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Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 5:05pm
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announce J. Phillip Thompson as Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. Thompson is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also oversees the Housing, Community and Economic Development Group. In addition to his expertise in urban politics and coalition building, Thompson’s experience working in New York City government makes him well poised to oversee the Administration’s signature initiatives that require major interagency collaboration. “Phillip is one of the foremost experts on how to better serve and lift up low-income neighborhoods, and has spent decades fighting in the trenches for progressive causes. He will make sure our agencies are working together to make New York City the fairest big city in the nation. As New Yorkers, we’re all very lucky he decided to come home, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I would also like to thank Richard Buery for his four years of service to our city. With Pre-K, 3-K and Thrive NYC, he has improved the lives of New Yorkers across the five boroughs.” “As a scholar, activist and public servant, Phil Thompson has never shied away from the tough challenges that affect our communities – from economic, racial and health disparities to environmental justice and affordable housing. I’m confident that Phil, as our new Deputy Mayor, will serve the people of New York City well, and I look forward to working with him on the issues that matter most to our City,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “I want to thank the Mayor and First Lady for giving me the opportunity to come back to where my career began, and join a progressive administration that puts people first. I will work every day to ensure the City continues to deliver real change to New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said J. Phillip Thompson. “I am so thankful to the Mayor and First Lady for the opportunity to serve my hometown, and help implement programs like Pre-K and Thrive NYC that have changed the lives of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery. “Phillip Thompson is the right person to continue the good work we have achieved these last four years.” “I have known Phil Thompson for 25 years and can attest to his commitment to public service,” said former Mayor David Dinkins. “I have full faith that his deep understanding of how to build coalitions will make New York City stronger, and improve the lives of its citizens.” “Philip Thompson is a dedicated public servant and a visionary leader who has demonstrated a real commitment to utilizing community-led strategies to address the challenges facing poor and working class New Yorkers,” said George Gresham President of 1199SEIU. “It’s one thing to tell communities what they need, but true leaders work hand in hand with community members to find answers and craft meaningful solutions. I look forward to working with Philip Thompson to help improve conditions for working men and women throughout New York City.” “Phil Thompson is an ardent advocate for equitable access to healthcare. He helped us to make the connection with how our labor issues are specifically linked with the needs of the community served by Interfaith Medical Center,” said Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association. ABOUT J. PHILLIP THOMPSON J. Phillip Thompson is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he oversees the Housing, Community and Economic Development group. He began working at MIT in 2002, and his interests are in American Politics with a focus on urban politics, race and ethnic politics, political economy and urban policymaking. Thompson’s urban planning work focuses on community participation, community development strategies, as well as labor unions and their relationship to community building efforts in low-income neighborhoods. Thompson is a published on a wide array of topics related to coalition-building in progressive electoral politics, labor relations, public health, environmental justice, and criminal justice. Lately, he has been writing frequently about race and the central role it plays in electoral politics as well as the necessity and the failure of progressive leaders to fully account for structural racism in campaign messaging. Prior to joining MIT, Thompson worked at Columbia University and Barnard College. He began his career in New York City government first as Policy Assistant to then Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins. Thompson oversaw then Mayor Dinkins’ Office of Housing Coordination, and then served as the Deputy General Manager for Operations and Development at NYCHA. Thompson is also a frequent advisor to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States. He received a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1977, a M.U.P. from Hunter College and a PhD in Political Science from the City University of New York. He and his wife, Bronx- native Dayna Cunnigham, have three children.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 11:35am
Company will be first to develop a major project under the City’s innovative East Midtown rezoning, will collaborate closely with key government officials to quickly move process forward NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and JPMorgan Chase announced today that the company intends to pursue building a new 2.5 million square-foot headquarters at its 270 Park Avenue location in New York City. The building would be the first major project under the City’s innovative East Midtown Rezoning plan, passed in 2017, that fosters modern office construction and improvements to the business district’s public realm and transportation. The project will be subject to various approvals, and the company will work closely with the City Council and State officials and agencies to complete the project in a manner that benefits all constituencies. “This is our plan for East Midtown in action. Good jobs, modern buildings and concrete investments that will make East Midtown stronger for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who work here. We look forward to working with JPMorgan Chase as it doubles-down on New York as its international home,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “At JPMorgan Chase, we believe that investing for the long-term is a hallmark of our success,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company. “With a new headquarters at 270 Park Avenue, we are recommitting ourselves to New York City while also ensuring that we operate in a highly efficient and world-class environment for the 21st century. We look forward to working constructively and collaboratively with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and other key City and State officials on this important project.” “New York State is the business capital of the globe, and our investments in workforce development and commercial enterprise have positioned us at the forefront of innovation and growth. JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to build their new, state-of-the-art corporate headquarters and support thousands of jobs here in New York is proof that our economic development strategies are successful, and I look forward to working with them to keep New York State’s momentum moving forward,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. Under the East Midtown rezoning, JPMorgan Chase will purchase development rights from landmarks in the surrounding district in order to build a larger building. Any such transactions in the new East Midtown subdistrict require the seller of the air rights to pay the City a minimum contribution of $61.49 per square foot, providing funding for improvements to the neighborhood’s public realm including shared streets, pedestrian plazas and thoroughfare upgrades. With the new, modern facility, which is expected to create over 8,000 construction-related jobs during the building period, JPMorgan Chase would consolidate its global headquarters from a variety of locations into a fully LEED-certified, energy efficient office tower in Midtown Manhattan. The headquarters project would build on the firm’s strong legacy of investment in local communities and the City of New York, its home since 1799. The building’s modernized infrastructure and design, including 21st century systems and technology, would allow for improved business adjacencies, synergies and collaboration. Clients, shareholders and the surrounding community would benefit from this innovative project, which would also support the firm’s commitment to attracting and retaining best-in-class talent. The new building would house about 15,000 employees, replacing an outdated facility designed in the late 1950s for about 3,500 employees. Once the project’s approvals are granted, redevelopment and construction are expected to begin in 2019 and take approximately five years to complete. Most employees currently located at 270 Park Avenue would be relocated nearby during the development period. With this headquarters commitment, JPMorgan Chase expects to remain one of the largest private employers in New York City. The company also employs thousands of others in additional NYC Corporate locations and in approximately 350 bank branches. Regarding jobs related to the new project, the company intends to work closely with its Supplier Diversity team to encourage the participation of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). “It was barely six months ago that we secured the East Midtown rezoning into law, and building owners are already responding in a major way. This is a true win-win-win. The City of New York retains a major company and its employment base, the surrounding community sees improvements in its public spaces, and JPMorgan Chase will have a new headquarters that helps the firm compete for decades to come,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “This project would enhance JPMorgan Chase’s efficiency and infrastructure, strengthen the newly rezoned East Midtown business district, and will further solidify New York City’s leadership as a global financial center,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I look forward to reviewing the details.” “The East Midtown rezoning was the result of years of hard work by Community Boards 5 and 6, local stakeholders, and East Side public officials to promote responsible development. Through this announcement, JPMorgan Chase is making a significant investment in East Midtown that will have a long-term impact on New York City. As Co-Chair of the East Midtown Governing Group, I look forward to working alongside stakeholders to review the project,” Council Member Keith Powers said.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 11:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everybody, this is a good time to be together. It is a very good time to be together because the year 2018 is going to be a year of change all over New York State and all over this country. Are you ready for it? [Cheering] Everybody – everybody has to be part of this moment and you know, do you have the experience I do that when you turn on the television or you go online, it is not always a positive experience? When you see the news? But we have to remember as upsetting as things are coming out of Washington, D.C. the change will be made on the ground here in this state and all over the country. We are the ones who get to decide the future. [Applause] And we get to show people an example of what a fair and good and decent society looks like. I want to talk to you about that very quickly but first I got to say to the folks being honored – there’s some extraordinary labor leaders who are being honored who have done so much for New York City, so much for New York State. I want you to thank them all again. Linda McPherson of 1707. [Applause] A man with a whole lot of personality, Anthony Wells, Local 371. [Applause] The wonderful Maria Castaneda of 1199. [Applause] Show our thanks to Santos Rodriguez of the Building Trades Council. [Applause] And one of the most energetic and forceful labor leaders I’ve known. It’s really – I always say it’s smart to do whatever she says – Evelyn DeJesus of the UFT. [Applause] So, here’s what I want to remind everybody. Even though we are up against the Trump administration, even though we are up against so many things that try to hold us back look at what’s happened in the last year. Look at the ways people have fought back. Look at the Women’s March, the biggest demonstration in the history of this country. [Applause] Look at what happened at the grassroots, those town hall meetings that helped to save the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare was saved. [Applause] Look at the amazing movement all over this country to defend our DREAMers and that’s a movement that we have to make sure wins. [Applause] All of that is happening at the grassroots and labor is in the forefront of all of those efforts and we have to recognize that even in the tough moments we get to show people the way it should be done. And I say about New York City – New York City has to be the antidote to what is happening in Washington. I have said that our city has to be the fairest big city in America. We have to be a place where fairness and decency and justice become stronger and stronger. And here’s want I want to say and I need your help to do this. If we are going to fight for fairness, then we have to do something very fundamental. We have to make it easier for people to vote in this state. [Applause] Brothers and sisters, so many people in this room have worked so hard for change and to protect the rights of working people. But you’ve had one hand tied behind your back. There are two million people in New York State eligible to vote but not registered to vote. Two million. One million of them are in New York City. And part of why those people are not participating is our voting laws are some of the most regressive and backward and exclusionary in the entire country. And let’s not let this state off the hook. We get sick to our stomach when we see in some very conservative states efforts to repress voting, right. When we see these bills passed, the I.D. laws and the other things that are trying to overtly exclude people from voting, it makes us feel angry and we know how unacceptable it is. But you know what, it happens a lot more quietly in New York State but it is the same result. It’s too hard to register to vote. You have no right to vote early like they do in so many other states. This state unfortunately over years and years created a culture where people don’t participate. That is holding back all of the progressive changes that we believe in. So I presented, this week, a plan I call DemocracyNYC and one of the most important elements of it is this year here in Albany changing the voting laws, making sure New Yorkers can vote again. Who is with me on that? [Applause] There’s one more thing I want to tell you. I have a lot of hope when it comes to our young people. I have seen – and it starts with my own two children Chiara and Dante – but I’ve seen it with so many young people. They feel passionately that we need a more just society. They see the overt discrimination and exclusion and they won’t accept it. They see the threat to the planet from climate change, they will not look away from it, they know they have to fight it. They see economic injustice. They see the rich get richer. They see the one percent constantly getting enriched further, and this new generation will not accept that. We have to help them and one of the things we’re going to do in New York City – we’re going to teach young people in our public schools not the old civics lessons but a new kind of civics that shows them that they can get involved, that they can be the authors of their futures, that they’re going to learn to vote. We’re going to register every young person when they’re 17 so they’re ready to vote when they’re 18. [Applause] And I ask everybody, in your lives you see those promising young change agents. Support them. Encourage them. Because they’re going to help us make the change in this state and in this nation we need. We can do that brothers and sisters. Thank you for all you do and get ready for a great year in 2018. [Applause] ###
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 11:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, Lorraine. Everyone, this is one of the gatherings I look forward to each year because this is a group of kindred souls together in common cause. I want to thank everyone who’s here and I want to start with a warm thank you to Lorraine for everything she has done on the CUNY board but also because she spearheaded so many of New York City’s efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane. That help is going to be there for a long, long time. Let’s thank Lorraine for that. [Applause] A thank you to everyone at CUNY for all you do and a thank you to everyone who has been a part of Citizenship Now! I know this is the 20th anniversary. What a success Citizenship Now! has been. Congratulations. [Applause] I wanted to – I’ll be very quick but I wanted to pick up on the point that Lorraine made and this week I gave my State of the City and I talked about a goal that we should all feel and we should all act on. I said we have to become the fairest big city in America. We have to be a place where people know they have opportunity, where they know that if they work hard it means something, where they know they will not be discriminated against. It’s a very basic idea of a set of rules that applies to everyone equally which is sadly the exact opposite of what we’re seeing on the national scene. Right. In Washington, we see this aggressive effort to separate and create a set of rules that are different for different kinds of people. If you’re wealthy, you get a tax break. If you’re an immigrant, you’re excluded. Right. I mean these sharp, horrible definitions that we see coming out of Washington. We, in New York City – I said in my speech this week – we have to be the antidote because New York City has to show the way a fair society should be and we have a chance to do that. Lorraine mentioned some of what we’re trying to do on education and it is not easy. I want to tell you when we set these very high goals we do not do it thinking it’s easy. By the way, it requires everyone to achieve these changes. And I know Rudy knows this from the time when he was our chancellor, transformation in public schools is exceedingly difficult but I know it only happens if you set high goals. So, yeah, we said we would have Pre-K for All. There were lots of doubting Thomases. It’s been achieved. The people of the city embraced it, the people demanded it. And now we will have 3-K for all our children. By 2021, every three-year-old will get a quality early childhood education. [Applause] And we need to follow that through because when I think of CUNY, honestly – and I’m looking at my good friend Barbara Bowen and we’ve had this conversation many a time – CUNY does such important work. CUNY is the exemplar of creating a fairer more just society. CUNY is one of the great institutions in America at taking a young person who is the first in their family to get higher education, taking a young person who has just come to this country and allowing them to fulfill the American dream. CUNY is synonymous with that pathway but CUNY has one hand tied behind its back because our city schools too often were not doing all that we needed to do. So, my mandate to help CUNY is to get the foundation right. It starts with early childhood education with 3-K and pre-K. And imagine a world where every single child got those two years of high-quality, early education. Then, as Lorraine indicated, getting our kids reading by third grade – getting them on grade-level reading by third grade, this is extraordinarily difficult. It’s the kind of thing that educators will tell you is one of the most important indicators of whether a young person is going to succeed or not and yet it has not been the central goal for a long time. So, we’re going to make it the central goal to radically change that number for the better. And all the way up through high school where we’re doing something now that you would have thought would have happened a long time ago, and providing Advanced Placement courses in every single high school regardless of ZIP code. [Applause] And this is happening now because thank God we have some resources to work with because we have mayoral control of education. Rudy, I do not envy what you used to have go through because you did not have those things. We’re able to do some things now we weren’t able to do in the past. But just focus on that AP for All point just for a second. The message that was sent in the City of New York, the status quo was if you went to a certain high school in a certain neighborhood you could expect Advanced Placement courses and you were on your way to college. And in other neighborhoods it was the exact opposite message. There were no Advanced Placement courses, which was wrong to begin with in terms of tapping into human potential but also sent a very clear coded message – college is not for you. By having a mandate that every single high school, everyone will have multiple AP courses, we’re saying to kids in every part of the city, every background, we owe it to you to help you go to college if that’s what you choose to do. That’s what we need to do for CUNY, give CUNY that kind of foundation to work from. [Applause] I just want to say one more thing and because we are celebrating both the power of education and the power of immigration to help us build our society, let me say one more thing and it’s very personal. So, you’ve seen the debate this week in Washington over the immigration bill and there’s many things to talk about the most immediate being that we have to save our DREAMers and CUNY has been so wonderful at serving our DREAMers and I thank you for that. [Applause] We got 700,000 young people in this country, 30,000 in our city who are part of us. It’s like tearing our heart out if those DREAMers are not allowed to stay. And we have to all feel that commitment. We are going to defend our neighbors. We’re going to defend our brothers and sisters. That was one crucial, crucial piece of the discussion but something that got less attention and this is where it gets personal for me and for a lot of people. It’s this very pernicious phrase you hear the president – he loves to use it. He loves to say it. He loves to tweet it. He loves to talk about “chain migration.” Let me take a poll of the room. Anyone in your family ever come here because another family member was already here? Anyone have that experience? Okay. Let me tell you about my grandparents. My grandparents, salt of the Earth people, came from poor towns in southern Italy which in that point in history was a very, very troubled place, very economically challenged, someone who’s now president would have used a really nasty phrase to talk about the country that my grandparents came from. I’m very proud of where they came from just like everyone in this room is proud of where your ancestors came from, and I don’t like hearing any place described that way. My grandparents came from a place that you would have to say at every measure was disadvantaged and underdeveloped. They did not speak English. They did not have advanced degrees. They did not have technical skills to bring to this country. They came here and did what so many others did and they worked with every fiber in their being to do something better for the next generation and I am the second generation born in America and I have the honor of having this office just like so many of you whether you’re the first, second, third, fourth generation born in this country – look at what you are all doing and what it has contributed. So when I hear an attack on chain migration, I hear an attack on all of our families. My grandparents came here because they had siblings who were here first. That’s the only reason they were able to do it. And I say this – and I’ve said it publicly and I have no problem saying it, I’ve got to speak to my fellow white people because there are a lot of people who look very – with great esteem and rightfully so – back on their Italian ancestors or their Irish ancestors or their Polish ancestors or their Jewish ancestors. They – when they hear the words chain migration they should be just offended as I am. [Applause] If we would not have wanted that rule applied to our parents and grandparents and great grandparents, then we should not want it applied to families of color today. [Applause] So I conclude with saying, look, thank you everyone for what you do. Thank you for the difference it makes. It’s a tough moment in history, no doubt. But truth wins in the end and it’s the power of education, the power of giving people the tools. It’s still a democratic society last time I checked, something we’ve got to protect, something we’ve got to earn but what you are doing is empowering the generation that will move ahead and make it right. And I say God bless you for that. Thank you. [Applause]
Friday, February 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
Brian Lehrer: We begin as we usually do on Fridays with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Call in at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or tweet a question @BrianLehrer, use the #AsktheMayor. Mr. Mayor welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Brian. Lehrer: And there is so much going on this week, so first let me get you reaction to several things in the news – the acquittal of Police Sergeant Hugh Barry in the shooting death of 66-year-old Deborah Danner in the Bronx during a schizophrenic episode when she picked up a baseball bat. When it happened it 2016, you and Police Commissioner O’Neill both criticized Sergeant Barry for not following proper protocols and you called it unacceptable, was an injustice done in court yesterday? Mayor: Brian, you know, I want to say exactly what Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill said yesterday. The central point here is we respect the court system, we respect how the judiciary handled its work. I think given what’s happened in the last year, in our nation, it is very important to always show that respect for judicial decisions. But underneath all that – here’s an essential fact, Deborah Danner should not have died, she should still be with us. And we have to do a lot going forward to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. And my heart went out to her family from the very beginning and I still feel for this family, what they’ve been through. So, as Commissioner O’Neill said yesterday, the NYPD disciplinary process for this sergeant has already begun as soon as the court’s action concluded. And in the meantime, look we are going to do everything we can to deepen the training of our police force. We’ve already done a lot of training in de-escalation. We are going to do a lot more of the training to help our officers handle emotionally disturbed people. 8,000 officers have received that training so far, the goal is to get to over 20,000. And I think that is going to make a big difference. But, you know, I just go back to the essential facts, she should still be alive. Lehrer: Do you think a crime of any kind was committed? Sergeant Barry was acquitted on all counts. Mayor: Again I’m consistent of this – I don’t critique judicial decisions, I respect the judiciary, again we will now have our disciplinary process and that will play out. Lehrer: And now the Sergeant’s Union is calling on the department to fully reinstate Sergeant Barry to his job. He had been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on modified duty originally – what do you want to see happen in the disciplinary process? Mayor: I don’t pre judge. It’s another due process matter and I do respect due process. And you know, I want that process to go forward and reach the right conclusion according to those who, you know, have to make the judgement, ultimately the Police Commissioner. So I respect Commissioner O’Neill immensely. I think he has been an extraordinary agent of change and reform in this police department and he will make the decision about how, the ultimate decision about discipline but obviously about anything that happens in the meantime. Lehrer: Next issue, NYCHA. Governor Cuomo is thinking about declaring a state of emergency for NYCHA buildings because of the heat and hot water outages this winter and general disrepair. As I understand it, the declaration would allow you to get around some contracting rules that could then expedite the repairs at a faster rate – your reaction? Mayor: If the simple question is does the State of New York want to help us do our work better, I would always welcome help done on a collegial basis, done with us. But unfortunately here we see some real contradictions. First of all the State has not provided us with the funding from several budgets ago, let alone the $200 million that was allocated in the last state budget back last April, 2017. This is a pattern we’ve seen with the State of New York and under this Governor where there is a lot of talk about helping public housing residents but we don’t see real resources. And same we haven’t seen all the big plans we heard about affordable housing and supportive housing to help us deal with the homeless – we don’t see the results, it doesn’t reach us. So you’ll forgive me for some skepticism. If the State really wants to sit down with us and say how can we play a constructive role in addressing some of the challenges in NYCHA that are decades old, we would welcome that conversation, we would try to work together. But if the State’s trying to score political points, and deal in simplistic ideas that are not really going to help the people of the public housing buildings in our city who are 400,000 New Yorkers, you know, then let’s be honest about what’s really going on. I think it’s striking. There has been ample opportunity. I’ve been Mayor for four years, there’s been ample opportunity for the Governor or anyone on his team to say let’s constructively help you fix the problems in public housing. I’ve never gotten that phone call. Lehrer: Do you want to say yes to both – that is continue to lobby the Governor to give money to NYCHA that you say they are withholding and at the same time, yes to his proposal to get around some contracting rules to expedite repairs? Mayor: By definition Brian, if there is a constructive way to speed up contracting – Lehrer: Is this one? Mayor: I don’t know yet because it’s been put out in such a manner without the kind of legal discussion and you know, procedural discussion to know if it would actually work. If it would work, of course I would be very interested. But you know, I think the point is – is this a political exercise or is this about actually helping the people who live in public housing? If it’s about helping the people who live in public housing, again of course, if there is a way legally and appropriately to speed up the work that is done at NYCHA, of course I would embrace that. Lehrer: Your State of the City speech Tuesday night, to my ear – the biggest applause line was when you got to NYCHA as the final point of the 12 from your action plan booklet. Then yesterday we had on the show Gabriel Strachota from Community Voices Heard who said this – Gabriel Strachota: de Blasio has a chance to demonstrate a real progressive alternative, you know if he truly wants to be part of the resistance and not just say no cuts to Trump but actually put his money where his mouth is and move in the other direction – fully fund repairs in public housing and create a [inaudible] oversight council. So he’s calling on you to fully fund, that was his term, the $2 billion I guess boiler repairs right now rather than spread out over years – your reaction? Mayor: I would say a couple of things, first of all and I know your listeners really want to sort out the facts and understand what’s going on so I have to say this. The problem in public housing goes back decades to federal government that was supposed to be primarily responsible for funding public housing that started reducing that commitment, right after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. And the State of New York really obviously has not played a substantial role as well. So New York City has been left to defend for itself in a situation where it was never supposed to be the primary agent of funding these kinds of things. We are responsible a whole host of other things – schools, police, fire, sanitation, ect, ect. That being said, when I came into office I made the decision that what was happening in public housing demanded a response from the City. So we ended the requirement that public housing, that NYCHA pay for policing which was ludicrous, we ended the requirement that NYCHA pay taxes to the City of New York, we started giving money back and giving money back. What I’ve said in the speech the other day – we’ve now committed to the $2.1 billion in major capital investments in NYCHA roofs, and facades, and boilers, and you name it. And then we’ve committed another $1.6 billion to day to day operations including a lot of what’ve done to make the developments safer and to address the repair backlog. Lehrer: But this is over a period of many years right? Mayor: Yes but it’s a hell of a lot of money. So you have to recognize – you put this money in and it has to be spent effectively, we don’t want this quick money – you know putting out a dollar figure and not spending it, which is what the State has done many times, is not helping anyone. So this is an honest estimate of what is needed that we can spend effectively in this time frame. We are always going to look to do more and do faster. So to the point made – I just want argue very squarely the City of New York under my Administration, pound for pound, year for year, contributed more to NYCHA than ever before in history. We intend to continue those investments. We intend to get involved and finding many more ways for NYCHA to be more effective. But you can’t, you know if we are going to have this discussion, ignore what is now over three decades of the decline of public housing and the lack of federal investment than we are kidding everyone. I think it does a disservice to the residents, I think it does a disservice to your listeners and all New Yorkers to think this is sort of a free standing problem that just emerged and we can deal with it simply but the overall cost of the repairs needed in NYCHA – our early estimate was $18 billion. There’s a lot of indications that it’s going to be well over $20 billion now. That’s not something the City can produce on its own. But we will continue to invest constantly and we’ll continue to do everything we can to improve the life of NYCHA residents. Lehrer: I’ll just follow-up once with what I think Community Voices Heard might respond to that which is you can’t continue to go back three decades and blame Ronald Reagan or even blame Andrew Cuomo if, here you are and the need is so immediate that they don’t have heat in the winter, then maybe the City has to step up, sad as it is, commit more money in the shorter term, take it from other things if necessary, they would argue. Because we’re talking about heat in the winter for residents who are in New York City public housing. Mayor: Brian, I understand the argument but then I’m going to put it back on you with deepest respect and everyone else who reports on this to give the whole perspective here. I don’t belittle the challenge but I also want to say the vast majority of those heating outages were for a single day. That doesn’t make it good, I don’t accept that. I want to do better but I don’t want it to be some kind of stereotype of you know these endless times when people didn’t have heat. We’re trying to fix buildings that are in many cases 50 years or more older that have in many cases boilers that were long since passed their normal life span. Again this used to be funded federally. When you take away – and it’s totally in context with what’s happening in the country right now and I think again your listeners are focused enough to get this point. It’s not a throw away, it’s not a blame, it’s looking at the structural reality. If you had a commitment from the federal government to pay for this – it’s essentially been federally funded, it was not City funded – and then it’s not anymore, you say take away from other things but I think that’s not a very accurate version of what happened. People in this city are demanding more affordable housing. They’re demanding more school seats be created in so many overcrowded areas of the city. They’re demanding a lot of things that we put money into while we also try to do everything we can to support the residents of public housing. And we’ve got to do all of the above. And what we’ve shown here which was different in any previous administration – and go back and look at what the annual contribution was in the previous 12 years before my mayoralty, what the annual contribution was [inaudible] you think the heat wasn’t going out in the previous 12 years? Lehrer: To NYCHA. Right. And I will acknowledge, so I don’t leave a false impression with my questions, you do get credit broadly for investing more in NYCHA than the last several administrations. So just putting that fact out there. Alright, well, let’s go to some of our callers. Listeners, our lines are full but as people finish up you can call for Mayor de Blasio at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC and Theo in Hamilton Heights, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Theo. Question: Hi, Brian, Your Honor. The City of New York was just amended to create the position of Chief Privacy Officer. I have been leaving messages at City Hall but nobody gets back to me. So, my question is simple – have you given any thought on the characteristics that you believe that would make a great Chief Privacy Officer and will you invite the stakeholders to vet your list of nominees? For example, by putting the names on the City website and having public hearings. Mayor: I appreciate the question and nothing is more American than making sure our privacy rights are protected. I do not make personnel decisions, you know, through crowdsourcing. This is something I think is really important. I owe it to the people of the city to make these decisions very, very carefully for any office, for any appointee. So, no, that’s not a way that I would do it but with anything we’re going to appoint, we do it carefully and we do take into account a lot of what we’ve heard from communities about their concerns. Lehrer: Theo, want do you want to see in a privacy officer since you asked about criteria? Question: Well, the [inaudible] for example the Mayor said that he doesn’t give the information to the NYPD but ICE is able to tap into the NYPD database and get the data out every time there is an arrest with the fingerprinting – Mayor: No, that’s not accurate. Theo – Question: So, the question is – Mayor: I know you’re [inaudible] of faith but that’s not the facts and that’s what I said so, you could [inaudible] your question but I need to correct that. Lehrer: The question was what Theo? Question: So the question is simply – does he see for example the privacy officer position to review all the data exchanges and what points of contention are in those databases? Like for example what needs to be looked at as a privacy issue. Lehrer: With ICE – with ICE in particular, is your immediate concern. Mr. Mayor – Mayor: I think this is a much bigger question than any particular appointee. So, first, I have to correct what he just said. I was very explicit and I’m going to keep saying it and I ask people to really pay attention to the facts, how they [inaudible] since the day Trump took office. The City of New York made very clear our police officers do not ask documentation status, our teachers, our public health professionals. We do not allow ICE onto school property. We do not participate in deportations unless it is under City law which indicates 170 serious and violent offenses where only if an undocumented person is convicted in a court of law would we then cooperate with ICE. What I said the other day about fingerprinting was a specific question. If someone is fingerprinted, it goes into a national criminal justice database. But the point I made was many, many people who come in contact with the NYPD are not fingerprinted so there’s no way that that information travels to the federal government in any way, shape, or form. No, the federal government cannot reach into NYPD’s information broadly. And what we’ve seen consistently is ICE pursuing a very strange and provocative pattern of deportations whether it is someone who has done a serious crime or someone who has done no crime. There is no rhyme or reason except they’re trying to provoke and it’s politically driven. But the NYPD has been very, very consistent and followed the broad City policy. We do not want to see anyone deported unless they are convicted of one of those 170 crimes. Lehrer: Jessica in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Jessica. Question: Good morning, Brian. And good morning, Mr. Mayor. I really take pride in being a New Yorker and when I hear you speak about making New York City the fairest big city, it really brings hope. I mentioned this two weeks ago, if you were looking or if you were able to do some research as to making some changes to the requirements in order to join the NYPD or the FDNY. And you mentioned that since you’ve been Mayor, there’s been a lot of diversity in the department however right now there’s 800,000 Mexican-Americans in New York City and only about 50 police officers of Mexican heritage and about one firefighter. And my concern is really for the youth right because right now the Mexican-American community is leading in the high school dropout rates. Forty-one percent of the youth are dropping out of high school and when interviewed most of their response was because they don’t see enough Mexican-American role models. And so, if the time that’s going to come is going to be now and it’s going to be with a great mayor like you that really believes in inclusion and diversity – so I was wondering if you had any updates on that research that you were going to do. Mayor: Jessica, thank you and I want to – Brian, I want to give Jessica a model activist award here because she raised this concern at a town hall meeting and now twice on your show – [Laughter] And I commend her for that. I am scheduled to talk to the Police Commissioner to get a better sense of how the NYPD looks at this. My understand, Jessica I want to be very straightforward, is right now the current requirement which is for citizens for NYPD and FDNY that again we – my sense is from everyone who’s looked at this – that we think it is producing a very diverse workforce in the NYPD and increasingly at FDNY, and that the system is working the right way – now, more and more New York City residents, for example. We have that deeper conversation, report back. I do not want to lead you down a path of thinking I’m going one way or another until I’ve had that fuller discussion. But to the bigger point that Jessica’s making – first of all, there is definitely a large and growing Mexican-American community. I have never heard a number as high as 800,000. I think it might be lower than that but it’s still a big and growing community in this city. I think our young people need role models from their own communities and beyond their own communities. I think this is a really powerful point about how we reach young people and inspire them. This is a lot of what we talked about in terms of this concept of being the fairest big city in America. We have to reach young people in every conceivable way that gives them hope for their future whether it is things like pre-K or even more so 3-K which is coming next. You know full-day early childhood education for three-year-olds for free. We’re going to have that universal by 2021 in this city. But also when I talked about the democracy plan, DemocracyNYC, to have civic education fully revamped, made universal in our schools, made current and pertinent and vibrant so young people are getting a message from the very beginning that they are going to be owners of this society. They need to get involved in their community right now. We want to register young people to vote when they’re 17 getting ready for them to immediately get involved in the electoral process when they turn 18. There’s a lot of things that we can do that I think will be inspiring to young people and make them understand the importance of everything they’re going to do going forward and give them that sense of being stakeholders. So, I will come back with more for you, Jessica. But on the bigger point, the entire concept of being the fairest big city in America revolves around reaching young people and showing them an environment where they can feel they are stakeholders. Lehrer: You recognized her from a previous call. I didn’t. You have a good memory for our callers, I guess. Mayor: She’s a good caller. [Laughter] Lehrer: Here’s a question from listener Sophia via Twitter. She asks, “What does the Mayor intend to do with Rikers Island if they close the prisons? Who stands to benefit by the availability of that island sitting in the middle of our harbor with such gorgeous views and water access,” asks Sophia on Twitter. What’s your response? Mayor: Well, I appreciate that question, Sophia because that’s a big question for the future. It is – look, it is a very important site because it’s big, it is obviously a complicated site because we’re going to have to take down what’s there now. Obviously there may be a need for environmental mediation. We’ve got an airport right next to it which for some people may not be the ideal place to be. It’s – a lot of opportunity and a lot of challenges too. But a number of ideas are already being floated whether it is a place where we could put manufacturing facilities and do job creation, whether it’s a place to move a lot of City facilities a lot of our sort of physical mechanical space that our departments use so that we can open up other space for things like affordable housing and in other communities. There’s a lot of interesting possibilities there. We’ve got some time for sure to start planning that but I think once we take a few more steps towards the closure – and we took a big step this week announcing the four sites for the new jails in the four boroughs that are going to allow us to have decent humane rehabilitative facilities for the future and that’s crucial, crucial to getting off Rikers. And I want to tell all your listeners, Brian, the number one thing we need to get off Rikers more quickly is for the State of New York to step up and pass legislation to get bail reform, to stop having people anguish in jail because they can’t afford a minimal bail, to get speedy trial reform so that our judicial system works faster and acknowledges the constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial. There a lot of things the State can do this year by June that will allow us to shave years off the timeline for getting off Rikers. But in any situation we have the time to plan the next steps and I think there’s some real positive opportunities for the city. The City will decide – to Sophia’s question – the City will decide. It’s City-owned land. We will decide the future of Rikers. There’s certainly not a private interest. Lehrer: Joe in Queens, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Joe. Question: How you doing? Mr. Mayor, I am a veteran vendor on City Hall property and you know I’ve seen a lot of reports in reference to cheating on licenses – the selling of licenses. My concern is that everything from Central Park all the way down to Battery Park, I’ve seen that if you are a veteran vendor like myself, you are workers comp exempt but my problem is that if you go to these carts there’s no veteran behind the grill but what has been happening for years and years is that you have a whole bunch of veterans sitting on benches or what not and the law states the veteran is supposed to be there and he’s supposed to be behind the grill. And for years the City has been losing millions and millions of dollars in reference to workers compensation and I’ve contacted the workers compensation and I would like to know what the City is going to do. Basically, on City Hall property [inaudible] – Lehrer: Joe, is it that you feel as a veteran who is a vendor and gets special privileges as a veteran, that you have unfair competition from people who really aren’t vets? Question: Yes but it’s mainly of the breaking of the rules by that is – a veteran is supposed to be behind the grill. If you walk by City Hall Park – Lehrer: Yes. Question: Or Central Park. There is none. Lehrer: Not always the case. Mr. Mayor, are you aware of the issue. Mayor: Yeah, absolutely and to Joe’s point – I just want to preface what an important idea and this is why when I talk about the fairest big city in America, this comes directly from my experience talking to New Yorkers all over the five boroughs. You know, this is a city – people are tough and resilient. We’re not afraid of a problem or challenge but people really want the rules to be fair and when they sense unfairness, New Yorkers are outraged. So, this is – I think Joe’s got an important point here. The approach to vending has been really uneven. He’s right to call it out. And at the end of last year that we came close to a new law to tighten up enforcement on vendors to address what I cared about a lot which was the physical restrictions on where vendors can and cannot be vis-a-vis bricks and mortar stores, and we all know the brick and mortar stores are really hurting right now because of the changes in the retail world, to potentially increase the number of vendor permits as part of a balanced approach. And that could not be approved upon both within the Council and between the Council and the Mayor’s Office. We’re going to back now under Speaker Johnson and see if we can get this done hopeful pretty quickly. But one of the things we need is – to answer Joe’s point – there needs to be consistent enforcement and we need to address once and for all this question of who really has the permits and how they’re using them. There has been, effectively, a black market in the permits. That’s not what we want to see but I think the only way we can address this is with a new and clearer law. Lehrer: Lou on Staten Island, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Lou. Question: Good morning, Brian. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Sir, on a scale of one to ten, I have given you a seven-and-a-half but I’m [inaudible] impressed with the way you are carrying on your administration when it comes to the pre-K business and then also your desire to bring young people into the government because by-and-large they are going to be the ones to succeed us. My concern however goes back to policing. Since the killing of Eric Garner here on the island, there have been at least three to four killings by police officers. They cannot [inaudible] that we the taxpayers [inaudible] comfort to the deceased family or the grieving family. In other words, there is no disincentive so far to reign in these police officers. Now, I understand there are a few of them who commit these kinds of crimes but there has to be some kind of disincentive. They cannot [inaudible] they get exonerated and they go back on the force. We can’t have that. That’s what my concern is. There has to be a disincentive to reign in these police officers. Mayor: And Lou, I want to say it this way. First of all, I know you’re speaking from the heart but I want you to understand what we’re trying to do here. Every police officer has been re-trained to de-escalate situations that in the past often unfortunately escalated and led to tragedy all around. I think that’s having a real effect. I think our officer show extraordinary restraint. When you think about 36,000 officers – and I said this the other day – 36,000 officers in a city of 8.5 million people, 365 days a year, let me tell you the fact for last year 2017 in this city. There were only 23 times all last year that police officer used their gun in an adversarial situation. And a lot of those got a lot of attention because they were situations in which someone unfortunately turned on an officer with a gun or a knife. The fact is when you think about how infrequently our officers used their weapons and how the new training has really focused on both deescalating tensions and then again on top of that where someone, unfortunately when a situation when an officer is trying to deal with someone with a mental illness – in the past the officers used to be sent out just to fend for themselves. Now we are systematically training them in how to address it. 8,000 officers have received that formal training that we are going to, again over 20,000 officers who have that training in the next couple years. It’s a very different approach and I think it’s having an effect. And the last thing I would say is I have, again immense faith in Commissioner O’Neill. There is a system of justice in which if an officer is charged in a court that’s the judiciary and that’s its own process but the police department also pursues disciplinary charges if there is a situation where an officer did not handle something right. And if you look at the outcomes of those disciplinary actions you see when the department judges that an officer handled something right, that’s one judgement. If they determine someone has not handled something right there are clear consequences. Lehrer: Two other quick criminal justice things before you go – NY1 had Speaker of the Council Corey Johnson who said we are not wedded to an individual location when it comes to new jails. Do you hear that as him backing away from the announcement just this week to build a new jail in the Bronx? Mayor: No, not at all. Speaker Johnson has been outstanding as was Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito before him and Brian I really want your listeners to hear this point – what happened this week is pretty amazing. Four members of the City Council stood up with their Speaker and said we will accept new jails in our district. This is not typical is political life and it’s something that is really worthy of praise. They said we are going to do something good for the City of New York – we believe we should get off Rikers Island, we believe there needs to be a more humane approach and a more rehabilitative approach to correction. That can only happen with new and modern jail facilities. We will accept them in our own district. That was extraordinary. The sites that are chosen, three have them existing correctional facilities – the fourth one was the only site that we could determine was big enough, was city owned land, was available, currently a tow pound in the Bronx and therefore obviously can be moved and built upon, I mean the existing facility can be moved and the land can be built upon. So it was a very long process to determine the right location. I think what the Speaker is saying whenever we have a land use process we are always going to listen to communities and people always welcome to put their ideas on the table. But I think he has been fantastic in his leadership saying we are going to move forward with four borough jails. Lehrer: Final thing – school shootings, two conservatives in the State Senate have proposals, Senator Marty Golden wants what he calls smart scanners in every school which he says could spot a weapon in someone’s possession in a crowd of students, not just one at a time through inspection stations. And Senator Simcha Felder wants and armed police officer at every school. Your reaction? Mayor: Well I swear by the NYPD on this issue – I spoke to Commissioner O’Neill yesterday, we met about what we could do in the aftermath of Florida and obviously given the incident that was uncovered – and I really want to commend the NYPD and the FBI for their extraordinary work uncovering this incident in Harlem. But here’s the bottom line, we are going to immediately begin drills in all of our schools, we’ve been doing it in the past, we are going to do it again very quickly, drilling our schools to handle an active shooter situation. We have extraordinary intelligence gathering capacity throughout the NYPD. It is very focused – that the NYPD intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism effort is equally focused on looking for anything that might be a threat to a school and in fact they have intervened in a number of situations to make sure there were no threats to schools. I believe strongly in that capacity and what they have achieved and what they will achieve. And we have 36,000 officers who can obviously be deployed very, very quickly so we believe that is the right way to approach safety. We are going to be having a lot of dialogue with parents – the most important thing that New Yorkers and particularly parents can do and students can do, is if they sense something is wrong, we need it reported right away. You can go to a teacher, you can go to a police officer, you can call 3-1-1 or if it’s something that appears to be immediate call 9-1-1. But no concern should go unreported and it’s really important. This is how we stop these things. This is the number one way. We obviously have scanning at schools that the NYPD and the DOE determine need it. We are going to be doing unannounced scanning on a regular basis throughout the school system. But the really, the single greatest deterrent is the intelligence gathering capacity and every day New Yorkers, including students, sounding the alarm if they feel anything may be a threat. Lehrer: So smart scanners an improvement or armed police officers at each school? Mayor: Again I don’t think that will achieve what everything I just said before will achieve. I think this is a much more, it’s a problem that has to be handled with much bigger solutions. We will look at anything, I’m never going to rule out things but I don’t think that’s how we solve this problem. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thanks as always, talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you, Brian.
