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Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:20pm
Errol Louis: We are back on the Road to City Hall. Turning now to our top story – Mayor de Blasio is set to lose control of City schools at this week unless State lawmakers can reach a deal. Here now to talk more about where those negotiations stand is Mayor de Blasio in for this week's Mondays with the Mayor interview. Welcome, always good to see you. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Louis: What is the latest on mayoral control of the schools? Mayor: Well, you're right. We're four days out now. And it's time for everyone in Albany to come back and get to work and finish this. I had a conversation with Governor Cuomo a few hours ago. He remains optimistic that this can be resolved in time. And I appreciate that. But you know, we need to see action from all the leaders. We need them to get back to Albany, get this done. The solution is staring them in the face. We just need to get it done. Louis: When Governor Cuomo says publicly that it's a legitimate debate, what's your understanding of where and how he wants to guide this? Mayor: I don't want to speak for him. I think the fact is the discussion should be about governance – what's going to help our schools be the best they can be? And I think the jury has come back a long time ago. Mayoral control of education is the only way to create real accountability. And we see the results – higher graduation rate, higher test scores, lower crime in schools. We have plenty of evidence. You know here's the important point, Errol – I've talked to all of the leaders in Albany, and a lot of the members of the Senate and the Assembly – I don't get anyone saying I've got a better idea than mayoral control, I've got a system that would work better. No one says that. What I think is now starting to dawn on people though is if you lose mayoral control for the biggest school system in the country – plunging it into chaos, literally starting as early as Saturday when we'd have to reconstitute the old central Board of Education – you then start the countdown clock for 32 local school board elections. Now, you and I remember school board elections – famously very low turnout, a whole lot of cronyism, sadly a lot of corruption on those boards. But here's the wrinkle – school board election in Los Angeles for two seats on the central board – $14 million was spent on an election for two seats on the central Board of Education of Los Angeles Louis: Wow. Mayor: Hedge funds getting in that, big teacher union contributions. Whatever you think, I think one thing we can all agree on – we don't want big money in politics, and that's precisely what's about to happen if we go back to 32 local school board elections. Louis: So based on your discussions so far, including with the Governor, how confident are you that this will get resolved? Mayor: I'm confident the answer is right there, meaning that there is a fair way to do this and to move forward. I am not yet going to say I'm confident that everyone in Albany is ready to act. I want to see them come back to the capitol. That would be something that would give me a little more sense of momentum and confidence to see everyone return to Albany. So that's my central focus right now. Louis: One of the things that happened with your predecessor is when at one point he had to reconstitute the board because his control ran out, the borough presidents essentially gave him their proxies and let him sort of name what would have been the borough presidents' picks for the Board of Education as it came back to life after which they finally resolved it. Have you had those kinds of discussions with the borough presidents? Mayor: I've spoken with several of the borough presidents. I'll be speaking to all of them in the next 24 hours or so. Look, I think there's an understanding – certainly amongst those I've spoken to already – this is very serious business – 1.1 million kids, a huge operation, $25 billion budget. The last thing we need is to have the progress we've made undermined. And you know, we're ending a school year, and then before you know it, we're starting a new one about 10 weeks later. And so, I think there's an understanding this is real serious stuff. And keeping continuity with the Chancellor and the policies in place is important. So I won't speak for any of the borough presidents. But I want to say with real appreciation to all of them, that I they understand this is not business as usual, and they're ready to be part of the solution. Louis: And finally on this topic, is it your belief that this is essentially a partisan divide – the way this is all broken down in Albany? Mayor: I don't know if it's quite as simple as that. It's an element of the equation unquestionably. But on the other hand, the same State Senate Republicans – a lot of the same individuals happily voted for a seven-year term for mayoral control for Michael Bloomberg and then six more years when they re-upped it. There is a partisan element to this discussion, but I think what's worse in some ways is that it has become part of the back-and-forth and the horse-trading when it really should stand alone. And I think what's been interesting is to see a lot of not only the editorial boards but a lot of the business leadership, including people who are overtly pro-charter school and want to see the continued growth of charters. Most notably, folks from the New York City Partnership have said they want to see that, but that has nothing to do with mayoral control of education. And they want a clean renewal of mayoral control of education because it's prerequisite to everything else working. So I think there's a lot of factors at play. I think this is one where everyone in Albany should say: hey, you know what, let's treat this above the fray because it just – it's not like other issues, it has massive ramifications. Louis: Let me switch topics. Lynne Patton was officially appointed today as the HUD Administrator, the job you used to have. Now, she said to the New York Times – she mentioned you – and she said he, meaning the Mayor, of all people should know that this is not a housing-heavy role. It's more about what contacts and what connections and what ability do you have to work across bipartisan silos to bring the vision of Region II to fruition. What do you make of that? Mayor: Look, I don't know her, and I do intend to try and work with her. I think it is a very substantive role. And certainly in my experience with it – you know, I came into the role having been in government before and having some knowledge of housing issues. I had to learn a lot more on the job unquestionably. She's not wrong that an important part of the job is working with leaders on both sides of the aisle locally to try and get things done. That's accurate. But I would urge her to recognize the substantive demands are pretty intense. But my message to her is we want to work with you. In fact, I'd like to show her how much we depend on HUD. There's about 600,000 New Yorkers whose lives are very much determined by HUD policies and HUD programs. And I'd like her to see that and understand the magnitude of it. And my hope is that she will then realize how helpful she could be in that role. Louis: Have you met her? Have you talked to her? Mayor: No, I have not. I look forward to it. Louis: What do you make of her – I mean we've sort of chronicled how when the Chair of the New York City Housing Authority asked for her and for her boss, actually, frankly, Ben Carson, the Secretary of HUD, to tour public housing to sort of get a feel for it, maybe meet some tenants and so forth, they didn't respond. And I don't know if that's a calculated snub or they thought it was irrelevant. What's your sense of what needs to happen? Mayor: I don't think we know yet, and that's part of the challenge. I spoke to Dr. Carson after he was first confirmed as Secretary. I welcomed him to come see our Housing Authority developments and the other affordable housing programs we have. I still hope that will come to pass. You know, look, when you're dealing with the day-to-day issues that affect so many New Yorkers – we really have no choice but to hope we can find some productive common ground with the appointees. That's a very different matter than what we do in Congress. In Congress, we're going to go and fight for the policies we need, the legislation we need, the budgets we need, working with mayors all around the country, obviously working with our Congressional delegation. But the appointees are the appointees. There's no getting around that. We've got to try and find common ground and get things done with them if we can. Louis: Before we go into the break, you were in Miami for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. I've met some of their professional staff, I've met some of the other mayors, and have been frankly impressed at the level of sort of substantive detail with which they are trying to attack urban problems that New York has in some cases, already mastered, in other cases, we're grappling with or we can sort of see them coming around the corner. What was the focus of the Miami meeting? Mayor: Errol, I'll tell you something. There were several hundred mayors there from around the country – a tremendous focus on the sequence of challenges we're about to experience in Washington. Real focus on stopping this health care bill, stopping this vote in the Senate – including from a number of Republican mayors, who said openly this is going to be very bad for my city and the people I represent, who are picking up the phone and are calling – Republican to Republican calling some of those swing U.S. Senators. And Democratic mayors who have tremendous ability to organize you know the members of their communities – the civic leaders, the business leaders, the faith leaders – to go right at those same swing senators. So a real focus on that, but right after that, whatever happens with the health care bill, we have the budget vote happening in September – billions and billions of dollars of the impact on the line for our cities. Same kind of thing, we think there's real strong coalitions to be built. We think a lot of Republican mayors are going to be front and center in that. Right after that is potentially tax reform – things like ending deductibility of state and local taxes and property taxes, which would have a horrible impact on cities. So there was an incredibly purposeful atmosphere and very substantive people. I've been so impressed by my fellow mayors. There substantive people overwhelmingly who are saying – okay, point by point by point, we need a battle plan to go at this, we need to stop these things from happening to our cities. And I found it very encouraging. Louis: Okay, we've got more to talk about. Please stand by. We'll be right back with more from Mayor de Blasio in just a minute. Later on tonight, I'll talk about the fight over mayoral control with four top strategists in our Consultants Corner. Stay with us. […] Louis: We are back on The Road to City Hall, and I'm joined once again by Mayor Bill de Blasio. I have a quick health care question for you. Aside from the fact that your politics lead you in the direction of wanting to help the poor and take care of the poor, to the extent that the proposed bill that's working its way through the Senate would do some cost shifting, would push people off of federal Medicaid and shift it to the states, meaning it would become more of a local responsibility. How would that impact New York? Mayor: Alright a couple things, first although I appreciate your characterization, I want to emphasize I think the Republican bill is going to hurt people across – not just the poor, working people, middle-class people. I think it's going to destabilize the healthcare system and a lot of the guarantees that people need. And it's ultimately about a very, very big tax cut for the wealthy and for major health insurance companies. So, we got to understand a lot of this – a lot of this energy is to get that tax cut down for what they want to do overall in terms of the economy. But to your question, there's well over a million, maybe as many as 1.6 million New Yorkers who could lose their insurance if the guarantees under Obamacare are no longer available. That obviously has huge ramifications for our public health system too which will inevitably lose a lot of funding in the bargain. So you're talking about 1.6 million people out of 8.5. It's a huge chunk of the city, and then you're talking about all the other questions about what will be guaranteed in health care going forward. We've gotten under Obamacare rightfully an understanding that health insurance needs to cover a clear basic set of necessary health care options. That's going to go away. You've got, I think in the end, the beginning of the end of any sense of guaranteeing health care as a right to people. And so, what I'm finding which is interesting is not only as I said have a lot of my Republican colleagues who are mayors started to rebel against think because I think it'll undermined our hospitals, including their private hospitals. I just think it will destabilize their healthcare systems and then ultimately their economies. But now this interesting reality amongst some of the Republicans swing Senators in the U.S. Senate, some concern from the right, others concerned because their seeing a growing impact on their states. The opioid crisis is one of the prime examples, a lot of states – remember the – if you don't have Medicaid available widely that means you cannot get drug treatment to a lot of people who need it. In places like West Virginia, which is so famously tragically going through the core of this, and I spoke to the mayor of Huntington, West Virginia over the – on Saturday about the opioid crisis in his city, Steve Williams, and it's astounding what they're going through and all over that state. But one of the only things that's going to help them is if people can get on Medicaid and get regular treatment. You take that away from a place that's already so burdened, it only gets a lot worse. So I think we have to see this as sort of unraveling a lot of the pieces of what we're doing right now to provide any kind of coherent healthcare to people including on mental health, including on substance abuse. Louis: Let me switch topics now. You went to Rikers Island today. Wednesday is Commissioner Ponte's last day. You've said you would have a replacement by now. Where does the search for a new commissioner stand? Mayor: As you know there's an acting commissioner in place who's one of Commissioner Ponte's deputies. There have been a number of candidates looked at. Interviews have been held initially – not with me yet. You know, I think we're still several weeks away from finding the right person, but we have got a strong acting commissioner in place. Commissioner Ponte will leave this week, but the work will continue unabated. Louis: The acting commissioner, Cynthia Brann, wasn't she one of the people who was cited in the report as using her government car to go on shopping trips and all of that sort of thing? Mayor: Look, I think we have to be very clear. Yes. The answer is yes, but I also want to be very clear. I've said it about Commissioner Ponte, and I believe it about her as well. The rules were not clear in that agency. They should've been. We won't tolerate that going forward. Every agency is being directed to have clear, uniform rules, citywide standard. There are times for a very select few people, with the proper approvals, where they can take their cars home, if for example they have certain emergency responsibilities, but not some of the things we saw in the Department of Correction. It shouldn't have happened, but I don't believe there was any mal-intent. I believe it was a history that was never addressed properly in this administration or the previous. So we're going to fix that problem, but right now in terms of someone who's ready to continue the leadership, which has helped to reduce violence, has helped to bring about needed reforms at Rikers and the correction system, she's someone who can continue that, doing that over the next few weeks while we find a new commissioner. Louis: The president of COBA, of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, apparently was on Rikers Island, but didn't – and was invited by the administration – but chose not to. Do you have a relationship with Mr. Husamudeen? Mayor: Yes. Sure, Elias is someone I've known for many years, and we talk with some consistency, and I respect his opinion. We sometimes, obviously, disagree on issues like punitive segregation. I understand his view. My view is that we have to end solitary confinement, and it actually is counterproductive to all we're trying to do to rehabilitate people. But he's raised important concerns, and it was certainly good to talk to some of the rank-and-file today, and I spent some real time there listening to both what some of them thought was working but also some of the challenges that have to be addressed. So, yes, he was welcome at the event. It doesn't surprise me if a union leader thinks they wants to steer clear of something like that, but there is definitely a dialogue with him. Louis: Is there a scenario in which the ultimate closure of Rikers – the downsizing, the redistribution of many of the people who are there, the changes in speedy trial and so forth – could happen in less than the 10 years you've projected? Mayor: Errol, I do not see it, and I will always say we'd love to be surprised pleasantly that changes are happening quicker, but you know part of why I went to Rikers today was to speak to the officers and knowing that the word would spread to all the rank and file that we really believe it will be a 10-year process, and that the folks who are now a part of our workforce are going to be here for the long haul. We've actually had to add a lot of correction officers just to get up to our full-strength complement we should have. That's still going on now. By the end of the year we'll finally be there, so that we can achieve greater safety in Rikers; we can make the reforms which do require having enough officers. But when you think about – you have keep driving down the crime rate; you have to institute things like bail reform; we need a lot of cooperation from the DAs; we need a lot of cooperation from the state in terms of the court system. All of those things have to happen, and we need sites for additional local jails, and they have to be built. All of that will take real time, so if I saw an opening to do something faster, of course I would take it, but I think it's good to level with people and say by every estimate we think it's 10 years. Louis: And then finally, the New York Wheel – the gigantic, you're not supposed to call it a Ferris wheel, but it's a gigantic thing that's supposed to be built on Staten Island. There are litigation issues. There seem to be some engineering issues. Is it worth it? How important is it? What's the City going to do about this? Mayor: The litigation is between private sector parties to the deal and obviously we're concerned about that because the delays are not helpful to anyone. And you know there's been a lot anticipation on Staten Island in terms of the business it would bring, the jobs it would create. So these delays are not helpful. We're going to be very, very careful on the engineering piece. Our Department of Buildings has done many thousands of inspections of different pieces of the equipment. There's still some more work to do to really ensure the safety but there's a lot of attention being given to that. But look I'd rather see this all resolved and moving forward but on the safety level we won't allow it to move forward unless we're 100 percent convinced it's ready to go. Louis: Okay. We're going to leave it there for now. Mayor: Thank you. Louis: Thank you so much for coming by. We'll see you again next week. Mayor: Alright.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:20pm
First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good evening, everyone. Shalom. Welcome to Gracie Mansion. This is the people's house. This is your house and you are always welcome here. Now, some of you know that I spent many years working at Maimonides Medical Center, and, I have to tell you, what an incredible time I had – what an experience. Among the many expressions I learned while I was working there was tikkun olam – that's my favorite – making the world a better place for all those who suffer from mental illness, and for their families, is my mission – for the people who are here now and for future generations. And I went back to Maimonides Medical Center just a couple of weeks ago to thank all of the incredible volunteers for their years of service. And I asked them to join our movement to make change in this area. And, tonight, I want to ask all of you the same question I asked them – will you help us to shatter the stigma around mental health? Will you help us? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: Alright, that's good. Could be a little louder, but I'll try again. One in five New Yorkers suffers from a mental illness, which means we are all affected directly or indirectly. And we don't talk about it, but it's all treatable and we can all be healers by having an honest and open conversation about mental health, sharing our stories, and learning together. We can actually tear down the misconceptions that keep our communities suffering in silence and that keep people from getting the help that they need. So, here's what you can do to be a healer. One – take a mental health first aide class, it's amazing. I've done it. I'm going to do it again. We all know what to do when somebody's bleeding, but we don't know what to do if someone's having a panic attack. You learn this in mental health first aide, and it's free. You can also sign up to host a class in your synagogue or community center. And, Jonathan Soto – where are you, Jonathan – can help you get the information about how to sign up. Alright, there's someone right here who wants to sign up. Just ask any of our staff who are here. The other thing I want – I want to give you a gift. It's a phone number. You can spread this phone number. Tell everybody you know that they can call and get connected to a mental health professional, a trained counselor for free. It's 1-888-NYC-WELL. Can you please repeat that number after me? Audience: 1-888-NYC-WELL – First Lady McCray: One more time – 1-888-NYC-WELL Audience: 1-888-NYC-WELL – First Lady McCray: Alright. It's free, and since we launched ThriveNYC, which is our mental health plan, so many Jewish organizations, so many individuals have stepped up to promote wellness, and I really thank you all for it. And I hope I can count on all of you, going forward. So, tonight, I'm honored – I'm pleased that we're honoring someone who takes the concept of tikkun olam very seriously. His name is Rabbi Joe Potasnik, and I know – [Applause] And I know that Bill, our Mayor, will sing his praises in just a bit, but I can't pass up this opportunity to thank him for all that he does, personally, because he is just so amazing. And I especially want to thank him for his leadership and bringing clergy of all faiths together around mental health. And now, I get to introduce a man who works hard every day to improve the well-being of all of New York City's communities – and that is, our mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Welcome, everybody. Good evening. First of all, I have to say when I think of my wife, our First Lady, she gives me nachas. [Laughter] She's doing so much good. And I want everyone to know, when she's telling you that phone number, she's asking you to spread it all over the community so people who need help can get help. And nowhere in all of her travels around New York City has she seen more receptivity than with organizations that do good work, and do charity, and help people in the Jewish community. They've been prime partners in ThriveNYC and I think we have to give a lot of credit to our First Lady for believing that we can reach everyone with a mental health challenge in every part of this city, and give them the help they need. Let's thank her for all she does. [Applause] Now, tonight is a night to celebrate this amazing community. Tonight is a night to take stock of all the good, but there's also serious things going on that I need to comment on for just a quick moment, because it's a moment not here in this city, but up in Albany, that's going to determine a lot of the future of New York City, and it will be for the 1.1 million children in our public schools. But, as we know, our Department of Education reaches all kinds of schools in many different ways. I'm very proud to say, when we started our pre-K initiative, we did it with every kind of school. Yeshivas have been a key part of our pre-K initiative and part of what's made it great – and Catholic schools, and charter schools, and community organizations. We have built an approach that includes everyone – that's part of why it works for New York City. That pre-K initiative and everything else that we do – its future will be determined by a vote in Albany this week on whether to continue mayoral control of education. And the stakes for our children couldn't be higher. So, I just wanted to say in this moment, we need everybody's voice to tell our representatives in Albany that it's time to get this done to protect mayoral control so we can keep educating all of our children. And I want to say one thing in particular – there are a lot of people who I've seen already this evening who have been leaders in this community and in all of this city in the effort to make sure our special education children get the help they need. And everyone in this room knows, for too many years kids with special needs not only had a burden to begin with, their families had a burden to begin with, but then they got a second burden by the Department of Education because it was too hard for parents to get the help they needed. It became a conflict when parents needed a helping hand. And because of mayoral control of education, in the last few years we have changed that reality substantially because the message now at the Department of Education is – help families with special needs to get the help they need for their children. [Applause] We don't want to add a burden to families that are struggling. We want to lighten the load. That's something that we've been able to do because we have the ability, we have the accountability, and we need to continue that. So, please help me by letting your legislators know how important it is to continue this. Now, this is a very special night because we celebrate a strong, a proud, and growing community, and a community that's had such a positive impact on New York City. A lot of people wanted to be here tonight, a lot of notable people standing behind me to celebrate with us. I'm going to say their names – I'm going to ask you to applaud them all. And I want to start – I mentioned our pre-K efforts in Yeshivas that have been such a success. The man who helped to create that plan with the Yeshivas, our Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, let's thank him. [Applause] Our wonderful commissioner for the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment who did so much to get the Grammy's back to New York City – Julie Menin, let's thank her. [Applause] And we have a number of commissioners – I'll name them all. The Commissioner for the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Cecile Noel, thank you for your good work. Our OATH Commissioner Fidel del Valle, thank you. Chief of Staff to the First Lady Roxanne John, thank you. The Executive Director for the Mayor's Office for Special Events that do these wonderful events, Carla Matero, thank you. My senior advisor for minority and women-owned businesses who's done so much good for this city – Jonnel Doris, we thank you. And a senior liaison at our Community Affairs Unit – many of you know him and many of you have turned to him, he does such great work – Pinny Ringel. Let's thank Pinny. [Cheers] And then, we have elected officials here who are doing so much for the community. Let's thank Assemblymember David Weprin; Assemblymember Dov Hikind; Councilmember Andy Cohen; Councilmember David Greenfield. [Applause] Wait, I read out of turn – I missed Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz, from Riverdale. Let's thank him. [Applause] Also, former Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, we thank you for all of your good work. [Applause] And there are so many outstanding community leaders here, but two that are dear friends. I want to particularly thank Michael Miller of the JCRC. [Cheers] And Ronnie Tawil, of the Sephardic Community Federation – [Applause] Now, I want to remind people at the outset of something that I like to remind my colleagues. You know, I have the pleasure of meeting mayors from Israel when they come to visit, or when I've been in Israel. And for the salute to Israel parade, Mayor Barkat of Jerusalem was here, and he and I went to lunch after the parade. And I reminded him of the fact that my Jewish community is larger than his Jewish community in Jerusalem. [Laughter] And my community is growing and I'm proud of that fact. 1.2 million Jewish New Yorkers – this is the center of the Jewish universe in so many ways. [Applause] But I encouraged Mayor Barkat to keep going, even though our community's bigger. [Laughter] I get a special opportunity as Mayor of New York City. I get a window into so many wonderful communities, and when it comes to the Jewish community, I get a window into all the amazing aspects of the community, all of the extraordinary neighborhoods, every corner of Jewish New York. And, I have to tell you, this is a place that is so great because we respect each other, we honor each other. We honor every faith here in this city – this is part of our magic. [Applause] And this is something we have to teach the world. As New Yorkers, we have a lesson to teach the world because we do not think it's inconvenient that there are people of different faiths all in the same city, we think it's part of what makes us great. We think we have an obligation to protect everyone as they worship, as they go about their lives, as they live out their beliefs. We are proud to provide support and protection [inaudible]. And you know everyone here knows this is not the norm in this world. But what it means is, any time a community is affronted, any time a community is attacked, any time the Jewish community is attacked anywhere in the world, we make sure to have a strong NYPD presence in front of Jewish community institutions. [Applause] And the message is abundantly clear – we cherish the community, we will protect the community, we cannot be great without every one of our communities. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if that's what every government thought was its responsibility. But, too often, that isn't the case. So, we have an obligation as New Yorkers to show a particular example to our country, to our world. We know there's been a rise in anti-Semitism in this country and we will not tolerate it here in New York City. We will show it does not belong in New York City. [Applause] But there's something else I have to say – I believe fundamentally that there's a lot of history that teaches us why Israel is so important in this world. There's a lot of history that teaches us why the Jewish people have needed a homeland, and, finally having a homeland, deserve to know that that homeland will be protected for the long haul. [Applause] And this is why I want to take another occasion – I've said this before, I want to say it again – this is why I opposed the BDS movement so strongly. [Cheers] And I say this as a proud progressive and I say this as a proud Democrat. [Applause] There's no logic – there's nothing right and just about a movement that seeks to undermine the economy of a place that has been a refuge for the oppressed, it's as simple as that. Israel was created to answer a history of oppression, going back thousands of years. The BDS movement – and this is what bothers me even more – the BDS movement is actually trying to undermine one of the things that could lead to peace, which is economic opportunity for all in Israel and in the region. That's part of the way forward – we cannot let BDS take away one of the things that could actually lead to peace for everyone. [Applause] So, we will continue that fight while we also continue to uphold the community here and all around the world. Now, I want to say something about – we have two special guests this evening, and one of them has a very special role. You know, I think we could say there's very few places in the world that are closer than New York City and the state of Israel. Can we agree on that statement? [Applause] There's a special bond, and that bond get exemplified by the Consul General of Israel, who represents Israel in this city and keeps that closeness. Now, a year ago we said farewell to someone I considered a tremendous representative in Israel, and someone who did so much good for this city, Ido Aharoni. We honor Ido for all he did for this city and for Israel. And now, we have a new consul general, and I'd like to welcome him to come forward and greet us all. Please welcome Consul General Dani Dayan. […] Alright, now it's time for the opportunity to honor a great man, and I want to talk about Rabbi Potasnik, but first I want to say we've been joined by a great leader from Brooklyn, Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, let's thank him. I also want to say we've been joined by two of my Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Rachel Lauter and Avi Fink. We welcome you. [Applause] Rabbi Joe Potasnik – this man is extraordinary, my friends. I think you have to come up here. Rabbi, come up here so I can say nice things in front of you. [Applause] First of all, this man is so warm – he has such humor, he has such feeling for everybody in the Jewish community and all communities, and that makes him very special in this city. Whenever there's a moment where people are seeking wisdom, where there's a challenge in our city and it's about bringing all of the faiths together, inevitably you hear the name Joe Potasnik. [Applause] For 42 years, the Rabbi of congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, an FDNY chaplain – and that wasn't enough, so he's a radio host as well – Religion on the Line on WABC, which is a wonderful show. He is someone that it's almost impossible to think about New York City being as great as it is without Joe Potasnik being there to help make us great. And I know he is a source of great pride to the Jewish community, but he's also claimed by all other communities. So, we have a proclamation for him. Now, Rabbi, step forward. I need you to hold this for a second. First, I'm going to tell people – there's a proclamation here, it says wonderful things about Joe Potasnik. I'm not going to read them all, but here's the best part – because he has done so much for the City, it's time for him to be honored in a very special way. And so, as Mayor of New York City, I do hereby proclaim Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 in the City of New York as Rabbi Joseph Potasnik day. [Cheers]
