our highest expectations, and has connected thousands of New Yorkers with counseling and other mental health supports,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. “As Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, I know that mental health problems and substance use disorder are often co-occurring conditions; First Lady McCray's commitment to New Yorkers' mental and emotional well-being is helping to save lives.” “I’m thrilled that NYC Well has done such incredible work and are adding to their ranks,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health. ”NYC Well acts as a lifeline and a resource to so many New Yorkers who are struggling with mental health illness or know someone who might be.” “New York is incredibly lucky to have a First Lady who successfully commits her time and energy to such a worthwhile effort,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Eliminating the stigmas and barriers that keep people from accessing the life-saving help they need to cope with mental health issues is one of the most important issues of our time and NYC Well is making tremendous progress in that regard. I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray, Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett for recognizing and addressing the needs of our City’s most vulnerable citizens.” “The progress of NYC Well shows that by making mental health resources easily accessible to the public, we can help a wide range of individuals in need. The confidentiality offered through NYC Well helps reduce stigmatization and ensure fast access to services. I applaud its progress, and the work of the First Lady and ThriveNYC, in tackling mental health issues head on,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. Other forms of successful community outreach to promote NYC Well include the implementation of the Community Conversation series, which allows for the First Lady alongside City agency partners to connect directly with New Yorkers and address community mental health needs. Further, the second annual Weekend of Faith for Mental Health in April brought together 2,000 houses of worship in New York City to focus on issues of substance misuse and mental health. Over half of a million New Yorkers were reached throughout the course of the weekend – and more than 40 cities nationwide. Individuals seeking support for mental illness or substance use for themselves or their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to .
Friday, August 4, 2017 - 7:35am
Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill: Afternoon, everybody. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, Commissioner. Commissioner O'Neill: Thanks for being here. Mayor: Are you doing both parts now? Commissioner O'Neill: Thank you, thank you. Mayor: Can you ask all the press questions too later on, that would be good. Commissioner O'Neill: I don't know if they're going to let me. Mayor: No? Commissioner O'Neill: I'm just going to speak for a couple of minutes, and then turn it over to Mayor de Blasio and you'll hear as usual from Dermot Shea, our Chief of Crime Control Strategies, and Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce, and also from Jessie Tisch. Jess will give you an update on ShotSpotter. So it's no secret that month after month, quarter after quarter, the NYPD has continually pushed crime down further and further. A great deal of that credit goes to the hard working men and women who put that uniform on each and every day and go out and do what we as society have asked them to do, what they swore and oath to do. And that is to fight crime and to keep people safe. I'm talking about dedicated officers who rush to the aid of domestic violence victims, brave cops who take guns off career criminals in the middle of the night while the rest of New York City is sleeping. I'm talking about devoted public servants like murdered Detective Miosotis Familia of the 4-6 Precinct up in the Bronx, and Officer Dalsh Veve of the 6-7 Precinct in Brooklyn who still has a lengthy recover ahead of him after being dragged by a car in June. I'm talking about cops like James McNaughton who 12 years ago yesterday became the first NYPD officer killed in action in Iraq. Jimmy joined the Army in 1996, was honorably discharged five years later in the summer of 2001, he immediately reenlisted in the Reserves and joined the NYPD the very next day. Jimmy was deployed to Iraq in 2004, and then on August 2nd, 2005 while training Iraq police while up in a guard tower Jimmy was struck and killed by a sniper's bullet. At just 27 years old Jimmy gave more to this city and this nation than every of us will ever. His service to this police department was in his blood with both parents and his fiancée serve in the NYPD too. I spoke to his dad Bill last night. We miss him like we miss all our heroes, and we'll always honor their memories. One of the best ways to honor our fallen officers is to maintain a sharp focus on our crime fighting mission. We're doing that effectively through precision policing and directed enforcement aimed at gang activity. And we're working with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to see cases through to meaningful prison sentences for those who carry or use illegal firearms in our city. Early this week on Tuesday, I was really pleased to see the crowds that turned out for National Night Out. NYPD had events at about 70 locations this year. I got to a few of them through all five boroughs. I do have to tell you, I've been a cop a long time and every year I see more and more people at this event. It's very, very encouraging and it speaks to our whole neighborhood policing philosophy. I really would like to see these kinds of interactions I witnessed this week take place in the city every day in all of our neighborhoods. And we're starting to. When I began my remarks I said that much of the credit for our consistent reduction in crime is owed to the men and women in blue, and it is the cops who are working now and for all those who came before them that got us to where we are now. But as time goes on, we increasingly need to work with the – we have to have those strong relationships we're developing between our cops and everybody who lives and works in all our communities. They're the ones who know the criminals, they're the ones who know who's on their streets, on their block, in their housing developments, and in their neighborhoods. No one knows better about what's going on in their block than the people that live and work there. And they're the ones that can help us maintain our focus, maintain our efforts, maintain where we're going to put our resources in the right areas. So we need that connection between New Yorkers and our officers. We need everybody's help because public safety will always be a shared responsibility. That's how we're going to keep finding our way forward together. Mr. Mayor? Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And Commissioner, congratulations to you and all the leadership of the NYPD present here and most importantly the men and women of the NYPD for another month of extraordinary progress. And I just want to say at the outset we're now seven months completed in the year 2017, and something very special is happening this year. And I want to fully accredit it to the changes that have been made as a result of the neighborhood policing strategy. And I want to give the Commissioner in particular credit for developing this strategy and bringing it to life. More and more we see what it means. So, seven months in to 2017, we know we have now the safest year on record. And we see it consistently across crime categories. We've talked a lot before and I like to repeat it because it's true, New York City is the safest big city in America. But the question people always ask is how far can you go? What we've seen so far in the months of this year January through July is just extraordinary consistency in the progress the NYPD is making. So, records continue to be set, and we see so far this year really steady and continued progress. Major crime down 8.1 percent from last July, and it's dropped in all five boroughs. And we also have seen the lowest number of shootings ever for the month of July. It dropped from 97 last year to just 80 citywide in the month of July 2017. Everyone here knows that the assumption that everyone holds is that in the summer months unfortunately we see an uptick in violence, but even though that's always a challenge this year NYPD has done something already amazing showing that in the month of July there can be extraordinary efforts made to reduce the number of shootings. And a lot of us here could – if we had heard in years past the notion of 80 shootings in all of New York City in the month of July, any July we would have been astounded but this is becoming something we're getting more and more used to and that's a good thing. The overall progress this year, so far year to date murders down 17.3 percent, shootings down 17.1 percent year to date compared to last year – also, extraordinary progress. Why does neighborhood policing make the difference? Because it simply creates an alliance between police and community we didn't have enough of in the past. It's the point the Commissioner made. More and more people come to National Night Out because more and more people feel deeply connected to our police, they