Friday, February 16, 2018 - 7:35am
Video available at: Police Commissioner James P O’Neill: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for being here tonight. We’re here tonight with the Mayor, the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District Geoffrey Berman, the FBI Assistant Director of the New York Office Bill Sweeney, and John Miller. I think it’s very important we brief you this evening on the arrest of two individuals by the Joint Terrorist Task Force on a number of federal charges related to explosives. U.S. Attorney Berman will speak more to those charges. As you will hear, this incident began with a December 4th, 2017 threat to a high school in Harlem. A 15-year-old student was arrested by the NYPD Intelligence Division on that bomb threat. In January, a teacher in that school abruptly resigned and school authorities reviewing his laptop noticed some material that was questionable, and they contacted our detectives. Based on a follow-up investigation by the Joint Terrorist Task Force – that’s what lead to those arrests today. Deputy Commissioner John Miller will provide some additional information about this investigation. However, this case is in its very early stages and there is much detail we cannot provide. So, basically, as usual, this is preliminary information. We’re going to take a few questions at the end of this. But, again, just to let you know, we can’t go into too much detail. Mr. Mayor? Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Commissioner, I want to thank everybody at the NYPD and I want to thank our federal partners for their great work. Once again, the brave men and women of the NYPD and of the FBI have done extraordinary work and, in this case, likely saved many, many lives, and I want to thank them on behalf of all New Yorkers. I also want to say that the staff at the school did something very important, and their work was crucial here as well. And I want to thank them for their vigilance and their diligence and the smart work they did in immediately alerting law enforcement. This is a moment to remind all New Yorkers, remind everyone that the idea that if you see something, you say something is more pertinent than ever. We get daily reminders of the threats arrayed against us, but what we’re seeing here in this case already is some good people stepped forward with information and that information was crucial to law enforcement. So, I just want to urge everyone, if at any moment, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, you have information that you find unsettling, you see something suspicious, come forward to law enforcement, because you never know if that might be the moment when you helped to save a life. I will only say, and this is another example also of the very close working relationship between the NYPD and the FBI, the City of New York, and our federal partners. This relationship has grown, and grown over the years. It is part of what keeps all New Yorkers safe. We have to be clear at this moment, even though this was an unsettling case – and you’ll hear the details. From what we know at this point, the individuals involved have all been apprehended. Again, this is preliminary information, but there is no additional imminent threat directed at New York City at this time. And finally, I just want to remind everyone there is always a reason why New York City finds itself in the crosshairs, because this city is a great beacon of democracy, of a pluralistic society. We’ve got a lot of enemies out there, but what we’ve proven time and time again is the great work of law enforcement working with the people has an extraordinary impact and keeps this city safe, and we are once again going to go forward tomorrow with that same spirit of resiliency for which New Yorkers are famous. Thank you. Commissioner O’Neill: And now, we’re going to hear from a great partner of the NYPD, the Assistant Director In Charge of the New York FBI Office, Bill Sweeney. Bill? FBI Assistant Director In Charge William Sweeney: Thanks, Jimmy. Good evening, everybody. I’d like to extend my thanks to those individuals that initially brought this information to our attention. That information from citizens, combined with the investigation and the operations that followed stopped a significant threat to public safety. The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force operates in a constant state of readiness. We will continue to review the evidence that we obtained this morning. We have no indication that there’s a continued threat posed by these individuals, but we do not stop an investigation just because somebody’s in custody. I would ask, if you have information related to these individuals, to please call our tip line at 212-384-1000 – press the number three, and you’ll be directed to somebody to take your information. Or, you can provide information online at . Thank you. Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, thanks Bill, John Miller is now going to give you the chronology of events. Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism John Miller: Thanks, Commissioner. On December 4th, there was a bomb threat made to an Upper Manhattan school that triggered a call to police, in relation to the bomb threat, and began an investigation by the Leads Investigation Unit from the Intelligence Bureau into where that threat came from and what the source of it was. That investigation continued, involving interviews with students, teachers, and others. As part of that investigation, a development – on January 10th was the resignation of Christian Toro, a school teacher from that school, which caused investigators to follow up. Two days after that, Christian Toro’s brother, as outlined in the complaint, turned in a Department of Education laptop that had been assigned to Christian Toro while he was a teacher to the Board of Education. A review of that laptop by Board of Education officials uncovered what appeared to be a document included – including bomb making instructions. That of course caused the investigation to continue and the FBI, NYPD Joint-Terrorism Task Force, joined the efforts of the Intelligence Bureau and the Detective Bureau of the NYPD to follow additional leads. This week, additional investigative steps led to interviews and developments in the case that amounted to probable cause for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to seek a search warrant from the US Attorney’s Office and a federal judge to go 2121 Matthews Avenue and search an apartment belonging to Christian and Tyler Toro. In the course of that search which was conducted beginning this morning and went on through much of the day, over thirty pounds of chemicals which taken together in certain combinations constitute explosive precursor materials were recovered. Christian and Tyler Toro were taken to the 49th Precinct were they were taken into custody by the FBI and charged as you see in the complaint with possession of explosive precursors and giving explosives to minor. The charges have to do, as is outlined in the complaint, with allegations that at least two students, who were – in – present in the Toro’s apartments, emptied explosive black powder from fireworks, harvesting them from fireworks and putting them into separate containers. As well as the explosive materials and what appeared to be simulated weapons that were found in the course of the search, there was a diary that appearing to belong to Toro’s brother that had notations in it about something called “Operation Flash”, statements contained in the diary about discarding and doing away with physical evidence and other documents that had statements such as “the small ones” – let me start with the quote – “under the full moon, the small ones will know terror.” We don’t know, at this point in the investigation, other than criminal charges related to the explosives, the full breadth of what these materials mean, so as Assistant Director Sweeney said, we are going to continue that investigation. I would like to underscore and underline again, with these two individuals in custody, with the people we’ve interviewed, with the evidence we’ve seen so far, there is no reason to believe at this point that there is any remaining threat to New York City or any school. We are at an early, early stage of this investigation and we will try take some questions. Commissioner O’Neill: Before we take some questions, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman is going to talk about the charges. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman: Good evening. Earlier today, members of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Christian Toro and Tyler Toro in the course of a search of their residence in the Bronx. My comments here today must be fairly limited as the investigation remains ongoing. The complaint filed today charges Christian Toro on two counts – one, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device, and, two, distribution of explosive materials to a minor. In addition, the complaint charges Tyler Toro with unlawful manufacture of a destructive device. Both defendants were arrested earlier today. They were promptly brought to the courthouse in the southern district of New York. Earlier this evening, both defendants were presented on the complaint before a United States Magistrate Judge, Debra Freeman, at which time they were assigned counsel and pleased not-guilty. The defendants were ordered detained on consent. A bail hearing for Christian Toro has been scheduled for Wednesday February 21st. No bail hearing has yet been scheduled with respect to Tyler Toro. A preliminary hearing date has been scheduled for March 19th. I want to thank the FBI, represented here today by Bill Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office. The FBI’s work, and the work of the many agents and agencies that form New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is simply outstanding. I also want to thank the NYPD, represented here by Commissioner James O’Neill and Deputy Commissioner John Miller. Thank you. Commissioner O’Neill: At this part, we’re going to take some questions. Question: Were either of these names on any of your radars prior to December? Also can you say which school he taught at in Harlem and do we know the job of the other brother? Commissioner O’Neill: John? Deputy Commissioner Miller: So first, let me make a correction. I had indicated that when the computer was turned in it was a Department of Education technician that did the review. It was actually not a Department of Education school. It is a charter school not directly associated with the Department of Education. It was a technician who worked for the school who was looking at the computer when it was returned. Neither of these two individuals was on our radar before this, nor did they have any criminal background that preceded this investigation. Question: John, can you name of the school and was he a science teacher? Deputy Commissioner Miller: We’re not naming the school, and it is not contained within the complaint, and we’re fairly limited to stay within the four corners of the complaint. Question: Was he a science teacher? [Inaudible] Deputy Commissioner Miller: Can’t answer that. Commissioner O’Neill: Tony? Question: [Inaudible] mentioned about bomb threat that was phoned in and then in close proximity to that was the resignation of Christian Toro – is there a relationship, have you ascertained a relationship between the bomb threat and his resignation and the investigation made [inaudible]? Commissioner O’Neill: I know this is going to be kind of frustrating for everybody, but we’re not going to go into that level of detail right now, Tony. John? Question: Was these two brothers from the Bronx – were they American-born and [inaudible]? Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t think we have what title his occupation is, but we’re not going to go too deep. Rocco? Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner O’Neill: I’m not going to go that deep. Rocco? Question: Is it clear how close they were to actually carrying something out – A? And B – I know it’s early, but I’ll ask it anyway – is it clear why they [inaudible]? Commissioner O’Neill: No, we don’t, and again Rocco that’s part of the investigation. As we spend more time, we’ll be able to figure these things out and give you some answers at a later date. Zolan? Question: Can you clarify [inaudible]? Deputy Commissioner Miller: That was something that developed as a result of the investigation of the bomb scare to the school. He was charged in that case but not in custody as of this morning’s search warrant. Question: On the note that you read that said ‘under the full moon the small ones will know terror’ is there any indication [inaudible]? Deputy Commissioner Miller: We can’t interpret what the meaning of that is. It will certainly be a factor within the investigation. That was recovered in a separate piece of paper, not the diary, so we’re trying to determine what that means. Question: Was this self-contained or were they making contact with other terror groups? Commissioner O’Neill: This is again a preliminary part of the investigation. That hasn’t been determined yet. Question: Question – the victim in the rape was she a student? And you talked about [inaudible] explosive [inaudible]? Commissioner O’Neill: The first one – we’re not going to go into that level of detail. And with the precursors, we haven’t made that determination yet. Unknown: Folks, we’re getting into a lot of [inaudible] details. As the commissioner said, look, this is early in the investigation. We’ll probably have more answers later, but unfortunately we’re not going to be able to get into a lot more detail than [inaudible]. Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, I thank everybody for being here. This is how we keep New York City safe. As you see standing up here with me is the U.S. Attorney, Bill Sweeney from the FBI – this is how we keep the city safe, and this is how we keep the school safe, making sure we’re all working together. Okay, thank you very much.
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 7:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Stanley, thank you. I've had the joy of hearing Stanley before. And whenever you speak, and you said the word redemption, that got me right here in the heart. This is what it's about. And, in all of the discussions we have about incarceration we don't talk enough about redemption. But if you want an example of the power of redemption here he is, right here. The man who turned his life around and now is helping so many. Thank you, thank you. [Applause] So, the cycle of incarceration can be broken. People's lives can be changed. This is what we're here to talk about today in essence. How we move forward as a city and a society. Move away from the era of mass incarceration. I said again last night the era of mass incarceration did not begin in New York City but it will end in New York City once and for all. [Applause] You're going to hear from some of the people who have been most crucial to this work. Who have been the innovators, and the visionaries in the effort to close Rikers Island and create a better correction system. You're going to hear from the leadership and the members of the City Council who are going to be in the front line right now of making these changes with us. I also want to say and I want thank the members of my time who have been working constantly since we've made that decision. And it was a decision we took very, very seriously. We've spent a lot of time over the first few years making sure that if we said we were going to close it once and for all that we knew we could do it. And that we would never have to go back to Rikers Island again. That was a decision we made very seriously after 85 years the city has had that facility. When we said we were leaving. We had to be certain we were leaving for good, and never going back. It took a lot of work, a lot of people contributed to it. And some of them are here with us and I want to thank them, and I want to thank our Corporation Council Zack Carter, our Commission of Correction Cynthia Bran, and the director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Liz Glazer. Let's give them all a round of applause. [Applause] Now, you're going to hear from the Speaker and some of the council members. But I also want to thank for their help and their support, Councilmember Keith Powers who's chair of the Criminal Justice Committee and Councilmember Carlina Rivera. Thank you both. [Applause] I spoke last night, and I want to start with this. I spoke about Officer Jean Souffrant and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He's getting excellent medical care and we are all praying for a speedy recovery. We are going to hold the heinous individuals who attacked this officer fully accountable. I can tell you this; they're going to be doing a lot more time because of what they did. And that's a sad statement. Those individuals are going to be incarcerated for a lot longer. But it is unfortunately what they brought on themselves with their actions. We simply will not allow our correction officers to be attacked. I want to be very about that. We will not allow our correction officers to be attacked. We have put an in immense about of resources into securing Rikers Island. It's been almost $200 million spent on more officers, more training, better equipment, security cameras all over the facilities. A number of measures to increase safety for everyone, we've got more to do. And additional measures were announced this morning and we will keep adding. Because we want to make sure our officers are safe, we want to make sure everyone at Rikers is safe. But now back to what has brought us here today. Last March we gathered, we made an announcement that was historic because it had never had been said before in 85 years. Rikers Island is definitely going to close. That's what we said. And since then we have preceded with the actions necessary to make sure that this happens. We knew it would take a tremendous amount of work. And I want to say this is a true compliment to the members of the City Council. It would take a lot of political will and a lot of political courage as well. And you're going to hear from them in a moment. But I want to say upfront to the current Speaker, to the former Speaker, and to the members whose districts will have these new facilities. You're showing the people of New York City something very powerful. You're showing them political bravery, and a devotion to something bigger. It's not an easy thing to ask of an elected official. But these individuals are standing up for what's right, and what's in the long term interest of the people of this city. Let's thank them all for that. [Applause] So today we announce that we are a big step closer to the closure of Rikers Island. We announce today a plan that we have agreed upon with the City Council to move four sites for new jail facilities in four boroughs near the court houses in those boroughs. These borough based sites – and you heard Stanley talk about will change fundamentally the way families can connect to those who are incarcerated and that too is part of the rehabilitation process. It will make for a lot more efficiency. There will also be new and modern sites that will allow us to do the kinds of things we need to do to create a safe environment and a rehabilitative environment. The four locations are the Queens Detention Center in Kew Gardens, the Brooklyn Detention Center in Downtown Brooklyn, the Manhattan Detention Center in Foley Square, and a new facility which we built on the current site of the Bronx Tow Pound in Mott Haven. I want to thank again Speaker Johnson, and all the members for their leadership in determining with us that the best way to proceed is to act on all of these sites simultaneously. It will be a single public review process for all four sites. And this will be a streamlined process that will help us get these more humane and modern facilitates online as quickly as possible. It's a big day, it's an important day. It's a big step forward for fairness in this city. Well, we've got a lot more work to do and we're quite clear about that. For this plan to work in addition to the new facilities we have to keep driving down the jail population. I'm going to say this every time we talk about this issue. We now are at about 9,000 individuals in our jail system on any given day. That number must go down to 5,000 for this overall plan to work. Now, that's going to take a lot. We believe it can be done. And we believe when it's done it will be crucial to breaking that cycle of incarceration. So how you get there? It starts with neighborhood policing. I want to remind people major crime is down 13 percent since this administration took office. We are at record lows all over the city. This is one of the most essential realities in reducing jail population, reducing crime, reducing arrests by definition, reduces jail population. We've got a lot more we will be doing on that front. Other reforms, we've been able to do ourselves here in the city. Alternatives to incarceration, and targeted forms of enforcement all matter of things that are helping us to reduce the population. We've found new approaches to reducing recidivism. Most importantly five hours per day – we announced this with you Stanley, five hours a day for every inmate education and trainings. So when they come out of incarceration, they can be viable again in our society. Re-entry planning from the moment they enter Rikers and the other jails, and the jail to jobs program, a transitional job for anyone coming out of Rikers who had been sentenced. These are the kind of approaches that'll pay off in the long term. And this will be part of how we reduce the number of people in our jail system. And we know from what we've been doing already that is having a very tangible result. The population on Rikers is down 21 percent since 2013. In just those four years down 21 percent. We have the lowest jail population overall that we have had in 35 years in this city. And here is a fact and I think everyone here and thank you to everyone here who had been a part of this important effort. I think this fact is going to move all of you. New York City, New York City has the lowest incarceration rate of any major city in America. That's something to be proud of. [Applause] So, we said in the announcement last March, reduction to 5,000 in jails within 10 years and we are on track to meet that goal. We said we had to break that cycle and the actions we're taking are breaking that cycle of incarceration and all that pain it causes so many families. To complete this mission to get everything done, we need to get done. We need help from Albany. I talked about it in my testimony in Albany; I've talked about it in the State of the City last night. And everyone, this year is our chance to make the changes and these are the most important changes necessary to speed up our effort to get off of Rikers. New York State holds the key here and we need to hold them responsible. So, we need to make sure the state approves legislation for speedier trials, legislation for bail reform, legislation that would allow us to give those incarcerated who have exhibited good behavior the same opportunity for earlier release that the state gives its own prisoners. We also need the state to address the fact that it has hundreds of its parolees in our jail system. The state needs to take responsibility for those individuals and get them off Rikers to relieve the burden. Those actions are the single most important things to improving our ability to close Rikers faster. Everyone here needs to join us in Albany to get that done. And we need everyone in the criminal justice system to participate. We need the courts and prosecutors to help us in every way they can to speed up the trial process. We need all of our partners at the city level to help us find new ways to reduce that population. In the meantime what we're doing today is also a crucial, crucial building block. And I am confident now more than ever because of the leadership shown by the council that we are moving not only on schedule but that we have a chance to get ahead of schedule. With everyone's help here, and with a strong effort in Albany in the next few months. Let me see a few words in Spanish before I turn to speaker Johnson. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] Now as I turn to the Speaker, I just want to say only weeks on the job Mr. Speaker but you have shown a real zeal for completing this mission. And from our first conversations we've talked about moving this rapidly and moving it together, and having all the Councilmembers in the communities concerned be a part of this effort. And I want to thank you for being a man of your word in helping getting to this day Councilmember and Speaker Corey Johnson. […] Mayor: Okay, you all know the drill. We're going to be taking questions on this announcement and matters related to it, then I know the council members are going to be going to their next gathering. I'll stay and take off-topic questions at that point. So questions about today's announcement – Gloria? Question: Mr. Mayor, I just want clarify, it sounds like you're embracing a new timeline for the closure of Rikers. You've spoken about the ten year timeline, but there is a lot of talk today about doing that faster and sooner, so do you – have you changed your view on that? Do you think it could be done faster? And then I have another question after that. Mayor: I think Judge Lippman said it exactly right, we want to go as fast as we can. I've tried to level with the people of this city in saying that with what we know today, ten years is the timeline. But we get the reforms in Albany, the Legislature votes for bail reform, if the Legislature votes for speedier trials and votes to make sure that inmates that exhibit good behavior can get out earlier, if the State takes those parolees back and puts them into the State's own system, those are the single biggest factors here, Gloria. If all that gets done, then we can speed this timeline up by years. There is no question about it. But I want to also be scrupulously honest that those things aren't done yet, we've been – I think this is something we can all agree on, we've been disappointed in Albany before. So it's really going to be in the next four months the moment of truth for Albany, for everyone in Albany. They're going to move these reforms and allow us to close Rikers years earlier, or if they don't, we will have to stay to that ten-year timeline, or the best we can do within the time we have and the power we have. Brigid? Question: Mr. Mayor I want to ask about the [inaudible] process and to what extent that will impact the community notification. And specifically, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued a statement already saying that he was surprised to learn that the administration had already selected a new site for the jail in the Bronx, described it as a situation there was not outreach, and raised some concern about the input that people from that community will have to this process. Mayor: Look the site in the Bronx is a site owned by the City of New York. It is a very smart site in terms of its closeness to the courthouses. There is going to be a full community process but let's be clear, we're going to talk to everyone, we're going to listen to everyone, we're going to try in every way possible address community needs and address other benefits that communities need. That being said, up here are the people who ultimately have to make the decision – the Council, represented by the Speaker, the members who represent those individual districts, and me and my administration. So we will talk to everyone, we will respect everyone, but we know where we want to go, I am confident that we will get there. The process will begin this year. The final votes will happen next year, and design and construction can then happen immediately thereafter next year. That's the pathway we have to go on if we're going to close Rikers on the fastest timeline possible. Juliet? Question: Mr. Mayor so assuming you will get the population down, will these facilities house the remaining population, or will there be plans to open others? Mayor: With the facilities currently have, and these new ones, and with no Rikers Island whatsoever – everything gone on Rikers – that would bring us to about 6,000 beds which is what you need in terms of the population we're talking about. About 5,000 – you know 6,000 beds because you will need them in different places to accommodate. That would get us there. So these four new facilities would be all we would need to close a Rikers once and for all, presuming again we keep getting that overall population down. Question: Speaker Johnson, could you just talk about what do you need to get to this expedited process, to start to get things underway this year? When do you expect that's going to happen? City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: Well I don't want to walk us into a particular month, but the Mayor just said that we are going to certify ULURPs at some point this year, probably in the fourth quarter of this year, and then we will go through that process. There does need to be meaningful community engagement, and that's what the Mayor's staff and his commissioners are going to be doing with the council members. I know that a conversation does have to happen, and I apologize to the borough president in the Bronx. We have to do a better job at keeping him in the loop and the local community boards, so we're going to ensure that it's a robust, meaningful, community engagement process, but we also know, as the Mayor said, where we are going – which is we have sites, we have members that are supporting them. That's typically the biggest hurdle, we have gotten over that hurdle, and so I look forward to getting this done, and I think one thing that will additionally shave time off of the process besides the important criminal justice reform methods – reforms the Mayor just flagged, bail reforms, speedy trial reforms, discovery reform, all those things which we need Albany to take care – we also need design build. Mayor: Amen. Speaker Johnson: Because we need design build, so we can shorten the timeframe on getting the facilities designed and built, and these facilities are going to cost a lot of money to do modern jail facilities on irregular lots in residential neighborhoods. So they're going to be expensive. So if we can save a significant amount of money on these facilities and shave time off it, it's a win-win all around. Mayor: Let me just quickly 'amen' the Speaker and thank him for coming back to issue. Design build is not the sexiest issue around, but it's incredibly important. Let me give you an example. When I was up in Albany testifying – I don't have the exact examples for these facilities, but I will give you the one that came up for the work that has to be done on the BQE Triple Cantilever. Hugely important project for the future of the City. The design build authorization would allow us to do the project two years faster and will save us I think between $100 and $150 million. Every time you get that design build authority that the State gives itself, you save the tax payers a lot of money and you shave a huge amount of time off of each project. So I really want to thank the Speaker for standing up and making that point so clearly – a note to the Governor and everyone in Albany. Speaker Johnson: And by the way, just one more thing, the Governor seemed open to it, so, let's – let's – Mayor: Hope springs eternal. Question: [Inaudible] do you agree with the Mayor that the timelines can't be shortened unless Albany takes the step [inaudible]? Judge Jonathan Lippman: I agree that it is a critical part of the project to have [inaudible] Mayor: Hold on, hold on. Television age, there you go. Judge Lippman: The question is, do I agree that we need action from Albany in order to bring down this timetable, and the answer is yes. We laid out two parallel tracks that have to be done. One is criminal justice reform where you are driving down the population, and the other is what we are announcing about the sitings, the timetable, and moving it very, very quickly. The two join because, as the Mayor laid out before, you don't get the population down to 5,000, you are going to have too many people to put even in these new facilities that we're building. So the answer is yes, the issue is – criminal justice reform 101. These are things that are around the country on a state and local level there is agreement. Bail reform, speedy trial, early discovery, the parole system here in New York, the State parolees, this is the most basic stuff and we take nothing for granted, but there is absolutely no reason in the world why we can't have these fundamental criminal justice reform here in New York that will allow us to, again, combine the reduced population with the sitings, the process, ULURP, and all of that, and they come together and you get timeline that can be way, way reduced. Because again, the political will is here. We are seeing it. Question: Judge, my question was a little different, do you think – Judge Lippman: [Inaudible] I'll answer your question if it's a little different. Question: [Inaudible] only with those steps taken by Albany? Judge Lippman: Let's put it this way, I think what the Mayor has said and the Speaker has said is that we're going to do everything that we have within our powers – in their power – to get this done and criminal justice reform is an essential part of it. Could we double down our efforts, and do without it? It's a very difficult – these are things that are just basic. I think we will have it. They will do it, and it will allow us to bring the timeline down. The answer is yes, we need criminal justice reform to complete this process, and we have to get, and we have to get it this year. Question: Do you believe the Governor about those issues you lobbied about? Judge Lippman: I've been lobbying the Governor for many, many, many years on criminal justice reform. Mayor: Yes, he has. Judge Lippman: And, I would say that many of those things have happened, and we need these basic things to happen that I personally, and 70 people in this room, have been talking about for many, many years. Mayor: Alright, yes? Question: Yes, Mr. Mayor, speaking of basics, some of the critics including the Department of Investigation say that closing Rikers won't solve everything and perhaps may not solve anything if the basic issues of violence, security, and management are not addressed. How confident are you and the current administration of the DOC? Mayor: Absolutely confident, especially given the extraordinary challenge that the leadership and the men and women who work in our correction system face every day, and you just heard I think the most eloquent testimony from Judge Lippman who's spent a lifetime serving the people of the City and the State that what our correction officers and everyone at the Department of Correction have had to deal with, is antiquated laws, antiquated rules, antiquated buildings, which have made their work extraordinarily hard. And yet I would tell you it's extraordinary how much good they do every single day, how many lives they do turn around, how much they achieve under very tough circumstances. I mention we've invested $200 million just in the safety measures alone, the security cameras, the additional personnel, the additional training, a whole host of things. That wasn't done in the past. I want to emphasize that. For a long time the broken situation on Rikers was left to fester. There is a lot of attention on it now. I'm glad there is a lot of attention. We're putting in a lot investment. This Council has supported a lot of investment. We're going to keep doing that. So yes, I have confidence that give these good men and women the actual modern tools they need, and they'll be able to achieve a lot more. Question: Mr. Mayor, the State correction commission today called Rikers the most problematic facility in the state and suggested perhaps a State takeover of the facility. [Inaudible] Mayor: Look, I think the State needs to be constructive here. If they actually want to be a part of the solution, they should step forward and achieve the reforms that we've talked about, and Judge Lippmann said it nicely, I'll say it a little more bluntly. Judge Lipmann and a lot of other people have been talking about those reforms for years and years, and Albany hasn't acted on them, so why doesn't Albany step up and actually help rather than just criticize it. [Applause] Question: You said that these would all be one public review process. Why put these all together, when one in particular the new site in the Bronx seems to be quite a different circumstance to the existing sites that are already used as jails – they're being used as a jail and will be again, why – why? Mayor: Because it's a matter of priorities. We all believe we have to move as quickly as possible. Getting to this approach took some time, and it's a different approach, but it's the right approach for this kind of situation. Instead – you know, I honestly I think a lot of us thought, 'oh here are four isolated situations.' Then we thought wait a minute, this has major citywide ramifications, the issues are essentially the same in each place. Let's unify this process, let's all work together, and say to the City of New York, this is going to be a City priority. This is a priority for all of us. We will do the hard work to do this fast and to make sure communities get the answers they need. I thought the council members spoke powerfully about how you could build facilities that address simultaneously community issues that need be addressed and bring benefit, so I'm convinced this is the right way. Question: If I could just follow up, [inaudible] there have been some recent spikes in violence in the Manhattan House and in the Brooklyn House, so how do you ensure that these new facilities are safer, fairer, or what have you been to Rikers? Mayor: I will speak from my perspective, if the commissioner or if Director Glazer want to come and join, but here is what I know as a layman. Again, the Judge said it, antiquated facilities that were not built for rehabilitation – let's just break it on down. The old assumption was not really about correction in many ways and redemption. It was about punishment, and it was counterproductive. And it backfired. The whole era of mass incarceration backfired, did tremendous damage to this city and this country. Modern facilities emphasize safety for all and emphasize rehabilitation and are built for that purpose and people get to do their work in an atmosphere that suggests that they can actually succeed, not that they have both hands tied behind their back. So I'm a big believer in that. Commissioner, you want to add? Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann: Good afternoon, I would just echo what the Mayor said. Modern facilities are built for safety and for enhanced programming and give those in our custody the ability to access those programs in a way that helps them reenter the community and be productive. It also helps our staff have enhanced sightlines so they can see what's going on in a housing area and not be exposed to blind areas where they can't control what goes on. I would also that what the Mayor said about punishment. Prior administrations had increased punishment, and we have instituted a different way of doing corrections. And it has been a learning curve for us to go from punishment to behavior change, and that's the real safety that we can achieve with long term behavior change. [Applause] Mayor: Well said, well said. Alright, where am I? Who has not had one yet? Let's go over there. Question: So as you reduce the population at Rikers and in general, will you maintain the proportion of corrections officers to inmates, and you know given your goal at what level do you expect you'll have corrections officers at once you reach it? Mayor: Well first of all, we've said every correction officer working for us now will be working for us for their whole career. There's a lot to be done, and in fact there's certainly areas where we want to apply more and more correction officers to the task at hand. Remember, we for the last few years have been constantly hiring more officers. We've had a huge issue with overtime. As we've hired more we're starting to bring that overtime issue down, but we – we're going to need all the officers we have to continue to make everything safer and to continue to further the rehabilitation model. Do you want to add anything, commissioner? Covered it? Alright. Good, Grace? Question: Earlier today there was a story about the State Commission of Correction essentially threatening – Mayor: That was asked just a moment ago. Question: Yes, I guess I'm wondering if the timing of all of that – is that a coincidence and is that going to sort of force your hand to move more quickly on this? Mayor: Our hand is not being forced. We determine our own destiny here in New York City, so God bless the State of New York, but again if they actually want to help there's lots of ways they can help. If they want to make noise, they can make noise. But let's be clear I have not gotten that offer of help. Been here four years – I'm easy to find – I have not gotten an offer of help, and so I'll make it really plain. I'll look into the cameras. If the governor and the legislature want to help us close Rikers more quickly, they have the power to do so. And if they don't, then it's on them that it's going to take longer. Question: Mr. Mayor, will each of these newly rebuilt facilities have to be larger than the previous facility, and any idea of how long it would take and any ballpark on a price tag of this whole thing? Multiple billions? Mayor: I will start, and if anyone has something firm come forward. And if not, probably my very broad answers will have to do for now. The – yes, we foresee expanded facilities. Timeline – this year the process begins, vote next year, design and construction begin immediately. We need to then construct in one case, you know, on site – or three cases I should say – on sites that already have existing buildings, and that's a whole endeavor unto itself. In the other site it's a more open site that we can build on. So each one's going to be different. Obviously building buildings of this size is a matter of years. We can come back as we know more with a clearer estimate, but we're going to move - the judge is right. The message to everyone up and down the administration – and the Council is saying it so clearly too – is move everything as quickly as humanly possible. We'll pull out all the stops. The resources will be there. It's no question – I'll look to the Speaker, and he can nod if he agrees – there's no question this will be a budget priority for the administration and for the Council to make sure the resources are there when they're needed. But I don't have a price tag for you yet. Question: Multiple billions? Mayor: Billions for sure, but I don't have a specific price tag for you. Speaker Johnson: We need design-build. Mayor: And we need design-build because that could save us hundreds of millions at minimum. Question: Commissioner, I believe that when you first talked about this a year ago or last year, you said that what you wanted was a facility in every borough, so where is – Mayor: No, the judge said that in his report – and God bless him – and I said I did not think we needed one in every borough. Question: Let me go ahead and say where is Staten Island today? Why is there no talk today about a facility – Mayor: Because the simplest answer is there are very few inmates who come out of Staten Island, and this is a big endeavor, and it just did not make sense given how much we have to do. These four facilities will allow us to achieve our goal. Question: Commissioner, in the State Correction Commission report that came out today [inaudible] data comparing last year and the previous year at Rikers Island in terms of a variety of violence incidents, and many of them have large increases, just a couple of them – inmate, group gang assault are up 160 percent, inmate on personnel assaults are up 34 percent, inmate introduced contraband up 120 percent – many others. Talk about why – what's going on in Rikers that things are actually getting worse instead of better? Commissioner Brann: I have not had an opportunity to read that report, and so I will today and look at that and see where they got those numbers from. We have and will continue to work with the SCOC to look at those issues that they have identified and resolve them. Question: You have your own numbers, so in the numbers that you have do you see increases in violence in various categories at Rikers Island? Commissioner Brann: In the two most prevalent categories where we focused our greatest attention – and that was with the 16 and 17 year old and the young adults 18 to 21 year olds – those violence numbers have actually gone down. Question: What about – Mayor: Let me just make a blanket statement. We're going to answer that commission report in a detailed manner, and that's something we will do publicly. And I think there's – as with all statistic there's certain interpretations going on. We want to show the whole picture. Clearly a lot has been invested at Rikers, and major changes have occurred, and there's many areas that have improved, there's other areas where we have to do better, but we're going to answer that report point by point. Go ahead, Gloria? Question: I've got a question. The Council has been having a conversation about fair share and the question of certain facilities in certain council districts. With this joined ULURP process, are you going to lose some of your power to bargain benefits that some communities should get in exchange for getting these jails since it's all going to be go into one deal for lack of a better different word. Speaker Johnson: It's a totally smart, fair question, and it's one that I thought about leading into this process. The answer is no, because there is a – I believe – a good faith effort, and there will be honest communication between the mayor and myself, his senior level management team, the commissioners that are involved in this, and the individual members on ensuring that in each one of these facilities they're built appropriately for those neighborhoods, and if there are some other things in communities that have been left unaddressed this is – the fair share's argument is real. I mean Councilmember Ayala I think alluded to it. I could be a little more specific and say that, you know, there's a concentration of homeless shelters in the South Bronx. There's a concentration of methadone clinics in the South Bronx. There's a juvenile detention facility not too far from this in the South Bronx. Now, are we going to be able to close all those things? No. But if there are individual circumstances where there is a particular spot that has been problematic and because we're all overwhelmed or there are many other issues going on we haven't had the chance to address it, in the past – at least in my own district when I've had an issue that I've been able to leverage a little bit through the land use process – the Mayor's been responsive on these community issues. So I believe the Mayor and his team will be responsive and good faith partners when they work with each of the four councilmembers on the things that relate to their districts. I want to add one thing related to some of the questions that were asked before. I think, you know, this is – I don't have the statistics – but if you look at two of the main things that are contributing to the population on Rikers and the violence on Rikers Island, sadly our jails – not just Rikers Island but across the country, across New York State – and Rikers Island is the biggest symbol of it has become a home for the mentally ill. We've criminalized the mentally ill, and that is why it's so important to ThriveNYC and other mental health efforts to get people the help that they need, so that they don't end up on Rikers Island. That's another way to drive the population down, and then lastly we have – [Applause] The Mayor probably knows the statistics better than me on this, and the Police Commissioner definitely does, but there are still issues with gang violence in New York City, and we have to do more gang prevention and gang intervention efforts for young people across the city. We saw in the – Officer Souffrant who was so violently attacked, those were members of a gang who were under the age of 18 years old. It is sad that these young men are being recruited into gangs at 14 and 15 years old, getting involved in violence and crime, ending up on Rikers island, and then committing an atrocity like this, which they're going to be locked up for a very long time now for the rest of their lives for doing this to this correction officer. So we also have to focus on gang violence, gang prevention, and gang intervention, which will also hopefully mitigate some of these issues on the island. [Applause] Mayor: Okay, see if has anyone not gone? Okay, we're going to go around and do a few more, and then we'll go to off topic in a couple of minutes. Question: To go back to Willie's question about Staten Island, I know a central part of this plan is to put people closer to their court house, closer to their family. Obviously that would be an opportunity [inaudible] if there may be fewer inmates on Staten Island, from Staten Island that they won't be able to be housed closer to their families or their court houses. Where are you going to put them and what would you say to them if they don't – Mayor: Look, again, this is acting as quickly as we can to make a major change and get off of Rikers Island. That's what the mandate is here. This is the way to do it. There are very few inmates proportionally form Staten Island. We'll find a best opportunity to get them as close as possible, but we're not building a facility on Staten Island. It's as simple as that. Question: [Inaudible] Willie's question – why should someone from Staten Island, why should family have to schlep all the way to Rikers which is the farthest from Staten Island? Mayor: Rikers, again, is going to be closed in this equation. Question: Why should they have to schlep to another borough? Mayor: It's – again, we have made a decision that to move this agenda four facilities are what we need. That's where the numbers are. That's what we need to do. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of expense to do the four. We're not going to do a fifth. It's not going to have enough impact. This is the best way to get to the goal. Speaker Johnson: I agree 100 percent. Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Could you just give an overall blueprint of what the designs of these new facilities are going to be? What's like really going to make them 21st century? Mayor: I can only tell you broad strokes – and commissioner if you or Liz if you want to add – again what you've heard. First of all, Judge Lippmann said something very powerful. Take the negative away. You've got aging facilities that have been falling apart, that were not built to create a positive environment for rehabilitation. They're not places that people enjoy working, and they're certainly places that don't help us to rehabilitate inmates. They're not built for those kinds of sightlines that increase safety and security. There's so many reasons why they don't make sense. It's like so many other things in life. You know if I told you about most things whether it's a building or anything else in our society that's 50 years old or 60 years old or 70 years old, mostly that would be antiquated and not up to modern standards. Well we can safely say that's true of the facilities on Rikers Island. Anyone want to add? Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer: So I would say there are two things. Our jails right now – and it's not just New York City, it's in Chicago and a lot of other places across the country are far from any place. We put people away where we don't see them, and that's not good for the people who are incarcerated, for officers, or anyone else. So the first thing is that people need to be near their families, near their lawyers, near the justice system. The second is that jails can be civic assets, and I think a number of the council people raised this. They should be integrated into neighborhoods. They can have storefronts. We see this in Denver and San Diego. A bunch of more modern jails that we see across the country, and they need to have light and programming as we've sort of addressed. Mayor: A few more, and then we're going to turn over – Juliet? Question: How is it helpful or meaningful to the community to have input after the fact, after a site is already announced or disclosed? Mayor: Because this is – remember this is directly related to the reality of the criminal justice system. So if I'm talking about affordable housing or a lot of other things, there's all sorts of places you can put it. But when you're talking about proximity to criminal justice system and sites that we control – remember we're talking about in all four instances, city-controlled sites which allows us to be much more able to work quickly and get the job done. So no, this is exceptional situation. It is not – it's not your garden variety land use issue. It's not something where we're thinking just about the impact on an individual community, although we are certainly thinking about that. This is for the good of the whole city. This is a major reform. That's why we decided let's do it all together, and that the sites are really – to us – the obvious sites and the necessary sites to act on. But we'll have a lot of community process. Willie? Question: Is the expectation that some or all of these existing facilities might need to be demolished in order to build the new facilities? Mayor: I can't say that now. That's part of why we've already brought on a firm to determine with us the best way to create these designs. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I don't have the name. It's been publicly announced, but that can be spoken to – Question: [Inaudible] four borough combined ULRUP? Mayor: I will let experts speak to that because I am not an expert. There certainly was full agreement when we looked at the procedural issues, and we looked at the commonalities of what we had to achieve in each neighborhood. We believed it made a lot of sense in every way. Question: Mr. Mayor – Mayor: Hold on – media questions only right now. My apology. Question: How many beds do you estimate you'll have in the Bronx facility and the already existing ones? Mayor: Again, we'll come back as that plan is developed, but the goal is to have a system overall of 6,000 beds excluding anything on Rikers – Rikers being closed totally. Alright – I think we have covered it all, so I know members of the Council and the advocates, everyone has to go do other things. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your support. [Applause] Mayor: Okay, everybody good? Okay – other topics. Yes? Question: [Inaudible] gender-specific activities, like the father-daughter dance. A lot of parents are really upset about this, they think it's [inaudible] how to look up to role models, etcetera. Were the parents asked for their input where this was stated? Mayor: I don't know the history of what happened in this case. Let me just say very broadly – first of all, we respect each school community to figure out what makes sense. I think the goal is simply to create something that everyone could participate in. Obviously, I'm a father with a daughter. I think it's a beautiful idea to have a father-daughter dance, but that doesn't mean other people can't participate at the same time who happen not to be fathers and daughters. SO, I think this is something we can work through school by school, figuring out something that works for everyone. Question: What about the DOE's gender policy in general? How far does it go? Do you foresee a time when students will be listed on the roll as not male or female? Mayor: I don't think that way, honestly. We want to respect all of our students, and in this city we respect how anyone identifies themselves, which I think is an American value – that people get to decide for themselves who they are. But I am not worried about how we're going to list people on a graduation [inaudible] or anything like that. What I'm trying to figure out now is the best things we can do to educate our children and to address the equity gaps in our school system – that's where our focus is. Go ahead, Grace. Question: It was a question for you and the Corporation Council, but a few weeks ago we asked about tracking the number of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the city, and then also any payouts that were given through the Law Department to settle complaints or cases. Do you – is there any update on – Mayor: Yeah, in the next few weeks we will be publishing both of those. Yes, Gloria? Question: Mr. Mayor, there was some reaction in the Council to some of the campaign finance proposals you talked about last night. There's been several bills introduced that would do some of the same things that you're proposing. They are saying that they should be done legislatively as opposed to a commission. Do you plan to involve the Council in any way in this? Mayor: Look, I'm calling a Charter Revision Commission – this is a given. It's been a while since we've had one in this city. It's important to have one to look at where things stand overall. I'll appoint a group of people who I think will be seen universally as highly respected, who will think about these issues, who will talk to New Yorkers all over the five boroughs about our government, what we need to do to make it better. So, that goes beyond any single issue. On the question of campaign finance reform – I believe in public financing. It's time for it. It's time to have a much stronger system than what we have now. This is a good one, by the way – this New York City finance system is one of the best in the country, but we've got to go farther. And, by the way, we need to go farther for ourselves, Gloria, but we need to go farther also to send a message to our State. The State of New York needs public financing badly. The State of New York has some of the most backwards campaign finance laws in this entire country. It is not surprise you've seen so many problems in Albany – it is directly related to not having a progressive campaign finance system. So, this is something I want us to do for here, but also to have a bigger impact beyond our borders. I think the right way to do it is through a Charter Revision Commission, but I'm certainly happy to engage – and I will engage the Council, and I think there's lots of ways we can work together, and we can look at legislative options, and what could be done on the ballot. Question: Just one more question – you've proven in the past, if you don't agree with a policy you're willing to reverse it. Are you willing to look at this policy and potentially reverse it? Mayor: Again, I want to say – one, I think you're referring to something which in my view has been an issue about one school so far. I don't know the details about that school. I've told you what I broadly believe in. Let's let each school work it out with the broad sense of inclusion. I think there's a way to do it. Question: Do you think there should not be a DOE blanket policy. Mayor: No, listen to what I'm saying. There should be, obviously, a clear requirement of inclusion in everything we do – that's everything we do in New York City. But each school can work that through and figure out a good way to do it, in my opinion. But, to me, I think one instance is being made into something much bigger than it is. This is one place where one issue came up. I think there's going to be a positive outcome there, and then we can look from there on the best way to handle things like this citywide. Yes? Question: Mayor, last night you said in discussing the lobbyist disclosure updates that New Yorkers deserve to know who lobbyists are trying to influence, what senior staff they're trying to influence. Why won't you address reporter's questions about your [inaudible] sitting down with Emma Wolfe? Mayor: Look, guys, I've set very clear standards on the lobbying question. I've been disclosing lobbying meetings for a long time, even though it was never required. The fact that New York City is now going to have the strongest lobbying disclosures of any city in America is something we should celebrate. But on everything related to those other issues, which have been well investigated, and the outcome is clear, I have nothing more to say. I've said, we've handled everything ethically and appropriately – that's all I have to say on it. Okay, last call – a few more? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I'm going to act in the manner stipulated in the City Charter. So, I'll be naming the commission. I'm happy to talk to my colleagues in government about people they think would be right to serve, but I will name the commission just as previous mayors did. Question: Mr. Mayor, there's a poll out today that says a majority of New Yorkers don't believe Cuomo, Gillibrand, or you should run for president. Do you think the next president should come from New York? Mayor: Well, all I can is the current president from New York is not working out so well. [Laughter] But that is not a statement on the future. I've said to you very clearly, I'm doing the job – in fact, last night, I gave you the timeline. As of last night – three years, 10 months, 15 days in this administration to get a whole lot done. That's what I'm focused on. But there's no way to have a blanket view on where a president or anyone else should come from. What we need is the best president and the most progressive president we can have – that's the only standard I'm looking at. Question: Mr. Mayor, today is Valentine's Day. Have you received a Valentine? And have you sent any? Do you send candy? Flower? Do you do any of that? Mayor: Wow, these are very personal questions, Rich. I said Happy Valentine's Day to my Valentine this morning. That is so far all that has transpired in the celebration of Valentine's Day. Chirlane and I – you know, our way of celebrating is just to spend time together, and we'll be doing that tonight, and that's all we need. We don't need a lot of material things, we just need time together. Alright, last two – go ahead. Question: Back to Jillian's question on Singh. I know you don't like hypotheticals, but, you know, you're a Brooklyn guy – as an observer of politics, if you're hearing somebody – you have Singh pleading guilty to bribery, and you're refusing to take questions on this – I mean, how do you expect New Yorkers to interpret – Mayor: Again, it's been – I think New Yorkers are really, really smart, and they understand there was a full investigation, and they have watched this administration for over four years, and they know we do things ethically and appropriately and that our focus is on serving the people of this city. That's all I have to say. Question: [Inaudible] lobbying disclosure [inaudible] retroactive. Are you going to require your commissioners and other officials who they – Mayor: That's starting now – I'll check the exact way that it's being applied. But, you know, we're starting it now – again, the most extensive disclosure system in the entire country, and I'm proud of it. Thanks, everyone.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 5:10pm
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please find a seat. Our program will begin shortly. Ladies and gentlemen, please silence your cell phones, the speaking program is about to begin. Please welcome, Tyler Bates, general manager for Kings Theatre. Tyler Bates: Hello, thank you all for being here tonight. I'm very proud to be standing in front of you welcoming you all to the historic Kings Theatre. We are honored to host the State of the City tonight and are honored to have Bill de Blasio on our stage tonight. Since opening three years ago, Kings Theatre had provided many events for audiences from around the world. As the crown jewel in Brooklyn, we continue to host events to bring people together. With the variety of gatherings we've had at Kings, what we value the most are those that service our community. From Thanksgiving dinner, the State of the City address amongst many others, we are proud to be part of Flatbush and greater New York community. I would like to take this moment to thank Mayor de Blasio and his constituents to Kings Theatre for continuously showing sum port for the arts. Thank you again for joining us for what will undoubtedly be a memorable evening here at Kings Theater. Thank you. [Applause] Announcer: Please welcome the Celia Cruz Bronx high school chorus, performing God bless America. [Applause] [Choir sings] Announcer: Please welcome Bishop Annette Rose, Imam Ahmed Dewidar, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser and Bishop Angelo Rosario for our invocation. [Applause] Bishop Annette Rose: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Audience: Good evening. Bishop Rose: I want you to join with me as we invite the presence of God here this evening. Heavenly father, we come before you this evening recognizing your sovereignty, at this great vocation and we thank you for your protection over this city. In spite of everything that we have been through as a nation, we are keenly aware that if it was not for your grace and mercy we would have been destroyed. Indeed, you have been good to us. As we gather here with your designated person, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is about to give his State of the City Address, we ask heavenly father for your guidance. Dear Lord, that you would give him the wisdom to make the right decisions for the citizens of this city. Today, we pray for the peace and the prosperity of New York, that it would be indeed like a tree planted by the rivers of water bringing forth fruits in its season. Heavenly Father, bless this great metropolis, the mayor and his family, all New York State officials and the ecumenical clergy, cause to us work together as one for the good of your people. Give to us the spirits of the sons off Ishika, whom you bless with the ability to discern the times and to strategize accordingly. Let there be love and unity among us, as we embrace and forge toward forward into the future together. May we be one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. And Heavenly Father, may our doors always be open to all those who are in need, this we ask in the name of the Lord and we all say amen. Audience: Amen. Imam Ahmed Dewidar: Salaam, your Honor, Mayor de Blasio and all who are a symbol here, today we are gathered here as representatives of diverse faiths, community believes and our beloved, the city of the cities, the City of New York. By standing together, we are maximizing the chance to reach almighty God, as simply we may call him Hudah, Dios, God, Dar, Jehovah, Yahweh, Ileoileal or Allah, but we all heed the same God. We come to you almighty today to ask for our sin and our beautiful hilarity, our country to prosper, to bless all our activities to guide our leaders to the right path. The guidance of our individual faiths and political views, to line our hearts and empty our hearts from any kind of emotional disturbance and to labor us to shape our differences and to build our beautiful city, the city of diverse, the city of languages, the city of arts, the city of religions, the city of the cities of the City of the world and of the leadership of our beloved Mayor Bill de Blasio. I'm inviting all faith leaders by the end of this week in all temples, churches, mosques and other places of worship, on the day of their main weekly prayer to pray for peace, security, tranquility and prosperity for our beautiful America and for our beloved city, the City of the cities, the city of New York. Thank you. [Applause] Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser: We pray that you almighty bless and protect Mayor Bill de Blasio, and show him through all evil, grant him the wisdom and understanding in strength and goodness and good health to lead us in righteousness and truth. May God bless First Lady Chirlane McCray, the leaders of the City Council, the State representatives, the commissioners, all the elected officials, New York's finest, our Police Department are New York's bravest, our Fire Department who put their lives every day in harm's way for our benefit. May God also bless the United States armed forces, who have our back each and every day. Help us vanish the dark forces of evil of inequity, oppression, of violence and endow us with great strength to create the right world order in which the glorious banner of brotherhood and love will wave over the homes of all your children. In New York there are over 800 languages spoken by significant portion of our population. It's the most linguistically diverse city in the entire world. It's a city in which the great religions, in which the great people from all faiths gather together in unity to celebrate the years of Mayor de Blasio, and in fact Mayor de Blasio himself believes that all New Yorkers deserve a chance to succeed in the greatest city on earth. I was going on East 87th driving one night late and it was near Third Avenue and I came to a stop light. All of a sudden there's a guy that came out, I think you call him a panhandler. I'm not sure whether it's legal or not legal. But he stopped in front and I slowed down. All of a sudden he holds up a sign and I take a look at it. The sign says, "What is the greatest nation in the world?" Then he turns the sign over and it says, "Donation." [Laughter] I tell you one thing, he got a good donation from me. [Laughter] The truth is, what the Mayor is calling on all of us to do is to stand up and be counted, to help the poor, to stand for the oppressed, to speak out against injustice, to aid the vulnerable, the marginalized to reach out to the immigrants, our brothers and sisters and to love all of God's children. To quote the ancient prophet [inaudible] "And for you who revere my name, a sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings." May God bless everyone here. Honorable David Dinkins, may God bless you. [Applause] All my other good friends, Mr. DA, I didn't forget you. [Laughter] May God bless the honorable Bill de Blasio and may we have a year of great health, of great progress and great success. Thank you. [Applause] Bishop Angelo Rosario: He made us so wonderfully – made with all colors, all shapes, all heights and different weights. [Laughter] And we thanked him for all he has done and with a he continues to do, how he created us so that we can become one people, one race, all the human race, a race that he loves so much that he gave his only begotten son. Not one religion, one denominations, so that we can become family all over again. He sent the blessed of heaven down to either and he also gave us the government of heaven with all the holy teaching of the angels in care of cherubs so we can be blessed [Bishop Rosario speaks in Spanish] God has chosen the Senate Assembly, the Mayor, has chosen all to make one great nation under God, a God that has no denominations, a God that doesn't have a religion, a God that has children and tells us to love, love one another. That's where the peace of great is so great. That we have a power to make a difference – [Bishop Rosario speaks in Spanish] That he wants to bless us – [Applause] And unite us in one people in the greatest nation that we have ever lived in the melting pot of the world. [Bishop Rosario speaks in Spanish] Shalom. I said that because they told me to speak Spanish, but I know most of you can't speak Spanish. [Laughter] And my borough president from the Bronx, he speaks 36 languages and nobody knows. He speaks Puerto Rican, he speaks Spanish, he speaks Mexican, he speaks Cuban. [Laughter] I say with that may the peace of the Lord be with each and every one of us, let the presence of guide unite us and make the greatest city in his holy name, peace and blessings to each and every one of you. [Applause] […] Announcer: Please welcome Walter Logan to introduce the First Lady of New York City. Walter Logan: Good evening. As a transgender activist of color, I find inspiration in the bravery of others like me who have answered the call to activism. [Applause] At a young age I answered my personal calling to raise awareness about gender equity, mental illness, trans-phobia and more. As a result of my work, I've learned to appreciate those who do their part to uplift and empower those they serve. Chirlane McCray embodies the spirit of selfless service that changes lives. Through her various initiatives, including ThriveNYC, she has paved the way for new discussions about important issues in New York City. As we prepare to hear about our city's accomplishments over the last year, it's important that we also celebrate one of our city's most passionate leaders. She's an activist, a force for meaningful change, and our First Lady. Please welcome Chirlane McCray. [Applause] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good evening, everyone. Audience: Good evening. First Lady McCray: Buenos noches a todos. Thank you so much, Walter. Being an activist for other young people is powerful and essential for the survival of our democracy. Can everyone please show Walter some more appreciation? [Applause] You know, young people like Walter are coming of age at a very special time in New York City's history. Never before has our city government been so representative of the people it serves. There are more women and more people of color in senior leadership, more policies that put people and families first and more services that reach all New Yorkers. Together, we made New York the biggest, the safest big city in America. [Applause] And we're well on our way to becoming the very best big city as well, the privacy, the unity project, the domestic violence task force, our women at Riker's effort and through the Mayor's Fund we are creating more jobs and support for young people, helping more immigrants on the road to citizenship, strengthening families and reaching hundreds of thousands of people with the behavioral health services they need and when our people are threatened by corporate greed, cruel federal policies or unabashed hate, we are a city unafraid to take a stand. [Applause]. In the midst of a deadly opioid epidemic, we are fighting to save lives with all we've got and holding Big Pharma accountable for the lives they destroyed. And the streets we march in and the booths we vote in, New Yorkers has fought to protect health care and women's rights, defend our immigrant brothers and sisters and preserve our democracy. Something special is happening in New York City. Can you feel it? Audience: Yeah. First Lady McCray: I said, can you feel it? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: Can you feel it? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: As the Trump white house has everyone and everything they deem different or unworthy, our City of dreamers and strivers, 8.5 million-strong is a light that illuminates a better way forward. With giant acts of resistance and small acts of kindness, New York city showing the world what we stand for. We are all in this together. We are all one family. [First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish] And that means the challenges felt by one group are shared by all of us. They may not be felt equally, but they are shared all the same. When children suffer from mental illness that goes unaddressed at home and school, they struggle to learn. Left untreated, their illness gets worse. Over time, it effects their relationships with the people around them and hinders their ability to lead a happy and successful life. When people abused by their intimate partners, the damage goes beyond broken skin and broken bones. There are broken families and broken spirits too. When LGBTQ teenagers are forced out of their homes, they must fend for themselves for food and shelter and live without the loving support of the only family and community they've ever known. When mothers are locked behind bars their children suffer that punishment, too. One of life's most sacred bonds is ruptured. Emotional and academic growth is impaired. And, too often, these children become part of the vicious cycle of incarceration, a cycle of our own making. Together we are taking on all of these challenges. We know the state of our city cannot be separated from the health and well-being of all of our communities. We know our city cannot prosper and thrive if we leave anyone behind. So many of you share our vision. You've been part of this journey over the past four years, and we thank you. Bill and I, and everyone in this administration are so proud to work alongside you, and we have four more years to go. Yes. [Applause] We have four more years to go further, move faster and do more, but first let's take a look at what we've achieved together. We are the safest big city in America and look forward to holding that title for years to come, but I have another hope for this city. I want us to be the fairest big city in America and I know we can do it because we are called in a time of vast overt disparities, to do something different, to be something better. […] Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mayor Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, everyone. Well, everybody, welcome to the beautiful Kings Theatre in the great borough of Brooklyn. [Applause] Isn't this place amazing? And welcome to everyone watching at home this is a time of year we gather to think about this place we love. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] We are all here together as New Yorkers and we feel so deeply about our city. And I have so much I'm thankful for and, first and foremost I'm thankful for my partner in all I do, our First Lady, Chirlane McCray. [Applause] I want to welcome and thank the elected leaders of this city. I want to thank Council Speaker Corey Johnson; Public Advocate Letitia James; Comptroller Scott Stringer; all of the borough presidents; and a special out shout out to my special Chairman Adams, Brooklyn, the district attorneys, members of Congress, the State legislators and the members of the City Council, let's thank them all for what they do for this city. And my deep, deep thanks to a man who has served us all so well, Mayor David Dinkins. [Applause] Now we have some other very important public servants with us tonight, but their names are not so well-known. However, every day they make a huge difference in this city. And they work at dozens of city agencies making life better for all of us. You'll find their names in your program this evening and if you look in there when you get a chance you will see some incredible stories, people who have made a real difference. There are a few I want to highlight tonight that stand out to me, and the first, this is really something amazing to me, a good man named Joe Caggiano from Staten Island. Joe, where are you? Stand up. I know you're out there, Joe. [Applause] Joe is the oldest active duty uniformed employee in all of New York City. [Applause] He has made sure that New York City's trash is picked up for the last 52 years. [Applause] They don't call them New York's strongest for nothing do, they Joe? The next person I want to highlight is very personal to me, Detective Leo Pereyra – he's got his cheering section there – a 21-year veteran of the NYPD who serves on my security detail. Leo was off-duty some weeks ago and he was waiting for the E train in midtown and he heard screaming down the platform. A woman had jumped on to the tracks. Leo without hesitation ran to where he saw a crowd form and he jumped on the tracks as well to save her life. He made sure she was safe, he made sure she was on land, and he's devoted to the people of this city every day. Let's thank Leo. [Applause] Next I want to honor one of New York's boldest who can't be with us tonight, Department of Correction Officer Jean Souffrant [Applause] He is as we speak recovering from a terrible attack that he suffered just days ago while working on Rikers Island. I spoke to him and his family on Sunday morning and this is the measure of our public servants, even with everything that he was going through, his concern and the concern of his family was for his fellow officers. I made it clear to him and to his family that we will hold those responsible for this heinous attack fully accountable and we will take the actions necessary to protect our brave correction officers who do so much for us. [Applause] We will not allow our Correction officers to be assaulted, period. [Applause] There is something else I want to tell you about Jean, Jean is a proud immigrant from Haiti, he lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He made a tough choice to protect his fellow New Yorkers, even though our president has denigrated Jean's homeland. I want to thank the entire Haitian community. That community gave us Jean, and so many others who contribute so much to this city. [Applause] Now, I want to tell you another story, I want to take you back to the afternoon of Halloween last year, and you may remember that it started like any other Halloween, a day families look forward to and kids and parents were preparing fortnight's festivities and in the middle of all that something shocking and something terrible happened. A person filled with evil and hatred tried to strike the heart of this city. Driving down a bike lane on Westside highway he took eight lives and left a dozen more injured. Let's remember something important, that attack came out of nowhere. It could have been much worse if it weren't for Police Officer Ryan Nash. [Applause] When the perpetrator jumped out of the van he was driving, Ryan acted quickly and selflessly and ended the threat. Ryan, we all want to thank you. [Applause]. And I want to salute all the officers who in that moment stepped up and addressed the threat alongside Ryan, from the NYPD officers John Hasiotis, Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn [Applause] From the FDNY, EMT's Anthony Fracchiolla and Jin Huan; and from the Parks Department Enforcement Patrol, Captain Luz Carrion. They all showed us what our city was made of when they ran toward the danger. And then that night, 2 million New Yorkers made a statement, they came out to the annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. They were not deterred, they were not scared and they sent this powerful message to the entire world, New York City, we will not be intimidated and we will not change. [Applause] There's one more story I have to tell and it has a painful ending. One night last December a deadly fire broke out in the Bronx and the call came in at 6:51 p.m. The first engine arrived on the scene three minutes later. They were freezing temperatures, they were gusting winds that made fighting a difficult fire that much harder. That didn't stop the brave New Yorkers of Engine 88, Ladder 38. They were the first on the scene and other FDNY units came and joined them to save lives and they all had some help that night from someone who epitomizes what it means to take care of their neighbors, Army private Emmanuel Mensah who emigrated from Ghana five years ago. He was home on leave in that apartment building when the fire broke out. With true New York guts he ran into the fire not once, not twice, but three times to save his neighbors. [Applause] Tragically, he did not emerge the last time. His family is here with us tonight, including his father and his sister and three of his cousins and I want us to let them know that we are all their family now. [Applause] We have so many heroes assembled with us, have done things that you saw in the papers and things that you'll never read about, except independent pamphlet we gave out tonight. [Laughter] Let's applaud all the people who make New York City great every single day. [Applause]. Three years, 10 months and 15 days, that's how long this administration has to insure that we become the Fairest Big City in America. And we will take on that mission and we will do it with speed and we'll do it with urgency. We do this to ensure a better life for all 8.5 million of us. We do this to preserve the social fabric of the most diverse place on earth. We do this to insure that we're always a place for everyone, that magical openness that has made New York City great is always protected. But we also do this to guard against the threats to our democracy that are growing across this nation. It's our mission to define what a fair and just society looks like, to show it through our deeds and in our everyday lives. To take that quintessentially American egalitarian spirit and make it come alive again. We have to be the keepers of that flame. We have to ask ourselves, if not here, where? We, in fact, have to be the antidote to the sickness that is gripping our nation. This evening I will paint you a picture of where New York city going and what we need to achieve together, and I hope to make clear what being the Fairest Big City in America means, and I will propose a series of measures that I believe are needed to protect and reinforce our battered democracy. And here is why those pieces go together, because we can't create a more just society if we don't confront the decline of democracy, that we're experiencing in the city and the state, all over this nation. And, equally, we can't afford to become a pseudo democracy because of unsustainable and growing inequality. There is a point at which extreme inequality makes a mockery of a democratic society. That point, sadly, is not too far away. So, let me take you to the task at hand, becoming the Fairest Big City in America. The video you saw gave you the flavor of some of the steps we've taken so far what they mean to the people of this city and when you came in this evening, you were handed this booklet, which conveniently is titled, "The Fairest Big City in America." This booklet is a simple, straightforward game plan of what we intend to do this year and the years ahead. This is the kind of goal we can all unify around. This is the kind of goal that matters to everyone in this city. 12 points, let me go over them with you. Number one, how do we become the Fairest Big City in America? By listening to the voices of the people. Nothing comes through louder and clearer, and, yes, we New Yorkers are loud, nothing comes through more than that daily demand for fairness. New Yorkers aren't afraid of tough challenges. But we want the rules of the game to be fair. So my mandate entire administration is this, make every decision whether about a policy or a judgement, make every decision with this simple question in mind, will this action help make us the Fairest Big City in America? And then apply these decisions with urgency and energy. Number two, we are going to make the safest big city in America even safer. That's something New Yorkers can do, because we never stop when we achieve something great. We keep going and we're going prove once again that safety and fairness walk hand in hand in this city. Nothing defines the relationship between a society and its people more than how they are policed. If policing is fair it makes fairness possible in all aspects of life, and that's what we have to insure. So here's the formula – We'll extend and deeper neighborhood policing, which you saw so beautifully portrayed in the video. We'll keep crime low, while keeping arrests low as well. We'll use policing, precision policing strategies to focus on the worst crime and the worst problems and we'll create more trust and accountability by having body cameras on all of our patrol officers by the end of this year. [Applause] The beauty of this approach is it keeps getting better year by year. The more we heal the wounds of the past the deeper the bonds become between police and community and the further we go. Number three, now is time to do something great. Now, it’s time for 3-K for All. [Applause] Thanks to so many people thin room, Pre-K for All is already a reality in this city, and it's been a huge success. And let's applaud the parents and the educators and everyone who helped make pre-K happen. [Applause] Again, we're New Yorkers so we choose something great and then it's time to go farther. We're on a very aggressive past to doing something that no major American city has ever done before, providing a great early childhood education for every three year-old for free, that's going make a difference in the city. [Applause] Let me explain why this is so essential to a fair and just society, and I'll frame it with a blunt and basic fact. We are dealing with the memories of education that go back to the historical sin and contradictions of our nation. We face an achievement gap today that is rooted in the enslavement of Americans and the pervasive discrimination against people of color over centuries. We know exactly where the problem comes from, but to defeat structural racism and to overcome this achievement gap, we have to flip the script. We have to do something different when it comes to education, because in truth, we started educating children too late in their development and that exacerbate equalities already baked into their lives at an early age. Now reaching all four year olds is a major step forward, but reaching all three year olds will be seismic, huge and lasting impact on the children and their families in this whole city. We will reach all of our children by 2021, and we'll tap into their potential far more than we ever have before and this is one of the most basic building blocks of fairness. And when I say, fairness, I want you to know that is the animating spirit for our equity and excellence vision for our schools. The simplest way to boil it down is this, we can no longer tolerate a status quo in which there are perceived good schools, Quote, Unquote good schools and Quote, Unquote bad schools depending on where you live. No city in the 21st century can call itself fair, no city can call itself truly great so long as that horrible bifurcated reality exists. So we're taking this challenge head on. Early childhood education is a beginning, but there's so much more to do and we have to move fast. In the coming weeks I will speak to the people of this city about our next big equity in excellence goal, increasing the number of children reading on grade level by third grade. [Applause] This is the watershed measure of a child's educational potential and this is where we will make our stand as a city, and I will ask all New Yorkers to join in this effort, our educators and our parents and our community organizations, and our businesses and the faith community this Number four – and this is one I know everyone can relate to – in the few months the biggest affordable housing plan in the history of New York City got even bigger. When it comes to fighting income and inequality and creating fairness in our everyday lives, nothing is more important than affordable housing. It's not just that this is the number one expense for every family and that the costs of housing defines whether you can live a decent life or not in this city. It's also about a basic question of fairness. Will the people who built this city, the people who were here in good times and bad, will they get to stay in the city they love? Well, here's how I see it, every time a family is saved from an illegal eviction, every time a family gets their apartment preserved at affordable rent, every time a family moves into one of our new affordable buildings, it's another step towards becoming the Fairest Big City in America. And we will reach more New Yorkers in the next four years than ever before in our history. So they can be New Yorkers for a long time to come. [Applause] There's another good way to make sure New Yorkers can afford the city they love, give them better paying jobs. [Applause] Now, let me make it clear, I've worked with so many of you in this room. I want to thank the elected officials who are here and so many activists and community leaders, we've all worked together in this city to raise the floor for working people to make sure we have a higher minimum wage and better benefits like paid sick leave and paid family leave, but now we need to go further. A truly just society constantly tries to share the wealth, to do what a slogan from the progressive era of a hundred years ago called for, a very simple slogan, it says, "Pass prosperity around." Well, as this city become more prosperous, we have more jobs than at any other time in our history right that the moment in the city, but we need to get better-paying jobs in the hands of New Yorkers. [Applause] There are 700,000 jobs that pay $50,000 or more and to target them to the residents of all five boroughs is our goal. It means a better quality of life for their families. This alone will reach over a quarter million New Yorkers. These are the things we need to do to make a difference in this city. Number six, a fair future for our children hinges on protecting our city from the danger of global warming. When you think about your children, you think about your grandchildren, this issue comes into very sharp focus. This is one of the clearest examples of how we and other cities and states need to be the antidote to broken policies in Washington. [Applause] When President Trump renounced the Paris agreement, New York City was in the vanguard of a movement that now totals over 300 American cities. [Applause] And we are taking matters into our own hands. We understand clearly we have to protect our own people from global warming when our national government fails to do so, and we have to aim higher than ever before. So we're going speed up. You're going to see more buildings required to cut their emissions. You're going see more electric vehicle charging stations around the city. You're going see an all-electric city car fleet, you're going see things that make clear we are not going to ignore this crisis, we're going to address it ourselves. [Applause] And while we take positive steps to protect our earth, we're also going after the big corporations that caused this mess to begin with. [Applause] Now, my thanks to our Comptroller and our Public Advocate who have been shoulder to shoulder in this effort. [Applause] New York City will divest $5 billion in pension fund investments from fossil fuel companies. $5 billion tends to get people's attention. And, we are suing five of the biggest petroleum companies to win back money we need to protect our people from the impact of climate change. [Applause]. Number seven, there are some big fights ahead in Albany and in Washington and New York City will help to lead the way. Starting in 2018 and for the next four years in Albany we will fight for something that should have happened a long time ago, full funding for our schools under the campaign for fiscal equity ruling. [Applause] My friends, we are not letting up on this mission. We will make common cause with cities and with rural areas around our state that have been waiting for justice just as long as we have. And, we'll go to Albany to address something that I guarantee you is on the minds of every New Yorker, the crisis in our subways. [Applause] Like it or not, only Albany can pass the legislation that can end this crisis. Now, I'll tell you where I stand, particularly in light of the biggest give-away to the wealthy and corporations in our history, the Trump tax plan, I think we should redouble our efforts for millionaires tax. [Applause] And the millionaire's tax would allow us to fix our subway and to fund the fair fare proposal, half price metro cards for low income New Yorkers. [Applause] So this will always be my goal. Progressive taxation is always what I will fight for, but I also want to be clear to everyone else working on this issue, I will sit down with leaders in Albany anytime, anywhere, to find a solution to the subway crisis. I have only one condition, the money raised in New York City stays in New York City. [Applause] As New Yorkers, how do I but it gently, we're nobody's fools. So we need to guarantee the lock box. We need to know the money that is raised will fund improvements to subways and buses in the five boroughs, period. [Applause]. Now let's turn our gaze to Washington, not always easy to do. In Washington, we are fighting right now for fairness for 30,000 New Yorkers and 700,000 Americans who are crucial to our future, and they are our dreamers. [Applause]. In Washington we will fight for real infrastructure planning with ample federal dollars so we can fix what's broken and build the economy of the future. But, again, we're nobody's fools, and I assure you we will not fall for privatization schemes that enrich the few and achieve little. [Applause] One thing we should look forward to doing, one day, one day pretty soon, after an election, or maybe two elections, we will fight to rescind the Trump giveaways to the wealthy and the big corporations. [Applause] And to return our nation to the tradition of progressive taxation that made us strong to begin with. It's as simple as this, we will not rest until the one-percent pay their fair share in taxes. [Applause] Number eight, we will fight the opioid epidemic. We will fight the opioid epidemic with the same zeal, the same intensity of which we've taken on homicides and traffic fatalities. Look, it took years of hard work. Our good men and women of the NYPD, neighborhood partners, the Cure Violence movement and so many others, last year, last year homicides were at their lowest level since 1951 in this city. [Applause] And it's taken a lot of creativity and some very tough choices. But last year traffic fatalities were at the lowest level in over a century in this city. [Applause]. So, my friends, what this makes clear to us is it can be done. We're New Yorkers, we can do amazing things. And so we will take on the opioid crisis. We will throw at it the biggest combined effort ever by our city agencies, increasing prevention and enforcement and treatment. [Applause] And we'll work at the grass roots to reach families in the throes of this crisis and to get them the help they need. These New Yorkers will know they