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 5:10pm
Wayne Cabot: The Mayor of New York is joining us live. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning. How are you doing? Cabot: Fine here. I know there’s a caravan of sorts to Albany right now. They’re there to talk about giving you back control of the city schools. You haven’t actually lost it just yet. We want to talk about that in a second, but first on everybody’s minds is what’s happening with the New York City subways. How frustrated are you with all the constant drumbeat of delays and cancellations and now a derailment? Mayor: We’re all frustrated, but I tell you the important thing is to get to work on solutions, and I think the governor made a good move naming Joe Lhota the head of the MTA. He’s a very accomplished guy, and someone that we in the city work with very well. And now we got to get to work – all of us – on a plan to address this immediate crisis. So, there’s real resources at the MTA. There’s a lot of capacity at the MTA. We have to figure out how we can all do better. Paul Murnane: What was happened, speaking of the crisis? What is it? It all of a sudden seems to be that the transit system has just fallen apart maybe in the last couple of months or the last year. It used to be fine. Now all of a sudden it isn’t. What’s wrong? Mayor: No, I’m going to challenge you on that statement with deepest respect. It never used to be fine. It’s gotten worse because all aging infrastructure in this city and cities around the country are struggling. Remember, there used to be a lot of federal investment in mass transit for decades and decades. That started to decline in the 1980s, and it has constantly decreased. That’s one of the underlying problems. So the maintenance that should’ve been done, you know, 10, 20 years ago never happened. I do think we’re seeing an uptick now, but I don’t think it’s mysterious after the decline we’ve seen over so many decades. Cabot: Those same state lawmakers that you hope will give you continued control of the New York City schools, what would you whisper in their ear about the MTA? What’s your wish list? Mayor: Look, my hope is that we all focus on it. I’m certainly going to be focused on it. We’ve got to figure out a plan to address the situation. And again, it’s not new, but it is worse. There’s no question. We need to figure out with the substantial resources the MTA has right now how to focus on New York City subways. And here’s something I keep saying – the subway is 5 to 6 million riders a day – the number one thing the MTA does. There’s always important things they do in the suburbs, but nothing as important as the New York City subway system, and lots of lots of people who come in from the suburbs to work every day use our subway, too. So let’s get focused on job one with the resources we have to figure out what can be done in the short term. I’ve been talking to all the other key players about this. I’ll certainly be talking to the governor about how we can move this forward. Again, not a new problem, but a problem that’s getting worse. Murnane: On the issue of city control over the city schools, special session today, but it would seem that the problems that prevented its passage during the regular season of the legislature remain in place. Is that your understanding? Those problems are still there? Mayor: Well, the bottom line here is as many people have said from the business community, the labor community, civic community, faith leader, mayoral control is just something where there is a broad consensus. It’s the only system that works to run our schools. You guys remember the old system with 32 local school boards with no accountability. Unfortunately a time characterized by chaos and corruption. No one I know – not even the senate Republicans – disagree with the concept of mayoral control. So I think the governor’s done the right thing to say ‘come back, let’s get this done.’ Then we can work on the bigger issues. If there’s concerns for example about charter schools, let’s work together on that. I remind everyone that we included charter school in our pre-K program, which was my number one initiative in this administration. We included them in our after school program, our new 3K vision for three-year-olds – charter schools are going to be a part of. We can certainly work together. We can certainly find common ground, but mayoral control of education is something that should be above the fray because it’s about how we have accountability with the education of 1.1 million kids. And one other point, Mayor Bloomberg achieved it, and I give him a lot of credit. Since he achieved mayoral control of education, our graduation rate has gone up almost 50 percent in just 15 years – 50 percent. That should be enough for everyone to agree this is the right way to run our schools. Cabot: Mayor Bill de Blasio, we thank you for your time this morning. Before you run, I just got to – I don’t want to hammer you too hard on this, but I don’t sense a real sense of exasperation on your part about what’s happening underground. You hear it from the riders, but I’m not hearing it from you. Mayor: No, I disagree with that. I’m – like every New Yorker – I’m very, very aware of it, and I’m feeling it. But the point I’m trying to say is besides being frustrated, you’ve got to figure out a solution. So I understand everyone is frustrated. I’ve seen it. I’ve been on plenty of delayed trains in my day, so that’s why I’m saying it. I don’t think it’s a brand new phenomenon. I just think it’s gotten worse, but here’s the bottom line. Rather than being upset, let’s figure out a solution. The resources, I believe, are there if the focus was right on the subways first. Subways are the number one priority of the MTA. That’s what we have to achieve. Murnane: Well the outrage is going to give a little energy behind all of this, right? Well, you can kind of rope that and use that to pull things along. Cabot: That’s for sure. Mayor: Well, the voices of the people are certainly being heard. I can tell you that much. Cabot: Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks for your time, Mr. Mayor.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 7:40am
36,336 students saved $65 as a result of application fee elimination – a total of more than $2 million across New York City families NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, and CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken today announced that 36,336 students took advantage of the CUNY fee elimination when applying to college for the 2017-18 school year. In previous years, only 6,500 students received fee waivers annually. The expansion is only possible because of mayoral control of New York City schools, and the total savings for families across New York City amounts to $2,368,470. The fee elimination was announced in September 2016 as part of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s College Access for All initiative, removing a barrier to college for low-income students. College Access for All is one of the initiatives in the Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which builds on record-high graduation and college enrollment rates as a result of mayoral control of New York City schools, and aims to ensure that by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college-ready. “We believe nothing should stand in the way of a path to college and a meaningful career. That’s why we eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students to help remove a barrier standing in the way for many families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we work towards equity and excellence for all students, we’ll continue to remove barriers and add resources to ensure our students have every opportunity afforded to them.” “As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how important it is to remove barriers. Eliminating the CUNY fee for low-income students has made the path to college a little smoother for 36,000 more families, and it goes hand-in-hand with our College Access for All work to level the playing field, like taking students on college trips in middle school, providing more support in high school, and offering the SAT for free during the school day,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We knew when we announced this policy last fall that it would make a world of difference for the City’s many talented young people who are discouraged from applying to college each year due to the financial burden of application fees. The jump from just over 6,000 students applying to CUNY for free in years past to more than 36,000 in the first year of the expansion alone demonstrates a critical need being met. This is a great example of the impact we can make with smart policies that will help children all across this City reach their full potential in their education and in their lives,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery. Mayor de Blasio is making the announcement at the graduation ceremony of The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, where he also met with seniors earlier this year and announced a 72.6 percent high school graduation rate – up from about 50 percent in the years before mayoral control of New York City schools. At The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, almost all of the 95 graduating students took advantage of the CUNY fee elimination, up from fewer than 20 students who received a fee waiver last year. The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice received new training and support to build a college-going culture this year through the College Access for All initiative, and will be able to take all its 7th-graders to visit college campuses next school year. The school will also add new AP courses through AP for All next school year. Building on record-high graduation rates, record-high college enrollment rates, record-low dropout rates, and a high-quality pre-K seat for every New York City 4-year-old – all achievements under mayoral control – Equity and Excellence for All is creating a path from pre-K to college and careers for every child in every neighborhood in New York City. In addition to eliminating the CUNY application fee for tens of thousands of additional students, through College Access for All, by 2018-19, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus and every high school student will graduate with an individual college and career plan. The initiative has also made the SAT exam available free of charge during the school day for all high school juniors. College Access for All is also supporting new training and funding for 100 high schools to build a schoolwide college and career culture; funding for 28 additional high schools to hire alumni “bridge coaches” to ensure graduating seniors follow through on their plans to enroll in college in the fall; and funding for new Student Success Centers – college and career planning hubs – serving 15 schools at 4 campuses. From Pre-K for All to College Access for All, 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 students are graduating and more of them are graduating college ready. We're building on this momentum through College Access for All -- improving the environment, exposure, and supports every student needs in order to pursue college and careers. Addressing financial barriers that stand in their way is critical to this effort. That's why it's exciting so many of our students took advantage of the CUNY application fee elimination, which will increase their options for success in the world beyond high school," said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. “Almost all of our graduates took advantage of the elimination of the CUNY application fee for low-income students, and it goes hand-in-hand with the College Access for All support and funding we’ve received to make college more accessible for our students,” said Johanie Hernandez, principal at The Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, the first Urban Assembly school. “These investments are about making college visible and real for every student at Bronx LGJ, from the time they join us in 6th grade to their high school graduation.” “This has been a total game-changer for our students,” said Melanie Katz, principal at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School. “This year, over 400 students at FDR applied to CUNY for free; last year, it was just 79. Thinking as a former math teacher, that’s a 400 percent increase in opportunity, and it makes it so much more likely that my students have a trajectory to success once they graduate. My students and I are so grateful for this program, and the opportunity it provides.” "Eliminating fees during the college application process has opened the doors for a record number of young talented students, thus removing barriers for so many, especially for low-income students and their families to give them an equitable opportunity to achieve and excel. I am proud of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for setting forward innovative solutions in our efforts to provide College Access for All," said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “As a CUNY graduate, I know personally how important the CUNY system has been in providing a pathway for all New York City students, but especially our low-income students, to pursue higher education and a meaningful career path. By eliminating the application fee for low-income students, the City’s College Access for All initiative has made that pathway even more accessible for the over 36,000 applicants who were able to apply at no cost. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and Chancellor Farina on reducing the barriers to higher education for New York’s students,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Chair of Assembly’s Higher Education Committee. "By eliminating the CUNY application fee, we have made college more accessible for thousands of NYC students," said City Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "Application fees should never get in the way of a young person's education. The decision to exempt qualifying students from such unnecessary and onerous fees was the right thing to do. This is yet another demonstration of this administration's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with a quality education. So much of this good work is achievable because of Mayoral Control of NYC public schools. Albany should take note and extend Mayoral Control now. Doing so will allow the city to continue its excellent work in our schools for years to come." 
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 7:40am
NEW YORK –On Tuesday, the de Blasio administration launched a “Start by Asking” faith leader outreach initiative with the Robin Hood Foundation, Catholic Charities, UJA-Federation and Federation Protestant Welfare Agencies at the Benefits Access Breakfast to engage faith leaders and help them inform and train New Yorkers about claiming benefits for which they are eligible. These benefits include important nutritional and income supports such as SNAP, WIC, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Faith and community leaders will learn about the new tools their eligible constituents can use to easily access available benefits. The initiative will train 50 houses of worship and community organizations on benefits access screening and enrollment. In October, these organizations participate in a “Weekend of Enrollment”, where they will screen and enroll New Yorkers for benefits and services throughout the 5 boroughs. More information is available at nyc.gov/accesshra . The “Start by Asking” campaign will connect New Yorkers with a range of existing programs that can improve their financial security. Benefits and services produce a range of associated positive life outcomes (e.g., health, education, etc. of claimants and their children) and local economic stimulus. For example, SNAP is a federal program administered locally that provides funding for eligible families to buy healthy food. SNAP receipt has a positive impact on children’s birthweight, obesity, health, academic performance and school discipline. Annually, SNAP recipients purchase about $2 billion in food, generating about $5.4 billion of economic activity in NYC, largely within small business. Partnering City agencies include the Human Resources Administration , the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, Department of Consumer Affairs, Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, Mayor’s Office of Operations and Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit. “We are proud to work closely with the Robin Hood Foundation and our partners in the City’s diverse faith community to get assistance to New Yorkers who need it,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Fighting poverty isn’t something anyone can do alone, it takes a government that works and a community that cares.” "Our community and faith partners consistently reach out to New Yorkers and address their most pressing needs. We believe that our commitment to sustained engagement with our partners will ensure that more New Yorkers will have access to benefits, and this benefits our City as a whole," said Commissioner Marco Carrión, Mayor's Community Affairs Unit. "Many New Yorkers are not connecting to key benefits that address financial insecurity. Faith and community leaders are taking action by organizing 'Weekends of Enrollment' throughout our City, and we are eager to partner and improve the financial security of all New Yorkers, together," said Jonathan Soto, Executive Director at the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships. "Our churches, synagogues, mosques and other faith centers serve a critically important role in strengthening our most vulnerable communities. I've lived this important truth, growing up with my grandfather, who spent over 30 years as a minister in the Bronx. As the new CEO at Robin Hood, I'm humbled to break bread with this great group of faith leaders, and engage them on how we can come together in our shared mission helping New Yorkers living in poverty," said Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation. "Religious institutions are pillars in our communities and often are the first line of defense in combating poverty and supporting families in need," said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director at FPWA. "By partnering with the faith and nonprofit communities, the City and Robin Hood Foundation are helping to ensure that more New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet access and utilize critical supports, as we continue to strive towards equity for all." “As Catholic Charities celebrates is 100-year legacy and launches our next century of helping New Yorkers, we are strengthening our partnerships on behalf of our neighbors in need," said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director at Catholic Charities of New York. "We are proud to be part of this great metropolis that does so much to help our neighbors through a variety of programs and services. We also recognize that accessing these services can at times be daunting, and many fail to do so. Catholic Charities enthusiastically join this initiative to ensure improved financial security for New Yorkers in need by increasing access to available benefits.“
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 11:40am
IDNYC unveils new partnerships to make more entertainment and cultural activities available for family-friendly summer fun & online payment for lost or stolen cards NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced today new family-friendly benefit partners for IDNYC’s over 1 million cardholders to enjoy starting this summer. Additionally, cardholders will now be able to prepay for their lost or stolen card on the IDNYC web portal and complete the replacement application process at an IDNYC enrollment station most convenient for them. The City is committed to making IDNYC more useful and essential for even more New Yorkers, building on its groundbreaking growth as a government-issued identification for every New Yorker 14 and above, regardless of immigration status. “IDNYC continues to prove a more useful tool for New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Having IDNYC in your pocket is a passport to family-friendly fun all summer long, connecting you with outdoor activities and world-class cultural institutions across our great city.” “Every year we make IDNYC even more indispensable than before for New Yorkers,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “As students enjoy summer break, these entertainment and cultural discounts will allow more families to spend time together at a bargain. Our new online payment feature will make taking advantage of IDNYC even easier for the busiest people in the world: New Yorkers.” “IDNYC’s innovative approach continues with our new online payment feature, allowing cardholders to prepay for their replacement IDNYC through our online portal,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, we have continued investing in technology that makes City government more responsive and efficient, so that we can provide all New Yorkers with equal access to the benefits and services available to them.” “IDNYC is a key that opens up a range of cultural experiences in all five boroughs, with zoos, museums, theaters, and gardens offering cardholders free membership benefits,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We are thrilled that New Victory Theater and other groups are joining the dozens of IDNYC cultural partners that provide programming for New Yorkers of all ages just in time for summer.” IDNYC has launched new partnerships with entertainment and cultural institutions that are fun for the whole family. The new partners are listed below: KidPass : With a KidPass membership, families can find and plan a wealth of great activities for their children. With IDNYC, households can receive either a 50 percent discount on one purchase of a one month membership plan or a 20 percent discount for a three month membership plan. Bike New York : Bike New York provides bike education trainings for New Yorkers of all ages. With IDNYC, individuals can receive a 50 percent discount on their first-time one-year membership. With this membership they can join exclusive Social Rides, receive Early Access registration for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, as well as acquire discounts on tune-ups and new parts. Gulliver’s Gate : At Gulliver’s Gate, people will engage in exploration of the world at miniature, traveling from the Taj Mahal to the Panama Canal and beyond. With IDNYC, individuals can receive a 25 percent discount for the regular entry fee. Victorian Gardens Amusement Park : Since 2003, Victorian Gardens has been an institution with families looking for great rides and entertainment, nestled in the Wollman Rink of Central Park. With IDNYC, individuals can receive two admission tickets for the price of one. New Victory Theater : In Times Square, New Yorkers can receive a night of family-friendly theater performances at the oldest operating theater in New York City. With IDNYC, individuals can receive a 20 percent discount on tickets for all evening performances (5PM and 7PM). Starting today, IDNYC cardholders will be able to prepay on IDNYC’s website, nyc.gov/idnyc , for replacements for lost or stolen cards using their major credit cards, debit cards, and checking accounts. This will allow cardholders to process their replacement application at any convenient IDNYC enrollment center, including pop-up enrollment centers, in addition to Department of Finance locations. "Now there are even more reasons to sign up for an IDNYC card," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "These new partnerships make IDNYC stronger and even more beneficial to all New Yorkers. The ID grants cardholders access to many programs and services that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, and grants free access to dozens of our city's premier cultural institutions. If you have not already registered for one, don't delay! Sign up for your free IDNYC card today." "IDNYC is the identification card for all New Yorkers and the City has taken steps to make applying and replacing cards easier. Over a million New Yorkers now benefit from IDNYC. The latest round of new IDNYC partnerships with organizations like KidPass and Bike New York will help families have fun and be healthy together," said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee. "It’s always inspiring to see a great program get even better," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "I’m excited to see so many fantastic partners in my district getting involved in a program that serves all New Yorkers. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for creating and continuing to grow this pioneer program and I thank the community partners for making this summer even more exciting for New Yorkers." "With annual memberships to dozens of cultural institutions across the city, IDNYC has always been a valuable card for every New Yorkers wallet. This new addition of discounts to family-friendly institutions makes IDNYC even more appealing, especially as we kick off summer break for our city's schoolchildren," said Council Member Debi Rose. "Whether a long time resident or a recent transplant, New Yorkers know there's nothing quite like a New York City summer. By expanding IDNYC's benefit partners and payment plans, we can ensure that all residents, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or nationality has an opportunity to take advantage of every amusement this city has to offer. My thanks to Mayor de Blasio and the Office of Immigrant Affairs for working to make New York more open and hospitable to people of all backgrounds," said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "IDNYC is an invaluable resource for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan. "It’s great news that the de Blasio administration is making the program even better by enabling IDNYC cardholders and their families to take advantage of even more of New York City’s world-class cultural and entertainment attractions and making it easier to replace lost or stolen cards.” “KidPass is excited to partner with IDNYC, and to support their ideals of community and inclusion,” said Solomon Liou, co-Founder and CEO of KidPass . “As the leading website for finding kids activities in New York, our mission is to help parents discover what their kids love and to find experiences that can enrich and transform the lives of their children. Our partnership with IDNYC is a perfect match to help families raising their children in New York, and looking to experience everything the city has to offer.” “Like the IDNYC card, Bike New York's education program, events, and membership program are for New Yorkers from all walks of life and all five boroughs,” said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York. “Bike New York is excited and proud to partner with the City of New York and support this initiative.” “We're thrilled to join the IDNYC program and empower guests to travel the world in 90 minutes,” said Eiran Gazit, CEO of Gulliver’s Gate. “Gulliver’s Gate was created by an international community of artists, designers, engineers and technologists from 8 countries on 4 continents. IDNYC’s message of inclusiveness aligns perfectly with our welcoming, diverse exhibits.” “We are beyond thrilled to be part of IDNYC's program and its exciting benefits,” said Karen Malanum, Sales and Marketing Manager/Assistant General Manager of Victorian Gardens Amusement Park. “Partnering with IDNYC will support our goal on exploring more of New York City’s exciting attractions!” “The New Victory, a theater for all New York City families, is thrilled to partner with IDNYC, a program for all New York City residents,” said Cora Cahan, President of The New Victory Theater. “By introducing the youngest New Yorkers to the imaginative and international performances of theater, dance, circus and puppetry on the New Vic stage, we hope to foster a love of the arts and a curiosity for all the incredible culture this city has to offer.” IDNYC has a wide array of benefit partners . All City residents age 14 and above are eligible to get a municipal ID card, and enrollment is free for anyone who applies in 2017. All IDNYC applicants must have documentation that proves their identity and residency in New York City. The City will protect the confidentiality of all IDNYC card applications and never asks applicants about their immigration status. For more information on eligibility criteria, benefits, enrollment centers across the five boroughs and more, applicants can visit nyc.gov/idnyc or call 311. 
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 7:40am
Let's call this what it is - this is a Muslim ban, and it inherently violates the values of this country. It is clear that the goal of this order is not to improve public safety; it is religious exclusion. While I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court is allowing aspects of the ban to take effect while litigation proceeds, I am praying they will ultimately land on the side of justice and find it unconstitutional.
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 5:10pm
NEW YORK- Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz today announced "City Hall in Your Borough" will land in Queens on Monday, July 17. This will be the initiative's third stop, following Staten Island and the Bronx. Mayor de Blasio, deputy mayors, and senior Administration officials will run the city from Queens Borough Hall for a week to focus on the borough's people and their concerns. The week will include a cabinet meeting, resource fair and town hall, as well as various stops and events throughout the borough. "As we move City Hall from borough to borough, we hope to continue building a closer relationship between New Yorkers and their city government," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "In Queens, we will continue focusing city resources on the borough's most pressing needs." "Queens welcomes the Administration to Borough Hall and the opportunity to engage on the needs and challenges unique to the World's Borough," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "With 2.3 million residents, there will be much ground to cover for the families of Queens." First Lady Chirlane McCray will also hold a series of events. The announcement was also made via Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Katz's Twitter accounts, @NYCMayor and @MelindaKatz . More details about the Queens edition of "City Hall in Your Borough" will be made public in the near future.