know them by name because of neighborhood policing, because of the presence of the NCO officers. And I've – I asked NCO officers all the time when I meet them I ask them spontaneously describe what it's like, what's different. Two things consistently come up, they talk about the fact that they get thanked by community members a lot and people who know them come to know them thank them for their work on a regular basis. And that's what our officers deserve. But the other thing they say is about the flow of information. I ask NCOs all the time, have you gotten information from people in the community, is it different from what you used to get before, what kind of information, what has it led to? And what I consistently hear is more information, better information leading to more ability to stop crime. That's the kind of thing we all hoped for with neighborhood policing, and we now see it coming to pass. The fact is this also connects to the other big strands, the other big changes. Obviously, the training that our police force has received focuses on building those relationships focuses on de-escalation in moments of tension and conflict. All of that helps in the process of opening up communication with communities as well. And the change that's going on within our police force – a lot of you I think noted as I did the reporting recently on the fact that now we have a police force that now we have a police force that over 50 percent of its members live in the five boroughs. And I don't know when that was last true, I don't know how far back you have to go in our history. But I think it's a very healthy thing for New York City that now more than half of our officers live in the five boroughs. From everything I can see, that trend is going to deepen and it's a good thing for people to come from the communities, the broader communities they serve, know this city the way someone who grows up here does. And it gives faith to communities to see members of their own communities make it to the NYPD. Certainly I said this the other night – National Night Out in the 4-6 Precinct no one epitomizes that new NYPD more than the hero we lost Detective Familia. Literally from very nearby, from the community of the 4-6 Precinct and serving in her own community. I think that's the shape of things to come with New York City and the NYPD. In the end, these strategies are working but I'll conclude this one point in English and say a few words very quickly in Spanish. I want to emphasize there is no complacency, no one – no one up here at this table is feeling any complacency whatsoever and I really admire that about the NYPD leadership. There is an urgency every time we talk about any strategic issue, anytime we talk about these statistics no one is ready to say we've gone as far as we can go or we've done all we can do. Everyone's looking to take the next big step, and I admire that approach and that attitude. It's part of why this team has achieved so much, so my congratulations to you Commissioner and to your whole team. A few words in Spanish. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] Thank you very much and I think we're turning to – Commissioner O'Neill: Dermot. Mayor: Dermot Shea. Over to you. Deputy Commissioner of Operations Dermot Shea: Thank you Mr. Mayor, good afternoon everyone. You'll see some slides coming up behind me. Big picture of New York City crime as we're entering now August. Through seven months we're on pace and Commissioner I didn't want to say this but it's already been in print so I'm not letting the cat out of the bag, we are on pace to finish the year potentially under 10,000 index crimes and that would be the first time that that's occurred. Through the end of July we are at 54,000 and change index crimes. We finished last year, 2016, at a little over 102,000. We are currently 3,000 crimes fewer than last year. So, that is a lofty goal and something that we are watching closely as we approach the end of the year. Every borough – as the Mayor said, every borough of New York City is down in crime at this point in the year, and very important, every category of index crime from murder to property crimes is down. So, we're seeing a wide stretch across a breadth of categories of crime – all down, trending. And you can see that in that slide. As you go to the next slide, it talks specifically about murder levels. And this recorded murders. These are preliminary numbers, I will say, because I can tell you definitively that the July number is already going to, unfortunately, be added to as crimes and investigations which are fluid as paperwork is consolidated. As of July 31st, as you see on that slide, when you look at the ten-year average of where we historically are and where we are through July 31st – 162 murders recorded. That comes to a 17 percent reduction in murders, very significant. What's driving it? It's very clear the gun strategy that we put in place over the last couple of years combined with the investigative model is really paying dividends. We are down 26 shooting homicides through July 31st, alright. Very significant. And you can see for the last four years, prior to this year, when you look at the end of the year, we've been in a range of 333 homicides to a high – I believe it was 352. We are on pace over 30 homicides below that right now. So, that's significant departure as you look at that slide. As you move on to shooting incidents. When you look at shooting incidents through July 31st, we are currently 440 shooting incidents. Again, that's essentially the last decade that you're looking up on that slide – a ten-year look in New York City. Obviously, if you went back further, the numbers would go much higher. Pay attention to 2017, '16, and '15, and that dramatic drop the last three years, again, as the momentum continues and our strategies really take hold here in New York City. Ninety-one shooting incidents down through the first seven months. More importantly 112 fewer shooting victims in New York City. Again, a 17 percent reduction. If you recall at the end of last year, we came in under 1,000 shooting incidents. We finished the year at 997. And that was the first time we were under 1,000. My expectation is we are going to shatter that record this year. We are 91 shootings down now. You'll see as we move through these slides – stay here for a minute – that July is historically the largest shooting incident number in New York City. We have potential, this year, to knock a significant number off with our current momentum continuing. So, more good news. As you slide to the next slide, please. July-specific, now, crime stats. Overall crime, as the Mayor mentioned, trending down. Seven months of this year – six of seven months, we've been down in crime. We were up slightly in January and then we've really taken off in pushing that number down. Again, the summary – down in crime eight percent in July, about 3,000 crimes down this year, and overall year-to-date right now we're at about a six percent decline. And again, that 100,000 number is within reach for the first time. When you look at the next slide – July-specific, now. July murders – this is the one that is the opposite direction that we'd like to see. So, when you look at recorded murders in July, we are plus-one from last year. And we've been in a narrow range the last four years but you can see it's one or two additional each year. What's behind that? We've seen normal fluctuations, quite frankly, like that, unfortunately. But the big picture, for the first seven months, over 30 homicides down and approaching record numbers – 335 recorded homicides in New York City last year. At this point, we're on pace to be somewhere around 300 which would be a significant decline. If you go to the last slide – and this July-specific shooting incidents in New York City. And I think this is some of what the Mayor was referencing. July, historically, since we began recording shooting incidents in New York City, the number-one month of the year where we record the most has been July. This is the second straight July with under 100 shooting incidents. If you look back just five years to 2012 – 188 shooting incidents in July. We finished this July with 80. Last August we 145 incidents. We are going to shatter that this August and we are going to push that number even lower as we move through the final weeks of August. Why? Again, it's been alluded to but, if you talk about Terry Monahan and the new model of policing in New York City; if you talk, next to me, with Bob Boyce and that investigative model, there is still a momentum as we continue to fight crime and look for opportunities. And, Mr. Mayor, you alluded to the lack of complacency. You should have seen the CompStat meeting tonight, and you would be proud of the men and women of the different bureaus of the NYPD continuing to look for ways to push the crime further down. Thank you. Mayor: Thank you. Commissioner O'Neill: Alright, next up – Bob Boyce has a few cases he wants to talk about. Bob – Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: Sure. Good afternoon, everybody. I'm here to announce the identification of two perpetrators from a double homicide that happened about three weeks ago. They're to my left and to your right. This homicide happened in the 8-1 Precinct. Two young ladies – Chynna Battle, 21 years old and Shaqwanda Staley, she's 29 years old – they were sitting in the rear of 740 Gates Avenue which is the Stuyvesant Gardens area of Brooklyn. And they were sitting in the back having a barbeque with other individuals when several males entered that location. We've identified two individuals – Nazir Saunders, a.k.a Nazi, and Anthony Alexander. Both are from nearby Roosevelt Houses. They went back there and Mr. – we believe Mr. Saunders had a 45-caliber handgun. He fired six times. Mr. Alexander has a 380-caliber. He fired twice. These bullets hit these two young ladies. What he was shooting was someone sitting with them, okay. So, we've identified these individuals. We're looking to identify two others that they were with. Now, when you go through here – initially a nickname emerged almost that name of a male names Stinky. Stinky was Nazir Saunders as we found out. Most people knew him from the neighborhood. We went with that and that's how we were able to identify Anthony Alexander. A lot of digital evidence, a lot of community input was able to get these two individuals identified. Again, we believe they were walking with two others. We're still seeking to build a case upon them. So, it's not over but we've been hunting these two individuals in the last two days. Any community help that we can get as to where they are, we would certainly appreciate. To my right – substantial arrest that happened yesterday and we're continuing to go forward with it. We had a couple years ago, in fact six years ago, we had an incident in Forest Park in Queens. There was Forest Park stranger rape pattern – a total of six incidents. It started in March of 2011 and ended in August of 2013. We were able to get DNA from two of those cases. We had a DNA match this week. However, I will tell you that we have been working this case straight since 2013, since its inception. So, we never really lost sight of it. We got a DNA match from an arrest in Nassau County. This male's name is Mark Andrade He lives in the area in the 1-0-2 Precinct in Richmond Hills. However, most of his arrests – he's got six prior arrests, he's a 45-year-old male – none of them of which are sex crimes, none of which would raise, prior to the recent arrest in Nassau County of grand larceny, would rise where his DNA would go into the CODIS database. It did, finally, and we were able to make that identification. Now, right now, we're just charging with the one that happened on March 29th of 2013. That's where we got his DNA. The young lady – all of these young ladies were joggers on the bridal path within the park. This one young lady struggled with him and actually pulled a beer can out of his back pocket – a beer bottle, I should say, and then threw it. We retrieved that beer bottle as part of the crime scene. That's where we swabbed and got the DNA. And that's how we identified him. So, again, we have a young lady who helped us identify her attacker. So, right now, he's being charged with. We hope to add on more as we go forward. We've charged him already. We're going to bring him down to central booking in about an hour or so out of the 1-0-4 Precinct. So, good things happening. That's all I have. Commissioner O'Neill: Alright, thanks, Bob. Jess Tisch, our Deputy Commissioner of Information Technology is going to give you an update on ShotSpotter. Jess – Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch, NYPD, Information Technology: Good morning. So, it's been about a year since I've had the opportunity to update you all on what's going on with our ShotSpotter program. And in that year a lot has happened. Just to remind everyone, ShotSpotter is a system of audio sensors largely deployed on building rooftops and sometimes on street poles, designed to detect gun shots. And when the sensor detects the sound of a gunshot it will send a real time alert to officers policing in the area. The officers not only get alerted to the gunshot but they can actually hear the sound of the gun fire on their smartphones and get information about where those shots were fired to, like, the specific address. Shot Spotter has been an incredible tool for the NYPD. It's contributed to faster response times to 9-1-1 calls or to incidents of shots fired. We've taken a lot of firearms off the street because of it. We credit for a number of our gun arrests. We've also heard from our detectives that is an incredible investigative tool. And also, one big point to make about ShotSpotter is we know about more shots fired incidents in the city because of ShotSpotter. So, we found that only 16 percent of shots fired incidents have 9-1-1 calls associated with them. So, let me tell you where we are in terms of our deployment. So, today, I'm very pleased to tell you that we have 54-square-miles of the city covered by ShotSpotter sensors. And by the end of this summer we will have 60-square-miles of coverage. To give you a sense of how far we've come – in the past year alone, we have doubled our ShotSpotter coverage zone. We did 30-square-miles in the past 12 months. The most recent precincts that we added are the 6-0 in Coney Island and the 1-2-0 neighborhoods, St. George, West Brighton, Clifton. The map behind me shows the current coverage of ShotSpotter areas in yellow. The six addition square miles that we plan to light up this summer are in orange. Those are Washington Heights in the 3-3 and Fort Greene in the 8-8. I am also pleased to tell you that the Mayor has recently provided funding to the NYPD to expand our ShotSpotter program for an additional nine-square-miles of coverage which will include Staten Island in the area of the 1-2-1, parts of Queens Norths, and also parts of the Bronx. And we anticipate those nine additional square miles to be built out by the end of the calendar year. Quickly, because I know you always ask – some statistics of note. So, year-to-date, we've 1,740 ShotSpotter activations. Last year in 2016, the full calendar year just to give you some reference, we had 2,399. So, that shows, really, the impact of our expanded coverage area. The activations that have 9-1-1 calls associated with them, as I was saying before, is just 16 percent. We've had 31 firearm recoveries so far this year. That's just when the police respond and in the initial response recover a firearm. Those don't count the firearms recovered based on later follow up and investigation. And we've made 61 arrests associated with ShotSpotter alerts. The vast majority of these guns that are recovered and the arrests that are made, are made to ShotSpotter activations that don't have 9-1-1 calls associated with them. I'll give you – I'll conclude with one quick recent example of a ShotSpotter success that is actually from this weekend in the confines of the 6-9 Precinct. On July 29th at approximately 0-5-57 hours, police responded to a ShotSpotter activation at 633 East 86th Street. Upon arrival, the officers observed a suspect leaving the scene and placed him into custody. A search of the immediate area revealed 11 shell casings on the ground at the entrance to the home. In addition a black 40-caliber firearm was found near the door. A subsequent search of the residences discovered two additional firearms. And again, in this incident there were no 9-1-1 calls associated with the ShotSpotter activation. Commissioner O'Neill: Alright. Thanks, Jess. If you have any questions about crime or any of the cases Bob spoke about or ShotSpotter, we'll take those now. Question: [Inaudible] percent of the ShotSpotter activations with no 9-1-1 call, what are people doing? Are people just shooting guns in the air? Anybody getting hurt in those? Are they robberies that are just not reported? What's – is there any sense of what's happening? Deputy Commissioner Tisch: Dermot will take that one. Deputy Commissioner Shea: And this is a generalization, so difficult. But what we see is what we've been attacking the last three years. We see small groups of individuals attached to crews or gangs in various parts of the city, concentrated, disputing with each other. And when they do, there are shots, sometimes there are multiple guns, sometimes going both ways. But those are the types of incidents, if I was going to generalize, that we see most often. It's not during the commission of a robbery. It's during – where gangs disputing. Chief Boyce: And here's the benefit on the investigative side on that. So, you have one shooting where you have someone shot. And you have a ballistics hit on two other locations. So, you'd always get the evidence you need on the police shooting where the individual was shot. But we go over to the other incidents and we're sometimes able to make identifications from those shots fired [inaudible]. It's been a tremendous bonus for us in the Detective Bureau and it's helped quite a bit as far as we get brass – or what we call brass – shell casings from these locations and we do a ballistic hit and we're able to identify people that way once they're arrested for that gun. So, it's been a great bonus for us in the Detective Bureau that we did not think we were going to get a couple years ago. Question: Just for the shooting incidents data, the released that we've been provided – if I'm reading it right – says there were 102 shooting incidents in July of 2017 [inaudible] you told us 80. And in addition, if ShotSpotter is identifying more and more shooting incidents, that how come the number is going down? Deputy Commissioner