are not alone. We will help them through this extraordinary challenge. We can and we will take on this epidemic. And one of the ways we will do it is we will hold responsible those who created it, the big pharmaceutical companies that profited from people's pain. [Applause] We have initiated litigation to stop their deadly practices and to win the funds to help more New Yorkers overcome addition. We will help them to overcome addiction and lead strong lives again. Number nine, this is one of the biggest changes we're making in this city and it has only just begun and it's called ThriveNYC. ThriveNYC is a particular favorite for our household. Still in its infancy, it has already reached hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Now, you know Chirlane McCray, you would know that she does not shy from a challenge and here is the simple audacity underlying ours First Lady's vision. She believes every New Yorker should have access to the mental health care they need, simple as that. [Applause] And she knows getting people this care will help us address a whole host of societal challenges that will help us with homelessness, incarceration, take on domestic violence. This is fundamental to creating a better city. It's fundamental to fighting inequality. Here's what we know, New York City now has the most comprehensive approach to mental health of any city in America. And as we deepen our efforts, this will be one of the true building blocks to overcoming decades of disparity and creating fairness. Nothing exemplifies fairness more than universal access to health care. [Applause] And that is true whether it is a physical health condition or mental health condition. We need to treat both of them the same way. [Applause] We will lead it, because of our First Lady we will be a city where mental health care is accessible to all, every one of us. [Applause] Number ten, in this moment in history people are speaking up and they are rising up against the inequities of the past, and we know to be fair, to create fairness we have to take on these challenges. We will use the power of city government to insure one of the simplest measures of fairness, equal pay for equal work. [Applause] Through our Commission on Gender Equity, we will systematically root out the very much stitches of the past that have held so many New Yorkers back and we'll continue to show through our strengthened human rights commission that discrimination will be confronted and stopped dead in its tracks. Remember the whole phrase, “Crime doesn't pay"? Well, in New York State today if you commit an act of discrimination, you will pay. [Applause] Number 11, as we get safer, New York City, we will also get fairer. Our police are achieving more and more reductions in crime and with fewer and fewer arrests this is a story that needs to be told. In fact, there were 100,000 fewer arrests in 2017 than just four years earlier. [Applause] By the way, crime went down, fewer arrests and crime went down. [Applause] And the power of this is, this is also one of the ways we reduce our jail population. As I said when we announced the plan to close the 85 year-old complex on Rikers Island, the era of mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end in New York City. [Applause] We have already begun a series of actions that will get us off of Rikers Island once and for all. Everyone who cares about this, everyone who believes this is a matter of fairness, you should join us in Albany to fight for bail reform and for speedier trials. [Applause] These are the sing the most important factors in radically reducing our jail population and we need to get them done this year. [Applause]. Finally, the last item in the booklet, surely not the least, if we're going create a fairer city it means addressing decades of neglect, mistakes of the past and investing in our housing authority and the people who live within them. [Applause] Since this administration began, we have invested $2.1 billion in capital dollars and $1.6 billion in expense dollars in NYCHA, nothing like that happened in the previous history of the city. Here's what that means in human terms, it means almost a thousand new roofs from residents who suffered from mold and leaks. It means new boilers and heating systems in the developments that need it the most. It means deepening our efforts to reduce crime and make developments safe. It means faster repairs so people can live a decent life. [Applause] I want to make it very plain, our public housing residents are a priority for me, they're a priority for my administration, they're a priority for our city and our city line officials and our borough presidents more than at any other point before in our history. This entire city government is focused on the needs of 400,000 New Yorkers who have not gotten a fair shake for a long time. We will do something different in the city and this is part of how we become a fairer city. [Applause] We're going to continue to make big changes through our next generation NYCHA plan, and we're going to show the success that we reached in our largest development, Queens Bridge houses, is what we can do all over this city. We're going to show that real change can come, that safety can be achieved that roofs can be fixed, that Internet access can be provided opportunity opened up. It happened in Queens Bridge houses, and we're going to systematically make sure it happens all over this city for the residents of public housing. [Applause] So, again, if you want to know what's going to happen in 2018, you want to know what's going to happen in this second term or this administration, there it is, simple and straightforward. Our goal count be clearer. We have a lot of the tools we need. We've proven they work. We know what we need from Albany. We know what we need from Washington and we're going organize New Yorkers and allies everywhere to achieve those goals. So that's a reason to be optimistic as we embark on this mission, creating a fair city, are some things we can feel very good about. But here's our fundamental obstacle that we have to overcome, you can't fight for greater equality with less democracy. History teaches us that fundamental change, fundamental social change comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] [Applause] As New Yorkers, we have often led America's battles for fairness and equality, and we've been accustomed to winning no matter how long it took, but that, my friends, was before the Citizens United decision by the extreme court, something we had never seen independent history of our nation. That was before big money flooded and dominated our political process. That was before voter participation plummeted amidst very cynical and systematic efforts to discourage people from getting involved. That was before we had a president who denigrates our people and the very institutions basic to our democracy. That was before that same president aligned himself with Russia, which has conducted the most serious external attack on our electoral process in our nation's 240-year history. So if we're going fight for fairness and we're going to fight for equality, we better fight to save our democracy. We are so far from what the norm should be of an active and inclusive democracy. [Applause] We better understand a proud nation our mission is one of restoration. We must re-democratize a society that is losing its way. Now there is some good news. There's a very bright silver lining in the middle of this crisis and it's the extraordinary grass roots energy, which is starting to manifest all over this nation, and certainly in this city and state as well. I think of it as the DIY approach to protecting what we hold dearly. People are taking matters into their own hands and they're creating new approaches, they're throwing their own hats into the ring. The moment is ripe for change and we need to meet the moment. But we're going to have to break free of something that's broken. We're going to have to shake the foundation of a broken status quo right here in our state and in our city. We cannot be the fairest big city in America. We have some of the most unfair and most exclusionary election laws of any state in the country. [Applause] We can't lead the way to a restored democratic society if our people are discouraged from voting at every turn. We can't keep doing things the same backward way and somehow expect a better result. No, that won't work. It's time for radical change in New York City and New York State. To borrow a phrase, one I appreciate very much, "This is what democracy looks like." [Applause] Today I'm unveiling a 10-point plan which will engage the people in the city directly and it's called democracy NYC, simple concept that we can actually turn the tide and make our democracy in this city strong again. We're asking New Yorkers in every neighborhood to be part of the solution and we're going start by asking people to vote for major reforms. So, let me go over what's in 10-point plan. Number one, I will use my authority to appoint the charter provision commission and I will give it the mandate to propose a plan for deep public financing of local elections. [Applause] Nothing restores the faith of a people more than getting big money out of politics. So we need to build on the decades of campaign finance reform, which has been a great success in this city, but we need to build on it by going even further for the times we're living in now. Our goal is for elections to be funded primarily by public dollars, thereby greatly reducing the power of big money. [Applause] And here's something I love about it, more New Yorkers will be encouraged to run for office and candidates will spend their time talking to everyday people, not their big donors. [Applause] Number two, I will also charge the charter revision commission with the task of proposing a plan to empower the city government to handle so many of the basic outreach information efforts that the Board of elections has consistently gotten wrong. In the greatest city of the world voters too often find out at the last moment that their poll site has changed. In the most diverse place on earth, good luck getting in the line of translation services when you go to vote. In the digital age the best our board of elections does is send you a postcard to remind you there's an election. The Board has no coherent vision for how to make voting an easy and positive experience. In fact, the Board still won't approve simple reforms that I proposed and nor will they accept $20 million I offered them to help make voting better for New Yorkers. You've heard of the notion of being customer friendly? Our voting system in this city is about as customer unfriendly as it could be. [Applause] It's not modern, it's not fair and it needs to change now. Who's ready for a change? [Applause] Well, you won't have to wait long because under my plan the people will get to vote this November. Number three, we know that the integrity of our elections is under attack from adversaries outside the United States and I bet a lot of you who felt that chilly sensation just this week when we learned that Russia had successfully penetrated and compromised the voter registration rolls in several states. My friends, that's not a headline from an action movie in the 1980's. It's happening right here in our country right now. In 2016 and 2017 the city of New York provided a board of elections with around the clock threat monitoring and proactive checks on system integrity. We know the people who are trying to steal our elections won't stop. They'll be coming back, but we'll be there to make sure they don't succeed. My administration will share their cybersecurity city expertise and do what it takes to insure when a voter walks into the voting booth they can be sure their vote will be counted. [Applause] Number four this is something different, in the coming weeks I will make New York City's first ever Chief Democracy Officer. The Chief Democracy Officer will be involving the problem of shrinking voter participation, launch a city wide administration campaign and have each city agency to register voters to vote when they come in contact with their local government. So it's New York City, so we like to set big goals, don't we. Whoever will take this job will end up being responsible for registering 1.5 million New Yorkers in the next four years. [Applause] Leads me to number five and if you have suddenly started to feel bad for the chief democracy officer and you pictured the individual literally personally signing up 15 million people, no, we're going to have some help. And one of the areas we need to focus on the most is our young people. [Applause] Some are in our audience today. [Applause] Are you guys ready to vote? [Cheers] We'll be reaching every 17-year-old whose eligible to vote in our schools, that's about 50,000 New Yorkers every year. They're in school every day. That's where they should register to vote so they can start being a part of this democratic society. We will also launch more registration drivers on college campuses in the city and start getting young people in the habit of voting from their very first election. [Applause] Now, this leads to number six. We know that registering our young people as early as possible does not an always voter make. We've got to prove to our young people that they've got the power to change the world around them. When people feel empowered they participate. When they can see the impact they're making they come back for more. So starting next school year public school students will learn how to stay civically engaged and to fight for the future they believe in with our civics for all initiative and they will learn in a hands-on way by putting their skills to their test right there in their own school building. We're going borrow a great idea pioneered by the City Council, participatory budgeting. We're going to give every high school in the city $2,000 for the students to make the decisions on how to use and we know when students feel the opportunity to make a difference, they will be a beginning of a long lifetime of participation. We're also going do something to respond to an ever-changing world. We're going encourage our students to understand the events that are shaping today's world and the role that every citizen plays with rapid-response lesson plans. We're not going to teach them about things that happened only decades ago. We're going to teach them about today's news and what people can do about it. [Applause] Number seven, now, the next step towards a healthier democracy is getting more New Yorkers active in their neighborhoods, but if you want to join your community board or run for a community education council or elected office, it can feel really daunting. It can feel hard to find the information you need. A lot of people don't even really know where to start. So we're going to create an online portal, a one-stop-shop to get you all you need to make a difference in the life of your community. [Applause] Number eight, most of the democracy NYC plan can and will be done at the city level, but there are some critical reforms we need from Albany and this is everybody's business and everyone's concern. We want to fix our board of election, the first thing we need to do is we need Albany to approve it. So increase accountability and efficiency, two things we don't have enough of at the board by them powering professional executive plan for the 21st century. The next is so fundamental to engaging people in their democracy, it happens all over the country, in red states, blue states, small states and big states, but it doesn't happen here. We need early voting in New York. [Applause] I was very glad to see the governor propose the resources needed for early voting in his budget proposal. Now we all have to make sure that money is in a final State budget so it can actually happen in this state. We he only need to make it easier to vote absentee, we need to allow same-day registration like states all over the country. And we need to weed out a host of rules that just make it way too hard to vote. My friends, it's time to say enough is enough. Let's make this a place where we can vote again. [Applause] Number nine, to strengthen a democracy, we've got to create more accountability for those in power. It's one of the things that gives people heart encouragement when they see that accountability. That's why New York is leading the nation's cities in lobbying disclosure requirements. The people deserve to know who's trying to influence elected officials and their senior staff. This new and improved disclosure website which went live yesterday allows New Yorkers to search for which city officials are meeting with which lobbyists. [Applause] And starting March 1st, New York will be the only city in the country requiring that all commissioners and all people who report directly to the mayor disclose every time they have a meeting with a lobbyist. [Applause] Number ten, the last item of the plan starts with a surprising sentence, you won't hear it too often, I wish you would hear it more often, but I can only say it once in a while, we actually got some good news from Washington, D.C. Pleased to report to you that President Trump's vastly unqualified nominee to run the 2020 census has withdrawn his name from consideration. [Applause] But the fight to make sure that every New Yorker gets counted has only just begun. Given the Trump administration's views of our rich diversity, we must work twice as hard to get a fair shake. Tonight, I'm announcing "Get Counted," the largest census outreach campaign in our city's history and we're going to work with our partners and everyone in government, community leaders, private sector, faith organizations, anyone and everyone who makes sure, who wants to make sure that New York City is seen for all it is and that our people are counted in the eyes of our nation. Getting counted will make all the difference, determines how many congressional seats we get, determines how much Federal money is sent to us. A lot of that money comes from New York City and doesn't come back. So we'd really like to make sure that we get more than we have in the past. When you think about the census, think about it this way, it is entirely about getting our fair share and everyone has to be a part of making sure we are all counted. [Applause] So, my friends, that's our democracy NYC plan. And guess what, it will only work if you get involved. There's a very powerful phrase in the recovery movement that can be said about democracy as well, "It works if you work it." So we need you, we need you to go to Albany and demand fair election laws. [Applause] We need to you register your fellow New Yorkers to vote. And we need you to vote this November. [Applause] And this November you will get a chance to vote for reforms that get big money out and grass roots democracy in. [Applause] So why not just start it now. Here's a postcard. Yes, it's low tech, but it works for a crowd like this so here's a postcard. Everyone's here because you care about the City. Please fill this out. It will help to make sure that we can get you involved in so many ways that will strengthen the democracy of our city and the involvement of our people. So I'll conclude tonight with a final thought about the moment we're living in. It's brief, but it's something I feel deeply. We've come a long way, but history has shown us many times gains that were won can sadly also be lost. Some remarkable people struggled for change, gave their all. What they fought for was sometimes taken away later on. Whether we like it or not, democracy is something each generation must earn. In my entire lifetime I have never felt our democracy as in peril as I did today. I've never seen such rampant inequality as I see today. And it would be easy to cower in the face of these horrible events, two phenomena that threatens and that sadly work together to undermine the lives of our people. I can see it clearly, but I have to tell you, I still got plenty of hope. And I think you should, too. Because what we've learned is the people can demand change and the people can ensure that that change actually happens. We've seen it, right here, in this city. The things we talked about tonight all resulted from the will of the people. A lot of people worked for years, sometimes anonymously, sometimes in a lonelily long struggle, fought for the changes that are now part of the fabric of this city. And, yes, it can be done, and in the last year we've seen energy and activism like never before. Not only here, just think about what happened all around this country just a few months ago in November. We saw something extraordinary. We saw people defy the odds. We saw people decide this was their society, this was their, their country. So, here's how I conclude and I feel it in my heart, we are poised at the beginning of a new age, something we've never seen before. We have a new and bolder chapter to write, and its author will be you. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless New York City. [Applause]
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 5:10pm
The agreement ensures a single public review of identified jail sites in four boroughs and marks critical unity on the path to close Rikers Island and modernize the City’s justice system NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson announced an agreement today to move forward on closing Rikers Island and creating a smaller, safer and fairer borough-based jail system. Together with the Council Members representing these areas, the Mayor and Speaker have agreed to a single public review process for four proposed sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. These sites together will provide off-Island space for 5,000 detainees, and will include the three existing DOC facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as a new site in the Bronx located at 320 Concord Avenue in Mott Haven. “This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island,” said Mayor de Blasio. “In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that’s smaller, safer and fairer. I want to thank these representatives, who share our vision of a more rehabilitative and humane criminal justice system that brings staff and detainees closer to their communities.” “Today is a historic day, as we are yet one step closer to closing Rikers Island. The New York City Council is proud to have spearheaded the historic Close Rikers movement by creating the Lippman commission and passing legislation enacting many of its recommendations. The Council has also funded innovative programming to keep cases out of the criminal justice system altogether, such as the CLEAR and HOPE programs, which provide treatment instead of incarceration to those with substance abuse issues. We all know that closing jails on Rikers means opening more humane, community-based facilities elsewhere. I am proud to stand with my Council colleagues and thank them for their support on this crucial issue. I look forward to working closely with Mayor de Blasio, my Council colleagues representing these communities, and the communities themselves in finally achieving our shared goal of closing Rikers Island,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “Many Bronx families have been touched by our criminal justice system and understand the importance of creating a more humane approach to detention,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “This proposed site represents an opportunity to help improve detainee rehabilitation and ultimate reintegration into society, while also creating a safer work environment for officers. I am committed to creating a robust community engagement process on the ground to make sure the neighborhoods I represent and residents throughout the Bronx have an opportunity to provide input into this important proposal. I thank the Mayor, my colleagues and my predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, for her vision in calling for the closing of Rikers Island two years ago.” “I look forward to working with the Mayor and the Speaker to ensure the communities of Lower Manhattan are heard as we move forward with the process of establishing a fairer and more humane criminal justice system,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “By working together, we will achieve the dream of closing Rikers for good. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, and former Speaker Mark-Viverito for providing the leadership to make our shared vision of a more just city a reality.” “The reopening of the Queens Detention Center not only makes sense but is the right thing to do,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz. “This proposal restores the Center back to its original purpose and ensure that Queens’ borough-based jail facility is located in our civic center, close to our courts. This smaller facility will bolster the safety for our Department of Correction staff, will create an environment that is more conducive to rehabilitation and will save taxpayer dollars on transportation costs. I look forward to engaging with the residents of my district on this proposal and I thank the Mayor and the Speaker for continuing us down the path of closing Rikers Island.” "It is essential that we close Rikers as quickly as possible," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "We must ensure our justice system reflects our commitment to safety, justice, and fairness for all - a standard we cannot in good conscious say we currently meet. We understand that the boroughs, including Brooklyn, will be an important part of the solution, and I look forward to engaging with the community on what form that may take." “Today’s announcement is a meaningful step toward closing Rikers Island by committing to a timeline and process. I am thankful to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson for their cooperation and commitment to get this done. I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the City Council to close Rikers once and for all,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice. With the support of Speaker Johnson and Council Members Chin, Levin, Koslowitz and Ayala, the City has identified four sites to hold new, modified or renovated facilities. These include: * Manhattan Detention Center, 125 White Street, Manhattan, 10013 * Brooklyn Detention Center, 275 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 11201 * Queens Detention Center, 126-01 82nd Avenue, Kew Gardens, 11415 * NYPD Tow Pound, 320 Concord Avenue, Bronx, 10454 These sites will need to go through a public review – a process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) – which includes hearings and recommendations by the local community board, borough president, the City Council and the City Planning Commission. Today’s agreement between the Mayor and Speaker will consolidate the proposal to renovate, expand or construct jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx into a single ULURP process, which will allow for a more expedited review. An application could be submitted for certification as early as by the end of 2018, and the design process could begin as early as next summer. Today’s announcement marks another major step in the process to close Rikers Island, which Mayor de Blasio and the City Council first announced in March of last year. In January, the City selected a vendor to identify sites that will eventually replace the jails on Rikers Island. The vendor, Perkins Eastman, and its subcontractors are creating a master plan with recommendations for how to maximize capacity at each of the sites and design jails that best meet the needs of inmates, staff and communities. They will also carry out a comprehensive public engagement process with local communities and stakeholders, and incorporate the feedback and needs of communities into the planning process. In order to expedite the pre-ULURP process, the City will simultaneously carry out environmental reviews to ensure these projects will not have an adverse effect on the surrounding communities. Because existing borough-based facilities have the capacity to house only approximately 2,300 people, there is no immediate way to close Rikers Island safely and house the population off-Island. Expanding the capacity in the boroughs while simultaneously implementing a series of strategies to significantly reduce the jail population is currently underway. There is now an average of around 9,000 people per day on Rikers Island, which represents a 20 percent reduction since Mayor de Blasio took office. In recent months, the City has introduced a number of programs that are driving down the jail population. These include a new program that replaces short jail sentences for minor, low-level offenses (typically under 30 days) with services that help prevent recidivism. In addition, the Administration announced that every person in the Department of Correction’s custody will receive re-entry services to help connect them with jobs and opportunities outside of jail, as well as five hours of programming per day to address vocational, educational, and therapeutic needs. The complete Roadmap to closing Rikers, along with opportunities to get involved, is available at . The New York City Council has played a critical role in the movement to close Rikers Island, including convening the Lippman Commission and funding the CLEAR and HOPE programs in partnership with the Brooklyn and Staten Island district attorneys, so that low-level drug offenders can receive treatment and services instead of being sent to jail.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 5:05pm
Josh Robin: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. Forget about the State of the Union or even the State of the State. New York City gets its close up tomorrow night when Mayor de Blasio gives his State of the City address laying out his priorities for the first year of his new term. Mayor de Blasio joins me now to talk with all about this and more. It’s our weekly Monday’s with the Mayor interview. Welcome to be here. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Robin: Let me ask you, big speech tomorrow. State of the City is strong; I suspect you’re going to say. Mayor: Yes. Robin: Can you toss us a nugget about what you’re going to talk about? Mayor: Sure. I can even show it to you. Robin: Oh, there you go. Mayor: This is the message. I talked about this on Inauguration Day. This concept, the fairest big city in America is not only going to be the focus of year one, it’s going to be the focus of all four years. And it’s a simple notion that says whatever we do, whether it’s a budget decision, a policy decision, a personnel decision. We’re going to ask the question, does it help us become the fairest big city in America? And that means addressing income inequality that means improving the relationship between police and community. That makes sure it means making sure that people have access to better education for their kids, a whole host of things. Plans that are largely in place and growing right now, but that we’re trying to wrap together in a single strategic imperative that will determine again all of the big decisions we make going forward. And he is the other piece of the equation addressing the fact that we cannot continue to improve our City if we don’t go straight at the crisis of the democracy that’s facing this city right now. And that’s the challenge that people have with voting and participating. So I am going to put forward a plan called DemocracyNYC that literally will I hope reinvigorate civic participation and voting in this city. Robin: So you’re obviously re-elected, turn out wasn’t great. In the primary it wasn’t great either. It hasn’t been for a number of years. My understanding is that you want to create a chief democracy officer and also make it easier for school kids to register in school. Is your hope whether they vote for republicans, democrats, anyone – Mayor: Absolutely. Robin: That you just want – I mean do you have a particular number that you want to see turn out go to? Mayor: Look, right now let’s start at the beginning. We’ve got a million New York City residents who are eligible to register and aren’t registered. Now, some of that is broken laws in Albany. We don’t have same day registration. People are not encouraged to vote because we don’t have early voting. So one of the parts of this 10-point plan is to go to Albany and get those big legislative fixes. But, right here there are a lot of things that we could do better, certainly registering our young people. Tens of thousands of young people are 17 years old about to be 18 in our public schools typically seniors. We could use that opportunity to register the vote, whoever they’re going to vote for. We can use our government offices a lot better to make sure voter registration is more widely available. That’s what that chief democracy officer is going to focus on. But here is the other thing; we need a charter revision commission. We need to go at the specific idea that one of the things that most discourages people is money in politics. We’ve seen this all over the city and all over the country. People want to get money out of the political process as much as possible. The best tool is public financing. I’ve been saying it for a long time. We can do a lot better. We have a good campaign finance system in this city, one of the best in the country. But we can do a lot more with public financing to make sure that people know that private donations are not the basis of our political system, but public money. Robin: What do you want – this to me is new about the charter revision commission. What specifically would you want them to pass? Mayor: Look, I am going to call the commission. I am going to ask them to focus on public financing of elections to make sure that we again take our very good system and make it a lot stronger to find every way we can to get money out of politics and make it easier for people to run for office. I also think we have a fundamental problem with the board of elections. Now that’s governed by state law. And clearly I understand we were going to have to go to Albany. And I think there are some real changes we could get in the board in Albany I would like to believe. But at the same time I believe the state – excuse me, I believe the city could do a lot more on our own. Even with an existing city law to reach voters to help them to have a better experience in the voting process to get a lot more information. I am going to present that tomorrow, how that’s something we could also do through a charter revision commission. Robin: There was talk that the Governor is going to be mandating or at least trying mandate early voting, one polling place at least in each county. Anything that you know about this, it seems like a plan that’s just emerging. Mayor: Look, I welcome any progress. But it’s already proven and dozens of states around the country that this works. It’s a better process – you know think about how crazy it is in a modern society with people’s schedule how busy people are; families dealing with all the challenges that they have, folks who work two jobs. I mean they’re going to give you any number examples of how a system that only allows you to vote on a single day for a single set of hours. And then you confront lines and confusions and lot of times you don’t know your poll site has changed, whatever it is. This is not a modern appropriate way to engage people in the democratic process. If you have early voting and you see it all over the country people get to go in different times that work for them. They vote in some cases, weeks in advance. It encourages a lot more participation, same with vote by mail. There are states that have had extraordinarily positive experiences with vote by mail. We’ve got none of it. We are literally one of the most backwards states in the country when it comes to election reform. So, we’ve got to fight that fight in Albany. And I think the energy is growing. I mean 2018 is going to be an extraordinary energetic year in the political process because of everyone that’s happening around the country. But now I think we can also do a lot more here. And so what I am going to focus on tomorrow is all the ways that we in New York City can fix our own problems and create a more democratic society. Robin: Another thing that was mentioned in addition to the chief democracy officer is more investment in the census, more disclosure of contact between lobbyists and top city hall officials. Any other nuggets that maybe isn’t directly related to increasing voting that you want to toss out before your speech? Mayor: I’ll go through all of that tomorrow. It’s a 10-point plan, but each piece of it contributes to enfranchisement to people knowing that they matter in a democracy. I mean look, I will be very blunt about this tomorrow. There has been systemic efforts over the years to exclude people from participation. It’s not just some of the horrible examples we see in some states of restrictive laws that are clearly meant to reduce the number of people that vote for often very partisan reasons. It’s other things, it’s a state like New York. We want to be proud of New York State. But guess what? Our election laws, unfortunately and this is a bipartisan problem were built as incumbent protection programs. They were not built to encourage participation. And I’ve been very clear before there has been very cynical actions, especially by News Corp as a great example of programming over decades that gave people the sense that their vote didn’t matter, their participation didn’t matter. We’re at a point where our democracy is very fragile. A lot of what’s happening in Washington since President Trump was elected is causing people real concern about the future of our democracy. We can’t take that line down, we have to act now. And so the plan I am going to put forward it’s a number of pieces but with a very clear common thread giving people their democracy back. Robin: In 2016 you announced trolley service along the Brooklyn/Queens waterfront. Is that frankly going to happen? Mayor: Well, that’s quite a segue. Josh, it’s something I believe in, it’s a plan whose time has come. You look all over this country; light-rail service has been expanding in cities all over the country. Why? Because it will allow you to do things that you could do with the subway but building a new subway takes a lot more time. It’s a lot more expensive, a lot more difficult. We have in this city – we’re a growing city. We’re going to be at 9 million people as soon as 2030. We need more mass transit practically in the outer boroughs. Light-rail on top of the new ferry service we started and things like select bus service is a part of the solution. So I am very excited about that. Robin: Right, it just seems like that ferry – you’ve got a lot of kudos for it. It’s working well, but with the light-rail service it seems like it’s blocked. Financing might not be there. I’m just wondering if you feel like it’s actually going to move along within this term? Mayor: Look, we’ve put forward an initial plan. I said from the beginning there is a lot to work out. There is a big, big endeavor. Clearly want to get resources to help it along and this takes us all to the infrastructure debate that will now start to rage. I am happy to say some infrastructure money got into that budget agreement, last week in Washington. So, that’s a good sign. It’s great to have Senator Schumer as the democratic leader in the Senate. Now, the minority leader I think very soon to be the majority leader. That’s great for the city in terms of the infrastructure. So to do something this magnitude of course we’re going to need help. But I am very excited about what it could mean and that it is not just about one line, its then about that line being the trail blazer for a lot more. Robin: Okay, we have to take a break. Stay right there. Robin: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. I am speaking with Mayor Bill de Blasio. We are moving from State of the City now, this coming year – Mayor: That’s a segue, there we go – Robin: Yes, yes, we are moving now to NYCHA. Obviously, a very important issue. I want to ask you a couple of questions about it. City Council members say that they plan hold another hearing on this and they want to bring in your Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. As you know, in court papers, she said the Council members are “often extremely confused and ill-informed and not that smart.” Considering that and considering that they’re having that – not a great reaction, as you can imagine, to that, do you think that she can get a fair hearing in the City Council? Mayor: Yeah, look, I was a City Council member for eight years. I’ve said very clearly that comment – I have immense respect for Alicia Glen, she’s been a great Deputy Mayor but that comment was a real mistake and not fair to the Council and she apologized as she should. She is going to obviously in her dealings with the Council members going forward, she’s going to have to show good faith and good will to overcome that unfortunate comment. I’m sure she will. I don’t doubt she’ll get a fair hearing. I think the Council always has tough questions for any administration, you know, mine or any other administration. That’s the nature of democracy as we were talking about before. There’s supposed to be attention there in a good sense. So, we welcome those questions and you know we’ll have answers for them. Robin: Hot off the presses – there’s a story that the New York State Health Department is investigating the New York City Housing Authority. Obviously, there’s a lot of concern about NYCHA – something that you have talked about at length. Can you respond specifically to this investigation as we’re learning about it? Mayor: Look, to put it in perspective, my administration has addressed the challenges of NYCHA head on in a way that bluntly previous administrations didn’t. For a long time in this city, mayors tried to keep as much distance as they could from the housing authority. We said we’re going to go right at the problems. I have, since I took office, my budgets have invested $2.1 billion in capital funding into NYCHA buildings, $1.6 billion in new expense money to address a whole host of problems. We’ve made developments safer, we’ve gone at the fundamental problem of how long repairs take. A lot has changed, there’s a lot more to do, no doubt. A whole lot more to do but on the question of lead paint, the history is real clear. When we came into office, unfortunately those inspections that were mandated by City law were not happening. When it was discovered, we acknowledged it and acted on it. It took a while to get it right, there’s no two ways about it but we’ve not inspected those apartments several times – all the apartments in question. We have done remedial action. We’ll continue every year to inspect and take remedial action. All of the issues that we face in public housing – these are buildings that go back many decades that were supposed to get regular federal investment, didn’t. There are estimates of $20 billion, $25 billion in unmet physical needs in NYCHA buildings. We’re doing our best to keep up and to prioritize the biggest problems. But look we are trying to fix a whole history of neglect and we’re going to do it consistently. I would say when it comes to health issues, the New York City Department of Health is the gold standard in this country. You know, we have the strongest public health capacity anywhere in the country, always are partners in making sure that NYCHA residents are healthy. When we see a problem, we address it and we’re going to keep doing that. Robin: Let’s talk about what happened on Rikers Island on Saturday. You have been briefed on it, you might have seen the video. The Correction Officers Union says, “This mayor has taken away tools to control the environment and indeed there is an increase in inmate-on-staff violence between the last two fiscal years.” Do you feel that things are on the right track and do you have any thoughts about whether officers’ hands are tied in disciplining those who are behind bars and that might have to deal with this? Mayor: Look, let’s first talk about the officer himself, Jean Souffrant – lives in Crown Heights, a man who wanted to serve this city in a very proud tradition of families that come from other places to New York and then make New York a better place. I spoke to him over the weekend – Robin: An immigrant from Haiti. Mayor: Yes, and he is a very noble man even though he’s going through this horrible challenge. His attitude was positive and he wanted to talk about all we can do to make the situation better on Rikers Island. I really admire that. I spoke to his wife and his sister as well, and I said to them we’re all devoted to this and in fact we’ve put over $200 million in the last four years to do things that bluntly weren’t done before – to add a lot more officers, to give more training to our officers for their safety and everyone’s safety, to stop the flow of weapons and contraband which is part of what endangers everyone. There’s a lot more to do on that front. We need help from Albany with the scanners that would help us to do that better. It’s been a concerted effort. There are now security cameras all over the complex that didn’t used to be there before. So, this work has to deepen. Some elements of safety have gotten better, some are just not good enough at all. That’s a truth that I have to grapple with and my team has to continue to do more work on. But here’s what I do know, with real respect for the men and woman who do this work, what their union has called for is to return to punitive segregation, you know, solitary confinement. People have seen what has happened in our jails and our prisons over decades, how much injustice was done, how much harm was done, how much – how many lost opportunities to rehabilitate people and turn lives around. Solitary confinement doesn’t make people better, it doesn’t make them more conducive to being orderly or well-behaved. Solitary confinement, unfortunately, eats away at the human soul. So I understand how frustrating it must be for officers who feel that sense of danger and we feel for them, we want them to be safe and that’s why we’re investing and we’re going to be doing a lot more to make sure they’re safe, but solitary confinement is not the answer. Robin: Let me ask you – we only have a couple of minutes left, I want to ask you a political question. Senator Gillibrand was on 60 Minutes last night, I’m not asking you a 2020 question, I’m asking you a 2018 question. When she represented this upstate district she got an A-rating from the NRA and she was against sanctuary cities. She says she was now wrong, that she was – regrets those. But at the same time, my question is, for Democrats to win across the country, arguably, they need to have positions that are different than what would get a Democrat elected here. Would you ever campaign for someone who gets an A-rating from the NRA or has a different position on sanctuary cities if you felt that it was for the overall better purpose of having a Democratic-controlled House? Mayor: Okay so let’s try and simplify that question in my view. I don’t do hypotheticals, so this is what I’d say. Do I think there’s a perfect litmus test to apply to every candidate everywhere? No. I think you have to look at the specific conditions obviously. I do think Democrats are going to be better served going forward, and this is something I felt – this is everywhere, this is the whole party, the most local level up to the national level, are going to be better served by declaring our views and being consistent particularly on economic issues. Look, I think we need to tax the wealthy more. We need to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. We need to have a very clear message for people about improving their economic circumstances, higher wages and benefits, getting money out of politics, stopping the role of corporations with the DNC. That kind of consistent message I think can break through in every part of the county. Robin: Like Joe Manchin – Senator Manchin from West Virginia. Obviously you are different from him – Mayor: Right. Robin: – on a number of issues, but presumably you would rather have him be the senator from West Virginia than a Republican. Mayor: Absolutely. And so I don’t think anyone can say there’s a perfect litmus test. But I do think we need to change the Democratic Party to have a central message, a central vision. That vision needs to be about economic empowerment, and saying to working-class and middle-class people, again, we’re going to actually help you improve your standard of living which has been declining for decades. That should be something that unifies Democrats across the whole country. Robin: Very, very quickly, did you see the portraits that the Obamas – Mayor: Yes. Robin: – unveiled. Have you thought about your own portrait and if you’d like to go for something different, and the First Lady? Mayor: That’s not what we’re thinking about right now, Josh. That’s a long way in the future. We’ve got a lot of work to do right now. Robin: Okay. Thank you Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Thank you.