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 5:10pm
First Grant from LifeSci NYC initiative goes to BioLabs@NYULangone for fully equipped lab and office space; will host 35 startups, creating hundreds of good-paying jobs NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the first funding from his LifeSci NYC Incubator Network is a $5 million grant to BioLabs@NYULangone, a new center for life science startups. The 180 Varick Street center, in Manhattan, is set to open by the end of 2017. The incubator is part of the wider LifeSci NYC initiative and part of the Mayor’s New York Works plan, which is made up of 25 initiatives to spur 100,000 jobs with good wages over the coming decade, including 1,000 at companies growing out of the BioLabs@NYULangone incubator. “With this grant we are investing in New York’s emerging Life Science economy, one that benefits New York workers and encourages collaboration between our great research institutions, innovators and startup businesses. When it comes to science and technology, we will leverage our competitive edge and spur 100,000 good-paying jobs over the next decade – all to make our city more affordable for all,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The 50,000 square-foot project is designed to house up to 35 startup companies seeking to turn laboratory discoveries into successful businesses with good jobs for New Yorkers. It will offer affordable lab and office space. In December 2016, Mayor de Blasio launched the $500 million LifeSci NYC initiative, to spur an estimated 16,000 new, good-paying jobs and establish New York City as a global leader in life sciences research and innovation. New Yorkers hoping to secure a career-track job in a growing industry and struggling with the rising cost of living will have access to 1,000 paid internships, new training programs and job placements in a field with average salaries of $75,000. NYU Langone, is partnering with BioLabs on the incubator, which will occupy two floors in the building. BioLabs is a leading operator of shared laboratory space for life science startups nationwide. The new facility will include 48 benches in an “open lab,” or common lab; three private labs; three medium private labs; nine small private labs; along with 30 offices, conference rooms and state-of-the-art event space. Companies selected for BioLabs@NYULangone will start with a package of tailored laboratory equipment and supplies. BioLabs staff will provide educational programming and operational support, enabling startups to focus on science and innovation, and ultimately move more quickly into their own spaces. With more than 100 research foundations and nine academic medical centers, New York City is home to one of the largest concentrations of academic life sciences research in the world. However, challenges, including a shortage of affordable commercial laboratory space, have made it hard for New York City to hold on to young companies spinning out of its research institutions. While most traditional incubators in the space focus on very early-stage companies, BioLabs@NYULangone will host more mature startups, which have already attracted some venture capital investment, which are even more likely to grow and create more jobs. With 16 percent growth in jobs since 2009, the life sciences sector is among the fastest growing in the city. It offers a wide range of technical jobs such as microbiologists and lab technicians, as well as non-technical jobs in areas like marketing and administration. Roughly 30 percent of jobs in the industry require a high-school diploma or Associate’s Degree, while another 50 percent of jobs require a Bachelor’s Degree. “We’re thrilled to be providing the first funding from Mayor de Blasio's LifeSci NYC Initiative to a project that will help turn new discoveries into good jobs for New Yorkers,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett. “New York already has the best research institutions in the world, and by investing in lab space, talent and emerging firms, we can put New York City at the forefront of the biotech industry.” “The new center builds on the outstanding track record at NYU Langone in launching biomedical technology and drug discovery companies, and in helping them grow, create high-tech jobs, and improve human health,” said Robert Schneider, PhD, associate dean for Biomedical Innovation and Commercialization at NYU Langone. “We believe the center will become the long-sought foundation of a larger biotech corridor in New York City, in part because we will welcome new companies spinning out of all the region’s academic centers and biotechs,” said BioLabs’ President Johannes Fruehauf, MD, PhD. “Bringing our proven BioLabs model to New York City will capture its entrepreneurial excitement.” “Biotechnology jobs are a growing part of New York’s future as a center for cutting-edge innovation,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I look forward to seeing how BioLabs@NYULangone will change the world.” “With some of the sharpest scientific minds in the world, the City of New York should without a doubt be a leader in the life sciences industry,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “This investment in BioLabs@NYULangone will set us well on our way towards achieving this goal and should help our city in furthering its mission to create good paying jobs for New Yorkers.” “Mayor de Blasio is bringing jobs of the future to New York,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “If we're going to compete in the global economy, we need to embrace cutting edge technologies in industries like life sciences. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue.” Mayor de Blasio’s Ten-Point LifeSci NYC Plan: 1. Invest $100 million to create a new Applied Life Sciences Campus. The de Blasio Administration will provide funding to create a world-class facility along Manhattan’s East Side or in neighboring Long Island City that drives bio-engineering innovations, research and development (R&D) partnerships and entrepreneurial training. The campus will serve as an institutional anchor for the life sciences industry, much as Cornell Tech serves as an anchor for applied sciences and engineering. 2. Provide $50 million to expand network of life sciences R&D facilities. To remain at the forefront of the innovative research that leads to new businesses, the Administration will make targeted investments in New York City’s existing academic medical centers and research institutions. The City will provide capital to a network of up to eight non-profit research facilities, to help create new workspace for research with a high potential for commercialization and job growth. 3. Invest $10 million to expand network of incubators for life sciences start-up facilities. To provide affordable space for the next generation of life science startups, the City will invest in up to five new incubators and innovation centers, with the first (BioLabs@NYULangone) expected to open in late 2017. Incubators will be located near existing research centers to better support innovators and connect skilled workers with jobs. 4. Commit $20 million a year in matching funds to support early-stage businesses. Young life sciences startups often struggle to secure the capital they need to expand. By committing $20 million in seed and growth funding, and seeking matching funds from private sources, the City will help spur growth of up to 80 companies, helping them expand and create new jobs for New Yorkers. 5. Invest $7.5 million to create internships and life sciences curricula. The City will officially launch a new internship program later this year, which will connect students each year with opportunities at life sciences companies and institutions. Organizations that have already agreed to take on interns include global pharmaceutical companies such as Roche, research institutions such as the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and investors such as Deerfield Management. The City will also provide funding to support the development of new curricula for local colleges and universities, based on input from local employers, to prepare the next generation of life sciences talent. 6. Commit $300 million in tax incentives to attract investment in commercial lab space for life sciences businesses. The high cost of lab construction has resulted in a shortage of space for new life science companies. By offsetting that cost, the City will unlock affordable lab space for growing companies that provide accessible, middle class jobs for New Yorkers. 7. Modernize land use policies to encourage new space for life sciences firms. To more than double the potential areas for life sciences jobs, the Administration will clarify regulations to make explicit that lab space for life sciences R&D is permitted in the majority of commercial zones. In addition, the administration will leverage upcoming rezoning to include life sciences sites where appropriate. 8. Provide $7.5 million to create a Life Sciences Management Corps. The City will provide financing to life sciences startups to help them secure experienced entrepreneurs to help launch and grow their businesses in New York City. These entrepreneurs will be committed to growing companies, cultivating new talent and creating good and accessible jobs in the five boroughs. 9. Provide $3.8 million to expand training programs for entrepreneurs. The de Blasio Administration will provide funding to expand and improve on two successful programs, serving up to 500 companies over the course of the program. NYCEDC will expand its Bio and Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab (ELabNYC) with new curriculum in areas such as corporate commercialization and project management. It will expand the SBIR Impact program, which helps life sciences firms compete for funding through the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research program. 10. Launch the Mayor’s Life Sciences Advisory Council. The Life Sciences Advisory Council launched in May of 2017. The Advisory Council has 15 members with experts from academia, industry, philanthropy and finance, advising the City of New York on its life science programs and catalyzing strategic partnerships with the industry. The council will work with the administration to promote New York as a global center for life sciences. Learn more at LifeSci.NYC .
Friday, June 23, 2017 - 5:20pm
NEW YORK— This weekend, the de Blasio Administration will decorate crosswalks in Greenwich Village and light City Hall to celebrate Pride Month and NYC's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Queer communities. For the first time, the crosswalk across Christopher Street near the Stonewall National Monument will be painted in rainbow colors. Rainbow decals will also be placed on crosswalks across the 5th Avenue Pride March route at 36th and 24th Streets. In addition to having rainbow lights, City Hall will also display rainbow flags. Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will attend the 48th annual NYC Pride March this Sunday. "Pride Month reminds us that the fight for LGBTQ rights is not yet won, but that we can be proud as a city to have blazed the trail," said Mayor de Blasio. "Now more than ever, we need to come together and celebrate the contributions that the LGBTQ community has made to both our city and country. These displays serve as a profound symbol of a painful past, a hopeful future and the transformative change that happens when New Yorkers take action." First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray said, "As we illuminate the steps of City Hall and grace the streets of The Village with the wondrous designs of Gilbert Baker, NYC commemorates the journey of the LGBTQ community – hardships and triumphs alike. With a newfound artivism and activism on display, we celebrate you, honor your perseverance and respect your PRIDE!" DOT will begin painting the sidewalk near the Stonewall Monument overnight starting Saturday evening, in partnership with Heritage of Pride. NYC DOT and HOP have worked closely in recent years during NYC LGBTQ Pride in preparation for the March. In addition, City Hall will be lit starting Friday at sundown through Sunday evening. "DOT street crews are happy to add the festive colors of the iconic rainbow flag to this year's Pride Parade, including just steps away from the historic Stonewall National Monument," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "With a beautiful day expected Sunday, we want to wish all revelers a happy, safe and very proud celebration." "NYC Pride is honored to bring Gilbert Baker's original rainbow to the very streets where the modern LGBT movement began," said David Studinski, NYC Pride Co-Chair. "We are proud to fund the installation of this exciting project. We thank the Mayor, City Council members and Department of Transportation for helping us make this long-awaited tribute a colorful reality." New York City continues to lead the nation in protecting LGBTQ rights. Earlier this month, the de Blasio Administration published New York City's first-ever LGBTQ Healthcare Bill of Rights. In June 2016, New York City became the first municipality to launch a citywide campaign specifically affirming the right of transgender individuals to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression. In March 2016, Mayor de Blasio issued an executive order requiring City agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public are given equal access to City single-sex facilities without being required to show identification, medical documentation or any other form of proof or verification of gender. In December 2015, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued legal enforcement guidance defining specific gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law, including equal bathroom access. The Administration has also enhanced services to address LGBTQI homelessness, including opening a 24-hour drop-in center in Harlem specializing in the LGBTQI community, and the first-ever City-funded transitional independent living homes with specialized services for transgender youth. Earlier this year, the de Blasio Administration opened Marsha's House—named after famed LGBTQI activist Marsha P. Johnson—in the Bronx, the first-ever shelter for LGBTQI young persons in the New York City adult shelter system, offering nearly 90 homeless individuals 30 years and under the opportunity to be sheltered in a welcoming and supportive space providing targeted resources. The Administration has also funded 500 additional beds for runaway and homeless youth, all of which are available to LGBTQI youth. During FY18, the total number of beds brought online will expand to 653, with a total of 753 by end of FY19. U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney said, "LGBTQ Pride Month is a time for us to join together to celebrate the contributions that the LGBTQ community has made to our city, state, and country and recommit ourselves to keep working towards full equality for all. I am so proud that New York City has always been at the forefront of this fight and I am grateful that Mayor de Blasio is continuing that strong tradition. This weekend's parade and all of the celebrations we will see around the city are a reminder to the world that New York City is, and always will be, committed to protecting LGBTQ rights." "When a message is important, we send it in our public spaces – in our street names, in our public art, and on the very roads themselves," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The message today is New York wouldn't be New York without LGBT New Yorkers, and that the cause of LGBT rights and equality must be the cause of all New Yorkers. I'm glad that for Pride Weekend, the rainbow flag will adorn the street itself at Stonewall." "I'm thrilled that a rainbow crosswalk will be painted in my Senate district near the Stonewall National Monument in time for Pride Weekend," said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "It's heartening to see that during these uncertain times for the LGBTQ population, New York City and other cities across the country have installed rainbow crosswalks as prominent symbols of acceptance and diversity. I'm grateful to Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for this initiative and their outstanding support of our community and look forward to joining them weekend during the Heritage of Pride March." "Wishing everyone a fabulous and happy Pride," said Assembly Member Deborah Glick. "New York City, the home of the Stonewall National Monument, continues to protect the rights of LGBTQ community. The de Blasio administration has included LGBTQ New Yorkers in their programs to address homelessness and promoted healthcare access specific to the needs of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Progressive New Yorkers appreciate Mayor de Blasio's commitment to principles of equality and diversity." "Washington, D.C. is trying to erase all traces of us," said Council Member Corey Johnson "But here in New York, Mayor de Blasio is doing the opposite. The rainbow crosswalk in the historic heart of our community will send a message of hope in these dark times. I thank Mayor de Blasio for standing strong with the LGBT community." "As we celebrate pride and the strides taken by the LGBT community in recent years, we recognize that there is still a long way to go in many parts of our country," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "But as we do with so many things, New York will lead the way as a model to our nation. And while we still have work to do here to rid some pockets of the intolerance and misunderstanding that yields discrimination and prejudice, we face these challenges head-on. Outward displays of celebration such as this stand as a recognition of our past and a marker for a brighter future." "This rainbow crosswalk and City Hall lighting send a powerful message that LGBT people are welcome in New York City," said Council Member Daniel Dromm . "Invisibility has always been the LGBT community's greatest obstacle. That is why bold statements such as these are so important. They serve to remind everyone that LGBT people are your family, your friends and your neighbors—and does so in a beautiful and positive way. I am proud to have worked with Mayor de Blasio to make the rainbow crosswalk a reality and thank him for taking all these actions to make our city's LGBT Pride Month more meaningful." "This year, we have mourned the loss and honored the life of Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "This colorful symbol has united the movement for LGBTQ rights around the world for decades and the new rainbow crosswalk on Christopher Street will be a fantastic tribute to Gilbert Baker's legacy -- as well as a proud statement of New York City's commitment to equality." "I'm excited to hear that three rainbow crosswalks will be painted on NYC streets in celebration of Pride Month, and ecstatic that one of the three will be located in my district on 24th Street and 5th Avenue," said Council Member Rosie Mendez, Chair, LGBT Caucus. "Last year, I was in awe when I came upon the rainbow crosswalks in San Francisco's Castro District and saddened that NYC DOT rules did not allow us to do so. However, DOT's rules change provides NYers with an incredible symbolic gesture of how our City believes LGBT rights are important and should be celebrated as well as protected. Important to note that Stonewall Activist Sylvia Rivera yelled out "Whose Streets, Our Streets" during the Gay Liberation Rebellion and, now, we can actually claim our streets literally by these displays." "This visible display of support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community goes a long way in showing our values as a City and haven for marginalized community," said Council Member Ritchie Torres. "It's a great way to kick off Pride weekend." "Pride is a celebration of all we have accomplished as a community over the years," said Council Member James Vacca. "However, this year, Pride takes on an additional meaning as we realize our fight is never finished and that we must stay vigilant against forces that seek to roll back our hard earned rights and freedoms. I'm glad that New York serves as a bulwark against regressive action on the national stage. I thank Mayor de Blasio for having City Hall lit up with the colors of the pride flag and that we will have the street painted with pride as we march on Sunday." "The rainbow flag is a symbol of the pride, strength, and beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ community," said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "Years ago as a young gay activist fighting for equality in Queens, I could not imagine the day would come that our rainbow flag would rise above City Hall and our movement would find fierce and devoted allies in City Hall. While we still have work to do for full equality, the lighting of City Hall, the painting of our public streets, and the raising of our flag above City Hall marks the hard-fought progress we've won together." 
Friday, June 23, 2017 - 5:20pm
First Lady Chirlane McCray: Hello, everybody. Welcome to Gracie Mansion. This is the people’s house. This is your house. And you are always welcome here. Now, this is a party. We’ve got DJ Mary Mack in the house – please show her some love. No city in the world celebrates pride like New York City. And no city is as welcoming of all people as New York City. For so many of us, this was the first place we ever felt truly at home, am I right? That’s what makes our city, New York City, so special. Whether you’re staying at Marcia’s house in the Bronx, living in a Brooklyn residence for our LGBT elders, at a [inaudible] in Harlem, partying on the ferry, or marching at the Queens Pride Parade – [Cheers] Queens is in the house. No matter where you are, there’s a place for you in New York City, and that’s why New York City is a beacon for the country and for the world. But that doesn’t mean we’re done fighting. Are we done fighting? Audience: No! First Lady McCray: Together we stood against bathroom bigotry. But we have more to do to protect our trans brothers and sisters. We opened up beds for LGBTQ teens and young adults in need of a safe place to stay, but we have to do more to keep our young people off the streets. We created 1-888-NYC-WELL for those who are struggling with mental health challenges. Can you say that number with me? 1-888-NYC-WELL. Audience: 1-888-NYC-WELL! First Lady McCray: Good. But we still have more to do to meet the mental health needs of all LGBTQ New Yorkers. We have a lot of work to do. And Bill and I will never stop fighting for equality and dignity for all. Will you fight with us? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: I know you will. And I’m honored to fight right alongside you. And now, I have the pleasure of introducing my partner in life and love, my Pride-marching buddy, your mayor, Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Happy Pride, everyone. [Cheers] I can't hear you – happy Pride, everyone. [Cheers] Much better. Excellent – rowdy crowd tonight. We are here to celebrate. We are here to celebrate extraordinary achievements and extraordinary community. Now, my brothers and sisters, I want to say at the outset, a lot of people here under this tent out on this lawn have fought for the right to this community for not just years, but for decades. Let's applaud all of them. A lot of people stood up when it was not easy at all, and we thank them, including Chirlane McCray. Thank You, First Lady. My wife is always ahead of the curve Okay, there is a lot we'll be talking about and celebrating tonight. I have to say at the outset, while we're here to appreciate each other to appreciate the community, to appreciate the progress we made this is a tough day in our nation’s capital because so many in this community fought for equal access to health care, so many people in this community stood up and said if you’re not given the right to health care you are not being treated as a full member of our city or nation. And it is bitterly ironic that on the day we gather there is a concerted effort that has begun this very day to take away health care for millions and millions of Americans [Applause] But my friends, in a democracy we don’t take it lying down, do we? We fight back, don't we? So, we're going to get on with the celebration, but I ask everyone reach out all over this country – reach out to all your friends and colleagues and family all over this country with a simple message – tell your United States Senator not to take away health care from the people of this country. So, with that important note, I want to go back to the matter at hand, which is the greatness of this community and the greatness of the progress we've made. Now, I need you first to join me in welcoming a number of people right behind me who are here to celebrate. A lot of important people in this town wanted to be here to celebrate with us, so I'm going to read them off and you can just applaud for all of them. First of all, our wonderful Chair of the Human Rights Commission Carmelyn Malalis; our Probation Commissioner Ana Bermudez; our TLC commissioner Meera Joshi; Commissioner for the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence Cecile Noel; our Citywide Events Commissioner Michael Paul Carey, the man who runs Gracie Mansion and makes it open everyone; Executive Director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy Paul Gunther; our Special Events Director – and she and her team put on these wonderful events – Carla Matero; Community Affairs Commissioner Marco Carrion; Chief of Staff to the First Lady Roxanne John; the President the Housing Development Corporation Eric Enderlin; and its share of the Board of Standards and Appeals Margery Perlmutter – elected officials who stand up for the community every day. We have one who's a former elected, but he deserves special attention and special praise – former Senator, former Councilman Tom Duane is here; Assemblymember Louis Sepulveda; Councilmember Danny Dromm; Councilmember Cory Johnson; Councilmember Jimmy Vacca I want a special and thunderous applause for the men and women in blue, the members of the Gay Officers Action League, who are here. I've been handed a note – we are joined by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell; the permanent representative of Argentina for the United Nations Martin Garcia – even Argentina is celebrating with a big event; and you all experienced the greatness of DJ Mary Mack. Let's thank her. I'm sorry I said DJ Mary Mack – louder please. So, listen, I'm going to bring up a special guest in a moment, but first let's just [inaudible] my friends. Less than 50 years ago – less than 50 years ago there was no gay rights movement in this country. At Stonewall, something began and the progress and the action and the movement and the change that has been achieved is breathtaking. And everyone here deserves credit for their role in bringing about this change, what it meant in this city, unlike other states I could mention. Here we have an equal access bathroom law and we are proud of that fact. We have focused on making affordable housing available to people with HIV and AIDS, and we have changed the rent [inaudible]. We are proud to have the City's first Commission on Gender Equity because we know we need it so this city is a place where we are willing to say out loud – we're willing to say that we have not made enough change yet, we've made a lot but we have more to do because any time there is a hate crime or hate speech we have more to do, don't we? Anytime there is discrimination, we have more to do. We have to live up to the highest ideals of the city. Chirlane said earlier, so many people who come from here or came to here found their peace here, found their tranquility here, found their identity here, found the ability to be who they are because that's what New York City honors – everyone. We honor every kind of person. We respect every kind of person. It does not matter where you come from, you are part of this city, you are part of what makes this city great. It doesn't matter what faith you are. It does not matter who you love. You are New York. You are a part of what makes this city great and that is something we have to spread all over this country, don't we my friends? Well, we have the largest LGBT community in the entire United States of America and we are proud. We are proud and we are a city that's great and we want to show people that our strength is our respect for all. Now, we also in New York – I’ve got to say one more thing – in New York, the most talented, the most interesting, the most innovative people come to New York City, isn't that right? There's nothing quite like being a native New Yorker – that is the highest form of humanity – but the people who come here are really, really cool, okay? The best talent in the world comes here and, we could say particularly when it comes to the arts and drama, the very best talent in the world comes here, don't you agree? They come from every corner of the world. They come from every state in the country, including some very special talent that comes from the state of Alabama. There is someone who comes from the state of Alabama, who is here, and she is now a New Yorker. And I got to tell you, Alabama's loss was New York City’s gain. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to bring to the stage the trailblazer, a star an innovator, a change agent ladies and gentlemen Laverne Cox. I want to make an official statement. Sorry, Alabama, she’s ours now. Laverne has spent a lifetime – a lifetime my friends breaking down barriers. This is someone – you're a great artist, you’re a great performer – but I have to tell you, I want to tell you [inaudible] because you have changed people's lives for the better. You broken down barriers and they were not easy to break down, were they? This was not an easy journey. This was not an easy mission that Laverne took on, but what she has achieved – the first transgender woman to star in a major TV role in the history of the United States of America. And as long one – you know, one of the American standards is the cover of Time magazine – the first transgender person to ever appear on the cover of Time magazine. And Laverne is a great actor, but Laverne in my humble opinion is even greater activist, illuminating the struggle, illuminating the lives of people, including through her documentary work and helping change lives. And so my friends, we have a special honor for Laverne. I want to get the proclamation here. Will you kindly hold it before the people? This official proclamation representing 8.5 million New Yorkers – it talks about all the great and amazing things Laverne has done. But the last part is our honor, Laverne, and the last part says, I, Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City do hereby declare Thursday June 22nd 2017, in the city of New York as Laverne Cox day.