Shea: I'll address the first one. I'm not sure what you're holding in front of you but 80 – Question: [Inaudible] release that says what I just read to you – Deputy Commissioner Shea: Eighty shooting incidents – Question: [Inaudible] Deputy Commissioner Shea: I'm not sure what numbers – I can clarify that afterwards. But definitely, July, yes. If that's what that says, then it's incorrect. July of '17 which we just finished, 80 shooting incidents. Question: If ShotSpotter is identifying a significantly greater numbers of shootings, why are the shooting incidents that you're reporting to us [inaudible] – Commissioner O'Neill: It's not significantly – the number is significantly higher. This is something we haven't done in the past. These are shots fired that we haven't picked up in the past and now we're starting to tally them also. But in these cases people aren't being shot. It's just shots being fired. Deputy Commissioner Shea: For definition purposes, a shooting incident, we require somebody to be shot. In addition to that there are incidents that are occurring where shots are being fired and no one is hit. And as Bob said, all of this is pulled together and we do nothing without prioritizing. And it has helped us on the investigative side and also on the deployment side, quite frankly, on the patrol side to put the cops where we need them to prevent shootings before they happen. So, there's a lot going on and coming together, and that's why you see that dramatic drop in shooting incidents. And I apologize wherever you go the wrong information from. Question: For Dermot Shea, you mentioned that [inaudible] gang shootings [inaudible]. Are you saying with the federal [inaudible] taking these case [inaudible]? Deputy Commissioner Shea: Tony, it's difficult to quantify that but that's not an outrageous statement. I will say that we get a great deal cooperation from our local prosecutors as well as our federal. But the very nature of our deployment is based on the facts of each individual case whether it's a gun case a drug case, what charges we're attempting prove, what we can prove. We'll make strategic decisions and we do it on a daily basis of where we're going to prosecute individual cases. That's going to have the greatest impact for the quality of life of everyone in New York City. Once we make those – and we do cases, many, State and federal, and successful in both. Difficult to quantify do you get more cooperation on the federal level but there are certain strategic advantages to taking cases federal. Every case cannot go federal for a number of reasons. But there are advantages at times – admissibility of evidence, sentencing, and then depending on the circumstances sometimes the sentencing is better in fact at the State level. So, each case is case-specific – charges, who the individuals are. And I just want to get out there, we could not do this without the Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York, all our partners on the federal side, but also the vast majority of the cases we do are at the State level in the five counties of New York. Commissioner O'Neill: And Tony, just to add to that. When we do go federal, most of the time it's a discussion between the local prosecutors, us, and the US Attorney's Office. Question: A question specifically about assaults. According to a report I have here from the City's Health Department, according to hospital records there are about 22,000 assaults in New York City hospitals and health centers each year. Also, it's the tenth leading cause of emergency room costs. So, how come your numbers for assaults are so low? Commissioner O'Neill: Dermot, you want to – Deputy Commissioner Shea: Well, the first thing that comes to my mind there, and again you would need to be a data junkie, as I am, and dig into those numbers. I would need to see it and see what you're describing. Bob Boyce could assaulted tonight and make a police report and go to the hospital. And he could go back to the hospital five times for that same injuries. Is that five incidents that is being reported five separate times? You really have to look into the individual statistics and go from there. That's a wide, wide discrepancy. I'll give you some assault numbers here. We have about 11,500 felony assaults. Many more misdemeanor assaults year-to-date – 24,000. So, you didn't specify felony versus misdemeanor. So, there's really a lot that could go – that could explain those numbers. Question: Two questions. One – if the relationship between police and community is improving, why aren't more people calling in shots that they hear? And then secondly, the Brooklyn DA and State Attorney General earlier this morning said ICE raids in courts are leading some people to be fearful of cooperating with law enforcement out of fear of being deported. I'm wondering if you're seeing any of that in the NYPD. Mayor: Can I just jump in on that before others respond to the specifics? Look, we have many measures of why neighborhood policing is working, and, obviously, the most important set of measures is what we just described – the reduction in crime. But another thing to focus on is the reduction in complaints against police. So, what I'd say to you is – I understand the sort of logic jump you make if people are feeling better about the relationship with the police, why don't they call in the shootings? I would argue, that's not the best way to measure the relationship between police and community. I think it is whether our efforts are reducing crime. I think it's looking at how people respond to their interactions with police and the fact that they find, I think if someone can help me on this, I believe the number is about a 15-year low in terms of the number of complaints that are going to CCRB, and certainly all the information we're hearing from community leaders and active citizens about their relationship with the police. I think that's it's own set of data and that tells us a lot. Should every New Yorker call in a shot if they hear it? Absolutely because the police need that information and not everyone is yet covered by ShotSpotter. But, Azi, I would really argue that is a different question than whether people feel good about the relationship with police. That may be people who, you know, have heard shots over the years and gotten used to it, we would like to encourage people of course to believe that there's constant progress. They should take nothing for granted. They should assume we're not taking anything for granted and call that in right away. Commissioner O'Neill: And just moving forward the technology that we have not, that's maybe something we can take a look at to see if we can close that gap between the number of 9-1-1 calls and the number of ShotSpotter alerts. Question: [Inaudible] witnesses, are you getting any kind of sense that people are being scared away by ICE showing up at the courts? Commissioner O'Neill: [Inaudible] from all the community outreach we do across the city, we're not getting that sense in New York City. Question: Chief Boyce, are there any updates in the [inaudible]? Chief Boyce: Okay. The first one is that we were able to narrow off our focus on the 1-0-5 investigation quite a bit. He's, as I said earlier, is not the victim of – Mr. Ray – is not the target here nor is the person who is named in the press as the gang member who lived inside. So, we have narrowed our focus substantially. We're trying to keep our case fairly confidential right now. We feel like we're making a lot of progress in a short amount of time. So, we're moving forward in that direction. Insofar as the case you spoke about – about the botched plastic surgery. We're working with the Manhattan DA, consolidating our evidence that we have. As I said earlier, we have a lot of people identified right now and we have a lot of video that we're trying to pull in right now into the case. So, we'll go forward with the Manhattan DA on that case. Again, we've come a long way in a short amount of time. It's looking very good. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Boyce: There is no doctor. We don't believe him to be a doctor, alright. [Laughter] We believe he's identified as the man and woman who did that. [Inaudible] doctor in this world, he's not one of them. Alright, so, we'll go forward. Question: Mr. Mayor, to get back to community policing. Two police officers in Brooklyn were refused [inaudible] – Mayor: Say it again. Two – Question: Two police officers in Brooklyn were refused service at Dunkin Donuts [inaudible] – Mayor: No, I think this is – I don't know the details and I wasn't there but if it's what you described it's someone really being stupid and unfair to our police officers. And you can't – someone at Dunkin Donuts, behind the counter, can't refuse service to anyone. That's illegal to begin with. So, that's unacceptable to me that anyone would do that. But I think the atmosphere in this city has been one of growing respect between police and community. There are so many ways, including National Night Out just a few days ago, that we honor our police officers and their service and we also send a message to community members that they need to be allies with police. Police need to be allies with them. Everyone needs to be talking much more closely and consistently. That's what's pervading in the ground in this city. I've seen it now for four years how it's grown and, as I said, when you look at something like a huge decrease in the number of complaints against police officers I think that tells a hell of a lot more than some jerk at a Dunkin Donuts who wouldn't serve coffee. Question: Commissioner, can you talk about the police shooting in the 6-7 Precinct. The officer involved did not receive [inaudible] training and he [inaudible] – Commissioner O'Neill: Right. Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner O'Neill: Just this – and again this is under investigation by Force Investigation. As far as everything that we see right now all protocols were followed. This incident happened very quickly. Officer Gonzalez did not receive CIT training. The three other police officers that he was with did. Right now, we've trained 5,653 police officers in CIT training. We're training about 105 a week. After the Danner incident up in the Bronx, we changed our focus to supervisors, lieutenants and sergeants, NCOs and sector cops, and we should we be done with that training by the end of 2018. Question: [Inaudible] increase the number of officers that you plan to train because last year you guys – Commissioner O'Neill: We doubled the number of people we're training per week. Question: [Inaudible] 5,500 last year. You've surpassed that – Commissioner O'Neill: We're planning on doing the whole patrol force. Question: Chief Boyce, there was a [inaudible]? Chief Boyce: We have. They turned out to be animal bones – fake bones, if you will. So, someone saw someone bury something there, and that's when we went back and recovered that. We sent it to the anthropologists and they determined them to be animal bones. So, that case continues. We're working with other police departments in Nassau as well as Hempstead on this specific set of MS-13, and it's going pretty well. Question: Chief Boyce, is there any update, any new leads in regards to the Central Park explosion from last year? And do you see any possible connection, any similarities between the explosion in Queens and that explosion last year? And then just one more question, how much money has been spent thus far on Shot Spotter and you mentioned the Mayor's funding a new expansion – Mayor: Okay this is becoming a 16 part question. Why don't we do the first – we'll come to you, we'll come no, no that was several in the end. We'll come to you on the second one. Let's do the first – the first again was? Question: [Inaudible] Chief Boyce: The Central Park case. Mayor: There you go. Chief Boyce: The Central Park case right now, I will say it's a wholly different explosive. That was a high – high explosive in Central Park the one in Queens was a low explosive, it was flash power in Queens. That was something else in Central Park. That case is still going – ongoing. We have federal partners as well. I have nothing new to report to you about that. But I will say for clarity the two don't appear at this point to be related at all. Two different devices, two different means of explosive so no – nothing new I can report to you about Central Park and it is not related at all to the 105. Mayor: Shot spotter, go ahead. Question: I was asking about the funding, how much has been spent thus far and with the new expansion specifically the dollar amount of that? Deputy Commissioner Tisch: So Shot Spotter is a subscription model so you pay per zone and each zone is three square miles, so we pay $225,000 per square mile per year. Sorry, per three square mile per year. So in a year for 20 – for 60 square miles it's $4.5 million. Commissioner O'Neill: Second row. Question: Commissioner, you and First Lady McCray held a press conference here earlier this year announcing you were going to be increasing the size of the bike squad and targeting more [inaudible] arrest. Can you talk about how that initiative is going so far and what are you doing sort of to ease concerns of victims. Commissioner O'Neill: Yes that's through Jimmy Klein, he's in our Vice Enforcement Division he has a human trafficking section that he's using in there. I can get you updated numbers for him on how they're doing so far. And we refocused our efforts on people running the prostitution operations and the people patronizing. And we're treating most of the people we lock up for prostitution as victims and trying to get them as much help as possible. Question: Question for Mr. Mayor and also a question for Chief Shea or Commissioner. Mr. Mayor the incident at Dunkin Donuts, I'm just curious is that something that you knew about before it was just raised – Mayor: No. Just heard it now. Question: [inaudible] but you felt comfortable – Mayor: I said I don't, I think I made it very clear in the beginning, I think you were here. I said, I said I wasn't there, I don't know the details but as described if someone refused – if some – first of all, any person who is in food service and refuses someone service because of the uniform they're wearing, or the color of their skin, or the language they speak that's immoral, that's illegal. And second, if they did it because of if they had some animus towards the police I think that's absolutely unacceptable. So – and no right to make that judgement. If they don't want to serve people go get another job but don't take it out on police officers who are trying to protect people. But again I wasn't there, maybe, maybe there's more complex to that but I'm responding to as it was described. Question: [inaudible] I mean I'm not obviously arguing in favor of the person not providing service I was just – very often you won't comment when you're not familiar with a situation so I was just curious what made a difference? Mayor: Because it's so strong a violation in my point of view. I mean, first of all, I've rarely heard anything like that. I think the days of people not serving anybody because of who they are generally are past us, there's been some efforts in some states as you know to not provide service to people because they happen to be members of the LGBT community things like that. But as a general rule in our society today, it's unacceptable to refuse service to anyone because of who they are. So that's what I'm responding to. I think it's pretty cut and dry. If it's anything like what was described, it's just plain unacceptable. Question: [inaudible] NYPD officials the year to date stats on rape and other sexual offenses, do you have those sort of cumulative numbers there, and this is something that's being brought up a lot by Assembly member Malliotakis, obviously in a political setting, but I'm just wondering what those numbers are and what sort of – if there's anything being done of late to address any increases in those numbers. Commissioner O'Neill: Alright, Chief Shea can handle that but just to your question about what possibly transpired at Dunkin Donuts. I mean let's be real here, this is less than a month since the brutal homicide of Detective Miosotis Familia, and this is – I spoke about this at length at the eulogy, we need to stop vilifying the police. Take a look at the crime numbers that we're presenting to you today, just the homicide and shooting numbers alone. The mem and women of this great police department do a lot of terrific work so I think we need to be respected for that. Chief Shea: In terms of the overall rape number through July 31, we're down a little over six percent in rapes. 801 verses 854 and that's preliminary but that's where we are. We've been down most of the year. To be fair, the sexual crimes, and we've spoken about this and I've probably been asked at about half the press conferences, it's very challenging. And it's something that is tough to nail down in terms of the outreach that we are doing to try and get more reports. And that's not to make an excuse but to be fair over three years we're up five percent so we have been seeing a number of rapes reported. This year they're down but in the last couple of years it has been up. And the misdemeanor sex crimes is actually up this year, and those – that's about a nine percent increase. So it continues to be very high on our list of priories, but I will tell you that to – and I read them all, it is a very complicated. In this for example, the misdemeanor sex crimes a lot of it is family members and dealing with children and things of that type, so it's a very complicated crime. I could tell you it's near and dear to everyone in the NYPD's heart to do everything that we can to attack this problem. But there does remain work to be done. Question: [Inaudible] things that you're doing, could you just give us a few specifics like what are – what does that look like? Chief Shea: it's a long – quite frankly, it's a long conversation. I will tell you that in cases of – it's a complicated issue and that's an understatement, but my overall generalization here is that when there is a sexual crime in New York City, Bob's detectives know in very short order in most cases, many times we know right from the start of the complaint but then it's a process of the domestic side to it, getting together with the prosecutors, getting together sometimes with completive victims that do not want to prosecute and go forward. So, you have issues of increased reporting, you have – I'm telling you that in most of the cases we know exactly who the perpetrator are, these are not serial offenders. Although we do have some cases like that and we give it the upmost