Monday, February 12, 2018 - 5:10pm
Property owners with total of 4,000 apartments in need of significant repair placed in City’s 2018 Alternative Enforcement Program NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that 250 apartment buildings have been placed in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Alternative Enforcement Program, an initiative that shines a spotlight on multi-family buildings whose owners have allowed them to fall into dangerous disrepair. The buildings, listed here , each have enough health and safety code violations to allow for enhanced enforcement by HPD, including roof to cellar inspections, fees, and an AEP Order to Correct underlying conditions and bring the buildings up to code. This is the 11th year of the AEP program, and this round’s 250 buildings – home to 3,970 families – have a combined total of 26,301 housing code violations. Since AEP’s inception, 1,647 buildings with 22,033 apartments have been repaired, and more than $74 million in repair costs recovered by HPD. “This kind of willful negligence puts tenants in danger. It is immoral and illegal and we will use every tool we have to go after property owners and make these buildings safe for New York families,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “HPD is working on all fronts to make sure that landlords live up to their obligations to provide tenants with the safe, quality housing that they rightfully deserve. The Alternative Enforcement Program is a powerful tool to take negligent owners to task and address systemic conditions in buildings,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank the hardworking team in HPD’s Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services, as well as the many elected officials and community groups who partner with us to protect our city's tenants.” “All New Yorkers deserve to live in safe housing and to have hazardous violations resolved immediately,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “The Alternative Enforcement Program, established through legislation passed by the City Council, helps protect our most vulnerable tenants who are living in deplorable conditions because of unscrupulous landlords. I thank the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for their continued diligence in improving housing conditions for our city’s tenants.” “The Alternative Enforcement Program helps ensure that families and individuals have safe, livable and affordable housing,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. “I commend Commissioner Torres-Springer and the City Administration for their diligence in continuing this initiative with such success and making it possible for thousands of families to feel comfortable and secure in their homes.” “It is the responsibility of every residential landlord in this city to provide safe, livable accommodation to their tenants. When they neglect to invest in the repairs necessary to keep their buildings safe and habitable, they endanger the lives of New Yorkers who work hard to afford to live in this city. Programs like AEP help hold these neglectful landlords accountable, and most importantly, help keep New Yorkers safe,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. Number of Buildings/Homes per Borough in AEP Round 11: * Manhattan: 47 buildings/ 940 homes * Bronx: 57 buildings/ 1,169 homes * Brooklyn: 127 buildings/ 1,435 homes * Queens: 18 buildings/ 370 homes * Staten Island: 1 building/ 56 homes The 250 buildings in Round 11 have a total of 4,859 immediately hazardous (C-class) violations, 21,442 hazardous (B-class), and 7,602 non-hazardous (A-class). Immediately hazardous violations include inadequate fire exits, evidence of rodents, lead-based paint, and the lack of heat, hot water, electricity, or gas. Class B hazardous violations repair conditions, such as leaks or holes in plaster or sheetrock. Non-hazardous, or A-class, include more minor leaks, chipping or peeling paint when no children under the age of six live in the home. HPD’s Housing Litigation Division is currently active in 277 housing court cases against the owners of 161 of these buildings seeking to correct all violations. HLD’s caseload includes cases for access warrants to allow HPD and their contractors onto properties to perform repairs. The division also provides support for Tenant Action Cases, initiated by tenants against their landlords. The Round 11 buildings already owe the City more than $1.5 million to HPD Emergency Repair Program charges. ERP charges accrue when repairs are done by HPD to correct immediately hazardous violations that the owner failed to address in a timely manner. Legislation establishing the program, the 2007 New York City Safe Housing Law (Local Law No. 29 of 2007), calls for an annual list of different multiple dwellings with high counts of the most serious building code violations based on a broad set of criteria, including paid or unpaid emergency repair charges. Additional financing from Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council in 2014 allowed for an increase in the number of buildings in the annual round, from 200 to 250 buildings targeted a year. The funding allowed for increased AEP staff and an increase in emergency repairs that can be made by HPD. To be discharged from the program, a building owner must act affirmatively to demonstrate that conditions at the property are improving. This means correcting all violations associated with heat and hot water, all immediately hazardous violations; 80% of B-class mold violations; 80% of all violations related to vermin; 80% of all remaining B- and C-class violations; and correct all related underlying conditions detailed in the AEP Order to Correct. The owner must also submit a pest management plan to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene if there is an infestation, submit a valid property registration statement, and repay all outstanding charges and liens for emergency repair work performed by HPD or enter into a repayment agreement with the NYC Department of Finance. Buildings/Homes discharged throughout all previous rounds of the AEP (Rounds 1-10): * Manhattan: 191 buildings/ 4,116 homes * Bronx: 496 buildings/ 9,803 homes * Brooklyn: 881 buildings/ 7,537 homes * Queens: 72 buildings/ 536 homes * Staten Island: 7 buildings/ 41 homes AEP Selection Criteria (Round 11): * Buildings with 15 or more units must have a ratio of 3 or more open “class B” and “class C” violations per dwelling unit issued in the past 5 years, and paid or unpaid ERP charges equal to or more than $2,500 incurred in the past 5 years as of January 30, 2017. * Buildings with between 3 and 14 units must have a ratio of 5 or more “class B” and “class C” violations per dwelling unit issued in the past 5 years and paid or unpaid ERP charges equal to or less than $5,000 incurred in the past 5 years as of January 30, 2017. * The buildings selected must be ranked so that those with the highest paid or unpaid ERP charges in the last 5 years are selected first. No more than 25 buildings with less than 6 units can be selected. * If there are not enough buildings that meet the above criteria, HPD may select the remainder of the buildings based on the following criteria: * Buildings with six or more units that have a ratio of 4 or more open class B or class C violations per dwelling unit issued in the past 5 years. The buildings selected must be ranked so that those with the highest number of open hazardous and immediately hazardous violations issued in the last 5 years are selected first. Information for Tenants on AEP can be found here: * FAQs for Tenants on the Alternative Enforcement Program Information for Owners on AEP can be found here: * FAQs for Building Owners on the Alternative Enforcement Program This information is also available in Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Haitian Creole, Russian, and Arabic on the HPD website linked here, Housing Quality Enforcement Programs: Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP)
Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 7:35am
Brian Lehrer: We begin as we usually do on Fridays with our Ask the Mayor segment, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Our phones are open for your questions for Mayor de Blasio at 212-433-WNYC, 433-9692, or you can tweet a question, just use the hashtag #AskTheMayor and we’ll see it. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian, I like your power of positive thinking because someday there will be a Gateway Tunnel – Donald Trump or no Donald Trump. Lehrer: Let’s hope, I like your power of positive thinking. Have you seen though the big federal spending bill that Congress did just pass this morning? Anything in there, infrastructure, there is some infrastructure spending in there, so maybe the Gateway Tunnel is, but I don’t think so, or anything else in particular interest to New York City? Mayor: Oh, a lot of interest in New York City. So, first of all, on infrastructure although there is more that has to play out in the Congress on the specific appropriations it is a good sign to see actual federal dollars going into infrastructure. We haven’t seen the formal Trump infrastructure plan, we know already though that it will be heavy, heavy on privatization and private dollars in I think an unworkable way. What we really need, what has always worked for this country, is heavy infusions of federal money to fix infrastructure for the good of our people and our economy. So, it’s good to see that in the bill. It’s great to see the payments to keep our hospitals going, hospitals particularly that server a lot of uninsured folks, that’s been extended for several years. The Children’s Health Insurance program, that extension is crucial. The aid for Puerto Rico, the disaster relief for Puerto Rico, as well as the Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, that’s fantastic. The anti-opioid funding that is so important for New York City and the whole country. There is a lot here that goes against the grain of what Trump talked about in his first budget which was classic republican cutting of domestic programs. What we see here is a lot of that domestic spending is back and that’s very good news for New York City. Lehrer: Are you shocked by that – kind of stunned by the amount of spending in this bill, we’ll be talking about this later with another guest in national politics segment, but after all these years of the Republicans digging in against Obama budgets and trying to be the deficit hawks and worrying that our, you know, children and our children’s children aren’t going to be able to have the Social Security and Medicare, the current generation. That, boom, there is huge deficit going to be incurred by this new spending agreed to across the aisle. Mayor: I think – I think that’s a great question but I think the deficit hawks gave away their validity by voting for the Trump tax bill. You know, when you talk about adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit by giving huge tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations, it just made them irrelevant in the discussion going forward. You know, even conservatives can see through that a-mile-away. What is sad to think about is that $1.5 trillion in federal spending is that now lost revenue because of the tax bill, that could have gone straight into infrastructure – that would have transformed this nation. We’ve got to work for the day where that actually happens. But I’ll tell you what I think is interesting here, don’t underestimate the impact of the elections of 2017 around the country, the fact that it’s 51-49 senate, the fact that the trend all over the country was democratic, I think the members of the house and senate can see that. I think that the members of the House and Senate can see that. I think they understand that if they had not addressed things like opioids, if they had not provided money for hospitals, hospitals start failing because they didn’t provide the support if that Children’s Health Insurance program failed. I think this is actually the people speaking and being felt in Washington whether Republicans like it or not, they can count, they can see what people are saying, I actually think the people had a lot to do with this. Lehrer: Let’s take a phone call. Eve, in Manhattan, you are on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello. Question: Hi, let me just get you off the speaker. Mayor, I’ve been following cases of members of our community facing deportation and ICE [inaudible] for example taking Rabi Ragbir, is this or is this not a sanctuary city? We’ve been watching NYPD assist ICE. We’ve watched them in our court rooms yesterday. What can you do to make this an actual sanctuary city, like Oakland? Mayor: Eve, I appreciate the question, but I’ve got to be honest, because a lot of good, progressive people have asked me this question, I ask all of you, look at the facts that have been presented now since the day Donald Trump was elected and nothing has changed. We have a law governing our actions that say, we do not cooperate with ICE unless someone has committed and been convicted of one of 170 crimes that are serious and violent, and that’s all online, all available, that’s a bill that was passed by the City Council which I signed four years ago. That’s what governs us in this city. It is the right way to do things. The NYPD does not participate in deportations in any other instance. And the situation of Mr. Ragbir, and I strongly support him being allowed to stay in this country, he has done a lot to help his fellow immigrants, he should be allowed to stay. Under our law, he should be allowed to stay, we do not cooperate with ICE in the situation like he has. Well what happened the other day, it was a single incident that was exceedingly aberrant, that was sparked by provocative actions by ICE agents and it nothing like anything we have seen before, and I’ve said consistently, and look at all the time since Trump was elected, NYPD does not participate in deportations. FDNY does not participate in deportations. So I ask people, look at the facts, recognize that we are very consistent in our policies, we provide legal assistance to those who are threatened with deportation, one of the few places that do that on a substantial level. We are exactly what we’ve been, nothing has change. Lehrer: And Eve, thank you for your call. I think, if I remember correctly, but correct me if I’m wrong, that we’ve talked in the past about fair-beating not being one of the protected categories when it comes to sanctuary city, and I saw that you were in public disagreement with Manhattan DA Vance who is backing off most of the current prosecutions for turnstile jumping. What’s your latest thinking on that? Mayor: Okay, Brian I want to differentiate strongly, and it’s very important that people get the facts on this, and I ask you and your team to help people get the facts. The 170 offenses, which I’ve talked about incessantly, it is a City law, it’s visible for everyone, there is a list online, etcetera. Fare beating is not one of them. That’s an absolute misunderstanding of the situation. It has to be a serious or violent crime to be on that list and it means that someone is undocumented has gone through due process in a court of law then found guilty and convicted of one of those crimes. That’s when we participate with ICE. Otherwise something like fare beating, we would never participate with ICE, there is – here is where I think the confusion is. When someone is arrested for fare beating and finger printed, yes there is a federal information network that ICE can key into, but I think what we’ve seen is that ICE doesn’t need that to do what is done, unfortunately we’ve seen very consistent, random acts by ICE all over the country. They don’t need that information to be able to do what they are doing, they are doing it anyway, as much I disagree with what they are doing. We believe that on fare evasion, that people shouldn’t do it, and there has to be a sanction, but what is increasingly been the sanction is a summons, not an arrest. We’ve steadily reducing the amount of arrest. Where I differ with the DA is if someone is a constant recidivist and or has done serious crimes, we have to have the opportunity arrest. We cannot send the signal that anyone can evade fares on a regular basis. That is just not acceptable. Lehrer: I guess you don’t buy some of the reformers position that fare evasion is largely a crime of poverty? Mayor: There is no evidence to my mind. We see, and it’s not perfect research I think from any point of view, but we see people who evade fare and have money, and we see people who evade affairs who don’t have money. We see people who evade fares who unfortunately have done other criminal acts and obviously if someone has been involved in criminal acts they probably don’t care much about evading fares as an additional act. But it’s a mix for sure. I’m not saying poverty doesn’t play into this. I’m saying we can’t use that as a reason to create an incoherent system. People have to pay their fare to go into the subway. We’re trying to address poverty in so many ways, raising wages and benefits, getting people more affordable housing, paid sick leave, a whole host of things we’re trying to do alleviate poverty but we cannot say because we’re trying to fight poverty and income inequality, we’re going to have an incoherent system for how people get on the subway. Now, I believe in the Fair Fare, for example. I want the Millionaires’ Tax passed in Albany to fund the MTA and that would include the Fair Fare, which is half priced metro cards for low income New Yorkers. That’s an actual policy solution for poverty, but a free-for-all where anyone can go evade the fare whenever they want, that doesn’t work. Lehrer: Just to be specific about what’s changed under the Vance plan and what your actual disagreement is, you mentioned recidivists, so as the Times puts it, if the person lacks a valid identification or has a history of similar arrests, there’s the recidivists, they are booked currently on a theft of services charge, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail. And it says under Vance’s plan, instead of being brought from the police station to court, those defendants generally will be diverted into community service or social programs and if they comply, the fare beating charge will be dropped. And it says an exception will be made only when the police have strong reason to believe that the defendant that poses a risk to public safety like a sex offender. So does that reduce basically to your sole gripe with the Vance plan is what happens with repeat fare evaders? Mayor: Let me try to break it down quickly. First of all, Commissioner O’Neill and I are going to meet with District Attorney Vance because we really want to talk this through. I understand if you have got a singular offense, I don’t want to see people arrested for that, I think summons and obviously alternative versions of sentencing make a lot of sense if it’s something that someone has only done once or even very occasionally. What I’m concerned about is, if you’ve got people able to consistently evade fares with no meaningful sanction, if there is not arrest somewhere in the equation, if there is consistent fare beating, then we don’t have clear enough consequences and people will do it more and more. That’s not fair to everyone else in this City who pays their fare. There is a lot of struggling working people who still pay their fare to get on the subway. They should not be in a situation where other people think they can get away with it on a regular basis. So we have to strike a balance. We have been, the City of New York, the NYPD, consistently reducing arrests for fare evasion and that has worked, but there is a point where you need arrest in certain circumstances. I remind you overall, arrests in New York City in 2017 were down a 100,000 compared to 2013. So in four years we managed to yearly arrest rate down by 100,000 instances and still reduce crime. We want to keep lowering arrests. The Commissioner said the other day, Commissioner O’Neill said, we think we can continue to lower arrests for fare evasion but we cannot take arrest entirely out of the equation or it is an invitation to some to consistently evade fares. Lehrer: Our next Ask the Mayor question comes from a listener via Twitter, and this says, ask the Mayor any intention of re-examining laws about police officers sexually assaulting those in their custody? And let me to explain this to people who don’t know what that refers to yet. There is a case of two Brooklyn police officers accused of raping a woman they had detained and their defense is that the sex was consensual and this has brought to the public’s attention that it is legal in New York, as in most other states, for cops to have sex with people currently in their custody. Talk about a power imbalance. Raising questions about the legitimacy of consent, so do you think that should change? Mayor: Oh absolutely. This is – this is unacceptable that someone who has the power over another person in that circumstance would not be held accountable for their actions is unacceptable for me. So I fully back state legislation, City legislation, both to insure that sex in that situation would be treated as rape. You’re right, there is a horrible power imbalance, it’s unacceptable. And by the way, an officer on duty should not be engaging in something like that even beyond the criminality question as a matter of their professional responsibility should never be engaging in any sexual conduct like that. So no, we need the law to be crystal clear. There have to be very severe consequences for that. Lehrer: Can you change that by mayoral decree as New York Police Department policy while you wait for, I guess the State legislature to do something legally? Mayor: The – I am not an expert on the current administrative rules related to this but I am pretty certain that the NYPD has clear ways of addressing this right now. I think the piece that was missing was the criminal status. I can certainly get back to you on how it’s handled specifically but it’s obviously inappropriate behavior from the perspective of the professional standards of the NYPD. Again, as you said, what the officer claimed was it was not illegal. We now need to make sure it’s additionally illegal. Lehrer: And somewhat related, I see the City has a new anti-domestic violence campaign that you launched this week. Tell us about it. Mayor: Well, my wife, Chirlane, our First Lady, took the lead on this, and the idea is to make it much easier for those have survived domestic violence to access the help they need. So, there’s an online portal which provides a lot more information in a lot clearer fashion than in the past, really to empower women – and it’s not always women, but it is often women, obviously, who have gone through this to know where they can turn for help, that a lot of help is available. The website is NYC-HELP. And it is one of the ways that we make sure that whether it is knowing where the centers are that you can turn to for help, knowing how you can get help with housing, knowing what your rights are, how you can get legal assistance, the whole set of needs is laid out there. Lehrer: Next question, also from Twitter, a listener asks, can you ask the Mayor what is he planning to do with TLC – Taxi and Limousine Commission – to stop the abuses of their summons and if he will try to limit the amount of cars from Uber and Lyft. People are committing suicide because they are desperate, says this writer. And again, for people who don’t know this story we did a segment on it earlier in the week, but there was a suicide this week, as you know Mr. Mayor, of a livery car driver in front of City Hall and he left a note saying basically his suicide was a political act because of various grievances with the regulation of taxis, but mostly that the City is allowing Uber to flood the streets with competition making it impossible for fulltime drivers like him to make a living anymore. What’s your reaction, both to his suicide and to his issue? Mayor: Yeah, I want to speak to that, I just want to do one correction. In my haste, I said NYC – on the previous question about domestic violence, I said NYC-HELP, but I meant to say NYC-HOPE. My apology. NYC-HOPE, H-O-P-E, is that website for help that could be provided to survivors of domestic violence. I also want to let everyone about the City’s domestic violence hotline available 24/7, which helps any survivor to know all the help they can get right away and there is that hotline. You can call 1-8-0-0-6-2-1-HOPE. 1-8-0-0-6-2-1-HOPE. On your question, Brian, I think we have to separate this into a couple quick pieces. First of all, my heart goes out to the man who took his own life and to his family. I’ve said, we’ve got realize when that happens, there may be other societal factors, but it also begins with someone unfortunately dealing with their own struggle and with some kind of mental health challenge and folks who have that challenge or know someone in their life who are considering suicide should turn to our mental health hotline, 8-8-8-NYC-WELL. We cannot look at a situation like this and just go immediately to a societal analysis. We also have to say, something else was going on in that individual’s life, and if we see situations like that there is a chance to help immediately by calling that number and getting guidance from a professional. On the larger points, I think there is two things to say. One is larger technological change is what undergirds everything we’re talking about here. Before the sharing economy developed so intensely the dynamics around for-hire vehicles were simpler, maybe more predictable for people who were working in that field. Technological change has upended a lot of those assumptions and it’s clearly consistent with a lot of the things we’re dealing with all over the country that bluntly there is very little policy for and we better start grappling with this as a city and a country. We’ve got to get ahead of some of this technological change on a policy level to help protect peoples’ livelihoods and avoid so much dislocation. The specific issue, yes, I think we have to find better ways to regulate the for-hire vehicle sector in general. I think we need a consistent approach across the sector. A couple things that are very immediate, we’ve taken some substantial actions the last few months to ensure that disability access to vehicles is consistent across the sector more than it’s been. I’ve talked in Albany about some of the things we need to do to make sure that if we move to, for example, a surcharge on for-hire vehicles for the MTA. That it is consistent across all sectors of for-hire vehicles whether it is an Uber, a Lyft, or whether it is a livery cab, or whether it is a Yellow Cab or green cab. But we did make an effort a few years ago to try and put some kind of limits on the way that the sector was evolving to create some order. That did not work. Obviously the City Council was not ready to move on that. We have to come back and look at what is a single comprehensive vision for the future of our for-hire vehicle sector that can make sense to everyone involved. That’s something we’re going to be working on in the coming months to see if we can put together. Lehrer: Do you have any reason to believe that the new City Council is going to be any more receptive than the old City Council? Particularly when it comes to what the deceased driver’s main issue was, the number of taxis of any kind on the street in the defense – in defense of the ability to make a full-time living at the wheel? Mayor: I do believe this City Council will be more receptive because what I think what happened last time was, you know, in the rush of events instead of figuring out how to slow down and resolve outstanding issues, you know, at a certain point there was a decision to just pull away. I think we have a chance now to do this in a more orderly fashion and make more sense of it. I also think that you’ll remember back then, we feared that the growth of the for-hire vehicle sector was affecting congestion. A lot of people doubted that. There was an initial report that actually we commissioned that in many ways added to people’s doubts, it said maybe it’s not as bad as we thought. But now I think we are getting more and more evidence that unfortunately it’s true. You know, in the last two or three years a lot has changed with congestion. I think we are seeing more and more impact from the for-hire vehicles. So we need to now put that all into an orderly process with the City Council and see if we can come up with a better set of rules across, again, the whole industry. A set of standards that apply equally on many important issues. As I’ve said, examples like disability access and how we fund the MTA wrapped into that discussion Lehrer: HP in Manhattan, you’re on WNCY. Hello HP. Question: Good morning Mr. Mayor. I’m a first time caller. My name HP [inaudible] and I live in Manhattan. During last year’s Veterans Day celebration I was moved when you talked about your dad. Like your father I’m a veteran of World War II. I thank you for what you’ve been doing for veterans, however there are 300,000 veterans in New York City who everyday pay full fare on the subways and buses. I get a discount because I’m an old man but what about the younger veterans? They made sacrifices as well. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there is an incentive before the MTA which asks them to extend to veterans younger than 65 the same discount as given to seniors. The beauty part of it is you have the power to change it now because there’s no legislation required and systems are in place to implement it. Lehrer: And let me get a response for you HP from the Mayor, and thank you for your service. Mr. Mayor? Mayor: Yes, HP thank you so much for all you’ve done for this country. Thank you for also – I appreciate that you recognize the passion I feel about what my dad went through in World War II and [inaudible] issues and for every family particularly who’s seen a vet wounded. My dad lost half his leg on Okinawa and it affected his entire life, every minute thereafter. You know, I don’t’ think – I don’t think a lot of folks, unless you’ve gone through something like that or have been in the family, you know, it’s hard to recognize the level of sacrifice and the impact over generations after. So, first of all, we now have something very good in New York City, Department of Veterans Services. We’ve done a lot more than ever before in this city to help vets get employment, get mental health services, get access to housing. We’re adding more affordable housing for vets. We’ve done a lot to get vets who are homeless off the streets. There’s much, much more to do. I think it’s a real interesting proposal. I have not heard that one before HP. It is the MTA, and I like to remind everyone we don’t control the MTA, the State does. But it’s something we can certainly talk to the MTA about. And I think it’s a very worthy proposal. I can’t pass judgement on it until I get more details but I’m glad you put it on my plate here because it’s something that I want to take a look at. Lehrer: Our next caller is Lauren from Manhattan. You’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Lauren. Question: Hi, hi Brian. Mr. Mayor, my son attends a private school for special needs students and he’s been there since 2013. Every year we sue the DOE for tuition reimbursement while we pay the school upfront. Every year the DOE settles with us because they agree that he needs these services that they can’t provide. And while I’m really grateful that there is this option, I’m calling about the length of the wait and the enormous financial burden that it puts on families like ours. In 2014, I read in an article how you were planning on streamlining the process because of the burden, and it’s really bad this year. And it’s really tough for families to come up with this money and I would like you to address that please. Mayor: Lauren, thank you, and first of all, I really appreciate you raising the issue. And I often say that, you know, parents in general in this city it’s– I’ve been a parent for a long time, it’s tough to be a parent in New York City. I love my city, but it’s a tough place to be a parent, and it’s especially tough for parents with kids with special needs and our job is to make it easier, not harder. Here’s what we’ve done, and here’s what we have to do. We have given an order, and I want to thank folks in the State Senate, State Assembly worked hard on this, pushed us on this, but it’s also something I already wanted to do. The order was, stop making this a litigious, difficult process. Stop trying to tie up families, in effect, to save the government money. That’s what was happening for a long time. My order was, get to a resolution as quickly as we can. If there’s a true, huge disagreement sometimes, unfortunately, there’s no option but to go to court. But, in a huge number – a very big percentage of these proceedings we can get to an outcome much quicker, much better in a collaborative process. That’s what’s been happening much more. I’ve heard that from a lot of families. And it’s costing the City of New York a lot of money but I think it’s a worthy investment. On the question of – the situation such as you laid out, if the – the IEP hasn’t changed, the plan for the child hasn’t changed, if the placement hasn’t changed, we’re now trying to get in place the idea that you can have a kind of three year window where if we see the things are not changing we just keep continuity in the placement and provide the funding. And try and, again, reduce the amount of process and speed it along. I would like you to share your information please with WNYC so we can follow up individually to see how we can speed up your process. I think you make an important point. I don’t want to see parents – there’s so many parents in this city that just don’t have the money to shell out upfront, or it’s a huge burden. I don’t want to see that happen if we can avoid it. We have more cash flow than parents have when you’re talking about the City of New York. So, I want to continue to fix that process. I’ve seen real progress, I’ve seen it can – you know, even the DOE bureaucracy, which is legendary, can move, can improve. We’ve got more to do and I want it to be a lot faster. So, I want to see if we can help you but I also want to make bigger structural changes. Lehrer: And Lauren we will take your information off the air for the Mayor’s Office to contact you so hang on for a sec. Also on education, Mr. Mayor, you announced this week that high school graduation rates are up for the fifth year in a row, now more than 74 percent, congratulations. But, the education website Chalkbeat cautions that number may be less than 100 percent meaningful because the State has made it easier to earn a diploma, and they note that CUNY reports college readiness rates are 10 points lower than the graduation figure based on those who come to CUNY and still need high-school level remedial classes. In the fullest telling possible, what is the rising graduation rate mean as you see it? Mayor: There’s no question it means we as a city are making progress. It’s across all demographics and all boroughs. So it is clearly meaningful. The tests and requirements over the years keep changing but when you see consistent patterns like this, of course it means something. The graduation rate is plummeting. The graduation rate used to be 20 percent or more not long ago in New York City I believe it’s 7.8 percent now in this latest update. You know having a graduation rate over 74 percent, highest in the history of this city. It means a lot. But the point underneath it Brian, you’re absolutely right. One, I want to move that graduation rate a lot farther a lot quicker. I want the college readiness levels to catch up much more with the graduation rate. Now we see enrollment in college going up. We’re at the highest ever enrollment of our kids in college ever. And so, meaning kids who go through four years of New York City public high school then enrolling in a two-year or four-year college, we’re at the highest percentage. I want to say 56 percent from the class that graduated last year enrolled in a college. That is a knowable fact. That is an objective fact because you’re talking about all the colleges out there with their standards accepting our kids at a higher level than ever before. And our kids having the requirements ready. But, it’s absolutely right to say our college readiness levels are not as good as our graduation rates. We’ve got to align those two. And we’ve got to close the achievement gap which is what the Equity and Excellence vision is all about. It really starts at the beginning which is why not just Pre-K For All but 3-K For All is absolutely vital and we’re expanding 3-K rapidly. It also is about getting our kids reading on grade level by third grade. This is one of the biggest issues facing New York City that is getting the least attention. We have to rapidly improve our ability to get kids reading on grade level by third grade. That opens the door for them to succeed through the rest of their education, and that’s what the Equity and Excellence plan calls for. So – Lehrer: Now that you – Mayor: – definitely good news. Lehrer: Now that you’ve had universal pre-K for a number of years, have you seen that? Because that was one of the things that it was supposed to change, right, was the equality of kids from different income families at that third grade reading level. Can – Mayor: Well we’re – Lehrer: – you measure it yet? Mayor: Go ahead, I’m sorry. Lehrer: I’m just asking can you measure it yet? Mayor: We’re just about to be seeing those results. Remember that the 3-K – excuse me, the pre-K expansion began in earnest for the school year beginning September of 2014 going into 15 then got the full strength September 15 going into 16. Those kids are now aging up to the point that we’re going to see them going into third grade soon and we’re going to see what results they get. So we have not yet felt the full affect. But I want to say this, pre-K was step one, 3-K is step two, getting kids reading on grade level by third grade is step three. They all synergize. But, this is going to be a huge focus of the next four years, that third grade reading progress. There’s no question, and every educator I’ve ever spoken absolutely is certain, we’re going to see pre-K and ultimately 3-K effect that equation. It stands to reason – I was in a 3-K classroom, three-year-olds in Brownsville, Brooklyn just a few days ago and seeing these kids already dealing with the kinds of concepts, the counting and the letters and the things that are going to be essential to their education future. At the age of three in Brownsville that has often been underinvested in and kids who have not had as much opportunity, to see the turnaround that happens when you give that opportunity to kids at the age of three, it was breathtaking. So there’s no doubt in mind we’re going to see that have a big impact on reading levels in the next few years. Lehrer: Alright last thing, we’ll stay in the education sector. I see the Department of Education is putting a halt to a father-daughter dance that had been held at P.S. 65 in the Stapleton section of Staten Island, putting an end under a gender inclusivity policy. The Assemblywoman from there, who of course was also the Republican candidate for mayor last year Nicole Malliotakis, disagrees with the decision. Do you defend this as necessary in the fight for gender equity? Mayor: I think there’s a way of bringing all these pieces together positively, Brian. I am not familiar with all the details but my understanding is that dance will go on, it got rescheduled to make sure it was inclusive. Look, there’s all kind of care-givers in the world, there’s all sorts of families, we want to respect them all. If a father wants to bring his daughter to a dance, that’s a great thing but we want to make sure other folks can also participate according to how their family looks. So, I think the idea was they are rescheduling – this is my understanding, rescheduling it soon and making it more open, more inclusive. I think everyone wins in that equation. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thanks as always. Talk to you next you next week. Mayor: Take care, Brian.