Friday, June 23, 2017 - 11:40am
The number of vulnerable youth enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program triples from 1,000 to 3,000 NEW YORK—Celebrating two years of progress, the Center for Youth Employment (CYE), a public-private partnership between the de Blasio administration and local private sector leaders, tripled the number of summer jobs for New York City’s most vulnerable youth—New Yorkers ages 14 to 24 who are or have been involved in the shelter, justice or foster care systems. Further, the administration has built and strengthened an inter-agency ecosystem of policies and programs to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ youth, who make up a large share of the City’s vulnerable youth population. Through a $100,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation, CYE in concert with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), other agencies, and community-based partner the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) assessed how New York City could increase LGBTQ youth employment and support them once employed. This research will inform a first-of-its-kind comprehensive LGBTQ Youth Employment Best Practices Manual. “We are extremely proud of this program, and look forward to its continued success. Creating opportunities for our most vulnerable children facilitates personal growth for them, and economic growth for the City. We all benefit from the accomplishments made possible by the Center for Youth Employment,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio “Since its inception, the Center for Youth Employment has delivered on its promise to support NYC’s most vulnerable youth,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who serves as Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “LGBTQ youth, in particular, are often plagued with obstacles that include homelessness, stressful academic environments and abandonment. LGBTQ youth have more support when City agency partners and local private sector leaders work collaboratively and there is better access to jobs and stable employment. Precious lives are saved and nurtured." “We are committed to building a strong safety net to support our young people and giving them the tools to launch successful careers. These programs reflect the innovative and dynamic ways the public and private sectors can work together to ensure we are creating access and opportunity for all New Yorkers, especially our most vulnerable communities,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Vice-Chair of the Mayor’s Fund. CYE was created in 2015 with a focus on building support systems for vulnerable youth, who are at higher risk of negative economic outcomes, including low educational attainment, unemployment, low earnings, incarceration and homelessness, and ultimately providing them with universal access to summer jobs. Since the establishment of CYE, the number of vulnerable youth enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) grew from 1,000 in 2014 to 3,000 in 2016. This growth was fueled by increased public and private investments, including support from Astoria Energy II, LLC. Updated figures for 2017 will be released in July and are expected to continue this upward trend. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth comprise a large share of the vulnerable youth population. Over the past few years, Mayor de Blasio’s administration has intensified efforts to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. For instance, in 2015, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in partnership with CYE, received a $100,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation to understand common challenges and unmet needs for LGBTQ youth in NYC’s workforce. Working in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), other agencies, and community-based partner the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), CYE assessed how New York City could increase LGBTQ youth employment and robustly support them once employed. Using this research, CYE provided recommendations to the Children’s Cabinet, DYCD, the Human Resources Administration and HMI to produce a first-of-its-kind comprehensive LGBTQ Youth Employment Best Practices Manual. This manual will ensure all City youth workforce programs are affirming and accommodating of LGBTQ youth. Further, CYE and its partners will develop an outreach strategy to increase recruitment of LGBTQ applicants for SYEP; make recommendations for supports to ensure a quality experience for participants via the vulnerable youth working group; and eventually track the number of LGBTQ applicants and participants in SYEP by modifying the application process to capture additional, voluntarily provided information about applicants. In addition, this summer, CYE in partnership with the Young Men’s Initiative and DYCD, will launch a pilot program to support a targeted group of 50 vulnerable youth in Queens who are not yet work-ready. Participants will develop critical thinking and communications skills through work-based learning activities designed and supervised by The LAMP, a nonprofit focusing on digital literacy and media awareness. “HMI is so thrilled and grateful to be part of this important and timely work with the Mayor’s office. It is encouraging and heartening to witness and aid government institutions in better recognizing and serving the needs of our City’s most marginalized and vulnerable, LGBTQ youth. Giving the next generation more chances to succeed means a brighter future for all of us,” saidThomas Krever, CEO, Hetrick Martin Institute. “Addressing the needs of our most vulnerable young people, especially in the context of their job market prospects, is critical for the City’s economic future. Through the Summer Youth Employment Program, Ladders for Leaders and other City-funded programs, teens and young adults have been exposed to everything from crime scene forensics to computer coding to advertising,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “DYCD continues to work with the Center for Youth Employment to ensure all young New Yorkers have equal access to internships, jobs, and career training opportunities that are crucial to their success.” “When we launched CYE two years ago, we knew we set out some ambitious, and important goals, focused on dramatically improving outcomes for young New Yorkers – and for the city’s employers seeking local, work-ready talent,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund. “The work is far from over, but we’re thrilled with the milestones reached in such a short period of time, and we are grateful for the public and private partners that have already come together around this shared goal of supporting youth workforce pipelines, and particularly young and vulnerable New Yorkers who most benefit from the increased attention and support.” “It has been an honor and a privilege to support such a worthy cause. The provision of guidance, support, and high-quality work experiences to needy youth throughout the City is bound to have a lasting and positive effect on the individuals involved and the City at large. Hats off to the Mayor, First Lady, and Center for Youth Employment for their leadership and results, and I wish much success to the hard-working individuals enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program,” said Charles R. McCall, CEO, Astoria Energy LLC & Astoria Energy II LLC. “A core idea behind the Center for Youth Employment was that as a city, we have a particular obligation to serve and support those young people who have faced the greatest challenges early in life. By engaging our partners in city government, philanthropy, and the provider community to develop high-impact programs, we can offer the promise of better lives for young New Yorkers who most need assistance,” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the Center for Youth Employment. “The NYC Children’s Cabinet coordinates across 24 city agencies and offices to advance the safety, well-being and healthy development of every young New Yorker. As part of that mission, we are excited to work with CYE, DYCD, HRA and other partners in and out of government to improve the experiences of LGBTQ youth in City workforce programs,” said Benita Miller, Executive Director of the Children’s Cabinet. “The Young Men’s Initiative views the work of the Center for Youth Employment (CYE) as critical to ensuring all youth have equitable access to life-sustaining employment opportunities. It is imperative for the future success of New York City that it creates intentional plans and makes strategic investments aimed at better integrating every community’s youth into the prosperity this great city has to offer. We applaud CYE for the work it has undertaken to date and look forward to developing an even closer partnership moving forward,” said W. Cyrus Garrett, Executive Director of New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative. "The LAMP is pleased to partner with the Center for Youth Employment through its Digital Career Path program providing 21st-century digital literacy and workforce development training. Programs like ours prepare vulnerable youth for economic success from an early age by helping them learn to harness technology as a tool for personal and professional fulfillment. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and CYE for their past success, and look forward to a future where all youth have the opportunity to live, learn and thrive in our technology-rich city," said D.C. Vito, Executive Director, The LAMP. The Center for Youth Employment (CYE), was launched in May 2015 by Mayor de Blasio to expand, improve and coordinate publicly funded programs that help prepare New York City’s young adults for steady work and career success. A public-private initiative, the Center was conceived and launched by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in collaboration with City agencies and private partners.
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:10pm
The de Blasio Administration is launching a roadmap, a Justice Implementation Task Force, and $30 million in new investments to drive progress towards closing Rikers Island NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today launched “Smaller, Safer, Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island ,” 18 concrete steps the City is taking now to make it possible to close Rikers Island and replace it with a smaller network of modern, safe, and humane facilities. “New York City is at the forefront both of ending mass incarceration and reducing crime – we have the smallest rate of incarceration of any big city in the country and crime continues to drop,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Closing Rikers Island is a continuation of this important work. We are building a correctional system that is smaller, safer and fairer – one in which jails are safe and humane.” The Roadmap released today includes an additional $30 million investment over the next three years to accelerate safe reductions in the size of the jail population. Additionally, the plan includes immediate steps to expand services and renovate facilities to ensure that those who work and are incarcerated in city jails have safe, humane conditions as quickly as possible. Simultaneously, the City will begin the multi-year process of renovating and developing off-Island facilities. The complete Roadmap, along with opportunities to get involved, is available at nyc.gov/CloseRikers . There are an average of 9,400 people per day in city jails in 2017, 50% fewer than in 1990 and 18% fewer than when Mayor de Blasio took office. 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 to a manageable level will take time. Existing jails on and off Rikers Island will need renovations and physical upgrades, as well as expanded programs and services to support the thousands of staff and incarcerated individuals in the jails every year. To ensure effective implementation of the Roadmap, the City is launching a Justice Implementation Task Force chaired by Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office Criminal Justice, and Zachary Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York. The Implementation Task Force will coordinate the work of the many groups inside and outside of government, including government agencies, service providers, and community representatives, that are vital to achieving a smaller, safer and fairer jail system. Working groups will focus on safely reducing the jail population; improving culture for both staff and incarcerated individuals; and designing and siting safe, modern and humane jails. The Executive Steering Committee and Sub-Committee Co-Chairs are listed at the end of this release; additional appointments to the working groups are in progress. “Our foundational goal is safely reducing the number of people in jail,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “This is a matter of justice and pragmatism: no one should be detained who does not pose a risk to public safety and a smaller population will permit more options in designing places that will enhance safety and promote respect and opportunity for both officers and incarcerated individuals.” “Given its current inmate population, Rikers must serve as mental health facility, a substance abuse treatment facility and for many, a public school,” said Zachary Carter, the City’s Corporation Counsel. “Reducing the population at Rikers will require the participation of experts from disciplines beyond the criminal justice system. The composition of this Implementation Task Force offers the promise of finding sustainable solutions to the problem of over-reliance on incarceration in our criminal justice system.” “During my time as Commissioner I am proud to have laid the groundwork for creating a more humane correctional system for staff, inmates and all New Yorkers,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte. “Our meaningful reforms have well positioned the Department for the road ahead to smaller, safer, fairer Jails.” SMALLER The Roadmap lays out a strategy to reduce the size of the average daily jail population by 25%, to 7,000, over the next five years. To accelerate progress toward this goal, the Mayor today announced a three-year, $30 million investment in four new strategies: * Expanded pre-trial diversion for people with behavioral health needs: The City is investing an additional $2.3 million per year to expand Supervised Release, a citywide alternative to bail program that has effectively diverted 3,800 people from jail since launching in March 2016. The new investment will enhance services for people with behavioral health needs, including additional masters-level clinical social workers and peer specialists, as well as increase by 10% the number of people who can be diverted from jail through Supervised Release every year. * Community alternatives to jail sentences less than 30 days: Beginning in July, the City will invest $3.5 million per year in new programs in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan to reduce dramatically the number of people held in jail on sentences of less than 30 days. By offering effective programs, judges will have the option to assign individuals to short-term programs that can include community service, transitional employment, case management, and behavioral health treatment, providing instead a pathway to stability and self-sufficiency and preventing future returns to jail. * Expanding alternatives to jail for homeless women: Beginning July 1, 2017, the City will invest $2.5 million per year to support a program focused on reducing the number of women in city jails. Every year, approximately 510 women are admitted to city jails who report they are homeless. This new program will offer transitional housing to women who are homeless to make it easier for them participate in alternative to jail programs, many of which require permanent housing as a requirement for eligibility. * Reducing the number of people detained on low bail: Expanded diversion programs and strategies to make it easier to pay bail have already reduced the number of people detained in city jails on bail of $2,000 or less by 36% over the last three years. To reduce this number further, the City is investing $490,000 per year to add 50 percent more capacity to the “bail expediters” program citywide, expanding from 16 to 24 full-time staff. Bail expediters help families pay bail before their relative enters jail by contacting family members to let them know bail has been set and ensuring that defendants are held at the courthouse so that their families have an opportunity to post bail. Additionally, the City will continue efforts to make it easier to pay bail, including rolling out online bail payment later this year, and has recently launched a citywide charitable bail fund in partnership with the City Council. These new strategies add to already existing initiatives to reduce case delay and decrease the number of lower-risk people who enter city jails. These initiatives, detailed in the Roadmap, have already helped to shrink the city jail population by 18% over the last three years and will continue to drive declines over the next several years. Additional information about recent declines in the jail population can be found here . SAFER The Roadmap lays out a plan to ensure that everyone who works and is incarcerated in city jails is in a safe, humane, and productive environment as quickly as possible. Key strategies include: * Repairing existing facilities over the next five years: The City will continue to make long-needed physical improvements to existing jails on and off Rikers Island, which will help to accommodate new reentry and educational programs, maximize fire safety, expand air conditioning, make necessary repairs of heating and ventilation systems and support essential functions such as food service and healthcare facilities. * Expanding dedicated housing designed for individuals with serious mental illness: Over the next five years, the City will triple the number of dedicated mental health units that have been shown to reduce violence and improve clinical outcomes. * Enhancing officer safety: The City has allocated $100 million for a new Department of Correction Training Academy to provide training that equips all recruits with the tools necessary to become successful officers, and ongoing professional development opportunities for in-service staff. Additionally, the City will provide officers with a revamped, modern training curriculum in the Academy and enhanced skill-based training for officers already on the job * Improving transparency, accountability, and safety in all jails through technological upgrades: The City will have full camera coverage in all facilities by the end of 2017, will pilot an improved electronic grievance system to ensure that incarcerated individuals can report and resolve issues and requests for services and will implement a new technology tracking tool to enable the provision of services to incarcerated people. The Department of Correction will carry out this work utilizing the more than $1 billion in funding that the Administration has added to its capital plan over the last three years. The City’s complete plan is available in the Roadmap. FAIRER The Roadmap lays out a plan to create a productive culture inside jail that fosters the wellbeing of staff and those incarcerated. Key strategies include: * Preventing future returns to jail through expanded programming and reentry planning: By the end of 2017, the City will offer reentry planning to every incarcerated person starting when they enter the jails as well as a minimum of five hours of educational, vocational, and therapeutic programming per day. Transitional specialists will help people transfer educational credits earned in jails, leverage skills or certificates obtained in jail to land employment after release, and connect people to public benefits and services. * Jails to Jobs: All people leaving jail after serving a city sentence will be offered placement in the Jails to Jobs program. Through this program sentenced individuals will be paired with a peer navigator to assist with the transition back into the community, paid transitional employment after leaving jail to help with securing a long-term job, as well as career advancement support. * Reducing isolation and fostering connections to the community: The City will improve the visiting process by allowing for longer in-person visits, renovating visit areas, and piloting a new expedited transportation option to Rikers Island. * Further developing and refining alternatives to punitive segregation : The City has already reduced punitive segregation by approximately 90% over the last three years, including by eliminating it for all incarcerated people under the age of 22. The City will continue to develop and refine alternative housing options to punitive segregation that can safely house people who commit acts of violence without subjecting them to extensive periods of isolation. * Prioritizing staff wellbeing and professional development: The City will expand support services for correctional officers, including the Correction Assistance Response for Employees (CARE) Unit, a division that addresses the personal and family issues of uniformed and non-uniformed staff. The City will also implement the DOC Injury Treatment Service so officers who are injured on the job will have a dedicated clinic inside every facility by the end of 2018. These strategies build on over $90 million in new investments under this administration to expand supportive services for correctional officers and incarcerated individuals. The complete plan to improve the culture inside city jails is detailed in the Roadmap. Justice Implementation Task Force Steering Committee Ana M. Bermudez, New York City Department of Probation Commissioner Stanley Brezenoff, Interim President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Richard A. Brown, District Attorney for Queens County Darcel D. Clark, District Attorney for Bronx County Carmen Fariña, New York City Schools Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Eric Gonzalez, Acting District Attorney for Kings County David Hansell, Commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services Seymour W. James, Jr., Attorney-in-Charge, Criminal Practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City Judge Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York Michael E. McMahon, District Attorney for Richmond County James O’Neill, Commissioner of New York City Police Department Joseph Ponte, Commissioner of New York City Department of Correction Cyrus Vance, Jr., District Attorney for New York County Working Group on Safely Reducing Size of the Jail Population Co-Chairs Honorable Joseph Zayas, Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters, Eleventh Judicial District of the State of New York Hazel Jennings, Bureau Chief of Facility Operations for the New York City Department of Correction Elizabeth A. Gaynes, Executive Director of the Osborne Association Karen Shaer, First Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Working Group on Culture Change Co-Chairs Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of Alliance of Families for Justice Julio Medina, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Exodus Transitional Community, Inc. Jeff Thamkittikasem, Chief of Staff at New York City Department of Correction Working Group on Design Co-Chairs Stanley Richards, Board Member of the New York City Board of Corrections and Senior Vice President at The Fortune Society, Inc. Feniosky Pena-Mora, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director of The Architectural League of New York Purnima Kapur, Executive Director of New York City Department of City Planning Research and Learning Advisory Group Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the former Director of the National Institute of Justice Bruce Western, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, Harvard Kennedy School Emily Wang M.D., M.A.S., Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Medicine and Co-Founder of the Transitions Clinic Network "As the largest alternative-to-incarceration in New York City, on any given day the Department of Probation supervises a sentenced population of more than twice the incarcerated jail population. I look forward to leveraging our experience as a nationally-recognized justice programs innovator -- identifying new opportunities to safely reduce the number of people in jail and expanding community supervision as an effective response to criminal behavior for both justice-involved individuals and communities. We are proud to be called upon as part of this historic effort to further equity and justice in our great City,” said Department of Probation Commissioner Ana M. Bermúdez. New York City Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David Hansell said, “ACS’ robust partnership with Probation and the Courts has led to a sharp decrease in the number of youth in detention over the past five years. We’ve realigned our Juvenile Justice policies to prioritize safe alternatives to placement. Without a doubt, New York City has been at the forefront of this national transformation, and our aggressive reforms continue as we implement Close To Home, a program that utilizes community-based residences and prioritizes the supportive networks that keep youthful offenders connected their families. Today, we join our administration colleagues in taking the next step in this bold and progressive vision through committing to expand alternatives to jail, close Rikers Island, and replace it with a new system built on our shared values.” “As one of the nation's largest providers of medical and mental health care for incarcerated persons, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Correctional Health Services is an essential partner in the Mayor’s efforts to create new avenues for diversion, reduce recidivism, and decrease the overall jail population,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We are committed to working with the city, state, and community to continue to provide high quality health care in our City’s jails and ensure the uninterrupted provision of care no matter where our patients might be housed.” Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “I am pleased to do anything that stems the violence at Rikers Island. I am in favor of reducing the jail population as long as it doesn’t compromise public safety. We need to focus on those accused of serious crimes who pose a threat to the community, and divert those who do not need to be incarcerated, and Mayor de Blasio’s roadmap provides concrete steps toward those goals. I believe that a modern, professional training academy for Correction Officers will renew their pride and give them the respect they deserve.” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: “We have achieved historic advances in public safety in New York City, yet Rikers Island stands in contrast to this remarkable legacy. We cannot allow a seat of systemic abuse like Rikers to continue to exist. In order to successfully implement the plan to close Rikers Island, there needs to be buy-in from actors across the criminal justice system: from police, to prosecutors, to corrections officials. And importantly, programs essential to achieving a reduction in detention must be adequately funded. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has laid the groundwork for this by contributing significant funding to the city’s supervised release and mental health initiatives, the state’s college-in-prisons programming , as well as millions for innovative diversion and reentry initiatives citywide. I commend the Mayor for his commitment to this ambitious plan.” Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “This plan creates a promising framework towards our goal of closing Rikers and enhancing fairness and humanity in the justice system by preserving public safety without relying on incarceration alone. In Brooklyn, we have recently put in place a new bail policy under which nearly all misdemeanor defendants are released without bail and many others participate in a supervised release program. We have also embraced innovative strategies that provide fair and effective alternatives to imprisonment, including Mental Health Court, our Young Adult Court, and will soon offer certain drug offenders the option of engaging in treatment without ever going to court. I look forward to working with all the partners who are taking part in this effort to see that this plan is implemented successfully." "Closing Rikers Island is an idea whose time has come," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The steps being announced today will take the city toward a smaller, safer and more humane corrections system." “For far too long, both inmates and corrections officers at Rikers Island have lived through an untenable situation,” said U.S. Representative Joe Crowley. “Shutting down this outdated facility in favor of smaller, more modern and humane facilities is a complex endeavor but the absolute right thing to do. The process will be long and difficult, but I applaud Mayor de Blasio for putting forth a sensible roadmap that will get us there. It is heartening to see a groundswell of support both in government and in our communities for achieving this long-sought goal and I look forward to working with the City on ways to better deal with our inmate population not just in the long-term but in the short term – as we continue efforts to address mental health issues, disciplinary issues, and engagement between officers and inmates.” U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said, “The problems at Rikers Island are symptomatic of the issues facing our criminal justice system as a whole. The island has become a symbol of dysfunction and the City is right to begin taking these proactive steps to close it down. This will not be an easy process, nor will it happen overnight. Closing a facility of this nature will require time, careful planning, transparency, and a great deal of input from the community. The City’s ‘Smaller, Safer, Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers’ appears to encompass all of those vital elements, while seeking to bring together and engage with stakeholders from across NYC. This type of comprehensive approach is what’s needed to close Rikers in a thoughtful way.” “I have long called for the closing of Rikers Island, due to its abysmal record of prisoner mistreatment and long history of violence,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “We need to ensure our corrections system reflects the progressive values we hope to promote and uphold in New York, including expanding bail and reducing the number of people incarcerated while awaiting trial. Rikers Island has been a failure in this respect, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for moving forward on his promise along with Speaker Viverito who has long championed this issue.” “Rikers Island is an 18th century solution to a 21st century problem, complicating prisoners’ rights to a speedy trial, limiting families’ ability to visit incarcerated loved ones, and saddling the City with an exorbitant financial burden in order to continue its operation,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “For decades, Rikers has been a stain on the City’s conscience, and I am relieved to finalize its shutdown and bring forward Mayor de Blasio’s solution for smaller, safer, fairer, and more humane jails across the City.” "Rikers Island has become a moral and economic burden for our City. Too many New Yorkers have been left stranded indefinitely there awaiting trial while being subjected to inhumane conditions and costing our City millions in taxpayer dollars,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud our City's administration for creating a roadmap that will put an end to a place that is unjust, inefficient and costly, while taking essential steps to end mass incarceration. I look forward to working with the city to expeditiously implement these steps and close Rikers Island as soon as possible." Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon said, “Closing the modern day penal colony of Rikers Island is an effort whose time has come. From its remoteness to its facilities, Rikers is not good for our City and not just for its people. If we are to have a more humane criminal justice system, we must implement the reforms that were recommended in the Commission’s report and work towards a jail system that is smaller, safer, and fairer. This process will not be easy, but Brooklynites have good heads and good hearts and that is what we will need to change Rikers from a symbol of despair and violence to one of justice and humanity. I look forward to ongoing dialogue with the Mayor, the community, and criminal justice experts to improve our current system.” "I am pleased the Mayor is committed to closing Rikers Island, a jail that remains a blight on our city. I have long been for the responsible, safe and secure closure of this jail where young people are held too long, and human rights are violated. I am committed to working at the state level to build a criminal justice system that works for all, and that keeps our city safe; to have one does not mean an absence of the other. Accordingly, closing Rikers is one step towards a more responsible and equitable criminal justice system – but it is an overdue and necessary one, and I applaud the Mayor for his leadership," said Assembly Member Walter Mosley. “As a long-time proponent of criminal justice reform, I am very impressed with the goals Mayor de Blasio has set in this plan -- with the funding to back them up. This is a realistic plan that can bring about historical reforms,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda, Chairman, Subcommittee on Transitional Services. “With Kalief Browder and a string of other high-profile and controversial incidents at Riker's Island I am happy to hear of its doors closing," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. "Based on the report released by an independent commission, chaired by Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the NYS Court of Appeals, the Mayor's plan to reduce the population to 5000, and eventually close Riker's in 10 years is feasible. I appreciate the thought, energy and effort that has been put into this plan, and I am confident in the ongoing efforts and dialogue to address all the critical factors that will impact so many lives.” "As the entire nation watches New York City take the lead in the movement for criminal justice reform, I thank the Mayor for committing to transparency and accountability as we move closer towards the goal of closing Rikers," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "Through this new roadmap, taskforce and website, the public will be updated on developments in real time and will be able to hold the City accountable to its promise. Measures like these serve as necessary steps to ensure that New York City continues to be the model for progress and justice for the rest of the country, and the rest of the world." “Closings Rikers is an important step in the long fight to end mass incarceration,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. The success of the #CLOSErikers campaign signals that New York is ready for further criminal justice reform. I appreciate the work that the Mayor, advocates and elected officials have put forth in this process, and recognize that we have arduous work ahead of us to fix our broken system.” "For far too long the legacy of Rikers Island has been irredeemable. The facility exemplifies the scourge that is mass incarceration in this country,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy, co-chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “I commend the Mayor for laying out a clear, comprehensive plan to close Rikers Island and look forward to the day when the facility is finally shut down. In the meantime, I will work with my colleagues in government to ensure the City remains committed to treating those who are detained on Rikers Island with dignity and respect, and implement solutions that enable detainees to access sorely needed services." "The horror stories about Rikers Island are endless and heartbreaking, which is why creating a smart, well-thought out plan with all stakeholders at the table is one of the most crucial policies we can work on as a city," said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. "Tough decisions will have to be made and decades of neglect will not be solved overnight. With every major leader in the city on board, there is no better time than now to address the vast amount of issues that have plagued our city's jail system. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Stringer, Judge Lippmann, my City Council colleagues and all of the advocates from the Close Rikers campaign." "Immigrants, communities of color and low-income people are among those most disadvantaged in our criminal justice system,” stated Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “They must help guide our plans to make incarceration in New York City more fair. The key factor in closing Rikers is a significant reduction of our total jail population. Measuring progress with public access to Department of Correction data is a good step. But reducing the number of people being held will only be accomplished through collaboration with the service organizations and individuals who best understand our jail system." "Closing Rikers is a moral imperative--there’s simply no way to get to a fairer, more humane, and more effective criminal justice system without a fresh start. But actually getting it done will require a sustained commitment. I applaud the Mayor for putting a plan in place to get us there and, perhaps most importantly, for establishing a means by which the City can hold itself accountable as it acts on that plan," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, "Since my first day at the Council, I have been interested in finding solutions to curb the violence and injustice that permeates Rikers Island. The effort to finally close this facility will brighten the lives of so many marred by its deeply seated troubles. I applaud this first step in the process as well as all who have taken us to this point. This is a step in the right direction that can move the conversation forward on reforming our criminal justice system in New York City and hopefully move us away from the mass incarceration that has become a vicious cycle for too many communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my many colleagues who have been champions alongside me on this issue deserve real credit, as do the many activists who have sparked a real change." Council Member Corey Johnson stated, “For too long, the conditions at Rikers Island have been far beneath the dignity of our City," Said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "By committing to close this facility, we are acting in line with our values and moving New York in the direction of greater fairness and justice. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for putting forth the concrete steps we need to take in order to make our criminal justice system safer and more just." "New York City can and will do better than Rikers Island.For far too long we've allowed the unspeakable to go on at this jail,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. "As a City we must be united and transparent in the much needed reforms coming ahead for the facility and those detained there. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for support and leadership to finally closing Rikers Island." Judge Jonathan Lippman, chair, Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform said, "I applaud the Mayor for taking these critical steps to deliver on the promise of permanently ending the horrors of Rikers Island. It has been an accelerant of human misery for decades and nothing but an impediment to serving justice and public safety in our City. Our commission's report detailed a roadmap for safely closing Rikers to build a more just system and we are extremely proud the Mayor is building on that work." "Closing the jails on Rikers Island is an important milestone in the work to improve fairness in New York City's criminal justice system," said Jeremy Travis, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "New York City has already made great strides in reducing crime and incarceration, and I look forward to working with the Justice Implementation Task Force to reduce both even further as we implement the plan to close Rikers Island." "I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to closing the jails on Rikers Island and continuing to move the city toward a more just correctional system," said Herbert Sturz, Board Chair of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods. "I have long been committed to enhancing the fairness of the criminal justice system and look forward to working with the City to ensure that we effectively implement the ambitious and important plan announced today." Osborne Association President and CEO Elizabeth Gaynes said, “As an organization whose mission includes both alternatives to jail and prison, and the transformation of corrections facilities for those who live in them, work in them, and visit them; whose previous director, Austin MacCormick, was the commissioner of the NYC Department of Correction under Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, we recognize the importance of the plan to both reduce the jail population and to move detained individuals to purpose-built facilities closer to courts and visitors. At the same time, as the Osborne Association has provided services in city jails continuously for more than three decades, we recognize that this goal will take at least a decade to achieve, during which time hundreds of thousands of our fellow New Yorkers will be living and working on the Island. We appreciate the City’s commitment to remain focused on current conditions of confinement, ensuring that violence is reduced, that programs are provided to prepare people to return to their communities, and that the trauma of people who are detained, incarcerated, and employed by our corrections system is reduced and addressed. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Justice Implementation Task Force, and for the Mayor’s acknowledgment that if we fail to tackle these challenges in the current environment, they will simply be exported to a new location.” JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society, said "For 50 years, Fortune has worked, through advocacy and services, to reduce the number of people incarcerated, to improve conditions of confinement, and to help people transition successfully from incarceration. We strongly support the Roadmap to Close Rikers Island, which commits to investment and progress in all three areas. In addition, we commend the Mayor and his team for including formerly incarcerated individuals in leadership in this effort, including Julio Medina and our own Stanley Richards." Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President of the Fortune Society said, “I am deeply grateful to the Mayor for this appointment as Co-Chair of the Implementation Task Force. His visionary plan to close Rikers is perhaps the most important step we can take to re-shape New York City’s criminal justice system. Replacing Rikers with a network of smaller and safer facilities will create supportive environments that will offer positive options for the thousands of men and women who are jailed in New York City every year. At The Fortune Society, we know that expanding pre-trial diversion, providing alternatives to incarceration and offering strong community-based education and career training programs reduces recidivism and makes our communities safer. As someone, who as a young man, was incarcerated on Rikers Island, this is a very personal and emotional moment for me. I am humbled to be part of this historic initiative and proud to support the Mayor’s commitment to build a City rooted in justice, fairness and equality for all.” "Smaller, safer, and fairer. Those values have driven the tremendous gains New York City has made in recent years to become the safest big city in America,” stated Nicholas Turner, President, The Vera Institute of Justice . “Over two decades, criminal justice reform in New York City has led to a 55% drop in the number of people held in jail while lowering crime by 58%. Those are remarkable wins. But we cannot stop there. Even though New York City is already an exemplar of the principle that more jail does not equal more safety, there is much more to be done to make sure our justice system promotes safety for all. We must prevent New Yorkers from unnecessarily remaining in jail because of unaffordable bail and long court delays; create facilities that are safe, modern, and supportive for both those who work and are incarcerated there; and invest in building healthier, stronger communities across our entire city. Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year plan towards closing Rikers Island brings us closer to these goals. Vera looks forward to supporting the Mayor’s Office and the Justice Implementation Task Force in working towards a justice system that is even smaller, even safer, and even more fair." "The Mayor's actions to phase out Rikers Island are the first step toward closing a jail that has become an embarrassment to our city," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. "It is encouraging to see Mayor de Blasio's commitment to closing Rikers Island and now having a roadmap in place to do so," said MaryAnne Gilmartin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Commercial and Residential Development at Forest City Ratner Companies. "We will continue working towards the shared goal of creating a stronger, safer New York, one without this international symbol of injustice." “The report of the Lippman Commission on the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform established that: (1) the lives of too many New Yorkers and their families were being destroyed by excessive, unnecessary, and inappropriate pretrial detention; and (2) the pretrial detention population of Rikers Island could be reduced without increasing risk to the City's residents and visitors. By adopting many of the Commission's findings and now creating an oversight structure to ensure implementation of responsible reform, including closure of Rikers Island within the next ten years, Mayor de Blasio is leading the City toward a more humane criminal justice system,” said Colvin W. Grannum, President and CEO, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. "Today, we move forward to a new chapter and era on how we approach justice. The continued collaboration of many experts in the field have led us to the creation of the transformational blueprint ‘SMALLER, SAFER, FAIRER: A ROADMAP TO CLOSING RIKERS ISLAND.’ I am proud to be a part of this innovative Task force and thank the Mayor and his Office of Criminal Justice for taking a stance that will lead to the closing of Rikers. And just as important committing the funds that will ensure the successful outcome of The Roadmap. We are in unique times and must seize the moment to begin implementing change. Not just any change, but change that transcends race, economics, politics and ensures safety, transformation, and stability. Thank You Mayor de Blasio for remaining on the cutting edge of justice reform," said Julio Medina, Executive Director of Exodus Transitional Community, Inc. Closing Rikers is a first and necessary step to address the human cost of mass incarceration in our city. We commend the Mayor for announcing this plan and hope that it can be implemented as fast as possible," said Justine Olderman of The Bronx Defenders. “Brooklyn Defender Services has been a strong advocate in favor of closing Rikers Island, a jail that is known for deplorable conditions and an extremely violent culture. Most of the residents of Rikers are our clients who cannot afford to post bail and are there solely because of their poverty. There are many positive steps in this roadmap to reduce the number of pre-trial detentees and individuals in jail on short-term sentences, which are welcome changes. We are hopeful that by following the roadmap and building upon it over the next few years, Rikers Island will close and we can begin a new chapter of humanity, safety and fairness for the accused as soon as possible.” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director, Brooklyn Defender Services "New York has proven that it can reduce crime while reducing its prison population, and that proactive justice works. These reforms to decrease incarceration and unnecessary pre-trial detention are the logical next step toward a fairer, safer city. We must also now move as quickly as we can to close Rikers once and for all and move to a local jail system to ensure a higher standard of justice in our city," said Richard Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission. Director of the Center for Court Innovation Greg Berman said, "New York City has made remarkable progress in recent years, reducing the use of incarceration while keeping crime rates at historic lows. The City's implementation plan for closing Rikers Island seeks to take this work to the next level. Rather than resting on its laurels, New York continues to define the leading edge of criminal justice reform. The Center for Court Innovation applauds this effort and looks forward to working with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice to advance the goal of a safer, more effective, and more humane justice system, including closing Rikers Island." Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice and former New York City Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said, "Today's announcement is one more step in the direction of a safer, fairer and less incarcerated New York City. New York City is not only the safest and least incarcerated big city in America, but this plan puts it on the road to closing the notorious Riker's island facilities, using city jails more parsimoniously, and creating a safer environment for people who work and are incarcerated in the city. The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice is to be commended for involving a broad swath of New Yorkers in working to bring the city's plan to fruition." “Smaller, Safer, Fairer, builds on the progress the Mayor has made in reducing Rikers’ population and will improve conditions for those living and working on Rikers in the short term. We are committed to working with the Mayor and the City Council to help close Rikers by diverting people with serious mental illness from jail and developing local community justice centers to house and most importantly, rehabilitate and retrain those who remain in custody,” said Cheryl Roberts, Executive Director, Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice. New York County Defender Services Executive Director Stan Germán said, “NYCDS applauds the Mayor's plan to close Riker's Island which represents an outdated and discredited approach that favors inhumane punishment over rehabilitation. The Mayor's commitment toward smaller facilities with greater services and accountability is not only a moral mandate but also in the best interests of public safety, crime reduction, and respect for fundamental constitutional rights.” Formerly Incarcerated Criminal Justice advocate, Vivian D. Nixon said, "As someone who went through the jail system and currently works with women who have cycled in and out of local jails as well as state and federal prisons (including Riker’s Island), I am personally aware of the impact that the proposed plan will have on youth, men, women, families and communities that have suffered during the age of mass incarceration because the current conditions and culture on Rikers Island. The Mayor’s plan to work closely with the existing Diversion and Reentry Subcommittee of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to reform bail policy, offer quality diversion programming, provide education and employment opportunities to people reentering the community from Rikers, and increase gender responsive approaches for women over the next three years will lay the foundation for a significant reduction in the number of incarcerated people in city jails overall. Furthermore, it is encouraging and prudent to simultaneously address the need to improve the physical conditions of the antiquated and unsafe facility and work on a cultural shift regarding the way we treat detainees, convicted people, and their families."
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:10pm
Brian Lehrer: And it’s a morning on which 1.2 million New York City schoolchildren are waking up to hear that the Mayor will no longer control the education system after June 30th because the New York State legislature couldn’t agree on an extension of mayoral control last night before they adjourned until 2018. Unless they pull off some post session magic, a seven-member Board of Education with divided accountability and 32 local school districts will take control of the system up through eighth grade. We will start there with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Mayor Bill de Blasio coming to you on Thursday on this week because I’ll be taking a summer Friday off tomorrow. Good morning Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. Lehrer: Do you think this is really the way it’s going to be now for the city schools or is there some post-session negotiation that starts now? Mayor: Look, I think everyone in this city should be deeply concerned that the Legislature had a chance to resolve this by the end of their formal session and didn’t. And I think there should be strong voices all over the city saying that they need to get back and finish this work before June 30. Now I will say the conversations yesterday were intense throughout the day, I ended up speaking with all four of the key leaders in Albany throughout the day numerous times. My last conversation was around midnight with the Majority Leader of the Senate, John Flanagan. So to be fair, a lot of work went on yesterday, a lot of effort to try and craft a larger resolution of the issue. So I don’t think that’s for nothing, I think that’s important because it opens the door to resolution. But the fact that it didn’t get done should worry everyone because you know, things can spin out of control in Albany. And I think what everyone needs to do now – all those folks who have been supporting mayoral control of education understand it’s the only way to keep our school system moving forward – those business leaders, labor leaders, parents all over the city need to send a very clear message to Albany – get back there and finish this work. Lehrer: And listeners our phones are open for our Ask the Mayor segment on mayoral control of the public schools or anything else. 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or you can tweet, just use the #AskTheMayor. Am I right that – well let me not ask you that, I’ll ask you this. We know the Senate Republicans wouldn’t renew mayoral control because they wanted a higher number of charter schools. What role did the breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Caucus, led by Jeff Klein of the Bronx, play in this failure? Here’s Klein speaking yesterday. He, as I understand it, agrees with the Republican position. [State Senator Jeff Klein: “I’m hopeful that we can pick up the pieces, renegotiate, and come back as quickly as possible and do the things we need to do for the City of New York.”] Lehrer: So he says renegotiate, you say pick up the pieces and renegotiate. How much do you blame Jeff Klein and the seven breakaway Democrats for this, if at all? Mayor: I don’t think it’s time to assess blame because there’s still a way to resolve this. I think what’s important here and commendable is that the Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, laid out a very clear vision at the beginning of this process and said mayoral control of education needs to be treated on its own merits. It needs to be seen just the same way as fundamental matters of governance are addressed for every part of the state, including those sale tax extenders for upstate and income tax extender for New York City. He put it in the same bucket as those, as fundamental governance matters. I think that’s absolutely right. And any resolution here has to respect that ground rule. But in terms of the different players – look to be fair to everyone, everyone was talking to everyone yesterday. We were talking with the Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, the Assembly Speaker, and Senator Klein throughout the day. I was and my team was. Let’s give people a chance to come back and fix this, but they’ve got precious little time. Its June 22nd this morning, we’ve got precisely eight days so that’s when the proof will be in the pudding, Brian, of what happened. And if God forbid mayoral control lapses then there will be more than enough to talk about who is responsible. But they’ve got a chance right now to avoid something that would be absolutely destructive for our school system and 1.1 million kids. They’ve just got to come back and get it done. Lehrer: You mentioned Speaker Heastie having what you see as the right position – that mayoral control is an essential function of government – but my understanding is that Speaker Heastie is more adamant than you are about not increasing the number of charter schools and would not accept a compromise. So, is that true and would you urge Heastie to make a deal for some split the difference number that he is not currently willing to make? Mayor: I want to be very clear about this – there’s two ways to understand this, meaning two important parts of the equation. Speaker Heastie is 100 percent right that there should not be a legislative quid pro quo. He has been abundantly clear about that, he said he will not participate in that and obviously would not, as you said, he’s not going to pass any of the other things if mayoral control is not passed. There are issues around the charters, and obviously I spoke at length about this yesterday during the press conference. I had several conversations with the Majority Leader John Flanagan on his concerns about charters and trying to see if we can find some common ground on what we’re doing in our schools every day to work with charters. I’ve said repeatedly we have ample experience working with charters, including our pre-K program, our afterschool program for middle school kids, our upcoming 3-K – all of those by the decision of this administration included charters as stakeholders in those efforts, and we work with a number of charter schools every day productively. There are some differences politically with some charter organizations, obviously well known, and there’s some we think are doing a great job and some we think need to do better. But if you look at day-to-day life, there’s actually plenty of cooperation with charters happening. And I’ve talked at length with Leader Flanagan about that. So I think a lot of the discussion is what can we do from the City perspective to keep striking that balance and show that we’re being fair to everyone. But I don’t think that’s a legislative matter. I think that’s about what the City of New York can do, and that’s an area where I think we can keep working together. Lehrer: But is there a path to yes without Speaker Heastie compromising on the number that’s in the charter school cap? Mayor: 100 percent, Brian. I’ve always believed – you know, I was a legislator – there’s always a path to yes. And a lot of times it takes being creative and looking at different factors or looking at different issues entirely to put something together that people feel comfortable with. Lehrer: You have anything to suggest that’s not [inaudible]? Mayor: I’m not going to do that publicly. Obviously, that’s what – all day yesterday people were having those conversations, and I think it’s well understood that things were closing in some good ways. There was some real coming together. That’s why I’m disappointed that it wasn’t finished. And I think there is still time to finish it. But again, I think the Speaker has laid out a fundamental concept which makes all the sense in the world – let’s respect this as essential governance. No one – Brian, no one, including John Flanagan, including Jeff Klein – no one said they have a better system of governance than mayoral control. And so, why don’t we say – let’s stipulate that – that we all agree on that and now we’re trying to figure out a variety of other matters just to get this done and move forward. And I think the Speaker’s been right to say – let’s codify that reality. This thing has to stand alone. Lehrer: And just one other thing on this before we move on to some callers and then some other things from me. I don’t know if you’re even willing to engage in this yet with your saying there’s still a chance before June 30th to undo this. But if this goes forward – I remember the old seven-member Board of Education from the system before 2002. The Mayor appoints two members and each of the five borough presidents appoints one. That’s why it wasn’t considered accountable to anyone in particular, all that split power. Are those people in place? Do you have two appointees on some shell Board of Education right now? Mayor: We obviously have a current panel that we have the majority on and have named members to. That’s going to continue up until June 30. God forbid – and I appreciate the point you’re making very much, Brian – God forbid we get to the morning of July 1st and Albany has not acted – well first of all, I think there’s going to be tremendous frustration and anger expressed in this city if that ever happens. But then we would have to constitute that board exactly as you say. There will be no majority held by anyone – no one fully accountable. That will immediately – as we heard yesterday from our Chancellor and from the former Deputy Chancellor under Michael Bloomberg that the immediate drag that this will create on our school system – the things that will not be able to happen quickly, the costs involved. By the way, the cost of reconstituting that Board of Education is projected at $1.6 billion over the next ten years. That’s an entirely additional cost to everything we’re doing on education. We would demand that Albany pay that if they’re forcing this on us. And then Brian, we’d have to start the election process for 32 local school boards – all of which would have the power to name their own superintendents, determine their own budgets. A lot of the things that we now are doing in the school system that people believe in – Pre-K for All, Computer Science for All, Advanced Placement courses in every high school – all of that would no longer be universal. It would be at the whim of each of 32 local school boards, ergo I’m sure a lot of folks would lose pre-K. Our 3-K initiative – extending it to three-year-olds could not move forward. You’re talking about a sea change and a vast amount of new cost. And then unfortunately, the door opening to the kind of corruption we knew with the local school boards which was legendary. One of the things the Deputy Chancellor said – the former Deputy Chancellor – said yesterday was when he was a teacher, wanted to be an assistant principal, they literally showed him or they told him about a price list. If you wanted to become assistant principal, you had to give money to the members of the local school boards. You had to buy your way to advancement in the school system. That literally happened under the old system. That can never be allowed to happen again. So today, I have an open mind hoping that Albany will come back quickly and finish the work which was moving along well yesterday. But if we get to June 30 and Albany hasn’t acted, we’re entering a whole new world. Lehrer: Peter in Huntington wants to ask a question about mayoral control. Peter, how does this look from Long Island? Question: Thank you, Brian. It’s a very interesting subject, and my question is – obviously just to the east of the city, the entire area of Long Island is made up of 127 separate districts not controlled by one individual or one group. And I’m wondering after what the Mayor has just said what he thinks about how Long Island is run versus the city and why one works and the other one won’t? Mayor: Look, I never tell any locality what to do, but I do believe mayoral control of education is good everywhere. We had Arne Duncan do a phone press conference with me a couple days ago – and obviously former federal Education Secretary – and he said look, part of the problem with education in America is that in most places, there is not an accountability structure and so things like early childhood education just never get done. Look at New York City – we have pure accountability. Everyone can hold me personally responsible. I said we’ve got to do early childhood education like never before. We went from 20,000 kids in full-day pre-K to 70,000 kids in full-day pre-K in the course of just a couple of years. We were able to move this whole system in unison with a single standard, a single vision. And now literally every single year, 50,000 more kids are getting full-day pre-K for free than would have otherwise. And there’s a stunning multiplier effect – what it’s going to mean for those kids and their families. So I think mayoral control and a single elected official being fully accountable is the optimal system everywhere, but each locality has to decide for themselves what they want. Lehrer: Anna in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hello, Anna. Question: Yes, hi. Hi, Brian. Thanks for taking my call. Lehrer: Sure. Question: I wanted to ask Mayor de Blasio about Rikers Island. Mayor de Blasio, how will you ensure that the voices and experiences of people like me and my family that are being most harmed by Rikers Island will be incorporated in your plan for closure? The question is because my son was sitting for six years on Rikers Island waiting for trial. He was only charged, and then he was waiting and waiting for six years to get his day in court. So I would like to know how he will listen and incorporate our experiences because I’m not the only one, and it has impacted my life a lot, my son’s life – six years of being punished on a torture [inaudible] island waiting for trial. How is he going to take into consideration our suffering and experience? That’s my question. Mayor: Anna, thank you very, very much for the question. Anna, I want to first ask – has your son finally gone through the process and what is his situation? Question: Well, the situation is that after six years of torture and abuse on that island, people are not willing at that point to go to trial anymore, putting their life at risk again and again. Mayor: No, but I’m saying what’s his situation? What’s his situation? Question: Therefore, he took a plea deal, which is inevitable. And it seems that that’s a pattern that happens over and over in the court. Mayor: And where is he now, Anna? Where is he now? Question: Now he is in Mid-State Correctional facility upstate. He took a plea deal because he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mayor: [Inaudible] Lehrer: Anna, can I just ask you – Anna, also – do you think that the fact that it was a centralized jail for the city at Rikers Island had something to do with it or could the same thing that happened to your son have happened, in terms of the waiting time, if we had something like five borough jails, as the proposal is from the former chief judge right now? Question: I believe that the chief judge proposal is excellent. I believe that people should stay in borough jails next to the courts. It will be easier even to transport them, and it is much easier for families to visit them in their own boroughs. And hopefully, it gets also speedier to put them through the court system. Lehrer: And Anna, I’m going to leave it there. And I really appreciate your call and good luck to you and your family. Mr. Mayor, you are now unveiling a close Rikers plan, right? Mayor: Yes, we have, Brian – and I want to speak to Anna’s point – but just to say upfront, we have laid out much more detail on how we’re going to through the process of closing Rikers Island. And it’s going to take a lot of different pieces. I’m going to be blunt with people throughout this process – just how difficult, just how complex it is to get this done because remember, it’s been there for 85 years and the criminal justice system was based on the availability of that space. But look, there’s so many things that have to be fixed in the criminal justice system. We’ve had an era of mass incarceration that we are overcoming in this city, but it needs to be overcome in the entire country. The plan we’ve put forward would speed efforts, whether it’s bail reform, alternatives to incarceration – a number of things, obviously first and foremost driving down crime so fewer and fewer people are arrested, fewer people are going into the justice system. We fundamentally believe we have to get to 5,000 inmates in our jail systems to be able to close Rikers once and for all, but we believe it can be done with all of these tools. In the meantime, we have to take better care of the inmates who are on Rikers now and also have to protect the officers who are there now. So the plan lays out all those pieces with timelines that we’re going to be showing publicly. We’re going to be having everything online as we move through the pieces. To Anna’s core point – and to your point, Brian – first, there is a fundamental problem with the criminal justice system and with the culture of our corrections system, and it is not just on Rikers Island. It is in any jail that we have to address more fundamentally. Getting out of Rikers does not solve the underlying problems of the criminal justice system or the culture of the correction system that needs to be fundamentally reformed, so I really appreciate your point Brian because if people think ‘you leave Rikers you end up with a set of other jails, and then just everyone take your attention from the issue and move onto something else.’ That is irresponsible. Those challenges will still exist. To Anna’s point, six years awaiting trial is unbelievable and unacceptable. Obviously we know what happened to Kalief Browder, which was unacceptable. We have to continue to speed the trial process. That is about the state and the Office of Court Administration providing enough judges, enough resources. It’s about the prosecutors, the DAs speeding up their process. We can contribute in other ways with what we can do in terms of supporting alternatives to incarceration, and obviously what we do on the front end, which is reducing crime, reducing the number of arrests because we reduce crime. So it’s – everyone’s going to have to focus on this, but it’s crazy that anyone waits anywhere near that amount of time for trial. There is not a speedy trial guarantee in America, and it’s supposed to be in our constitution. It is there. It’s supposed to mean something, but we’ve got a lot of work to do to make it real. Lehrer: Today, you had not accepted the suggestion of Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and the former chief judge in his report for five borough jails, so that it’s proportional and geographically located where people are actually arrested. Do you now accept it? Mayor: No, the fact is exactly what I felt before I feel still. We want to have the additional jail capacity so we can get off of Rikers. We need to see a commitment from the city councilmembers in the districts that have been initially proposed to specifically start the land use process to achieve it. All of it is theoretical Brian unless a councilmember comes forward and says I’m going to support the placement of this facility. We’re going to have a whole public process around it to make sure it’s’ done the right way, but otherwise it’s theoretical. We need to figure out which specific places, which councilmembers are ready to come forward and work with us to get that done. That’s the bottom line. Lehrer: You had accepted four boroughs, but not Staten Island. Is there a reason? I think I have that right. Is there a reason not – Staten Island that is different from the others? Mayor: Well, well there’s two – absolutely there’s a reason. There’s very small number of inmates from Staten Island, and obviously there’s been opposition from the local councilmember. And it’s not – whether we think it’s a perfect system or not, everyone who pays attention to our City Council and our land use system understands how central the role of the local councilmember is, so this is why I’m trying to make this very real, very practical. We’ve got four other boroughs. We need a specific location and a specific councilmember to step forward at an appropriate location, and I say I’m ready to get this process going because as we’re doing all these others things – driving down the number of folks who are incarcerated, right now we have 23 percent decrease in the number of inmates in Rikers since I came into office. We’re going to keep driving that down with every tool we have, but we can’t get off Rikers unless there are specific places where the local leadership accepts a jail facility. It just cannot happen with a vote of the City Council, so I’m at this point making this central point – let’s get real. Let’s do that in the places where the vast majority of inmates come from. Let’s start that process now so we can keep on schedule to get off of Rikers. Lehrer: Gary in Middle Village, Queens – you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Gary. Question: Hello, Brian. Hello, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for taking my call. As a resident of Middle Village, we know the M train is about to go out for 10 months and we understand the need for that. But someone has to be our advocate to get the alternate services to work better, so that we have an alternate route. On Sunday night, a whole lot of people and me were stuck for two hours at the Bushwick stop waiting for the 54 bus. It took two hours. And when the bus came, three buses came of course, as we watched 10 buses go by in the other direction. And this isn’t one night. This is like every other Sunday, there’s an hour wait to get into the city. And plenty of people work on Sundays and Saturdays. And the other thing is too that according to the schedule, that means four scheduled buses did not show up at that stop. And this is between 10 and midnight. And there was a very elderly woman sitting right next to me who was like all upset and was like I’m waiting two hours here. Mayor: Yep. Lehrer: Gary, it’s a horror show. What’s your question for the Mayor? Question: So we need an advocate who will talk to the MTA. I understand that this is the Governor’s problem. But we definitely need an advocate to you know stick up for us that the alternative services work while these understandably needy repairs are done. But also one other thing, even when the M train comes back, the connection between the M train – we all have the app, we’re all watching the app. And by the way Mr. Mayor, if you need it, I have tons of screenshots on my phone of apps where we’re waiting for 50 minutes and then three buses show up. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, talk to Gary. Mayor: Gary, I very much appreciate this question. And I can understand 100 percent how frustrating it is that people just can’t get around and they’re stuck. And I particularly appreciate the point about the elderly woman. This is a situation that’s unacceptable. And we are – I’m going to be that advocate. My four members – we now have a fourth member that’s just been approved to be on the MTA Board, Carl Weisbrod, who was our Chair of the City Planning Commission, very respected guy in this city. My four members of the MTA Board are going to fight for a series of changes in how the city approaches the subway system, including – excuse me, the state approaches the subway system, I’m sorry – including when the subways are going through repairs and there’s supposed to be alternative service. So I think what we can safely say now – and as Gary said, very importantly, I’ll always say it – the MTA is run by the State of New York, it’s run by Governor Cuomo. He has control of the MTA. He’s acknowledged that fact. I have said he has to come forward with a plan to address what is now a crisis in terms of electrical breakdowns, signal breakdowns, constant delays. And then on top of that, when there is legitimate work being done on a line – an actual plan to handle the riders and not let it be something as crazy as a two-hour delay. It doesn’t make any sense. They have a lot of buses and they know if they’ve got a problem that they have to get people moving. So we will not only will I be that strong advocate, my four members of the MTA Board – but we’re demanding a bigger plan to get to the underlying matters and to shift resources of the MTA budget to the subway system, which is by far the most important thing the MTA does. Lehrer: Now, the Governor is asking for even more control of the system than he has. He appoints a plurality of MTA Board members, but not a majority. Is more explicit gubernatorial control of the MTA a necessary thing for action or a desirable thing, like mayoral control of the schools? Mayor: He already has it is the number one point. I have not seen the bill. I don’t want to – it just came out, and I want to be careful not to speak to the bill until I’ve seen it. But I would say this – whatever happens on that, it isn’t the central point. He already has power. He names the head of the MTA. He has a working majority on that board. Everyone knows – remember during the snowstorm years ago when he decided personally to shut down the train system – there’s no one who has an illusion that anyone is running the MTA but Andrew Cuomo. So look, I want him to succeed. I want him to succeed at figuring out a path forward. But it really requires acknowledging that the 5 to 6 million riders a day on our subway system are the most important thing the MTA does and that resources, and attention, and strategy should shift to our subway riders. The other things the MTA does are important, but nothing is important as getting our subways right. Lehrer: On appointing the leadership, the Governor as you know has now got Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate against you for Mayor in 2013, back to his old post of running the system. Is the Governor, in your opinion, trying to poke a stick in your eye yet again by doing that? Or is he just putting a solid pro in the job? Mayor: Yeah no, I think it has nothing to do with politics. Joe Lhota and I ran against each other, but I have a lot of respect for him. I think he did some very good work as head of the MTA, particularly obviously in dealing with the Sandy crisis. So again, I don’t know if that’s been 100 percent formalized or not, but whatever that situation – it sure as hell is not about politics from my point of view. Lehrer: And Lhota says more overnight shutdowns may be necessary to get track repairs done more quickly, even though that would inconvenience people at those times. Do you support that? Mayor: I want to see the plan. And I want to see – and this is the whole point – I want to see them lay out a vision that’s transparent to all of us of how they’re going to actually fix these underlying problems. Now look, people – people are mature about these points. I remember all the discussions about the L train and what it’s going to take to fix the L train for the long term. A lot of people came to the conclusion – L train riders came to the conclusion – that they’d rather have one complete shutdown to get everything fixed once and for all than stretch it out over a longer period of time. They understood it would inconvenience their lives, but they wanted it fixed. I think people can deal with things like that if they see actual timelines and they’re given the vision of what the improvement in their life will be at the end of the process. And what are you going to do in the meantime to get them around that’s realistic – that’s not just words, but will actually help them get around. So, that’s fine if he has a real plan and we all can confirm it and verify it. Lehrer: I want to ask you about one other thing that WNYC is reporting on before we run out of time – the federal immigration enforcement agency, ICE, showing up in a human trafficking court in Queens last Friday – something our reporter, Beth Fertig, witnessed and reported on. I gather the City Council Speaker is holding a news conference about this later this morning. Can the City do anything to prevent ICE from going into courtrooms to detain immigrants, especially something like the human trafficking court, where many defendants are treated as victims, not criminals? Mayor: Well, first of all, I think it’s absolutely unacceptable for ICE to come into court facilities in a way that takes these victims and makes them worry they may be deported. I mean this is the worst of all worlds. You have some poor, young woman who has been trafficked, who’s been abused, and then would be sent back to some place where her situation might only get worse. Our mission should be to help victims of trafficking to get out of that life and into a better life. So ICE being present there is absolutely unacceptable. The courts are run by the State. I believe that Judge DiFiore, who runs the court system, is equally upset about this. And we’re going to do everything we can to work with the state to stop that from happening. When it comes to what we control, schools for example, hospitals – we’ve made very clear, ICE agents are not allowed to walk in. They are stopped at the door by our security personnel. The only way they can proceed with anything is after they prove to us they have a warrant, and then there’s a specific protocol for how to handle it. They do not get to just walk in. And I think that should be the rule everywhere. Lehrer: Could the State – does the State have the authority to put that same limitation on the courts? Mayor: I have no doubt in my mind – I’m not a lawyer – but I have no doubt in my mind that any – any entity that controls a building – like the City of New York, we control our schools, we control our hospitals, our public hospitals. We set the ground rules for security. And even though everyone understands law enforcement – in an emergency situation, everyone defers to law enforcement. In something like pursuing a warrant, then local law enforcement has the right to set the ground rules for its own turf. That is something that’s very clear in our Constitution – the way the federal Constitution acknowledges local power – state and local power. And yes, you can say – you don’t just get to walk in, you only get to be here under certain conditions when you’ve proven the validity of your warrant and under ground rules that we set. That’s the City’s approach. I think the State can take the same approach. Lehrer: We’re out of time. Mr. Mayor, thanks a lot. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you, Brian.
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:10pm
“The MTA is at an important crossroads in its mission to serve the millions of New Yorkers who deserve safe, reliable transportation every day. There are few public servants more capable of helping navigate this critical evolution than Joe Lhota. I commend the Governor for his choice and I pledge my administration’s cooperation in helping the Governor, Chairman Lhota and the MTA meet the needs of New York City subway and bus riders.”
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:10pm
Under the de Blasio administration, fewer people are going to jail and those who do are getting more support while incarcerated to support successfully re-integrating into society when they leave. New York City is safer than it has ever been thanks to precision policing and better law enforcement strategies. The City has already added more than $1 billion in funding to the Department of Correction’s capital plan to improve conditions inside the jails. Because of this progress, a long-awaited goal is in sight. For the first time in history, the City has a plan to close Rikers Island. We will do that by making our jails smaller, safer and fairer. The first step is to continue to reduce the size of the jail population, which today makes closure impossible. The current citywide jail population is around 9,400, and there is capacity to house only 2,300 in existing facilities in the boroughs. By 2021, through implementing new strategies to reduce the number of people who enter jail and how long they stay, the City’s goal is to reduce the average daily jail population by 25% to 7,000 people. With 7,000 individuals in city jails, New York City will be using jail almost exclusively for individuals facing serious charges or who pose a high risk–making further safe reductions difficult. Closing the jails on Rikers Island for good requires a daily jail population of just 5,000, and to get there the City will work with every part of the criminal justice system to develop strategies to further reduce violent crime and address the problem of chronic offending, which to date has been intractable nationwide. An unjust history Historically, Rikers Island was neither safe nor just: * Too many low-level offenders incarcerated * Long case delays causing too many to wait for trial for too long * Dilapidated jails with minimal supports in place * A culture of violence and neglect that fostered violence The de Blasio Administration has already made sweeping changes: * 18 percent reduction in jail population through lower crime, expanded alternative to jail programs and reducing case delay * More than $1 billion added to the Department of Correction’s capital plan to improve the physical conditions in the City’s jails * $52.5 million investment in expanded educational, vocational and recreational programming for detainees * Crime at record lows – New York continues to be the safest big city in the country * Serious injuries to correction officers (down 38%) and use of force resulting in serious injury to incarcerated individuals (down 51%) declined significantly between 2014 and 2016 * 8 percent decline in number of individuals in jail for longer than one year and 18 day drop in average length of a Supreme Court case, both as result of efforts to reduce case delay and how long people stay in jail Smaller: Reduce the number of inmates by 25 percent, to around 7,000 a day By working with courts, defense attorneys, service providers and the state, we will reduce the population to 7,000 by 2021 and then to 5,000. * Help people pay bail (bail expeditors and expansion of charitable bail funds) * Replace short jail sentences with programs that reduce recidivism * Reduce the number of people with mental illness and substance disorders; parole violators; women and young adults in jails * Speed up case processing times for felonies and expedite transfers to state custody Safer: Humane and productive conditions for staff and incarcerated individuals The long-term plan is to close Rikers Island. But we must ensure that staff and those who are incarcerated are safe by 1) investing in upgraded facilities and 2) making sure that every corrections officer has the tools to do their jobs safely and effectively. * Bring all existing jails, both on- and off-Island, to state of good repair within the next five years * Improve officer safety by building a new training academy to ensure all corrections officers receive best possible training * Triple the number of dedicated housing units designed for individuals with serious mental illness, which have been shown to reduce violence * Promote safety by ensuring full camera coverage in all city jails by end of 2017 Fairer: Change the culture inside jails to better support officers and create pathways to stability for detainees We will support officers to serve the public at the highest levels of integrity by expanding professional development opportunities and supportive services. And we will reduce recidivism by making sure that those who leave City jails are equipped to succeed so they don’t return. * Everyone in city custody will be offered five hours per day of education, vocational, and therapeutic programming by end of 2018 * Help incarcerated individuals serving a city sentence re-enter society with support by trained, formerly incarcerated mentors; transitional employment; higher education * Foster connections to families and community by improving visitation * Further reduce punitive segregation * Better support correctional officers by offering peer mentoring for new recruits to reduce attrition and supportive services for staff to deal with distress and trauma Visits * Pilot new dedicated bus routes * Extended visit duration * Renovations to visit facilities * Increased staffing and training for visit staff Mental Health * Triple the number of dedicated housing units for individuals with serious mental health needs, which have better outcomes for incarcerated people and less violence * Expanding diversion for people with mental health needs Renovations * Renovations in all existing city jails will address architectural issues, fire safety, ADA compliance, air conditioning, bathroom fixtures * Physical improvements to programming areas and health care clinics Projected Reductions in Population * Population when Mayor de Blasio took office: 11,478 * Average population in 2017: 9,400 * Five year population reduction goal: 7,000 (25% reduction from 2017 average) * The following reductions in population are anticipated as a result of these strategies: o Improved risk assessment: - 710 o Making it easier to pay bail: - 200 o Expanded pretrial diversion to allow defendants to wait for trial at home: - 500 o Replace short jail sentences with programs that reduce recidivism: -300 o Reduce number of individuals with behavioral health needs in city jails: -50 o Reduce number of women in city jails: -20 o Reduce number of state technical parole violators in city jails: -170 o Speed up case processing time: -450 * To reduce the population to 5,000 over the next 10 years, City putting together Task Force of experts to identify additional strategies for reducing the population o + At 7,000, 94 percent of the pretrial population will be facing felony charges (60 percent facing violent felony charges) + City will need to develop strategies to further reduce violence beyond currently historic lows and develop solutions for issues like chronic offending
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 7:40am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well let us begin. This is a very important day for Fanny and Connor. I remember vividly when Chiara and Dante had their stepping up ceremonies from pre-K. It's a very important day in the family. It's a day to celebrate. Let's give Fanny a big round of applause. [Applause] And I want to talk about some of the things Fanny said – what it means for families in so many ways. By the way, this is the largest pre-K center anywhere in New York City. It has been extraordinarily popular with parents. All of the pre-K classrooms here have just a huge number of parents who are talking about it all the time how they want to get their kids here. It's been a great experience for those who have been here. This is what it's all about – lightening the burden for parents, making their lives easier, helping their kids get started right. But I want to say at the outset – I want to tell you we were delayed this morning because there is a lot of activity in Albany. Spoke this morning to both the Governor and to Speaker Heastie. I'll go into more detail in the Q and A. I apologize for the delayed start. It is literally because the very topic we're here to discuss is being acted on in Albany and some important conversations to happen. Let me thank the folks who are here you're going to hear from in a moment but also want to thank some special guests – Anita Gundanna, the Co-Executive Director of the Coalition Asian American Children and Families. Thank you so much. Randy Levine, the Policy and Early Childhood Education Director for Advocates for Children of New York. Thank you. So many organizations that have supported pre-K and the changes made for communities all over this city. Also, a great thank you to our host, the wonderful Laura Scott, the principal of the School of Learning. [Applause] And the superintendent of my old district, 15, Anita Skop, thank you so much as well. [Applause] So, this is a – it's really beautiful to spend time with those kids. It reminds you what all this is about. It's really simple. You can see in all of those children their pride. It was a big day for those kids. It was a big day for those parents. There was a lot of pride but it also meant every single one of those children has a chance to start their intellectual development, to start on the path of learning. Every single one of them had a guarantee, every single one of the parents in that room had a guarantee that that opportunity would be there for them As Fanny said, that was not true in this city just three years ago. Let's remember, three years ago many parents like Fanny had to struggle to find any kind of early childhood education – pre-school, child care – whatever you want to call it. Well, it was hard to find. We know that. Whatever name you gave it, it was hard to find and it cost a lot of money. We've said many times, typical parents paid at least $10,000 per child and in many cases $15,000 or more per child. So, Fanny is explaining not only what it meant for her son's blossoming as a learner but also what it meant for her ability to make ends meet and give her child the kind of home she believes in. That's what this is about. It did not exist. Now it does and we're going to make the point today that that is because the power is invested in the Mayor of New York City to create things that actually affect people's lives, that change their human reality, their material reality. Because of mayoral control of education we could do that. There would have been no way on Earth it could have been done under the old system. And if you want proof, the old system existed for decades and as Fanny said the vast majority of parents, the vast majority of children did not get full-day pre-K. Period. Perfect proof-point – decades of evidence, it did not happen. Under mayoral control, it did happen. And we're going to build it out not to 3-K. We're going to make sure that three-year-olds have the same opportunity. [Applause] And for parents doing the math – and I guarantee parents are doing the math – if they have two children who are going to go through 3-K and the Pre-K and it costs at least $10,000, in some cases more, per child. Two children, two years, you're talking $40,000, $50,000 or more easily that is saved by that family. Think about the average New York City family, if they saved $50,000 what that would do for everything in their life. So, that's why this matters so much in so many ways. I also want to note this is about making the entire school system better for all our children. There is an energy created by pre-K, a hope, a possibility that pervades every school in the entire school system because you know I think it's an objective statement – for decades our teachers were doing their best but they often felt like they had one hand tied behind their back because they were dealing with, unfortunately, a lot of the other challenges that affect families, a lot of the social ills came into those children's lives, and then came into the classroom. But they also knew that our children were not being given the start that they could be given. They knew it. Anyone who studies educational trajectories knows that the more attention given to early childhood education the better the outcomes for children. So, teachers knew they could do so much more if the children came to their classroom had experienced early childhood education. And imagine that frustration if you knew there was a solution and it just didn't happen because there wasn't political will or there was the wrong kind of system of governance. Now, throughout the school system – and Chancellor Fariña can speak to this much better than I – there is hope and optimism for teachers because they know that children coming into their classrooms in kindergarten and first grade and beyond are going to have a much stronger preparation. And that's going to be a particularly when three-year-olds are reached universally. So, this has ramifications for everything we're doing that we were able to do this and we're able to keep expanding it now. You know the teachers in pre-K feel a sense of mission and Ms. Abby at Bishop Ford who is so proud of her efforts as a pre-K teacher wrote me the letter – you heard about that. And there's this beautiful line in the letter she wrote. She says, "These faces are our future which is filled with joy and hope." And you could see it in the room. It's a beautiful thing. [Applause] All of those children are on the right path. They're on the right path already. What a great feeling that we all know that and their parents know it. So, this is the way forward to maintain things like Pre-K For All reaching 70,000 kids because it's working and to go farther and think about all these pieces together and how they synergize. This is what the Equity and Excellence vision is all about. Now, Pre-K for All, soon 3-K. Every child going forward being given two full years of quality preparation before they ever walk into even a kindergarten classroom making us unparalleled in the country in terms of the kind of extraordinary effort we will be putting into preparing our children an ever more complex world. The focus on getting all of our children on grade-level by the time they take those third grade tests on a massive scale, and then all we're doing in middle school – algebra and guaranteed after school for every middle school student, Computer Science for All across the whole school system, and AP courses in every single high school regardless of the ZIP code. That package has happened in three years. That's what mayoral control allows for – rapid change and rapid improvement. And it is as a result of mayoral control. And you're going to hear from one of the leaders of the DOE during the Bloomberg years. And I've said this even when Shael is not here – I've said it over and over. I give Mayor Bloomberg a lot of credit for achieving mayoral control of education. I supported him at the time. I think it was a great step forward for this city. He started a process of change. We have continued it and deepened it. Graduation rate hovering around 50 percent just 15 years ago – now, last year, 72.5 percent. Almost a 50 percent improvement in graduation rates in 15 years. Listen to that – 50 percent improvement in just 15 years. [Applause] So, let's be really clear about what is being debated today in Albany. And this is D-Day, this is Zero Hour – right now. Everything that we've talked about is now up for grabs. And a lot of us here at this table can testify from personal experience what 32 local school boards means in terms of the inability to create change across our entire school system and our whole city. If you have 32 school boards that have the power to choose superintendents, and principals, and to make budgets, etcetera – you have no guarantee there will be Pre-K for All anymore, you have no guarantee that three-year-olds will be reached over the next four years, you have no guarantee there will be after school programs in every middle school, you have no guarantee there will be AP classes in every high school. You have no guarantees anymore because it then becomes bluntly the whim of school board whims elected by very few people. And that's one thing we all remember about school board elections – very, very few people voted, and there was very little accountability for those school boards once they elected, and there was way too often a very, very sad outcome of corruption, and patronage, and failure. And we've had 15 years of a school system getting better all the time – maybe we've gotten too used to it, maybe people are just taken it for granted. Well guess what – in a few days, it could be gone. And then some people would say – oh well, you know everyone in Albany, they'll come to their senses, they'll fix it at some point. That's a real dangerous proposition. If they don't get this done – if they don't get this done today, or worst case by June 30, then all bets are off as to what happens thereafter. And if you need a history lesson on how dysfunctional Albany can become, there's lots of evidence of that. It's dangerous proposition to open that door again. So this is about 1.1 million kids. And as I turn to the Chancellor, I'm just going to say – I would feel so differently about this whole discussion if anyone in Albany every turned to me and said, we don't think is the best way to run the schools, we've got this other plan of how to run schools that's even better. But I've never had that conversation once with anyone. Everyone starts by saying – well yeah, of course mayoral control is the best system. Well, if they all can say of course, mayoral control is the best system, why don't they just vote for it? [Applause] With that, I listed all the achievements, but the credit goes to the leader of our school system – Chancellor Carmen Fariña. [Applause] Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: I didn't want [inaudible] First and foremost – equity. Equity means that no matter what your zip code, you're going to get the same services, the same expectations for kids, and the same quality teachers and principals. And I have to tell you – we could be in no better place to do that than right here. Today, in this building, there is a graduation ceremony happening for I.S. 88, a middle school that we have designated as a model middle school for this entire City of New York that has hosted easily 500 visitors this year if not more – international, national, as well as local – because our ideas are that we collaborate, we give things away. We ask other people throughout the entire city – come and see what excellence looks like, observe it, and then take whatever you need and just do it in your own schools. The idea of district sharing across their district lines came under mayoral control, certainly under this Mayor and this Chancellor because I believe we need to make all schools excellent, not just in certain pockets. The second thing is really accountability and professional development. And in this particular school, under Laura Scott, all these teachers have been trained in [inaudible] practices, and we've opened this school for pre-K teachers throughout the city and throughout the country to come and visit and see what does it really look like in a classroom. In the past, a school would have kept to themselves and said well you know this is going to make us look good, then why are we going to share what makes us look good with other people. So this issue of equity accountability I think is really, really important. I think also it's about stability. When you finally have something that works – and by the way, if we were being given a report card, I would tell you right now that all the things we've done, we'd be getting an A-plus. The AP courses – you had parts of the city that had not one AP course. You now have a high school – Lehman High School in the Bronx that had two has 11 now, and they can be taken by any child in that campus – seven schools, anyone can take those courses. That to me is about stability and making sure that we're putting the money where it matters. It matters in the classroom. Everything that's going to happen in this system has to happen in the classrooms, not in political dark corners. And to me, this is where we have really gone and I think we've done a particularly good job. And why not say to someone if your high school graduation scores have gone up, your drop-out has gone down, your reading scores throughout every single district in the