priority. And trying to navigate that world and bring this case to a successful conclusion, aid the victim, get the victim, what's a successful outcome for the victim, this is – these are topics that are going on all across the country in law enforcement and how to deal with these issues. Tough, tough, tough one to tackle. Commissioner O'Neill: Jonathan. Question: [Inaudible] numerous incidents in Europe and again in Australia in recent weeks, have you noticed any change in the pace, nature of the threat? And are there any new threats here that the public should be advised on? Commissioner O'Neill: I'll let Commissioner Miller talk about that. John? Deputy Commissioner John Miller, NYPD, Intelligence & Counterterrorism: We follow the increase in those incidents, particularly in Western Europe very closely. John, as you know, we have foreign posts located in 14 different cities in the world where we try to keep that reporting very current. Every incident we look at, we look at for what we call the TTPs, the trainings, tactics, and procedures used by the terrorist groups to see is there anything new, is there anything different, is there anything that we have to either adjust our deployment to here on the street or our tactics, training, our equipment for our people. Question: [Inaudible] Deputy Commissioner Miller: From time to time there are things that cause small adjustments. I think you know you've been following the reporting out of Australia, the reporting out of Germany, the reporting gout of London and Paris. We look at what's happening with the use of large vehicles, rented vehicles, we look at the use of chemicals, different strains of explosives. We do this in great detail all the time. Question: [Inaudible] can you talk about the [Inaudible] – Chief Boyce: Sure. Question: [Inaudible] that about Chief Boyce: Okay. So, this happened at – thanks for that question. These things – this incident happened just before midnight on Tuesday night, August 1st. Two individuals, Mr. Glover who we later identified through video tape, [Inaudible] great job by Manhattan detectives on this, was walking from Grand Central Station across the street to his job on East 43rd Street, as he was walking by an individual who we later identified as John Jolly, words were exchanged, and Mr. Glover continued to walk. As further words were exchanged, Mr. Glover turned around and began speaking to at a certain distance to Mr. Jolly, Mr. Jolly then approached him, about 15 feet away, walked up to him, it was at this point that Mr. Glover retrieved a knife out of his sleeve, out of his left sleeve, held it in his hands, and then as the argument ensured after that stabbed him twice in the chest, once below the sternum and once elsewhere on his chest. He then walked – continued walking eastbound on 43rd Street. Mr. Jolly walked back up to Lexington. He did not seem to be effected by it at the time, we did notice from out video that he did have a red spot on his shirt. He then walked north on Lexington and down East 44th Street where he collapsed on the corner of East 44th Street and Third Avenue. He was rendered aid at that point by passersby, called 9-1-1, and he was removed to Bellevue Hospital where he expired later on. We were able to put together this video package, this tracing of Mr. Glover all the way back down to where he worked on East 43rd street, two blocks down. Went into a building, we went into the building with that video and he was identified as Nathanial Glover aka – and I say aka his moniker is – rap moniker Kidd Creole. We've found out that he went in that night and there was no work for him at that location, he then went home, we went to his – where he lived in the Bronx in the 4-4 Precinct, and we asked him to come in to – back down to Manhattan south which he did. Later on that night he gave us a narrative where he admitted to this crime. He's now being charged with murder two. And that's kind of like what we have right now. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Boyce: I don't want to get into the specifics that will be for a grand jury. Mr. [Inaudible] has a grand jury coming up here, but he is charged with murder two. He is not been arraigned yet, so he's still in court. Commissioner O'Neill: Last up for police. Question: Yes. The question is about shot spotter and neighborhood policing, I'm wondering Shot Spotter has been around for about two years now and the police department has been accused of misleading the public by reporting shooting incidents but not, not shots fired. I'm wondering where the conversation stands with reporting shots fire in the [Inaudible] and would – if all 2,300 of those incidents that you mentioned early Commissioner Tisch are confirmed shootings or – Mayor: Can I just jump in for a second? Again, there's been a historical approach to how shootings are tabulated which involves when there's a victim. Shot Spotter was something we chose to do to find where guns were fired that we were not finding otherwise, that were not being reported by a community resident or that didn't happen to be some place was there to see it or hear it. That was a decision to go and find more of the information we needed, to seek out the problem not turn away from it. And we've been very clear about collecting that information and explaining to the public what it means and also what it's allowing our officers to do in terms of better crime fighting, better prosecutions, etcetera. So I just want to give it that frame before the experts speak that – in fact one of the things that I really appreciate about the discussion that lead to the utilization of Shot Spotter was it was a decision to do something that involved having to do even more work to address more problems rather than turning away from them. Deputy Commissioner Shea: I would just add that from my perspective on the releasing of data to the public, I'm not aware of any other police department that does release statistics, not to say that it doesn't take place, but we're under requirements to release certain crime statistics. Part of the country calls it part one, we call it index crimes, but in terms of shots fired, radio runs or jobs, I'm not saying it's something we would never do, it's nothing that I've considered and it's not something that I'm aware that any police department does do. And there's a lot of factors to that too. When Shot Spotter goes off we have protocols built into place with Bob's personnel, Terry's personnel, and trying to elicit information and recanvassing areas. But in terms of releasing statistics on how often jobs come in, there is an element to this too that not all of them are founded, so there are unfounded jobs. And I would just have to think through that, but right now currently there's no plans to do that. Mayor: Can you just, I'm sorry Dermot, just to clarify unfounded in some cases because another sound creates the – Deputy Commissioner Shea: Sure so – Mayor: That's part of the challenge here – Deputy Commissioner Shea: People call 9-1-1 Mayor: – another sound can make it – can make Shot Spotter go off right? Deputy Commissioner Shea: People call 9-1-1 and say shots are being fired and sometimes they are and sometimes people mishear things. I was going to bring that up earlier when you say that 86 percent don't have a 9-1-1 call, sometimes that's not for a distrust of the police, it's because people hear noises and they don't think its shots. So that's an element to this too. I can tell you that Jesse said – and it's a phenomenal tool, that officers can literally hear these shots now on their smartphones as well as their desktops and when we roll out new procedures and start getting adherence to new policies we want to make sure the tools are being utilized. So, when we see jobs coming over Shot Spotter, I personally and many in this room will listen to these jobs, is it a shots fired job, what should we have done differently. So, there is an element there too that not every time it's audio is recorded is a shot, but I can tell you I would echo 100 percent, it's been a phenomenal tool in probably ways we didn't even anticipate in directing our resources, linking cases together, prioritizing cases, and on and on. It's been phenomenal. Commissioner O'Neill: Jess, did you have something to add? Deputy Commissioner Tisch: Sure. We know that five percent of our Shot Spotter activations of the alerts we get from Shot Spotter are definitely false positives, so either they're determined to be firecrackers going off or a car backfiring, it's a pretty low false positive rate but I want to make that clear. Also, and Chief Boyce can tell you in much greater detail than I can, it's very difficult to find shell casings when you're doing a canvass. For our Shot Spotter activations we have evidence recovery, shell casings and the like in 12 percent of the activations. So I think that 12 percent number puts in context the 16 percent number associated with 9-1-1 calls. Question: [Inaudible] neighborhood policing, we've been talking about a [inaudible] wondering where that stands, has the survey been created? Commissioner O'Neill: The survey has been created, it's in beta now, it's still untested so, I think it's going to be great tool for our precinct commanders and we're going to incorporate it into COMP Stat. Unknown: We're going to move off into other topics. Mayor: Other topics – Andrew? Question: Mr. Mayor, in [inaudible] you vowed that your administration would make sure that NYCHA sidewalk sheds and other scaffolding – if they weren't in use for active construction, they would come down. We've been all over the city and we still see them [inaudible] where work isn't being done. What do you think the disconnect is? Mayor: I appreciate the question a lot. There's two answers – sometimes there's a reason the scaffolding is up that has nothing to do with a specific job that has to be done, but there's a threat – you know, something that could fall and there needs to be scaffolding up immediately even before you can get to work on the solution. But there are other cases, which we did talk about in 2015, where the job is done, the work is done, there's no longer a need for scaffolding. In those cases, the scaffolding needs to come down immediately. So, I want to thank you for raising this because I think you did locate some locations where that didn't happen. It's unacceptable to me. I'm going to have a meeting very quickly with the leadership of NYCHA to make clear that's unacceptable and this has to be acted on immediately. It's ridiculous if scaffolding has done everything it was supposed to do for it to be there in the middle of one of our public housing developments. It creates a lot of problems for the community and I won't tolerate those scaffoldings being – so, I'll get back to you soon with a very specific timeline for when they'll come down. Question: Mr. Mayor, yesterday you expressed some dissatisfaction, at least on Twitter, with the President's new proposal regarding changing how people are admitted to the country legally – legal immigration. There's like about – I mean, you seem to say that we shouldn't have tests for proficiency of English or skilled workers. They say there's about a billion people in the world who would like to come to the United States. What kind of criteria do you think are appropriate for the country to decide who comes in? Or is this just something that – it's really not up to the United States, it's up to the people who want to come? Mayor: First, let me tell you what I said, which is factual based on everything I've seen about what President Trump proposed – it literally would have excluded my grandparents and it would have excluded probably the parents and grandparents of a lot of people in this room. My grandparents didn't speak English when they got here from Italy. My grandparents didn't have college degrees. They became exemplary Americans and they contributed to the economy, they built a business, their children were able to go to college, which no one previously ever dreamed of. That's the American dream. So, the notion that we only want to allow into American people who speak English and have advanced degrees violates the history – almost 400 years of our history of people coming here, including working class people, folks who didn't have education, folks who didn't have the benefit of knowing English already, and yet they built this country. In terms of what should be the idealized rules – I'm not an expert on the immigration process. I think it's fair to say, for decades, we've had a series of rules that worked pretty well, meaning, if you went through the legal process, which everyone should, folks came in from all over the world without bias, all different kinds of skill levels contributed in lots of different ways. And so, I would say there's been a pretty consistent consensus over the last decades that there is a way to set minimum standards but also allow a range of people in, and I don't know why we wouldn't want to do that and keeping making that work the right way, and do the thing that, bluntly, a majority of Americans would like to see – comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the outstanding issues and provides a path to citizenship for folks in good standing – the 11-12 million people who are here – so we can finally create some normalcy in this country rather than having this unending debate. Question: Quick follow-up – I know you don't like to deal with hypotheticals – Mayor: I do not like to deal with hypotheticals, you are correct. Question: But you do understand that had your grandparents not come to the United States, we would still have a Mayor. Mayor: I never said you wouldn't have a Mayor. I'm sure you'd have a Mayor. It just wouldn't be this Mayor, because I wouldn't be alive. Yeah? Question: Mr. Mayor, public payroll data shows that engineers and mechanics with the Department of Corrections are making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. In fact, many of them are making more in overtime than in their base salary. Are you aware of that? Can anything be done to curb the overtime hours? Mayor: I am aware of it. Look, we work very hard to keep overtime as low as possible. It's been a major focus over the last few years with a number of agencies. The challenge with the Department of Correction is an aging physical structure, particularly at Rikers Island, including a lot of emergency work – that's where a lot of the overtime comes from. We don't obviously use overtime for non-emergency work. So, the problem is really a physical one that we're trying to figure out ways to address that will ultimately bring down the need for overtime. So, I don't take it lightly at all – I want to reduce overtime everywhere. But, unfortunately, when it comes to the Correction system, we have a structural problem that's standing in the way right now. Question: Do you find those numbers alarming? Mayor: Yeah, alarming, but I also understood that we have to get to the root cause and we have to fix the fundamental physical reality. Question: Mayor, you tweeted this morning – or, your campaign account tweeted this morning – that you'll debate before the primary election regardless of CFB requirements. It looks like Sal Albanese might meet the CFB requirements, and then you'd of course be required to participate in that kind of debate. I mean, what are you envisioning with what you said this morning? Are you considering debating Bob Ganji, who probably won't meet those CFB requirements? Are you anticipating some kind debate held outside the CFB – Mayor: This is simply a statement of principal and the details have to be worked out by the campaign team. I don't have any idea who will qualify, but if anyone qualifies under the CFB system besides myself, we will certainly follow those rules happily. But I wanted to make clear that if no one qualified, I'd still be willing to have a debate and we can work out how that's put together. Question: [Inaudible] on the same topic right now, the CFB is holding a meeting where they're discussing whether or not to award you more than $2 million in matching funds. Why do you think that you need the matching funds in a race where you're not expected to be facing any primary opponent who will also qualify? Mayor: First of all, we talked about this the other day – I don't believe there's any way to know what's going to happen in an election. I think those who believe they understand elections before they happen were rudely awakened on November 8th. And I don't take anything lightly. There's a set of rules – that's what I know – there's a set of rules. We have the best campaign finance system, I think, in the whole country. It makes very clear that people should pursue maximum small donations from New York City residents. And part of what is there to encourage that is the matching-fund system, and if you meet a set of goals and metrics, and the conditions exist, you have a right to a certain amount of matching funds. I think that's the way things should be and we have clearly qualified and we believe – I believe we need those resources to talk to people in this city about both what I've bene doing, but more importantly the vision for the future of the city they have to make a decision on. The rules are clear as a bell from my point of view and we have lived up to those rules. Question: Mr. Mayor, you initially attributed to termination of Ricardo Morales to a structural reorganization, and then later explained it in terms of performance issues. Can you explain your change [inaudible] on that and why you did that? Mayor: I can say I think those two things go together, and I think the people who understand this best are the people involved in the decision – I'm not one of them. So, the Commissioner is Lisette Camilo, she reports to the First Deputy Mayor, Tony Shorris. Those are the folks who can give you the details. But I think there was a performance issue and there was a desire to change the way the agency was structured. Those two things were simultaneous. Question: Can you expand on how they go together? Mayor: I just think it's obvious they go together. Sometimes you want to go in a different direction with how you run an agency and you're also clear about what you feel about the personnel you have. But again, I can't speak to the details because I wasn't involved. Question: Mr. Mayor, on that police shooting in Brooklyn, you commented on that but I missed your comment. Mayor: I think you did miss my comments. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Really? [Laughter] Are you referring to – Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Yeah, it's a tragedy, obviously. And nothing any of us ever want to see – you know, a young man who obviously had very, very serious problems that were not sufficiently addressed. Anybody who confronts police officers with a knife, with no warning whatsoever – it's a horrible, horrible situation and it suggests that there were some real serious issues that went untreated. But there's a full investigation going on to get to the details and if we can look for a way forward, it is this continued training of our officers in terms of crisis intervention, how to deal with folks who are emotionally disturbed. But I think even more it's the effort to create a real mental health system in this city through the ThriveNYC initiative to reach people in need as early as humanely possible so it never gets to a day like that one. Question: Just building off that – Councilman Jumaane Williams has set a special task force to be implemented that looks at incidents involving emotionally disturbed people and the NYPD. Do you think something like that would be practical? Should a special task force be – Mayor: I don't personally see the need for a specific task force because I think it's an area of tremendous concern right now both at City Hall and at the NYPD to continue to improve the NYPD's ability to address situations involving emotionally disturbed people. Now, I'll remind you, the number of calls each year is staggering. Commissioner, can you remind me? Commissioner O'Neill: It's 150,000 a year. Mayor: 150,000 a year. I think for most New Yorkers, if they understood that our police officers who, remember, went into the field of policing, not mental health, but end up having to deal with such complicated situations – that's why the training is so important, but even more so I would say getting to the root cause is the most important thing. We want to bring that number way down. We want to see a situation where our officers do not have to handle anywhere near that number of cases because if those individuals are identified early, including during their school years, which is the best time to find a problem, and they get treatment early – that's the whole vision of ThriveNYC. So, I would say given the intense concern at City Hall related to mental health and the focus the NYPD has put on it, the right ideas are in place we now have to just continue to deepen our implementation of those ideas. Question: Mr. Mayor, a lot of transit experts are saying with all of the haggling over the subways, you know, what about the buses? That's something where the City has a little more say, a little more control. Can you tell us what you're doing about bus availability, bus routes, etcetera? Mayor: Well, where we have the biggest impact is on select bus service. Just to be clear, I don't think as you talk about buses in general – our control is significantly different than with the subway system. But in the area of select bus service, for it to be achieved, it requires cooperation between the City and the State, and the MTA, and obviously investment by the City on the capital elements of each route. That's something we think has been a real success story. So, there are some times when things have been done the right way and that's one of them. I think there's four more lines coming on this year in select bus service, and then we want to keep expanding. So, it's a good news story. I put it in the same category as the other, newer types of transportation hat are being developed rapidly – the ferry system, light rail, and obviously the expansion of Citi Bike – all of these are going to be necessary to give people more options. But we're very committed to long-term growth on select bus service. Question: The BQX – is that – I mean, that's a little ways off, obviously. Is that something you still feel is an especially important answer to the – Mayor: Sure. I mean – I think I'm remembering my numbers correctly – that, that corridor – about 400,000 people live in that corridor. I mean, that would be the size of a major American city right there. And it's – as you know, the start is being [inaudible] 2019 or 2020. A lot of those areas are underserved, including, I believe it's something like 40,000 residents of those communities who live in public housing. A lot of our biggest concentration of public housing – places like Red Hook and parts of Western Queens. So, yeah, I think it's a big part of the equation. We said from the very beginning, if that one works, which we really hope it will and believe it will, it could be a model for expanding light rail in other parts of the city that are underserved by the subway system. Question: Mr. Mayor, there is a competitive Council race coming up in Borough Park. The son of Dov Hikind has jumped in the race. You're very familiar with that borough – or, that district, rather. Could you talk a little bit about the politics of the area? Mayor: How much time have you got? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: It's a situation that – obviously, that district is the district that neighbored the one I served in, in the City Council. I know it very well. I know a lot of people in that district very well. But the situation, as you know, it's changed just in the last few days several times. So, I really have not focused on it. At some point, you know, I'll make a decision whether there's anything to say about it. But, right now, I don't really have anything to say. But the broader analysis – there's a lot I could say, but, again, not the time and place about the history of the district and all the work I've done with it – one thing, another. But it's such a new situation, we've got to analyze it. Question: [Inaudible] situation, you're referring to the race? Mayor: Obviously, the incumbent, without much – no one I think assumed he was going to leave the race, and then two new candidates emerging – that's a lot to digest. So, we'll think about it. Question: On the question of the primary debate, you just said that it was a statement of principal for you [inaudible] debate regardless of whether somebody qualifies or not. About two weeks ago on NY1, you were asked about this and you said that if nobody else meets the threshold under the CFB rules, "we'll cross that bridge at the time." The bridge-crossing seems to be [inaudible] when the next filing period is for them to qualify for the debate. So, what changed between now and then? Mayor: I thought about it – Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I fully understand the question. I thought about it and talked to my team about, and e just thought about – first of all, I think we all were working on the assumption that someone would qualify. I'm surprised that, that's not clear yet, but we don't know. But I just thought about it and said I would be more comfortable having a debate either way. And it just was a process of thinking it through and discussing it. So, that's how I got to it. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: When I say statement of principal, I'm not trying to say some big, cosmic principal. I'm saying it was a decision to say, here's a marker I just want to lay down [inaudible] I'll lay it down. I'm going to do a debate either way – it's as simple as that. Question: You made that statement on the day that the CFB is meeting to consider your statement [inaudible] to receive a full complement of matching funds. Are those two things related? Mayor: No, I think it's just about making very clear, because I've gotten a lot of inquiries from your colleagues on this question and I had come to a decision, it just didn't make sense to not say what I decided. It just was very clear to me that I'm going to do a debate one way or another. Question: Mr. Mayor, does it concern you at all that a police officer in the 6-7 who had been involved in a [inaudible] was again allowed to respond to another case [inaudible] receiving – Mayor: I think we want to establish – I understand the question, but let's establish the facts first. So, let me get that on the table and then I'll respond. Commissioner O'Neill: The original shooting Officer Gonzalez was in, it didn't come in as a emotionally disturbed persons call. Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner O'Neill: It did not come over as an emotionally disturbed persons call. Mayor: The previous shooting. So, again, there's an investigation going on of this incident. We all take that very seriously. We want to see what comes of that and then we'll be able to say more when we see that. Was there one more? Yeah, Rich? Question: Senator Corey Booker thinks that marijuana [inaudible] legalized federally. Just wondering if you wanted to weigh in. And one of the effects, according to what he said, was it could help to blunt the opioid – Mayor: Was that a play on words there, Rich? [Laughter] Question: Unintentional – just wondering if you wanted to weigh in on that. Mayor: I'm not there. I think there – again, there's a major experiment happening in some states and some major American cities that's going to tell us a lot. But if you talk about the pros and cons, there are obviously some good arguments for legalization, but there's also a lot of unanswered questions both about what it would mean for young people to have access to that drug and also what it would mean in terms of public safety. So, I'm not convinced that that's the right direction yet, but it's something I'm willing to keep considering as we get more information from the places that have gone through it. Okay. Thanks, everyone.