Friday, February 9, 2018 - 5:05pm
Commitments from Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America and TD Bank total $40 million, tripling the City’s initial investment in two low-interest loan programs tailored for M/WBEs and small businesses to help grow and sustain these businesses NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that three of the City’s designated banks – Amalgamated, Bank of America, and TD Bank – have committed $40 million towards two of the City’s three programs that help minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs ) and small businesses access affordable loans to grow and sustain these businesses. The loan programs, known as the Contract Financing Loan Fund (CFLF) and the Emerging Developer Loan Fund (EDLF), are two financial tools established by the de Blasio Administration to address historic barriers faced by many M/WBEs and small businesses in accessing capital. This additional funding builds on the City’s initial investment of $20 million to both funds. With this new funding, M/WBEs and small businesses will now have access to $60 million in total revolving loan funding, triple the City’s initial investment. In May of 2017, Mayor de Blasio convened all of the City’s designated banks to further these partnerships and create accessible capital for the city’s minority and women-owned businesses. This announcement is the first of round of commitments. “By making an additional $40 million available in affordable loans, these banks are invested in the success of minority and women-owned businesses across the city. These new commitments will help us continue working to overcome the historic barriers that hold back small businesses, especially those run by women and people of color. They will now have the capital they need to bid on City contracts and reap the benefits of New York’s growing economy, helping us build a more equitable and fair city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Every day I climb the steps of City Hall with pride knowing that I get to serve the City I love. But today, I am especially proud to see the public sector and private sector coming together to deliver resources that help create an economy that works for all. I applaud Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America and TD Bank for fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of M/WBEs with their $40 million investment. Today we are proving that New York City is truly the fairest big city in America,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director. “To combat this affordable housing crisis, we are building a deeper bench of women and minority owned business and development teams. These firms are ready to grow and take on the next big project—they just need some additional support to do it. Our Emerging Developer and Contract Financing funds are crucial pieces of that ‎effort, and we thrilled to welcome Amalgamted, TD Bank and Bank of America as new capital partners helping us reach and grow even more businesses,” said Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “We congratulate Mayor de Blasio for his initiative to expand opportunities and access to capital for minority- and women-owned businesses,” said Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Founder and President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “The Mayor is setting an example for municipalities across the country where access to capital remains a critical barrier to growth for black, Latino, and women business owners.” The breakdown of these investments is as follows: Bank Total new investment Goal of Investment Amalgamated Bank $20MM Emerging Developer Loan Fund Bank of America $10MM Contract Financing Loan Fund TD Bank $10MM Contract Financing Loan Fund Since launching in 2017, the Contract Financing Loan Fund has provided critical funding for M/WBEs and small businesses contracting with the City. These businesses have had access to $500,000 in loans at a low three-percent interest rate. Access to this affordable financing through the fund has allowed firms to grow and work on over $38.5 million worth of City contracting opportunities. The Department of Small Business Services manages and administers the CFLF. Businesses interested in receiving a contract financing loan can visit to apply online. A participating lender will follow up with eligible businesses. Participating lenders include BOC Capital, Inc., TruFund Financial Services and Excelsior Growth Fund. The Emerging Developer Loan Fund has, since 2016, provided low-interest loans that range from $100,000 to $2.5 million to emerging developers and M/WBEs. With the addition of $20 million in funding, the EDLF be able to assist emerging developers with 40 new loans that will create $150 million in potential development opportunities, creating an estimated 6,000 jobs over a five-year period. Since 2016, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has approved $6.65 million in loans, allowing businesses to take on over $51.35 million worth of projects. The increase in funding will provide the EDLF with an opportunity to provide funding to projects on its current $42 million pipeline of 40 projects. The NYCEDC manages and administers the EDLF. Interested emerging developers can find more information and apply through the fund’s website at . This announcement comes on the heels of unprecedented investments in M/WBEs as well as the enactment of a new State law – Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2017 – that expands the City’s authority to spur economic opportunity for M/WBEs. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the City for the first time in history awarded over $1 billion to M/WBEs. This only encompasses Mayoral agencies. When taking into account non-Mayoral agencies, such as agencies that receive Federal and State funding, the City has award over $6 billion to M/WBEs since the start of the Administration. The Administration, along with elected partners in Albany, advocated for Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2017 which has, among other things, increased the City’s discretionary spending limit for M/WBEs, meaning these businesses are no longer required to first go through a time-consuming, formal bidding process for relatively small contracts for goods and services. The City’s discretionary spending limit is now $150,000 for M/WBEs that offer the City goods or services, up from $20,000 before the Law’s enactment. This increased discretionary spending limit closely matches the State’s $200,000 limit in this area. State Senator Marisol Alcántara and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman were sponsors of the bill. These recent developments, coupled with the new $40 million investments, provide the City additional resources to meet Mayor de Blasio’s goals to expand economic opportunity for M/WBEs, including: * Certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by end of FY2019 * Awarding 30% of the value of City contracts to M/WBEs by end of FY2021 * Awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by end of FY2025 “I know firsthand the difficulty of securing the necessary financial tools to sustain and grow your business. With the Contract Financing Loan Fund and the Emerging Developer Loan Fund, we are chipping away at the financial barriers faced by countless M/WBEs and small businesses. Today’s $40 million commitment will help continue our work in creating an economy that works for all New Yorkers – regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Thank you to Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America and TD Bank for delivering these necessary resources that will impact the lives of countless entrepreneurs,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBE’s. “Small business owners face a multitude of challenges daily. Contracting with the City should not be one of them,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “The Contract Financing Loan has already provided crucial financial support to small businesses, including M/WBEs, and the commitments announced today will help even more businesses position themselves for success.” "The Emerging Developer Loan Fund plays a major role in addressing the financial needs of small businesses and minority and women-owned business enterprises throughout the city,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “These emerging developers need guaranteed structures in order to access capital and grow, and this increase in funding will substantially help in nurturing that growth.” “Amalgamated Bank was founded nearly a century ago on the premise of creating financial opportunity for all,” said Keith Mestrich, CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “Since that time, our mission has been to help reduce economic barriers for all citizens, regardless of race or gender, and to financially empower people up and down the economic ladder. That is why we are pleased join with the City of New York to support the growth of minority and women-owned businesses in our city. These businesses bring enormous benefit to the New York City community and we are proud to play a role in fostering their success.” “Small businesses play a critical role in our economy, generating new jobs and sustaining vibrant communities,” said Bank of America New York State Market President Jeff Barker. “This partnership builds on our $2.7 billion in total small business lending in New York, providing even more opportunity for local minority and women-owned businesses to thrive.” "Small businesses have truly shaped New York, and TD Bank is dedicated to supporting their aspirations and goals," said Andrew Bregenzer, Metro New York Regional President, TD Bank. "The Contract Loan Fund program will not only provide M/WBEs with greater access to capital, but strengthen and vitalize the communities they serve. TD is proud to work with the City to further this goal and help local businesses succeed." Comptroller Scott M. Stringer: "When we're helping our MWBEs thrive, we're making our city fairer for everyone. Investing in these companies is about creating real, local, neighborhood-level wealth, and this is yet another step forward that we should all celebrate. I would like to thank the Mayor, Bank of America, Amalgamated, and TD Bank for making this possible. It will change lives." "Minority and Women-Owned Businesses have faced generations of discrimination in government contracting, and as an advocate for pro-MW/BE legislation, I am very pleased that the private sector is joining in partnership with the city to address these historic disparities. It is only through working together as a society that we can rid ourselves of the legacy of racism, and I look forward to continuing to work together with the city to create justice for communities of color," said State Senator Marisol Alcantara, Chair of Labor. State Senator James Sanders Jr., Senate Democratic M/WBE Taskforce Chair, said: “As the father of MWBEs, having authored Local Law 1 and Local Law 129 during my time in the City Council, I understand that gaining access to capital is one of the biggest problems faced by MWBEs. The Contract Financing Loan Fund and the Emerging Developer Fund is helping to get funds circulating again and today’s $40 million investment is another step forward in that process. It is my hope that banks will continue to open their doors to struggling MWBEs, enabling them to thrive and grow, and creating a diverse, but level playing field, which would be to the benefit of all New Yorkers.” "Providing the needed capital to grow businesses will go a long way in encouraging minority and women entrepreneurs to believe that they too have a shot in our economy," said State Senator Leroy Comrie. "I commend the business leaders at Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, and TD Bank for helping our city build a more inclusive and diverse economy, and I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and my colleagues in government, along with local stakeholders to ensure we are meeting these crucial benchmarks for M/WBE growth and success in the months and years to come." "I am pleased to see that New York City has prioritized the importance of capital access for M/WBEs," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Chair, of the Oversight Subcommittee on Minority and Women Business Enterprises. "Access to capital is essential to the sustainability and growth of these M/WBEs. I applaud Mayor de Blasio's ongoing commitment to businesses in communities who have historically been underserved, as well as Amalgamated, Bank of America, and TD Bank who saw the value of joining New York City to make further investments to the Contract Financing Loan Fund and the Emerging Developer Loan Fund." “I welcome the growing commitment of these banks and others who have placed their investments – and their faith – in this important City program that helps minority and women-owned business enterprises. I'm also glad to see a new state law on the books – Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2017 – that expands the City’s authority to spur economic opportunity for M/WBEs. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio and his administration for creating and pushing this important program for women and minority entrepreneurs,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda. Assembly Member Michael Blake said: "Access to Capital is arguably the greatest asset that will bring equity and opportunity for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises as too often MWBEs are negatively judged by skin color and gender rather than their capability for success. If you don't start out with legacy money or have access to larger institutions who naturally trust because of friendships and culture instead of track record and promise, you as a MWBE are hindered from realizing your own economic dreams. Today's announcement of three banks stepping up to provide millions of dollars for MWBEs allows many more people to go from pain to promise, from poverty to prosperity, from struggling to self sufficiency. It gives hope to the MWBE that your block won't block your blessing and your zip code won't deny your destiny. I especially commend Keith Mestrich and his team at Amalgamated Bank who yet again demonstrate that you can lead with your values to help Bronxites and all New Yorkers and still be a profitable business. I thank Mayor de Blasio and his team for showing critical leadership in helping to create economic opportunities for more MWBEs. This will certainly create more jobs that are an essential part of #BuildingABetterBronx and creating a more equitable New York City." "Access to capital continues to be a barrier for minority and women owned businesses across the city" said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman. "Today's announcement of $40 million in private capital investment will provide these business with the critical funding needed to grow in today's economy. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and these financial institutions for building on the work we've done to increase opportunities and improve outcomes for MWBE's." “New York City’s minority and women-owned business enterprises must be positioned not only to compete but to flourish. Since Speaker Johnson gave me the opportunity to Chair the Council’s Contracts Committee, I’ve been committed to exploring innovative ways to help streamline and simplify the procurement process while making sure there’s a level playing field so that our city’s M/WBEs and small businesses can do just that. I commend Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America and TD Bank for putting their money where their mouth is and helping to ensure that all businesses owned and operated by diverse individuals have the chance to win City contracts,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Contracts. “Working to build capacity among our M/WBEs and small businesses is essential if we are to ensure that the fruits of this City's economy are enjoyed by all. The Contract Financing Loan Fund and Emerging Developer Loan Fund are aimed at just that – investing in M/WBEs and small businesses to help them perform on lucrative contracts with the City. The additional $40 million investment in these funds will allow an even greater number of firms to overcome the barriers they face, and I commend Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, and TD Bank for this significant investment in the City's M/WBEs and small businesses,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy. "M/WBEs are an integral part of New York's economy and spirit. That’s why I’m thrilled to hear of the Mayor’s commitment from three large banks to help them grow and succeed. The prosperity of these local firms is in the best interest of all New Yorkers, and I can't wait to see where each business will go with this critical support. Expanded access to capital will not only open more doors for people of all backgrounds, allowing individuals and families to realize their small business dreams, it will spur significant job creation – a win-win for our local economy," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. 
Friday, February 9, 2018 - 5:05pm
Diverse faith leaders from across the five boroughs will learn about the complexities of domestic violence to be better equipped to respond to the unique needs of their congregations “Just as we enlisted our faith communities to speak with their congregations about mental illness and substance abuse, we are enlisting them as partners in our work to shatter the stigma around domestic violence.” - First Lady Chirlane McCray NEW YORK—On February 9, 10 and 11, First Lady McCray will spearhead “Faith in Action Against Domestic Violence,” the first weekend-long event in New York City dedicated to raising awareness about intimate partner violence within the faith community. The event will engage faith leaders of diverse cultures and traditions, with over 500 houses of worship participating across the City. Led by the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Mayor’s Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, the weekend events aim to strengthen community engagement between faith leaders and their congregations, and ensure that people are educated about the City resources available to individuals experiencing domestic violence. Yesterday, First Lady McCray announced the launch of New York City's first-ever, web-based portal, NYCHOPE , dedicated to providing resources to survivors and information to all City residents about how to help someone experiencing domestic violence. The City also unveiled its first domestic violence awareness campaign in more than a decade, "We Understand," that shares diverse testimonials from survivors of intimate partner violence. Last year, First Lady McCray hosted the second annual Weekend of Faith for Mental Health in New York City, where 2,000 houses of worship devoted their services to the issue of substance use, reaching a half of a million New Yorkers and more than 40 cities nationwide. First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Schedule All services are open press, with some exceptions at the Congregation Beth Elohim on Friday. Friday, February 9 * 7:15 PM - Congregation Beth Elohim, 274 Garfield Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215 Members of the press are asked to follow guidelines established by the congregation. This includes not speaking with congregants during the service, notetaking and wearing appropriate attire. Still and video cameras and other electronic devices are not permitted. Saturday, February 10 * 4:15 PM - Muslim Center of New York, 137-58 Geranium Avenue, Flushing, NY 11355 Sunday, February 11 * 11:15 AM - Salem United Methodist Church, 2190 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, New York, NY 10027 * 12:30 PM - The Cathedral at Greater Faith, 4214 White Plains Road # A, Bronx, NY 10466
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 5:05pm
NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of two judges to Family Court and six as interim Civil Court judges. These judges have a wealth of experience in the public and private sectors and are uniquely qualified to serve all New Yorkers. “I am proud to appoint this group of diverse, committed, and impartial judges to serve the people of New York,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am confident they will work tirelessly in the best interest of all who call this great city home.” The Mayor appointed the following judges: FAMILY COURT Judge Lisa Friederwitzer Judge Friederwitzer spent the majority of her career, nearly 20 years, with the New York State Unified Court System, serving as a Court Attorney Referee in Supreme Court and as a Support Magistrate and Court Attorney in Family Court. Prior to that, she was a solo practitioner. Judge Friederwitzer received her undergraduate degree from CUNY, Queens College and her law degree from Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Judge Lynn Leopold Judge Leopold served with the New York City Law Department for nearly 17 years, primarily in the Family Court Division as Senior Counsel and Deputy Borough Chief as well as Senior Counsel in Family Court, Administration. Prior to that, she was with the New York City Housing Authority for 11 years having last served as an Assistant Chief in the Anti-Narcotics Strike Force, and started her career at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Judge Leopold graduated from Cornell University and the University of Bridgeport School of Law (now Quinnipiac School of Law). CIVIL COURT Judge Jonathan Shim Judge Shim was in private practice his entire career, having worked as an associate at several firms before becoming a solo practitioner specializing in family and matrimonial law for the last nine and a half years. Judge Shim received his undergraduate degree from SUNY at Albany and his law degree from Albany Law School. Judge Shim is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Family Court. Judge Michael Hartofilis Judge Hartofilis served with the Queens County District Attorney’s office in various bureaus for eight years before becoming a solo practitioner specializing in criminal defense for the last 22 years. Judge Hartofilis received his undergraduate degree from New York University and his law degree from Temple University School of Law. Judge Hartofilis is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Criminal Court. Judge Marisol Martinez Alonso Judge Martinez Alonso was a career prosecutor with the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, having served for over 16 years and as Deputy Chief of a Trial Bureau in her last capacity. Judge Martinez Alonso graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and received her law degree from New York Law School. Judge Martinez Alonso is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Criminal Court. Judge Edwin Novillo Judge Novillo served with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice for over 14 years, in both Kings and Queens County. He received his undergraduate degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and his law degree from Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Judge Novillo is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Criminal Court. Judge Ann Thompson Judge Thompson began her career at two private firms before serving with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for over 10 years. She last served as Bureau Chief of the Special Victims Bureau. Judge Thompson received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and her law degree from Harvard Law School. Judge Thompson is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Criminal Court. Judge Jeffrey Zimmerman Judge Zimmerman served as a prosecutor for the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District, as well as the New York County District Attorney’s Office. He spent 17 years at Time Warner Cable, having last served as Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, before returning to the public sector. Most recently, Judge Zimmerman was the Deputy Director of Crime Strategies and Public Safety for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia University Law School. Judge Zimmerman is appointed to Civil Court and will be serving in Criminal Court.
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 5:05pm
City continues to implement Domestic Violence Task Force Recommendations through innovative web portal where survivors can connect to information and resources, and the City’s first domestic violence awareness campaign in over a decade NEW YORK— First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced the launch of New York City's first-ever, web-based portal, NYCHOPE , dedicated to providing resources to survivors and information to all City residents about how to help someone experiencing domestic violence. The City also unveiled its first domestic violence awareness campaign in more than a decade, "We Understand" – developed in conjunction with advocates and survivors to speak to the complexities of abusive relationships, highlight the availability of support and services in New York City, and share diverse testimonials from survivors of intimate partner violence. The web portal and campaign were recommendations of the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force , which is co-chaired by First Lady McCray and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. The work of the task force is co-led by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. "It is time to stop asking survivors of domestic violence why they stay and start asking what more can we do to support them and their families. The innovative NYCHOPE portal and ‘We Understand’ ad campaign will help educate New Yorkers about the complexities of intimate partner violence, and make it easier for survivors to access the services they need for safety and heal from trauma," said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Co-Chair of the Domestic Violence Task Force. “Raising awareness around domestic violence and the impact it has on survivors, families and communities is an important step towards helping survivors,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “With the launch of the new NYCHOPE portal and the domestic violence awareness campaign we build upon this Administration’s efforts to support survivors, and hope to encourage New Yorkers to speak up and seek help if they need it.” “Domestic violence remains a significantly under-reported crime, due in part to the fact that victims often feel there is nowhere to turn for help,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Co-Chair of the Domestic Violence Task Force. “This portal provides both the victims themselves, as well as those who suspect that such activity is occurring, the ability to readily reach out for assistance and support.” “Prevention and awareness are the most effective tools against domestic violence, and with this campaign, we are letting survivors know that while the reasons they may remain in relationships is complicated, the connection to services and information about help are easy to access,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. “With NYCHOPE we are adding a new level of support, enhancing our ability to support survivors wherever they may find themselves.” Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said, “This campaign will make our City’s residents aware of potentially life-saving services. An indispensable part of keeping New Yorkers safe is making sure that survivors of violence have access to the services they need.” “NYCHOPE stands to become a literal life-saving resource for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. Survivors of domestic violence will now have an online portal that makes it as easy and intuitive as possible to get the services and information they need, and we’re proud to have contributed to that effort,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “This is the kind of project and team that embodies DoITT’s mission to serve and empower New Yorkers by designing people-centric technology solutions. I thank First Lady McCray, OCDV, and the team for empowering and assisting survivors in such a powerful way.” “Domestic violence takes many forms – including physical, sexual and emotional – and can affect anyone,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I commend the Office to Combat Domestic Violence for launching this powerful campaign that acknowledges the complexities of an abusive relationship and reasons New Yorkers may be reluctant to seek help. I encourage domestic violence survivors to find help through NYCHOPE.” “The Commission on Gender Equity applauds the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for the creation of this new portal and important campaign. These tools underscore, once again, that New York City stands against domestic violence and with individuals and families seeking a path to safety and stability,” said Jacqueline Ebanks, Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. The “We Understand” ad campaign and promotional spots—which were developed by the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the advertising agency Bandujo— are supported by a $710,000 investment and will run for 12 weeks through the first week of April 2018. Ads will run on bus shelters, subways, the Staten Island Ferry, and on social media platforms. OCDV is also partnering with iHeartMedia, Inc. to run promotional spots on 103.5 KTU FM and Power 105.1 FM, voiced by popular radio DJs Charlamagne Tha God, Lulu and Lala. The campaign videos will run on LinkNYC kiosks across the city throughout February, in addition to a week-long run on Taxi TV. The new campaign aims to connect survivors and their loved ones to the City’s new web-based portal, NYCHOPE , which brings together the resources and services survivors regularly access and serves as a hub. Survivors can obtain all of this information in one centralized location that can be accessed from any computer, smartphone, tablet, or other device with internet access. NYCHOPE was designed and developed by the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication in collaboration with Cornell Tech. During the 2016-2017 school year, students at Cornell Tech interviewed over 100 Family Justice Center clients to assess how technology can support their needs for education, information and easy access to resources. During these interviews, survivors explained how they were directed and redirected to numerous agencies and websites as they tried to seek help, services and information. DoITT did further testing directly with OCDV clients to ensure that NYCHOPE is as intuitive and easy-to-use as possible. Features of the NYCHOPE web portal include a resource directory providing survivors with easy access to locate services within their community, information about healthy relationships and signs of abuse, and a useful guide about how to help a friend or family member experiencing abuse. The portal includes tech safety tips and a quick-escape feature for users to ensure their safety while accessing the platform. Finally, the portal includes information about the city’s five Family Justice Centers, and directly connects users to other City agency sites to easily access information. “There is no instance in which domestic violence is ever acceptable. Furthermore, no victim should feel alone,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “I applaud the City for undertaking a new campaign to connect survivors of domestic violence with support, education and vital resources. From the federal level, I will continue to fight for additional resources to advocate for victims and ensure that perpetrators of such violence are brought to justice.” “Domestic violence affects individuals of all genders, races, and ages,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “NYCHOPE will provide the information and education victims and their families need to recognize, escape, and heal from abuse.” “Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, and it is our shared responsibility as a community to help victims and raise awareness,” said Congressman Dan Donovan. “During my time as DA, and now as a legislator, I have continually acted to shine a light on the silent epidemic of abuse, including working to establish the Staten Island Family Justice Center. NYCHOPE will help educate the vulnerable, empower survivors, and hopefully save innocent lives.” “I commend the Mayor and First Lady for launching this domestic violence awareness campaign. This initiative will be a major resource in providing important information and education about domestic violence as well as direct connections to needed resources. It is imperative that we increase awareness of and combat this terrible abuse, and ensure that victims receive all the services and support they need,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “I applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray and the City’s efforts to combat domestic violence in diverse communities all across New York City. The launch of this new campaign will add additional resources and improve education to help those most in need. I hope all those affected by domestic violence will use the City services available to them, including the innovative NYCHOPE portal,” said State Senator José M. Serrano. We must stop the deadly cycle of abuse. No one should suffer in silence fearing repercussion because of this scourge perpetrated upon them. I encourage victims of domestic violence to take advantage of the assistance available from city and state agencies. Survivors need to be encouraged to seek help, and offered information and support as they endeavor to disengage themselves from this vicious cycle of domestic abuse. NYC is taking a great first step with this campaign!” said State Senator Roxanne Persaud. “Every person deserves to live a life free from domestic violence, and we must do more to support DV victims. This awareness campaign reminds New Yorkers that domestic violence does not discriminate based on race or socioeconomic status, and shows us how detrimental domestic violence can be. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. This means that it’s likely that somebody you know has suffered some form of domestic abuse, and because of this, it’s a personal issue for me, as it should be for many of us. I applaud First Lady McCray, Police Chief O’Neill, and the Mayor’s DV Task Force for putting together this awareness campaign. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that New York continues to protect victims of domestic violence," said Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. “Perpetrators of domestic violence shatter families and do unknowable damage to their victims and those in the periphery. It is essential that we bolster public awareness of domestic violence, and work to connect those in need of intervention with supportive services however we can. We must open new pathways to safety by empowering survivors and the public, while ensuring everyone has the tools and know-how to get help when it is most needed. NYCHOPE will help save lives and I applaud First Lady McCray and the City for taking this important step," said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal. “According to the CDC 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. However, domestic violence claims victims from not only spouses and partners but, family members. Some people may not even notice the signs that they are in physically or sexually violent relationship. I applaud First Lady McCray on this Domestic Violence initiative because it is a excellent way of spreading awareness of domestic violence and educating people on how to seek assistance,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker. “As a woman and mother, I am thrilled to see that the City is taking major steps to address Domestic Violence by creating this awareness campaign. Domestic violence is a prevalent issue in our communities and we must understand that it comes in many forms and at times the indicators are not as visible. NYCHOPE certainly offers a platform for those who are in despair and feel voiceless through access to information, education, and direct resources regarding domestic violence assistance. I want to thank the Mayor’s DV Taskforce and First Lady McCray for this much needed campaign for our City,” said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa. “A domestic violence campaign is critical to educating New Yorkers about an immensely important issue that affects thousands of people, most often women and children,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “The new web-based portal NYCHOPE will be of great benefit as people will have access to valuable resources through their smartphones and computers. I thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s DV Task Force for their commitment to spreading awareness on domestic violence and creating new avenues for survivors to seek help.” “Thank you to to the Mayor's Domestic Violence Task Force, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and Police Commissioner O'Neill for your support of the NYCHOPE Campaign,” said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. “Not only does this campaign bring attention to the severity of Domestic Violence, but it also encourages survivors to speak their truth. Let’s continue to stand united against domestic violence and provide support to the many who experience this injustice.” The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence manages the City’s five Family Justice Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The Centers serve as one-stop service centers to reduce barriers for victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, sex trafficking, and connect them to services in their language, regardless of immigration status, income, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The City’s Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 and provides safety planning, referrals, and connections to emergency housing for victims of domestic violence. Individuals can contact the City’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE. In an effort to prioritize new and innovative approaches to domestic violence, the de Blasio administration launched the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force two years ago, an $11 million initiative to implement a set of 32 recommendations for a coordinated, citywide strategy to combat domestic violence. In October 2017, the City allocated an additional $3.9 million to expand healthy relationship programming to middle schools, broaden services to keep survivors safe in their own homes and launch the new ad campaign and web-based portal announced today. New York City has made significant strides towards combating domestic violence and supporting survivors within the last year, including: * Signing Intro. 1313-A that expands NYC’s paid leave laws to employees who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking so they can focus on safety and plan their next steps without fearing loss of income. * Expanding the Administration for Children’s Services’ Investigative Consultant program that provides training, consultation and support to the agency’s investigative staff. Using a new protocol to identify families at risk of experiencing domestic violence, the investigative consultants will now provide support to families receiving prevention services through ACS that are not subjects of active child-protection investigations. * OCDV, in collaboration with the Human Resource Administration’s Office of Civil Justice, implemented onsite housing legal assistance for clients at the NYC Family Justice Centers. * Expanding healthy relationship training and education to students, staff and parents at 128 middle schools throughout all five boroughs through the Early-Relationship Abuse Prevention Program. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said, “The easier it is to navigate the wide-ranging supports and services available across New York City, the more likely it is that a survivor of domestic violence can break the cycle of abuse. My Office was proud to serve on the working groups that helped make this important campaign a reality and we look forward to continuing to partner with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence to ensure New Yorkers learn about and access the services they need.” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “I commend the First Lady and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for launching a public awareness campaign that highlights this important issue. To effectively confront familial abuse, we need a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that combines education, services and enforcement. That was the recommendation of a Task Force my Office has been proud to be part of, and that has long been the vision of the Brooklyn Family Justice Center. Assisting survivors and pointing them to available services does not only help in successfully prosecuting their cases – it also allows them to rebuild their lives and free themselves from an often-escalating cycle of abuse.” Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “As a proud partner in our city's effort to prevent domestic violence, I endorse this campaign which informs and connects DV survivors to the NYCHOPE portal, where helpful and meaningful resources can be found in one place. Spreading awareness through all media forms will help to remove the stigma and empower victims of these life-altering crimes.” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, “When I became the District Attorney of Queens County more than 26 years ago, one of my top priorities was to hold those who would batter a spouse or loved one accountable for their actions. Since then, my office has become a national leader in domestic violence prosecution and has consistently led the city with the highest conviction rate and the lowest dismissal rate. I was honored that my office was selected last year as the co-chair of the criminal justice section of the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force. I applaud the Mayor and the First Lady for their initiative to raise awareness and I am pleased to assist in whatever way possible to combat domestic violence in our communities.” “Domestic violence continues to be one of the most serious issues we face on Staten Island, but with increased awareness we can help survivors to navigate through these complicated relationships and into the open arms of community-based resources,” said Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon. “I commend the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence for all of their outstanding work on behalf of survivors across the City, including their efforts with my office to open a Family Justice Center on Staten Island. When combined with these existing resources, this latest campaign will add another layer of much-needed support so that victims of domestic violence can find the help they need and allow us to better prosecute those guilty of the violence.” “Queens has a deep commitment to supporting survivors, and First Lady McCray’s citywide awareness campaign backed by public investment is a reflection of our shared priority. Domestic violence is a complex problem, and fully eradicating it is far from over. The ‘We Understand’ campaign and ‘NYCHope’ are important steps to combat intimate partner violence in our city and publicize the resources available for all survivors,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Our city, under the watchful eye of Lady Liberty has always been a beacon of hope for people of all ages and backgrounds. I want to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and OCDV Commissioner Cecile Noel for their leadership in launching NYCHOPE, a lifesaving portal that will make supportive services and programs more readily accessible to survivors of violence. As the former chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, combatting domestic and intimate partner violence has been at the forefront of our legislative agenda to create safe pathways for families to rebuild their lives. I was proud to spearhead and work in partnership with OCDV and my colleagues to raise awareness through NYC Go Purple Day and a historic increase in DoVE funding. “We Understand” is the continuation of our year-round efforts to become UpStanders, break the cycle of violence by empowering families, and illuminate the dark corners of communities where they have suffered in silence for far too long,” said Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo. “NYCHOPE is a critical effort to help survivors access the resources they need. It’s also an opportunity for this City to confront the fact that domestic violence is able to persist in part because of our reluctance to talk about it,” said Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women. This thoughtful and inclusive campaign is exactly the right track to take, and I applaud the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the First Lady for leading it.” “Regrettably, I don’t know of anyone, who does not know of someone who’s been impacted by Domestic Violence,” said Councilmember Diana Ayala. “Whether it’s been a family member, friend, neighbor, or as in my personal experience as a survivor; DV is prevalent in all communities and all walks of life. All too often we have read or heard of yet another victim of this scourge, and the devastation left behind for children and family members to cope with. DV victims are often isolated and don’t know that there are resources out there to help them escape their suffering. I applaud the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and all the partnering agencies that are providing this much needed and long-awaited awareness campaign. This campaign will provide victims the critical information needed to escape toxic relationships. This educational campaign will also equip the general public with the necessary information to share with someone they suspect is experiencing this type of aggression. This empowering campaign will surely save lives; and we thank the Mayor for his investment in such a vulnerable population.” "Domestic violence does not discriminate; it can affect New Yorkers of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status," said Councilmember Ben Kallos." I am proud that New York City is taking this issue head-on and taking the necessary steps to combat this scourge. By making New Yorkers aware of the resources our City is offering we are letting victims know there is hope, and that they are not alone. Thank you to First Lady Chirlane McCray for her tireless work and leadership on this issue." “As domestic violence reports are on the rise due to increased awareness and better access to resources for victims, it is imperative that we continue to do everything in the City’s power to reach out to families in all boroughs,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “We must preach the power and importance of building healthy relationships in every home and every community. I commend First Lady Chirlane McCray for leading this fight and delivering critical investments that address abusive relationships and connect survivors with the necessary resources to cope with the aftermath and devastation of domestic violence.” “For domestic violence victims, it’s never as simple as ‘just leave.’ When a victim calls the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline, a compassionate and trained Safe Horizon advocate picks up. We explore a victim’s unique situation, develop safety plans, and link them to important local services such as shelter, counseling, expert legal help, and more,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon. “I am deeply grateful to the NYC Task Force on Domestic Violence for creating a campaign that recognizes just how complicated domestic violence is, and lets victims know they can call the hotline, or visit NYCHOPE, for help. I also applaud First Lady Chirlane McCray, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, OCDV Commissioner Cecile Noel and MOCJ Director Elizabeth Glazer for their leadership on the Task Force, and for strengthening the city’s responses to domestic violence victims and their children.” “Access to information can be a lifeline for isolated victims of domestic violence. By making critical information and resources easily accessible through a city-wide public awareness campaign and a new online resource portal, this initiative will open doors for thousands of vulnerable victims and put them on a path to safety and self-sufficiency,” said Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families. “Sanctuary extends its deepest thanks to the Mayor’s Domestic Violence Task Force, co-chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Commissioner Cecile Noel and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for their commitment and leadership.” “Through our extensive work and research, it became clear that there aren’t enough tools, resources or accessible information for survivors to get the help they need,” said Nicki Dell, Assistant Professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech. “We’re proud to be a partner in the development of NYCHOPE, having seen this campaign grow from its inception at one of our own classrooms, to its launch today. Working on this impactful campaign is a profound example of how Cornell Tech is reinventing the way we live in the digital age.” For more information about the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, please visit .