city have gone up – some more than others and we have a long way to go in some places – but the reality is they've gone up everywhere, not just in some places. So if this is progress, if this is achievement, then we should be promoted, we should be celebrated, we should be honored. And meanwhile, we're going in the other direction, and that doesn't make any sense. [Applause] I said from the very beginning as Chancellor that the answers to most of our problems or most of our issues – the answers are in the classroom. With good teachers, anything can happen. We have made sure that our teachers have the best professional development, that they have the tools in the classrooms that they need. We introduced several new curriculums over the last three years. The past core curriculum was social studies – 92 percent of schools in the city are using that curriculum. We have introduced writing curriculum for our high schools. We have gone out there to make sure that teachers have the professional development they need. We signed a contract with the UFT to include 80 minutes on Mondays for all teachers so they can constantly keep practicing their practices. Same thing that we put extra calendar in the calendar every week for parents to come and hear what they can do. So to me, the answers are in the classroom, but in order for the answers to be good ones, we need to make sure our teachers are well-trained, well-supported, and honored. And I do think we've done that, and the same thing – we just received an award about we have one of the best teacher retentions in the national – in this country – not just in the state, but in the country. So here again – we're not asking for something we don't deserve. We deserve it, and then we are willing to share whatever we've done with anyone who wants to learn from us. And I think to me, it's about putting kids first. It's a phrase. It's said all the time. However, honor it both in the spirit and in the letter of the law. Children first means mayoral control. Mayor: Amen. Thank you. [Applause] Again, giving credit where credit is due – mayoral control began under Mayor Bloomberg and he used mayoral control to put a number of initiatives in place, for example to improve that graduation rate that again was tolerated for decades. Think about it – we're supposed to be the greatest city in the country and under the old system of school governance, we barely could break 50 percent graduation rate and it was tolerated. Nothing broke that cycle until mayoral control of education came along. So I credit Mayor Bloomberg, and also the people who worked around him to make those changes and start the upward trajectory that we are proud to have continued. So it's a great pleasure to have the former Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor for the DOE under Mayor Bloomberg here with us today, and we really appreciate his presence. It's my pleasure to introduce Shael Polakow-Suransky. [...] Mayor: Thank you very much Shael. Appreciate it. Thank you so much. Now I want to introduce someone who represents this district in the City Council, understands also for years and years the district that Carlos Menchaca represents. I know it very well. A lot of kids were not given the opportunity they deserve and they deserved in places like Sunset Park and Red Hook. And he understands the changes that have happened as a result of mayoral control. My pleasure to introduce Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. [...] Mayor: Thank you so much. Now one of the foremost voices for economic and racial fairness and justice in this city, the CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Jennifer Jones Austin. [...] Mayor: Thank you very, very much. [Applause] Finally, Shael, I have to say – I saw and heard lots of things over the years about school boards. I'm very appreciative that you offered that painful vignette of literally principal jobs for sale by corrupt local school board members. That was the reality and that's part of why we were held back as a city and our children were held back. So the last speaker knows a lot about the decades and decades of struggle to clean up New York City. And the Citizens Union has been a part of this literally for many, many decades and Dick, you remember the bad, old days. You remember how the corruption was tragically commonplace. And I know the Citizens Union fought for change. And you've been in the forefront of this fight again this year. My pleasure to introduce Dick Dadey, the Executive Director of the Citizens Union. [...] Mayor: Thank you. Thank you, Dick. I want to take questions on the mayoral control debate in Albany. And then we can see if there's any other questions. Yes, Grace. Question: I'm hoping you can tell us a bit more about your conversation this morning with the Speaker and the Governor – what they told you, and what the status of the things are. You said there's some movement. Mayor: Yes, and I will again respect the sanctity of private conversations while still trying to give you a flavor of what I see going on. There's a leaders' meeting happening right now. It's scheduled for 9:30. I spoke to the Governor and the Speaker right before it. So my understanding is that is now underway. Yesterday in succession, I spoke to Senator Klein, Senator Flanagan. That was around – Leader Flanagan – about 7:00 pm, and then after that to the Speaker and to the Governor. And then again, as I said to the Governor and the Speaker this morning – look, I don't want to pretend to understand the Albany process because it makes no sense to me honestly. But I will say – I emphasized yesterday evening to Leader Flanagan that I think despite all the hype, despite all of the language that's been used over the years to characterize the approach to charters here in the city, I wanted him to hear directly from me things that I have said publicly many times and make sure he and I were fully communicating, both about the immediate decision, but also about how we can work together going forward. And I said to Leader Flanagan – look, when we created pre-K, that was our initiative, we reached out to charters from the very beginning and they were central in the pre-K initiative, as were religious schools and obviously traditional public schools. When we did our initiative on afterschool for every middle school student, we reached out to the charters again and to the religious schools. These initiatives were successes across the board. Two examples that – I take a lot of questions from all of you and from constituents at town hall meetings over and over. And these are two areas where there's not a lot of debate as you've heard from my colleagues. Pre-K has been working and the afterschool for middle school kids has been working, done with charters – a whole host of different charter organizations participated in both. We announced 3-K – we said that's going to be with charters too. And I also went over with Leader Flanagan the numbers. He's raised legitimate concerns, and I said to him – I want to answer in full faith and say look, your concern is what happens when a charter applies for space. I said there's been 171 instances since January of 2014. I said in about 25 percent of those cases, they got the space they asked for. In about 50 percent of those cases, we did not feel we could give the specific space for a variety of reasons. There was a process thereafter in which we did not contest the right of those charters to get the lease money so they could get their own space. That happened in about 50 percent of the cases. And the remaining 25 percent are literally in process and will end up with one of those two outcomes. So I said for all intents and purposes, we have a functioning system for making sure that charters are accommodated and further I said to him – the current cap, by every historical reckoning – has at least two more years to go on it, so the issues around the cap can certainly be treated in the upcoming legislative session next year where there's still plenty of time for the existing charter spaces to be utilized in the meantime. But I said to him – I was happy to work with him on that. I would happily sit down and you know, there has not been that kind of meeting over these last 3.5 years and I've welcomed it. I said I would happily sit down and figure out how we can find common ground on these issues going forward. But they literally do not need to be treated at this moment with mayoral control hanging in the balance. Again, I'm not going to characterize his side of the conversation. I will say it was a respectful conversation. It was a substantial conversation in terms of length and detail, and we agreed to speak again today. In terms of the Governor and the Speaker, we've been talking about different ways to break through the log jam. I've said to all of them – look, this should never be about the issues that are beyond mayoral control itself because as you've heard from everyone here and you've heard from a lot of other people, including charter supporters – a lot of charter supporters have said no, mayoral control is an issue that stands alone. But we are happy to work together in other ways to address the legitimate concerns around charters and any other education matters. So, just different – again, I think I have to respect the sanctity of the negotiating process which is up to them. They are the four men in the room. They've got to sort it out, along with the members of their bodies. But, I've said you know, any time they want a meeting, a phone call on anything to work through these details, we are standing by. The Chancellor went up in person yesterday and had a variety of conversations, as you know, a whole host of members of the administration are up there right now continuing conversations. We believe there's time to get this done. And my message to them was – we will do everything we can to cooperate, but as I said yesterday the whole world is watching. You have until the end of tonight to either approve an extension or mayoral control or continue your session until you do, and if that doesn't happen there's going to be a huge amount of reaction from all across New York City. Question: Mr. Mayor, you made a very bold announcement earlier about 3K for All, which is one of the 'for All' programs that your administration has been announcing recently. Does mayoral control have – would that have an impact, if you didn't get it, on three year olds going to school? Mayor: Yeah, if we don't get an extension of mayoral control – I hate to say it – but I think the 3K for All proposal could be dead. It literally could be because we would not have the power to implement it across 32 districts if 32 school boards get to decide what they want to do. I just can't see it possibly being put together, and certainly not on the four year timeline we're talking about now. Question: [Inaudible.] Mayor: Yes, sir. Question: [Inaudible] councilman, public advocate, I knew you very well from District 15 as the chancellor. What are the major objects that you can share with us that seem to be holding this up? Mayor: Look, I don't ever want to put words in people's mouths. I'm not going to attempt the political analysis. All of you can do that perfectly well. There's plenty of obvious politics going on, but I will say I think there's two things that are fundamental here – and I welcome others who want to jump it – one is are you linking or are you not linking? I believe there are some issues where there shouldn't be a linkage. I really do. I think when some as basic as how you govern the school system, that's not for horse trading. Is it literally that you could say we'll give you mayoral control for education in exchange for x? Is that literally how this is going to go down? I don't think that's acceptable on something of this seriousness. And I think that's one of the fault lines here, and again a lot of charter supporters feel the same exact way. They can disagree on a host of things, but they do not want to see mayoral control of education undermined. Ironically, I think Shael would agree with this. Whether you believe charters are a fundamental part of the solution or whether you're questioning of charters, the end of mayoral control of education is not good for the charter movement either in many ways because no one is in charge, and it's now all at the whim of 32 different school boards. So that's part one. And I think part two is the part that Speaker Heastie has raised. That why is it that the upstate counties get tax extenders with no strings attached, but there is an effort to but a string attached for something for the City of New York, which is 43 percent of the state's population? I want the upstate counties to get their tax extenders. I don't think it's right to put strings attached to them. I don't think anyone should interfere with local governments trying to do their job, so I want Onondaga County and Erie County and Monroe County to get their tax extenders and all the others. I would never presume to support anything that would put strings attached or restrictions on that. But it shouldn't happen to us either, so I think those are central points, and that's the point that Speaker Heastie made. Does anyone else want to add? Chancellor Fariña: I would say the one thing that really hasn't been up for discussion a lot is – you know, the mayor and I meet on a regular basis, and when the mayor puts forth his budget a large part of his budget really going to education. And it really is based on what's best for kids. And we didn't have that in a lot of administrations because the budgets were – and we lived that – at the local level. So when the districts all decided individually how to use their budget, there was a wide variety across the city. And I remember having those discussion as a superintendent with my school board about what percentage of the money should go to professional development, which should go to other things such as a new school building or refurbishing, but it was always about the kids. That conversation did not happen in other parts of the city, so you saw money – a big percentage of money – not going directly into classrooms, and I think when you have a mayor that's accountable, and the budget is part of the discussion – because we can't separate what we're doing in our schools from money. If you looking at the AP for All – all of the costs money, so having it as a mayoral priority and having the City Council take on a big ownership of this as well because we're all on the same page is to me what makes good education. This is not being done by a Chancellor or Mayor. It's being done by the political entities in the City of New York who have made this a priority, including parents who say this is what we want to see in our schools. So I think not putting us in charge of our – letting the budgets speak for the priorities is a very important part of mayoral control. Mayor: Just one other point before Marcia. The – and again Carmen and Shael have tremendous institutional knowledge here. Everything was a fight. This is what I want people to feel. You heard what Carlos said. A lot of the City Council agrees with a lot of this vision. Sometimes they have tough questions. Sometimes there's things they don't agree with, but in general there's a high level of agreement. There's a seamless between City Hall and the Department of Education that's literally 100ft away. And that was another good thing that Mayor Bloomberg did, putting the Department of Education in the Tweed building, so there was a direct connection. We don't waste the time that used to be an everyday occurrence in this city. I am telling you it was stunning. To get anything done was a major drama that could go on for months or years on any issue because no one was in charge. You had five borough presidents and the Mayor all appointing members to the central school board and no one had a majority, and again that could be happening again as early as July 1 if this is not resolved in Albany. So no one has a majority, and then let's throw into the mix 32 local school boards all with different power structures and constituencies and all with different priorities and unfortunately with no accountability structure. And it was madness. And so while many other things happened in New York City, for decades no one could even pretend to say our schools were getting better – for decades. So it finally was changed, and God bless Mayor Bloomberg. It finally was changed, and then the results have been meteoric over a republican and democratic administration. And it's – you guys, everyone, whether it's parents in the room or journalists – you expect things to happen quickly. When we started pre-K, you were like 'show us the results, show us the results' and so on and so on. Everything single thing you ask the numbers. You expect the number to move – on time, on budget. That was inconceivable in the past. On time and on budget were words that did not exist when you had a central board of education with no one having a majority and 32 local school boards. So it's just astounding to me because when I say chaos and corruption, those aren't overstatements. It literally happened, and we were paralyzed. Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, I have two questions. Yesterday I went to Albany, and I spent a long time with Speaker Flanagan. Mayor: Leader Flanagan. Question: Leader Flanagan, sorry. And the first question is this – he believes that charter schools are for [inaudible], and that he's concerned about the 50,000 kids who are on waiting lists for charters schools and charges that your administration has treated charter schools as – his quote, not mine – "like proverbial red headed step kids." What is your response to that? Mayor: Look, again, I have respect for Leader Flanagan. We've had a series of conversations that have been respectful and open. I believe there's a lot more to the story because we have now, I think it's over 100,000 kids in charter schools, and of course they're public schools. It's the easiest thing in the world for me to make clear. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are part of how we educate our kids. I gave a speech in 2014 at Riverside Church and I said, "Look I care deeply about what happens to each child whether they're in a traditional public school, a charter school, a Catholic school, a Jewish school, a Muslim school. They're all – private school – they're all our children. They're all going to inherit this city. They all have to succeed. And we work will all types of schools in a variety of ways. So, what I want to point out that I think dispels some of the fear – the growth of charters has been consistent. We're now over 100,000 kids in charters. They are continuing to grow organically just the ones we already have are building out their grade level so you're going to see a growth of them organically. On top of that, as I'd mentioned, there's at least two years more of charter cap to be used. Meaning, more charters can come along and they apply and they can set up, but the very process that goes through and the number of available spaces we know that's at least two more years absolutely accounted for. So where is the problem here? We believe everyone can flourish together. And I don't know the exact number to date of kids who are on various charter weight lists and I don't want to conjecture about that. I know that the charters are continuing to grow, and we're working with them. And I know the traditional public schools are continuing to get better and we have ample evidence of that. Everything we've talked about, the graduation rate, the test scores, these are objective measures of whether schools are getting better. Isn't the goal for all of them to do well? Right? Isn't the goal like we want to see every school do better and that's what Equity and Excellence for All is all about. So I think it's a little bit of a distinction without a difference here, the progress is clear across the board. And then I said to Leader Flanagan, if you want to sit down, and I don't care if it's today or next week or next month, and chart out together a vision for where things are going. I welcome that, I have no problem with that, but within the boundaries that were set out by colleagues too. It's our school system. That doesn't mean we can't find common ground right, if we respect legislatures but we have a school system to run. But if Senator Flanagan wants to sit down and say okay, I want to understand this better, I want to understand what the future vision is, I want to make sure there's fairness to the charters, great let's have that conversation, I would welcome it. And I think he will end up being very satisfied by that conversation. That's not the problem for the day. The problem for the day is they've got 24 hours to pass mayoral control of education. Question: Talking to your [inaudible] – Mayor: Just louder Marcia. Question: I'm sorry. In talking to Speaker Flanagan he also said that you know that sky will not fall if they don't pass mayoral control tonight. That there is history where I guess it was 2009 when mayoral control actually expired [inaudible] it wasn't pretty but never the less you know the sky didn't fall. So to his [inaudible] – Mayor: Yep. Question: – there's no like immediacy, there's no emergency. Mayor: I'll start and then – yes let me speak to that and then if the Chancellor or anyone else wants to weigh in feel free. Marcia, first of all – the question was at Marcia's accounting of her conversation with Leader Flanagan that he said and his staff that they said well if mayoral control expires, the sky won't fall. And they used the analogy of 2009 and said look things worked out then. First fact about 2009, the leadership structure of the State Senate collapsed. There was a coup d'état in the State Senate so let's be careful about apples and oranges here. They couldn't resolve mayoral control because their leadership structure collapsed literally at the moment when the decision had to be made. There was a pretty quick reset, it was resolved in August. We're not talking about that here. If you say to me, it's not going to happen tonight, I say to you they should stay. I said lock them all in a room until they get it right. They have until midnight on June 30. If they want to stay in Albany all the way to June 30 God bless them, but get it done. What happens on the morning of July 1st. The current, the current education board is dispelled and – or disbanded and the old Board of Education is re-appointed that day and has to make a decision on the Chancellor that day. There is no majority held by anyone. So you can say let's assume that works out okay, okay then we're moving on toward opening a new school year without having anyone in charge of the Board. You can say that's going to be fine, I don't argue that's going to be fine. And is it going to get resolved in August like last time? There's no guarantee to that, those tax extenders that are a lot of the tension here don't end until the end of October. Well into the school year. So here's the problem, when you open up Pandora's Box you don't know what happens next. We – a lot of us in this room remember an absolutely dysfunctional Albany. Are we about to see that again? And I would challenge all your research department, when was the last time that they actually managed to not renew mayoral control, not renew the personal income tax for New York City, not renew the sales tax for upstate counties simultaneously. This would literally – what may be happening here is nothing gets done. I don't remember a time when that ever happened simultaneously in Albany. So we might be on the verge of a level of Albany dysfunction that actually would set a new record and [inaudible] you're an expert on Albany dysfunction. I mean this would be – literally they wouldn't do any of the important things they were there to do. Speak to – get the microphone. Dick Dadey, Director of Citizens Union: It's amazing that the – many – the last couple of weeks of the legislative session is all about local bills where each of the individual legislatures, having passed the budget and dealt with some of these larger issues, now have local bills. So it's not just the tax extenders. But if you look at the docket, you look at the calendar of what's going through each of the two houses; it's all these little individual bills that affect the governments within the districts. And so, you know, for New York City to be singled out because of mayoral control of city schools while everyone else is getting their local bill passed, it's outrageous. And the corruption in Albany is just you know, we've seen it in New York City during the school board. Its just – so many legislatures have been forced from office over the last 17 years because of corruption or misconduct, some 33 and it continues and its just – you can't have faith in a process where so much of the decision are not made based on the merits, but made on the political horse trading that goes on. And it has become so commonplace that we've become immune to it, and we kind of accept it, And it's just not the way our democracy should be practiced, where there's these linkages and issues that can't get through unless they're linked to something else. It's just – the big issues should be allowed to stand on their own and we should have open votes and open debates and discussions and not four men in a room and all that, I'm not going to get into my political [inaudible] around all that. It's just not the way our State government should work, and we are seeing an ineffective demonstration of our State government with this political horse trading and political jockeying that's going on with mayoral control of city schools. The most – probably one of the most successful programs that we've seen here in New York State in some time. Chancellor Fariña: I also want to add that no one I spoke to in Albany yesterday said that mayoral controls not working. So one of this aspects of this to me is be courageous and vote what you know is right but to me political expediency is not a great model for our children. I think as an educator, and I say what are we doing that our kids are watching for those who are cognizant and we, this year in particular, put in a tremendous amount of funding into civics education because I am worried about the fact that we're not voting enough and we're not voting intelligently and we're not doing a lot of other things that we should be doing. So in part of our social studies curriculum there is an entire strand that starts in first grade on civics education. So people are watching us and you can be sure that many of our high schools are saying what's going on. On other point also, everyone needs a boss. Everyone needs one boss, not five bosses, not 100 bosses but one boss. And people want to work in stable communities, and I'm going back to my years as an educator. I spent the vast majority of my life here in District 15 where even though we had lots of disagreements on school boards, the reality is we were stable and people wanted to work in District 15 because we had a system of order, we had a philosophical of how we did things. And as a result we had our pick of teachers, our pick of principals. When I went to District 2 as a principal it had the same type of reputation. The good quality people stayed away from districts where there was disarray or there was confusion, or there was no specific philosophical outgrowth and people said I don't want to work there. And how did we end up in a city where certain parts of the city didn't have high quality principals or high quality teachers, because people avoided them. Not because people don't want to work with struggling children, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the teachers who have opt, and we have 600 teachers who have opt to work in the Bronx starting this September. But I want to be able to complete my promise to those teachers that when they go to those schools they're going to have the best PD, they're going to have the best principals and the best teachers. And we need to continue what we've started and rather than play politics with our kids. Mayor: Amen, Rich? Yes please, hold on one second. Then Rich. Shael Polakow-Suransky: I just want to add, I was there in 2009 on the DOE's leadership team when that happened and mayoral control expired. It was a tremendous distraction, extremely confusing about what was going to happen, how decisions would be made, and it had a real impact on schools. For months those things weren't clear-cut and I think that sometimes it's not possible to realize when you're sitting at a policy level what it's like to sit in a school. But there are so many different programs and so many threads that connect schools up to the decisions that are made as a result of this law. And it is going to disrupt all of those, even if it's just a month or two of disruption that can impact the whole next school year. Jennifer Jones Austin: Can I just quickly add? Mayor: Please. Jennifer Jones Austin: We're talking about disruption, we're talking about corruption in Albany, we're talking about disruption in the schools, disruption among teachers and principals, and we have to also remember that ultimately that disruption will be experienced mostly by the children and by the families. I remember when I was looking for schools for my daughter. My husband, this goes back to the early 2000s, saying to me very directly, very boldly, very explicitly, we have to be concerned about the political whims of education in New York City and how do we ensure that our child is protected from the political whims. This is what's happening right now. This is not just about a debate between legislatures. Ultimately it is the children who are going to suffer and so we have to push back with that in mind. Yes the school administrators will suffer, but at the end of the day the children are going to suffer. Mayor: Thank you. Question: Do you think that the fact that this is an election year in New York for mayor has anything to do with this? Mayor: I don't want to think that, Rich, first of all. I really don't. And I don't get that indication. I mean that's more cynical than even I would think for our friends to the north. I think, again, there's politics suffusing it for sure and that's a problem. What I think everyone in Albany needs to think about is that if it's not – there's not a coup d'etat going on. It's business as usual. They don't have a busy docket right now. This is one of the only major issues they are facing. They've had all this time. There was only a leader's meeting for the first time Monday afternoon. The leaders had not met between the budget in April and Monday afternoon, two days ago. So, I think they all have to think about not only their responsibility to the children but what are they going to say if they don't resolve this. Of course, Rich, that will dawn on people more and more with every passing hour. They actually have a responsibility. They're holding it in their hands right now. So, I don't see a particular connection this election year. And my blunt appraisal is that it's going to be felt a lot more up there than it is down here if you're talking about politics. Willy. Question: A month ago – over a month ago, you had an event at City Hall with business leaders to talk about the same subject. You did multiple event since then. You and the Chancellor and your guests are saying virtually saying the same thing that you said a month ago and that you said at all the others. But why will the results from what you're saying be any different today than they have been – Mayor: Well, it's a fair question, Willy, but I would argue to you that there's a lot of facts here that don't normally break through in the everyday blur. You know, I understand there's lots of dramatic news that has to be covered. And I understand there's, you know, the flavor of the day in the news media and one thing or another. Something like how we govern our schools is not exactly a sexy topic but the more opportunities we have to explain to people what it actually means for their kids and what it would mean to have it taken away, the more the better. And I do think there's been an uptick in understanding as we've gone over these weeks and I do think the coverage is read by all the decision makers in Albany. And one thing that was clear this week – you referenced that press conference where we unveiled the letter from 105 CEOs that the New York City Partnership put together – 105 CEOs who certainly a lot of them don't agree with me on some other matters. A lot of them do very much support charter schools as Steven Schwarzman and Kathy Wilde make clear. But they all believe it should be delinked to [inaudible] point. They all believe mayoral control of education should be just be treated on it's own and should be renewed. And then we had a lot of the most important unions in New York City represented earlier in this week who generally would never agree with those CEOs on most matters all in agreement. I mean, I'm saying to you in a city that doesn't really know what the word consensus means like most of the time, to see, you know, most of the business class and most of the labor class all in agreement on something is a pretty amazing reality. So, we want to keep showing that to the folks who have to make the decision to remind of the consequences of what they're doing. Question: Yes, I'd like to know if you were to lose control of the schools, is there a plan-b? Is there anything that you can do? Mayor: Look, the – it's an important question for everyone to understand how this goes. They said July 1st – we would immediately convene the old Board of Education. And I certainly would work with my colleagues in government, the borough presidents, to do the best we could to maintain order and consistency and to [inaudible] point, there's inevitably going to be drag and problems that come in that process. I do think the five borough presidents are all willing to work with us but, you know, it's just not going to be by any stretch the same thing. That's only the beginning. As we get closer to the school year, with all of the decision, I'm telling you, the weeks leading up to the school year – and I have two witnesses here – are some of the most frenetic activity you could possibly imagine. To launch a school year for 1.1 million children is an epic exercise. We won't have the unity of command. That's going to be a huge challenge. And then the School Board elections which I think the people will start to plan their candidacies, money will start flowing in. As I've said under, tragically, the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court, I know Dick Dadey shares this view – limitless potential spending by School Board candidates and their various backers. If you don't think a union should have a big influence, well, they'll be in heavily. If you don't think hedge fund folks should have a big influence. Everyone is going to put a lot of money into it and it becomes a free for all. And so – and meanwhile, you know, Albany could come back at any point or they may not. That's what – that's why I say Pandora's Box. There's no guarantee once they leave. Let me remind everyone, if they leave today, there next scheduled meeting is the first week of January 2018. I want everyone to understand that in case it's not common knowledge. If they leave today, they don't come back until January. Hold on a second. Go ahead. Dadey: Can you imagine is a bunch of graduating seniors in high school decided not to show up for the last couple of final exams and avoided the responsibilities of taking those exams, and still expect to be graduating? I mean this is kind of what Albany is deciding. I mean it's just a big responsibility and they should settle this issue, decide it, and move on. To not do so and put at risk, you know, our governance structure in the education of so many children is irresponsible. Mayor: Mara. Hold again [inaudible] Mara. Question: Mr. Mayor [inaudible] – Mayor: Go ahead. Question: Your DDC Commissioner – Mayor: Mara, hold on one second. I just want to say, does anyone else have a mayoral control question just for consistency. Media questions, mayoral control? Got a media question? There you go. Yes. Question: It seems like a good moment – there's been a lot of back and forth between you and the charter sector. It just seems like a good moment to clarify some things that I think have been misunderstood about the broad spectrum. What's really at stake is like a broad philosophical question of whether the charter sector of New York City should be able to grow. Do you think that the charter sector of New York City should grow and would you commit to supporting growth which means [inaudible] cap in January? Mayor: I do not believe in elimination of the cap. I do believe that the existing growth pattern itself – and again guys I really ask you to be really exact in your representation of this. The existing growth pattern, if we did nothing is substantial. It's now, again, over 100,000. It will keep growing by tens of thousands. And then there's two more years of cap available right now. Meaning if everybody decided to show up and apply to open new charter schools, there's enough, practically speaking, for two years or even more of new charter school development given the number of licenses available right now for New York City. How things should be handled thereafter is a conversation that's a very worthy one that I would happily have all the other stakeholders. But I would argue, if your position in the world is, I want to see more charter school seats. They're already coming. They're already coming because the sector is growing naturally. The school is, for example, a K to five school and they started two years ago and they've only done the first couple of years they still will build out a first grade, second grade, third grade. They'll keep growing. And if there are still dozens of available licenses charter networks can come forward and take those licenses and keep growing. So, that's where I think there is a misnomer running through all of this. I want to see children in every type of school succeed. I've said that many times and I've tried to show it. Here's another thing and I don't want to speak for Leader Flanagan but I think he at least appreciated this point – if we voluntarily included charter schools in pre-K and in the after school program for middle school kids, and we've already announced they will be part of 3K, those are not minor matters. Those are big growth areas where they will play a major role. So, I think the charter movement is diverse – a lot of great schools, some schools aren't so great, a lot of schools that take on extraordinary responsibility for kids in need, some I would argue less so. But I visited charters. I went to Harlem Dream School last year. I went to KIPP last year. I visited charters that we are working with very well, believe are contributing greatly to the education of our children. We're going to keep working with them. So, I think we should all take down the temperature. Let's set put aside personalities. There's some particular personality dynamics. That shouldn't be the center of this discussion. Are we working with the charter movement across the board? Yes. Is it growing in New York City? Yes. Are they being invited into our major new initiatives? Yes. Including professional development. Has the Chancellor set up partnerships between charters and traditional public schools to share best practices? Yes. So, let's get away from what is the easy flashpoint and actually look at the day-to-day reality which is one there is a lot of cooperation and progress all around, and get back to the central issue which is, shouldn't we have a clearer government structure? Question: Yes, Mr. Mayor – Mayor: Oh, I'm sorry. Anything else on mayoral control? I'm sorry Mara, I keep calling on you and then holding you. So, media questions, mayoral control, go. Question: I just have a question – have any of your discussions with Leader Flanagan, in any of those has he focused on other issues besides the charter schools? In other words did he ever raise reservations or concerns about the educational outcomes of mayoral control or it's strictly [inaudible] – Mayor: No, and I want to be consistent in this. Again, I have never had an unpleasant conversation with Leader Flanagan. I've never had an angry conversation with him. And he has never said anything but he believes mayoral control philosophically is the right system. He said that publically too. It's only been about charters but again I've tried to emphasize to him, I don't think we should talk through other people or through the media. I think we need to talk more to each other and with the Chancellor who I think he has respect for. He was the head of the Education Committee in the Senate. He is focused on education. Let's work this stuff through. We would happily do that. We respect him. We would happily sit down and go over all these things and see if we can find more common ground on the outstanding issues. But no, to be fair – and I do feel comfortable characterizing this – he's never said, you know, like I don't think you've made progress on graduation or test scores or anything like that. He's never contested those things. Last on mayoral control. Marcia. Question: Is Leader Flanagan willing to sit down with you or Chancellor – Mayor: Obviously a question for him. I respect him. I have only given you a feeling of the conversation because I want to respect confidentiality. Marcia, you've been around these last days. There's going to be a lot of conversations. They have to be confidential. But I do believe he appreciated the offer to have a deeper relationship on these issues. Rich. Question: Mr. Mayor Question: Just to go back to Will's question a little bit. Do you think that Albany is listening today more clearly? And, also are any of these charter school organizations leaning in to support mayoral control? Or is that kind of a theoretical thing? Mayor: On the first point, yes, of course Albany is listening. They look very carefully at everything you guys are writing. Because, imagine you were in their shoes for a moment. They're about to make a very momentous decision. If they walk away, there are huge ramifications. So, they're quite concerned. You can talk to them directly, but I guarantee people are watching. On where charter folks stand, one thing I believe is that charter movement is very, very diverse. I do believe the vast majority of people I've ever spoken to in a charter movement believe in mayoral control education. Again, some of their most prominent backers have come out in the last few weeks and said "we want a no strings attached renewal of mayoral control". I am certain there are people in charter movement communicating that concern to everyone in Albany. I also understand they have their own politics they have to navigate. And they're probably doing that more privately than publicly and I respect that, I understand that. Question: Do you have any conversations with the UFT President, Michael Mulgrew? Because to my understanding is, he's may not be in the leaders meetings but his opinion on this deal certainly matters, at least to the assembly. Mayor: I've certainly spoken to him, but I think we should not overrate anybody else influences but those four people. You know, the four men in a room, used to be three, now it's four. Whether we think that the ideal system of making decisions or not, it is the singular reality in Albany. And it's between the four of them. So, I am not going to speak for Michael. He and I agree on many things, but I think this one transcends any of the things that he is raising at this point. Question: Just on the charter cap. I understand your argument that there is room for growth and there is time to decide that. But obviously for people in the sector, you know who come in up close to the cap create some uncertainty. And like you said, Albany is just never a sure thing, as far as getting the cap raised. So, is there, is there an educational reason why you would somehow harm the city to raise the cap at this point rather than waiting, you know coming close to [inaudible]? Mayor: I think it's a strategic question that when you know you have so much natural growth occurring – two years is a long time, let's be clear. Albany has consistently passed pro charter legislation over the last year, since Governor Cuomo came in; there is no question about that. So, it's not hard to you'll have predict that there will be more going forward. The – right now to me it's very simple. There is plenty of cap space; there is plenty of natural growth. And we should make a decision in the cool light of day, about what we think is right going forward. I don't think limitless cap makes sense. My first focus, I want to see all schools succeed, but my first focus is on the traditional public schools, because this is a fact. They will be the decisive factor in the future in New York City. Some charters are doing a great job; some religious schools are doing a great job. But, by any numerical measure for the next decades literally, the traditional public schools are going to be the work force, they're going to be the core. So that's what we need to first and foremost put our focus on the improvement. But we can have a coherent discussion about the future of the caps. Why don't we have that discussion, meaning if you want – if the four men in the room or Leader Flanagan or anyone wants to see down with the Chancellor and me and talk about what would be the right future plan. Don't do it with 12 hour to go. Sit down – we're available. You know, you want to have that conversation as for days, weeks till we get some vision of the future together. Of course we would do that. But don't just throw it in as a part of something much more important. That's a very serious decision that should be made very carefully. And it's an abstract decision – if I say to you, the next few years are already spoken for, that's a big deal. [Inaudible] mayoral control we'll switch over tomorrow. Question: Mr. Mayor, your DDC Commissioner Dr. Peña-Mora – Mayor: DDC? Yes. Question: Can you – first of all, why is he stepping down? And secondly, do you have any concerns about the management of one billion [inaudible] contracts? You're trying to get Build it Back done, I know by the end of the year. Do you have any concerns about that project and others under DDC? Mayor: No, I think there has been a shocking misunderstanding of why the commissioner is stepping down. And I am personally perplexed, why that was not communicated better to all of you. He has been on a leave of absence from Columbia University, where he is a senior professor in the School of Engineering I think it is, or Architecture. He has been on leave, we begged Columbia to be as lenient as they could be, and they were up to a point. And I said look this is it; he has to come to continue part of his academic tenure. And that has to be by July first, by their rules to prepare for the new school year. So, that's been in the works for a long, long time. There is nothing mysterious about it. By the way Vicki Been was under the same situation as the HBD commissioner, we begged NYC to stretch as long as we could, and they said this is it. Got to come back in January, she came back in January, it's not unusual. Commissioner Peña-Mora did a fine job, if put aside Build it Back which I think was a structural problem long before any of us got here. And I've said very publicly, I wish we had, had the presence of mind to say "wait, let's reconsider the whole thing". But we tried to continue with the existing structure and improve upon it. And I think it was in many ways so flawed it could only be fixed so much. So if you look at everything the DDC has done, I think there is a hell of a lot of achievement. We've given them a huge capital budget to work with, much more than in the previous administration. They had a lot they had to do. They had a huge work load; I think they did a fine job. On Build it Back and everything else. There will be an Interim Commissioner in place before Dr. Peña-Mora leaves. And that's an agency with a lot of bench, a lot of professional talent, a lot of career people. They will certainly be able to continue the mission. Back there, yes. Question: Mayor, what do you think of the plan Governor Cuomo announced yesterday to give [inaudible] controls of the MTA but to give himself a pure majority of the MTA? Mayor: I have not really seen the plan or focused on it. Look, I'll just speak about the current reality. There was a little back and forth there for a few weeks, but I like where it ended up, where the Governor took full responsibility for the MTA. We're ready to work with him, my understanding is Carl Weisbrod just got approved by the Senate, so we'll have our full complement of four MTA board members. And we're ready to work with Governor to make the big changes needed for our subways. That's the name of the game. Now, as to the exact structure of the seats, again I haven't seen it, I don't have a comment about it at this point. But the real fundamental issue is we need the MTA to focus on New York City subways and shift resources, and shift strategic focus to the New York City subways, that's the simple outcome. Question: [Inaudible] structurally any more control, or do you think he already has all the control? Mayor: Again, having not seen the legislation or had the chance to – we had our minds on mayoral control as you know. I'd say only the beginning point. What became clear a few weeks ago is the Governor affirmed his current status as effectively controlling the MTA; I don't want to comment on the new legislation, I have not seen it. Okay, Willy and then [Inaudible] Question: Question and a follow up. At what point did you know saying [inaudible] in the works? Mayor: Which one? Question: Peña-Mora was going to be leaving. Mayor: I personally asked Columbia University to be as lenient as they could be with the time lines. That goes back a year or more. So this is again something that is normal when you hire an academic who has tenure. You can only keep them so long. I mean again, maybe you guys are – not saying this any way to be provocative. Maybe people are not familiar with this, I am familiar with this, because I worked in a lot of settings where this is an issue. If you take someone from academia and they have tenure, you cannot keep them. This is simple as that. There is a time frame, and when that time frame runs out. They either give up their job at the academic institution or they go back. And I don't know anyone who gives up their academic institution. Question: Since, Build it Back is such a crucial point in all of the delays and over budget that you pledge to get it done by the end of the year. Do you have a replacement for him? If not, why not? Mayor: So first of all, Build it Back's crucial moments were a long time ago. And again I've said very clearly it should have been designed different from the beginning, I wish we had reset it at day one. We made a decision in the name of continuity. I don't think it worked out, the way we hoped by any stretch. And we are not happy about it, I'm just not happy. It's my responsibly, I don't like what happened; I have to take full responsibility for that. That being said, I think it's something like 1,500 homes have been completed since October and they continue to be completed all the time. There is plenty of leadership at DDC to continue that. When you ask a question like that, respectfully I think it misses the fact that there are plenty of people who are already assigned to work on this. It's one small piece of what DDC does. DDC builds a host of things, billions in dollars of things around the city. Build it Back leadership is in place, Amy Peterson obviously and others. That's moving along. We will have an Interim leader before the commissioner goes, and then will have a permanent leader shortly thereafter. Who did I have? Grace. Question: I want to just get your reaction to the agreement that James Blake reached with CCRB that create, I guess a legal fellowship within the agency to do outreach about police complaints. Mayor: I think it's great, I think he showed himself to be a man of bigger vision. He said this is not about me, I'm not trying to make money, I want to fix the problem. And I think it was a very productive dialogue that led to something that will actually help. I think that a good step. Okay, Laurie. Question: Mr. Mayor going back to the DDC Commissioner, if knowing that hiring an academic comes with this [inaudible]. Why hire somebody out of the academic world? And have you considered of making someone who could be strategically in charge of construction and overseeing these kind of projects that take so long and take so much money, and there is a such a backlog of projects that need to get done? Mayor: One of the things I am thinking about if the people renew my employment contract is that I want to find ways to improve the speed of construction by the City. Now design-build would really help. That's up right now in Albany. That would help us save a lot of money and speed things up. So, there are some things that are aggravating because the tools are staring us in the face and, by the way, again the State government gives itself those rights under design-build but doesn't give the City of New York which, you know, I always like to remind people, we are right behind the State of New York in terms of the largest budgets in the United States of America. Just for you viewing pleasure, amongst public budgets in the United States of America, it goes like this – United States of America, State of California, State of New York, City of New York. We're number four. We're such a huge entity that we should obviously have the design-build right to be able to save ultimately billions of dollars and speed the process along. So, that's a big point. But still within our own capacity we got to do better. So, if I have an opportunity to stay, I'm going to think about what we can do differently to improve the process for sure. On your first question – I want to emphasize, again, it may be there is just a lack of familiarity. So, for those of you not familiar with it, I want to make it clear – when you hire any commissioner, you love it if it could be for a whole term assuming if the person is good, right. You'd love to keep them for four years but everyone who's been in this work knows that two years is not uncommon, three years, right. You're hiring people with a hope of four years but if you get two good years out of them, that's still a lot. When we hired Vicki Been, we hired Feniosky Peña-Mora, we knew that they only had a few years – minimum of two. We ended up getting Vicki Been for three, full years and Feniosky Peña-Mora for three-and-a-half years. Perfectly fine. They did great jobs. They were the right people. I'd take that deal any day. I think there was one more in the back I saw. Is that you? Go ahead. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Okay great. Marcia, last word. Question: I know that [inaudible] way through Albany this weekend. I was wondering if you – Mayor: Yes. Question: – Have any update? Mayor: We're continuing to fight for them. I want to thank all the families of those who have been lost in traffic crashed. They have been up there pounding away. Very, very personal tragic stories. You've heard them. And they've gone up to the legislatures and said, "Look this is a matter of life and death. You know people lost their mother, their father, their brother, their sister, their husband, their wife." Looking in the eyes of legislatures and saying we need you to allow more speed cameras around our schools. This is just around schools. And it still hangs in the balance. It's still being discussed. It still hangs in the balance. And it's something that Albany should do. Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 7:40am
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a town hall today, alongside Council Member Margaret Chin, a dedicated team of 10 specialists within the Public Engagement Unit to proactively support the NYC Rent Freeze and Homeowner Tax Exemption Programs across the five boroughs. PEU’s new Rent Freeze Team will conduct door to door outreach and make phone calls to eligible New Yorkers, using case management techniques to help them navigate the application process. In partnership with the Department of Finance, the Department for the Aging and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the goal is to enroll 10,000 New Yorkers this year into rent freeze and tax benefit programs for seniors and people with disabilities. Last year, 5,800 households were enrolled into the Rent Freeze Program. The Rent Freeze Program, also known as the Senior Citizen and Disability Rent Increase Exemption Programs (SCRIE and DRIE), provide tax credits to landlords that effectively freeze rent for low-income seniors and people with disabilities living in rent-regulated apartments. The Senior Citizen Homeowners (SCHE) and Disabled Homeowners Exemptions (DHE) provide property tax reductions for senior and disabled homeowners. “Too many New Yorkers living on fixed incomes are feeling the burden of rising costs in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “But we are fighting every day to make sure they can live, thrive and retire in place. The Public Engagement Unit’s new Rent Freeze Team will provide valuable guidance and information about these programs to renters and homeowners. New York City must remain a place for everyone, or it won’t be a place for anyone.” “As the Public Engagement Unit knocks thousands doors across the City, we constantly meet New Yorkers who are able to live where they love because of these programs,” said Regina Schwartz, Director of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit. “We are proud to partner with city agencies across the administration to increase our outreach to vulnerable New Yorkers, build new relationship with elected officials, community partners and connect individuals to government.” New Yorkers participating in SCRIE save an average of $235 in rent per month and in DRIE an average of $135 per month over the lifetime of the benefit. “We are excited that the Mayor is providing additional resources to help enroll as many eligible seniors and persons with disabilities as possible,” said Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “The renters and homeowners exemption programs offer significant relief for many New Yorkers who would be struggling to stay in their homes if not for this benefit. We look forward to introducing many more people to opportunity to take advantage of the City’s money-saving programs.” “Obtaining affordable housing remains among the greatest need in New York City, especially for older adults with limited incomes,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado. “By proactively promoting the Homeowner Tax Exemption and Freeze Your Rent programs, the City is reaffirming its commitment to helping seniors age in place in their communities.” “One of the most important aspects to leading a happy, healthy and productive life is the security of having a roof over your head,” said Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise. “Creating a dedicated unit to conduct outreach to New Yorkers eligible for NYC Rent Freeze and Homeowner Tax Exemption Programs will help thousands of individuals with disabilities stay in their homes by saving on future increases." PEU’s Rent Freeze Team will be helping constituents in Council Member Chin’s district every other Wednesday starting June 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in her district office. "For those New Yorkers who qualify for the NYC Rent Freeze program, especially seniors and those with disabilities, we need to ensure that they have the adequate tools and information to guide them through the process,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I am so excited to work with the PEU's Rent Freeze Team starting June 28th, and make good on our commitment to keep these vulnerable New Yorkers in their homes. I thank Mayor de Blasio for his dedication to making our City a more affordable place for all." "The New York City Council and the Department of Finance have worked collaboratively and creatively to increase outreach and the number of seniors that benefit from the Rent Freeze Program,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “Council Member Margaret Chin has been a steadfast advocate for our aging community and this year made great progress with historical investments to DFTA in the City's budget. Any measure we take to increase enrollment and help keep New Yorkers in their homes is welcome. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for moving steadily towards his housing goals and we look forward to our continued partnership with DOF." “Each year, New York City rent gets higher and higher and it’s more difficult for some of our city’s most vulnerable to make ends meet,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “I applaud the creation of a team of specialists dedicated to helping New Yorkers fully take advantage of the programs available to them.” Bobbie Sackman, Director of Public Policy, LiveOn NY said, "LiveOn NY is pleased to work with Mayor de Blasio and his Public Engagement Unit ensure that 10,000 additional New Yorkers will be enrolled in the SCRIE/DRIE and SCHE/DHE programs. Councilwoman Margaret Chin has also been a great champion of the SCRIE/DRIEprogram. LiveOn NY's robust SCRIE enrollment program has helped thousands of older New Yorkers to continue to afford their homes and remain in their communities. We look forward to working with our city partners to maximize the utilization of SCRIE and these other programs." "AARP is thrilled that the mayor is dedicating staff and resources to enroll older New Yorkers in the NYC Rent Freeze Program,” said Chris Widelo, Associate State Director of AARP New York. “This program is key to ensuring older residents can afford their apartments as rents increase across the city - and this assistance will deliver real help to more tenants struggling to make ends meet." "The Chinese-American Planning Council would like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Chin for bringing more services to the Chinatown and Lower East Side community," said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. "SCRIE and DRIE are programs which our community members ask about, so having culturally and linguistically appropriate staff to help community members through this process is important. CPC looks forward to expanding similar services in Brooklyn." “I’d like to commend Mayor de Blasio and the City’s Public Engagement Unit for their concerted efforts to enroll eligible New Yorkers in SCRIE and DRIE. These programs are a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable neighbors, and are key to making New York a better place to age. I’d also like to thank Council Member Margaret Chin for her continuous advocacy on behalf of older adults in our City. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City on outreach efforts for these programs,” said Sandy Myers, Director of Government and External Relations at Selfhelp Community Services. “The Asian American Federation applauds Mayor de Blasio for taking a proactive approach to supporting low-income tenants across our City. Affordable housing remains one of the most important priorities for our community, where one-half of our seniors live in rent-burdened households. In our own report, seniors requested more access to safety net programs like SCRIE to help them maintain their independence and fight displacement from neighborhoods where they built community for decades. The Mayor’s efforts will provide vital assistance to our pan-Asian American elders, who are the fastest growing and the poorest senior population. We thank Councilmember Chin for her unyielding commitment to senior services, and fighting for our elders’ dignity,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 5:20pm
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), and tennis professional James Blake today announced the creation of the James Blake CCRB Fellowship, a program to help the CCRB reduce the number of complaints closed without a full investigation. These cases comprised slightly over half (55 percent) of CCRB’s cases in 2016, and are largely the result of complainants, victims, or witnesses who—for various reasons—do not participate in the CCRB’s investigation of their complaint. As a result, in these cases the CCRB cannot determine whether misconduct occurred. Mr. Blake’s interest in this issue arose out of an incident that occurred in September of 2015, when in a case of mistaken identity, he was taken to the ground and cuffed by a New York City police officer while standing in front of his hotel in midtown Manhattan. He was released from custody once another officer recognized Mr. Blake and realized the mistake. In the course of discussions with City officials concerning the incident, the idea emerged for providing assistance to CCRB complainants in navigating the system by which civilian complaints against police officers are investigated and ultimately adjudicated. Through the CCRB, civilians have recourse to investigate and hold accountable law enforcement for police misconduct. As part of the administration’s larger effort to improve police-community relations, James Blake has chosen to assist the City in filling an important unmet need. Helping the CCRB investigate more complaints, more completely, is critical to addressing instances of alleged police misconduct. The James Blake CCRB Fellowship acknowledges the essential role of civilians in improving police-community relations and it is created in service of the City’s ongoing mission to improve its work with New Yorkers at all levels of government. The first fellow, slated to start in January 2018, will support complainants by helping them navigate the CCRB process. Additionally, the fellow will foster relationships with community leaders and increase awareness of CCRB across the City, but particularly in neighborhoods with the highest truncation rates. “Transparency and accountability are critical to further strengthening the bonds between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve. The James Blake CCRB Fellowship is rooted in this administration's deep commitment to improving those relations,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The tireless efforts of committed and qualified fellows will help deliver on the transparency and accountability civilians and police officers deserve by ensuring that more complaints are thoroughly investigated and more cases are closed.” “To do our job well, we have to better understand what it takes to support community members through the CCRB complaint and investigation process,” said CCRB Chair Maya Wiley. “We have accomplished much over the past few years–reducing case processing times, eliminating a backlog of complaints, and exponentially increasing CCRB’s presence in the community. And we know we need to do more. The James Blake CCRB Fellowship is an investment in our efforts to address these questions. Building upon improvements the Agency has already made, future fellows will aid CCRB by exploring new approaches to completing investigations.” "The James Blake CCRB Fellowship will enhance the Civilian Complaint Review Board process by ensuring complaints are investigated both quickly and thoroughly,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. "The James Blake CCRB Fellowship ensures that civilian complainants better understand the CCRB process so that complaints supported by sufficient evidence are fully and fairly resolved,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter. James Blake said, “I want to thank the City of New York and the Mayor’s Office for sharing my belief that this is an important issue that deserves to be a priority. I also want to thank my attorney, Kevin Marino, who has worked tirelessly to make this fellowship happen. It has been my intention since Day One to turn a negative situation into a positive, and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal.” “Residents of New York have a right to a fair, comprehensive, and transparent complaint process for adjudicating potential police misconduct. This fellowship has the potential to resolve cases in a timely manner that usually go unsolved. In order to best protect New Yorkers, we need to be able fully investigate all cases before the CCRB,” said Council Member Richie Torres.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 5:20pm
"I deeply appreciate Feniosky Peña-Mora's extraordinary service to New York City. From his work awarding nearly $1.2 billion in M/WBE contracts, to instituting wide reforms that have already made the agency more responsive, to improving our response to Hurricane Sandy, he made our City a better place. He navigated the agency through a period of robust growth, overseeing more than 860 construction starts and completions valued at more than $9 billion - all while winning more than 80 design awards and helping 1,600 students participate in DDC engineering programs. This is impressive stuff. While I am sorry to see him go, we did know this day would come. Indeed, he put off his return to Columbia, where he is a tenured professor, for an additional year to continue to serve the city. As we search for an equally strong candidate to run this critical agency, I thank Feniosky Peña-Mora's for his service."