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 5:05pm
Graduation Rate Rises to 74.3 Percent and Dropout Rate Falls to 7.8 Percent NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that New York City’s 2017 four-year high school graduation rate is the highest on record – 74.3 percent. The dropout rate is now at its lowest ever – 7.8 percent. The graduation rate rose and the dropout rate fell in every borough and among every ethnicity. “New York City is showing that when we invest in our students, they rise to the challenge and do better and better. Our kids are graduating high school and going to college at record rates, while dropping out less than ever before. If we are going to make New York City the fairest big city in America, it starts with giving our kids the education they deserve, and we are executing this vision every day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our graduation and dropout rates continue to improve steadily and show that we’re on the right track,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This is a day to recognize the incredible impact our educators have on our children’s lives, and to celebrate their dedication to their craft. We need to keep improving, redoubling our commitment to our Equity and Excellence for All agenda to ensure that every child gets a high-quality education.” The rates below are the graduation and dropout percentages among the cohort of all students who entered 9th grade in the fall of 2013. All percentage point changes are comparisons to the previous year. * The graduation rate rose to 74.3 percent, a 1.2 point increase. * The dropout rate fell to 7.8 percent, a 0.6 point decrease. Graduation rates improved across all ethnicities: * Black students’ graduation rate increased to 70.0 percent, a 1.3 point gain. * Hispanic students’ graduation rate increased to 68.3 percent, a 1.0 point gain. * Asian students’ graduation rate increased to 87.5 percent, a 1.8 point gain. * White students’ graduation rate increased to 83.2 percent, a 0.9 point gain. Dropout rates fell across all ethnicities: * Black students’ dropout rate fell to 7.9 percent, a 0.9 point decrease. * Hispanic students’ dropout rate fell to 10.7 percent, a 0.6 point decrease. * Asian students’ dropout rate fell to 4.0 percent, a 0.6 point decrease. * White students’ dropout rate fell to 4.4 percent, a 0.3 point decrease. Graduation rates increased and dropout rates fell in every borough. The largest improvement in graduation and dropout rates was in Queens: Graduation 2017 # Cohort % 2017 Grad % 2016 Grad Pt. Diff Bronx 13,730 66.3 64.9 1.4 Brooklyn 20,096 74.4 72.8 1.6 Queens 19,417 77.8 76.1 1.7 Manhattan 15,280 74.9 74.7 0.1 Staten Island 4,631 80.3 79.5 0.8 Dropout 2017 # Cohort % 2017 Dropout % 2016 Dropout Pt. Diff Bronx 13,730 11.7 12.7 -1.0 Brooklyn 20,096 7.4 7.6 -0.2 Queens 19,417 6.4 7.7 -1.3 Manhattan 15,280 7.3 7.4 -0.1 Staten Island 4,631 6.0 6.4 -0.4 Graduation rates also increased at the City’s 28 Renewal high schools. The graduation rate increased to 65.7 percent, a 5.7 point increase. The dropout rate was 16.4 percent, a 2.2 point decrease. The Class of 2016 4-year graduation rate reflects an updated rate of 73.0 percent instead of 72.6 percent as previously reported due to a data revision by the New York State Education Department. “Congratulations to our students, educators, and families for their tremendous work resulting in our City’s highest-ever graduation rate and lowest-ever dropout rate. We are thrilled to keep this steady progress going by supporting high-quality teaching and learning in every classroom, from 3-K through graduation. As we do, we are sending a message to each one of our students that our work doesn’t end when they receive a high school diploma – it’s about putting them on a path to succeed in college and careers,” said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. Earlier this school year, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña announced: * The highest-ever postsecondary enrollment rate – 57 percent of the Class of 2016. * The highest-ever number of New York City students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams in 2017, with a 9.9 percent jump in students taking at least one AP and 7.5 percent jump in students passing at least one AP over the previous year. * The highest-ever college readiness rate – 47 percent of all students, and 64 percent of graduates, in the Class of 2017 graduated high school on time and met CUNY’s standards for college readiness in English and math. * The highest-ever number of high school juniors taking the SAT – 61,800 students. All juniors are now able to take the SAT free of charge during the school day. Elementary and middle school students also continue to make gains on State English and math exams. City students have now outperformed their New York State peers in English for the second year in a row. Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s Equity and Excellence for All initiatives will continue to build on the progress, ensuring that, by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college-ready. Together, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds through 3-K for All and Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms through Diversity in New York City Public Schools, the City’s school diversity plan, are central to this pathway. More information on New York City’s graduation rates can be found at . “Record-high rates of graduation and college admission are a sign that our future is bright because we are developing the aware, informed, and engaged young minds that will become the leaders of tomorrow. Our students, families, and educators are continuing to prove they are capable of incredible achievements when the necessary resources are provided. There is more work to be done, but we are headed in the right direction,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “Congratulations to Chancellor Carmen Farina and Mayor de Blasio on their leadership” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan. “As the Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I have worked to secure additional funding for our students, and supported their efforts to reduce the achievement gap. Congratulations to students and parents for all their hard work to build a better life through education.” “The improvement in these statistics show that investing in an agenda that focuses on academic excellence, student and community support, and innovation makes a difference in the lives of the students. We need to continue our support for the Equity and Excellence for All Agenda in order continue improving the quality of education our students receive. This agenda increases fairness and unleashes the potential of our students, educators, administrators and the community as whole,” said Assembly Member Carmen E. Arroyo. “Our students and teachers have done amazing work. By giving our children the resources they need, we are putting them on the path to success. New York City is doing the hard work, and it is paying off for our students and our city’s future,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “The steady improvement we see in these numbers is gratifying for all of us,” said Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union that represents New York City’s school principals, assistant principals, other supervisors and administrators. “It's due to the hard work of many people, not least the students themselves. But we should especially thank the teachers and school leaders whose dedication changes the lives of students across the city every day.”
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well it is great to be here with you everyone. And first of all I do not believe that Brianne is shy okay. Brianne, I don’t know why you say that, I think you are incredibly poised and well-spoken and I really admire everything that you have achieved – we got to speak a little bit earlier and you’ve done great work as a student and you have a bright, bright future ahead as well. Let’s give Brianne and big round of applause. [Applause] Now I want to find out about if what Brianne said about all the administrators and teachers is right. So if you think that your principle and your assistant principals and your teachers are doing a great job, give them a big round of applause right now. [Applause] Alright that was – Deputy Chancellor that was their performance review right there. They did really well. I want to – to all of you it is great to be here with you. You are the future of New York City. And when I hear Brianne say that you know how much the adults in this building care about you and believe in you and know that your future is bright and they communicate to you that your future is bright, that’s so beautiful to hear. There were too many times I think, in the history of this City where young people didn’t received that message that they deserved to receive. So if it’s happening here, you are being valued and respected and told what you are capable of – that makes me very, very happy. Because that says that we are all building a better kind of society right here in this building. So to everyone at South Bronx Prep you have a lot to be proud of for what’s been created here. And I am going to go over some of your achievements in a moment but I just wanted to let you know – when you see this kind of success, it’s everyone who is a part of it – the principle, the assistant principals, the teachers, everyone who works in the building, the parents, but the students, no one creates the atmosphere more than the students. So you are obviously taking a lot of ownership in your own lives by coming to a place like this and excelling and creating this kind of positive atmosphere. So now I want you to give each other a round of applause. [Applause] And there is a lot to be proud of here – I want to just by name thank Dr. Flanagan for her great leadership. I want to thank Ms. Martin for her great work guiding people to college. I want to thank Ms. Halstead for her wonderful work as one of the first single shepherds in this new program that we created that we think is going to make a huge difference for families. And also representing the union that represents all of our administrators and supervisors, CSA, I want to thank Laverne Burrowes for being here representing CSA. Let’s give them all a round of applause. [Applause] And I know Chancellor Fariña is out of town but our Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg – I want to thank you and the whole leadership of the DOE and all the teachers, everyone, the principles, everyone across the whole school system because what we are going to talk about today is a success that has happened in all five boroughs and I want to thank you for your leadership and the whole team, let’s give him a great round of applause for that. [Applause] So I sat in that classroom earlier with Brianne and other students and to see high school students talking about the kinds of subjects you’re going to have in college – to see high school students doing college level work was very aspiring to me, and talking about the issues that are so crucial in today’s society, the topic of gender and how to interpret gender – what that means for our lives, what that means for kind of society we should have, how everyone is respected in a modern society. It was a really powerful conversation. I spoke with five students and I heard a singular intelligence and energy and focus. And that’s happening right here. I kind of wish every New Yorker could have seen that dialogue because it would have been really inspiring to them – but when you see high school students doing college level work, that is entirely inspiring and that’s what is happening right here in the South Bronx at South Bronx Prep. I have to tell you it is particularly moving to me because when I came into office four years ago, we knew one thing very clearly. We couldn’t accept the status quo in this city. We couldn’t accept the status quo in education. We couldn’t accept the notion of so many young people not getting an opportunity to fulfill their potential. What I saw in the classroom today is an example of what’s happening more and more around the city and it has to keep happening, we have to deepen – every young person being able to find out just what they are capable of. Because historically, again so much talent never got unlocked and so many young people didn’t get that opportunity to be what they wanted to be. We are at a point where we can get to fundamentally change that. And that is so exciting. And you know, it won’t shock anyone in this room that for a long time the kind of education you got, the quality of education was determined by zip code. You know it was determined by how much money your family had, what neighborhood you lived in. Our job is to end that. Our job is to create something more fair and equal and in fact bring all schools up in the process. That’s why we call the vision Equity and Excellence. And we are seeing it more and more take effect. And what we are talking about today is so powerful because the results I’m going to talk about today apply to every borough and kids of every background. We see consistent progress across the board. So today we are announcing the results we have been waiting for – what happened the last school year and what it tells us about how our young people are doing and how our schools are doing. And I’m happy to tell you that this is a great day for New York City because this vision of Equity and Excellence is becoming a reality. So when the school year that ended in the summer of 2017 more kids in New York City graduated high school in four years than ever before in the history of New York City. [Applause] We are now at an all-time high, an all-time record graduation rate of 74.3 percent. And that’s something everyone should be proud of. That is an eight point increase from just four years ago. So it proves to you how quickly things can change. One of the things I always talk about is change does not have to take a long time. You know, there’s that old saying ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. We have the will here in the city to keep making change. The fact that we could move the graduation rate up eight points in just four years shows how much more is possible going forward. Now here at South Bronx Prep, the number is a little different. And it is extraordinary – the graduation rate at the end of the last school year of 96 percent. [Applause] And we’re here in the South Bronx. And a lot of people hear the word South Bronx and they might have certain assumptions and stereotypes, but you are disproving all of that. A 96 percent goes far beyond anything that’s happening in this whole nation. That’s an amazing, stunning graduation rate. And this school has achieved something powerful – and by the way, that is a 10 point increase in just four years. Isn’t that amazing? And everyone in this room should be proud of that fact. Now, the other side of the coin – for decades in this city we had an astounding, troubling drop-out rate. It meant kids who didn’t make it and never got a chance to fulfil their potential. I am proud to tell you based on last school year’s data that we now have the lowest drop-out rate in the history of New York City. [Applause] That – that number is now 7.8 percent. We are not going to accept that number, we are going to keep driving it down. But 7.8 percent – that’s fully three points lower than just four years ago which means that drop-out rate is descending and descending and we’re going to keep pushing it down because every kid deserves the opportunity. Now you might ask the question, what is the drop-out rate for South Bronx Prep? Well I’m pleased to report to you for the second year in a row the drop-out rate was zero. [Applause] And I want to interpret that, that means that almost every kid graduated on time in the four years. Some kids needed a little more, but no child left school. No child disconnected. This school stuck with the kids and the kids stuck with the school and every child will ultimately succeed. That is a powerful, powerful example for this city and this whole nation. That’s what you’re achieving here. Now, here’s the next fact I want to share with you because there are many ways to succeed in life. For some young people – for a lot of young people it means going to college whether it’s two years or four years. For some young people it means going into the workforce. There are many good ways to succeed. We want to support every option. But we certainly want to see as many young people as want to go to college have that opportunity and not have barriers put in front of them. So, I’m proud to tell you that we now can say that for the class of 2016 we had the record enrollment in college in the history of New York City. 57 percent of the class of 2016 is going – has gone to college. That is a good thing. [Applause] And that is a six point increase from 2013. Everything’s going the same direction. That’s what so good to see. Every borough, people of every background, the trend is so powerful and so clear. And there’s a lot of energy going into it. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, everyone is pushing in the same direction recognizing that we can reach so many more kids. So, look, our job is to keep building and we’ve seen the things that work. The AP classes, providing advance placement courses in every high school, not just some because in the past there were some high schools that got AP and a whole lot of others didn’t get any. Now every high school will have AP classes because kids in every zip code deserve that chance. If you can do college-level work you – first of all it’s going to help you get into a good college. Second of all, you’re not going to need as many credits potentially in that college and you can save some money. But also what it does for your mind and for the opportunity. And we want to say that to every child in every school. So AP classes for all, computer science for all is being brought to our schools. What we’re going with pre-K and 3-K. All of these things moving in the same direction. Let’s make sure every kid gets on the path that’s right for them. And that’s what we’re seeing is possible now. So, I want to just do a very quick summary in Spanish, and then I want to turn to one more speaker who is a crucial ally in this work and let him speak to you about what this day means for him. Quickly in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] Congratulations to all. [Applause] And I mentioned we have one special guest, and why I have to tell you, everything I just told we’ve been doing, we’ve been doing with the support and the backing of the City Council. Could not do this alone. The City Council has been right there every step of the way. There’s a new chairman of the education committee in the City Council, so he has a very big impact on our schools and their future. And I am very happy to report that he is not just doing this job because he’s interested, he’s doing this job as chairman of the education committee because he actually was a teacher. And he actually served the kids of this city and he actually knows what he’s talking about and that is refreshing in government. So it’s my pleasure to introduce the Chair of the Education Committee Mark Treyger. […] Mayor: So, I just want to conclude by saying I’m so proud of you guys. I’m so impressed. You’re now all ambassadors for New York City. You know, and everything you’re going to be doing up ahead in your life, you reflect the city you come from. And I cannot think of a better group of ambassadors because you show us everything good about this city and everything good in our future ahead. Congratulations to all of you.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 5:05pm
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good morning everyone. Thanks for being here. You’ll hear from the Mayor in a moment and then Dermot Shea will give you the January crime figures. I tell all the – you know I tell all the cops all the time what a tremendous job they’re doing and they truly are. If you look at 17 and the beginning of 18, month after month, year after year the hardworking men and women of this police department are not only keeping people safe but we have to make people feel safe too. And in terms of crime reduction, as you know, we’re coming off the safest year New York City has experienced in about seven decades. This means each of the last three generations of New Yorkers has been made safer than the last. And what this means for us in the NYPD is that we have to continue to focus on our mission. Now we’re just one month into the new year and we’re doing well again. Dermot will get into the specifics in a couple of minutes. But I will tell you what I – and what I know is that to keep driving crime and violence down and to keep New Yorkers in every neighborhood feeling safe we need to keep the same – the seamless coordination going on with our police department and with our City, State, and federal law enforcement partners and specifically our relationship with the FBI. They continue to do a great job. They understand what their mission is in New York City. And we absolutely need the full and willing partnership of all the people we serve in every neighborhood. As I’ve said a hundred times before, public safety is a shared responsibility. And that’s what New York policing means today in 2018. And that’s what New York policing has to mean as we make our way forward. I’d like to remind people that the historic gains we’ve made over the past couple of decades or so, none of this happened by accident. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people. Our future success won’t be an accident either. All this applies to so-called traditional crime as well to – as well to the threat of terrorism and quite importantly, to the quality of life concerns that New Yorkers living and working in all corners of our great city express every single day. Mr. Mayor? Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much Commissioner, and congratulations to you and First Deputy Commissioner Tucker and all the leadership at the NYPD and all the men and women of the NYPD for once again continuing to make us safer. I want to remind everyone, at the outset of this year classic questions kept coming up: how much safer can we get, did we reach the end of the line in 2017? We got overall crime down to levels we had not seen the 1950s. We got homicides down to a level we had not seen since 1951. I like to say the last time we had that few homicides in New York City the Dodgers were still playing in Ebbets Field. That’s what the NYPD has accomplished working more closely than ever with community partners. So, was 2017 as good as it gets? That’s the question I keep getting. The answer is no, it’s not as good as it gets. It’s an amazing accomplishment but we’re going to go farther. And that’s been the attitude here at One Police Plaza throughout the last four years. Relentlessly looking to get even better and to make us even safer. And we’re certainly off to a strong start in 2018. And I want to emphasize this extraordinary success combined with, not only the massive reduction in stop-and-frisk, but also much less use of arrest. This is something that Commissioner O’Neill has pointed out, Commissioner Bratton before him pointed out. The whole idea was to free up our officers to do what they have been trained to do as professionals and give them discretion, give them the ability to do their jobs properly, not based on the quotas of the past and not based on simply how many forceful interactions can you have. But in fact freeing up our officers to be as effective and creative as possible. That’s what neighborhood policing is all about. So, 2017 compared to 2013. 100,000 fewer arrests in 2017 compared to 2013 and much less crime at the same time. Powerful fact. Also points out where we go next. The fact that we can keep building a stronger bond with community and it will make us all safer. It will make our officers safer, it will make our residents safer at the same time. Look, I want to say the NYPD has really contributed to something crucial, not just in terms of safety but also in terms of the social fabric of this city. This city is never – you know we don’t sing in perfect harmony but we all get along a lot better than we used to and anyone who’s been around for a while can see that. The NYPD has contributed a lot to that: creating a different tone in this city, a different approach, a lot more dialogue. I’ve been really struck by what we’ve seen with these community meetings. In fact the NYPD is inviting communities in to a deeper dialogue. That is good for the social fabric of this city. It is good to see our officers talking more and more with community members one on one, individually knowing each other’s names. It’s good to see greater respect for our offices. It’s good to see our officers getting a thank you more often. That’s all about building a different kind of social fabric and one that will work better for the future of this city. So, a lot is happening here, but I want to emphasize, 2018 we’re going to keep getting safer. Just a quick note on the numbers because they are striking. So, January 2018 compared to January 2017, crime is down – total crime down 7.6 percent this last month compared to a year ago. Murders down as well. We see consistent progress. We’ve got more to do. But something clearly is working, neighborhood policing is working, precision policing is working. It’s producing real results. And you know, Terry Monahan when we he was sworn in as Chief of Department said something very simple, very powerful – what the NYPD is doing is actually inventing an entirely different type of policing, and it’s working. And it’s going to be a model for the whole country. Whenever I talk to my fellow mayors, one of the things the – the number one request I get is can I come to New York City and meeting with the NYPD, can I see CompStat, can I understand what you guys are doing. Big cities, small cities, people want to understand what the NYPD is achieving and this model is going to do a lot of good for this whole country, not just for the five boroughs. Finally, really important that we’re doing more to engender trust, to give people a sense there’s real transparency, real accountability. Obviously I want to thank everyone up here with me for their excellent effort to increase the time – the speed with which we brought body cameras online. You heard the announcement last week, all our patrol officers will have them a year earlier. I think that’s going to be great for the relationship between police and community. And, now, implicit bias training is beginning, and I think that’s a great step forward too. That recognizes a human reality. Every single one of us, we’re all brought up with certain assumptions and stereotypes and biases, our job as public servants is to weed those out and that training could make a huge difference. So this is another important step for the NYPD and for the city. Let me just say a few words in Spanish. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that, my pleasure to turn to Chief Dermot Shea. Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea, NYPD: Good morning everyone. Overall we’re seeing some very strong crime reduction efforts to start 2018. We matched last January’s record low number of shootings for the month of January with 58 this January. And we saw the number of homicides recorded drop even further. Overall, as the Mayor said, index crime is down nearly eight percent to start the year. Despite setting these new milestones, including fewest number of recorded index crimes for January, fewest number of murders, robberies, burglaries, stolen vehicles, and tying the shooting incident number, there are areas of concern as we move forward. And I’ll highlight some of those when I go through this brief presentation. To start with January crime: murder, we’ve recorded 20 murders this January, that’s down from 24 last year. It’s a 16.6 percent reduction. Of the 20, 19 occurred in January or were recorded in January and of those 19, 13 of the 19 were by firearm. So we still see the prevalence of fire arms in New York City. Bronx recorded eight of those 19. And there will be more on the Bronx later. Rape, 113 rapes for January versus 107. That’s an increase of six, which is 5.6 percent. Bronx was plus eight on the rapes. Overall on the rapes, one third roughly domestic. What we see traditionally is 8 percent give or take. A percentage point is generally strange of rapes , that’s the small number. And the vast majority are friend/acquaintance. And that holds true this period. What did jump out this period, and I’ll point out. Again, we’re in January so it’s a bit of an aberration for the rest of the year. But 12 percent of the rapes recorded this January we’re over five years since the occurrence date. And that’s a very high number, 12 percent were over five years old since when they occurred. What do we see as the year goes on, and the months flatten out. We’ll see what generally see about 20 percent of the rapes occur in a prior year. So when we see 12 percent over five years old. That jumps out. Robbery down 9.2 percent, felonies assault down 8.8 percent, burglary nearly down 12 percent, grand larceny down 5.5 percent, and stolen vehicles down nearly seven percent. That brings the total as the Mayor alluded to 7.6 percent index crime reduction to start the year, continuing the trend. And it’s a reduction of 1,612 crimes. The shooting incidents; 58 versus 58. The year before that, 2016 was 59. So the last two years 58 and 59 and when you go back four years it jumps to 90. So that’s when we saw the great reduction last three years holding flat in January. Transit crime, to start the year a good start below ground in New York City, down 9.5 percent. But I alluded to some trouble spots if you will, as there always is when we look across a big city with numerous crime types – transit crime down 9.5 percent. But two boroughs are seeing increases, Manhattan and Brooklyn. And when you look at Manhattan specifically with transit crime. We’re seeing a significant jump in robberies, 19 versus 9 to start the year. When you look at housing crime, down 2.5 percent. So a lot of positive index crime violence and overall crime, and I’ll just finish up and spend a minute with what we’re seeing with the Bronx because really it’s a tale of two sides here. Overall, Bronx index crime to start the year is doing well, down nearly 13 percent in traditional index crime. But when you look at the violence especially in the Bronx we have a spike going on that’s being addressed through casework. Month of January, 45 percent of New York City shootings occurred in one borough, the Bronx. What do we normally see; we normally see the range 25-30 percent of the city shootings for a year occur in the Bronx. When we see 45 percent, something is going on. As I sit here today it’s actually up to 47 percent of the city’s shootings in one borough. And even with that, ill point out again, flat to begin the year. And as we sit here today we’re actually down in shootings to start the year. So once we get the Bronx headed in the right direction we’re going to have some phenomenal numbers to report. The Bronx’s numbers through the end of January is 26 versus 19, they’re up seven shootings. The top three commands in the city for shootings this year thus far are all in the Bronx, 40th Precinct, 43rd Precinct and the 48th Precinct. Month of January in the Bronx, murders we recorded eight, that’s up first four. And just finishing up on the shootings that we’re seeing the Bronx – 23 percent of them on housing that’s slightly up. Generally we see 20-21 percent of the city’s shootings on housing, which is too high. What have seen in the individual when you drill down on the shootings that we’ve seen in the Bronx, we’ve had an individual on parole shot. We’ve had two individuals on probation that then are arrested for current shootings in the Bronx in January. We’ve had an individual on probation for robbery, then getting shot at, then at another incident after that getting arrested with a new firearm while on probation for recent robbery charges in the Bronx. We have even seen an individual in the Bronx in January, prior arrests for stabbing, prior arrests for gun – combined put in program and now arrested with an additional gun. So this is some of the hurdles if you will that our officers and detectives are fighting every day. I think this outlines what we’re up against. I tend to look at the glass here half full. When we get this right are going to see phenomenal gains further, pushing these violence numbers down. This is where precision policing meets other parts of the criminal justice system and as these examples show its not always pretty. When you look year to date as we sit here today on the fifth – through the fifth I should say. What do we see? We see homicides now down seven, year to date. And we see shootings as of midnight down two in New York City. To go with that nearly eight percent drop in index crime. When we look at arrests that are being affected in the City of New York as a whole, we continue to work on the precision angle to compliment the neighborhood policing. And arrests are down this year thus far 8.9 percent. Down close to 3,000 arrests citywide just in the first month of the year – 2688 is the number. And with that, where do we see the biggest drop in arrests – misdemeanor arrests. We’re actually flat in index crime arrests, despite being down about eight percent. So that’s driving our clearance rates up which is a win all the way around. That’s it. Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, thanks. Bob Boyce has two cases he wants to talk about. Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce, NYPD: Sure, good morning everybody, I just continued the dialogue from Chief Shea. We’re looking for public’s assistance in locating two individuals both in the Bronx, both wanted for homicide. I have their pictures up here. This particular individual is Amere Bryant. We are seeking him in the homicide of the Shaquana Button that happened on January 15 at about 11:30 in the evening. Both were at a grocery store at 149th Street in the Bronx. One individual bumped into another. A dispute ensued. We believe Amere Bryant left that location, went got a gun, came back. And Shaquana Button was still in the grocery store. It was a cold evening that night, at which point he waited for her outside and shot her one time in the back of the head killing her. We know he frequents the Saint Mary’s Houses, which is just on 149th Street. He’s got six prior arrests, nothing of this statue as far as violence goes. Nonetheless we’ve been seeking him since that night. We identified him almost immediately. So Amere Bryant, if anyone has any information, please call the police, the tips number. The second individual please. This individual is Carl X. Goes by the nickname Babs, Baboo, or Babos. He on the night of 16th, the next night, he shot an individual known as Melon Babis. This was over an argument. This was a Tuesday night, it was an argument on Saturday where they had fisticuffs, where Mr. Badis prevailed. Then Mr. X came back and shot him in the Sedgwick Houses, on – near University Avenue I should say. So we’re looking for him now. He’s got eight prior arrests. We’ve been seeking him for the last two weeks. If the public knows where he is please contact the tips number immediately. If you see him 9-1-1, thank you. Commissioner O’Neill: Bob, that’s it? Chief Boyce: That’s it. Commissioner O’Neill: Crime related or police related – or actually on crime stats first. Question: So, clarification, transit crime down 9.5 percent but you said robberies in transit are up in Manhattan and Brooklyn? Chief Shea: Transit down 9.5 percent, all crimes index crimes citywide. Two of the boroughs are up in crime, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Mayor: For transit only – Chief Shea: For transit only, and when you look at Manhattan transit crime they are spiking for the month of January actually it’s through the first four days now of February in robbery specifically. Transit robberies in Manhattan, 19 versus 9. Question: So with that said, Commissioner. Does the NYPD still support Manhattan’s DA’s policy to not prosecute turnstile offenders? Isn’t the thought that those who commit a robbery would not pay for the subway? Commissioner O’Neill: So we’re still working with Cy’s office where there is a distance, there is a gap between what his office considers a public safety threat and who we consider a public safety threat. So we’re still working on this. It’s important to control access to the subway. That’s how we keep people safe, that’s how we have just – Vinnie or Eddie under seven crimes a day in a system used by six million people. So we have – there are couple of cases DEP’s over the weekend. I’ll just give you one example. This person had 52 total arrests, 30 were transit related, two robbery arrests. One in transit, one grand larceny in transit, and he’s also a transit recidivist and that arrest was DEP’d. That is not helping to keep the people in this city safe. Mayor: I want to also speak to this, the way you characterize it, we are not in full agreement the DA. We respect him, we think the underlying vision he is bringing to it has some merit, obviously we want to be constantly finding ways to improve interaction between police and community reduce arrest when we can, but people have to pay to get on the subways. And fare evasion is not acceptable. And we cannot create a situation where people think it is acceptable. By the way we have seen countless cases where we found people who committed other crimes. We’re not going to allow constant recidivism when it comes to fare evasion. By the way, a lot of people who commit fare evasion and the police encounter have a lot of money on them. So it’s not, for those who say, oh it’s an economic reality, I think I have a lot of validity on the question of income inequality and how we fight it, but you never heard me say, you know, open up the gates of the subway for free. That’s chaos. We are not going to accept that. So we have a lot of work we have to do to see if we can get on the same page with the DA. Question: Commissioner, just to follow up on that, when you say you are working closely with the DA’s Office, are there any other details that you can say, that you can provide about what your – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, yeah, there’s a couple different standards that the Manhattan DA’s Office use to consider who is a public safety threat, and Cy’s office is basing it on convictions. And it’s just – we had 33,000 enforcement actions against fare evaders in the subway in Manhattan last year. Keep in mind, 25 of them - 25,000 of them got TAB summonses, Transit Adjudication Bureau of Summonses, 8,000 were arrested. Is there a way that we can reduce that number? Yes there is. I think it is important that we do that, but we have to do it thoughtfully. I want to see more Transit cops – Transit police, Transit Bureau police officers on the subway, so if we can keep them out on patrol, that’s fine, but we really have to be thoughtful about how we do that. Tony? Question: [Inaudible] you mentioned the 20 percent of the rape complaints, I think in January, were from prior years, if I had your figure right, is this a carryover we see from previous years when rapes were – Chief Shea: Tony, let me clarify, when we look on a past year traditionally what we see is roughly 20 percent occur in prior years. This particular January, 12 percent of the rapes recorded were over five years old. That was - that was a significant increase in my eyes. As the year goes on, and actually when you look at January it’s much more than 20 percent occurring in another year because another year because another year could be three days old, four days old, so we’ll need for that to play out a little. But I think to answer your question, it’s somewhat – it appears to be somewhat of a carryover from what we’ve seen the last three to four months, where we’ve seen a slight increase, and any increase is troubling, but a slight increase in the recorded rapes and difficult to put a stamp on it and say it’s definitely because of what is in the news but that is certainly a possibility. 12 percent over five years old, it really jumps out. Commissioner O’Neill: Grace? Question: Mayor, at the top you said, we’re talking about crime numbers, levels we haven’t seen since the ‘50’s, and this is not as good as it gets, we’re going to go further. I’m wondering if there is any concern from you or from the police department that by promising to drive down crime even further that you may be putting undue pressure on the department to try to make the numbers work in such a way that we keep seeing those crime levels go down? Mayor: First of all, in my humble opinion, a championship team does not mind having more pressure on them. This is a team that has set record after record. We’re going to keep going. When a year or two ago, if I had said to you I was projecting the numbers for 2017, you could have said, oh my God, that’s putting pressure on people. No, it was fantastic that first Commissioner Bratton and then Commissioner O’Neill said we could go further, they knew it as professionals, they proved it. They still know it. If these guys ever one day come to me and say, hey, you know, we don’t if there is much more we can get done, we’ll be open about that. But right now we think we can go further, I’m very encouraged by the month of January. You’re going to have fluctuations month by month, I’m never going to be surprised by that, but no, there is more we can do. Neighborhood policing is still being implemented and still reaching new parts of the City. The effect of building more trust between police and community is going to grow, meaning you are going to have more dialogue, more information flowing to our officers, more ability of our officers to stop crimes before they happen, or catch criminals more effectively. I think there is a lot more we can do. We are not, I think one inference your question might be we are going to focus to much on numbers, no we got away from the mistakes of the past, you know, trying to grade people base on – grade officers based on how many stops they made. That was madness. We are not doing that anymore. We, you know, this commissioner has done a fantastic job of helping the entire force to understand that we value the way they interact with communities, the way they get information, the way they work to take the skills they’ve learned and apply them as professionals, that’s what people are being graded on now. So no, I don’t think it creates undue pressure, I think it’s simply a reflection of the fact that the leadership believes that we can go further and I do too. Commissioner O’Neill: Just keep in mind that these numbers continue to go down with fewer enforcement actions, less arrests, less summonses, obviously less stops, so – you know, 292 murders is not 2,245 murders, it’s obviously a lot less, but we have that moral obligation to keep driving crime down. So I can’t – I’ve been a New Yorker all my life – I can’t sit here and say, yeah Dad, we are done. That can never be, and we have to continue to push crime down, and I think with – once we get neighborhood policing implemented in all 76 precincts, I think that will help us. And with Bob’s people and the Detective Bureau continuing to go after gangs and crews, I think without a doubt we will be able to push crime down. And that’s what New Yorkers expect. Mayor: That’s right. Commissioner O’Neill: Rich? Question: Can we go back to fare evasion for a second again? So the MTA Chairman wrote a letter, apparently, to the DA’s complaining about the, you know, revenue loss involved in this as well. Is that a consideration? And also do you think the message from the DA could be seen by fare evaders as a green light for going ahead and jumping the turnstile and – Mayor: Yes. Question: What would you say to that? Mayor: That’s a problem. Again, I respect the DA greatly, and I think his underlying interest in reducing the arrests that might be unnecessary, as the commissioner said, can we drive arrests further in some cases? Yes. And do we want to? Of course. But there is a double edged sword here, and that’s something that the commissioner and I have to talk to the DA about. It can send the wrong message. By the way, I believe in fairness and I’ve said I want to focus on making this the fairest big city in America. It’s not fair to everyone else who is paying their fare. It’s not fair to the average straphanger if some people think they can waltz on in without paying. It’s just not acceptable. So we got to figure out the balance here. We all believe in changing the relationship between police and community for the better. But that is not the same as saying, hey you can just ride the subway for free. I reject that out of hand. Question: Commissioner you mentioned before about getting more police officers into the subways, and as a resident of this City, I do see a lot more police officers myself in the subways. However, and people have come up to me and talked to me about this, they say you know what, years ago, I guess not that long ago, I would see too, I would see police officers walking through the cars on the subways. I don’t see that as much anymore when they would walk through the cars. Is there any reason for that? Commissioner O’Neill: So what year where you seeing that? Was that 1983, because you probably saw me. [Laughter] There is, and we have a new Chief of the Transit Bureau, Chief Ed Delatorre, and he understands I want to see more police officers on the trains, walking through the cars, putting people at ease, I think it’s important. It’s important to see people on the platforms also, but I think, especially late at night, it’s important to see police officers on the trains. So you’ll see more. Rocco? Question: Commissioner, can you explain what fare evasion, what steps that the police take in determining whether they get a TAB summons, a C-summons, or if they are actually arrested? Commissioner O’Neill: Sure, Ed Delatorre, you want to walk through that? Or Vinny Coogan? Chief of the Transit Bureau, Edward Delatorre: Alright, so first any fare evaders approached based on a penal law of the crime of fare evasion, or theft of service actually, once we approach the person and take them into custody, we then take a look at their background, their history. Up until now, if they were recidivist, meaning that they’ve had numerous – numerous TAB summonses over a certain period of time, then we would – we would’ve put them online. The other thing we look at is warrants, if they have a warrant, then automatically they go online, and we go forward with the arrest. If they are other issues, if we deem them to be a threat to the system, they have prior robberies or prior crimes within the transit system, we will also continue forward with the arrest online as a misdemeanor. So we start with the approach, misdemeanor crime, and as we go through the person’s background, then it may be downgraded to where we simply give them TAB. And as the Commissioner said, last year 75 percent of all the people we approached who were committing that crime were actually downgraded to TAB summonses. Question: [Inaudible] a shorter period, a longer period of time, in determining whether they are recidivists or not? Chief Delatorre: Vinny what’s the criteria on the recidivism? Assistant Chief of the Transit Bureau, Vincent Coogan: The train’s recidivists [inaudible] the transit recidivist criteria? Chief Delatorre: Yes, yes. Assistant Chief Coogan: It’s any prior felony or misdemeanor within a transit system in the past two years, any prior sex crimes – Commissioner O’Neill: Hey Vinny why don’t you get up next to the mic? Assistant Chief Coogan: Like Chief Delatorre said, 75 percent of people received TABs’ summonses, that’s a civil summons, it’s not a criminal court summons. The transit recidivist criteria is any prior felony or misdemeanor arrest in the transit system within the past two years, any prior sex crime arrest within the transit system, three or more violation arrest in a transit system in the past five years, three or more TAB summons within the past two years, or if the person who is taken into custody is on parole or probation. Commissioner O’Neill: David? Question: The NYPD and other City agencies have been looking at the supervised injection facilities and what, you know, what it might take to have the City sort of implement this. I’m wondering what the police department’s perspective is in terms of what that – the effect on crime might be having facilities like this? Mayor: Let me just jump in for a second, I want to make clear, I’ve spoken to this in recent days, said there is a study already underway, as you think you know, that study, working through the details of that study, Department of Health, we are obviously having dialogue, PD and Department of Health. When I say soon, usually is a sign that soon we are going to have more to say on that, but I just want to emphasize there is still a lot of internal discussion and looking at data before we give a clearer picture of how we move forward. Commissioner O’Neill: So I think last press conference we had, I said, we didn’t have a position yet, but I will tell you that I had a conversation with the chief of the Vancouver Police Department and they had a supervised injection site up there for quite a while. At first he was not feeling good about doing that and then he sees how many lives have been saved, because I think what he said to me, no one has died in a supervised injection facility in the time they had it open in Vancouver. So there are some issues, there are some quality of life issues around the site, but he’s addressing that. So my mind is open, you know, this is – we’re talking about the sanctity of life here. Keeping people alive, but we also have real concerns about quality of life and crime issues around that site. So at some point we will make a determination. Question: Mayor de Blasio, can you speak to [inaudible] the flu – Mayor: Yeah, I am going to come to that in a moment, so let’s do the police issues and then I’ll happily come to that. Commissioner O’Neill: In the back row. Question: Commissioner, just wondering if there’s going to be stricter enforcement when it comes to the mobs of bicyclists that are taking over city streets based on the situation this weekend in Chelsea. Cars were damaged, a man was punched in the face, one of the officer – Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, I’m going to let Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison speak about that. Rodney. Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison, NYPD: So, good morning everybody. On February 3rd, if everybody doesn’t remember down about 3:40 pm in the vicinity of 23rd between 6th and 7th we had about 30 to 40 bicyclists driving around recklessly. They did damage one vehicle as well as assaulted another individual that I guess confronted them and got out of his vehicle. So, we’re going to take a closer look at the enforcement of some of the bike laws that we have in place. We’re going to be working with the NCOs to do some outreach to make sure we speak the youth about some of the concerns that are going on as well as work with Legal and Intel and Aviation and some of the other ancillary units that we have that can kind of put a better plan in place going into the future especially during the warmer months. Question: Chief Boyce, there was a homicide out of the 1-0-7 February 2nd and there have been suggestion and talk that it might be an MS-13 related [inaudible]. Do you have any clarity on this? Chief Boyce: Well, right now Tony we’re fighting to identify what the motive is and it apparently is gang related. And I say that because we have evidence that links to another crime that was a different gang at this point. I don’t want to name that gang because we’re still in the investigation. Do we think it might still be MS-13? Yes, we do. It might be but we don’t know and what we’re hampered by – this male was killed, he left his house in New Jersey about 11:30 am in the afternoon. He then texted his father at 1730 – 5:30 pm at night and said basically, “I’m going to be home late.” And then he was – we believe he was shot to death at 6:30 pm in the evening. So we have video of him walking with two males in Queens in the 1-0-7 Precinct. Pretty suburban area, houses all over, no commercial. And then he walks in and one slows and then the other one shoots him one time in the head and then shoots him twice when he’s down. The earmarks are there of a gang – of a gang homicide. Right now we’re trying to figure out exactly why. Now, we’re hampered by the fact that we didn’t know who he was for the first two days. We finally – at the [inaudible] at the morgue we took his fingerprints and we had [inaudible] to the FBI that he was an Salvadoran male, 20 years old, and we started working back from there. We went to the Salvadoran consulate and they identified where he lived. And his name is Oscar Antonio Blanco-Hernandez, a 20-year-old male. He lives in New Jersey with his father. So, we went to his dad’s house. We spoke to his dad. He explained what happened and we were able to get to some telephones, where he’s going through social media. That’s being analyzed right now. So, we’re a long way from determining which gang it was at this point but again the earmarks of it, there’s no question. So, we’ll go forward. We’ve contacted the FBI, Nassau, and Suffolk County. And we have strong working relationships with them as well as task forces and we’ve devoted a lot of our resources to finding out exactly what happened. We have some video. It’s not probative at this point but it’s leading us in a certain directly that’s what we need to know. So, about four days – four full days into, Tony. So we got a long way to go. Question: Commissioner, the DOI put out a use-of-force report this morning just a little bit critical of the NYPD [inaudible] – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, I think – obviously we had a chance to look at it. Chief Matt Pontillo can talk about it a little bit. He’ll give you a little context. But just keep in mind that our use of force is 1.3 percent of all of our arrests and if you look at our firearms discharges in 2017, speaking just about adversarial discharges, was 23. The year before was 37. And for the month of January actually year-to-date we have one firearms discharge as opposed to five last year. So this is something that we take very seriously. And with the IG’s report, of course, we’ll look at it, we’ll respond to it. But Matt do you have anything to add? Mayor: Let me just jump in before the Chief. I just want to amplify the point the Commissioner made – 23 for 2017. I want to remind everyone we have 36,000 officers. We have over 8.5 million people. There are 365 days in a year. Only 23 times did an NYPD officer in 2017 discharge a firearm in the line of duty. That’s extraordinary restraint. And I want that put in perspective. We obviously are always going to work to do better and to make sure everything’s handled properly but I just want people to reflect on what progress has been made on that front and also how much personal strength it takes and extraordinary focus it takes for our officers to use their weapons so infrequently. That is a result of great training and that’s the result of real professionalism in the police force. Assistant Chief Matthew Pontillo, NYPD: Good morning, everyone. So, we’re still going through the IG’s report and you know it will take us time to review it and we will respond in due course in detail. However I will just point out a couple of things. So you may recall that in 2016, the department published a revised use-of-force policy that was much more comprehensive than what we had in the past and along with that went a new reporting mechanism to properly identify and record uses of force so that we can analyze it and report on it going forward. The IG’s report looked a subset of force incidents related to arrests beginning in late 2016 when the new procedure and the reporting mechanism was still in its infancy. They found somewhere around a 60-65 percent compliance with the report when it came to use-of-force during arrests and properly recording it. Going forward, we see that our compliance is much improved and even the IG notes that we have over 90 percent compliance with their most recent sampling. They look at a very, very limited set of data beginning back in last February in the similar way that we use Comp-Stat to analyze and address crime, we developed a similar process for our use-of-force reporting. And beginning in February, we’ve been holding regular meetings where we hold borough and bureau executives accountable, analyzing the use-of-force as well as the investigations into those uses of force. So, that’s reviewed on a monthly basis. Since we’ve implemented that process, we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in both the quality of the investigations and the accuracy of the reporting. So whereas the IG notes when this program was brand new and there was still a huge learning curve, the compliance was around 65 percent. More recently they reported seeing a 90 percent compliance and now over the last few months, we’re seeing an excess of 90 percent and in many cases 100 percent utilizing many, many more metrics that the IGU. So they looked at a subset of arrests. We’re looking at a variety of arrests as well as other indicators of force including using body camera video. So, we randomly sample body camera video looking for incidents that involve force and we also look at our force reports for – that occurred in commands where we do have body camera videos, body cameras deployed and then review the video and compare the video to the report to ensure that the investigation was done properly. So, we have a whole host of metrics and we’re seeing in upwards of 90 percent compliance across the board in most those and, like I said, up near 100 percent with many of them. Question: Are any of you able to speak to the rate of crime this year on Staten Island? And is Staten Island still the safest borough in New York City? Commissioner O’Neill: The crime rate on Staten Island? Question: Yeah. Commissioner O’Neill: I’m going to have to get you those figures unless – Dermot. Chief Shea: I can give them to you afterwards. Unknown: Any other police questions? Question: I have a follow-up question on use-of-force. How does the department define use-of-force? Commissioner O’Neill: There’s different levels and we can give you an explanation of what they are. Mayor: Last call on police. Okay, I know some of colleagues have to go do other some things. I’m going to do a topper on the flu situation before going to off-topic questions. [...] Okay. Let me speak about the flu situation. And I want to say I want to speak as both Mayor and as a parent. It’s heartbreaking that parents have lost young children to the flu. My heart goes out to those families but I also want to say we’ve got to protect our children now going forward. This is an epidemic that we have not seen in many years. Parents need to really be watching out for any of these symptoms and I want to remind all New Yorkers what the symptoms of the flu are. It includes fever, chills, aches, sore throat, cough. A reminder that flu can lead to pneumonia and it’s very – major ramifications of getting the flu. It’s not just a bad disease unto itself. It can lead to other things. The particularly vulnerable parts of our community – young children, seniors, and those who underlying health conditions. So, I particularly want to talk about our kids. When our kids contract the flu, it’s very, very dangerous and I want all parents and everyone to be aware. If you think a child is coming down with the flu, it’s crucial to get them care right away. Do not wait because we seen the strain this year is absolutely deadly and has to be dealt with right away. I want to urge everyone, again, take this seriously. Right away, if you haven’t gotten the flu shot – it still helps to get the flu shot. It’s not something that people should put off. It still helps in this flu season. And going forward I would urge everyone to get that shot each year in the beginning of the flu season. If you want to get a flu shot, you can call 3-1-1 on information on where to get it for free through our Health + Hospitals and clinics. If you feel ill, contact a doctor immediately. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Do not take the risk of making it worse and spreading it. Contact a doctor. Get help. I want to note in addition to the folks I mentioned, young children, seniors, those with underlying health conditions – pregnant women also are particularly at risk. If you’re pregnant and you get those symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. Parents, I also want to remind you, if your child has a respiratory issue like asthma, it’s particularly important to get care right away. Antiviral medicines can shorten any illness if a child with asthma or other respiratory conditions contracts the flu. Those medicines have to get to that child very quickly. If symptoms are worsening quickly, do not hesitate. Go immediately to an emergency room or call 9-1-1 for help. This disease can move very quickly so if you see worsening symptoms particularly in a child with an existing health condition, act quickly. A warning sign of a worsening condition is more difficulty breathing. So if a child has trouble breathing or is breathing very fast, that’s a sign of distress. You want to act on that right away. Just a few words in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] Alright, that’s just a quick update on the flu. Let me see if there’s any questions about that. I think I covered it but just in case there’s anything else. Then we’ll go on to other topics. Question: Mayor de Blasio can you provide any insight or share anything about what you know about the two children in New York City who have died? Mayor: I don’t have the details yet on those children and their family. Again, my heart goes out to those families. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen to a family. Right now my focus is making sure it does not happen to another family. Question: Mr. Mayor, have you had a flu shot? Mayor: I did. Every member of my family, although the teenagers – they’re not teenagers anymore, they’re 20 and 23 – they were a little slow on the uptake but after the two or three hundred reminders, they did get their flu shots. So, not everyone’s gotten it. Question: Is there any consideration, in light of this flu season, of making flu shots available at schools to students? I’m wondering if that’s anything that you’ve thought about or think the City should be doing? Mayor: It’s a great question. I have not heard that presented as an idea. I think it’s a very interesting idea. I mean obviously look, flu shots today are more widely available than I can ever remember. You know the City makes a major campaign to make them available through all of our public health facilities which are all over the city, and you see more and more pharmacies make them available, many for free. So, it’s actually not that hard to find a place to do it if you want to get the flu shot. But I think the point about the schools is a good one. Let me talk to our folks at the Department of Health and come back on that. Question: So the flu’s dangerous – particularly dangerous for various vulnerable groups. Should flu shots be mandatory? Mayor: Also a great question and I want to turn to our Health Commissioner Dr. Bassett and get some advice, and Deputy Mayor Palacio before I answer that. I think it’s a very legitimate question given what we’re seeing. I mean this year has really thrown everyone for a loop but the one thing we know is having the flu shot helps. Let me come back to you on that one as well or I’ll get my medical degree in the meantime. Question: Just quickly on those two children. I know you don’t have a lot of details but do you know if they had the flu shot? Mayor: I do not know and I want to make sure we always give you accurate information so I’ll have my folks get back to you. Anything else flu-related? Question: I’m wondering whether you’re seeing any unusual number of absences among City employees or whether anybody’s been checking on that. Mayor: I haven’t heard that yet. Nothing certainly bad enough to come up on my screen. We know this flu season is worse than what we’ve seen in a long time but I don't know how it’s manifesting in terms of City employees. I would note folks who are most vulnerable, children, seniors, generally would not be the categories that involved City employees. But we can also check on that. Okay, let me take other topics. Question: Mayor, the News had a story last week about a teacher in the South Bronx who in teaching a lesson on slavery asked several African-American students to lie on the ground [inaudible] stepping on one of their backs. I was hoping you could sort of give us a reaction to the fact that this happened and also there’s some parents who will be protesting today and seeking some cultural sensitivity training in schools. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of issue with this kind of lesson – Mayor: Yeah, I got it. It’s not acceptable, it’s not even close. I don’t know any teacher in their right mind who would do something like that and if they had the impulse, they should have gone, and talked it through with more senior members of the school who I’m sure would have dissuaded them. We’re doing a full investigation of that. That makes no sense. It’s unfair to the kids. It’s insensitive. We already do a number of things to promote understanding of the many cultures and faiths that make up this city in terms of how we prepare our teachers who teach the most diverse group of students in the nation. We are going to look to expand that preparation. We have so much constant training going on, professional development that we have an easy venue to do that in. We’re going to take a good page from the NYPD book in terms of some of the good work they’re doing on implicit bias. But I will say this has not been a widespread problem in terms of any type of incident like that, thank God but we will keep deepening our implicit-type training and ways of helping our teachers to think about these issues better. Question: It sounds like on congestion pricing at least last night on NY-1 that you seem more open to it as long as such a lockbox, as you called it, is created. Would you endorse the congestion pricing plan if there was a guarantee that the money raised from it went to subways and buses only in New York City? Mayor: To borrow from an old American phrase I don’t take any wooden nickels. So we are not taken anything hypothetical at this point. I’ve said very openly, this plan from the Governor’s commission is a step in the right direction and I see elements of it that I definitely like a lot more than anything I’ve seen previously. That’s great, that’s a good thing. The devil is in the details. There’s a lot more to do. But the lock box is absolutely essential. Let me define for you what a real lock box looks like. It means that that money can only be used for New York City subways and buses and that’s legally binding. Now think about this for a minute Grace, the crisis that has gripped the city in terms of the problems with our subways, energized everyone to put forward solutions. I put forward the millionaires tax which I still believe is the best solution. The Governor’s commission put forward congestion pricing. Well the good news here is that people are putting solutions on the table and I firmly believe 2018 has to be the year of solution, cannot let this wait. But listen, the crisis that focused everyone on this was the subway crisis. If that’s what energizes action then it is a further indicator of why all of the resources gained have to go to our subways and I would add our buses. We are the center of the city economy – I mean the subways and buses are the center city economy and the state economy. Why is it crucial to talk about lock box? Because too many times in the past money has migrated elsewhere including $456 million that was meant for the MTA – and everyone sees with their own eyes was MTA earmarked funds that somehow ended up going to something else. That’s intolerable, so if we are going to consider something like congestion pricing, we need absolute guarantees. Not sort of guarantees, we need absolute guarantees and that if the State violated those guarantees or the MTA violated those guarantees there could be legal action taken to immediately put that money back into the subways and buses. Question: It sounded like you talked about that idea when you met with Governor Cuomo yesterday – Mayor: Yes. Question: What did he say, how was that received is he – Mayor: When I speak to the Governor or anyone – you’ll remember my meeting after the election with President Trump, I don’t care what drives other people’s views. You can ask him. I think he understood my position that if the Governor wants my support on this issue put a lock box on the table, make it very clear that this money can only go to subways and buses. And look there’s other issues too. There’s fairness issues I’ve raised about hardship situations, people with disabilities, low income folks who need to go to doctor appointments in Manhattan, there’s lots of issues that can be worked through. But we cannot even have a real discussion of this plan that will, from my point of view, truly benefit the eight and a half million people I serve without having a guarantee of a lock box. Rich. Question: Mr. Mayor, the President used the word traitor in regards to some democrats who did not applaud some of his lines at the – Mayor: Yes, Rich this is an easy point. You know your history. You know when Stalin gave speeches they used to, the different comminssars used to look to see if people were applauding long enough and hard enough. I mean this is ludicrous that a president of the United States would actually say out loud that someone who did not applaud for him at the State of the Union was committing an act of treason. This is just – we’ve gone through the looking glass now. How many states of the unions have we all watched where the democrats sat and the republicans stood or vice versa? When President Obama gave speeches for eight years and the democrats would cheer and some republicans not only didn’t clap for him, they cat called at him. But we didn’t call them traitors. We didn’t say that was an act of treachery to their nation. It was partisan – you know you could say it’s not something we ideally want to see. But come on, so that’s just desperation. I don’t know why this guy says things like this because it just alienates a huge swath of the American people who do not see that as anything like an act of treason. Please. Question: I have a question about the Build It Back Program, we spoke to some folks out on the Rockaways that are very critical of the program. They say they are very grateful for the work that that program is doing, they feel that some of the people that are involved in making this program happen are in such a rush to get families into new homes that they are making critical mistakes. We spoke to one family whose home was demolished before they approved the new construction plan so now that family has no option to rebuild on their own because their home is gone. So I’m just wondering what you’re response is to that? Mayor: Well on that case which I don’t know individually but what I think you just said is before they approve the new construction plan – but obviously we are building them a new home if there is a new construction plan. And presumably that is on the same site, you have to – if a home is no longer useable you have to demolish it. Look, I’m sensitive to the fact that the Build it Back concept begun under the previous administration, I’ve said was the wrong idea. My self-criticism is if we could do it over again we would have actually stopped it immediately and came up with a whole different model. We thought the only practical way to proceed was to keep going with the model that was in place. We will never make that mistake again. There will not be a Build it Back – god forbid there is a crisis like this in the future, there will not be a Build it Back Program, there will be something very different. That being said, it’s literally in the final months, except for a few exceptional cases, it is in the final months now, we are going to close it down once and for all. The bottom line is, I said – I took this on myself, I said we were going to finish this thing. I heard such a human cry to finish that we were going to give people a set deadlines, that we were offering some choice but not endless choice. This is a free home that is being built for people. And we got to get this done. So if mistakes were made in individual cases, we want to do everything we can to fix it. Amy Peterson has done a fantastic job working with homeowners and communities. But at a certain point it just has to end. And we are in the final stage now. Going to come over here in a minute, let me just finish up over here. Question: Thank you. Mayor de Blasio you were formerly in the Council. Do you have any reaction to Deputy Mayor Glenn’s comments impugning members’ intelligence? Mayor: Yes, it was a real mistake and really unfair to the councilmembers. And I’m glad she has apologized quickly. That was necessary. I’ve a lot of respect for the Deputy Mayor but I was a councilmember. And you know, I might disagree with any given councilmember on any given day but I would never say something like that about the whole body. I think it was a real mistake. Come over here. Question: Mayor, early this morning AccuWeather inadvertently sent out a tsunami warning and a lot of people got on their cellphones and worried what happened – Mayor: It’s better than a warning of a nuclear attack. [Inaudible] Thank you AccuWeather for not going that far. Question: What are your concerns in light of what happened in Hawaii, especially since New Yorkers got this message? Mayor: Well forgive me because I have not been briefed on the specifics, maybe the Commissioner knows – AccuWeather, you don’t mean to say a government agency? Question: As I understand it, the National Weather Service was doing a test and then AccuWeather was a third party that pushed it. Mayor: Okay so I can’t speak for AccuWeather which I assume is a, part of a specific media outlet. So media outlets, we don’t regulate them here in the City of New York as appealing as that notion may be we don’t regulate them. And I – [Laughter] I would be a just ruler however. So every private media outlet needs to take very, very seriously their responsibility to the public. I think they do generally speaking on things like this they are very careful about it. The National Weather Service is our partner but I have not heard anything about the National Weather Service mishandling the situation so I need to get more details before I could comment. Marcia. Question: Mayor, yesterday in Albany you kissed a number of female members of the Assembly and Senate – I wonder if you think that’s appropriate greeting for an executive at a business meeting? Mayor: I think certainly for the last, 30 or so years that I have been involved in professional and public life, 30 plus years – that has been a norm and it’s been a respectful norm. I think if it is done respectfully and people are comfortable, it’s perfectly appropriate. I think if it’s done disrespectfully or makes someone uncomfortable it shouldn’t happen. Question: [inaudible] Nicole Malliotakis wasn’t uncomfortable? Mayor: No. We have a cordial relationship despite having been opponents. I said the day after the election, she and I had a very civil, respectful conversation to her credit, as she said yesterday, she offered to help on some of the big issues facing this city. And that’s certainly been the relationship I had with her long before she ran for mayor as well, that we would great each other in that fashion so I see nothing there that is out of the ordinary. Question: Mayor, I think you said we should stop talking about the federal investigations that ended last year but next week there is going to be a public hearing on the contract the city is entering into with Karmer Levin to pay for legal representation of you during those matters. That contract is said to run through the middle of this year. Can you explain why this legal representation is ongoing into this year when the – Mayor: You would have to talk to Law Department, I’m not familiar with those details. Question: You’re not getting any counseling at this point? Mayor: Again I’m not familiar with the details and you would have to talk to the Law Department. Question: [inaudible] you getting representation. Mayor: I’m not familiar with the details of how the contracts are handled and I’m not going into my own legal situation, let’s let the Law Department speak to it. Question: Mayor de Blasio last week your office announced $200 million for the boilers and heating upgrades for 20 NYCHA buildings. Today City Council is going to a hearing – a hearing is undergoing rather to discuss the chronic failures within NYCHA right now. Can you speak to that and some of the feedback that we have received from NYCHA residents that it’s still five years – it’s a major investment they don’t discount that, but it’s a major investment and there have been so many broken promises by NYCHA, they have a see it when I believe it type of mentality. So if you could speak to both of the – Mayor: Yes, look, I respect that concern meaning if I were a public housing resident I would be pretty damn skeptical too. But I would also say we have got to be honest about the history for – you know you can track the beginning of federal disinvestment to the election of 1980 when Ronald Reagan came in. Up until then for decades the federal government had actually invested consistently in public housing. After Reagan’s election, that support, that commitment has started to wain and it has gotten worse and worse – got worse after 1994 when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House for example. So public housing, I want to remind people, public housing was created on the assumption of federal support. It was not created as a local program. It was created with federal funding and the assumption of consistency that the funding would grow with inflation over time, continue to grow. That stopped. The buildings were left, the people were left, the money started to dry up. The State of New York did not fill that gap, which is a real cautionary tale. I urge all of you when you wonder why I am such, if I can use the phrase advisedly, a hard ass about our surpluses and protecting our reserves it’s because we have got lots of object lessons. Did the State of New York say hey let’s fill that gap left but the federal disinvestment in public housing? No and it is never going to. So then you could say what did they City of New York do? Go look at what my predecessors did, particularly the previous 20 years before my administration – not anywhere near enough. Since we came in, we gave you the numbers at the preliminary budget hearing. We have either spent of committed to $2.1 billion capital money to fix the physical problems at NYCHA, $1.6 billion in expense funding – nothing even close to that ever happened in the past. And we will keep doing that so long as the money is there. So I would say to any public housing resident – your cynicism, your skepticism is well earned. But please do note the changes that have happened over the last four years and Queens Bridge Houses is a great example. The single largest public housing development in North America, the reduction in violence was breath taking. The amount of time they went without a shooting, without a murder was stunning compared to the past – great work by the NYPD and NYCHA. They got wifi access for the first time. They got their roofs fixed. There’s a lot that is changing. The heat issue, I just want to remind people, first of all we put the $200 million on the table, we asked the State to match it. With all due respect to the State of New York, I have not seen the $100 million from three years ago. That money has still not all arrived from the State budget. I have not seen the $200 million from last year’s State budget determined on April 1st last year. That’s supposed to be for heating and elevators. I haven’t seen that money. We’ve done everything we were supposed to do. So getting help from the State of New York is a kind of fuzzy concept. So we got only ourselves and we keep investing. But I’ll tell you on the heat, we’re going to get it done but it is not just drive on up with a new boiler that you got from, you know – you know you went online, you see 1-800-BOILER and they send you a boiler and you plug it in. No. Each boiler is custom made for the specifics of each development and then you have to in many cases go up through every floor and replace all the piping, pull out a bunch of stuff, put it in. It’s not simple. It’s not fast. When it’s done those buildings will have very reliable heat. Please. Question: What – last thing just to follow up. What do you expect to come out of the hearing today with the City Council regarding this issue? Mayor: I hope, you know, some light will be shed on the fact that there’s a huge level of investment and a lot of – a lot of improvement that’s been made and a lot of improvement that we have to make. We have to constantly do better and I think having a new General Manager is going to help. Vito Mustaciuolo is pretty legendary for what he’s achieved at HPD. I think he’s going to make a big difference. So our job is just to show the Council we’re going to keep doing more. Question: I’d like to ask you a question about the man who killed himself outside City Hall yesterday and it relates to the [inaudible] economy and the [inaudible] growth of for-hire vehicles in the city which this man said actually caused him to kill himself. He was in such despair, he was in such financial strains, deeply in debt because there are 100,000 competitors in the city on the streets and there’s also a congestion pricing proposal that would place a surcharge on that [inaudible]. A few years ago you moved to regulate the growth of this industry and you were stopped by a political movement. And I’m just wondering whether you have any inclination to regulate the number of cars for-hire on the streets of New York both to save these people’s livelihoods and to reduce the amount of traffic. Mayor: I appreciate that question because it gets to a lot of big issues we’re facing. Let’s talk about this poor man. My heart goes out to him and his family. Look, let’s face it, for someone to commit suicide means there’s an underlying mental health challenge. Economic distress is real but a lot of people have faced economic distress and don’t turn to suicide. Something else was going on there and to me it means that this man needed help and he didn’t get and I wish he had and we need to figure out constantly how to get help to people who need it. I want to remind people, the reason we keep promoting that phone number – 8-8-8-NYC-Well – anyone can get help for someone else. If you see someone talking about suicide or doing anything that seems like it might be on a pathway to self-harm, call that number for them. Get information on how to help them and try and get them help or get them to call that number. But the underlying question is very important. I did try to regulate that sector. There was a lot of opposition unquestionably. We’ve got to figure out a way forward and I think one of the things that came out of that whole debate is we’ve got to figure out a set of standards that applies to all elements of the for-hire vehicle industry equally and simultaneously. That’s probably the best pathway to reform. But we do have to think about what number of cars is right and have we reached a point where it’s too many? I think it’s a very valid question – obviously interacts with the congestion pricing question too. There’s another piece of this which I think you point to which is – it’s technological change which is often very dislocating for people in general and causes a lot of distress. We see this all over the world right now. A few years back we never would have anticipated the growth of Uber, for example, and the displacement of jobs that came with it. There’s a much bigger threat looming which is autonomous vehicles which has the potential of displacing literally millions of jobs in this country, and you don’t see policymakers getting ahead of it and coming up with solutions and this is what worries me about it. I think people are really distressed. I think you saw it in the 2016 election. They’re really distressed about the pace of technological change and the lack of answers. So we all need to do more work on that front and it’s certainly something I’m going to be focused on in the second term. Last one. Question: [Inaudible] go back to the NYCHA hearing. I guess it came out that some of the information that was given to the Council from NYCHA in preparing for this hearing that more than 320,000 NYCHA residents have been affected by heat or hot water outages this year, that’s out of around 400,000, so about 80 percent. I mean that indicate it’s more than the 20 boilers or 20 developments where you’re looking to make upgrades. I’m just curious how you tackle that and whether you would find that number acceptable from a private landlord. Mayor: Look, I understand the question but I would urge you to think a little more deeply about that question. Private sector, profit motive has an entirely different orientation and typically has a lot more resources to work with as opposed to the public sector that’s here to serve people in this case working people, low-income people in this city. We’re going to serve them come hell or high water. We’re going to serve them whether it’s easy or not, whether the federal government sends us money or not. We’re going to do the best we can with what we got. It’s a very different reality than what the private sector faces. It’s a very different reality than buildings that were built for upper middle class people for example or well-off people. So, I reject that notion that we should make that comparison. The issue that should be raised in my view is with the resources we have and the tools we have, how are we doing? I would say the folks who work at NYCHA have on a consistent basis – the everyday people who work there, the folks who work on heating, you know, give them some credit. They have kept these boilers going and in many cases long beyond their official useful lifespan. And the typical outage is resolved the same day so that 80 percent number deeply troubles me but I also want to be honest and clear, most people, thank God, did not experience a long outage and they were addressed. Our job is to consistently address the problem. If I had you know the extra $20 billion or so that would be needed right now to fix everything at NYCHA, I would put it right on the table. I don’t have it and it ain’t coming from anywhere else. So, we’re going to fix everything we can in turn – the 20 developments are the ones with the worst problems just like we focused on the 15 developments with the biggest safety problems and these gentlemen and their colleagues in this department did an amazing job reducing crime. We’re going at the 20 developments with the worst heating problems. We’re going to fix those problems and we’re going to keep going. But we cannot be compared to private sector housing, it’s just not real. Our job is to do better with what we got. Question: [Inaudible] people who live in public housing deserve to have the same standard of living as people who live in private housing? Mayor: People in public housing deserve the very best living standard we can give them with the money we have. If you say, do I want to see a society which everyone has as much equality in their housing, in their income as possible? Yes. That’s my worldview. But do I think we, in the public sector, can achieve everything that a private sector can achieve with much greater resources than the private sector? No, I don’t have that illusion. Our job is to constantly do better with what we have. Final one. Question: Just wanted to clarify that the federal disinvest on NYCHA – is that just on the capital side because I see still contribute 90 percent of its operational expenses. So, are you just referring to the – Mayor: We can get you – as we say in the budget process a technical briefing on the nuances of the funding formula and it’s not that you know whatever we need they just keep sending more. I mean there’s obviously a constrained formula and you can see that we’ve had to do a lot of cutbacks on the expense side. You remember that when we came in the NYCHA expense budget was near bankruptcy and the operating budget, you know, was near bankruptcy and we made a lot of cuts. There’s a lot of attrition in the workforce. The whole Next Generation NYCHA plan was part of that. And again I ask everyone if you’re covering NYCHA, please read the Next Generation NYCHA plan and see how much had to be done. So, I don’t want you to have the impression that the federal government’s just sitting there with a blank check just asking what number should we fill in. There are constraining formulas. But what didn’t happen, we know this for a fact, is long ago starting in 1980 when the issue should have been how do we keep upgrading, how do we keep making improvements so we stay ahead of these heating problems and other problems, how does the federal government which bluntly can print money continue to provide the support so public housing can really be decent for people? Long ago they decided not to provide that additional support, not to adjust for inflation, not to adjust for the age of the buildings. It’s like every other infrastructure matter. If a building is 50 years old or 60 years old, it needs more help and that never happened. Thank you.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 5:05pm
Commercial Lease Assistance Program Will Help Tenants with Lease Negotiation, Landlord Issues, Lease Renewal, and Eviction Notices NEW YORK— Today, the de Blasio administration announced the launch of a new program to help small business owners with issues related to a business lease. The Commercial Lease Assistance Program, offered by the NYC Department of Small Business Services, will allow small business owners to obtain free legal assistance on topics that include negotiating a lease, resolving landlord issues, responding to an eviction notice, breach of contract disputes, and lease renewal. Non-franchise businesses that meet income requirements are eligible for this service. “Small businesses are the economic heart and soul of this city and they deserve every opportunity to succeed,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The Commercial Lease Assistance Program will give small business owners the help they need to resolve legal issues without driving them out of business.” “Small businesses are the lifeline of our neighborhoods and a significant part of what makes our city so special – and in the era of big business, it has never been more important to this Council help ensure that small business owners can thrive,” said New York Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Free legal assistance regarding lease or landlord issues can go a long way for small business owners, saving money and passing on savings to local residents. With Council Member Mark Gjonaj as Chair of the Small Business Committee, he will be a strong voice who will continue advocating for small businesses owners in New York City.” This new program offers pre-litigation services to help small business owners resolve problems before they end up in court. This can include sending legal correspondence to a landlord, addressing issues related to tenant harassment, and resolving challenges when a building changes ownership. The program will not represent clients in matters that end up in court. The Commercial Lease Assistance Program will receive $2.4 million in funding over two years and will provide an average of 40 hours of legal services per client and a dedicated attorney to work with each business owner. This program will help small business owners achieve successful outcomes while avoiding thousands of dollars in attorney fees. These services are being offered in partnership with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Volunteers of Legal Services, and the Urban Justice Center. “Small businesses don’t have legal teams like the big guys do, but we are making it clear that the City stands in their corner,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Even basic legal help can be costly and out of reach for small business owners, but this free service will go a long way towards helping small business owners solve problems related to their lease.” “New York City’s small businesses provide vital services and often serve as economic engines to their communities,” said NYC Councilmember Mark Gjonaj, Small Business Committee Chair. “This program will go a long way towards helping struggling small business owners manage the complicated and often expensive burden of dealing with commercial lease issues.” Small business owners in need who cannot otherwise afford an attorney are eligible for this program. Examples of businesses that may be eligible: * Are immigrant-, minority-, women-, or veteran-owned, * Employ local low-income residents, * Are located in a rezoned or high-poverty areas; Or * Offer job training opportunities Services are now available. Businesses should visit or call 311 to determine their eligibility and learn more. Services are available in ten languages, including: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Korean, Arabic, Urdu, French, and Polish. Businesses can also access SBS’ Comprehensive Guide to Commercial Leasing . “Small businesses across this city are feeling the squeeze of rising costs. Too often, landlords take advantage of the strain our mom-and-pops are under in order to push them out of their commercial space in search of tenants who would pay more,” said NYC Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy. “In 2016, the Council passed and the Mayor signed my bill, Intro. 851, which created a cause of action for commercial tenants being harassed in this way. It is great to see the City backing this important legislation aimed at helping small business owners stay put by offering the kind of legal assistance many need but cannot afford.” “Small businesses are big contributors to our city, which is why it’s crucial that we provide support services to help them compete and thrive,” said Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President. “Legal assistance, especially lease assistance, will be a big help for storefronters and small business owners.” “Small businesses are the economic engines of Brooklyn’s commercial corridors. I commend SBS Commissioner Bishop for providing our local entrepreneurs with much-needed free legal services,” said Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President. “For many small businesses, particularly in underserved communities, basic legal matters can be a hurdle too high to overcome, as establishments do not have adequate financial resources to hire representation in a court of law. This program helps ensure there is a more equal playing field for all small businesses working to address lease issues.” “Any time we are helping our immigrant, minority, women or veteran-owned businesses is a win for Brooklyn and its economic development,” said Andrew Hoan, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “Kudos to Commissioner Gregg Bishop for recognizing the need for small business owners to obtain free legal assistance that they would otherwise not be able to afford.” “As President and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, I am excited to hear that SBS will be providing free legal services to small businesses in The Bronx and throughout the five boroughs of New York City,” said Nunzio Del Greco, President and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “The free legal services for small businesses are essential in leveling the playing field with issues involving landlords, contracts and a myriad of other legal issues that arise”. "This program will be a game changer for entrepreneurs who often lack access to affordable legal help," said Jessica Walker, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. "We applaud the Administration for taking this bold step which will help many businesses survive and thrive in New York." “It is important for business owners to understand every aspect of their leases,” said Linda Baran, President of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “Providing access to legal advisement will help business owners make better decisions when negotiating their leases, and avoid running into costly pitfalls. I commend Commissioner Bishop and the NYC Department of Small Business Services for bringing this new free program to our city’s small “mom & pop” businesses.” “This program is a real shot in the arm for NYC small businesses; especially in Queens County,” said Thomas J. Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Mom and Pops and other small to medium size businesses now have a another resource to be able to compete and flourish. We commend SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop and his team for advancing this o the agenda” “The Commercial Lease Assistance Program is the inaugural initiative of our new Small Business Support Project which brings our 45+ years of experience and commitment to representing non-profit community based organizations in transactional matters to the small business community of New York City,” said Jessica Rose, Director of the Community Economic Development Program for Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. “We are excited to partner with SBS and our collaborating legal service providers and community based organizations in this ambitious and impactful program. Together, we hope to usher in a new day where the playing field for small businesses in commercial lease related matters is more level.” About NYC Small Business Services (SBS) SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to , call 311, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .