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Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 11:30am
New York City has strongly countered national trends: 2016’s 230 traffic fatalities were fewest ever in New York City, marking three successive years of decline and a 23 percent reduction since 2013 NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today released New York City’s third annual Vision Zero report, which details the program’s continued progress. Vision Zero, which began in 2014, has helped deliver the safest three-year period on New York City’s streets in recorded history. In 2016, traffic fatalities in New York City declined to their lowest levels ever to 230, representing a 23 percent decline from 2013 when there were 299 traffic fatalities. This is in stark contrast to national trends that have seen a 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the same period according to the National Safety Council projections. In addition to providing the data on past successes, the report also provides a comprehensive look forward at initiatives – around education, enforcement and engineering – that will be pursued to maintain momentum in 2017 and beyond. The “Vision Zero: Year Three” report can be accessed here . “Despite our record success in saving lives these last three years, we know that Vision Zero is just starting,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Even with all of our work and after the safest year in history, someone was lost in a traffic crash on average once every day and a half, still far too frequent. With the unprecedented budget investment we announced last month, we expect that in the year ahead the dedicated efforts of DOT, NYPD and other agencies will help us continue to buck national trends in traffic fatalities with stronger results for New Yorkers.” “Our Year Three report gives great perspective on just how far we have come under three years of Vision Zero,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg . “But as the Mayor has said, we have a long way to go. We are grateful for his leadership and the unprecedented budget investment that will allow us to continue our work to redesign safer streets, and do so much more expand further on our success in the years ahead.” “The Year Three report for Vision Zero is encouraging,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas M. Chan. “Traffic fatalities are at a historically low level, which is bucking a nationwide trend. The City also is investing in making our streets safer, and the NYPD and its partners in the Vision Zero initiative are working every day to reduce collisions and protect lives.” Among the major themes of New York City’s successful Vision Zero efforts outlined in the report: * Data-Driven Priority: In 2015, NYPD and DOT had outlined their strategy in Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, data-driven efforts to drive down injuries and fatalities at targeted intersections and corridors. Two years later, through combined enforcement, education and engineering efforts, serious crashes have declined in areas identified in the plans by nearly 30 percent. * Designs to Make Streets Safer: Under Vision Zero, DOT has achieved an unprecedented pace, completing over 240 safety projects and over 30 miles of protected bike lanes since January 2014. In addition, DOT has brightened over 1,000 crosswalks with new streetlights, and also added higher visibility crosswalks in priority areas. Pedestrian head-starts have been added to 1,248 intersections, giving pedestrians extra dedicated time to cross the street. * Cross-Agency Evaluation and Collaboration: The multi-agency Vision Zero Task Force, coordinated by the Mayor’s Office, brought agencies together to identify problems and collaborate on solutions. The Dusk and Darkness Initiative in 2016 grew out of this effort. In that initiative, agencies had identified a surge in serious pedestrian crashes in the fall and winter evening hours. In October 2016, agencies focused their enforcement and education resources on dangerous driving behaviors during those hours. Traffic fatalities during the initiative saw a decline of 30 percent over previous years. * Increased NYPD Enforcement Against Dangerous Driving: Consistent and predictable enforcement deters reckless driving, prevents crashes and saves lives. Under Vision Zero, NYPD has dramatically increased its issuance of violations for speeding and failure to yield, by 78percent and 243 percent respectively above annual averages prior to Vision Zero. * Safer City Vehicles: Agencies that own or regulate large fleets include the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), and the MTA. Among several new safety initiatives, these three agencies have conducted Vision Zero safety training for over 70,000 vehicle operators since the beginning of Vision Zero. * Increased Engagement: In addition to an award-winning advertising campaign that connected with New Yorkers, Vision Zero connected with New Yorkers in other ways, from senior centers to schools. In 2016, the Cross This Way curriculum, which teaches children about the risks posed by reckless driving, was incorporated into elementary and middle school curricula Citywide. “In our third year of expanding on Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan, the TLC’s resolve has only deepened,” said TLC Commissioner and Chair Meera Joshi. “Our Dusk to Dawn and targeted speeding enforcement efforts continue to catch and deter reckless drivers, and we’ve brought safety education to more than 37,000 of our driver-licensees in 2016 alone and 422 of our licensed bases since 2014. The TLC’s data-driven analysis of safety records of 771 of the city’s car service bases in the Vision Zero Base Reports help the public make more informed consumer choices every day. Our efforts in 2016, including honoring a record 378 drivers for their safe records driving a combined 1.8 million safe miles, set the stage for TLC licensees to lead the way in safety on our streets in 2017.” “Through increased training, truck side-guards and better collision tracking, DCAS is proud of the progress made in fleet safety over the last three years as part of Vision Zero,” said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo . “DCAS looks forward to increasing these efforts even further in partnership with other City agencies including completing our first plan to design and specify safer City fleet vehicles.” “The third annual Vision Zero report is the product of extensive multi-agency coordination, collaboration on new initiatives and a commitment to ongoing program evaluation,” said Mindy Tarlow, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “The Mayor’s investment in new Vision Zero initiatives will build on the program's success and continue making New York City safer for all residents.” “Over the last three years, we’ve made steady progress in our effort to reach Vision Zero’s goal of zero traffic fatalities,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Although we are proud of the work we’ve accomplished, this remains a serious public health issue. I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and determination to make our streets safer for all New Yorkers.” "The success of Vision Zero is clear. In 2015, we recorded to lowest number of traffic deaths in more than a hundred years, and preliminary statistics show that number dropped even further in 2016," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Our rate of traffic deaths is a quarter of the national rate. We still have a long way to go to prevent traffic fatalities and serious injuries, but with the mayor's sustained investment in Vision Zero initiatives, I'm confident we will continue to make progress and save lives.” “We have a distance yet to travel on our journey to Vision Zero, but we have clearly made significant progress thanks to our shared steadfast commitment to saving lives. I am proud to work with Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg as a borough president, a commuter and a safe streets advocate dedicated to safety first on our highways and byways,” said Borough President Eric L. Adams. "Vision Zero is not only saving lives, it is changing the landscape of transportation in New York City for the better," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. "We're making history year over year with reductions in lives lost, but we still understand that more can and must be done. I'm glad to see Mayor de Blasio's commitment to our collective goal of ending traffic fatalities, with the record investment in street safety. This will put more shovels in the ground at the most dangerous intersections, working to keep all street users safe." “The Vision Zero annual report demonstrates the program’s progress since its inception in 2014,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “We’ve seen a decrease in fatalities, safer street designs, safer vehicles, and cross-agency collaboration. A budget that increases traffic enforcement would help continue these trends. I thank Mayor de Blasio for leading the way on this life-saving initiative.” "Vision Zero's results speak for themselves, which is why I was proud to sponsor key elements of this important safety initiative in the City Council,” said Council Member David Greenfield. “Still, there remains much work to be done – even one traffic fatality is too many. I look forward to working with the Mayor and my colleagues in the City Council to build on the success Vision Zero has already achieved. I want to congratulate the Mayor for his leadership and vision in implementing this bold initiative, and I look forward to even greater successes in the years to come." "The efforts of the Vision Zero campaigns continue to save lives as our streets are safer to cross than any other time on record," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "Slowing drivers down, improving street designs and building bike lanes has delivered results across the City and we need to continue to ramp up our efforts to make every street across the five boroughs safer. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio, DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and NYPD Commissioner O'Neill for all their hard work and dedication to decreasing traffic fatalities at record numbers." About Vision Zero In January 2017, after three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero – for a total of $1.6 billion over the next five years. DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, an increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. Other Vision Zero changes announced by the Mayor include ensuring NYPD crossing guards at every post, faster replacement of street markings, intersection upgrades in the bike-lane network, more left-turn calming efforts, brighter lighting and more equipment at each police precinct to catch speeding. For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see .
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 5:10pm
"Today, more than 80 mayors are standing up to tell Congress they better think twice before gutting the health insurance of 30 million Americans. We will not let President Trump and Congressional Republicans threaten the health, wellbeing and financial security of our parents, grandparents, families and friends. In New York City alone, more than 2 million people are in danger of losing health coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. We must send a resounding message to Washington: that is unacceptable. Power doesn't reside in Washington, DC alone. It's in every city and town in America. If we fight together, we can protect our health coverage and our lives." 
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 11:30am
City’s ‘Tech Talent Pipeline’ is connecting more New Yorkers with middle class, career track jobs and offers training that has grown graduates’ incomes an average of 34 percent NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Gregg Bishop of the Department of Small Business Services, today announced academic, employer and philanthropic commitments for the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP) initiative, an industry partnership that helps NYC businesses start and grow by equipping New Yorkers for 21st century jobs. TTP’s occupational training programs have raised graduates’ salaries by an average of 34 percent since it was launched in 2014, and its Web Development Fellowship has resulted in an average starting salary of $65,000, with 96 percent of graduates of its first group of participants placed in a job. Tech Talent Pipeline is one of the City’s five industry partnerships run by the Department of Small Business Services that deliver quality jobs for more New Yorkers and quality talent for the city’s businesses. “The NYC Tech Talent Pipeline is centered on providing new opportunities for all New Yorkers. Those impacted by this initiative will gain the skills and experiences they need to be a part of one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “TTP will benefit all five boroughs and will pave the way for expanded opportunities for residents and businesses across our city.” “The NYC Tech Talent Pipeline has created opportunities for more New Yorkers to achieve good, career track jobs in the tech field, and I am pleased that the commitments announced today will expand its reach,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “The tech field is important to New York City’s economy and we will continue to work with our private sector partners to forge a future that is inclusive and taps the rich talents of all of our people.” Expansion of NYC TTP Residency Program TTP will expand its TTP Residency Program, which connects qualified undergraduate computer science students to internships with industry leaders looking for specially trained tech employees. The program will expand beyond its founding campus at Queens College to include Lehman College, increasing 2017 program investment to over $1 million. The program not only develops talent and helps connect them to career opportunities, but also features a commitment from participating schools to better align curriculum in computer science degree programs with in-demand skills needed by tech employers. Consistent with TTP’s goal to drive systemic change throughout the NYC tech ecosystem, the program engages faculty and career advisors in ongoing work to align the college’s tech education offerings with industry demand. This is accomplished through activities like project-based software engineering courses, involving industry experts in teaching and career coaching, and providing tech-specific career development support. TTP Residency is one of 10 training and education solutions designed by the TTP in partnership with NYC businesses. Of the New Yorkers who have completed TTP programs to date, 40 percent were previously unemployed and many more were underemployed. Though a majority of new pilot programs have yet to complete their training and placement periods, initial data from those participants who secured jobs and reported pre- and post-program wages indicate that annualized salaries grew by 34 percent after training. Personal Impact of TTP Training NYC Web Development Fellowship participant Lois Tatis said that TTP training had an enormous impact on his life. Lois's parent was deported to the Dominican Republic when he was young, leaving him alone with very few options. Living in his grandmother's living room, he spent most of his days in between shifts as a sales representative learning new technologies. Inspired to develop a better understanding of the tools he used every day, he applied and was accepted into the NYC Web Development Fellowship, a 22-week intensive web development training program offered by the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline in partnership with the Flatiron School. After completing the program, Lois landed a front end engineer internship at LearnVest, and within a few months was promoted to full-time software engineer, nearly tripling his pre-program earnings. Additional Employers Committed To Hiring Participants Recognizing the need to expand entry-ramps to local talent seeking their first jobs in tech – including those with non-traditional backgrounds – the following TTP industry partners will commit to launching or expanding tech fellowships, internships, and full-time hires in 2017: * The New York Times and Huge will commit to launching or expanding tech fellowships, internships, or full-time junior level hires in 2017, recognizing the need to expand entry-ramps to local talent seeking their first jobs in tech. * Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship NY - an initiative of Cornell Tech, CUNY, and NYC businesses, will expand tech internship opportunities at companies like Verizon, Accenture, and IBM, for women enrolled in computer science programs across CUNY by 60 percent. * These partners join the following additional TTP companies who have recently hired entry-level local talent: * o Time, Inc., Jet, YieldMo, Urban Outfitters, Mapbox, Weiss Analytics, Programmatic Mechanics, FXCompared, Alluvium, Glossier, Hi Clark (Clark, Inc.), Ivy Connect Inc., Swiftquick Mobile, Prolific Interactive, and TRN Fitness. Additional Commitments from New and Existing Academic Partners Today, 15 leaders of NYC Colleges – members of the Mayor’s Tech Talent Pipeline Academic Council – are releasing updates on progress they’ve made on commitments to create stronger pathways to tech careers for NY students. These updated commitments, which are expected to reach an initial 1,300 students, can be found at . In addition, the College of Staten Island has committed to join the Academic Council, pledging to work more closely with the City and NYC employers in one of the following areas: curriculum alignment, scaling proven programs, building new industry-driven programs, and fostering industry-faculty collaboration. Renewed Philanthropic Commitments JPMorgan Chase & Co is announcing a renewed $500,000 commitment to support TTP’s efforts to deliver quality jobs for New Yorkers and quality talent for the city’s businesses. The New York City Workforce Funders, a group of foundations with an interest in improving the system of employment services in the City, also renewed its investment of $175,000 in TTP. “Growing opportunities in New York City's tech sector requires an end-to-end approach, from our schools and colleges to partnerships with employers," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I'm thrilled to see Cornell Tech, CUNY and tech-industry leaders in our city working together to expand tech industry opportunities for people of all backgrounds who have the skills and talent to succeed.” “The growth in the technology sector is not only a tremendous boon to our city’s economy, it also provides well-paying and exciting jobs,” said City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “The NYC Tech Talent Pipeline is a great way to prepare our youth for these rewarding careers by connecting them with companies on the cutting edge of technology and utilizing existing academic capacity. I am glad the College of Staten Island will now be joining this initiative, so that hopefully students in our borough will be able to access the resources, training and internships that will lead them to long-term success in this booming field.” “The addition of the TTP Residency program at Lehman College will be an immense benefit to our students and faculty members engaged in the fast-changing world of today’s new digital technologies,” said Dr. José Luis Cruz, President of Lehman College. “An opportunity to learn first-hand from practitioners and innovators in tech workplaces around New York City will prepare students to thrive in a challenging environment and, in turn, help lead the industry forward – just what you would hope for in a public – private partnership.” “We’re investing in the Tech Talent Pipeline to help build the skilled tech workforce that employers in New York need right now,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase. “It’s also critical for our larger economic future to create career pathways for people to enter into the growing tech sector and the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline is a terrific model for doing so.” About NYC Department of Small Business Services Industry Partnerships The NYC Tech Talent Pipeline is one of SBS’s five industry partnerships that work with employers, industry and trade organizations, organized labor, non-profits, training providers and educational institutions, private philanthropy, and workforce organizations to build a sustainable and robust pipeline of local talent to fill New York City’s jobs, create formal career paths to good jobs, reduce barriers to employment and sustain or increase middle-class jobs. Other industry partnerships include the construction, healthcare, hospitality, and industrial fields. About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building a fairer economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to , call 311, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 7:30am
“This dramatic policy shift is hard evidence of the Trump Administration’s interest in needlessly tearing apart families and spreading fear in immigrant communities. By targeting those without serious convictions, those who have merely been charged with offenses, or those recent arrivals – including unaccompanied children – who have posed no safety threat to our neighborhoods, the President has chosen the politics of division over our nation’s safety. “Let us be clear: immigrant communities living in fear under these rules will be less likely to report crime or partner with law-enforcement agencies to make our communities safer. These New Yorkers will be less likely to involve themselves in neighborhood fabrics at the center of sustained safety and prosperity. Families torn apart will only add to the marginalization of already economically and culturally vulnerable communities. “We have been clear from the start that we will work with federal immigration authorities to remove individuals who are proven public safety threats in our City. What we will not do is turn our NYPD officers into immigration agents – or our jails into holding pens for deportation policy that will only undermine the inclusiveness that has helped make New York City the safest big city in the nation.”
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:10pm
Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio, Health and Human Services: Good morning, I’m Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio. We are here today to welcome back a strong leader to the City of New York government. David Hansell is the ideal person to guide ACS as we continue to reform it. This is a man who has been a fighter – a fighter for children and families his entire career. And I want to pause a moment to recognize where we sit. We sit at the Nicholas Capeta Children Center, named for a man who served as Deputy Mayor for Criminal Justice, who served as Fire Commissioner, and for this event most notably, served as the first ACS Commissioner in New York City; a man whose dedication to service was informed by him having been a foster child himself. As we shift back to David; David and I have had many conversations leading up to today’s announcement. We talked about his background, his values, his experience, and his vision for the agency. David has a unique blend of expertise and passion for helping others and this will strengthen ACS in our mission to protect our most defenseless children. He is a skilled data driven manager and someone who knows how to transform organizations. He is someone who will think and work across the many systems that we must weave together to provide the strongest safety net for our children and to strengthen our families. He’s also a compassionate advocate for vulnerable New Yorkers. As a physician who spent much of my career caring for patients with HIV and AIDS, I understand the deep long lasting impact that this experience can have on a person. David has spent many years on the front line as an advocate during the heyday of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, fighting for people’s rights; fighting for people who were often marginalized, discriminated against, unseen, rendered invisible. David was there protecting people. That work led him to take on tough issues on behalf of the people who need help the most. This was true when he was acting secretary at the Administration for Children and Families in Washington; it was true when he was commissioner of the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance and the Associate Commissioner of HIV services right here in New York City. Now, David will bring his experience, compassionate leadership to ACS. I’m thrilled that he is taking on this role. New York City’s families and children, we are lucky to have him. And now, I would like to introduce the man who has been focused on child welfare for most of his illustrious career, our mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Dr. Palacio. Let me start by thanking our Deputy Mayor for the very comprehensive search that she led, looking all over the country for the very best talent; and for the work she did to get to today. And I could not be happier with the choice that she put forward to me and I ratified. The fact that we are here in the Capeta Center – I want to just dwell on that for a brief moment because Dr. Palacio made the point. This was a great New Yorker. We lost him last year, but I think he would’ve said – if he were today – that he valued everything he did in his public life. He valued the time he was a deputy mayor and he was fire commissioner. I think his labor of love was when he was ACS commissioner. And Nicholas Capeta, because of everything he went through in his youth, but because of his extraordinary compassion believed that something could be done better and something could be done differently to protect and to uplift our children. He’d also say this is work that never ends and the efforts to figure out how to do it better are something we work on every day of every year. And no one is better suited to that mission then David Hansell. I want to talk about David, but first I want to acknowledge and thank for joining us, our Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, our acting ACS Commissioner Eric Brettschneider, and the Chief of Detectives at the NYPD Bob Boyce. Thank you all for being with us. Now, I want to affirm, as I met with David and reflected back on the very positive experiences that he and I had years ago when I was chairman of the General Welfare Committee in the City Council. I thought about the mission ahead. In the eight years that I spent as chairman of that committee there were times that I got deeply involved in issues related to ACS and to me they were the most important issues we dealt with on that committee. They were the ones that moved me the most humanly, in large measure because I was a parent. And it was clear to me that there was much more that had to be done back then and there is more that has to be done now. It takes someone with extraordinary compassion and extraordinary drive to keep working through these issues because bluntly this means looking into some of the worse challenges of humanity. That is just a fact. What ACS does is go into family settings that are so often troubled or even broken. And our ACS workers have to go in there and find a way to protect children and make things as right as possible. It’s very tough work. The problems that plague our society often concentrate themselves in individual families whether it is substance abuse, whether it is a history of violence within the household or just plain poverty and lack of opportunity. Our ACS workers have to serve at the frontline and do their best to address these challenges. And it is never ever easy. It takes courage. It takes tremendous strength and resourcefulness. Our job is to help them get better all the time. Our job is to support them in that work, train them better than ever. Our job is to make sure all other City agencies have their back and are working with them. And again, I want to give particular thanks to Chief Boyce. I know this is a passion of his as well. And his presence here is an example of the growing partnership between ACS and the NYPD. Now, David enters into a situation where the sheer magnitude is daunting. Up to 60,000 cases a year have to be investigated. And these are, again, often complex and painful situations. They don’t present themselves cleanly and obviously in many cases. It takes a lot of careful work to figure out what is really going on and what’s the right solution. But David understands that our mission is simple and yet extraordinary at the same time. The goal is to save every single child. We understand how daunting that is. We understand that there are times when we don’t even have an indication that there is an issue in a family or an indication that a child is in danger in any way. But our job, our mission is to find a way to save every child. There is no other agency in this city government that I think has such a rigorous demand placed on it; such a clear and extraordinary goal that it tries to meet every single day. But David Hansell understands that from a lifetime of experience and a lifetime of extraordinary work on behalf of others. He understands how challenging a mission it is, but he also understands that leadership and resources and support and training can make all the difference in the world. And I am convinced he is the person who will take us to the next level that we have to get to. As you heard from Herminia, his career has all been about protecting vulnerable people, vulnerable families. And I haven’t seen in my own experiences with David – and I heard it from others as well – he does not back down from a challenge. He has a personal strength to understand that no matter how daunting the social problem he deals with it is his job to make a difference and he knows he can. As you know, he served in our national government in the Obama Administration. And he was known from that experience as a highly-effective manager. He was known as someone who got the job done. He helped run of the biggest job efforts in federal history; helped to create jobs for 250,000 low-income Americans in 42 states. An extraordinary managerial and logistical challenge and David met the challenge. He also understood that his job was to right wrongs of the past and we all know there was too many times where families struggled because child support was not being provided the way it was supposed to. And his work in New York State, he ensured that caregivers and children received historically high levels of child support payments – literally the all-time record for those payments, $1.6 billion occurred on his watch. And you heard from Herminia that David was at the front line of the HIV/AIDS crisis at its very beginning – a time of tremendous uncertainty where only the bravest went to the front to confront a challenge that literally was not even understood except for the fact that it was killing large numbers of people. David made it his business to be present and accounted for in that fight. I want to emphasize that his abilities, his education could have led him in a very different direction. He’s a graduate of Yale Law School. Obviously, we all know he could’ve chosen very illustrious career in the private sector. He could have done very well for himself. We could safely say that did not occur to David. What occurred to him was to help others. He comes into an agency now that has over decades – going back to the time that Nicholas Capeta was first named as the first commissioner – an agency that has made steady progress, but still has much work to do. And I want to be clear that we will be unrelenting in addressing its challenges. I also want to express my appreciation to all of those who have served in ACS who have achieved things that were not achieved previously. A very important example, the foster care population that we are serving is now down to 10,000 children compared to 13,000 just three years ago. That means more is being done to help children and their families and to avoid them having to go into foster care to begin with. The number of children being reached by preventative services – this is something I spent a lot of time working on when I was general welfare chairman; the need to have help in the home for families that are struggling, families that can turn their reality around need intervention, need support. Preventative services have been a difference maker for years, but there hasn’t been enough capacity. Now, 45,000 kids are being served by preventative services compared to 39,000 just five years ago – 6,000 more kids getting help and protection. And this includes things like mental health support, parenting support, helping families to get stronger and to address their challenges. So, we know that we can make change and we can make improvement, but we also know we have a lot more work to do. And now we have a leader who I am convinced will move ACS forward and will usher in the next wave of reform and change on behalf of our children and families. A few words in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that, I with great pleasure introduce the new Commissioner for the Administration for Children’s Services, David Hansell. [Applause] Commissioner David Hansell, Administration for Children’s Services: Good morning everyone. I want to start by expressing my deep gratitude to Mayor de Blasio and Dr. Palacio. First of all for those overwhelming comments – [Laughter] But, more importantly, for giving me the opportunity to serve this city in such an important role. I am truly humbled by the confidence that they’ve expressed in me. I have known the Mayor for 15 years, as he said, we worked together when he was chair of the General Welfare Committee for City Council and I was the chief of staff at HRA. And I know from that experience that I share his mission to protect every child and his deep appreciation for the difficult and challenging work that the women and men at ACS do every day. When the Mayor I were discussing the job of ACS commissioner, he asked me a simple question that I’ve asked myself many times. And that is: What motivates you to consider taking on this enormous challenge? And I answered him with a question of my own: Where is there a more important place to serve the most vulnerable individuals and families in our City? And that’s been the question that’s animated career decisions I’ve made over the course of my career for the last three decades. As you’ve already heard, my worldview took shape in the time of crisis in the early 1980s when hundreds of New Yorkers were dying of a new disease that had not yet even been labeled as AIDS. They were men and women, gay and straight, predominantly people of color, predominantly young, and many of them were my friends. But universally, they were sick, they were scorned by many, and they were ignored by many more and they needed protection. And as a young lawyer that’s what I tried to do and that’s what I felt I needed to do. So working on the front lines at Gay Men’s Health Crisis in the late 1980s and the early 1990s that experience showed me what happens when government takes a callous attitude towards those who need its help the most. But it also showed me the good that government can do when it cares for the most defenseless among us. And, I have to say those lessons seem as urgent today as they did 30 years ago. And since then I have tried to apply those lessons in running government agencies, energizing them, spurring them to innovation and working to improve their performance. And now as I take on a new responsibility at ACS – the agency that I am about to lead is beholden to every single New Yorker in its mission to protect our most vulnerable children. And there is no greater calling than that. So, my job will be to build on what ACS is doing well, to fix what isn’t working and to move mountains to support the work of the agency’s 6,000 committed and courageous staff. And the Mayor has assured me that I will have whatever resources I need to make sure that ACS can achieve its mission. I in turn will apply the managerial skills and the rigor that have served me well elsewhere to move ACS forward. So specifically, what does that mean? Well first, I will do a top to bottom review of ACS’ protective and preventive functions to strengthen what’s working and to change what isn’t. Second, I will use the full authority that’s been given to me by the Mayor to ensure that the agency leadership is fully aligned with our reform vision. Third, I will review the many recent reform proposals to see what needs to be implemented and where we can expedite critical reforms in the agency. And fourth, I will identify opportunities for closer collaboration with the NYPD on internal monitoring procedures and on protecting the safety of our children and our staff. And to say a few more words about that, in particular, from my experience running other major government organizations, I have become a strong believer in metric space management. I have seen the so-called STAT model based on the COMP-STAT model within the NYPD. I have seen it work at HRA when I was there – very effectively. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see the CHILD-STAT program at ACS, but I have some concerns about whether it is actually achieving its purpose of ensuring the kind of accountability and quality assurance that we need there. I have already had the opportunity to meet with Chief of Detectives Boyce to talk about how we can collaborate more closely with the NYPD to make sure that we are fully utilizing their expertise and expectations in improving the caliber of the CHILD-STAT program. And that’s one of the things I will be taking a very close look at as soon as I arrive at ACS. Before I close, on a personal note I want to thank several family members here today: my partner Rob Cimino, my partner of 16 years who has supported me in doing this knowing that he may not see a lot of me for a while; [Laughter] My sister Linda; my god son Sam Craig and his mother B.C. Craig. And in close again I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Dr. Palacio for this opportunity. And I want to pledge to the people of New York that I will lead and support this agency and its staff to do everything in our power to protect all of our city’s children. Thank you very much. Mayor: Thank you. Congratulations again. And now let’s take questions on this announcement, on ACS, and then we will later on take questions on other topics as well. Go ahead, Courtney. Question: This question is for Mr. Hansell – have you looked at reports yet on Zymere Perkins, Jaden Jordan, and other deaths that we’ve seen? The reports from DOI – have you read them? What’s your immediate reaction to them and how would you characterize Gladys Carrion’s tenure? Do you think that she did a good job? Commissioner Hansell: I have had a chance to look at all the reports. I will obviously be looking at them in much greater detail. I think there are some very valuable recommendations in all of them. I think there are recommendations that ACS could benefit from and when I arrive at ACS I will be looking at steps that have been taken to-date because I know that some of those recommendations have been implemented. And then see where there are additional ones that, as I said, we need to implement on a critical path basis. I am a great admirer of Gladys’s. We worked together in Albany. I have tremendous respect for her vision and for her commitment, and caring for children and for the work that she’s done. I think that there are many things that – many reforms that she began that we will continue and expedite the implementation of. And there are things that we will do differently. Question: Mr. Hansell, how do you plan to address the caseload of the workers that seems to have been increasing over time? Do you think they’re overwhelmed and not able to function well with the caseloads that they have? Commissioner Hansell: Well, my understanding, and again I will review this in more detail once I get to ACS, my understanding is that it’s increased somewhat recently. And one of the things I know from my national experience with child welfare is that it is quite common in a situation, as we’ve had here in New York City after a couple of very high-profile incidents, for the number of reports coming in to spike. And that seems to have happened and that has led to an increase in caseload for the child protective workers recently. Caseload is a very important metric. It’s very important to enable the casework staff to do the work they need to do as effectively as they can to keep caseload within reasonable bounds. And so that’s something I will be taking a very, very close look at when I arrive at ACS. Mayor: Let me note that we have 100 more caseworkers who will be onboard by April. And I think that clearly will have a huge, positive impact in addition to the point that David made that we see fluctuations in the number of reports and that really drives the casework level, is how many reports are coming in. We certainly would not be surprised if the number of reports starts to go back down again while we’re bringing on more staff. And that will get us back in a position that’s better than the federal and state standards. That’s where we’ve been for most of the three years that we’ve been here. We’ve been in a position that was clearly better than the caseload standards that are held by the federal and state government. That does fluctuate sometimes. We are very committed to getting to a place that is better than those standards on a regular basis. Question: Mr. Hansell, you talked about your motivation in trying to care for the most vulnerable but right now you have a very nice job and a good life – [Laughter] [Inaudible] why in the world would you do this when no matter how much you can fix this agency, there’s going to be kids who fall through cracks? [Inaudible] all of the publicity of, “Oh, did he fail,” when that happens? It’s almost like a no-win situation. Why do it? Mayor: You have really – thank you for the cheery question, Dave – [Laughter] Commissioner Hansell: I feel so much better about that. No, I – as I said in my remarks I can’t think of a more important public service opportunity. I can’t think of a more important way to contribute to life for the most vulnerable individuals and families in our city. I know it won’t be easy but I – when the Mayor offered me the position it wasn’t one I felt I could refuse. It was too important an opportunity to pass up. And as the Mayor said and I said, you know, our job is to protect every child in this city and we will do everything in our power to make that happen. Mayor: Dave, I want to also note, you know, there’s the famous Teddy Roosevelt speech about the man in the arena and, you know, going into the fray no matter what the challenge is. I think, you know, that speech could be well said about David Hansell that he’s clearly made a choice over his life to go into very difficult situations, and situations that a lot of other people would not have the strength to go into. But we need people in our society who will take on the big challenges and we need people who are not afraid of things that seem daunting. That’s the only way we move forward. So, that’s exactly the kind of person I was looking for ACS commissioner. Lisa? Question: Mr. Hansell, as you mentioned, many of these high-profile cases, tragedies with children’s lives being lost – those families have been on the ACS radar. Where will you draw the line between the danger of when a child’s life is in danger and they need to be immediately removed from the family? Will those policies remain the same? Commissioner Hansell: Our first and foremost responsibility is to keep kids safe and the first decision we have to make is whether they can safely remain at home or whether they need to be removed. And that is something we will look at in every case. It’s a complicated assessment. We have very skilled staff that do it. We will review and as I said I think we will need to strengthen our monitoring tools to make sure that we are doing it as effectively as we can, consistently with our protocol across the board. But that is the first question we’ll ask in every case. Mayor: I want to note, Lisa, as the Commissioner will certainly know from his experience and Chief Boyce knows, ACS seeks removal in certain instances of a child but requires court approval. And there have certainly been instances where ACS was absolutely convinced that a child should be removed and a court would not agree. So, this is another challenge that we have to continually meet. I think there are many instances where ACS has been very aggressive and a judge did not agree, and I’m not sure I always would have agreed with that judge in making that decision although I’m sure they were honest decisions. But this is something that the Commissioner is going to certainly look at – how do we, when we are convinced a child should be removed from the home, how do we improve the opportunity to get that agreed upon by a judge? And sometimes in our system of checks and balances, we could do everything pristinely and the judge still gets to make personal decision that we may not agree with. And that’s one of the big challenges here. But I think if one looked at the actual facts, you would see ACS has been very aggressive about seeking removal in a lot of cases. Yeah? Question: Getting back to CHILD-STAT. The previous commissioner had shifted it from being more child safety to big policy issues like foster children [inaudible] caseworkers. Do you see – what kind of changes [inaudible] are those things that – those [inaudible] what else would you be looking at? Commissioner Hansell: Well, as I said, I haven’t had the opportunity to observe CHILD-STAT yet. So, I can’t yet speak to specific changes. What I do know is that I have seen it work at HRA where we had a very aggressive – actually we had two programs at HRA. When I arrived, HRA already had a program called JOB-STAT that was focused on job placement, job retention, and making sure that the agency’s [inaudible] and basically moving people from welfare to work was as effective as it could be. And while I was there we added a second program which we called VENDOR-STAT to focus on the performance of our contracted vendors. It was a very formal program. It was based on data – real-time data, analysis of that data, identification of areas of deficiency, and then the development of corrective action plans. So, I know that model and conceptually that’s the model I think is successful. I can’t yet say what changes I’ll make at ACS. I also want to say that I’m hoping actually to observe Comp-Stat later this week. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that either and I think there are things we can learn and I look forward to talking forward with Chief Boyce about things we can learn from the NYPD that will also strengthen CHILD-STAT. Question: Mr. Hansell, based on your national experience, are there any programs anywhere across the country in other cities that are working relatively speaking compared to New York City that you will look at and maybe bring parts of those programs to the city? Commissioner Hansell: Absolutely. I’m not going to identify specific ones but what I will say is I think there is a growing body of what we called evidence-based interventions – interventions that have been proven to actually make a positive difference in outcomes for children and families. In understand ACS is already implementing those and that’s certainly something I want – we want to make sure that the things we’re doing, the things we’re doing directly through our staff, the things that we’re paying our contracted providers to do are things that have been proven elsewhere or proven in New York City to make a difference for kids and families and that’s what we’re going to look at. Mayor: Melissa – Question: Mr. Mayor, I know that family court gets involved obviously when ACS petitions for a removal. But it is widely believed during Commissioner Carrion’s tenure that you and she were sometimes not on the same page, that you wanted to be more aggressive about removals – playing it safe – and that she had this philosophy that was a lot more about leaving children at home whenever possible. The question that I have is are you comfortable now given some of what we’ve reported recently that there [inaudible] programs that had to close their doors because of staffing problems – Mayor: Okay, get to the question, please – [Laughter] Question: Are you comfortable with how many children are being left at home given that the preventative services have not kept up? Mayor: I don’t agree with the premise of your question and I think it’s really important, and you’ve spent a lot of time on this issue, I know that for a fact and I appreciate how focused you’ve been on it but I think that’s an unfair assumption. Again, under Commissioner Carrion’s watch, many times ACS went for removal and did not get agreement from a court. I think a fair question is – do judges have a philosophical belief that tends more towards keeping a family intact versus a removal? I think, to be fair, the vast majority of judges try to call them as they see them individual cases but I think this underlying philosophical question is out there in the child protective world. And I certainly think the important point is when in doubt, I think moving for removal is exactly right. I believe that was the same approach Commissioner Carrion used. I don’t believe that’s the same approach ACS used. I know that will continue. That being said, and Dr. Palacio have talked about this a lot – these are some of the toughest decisions anyone in government ever makes because removing a child, let’s there is a gray situation and it’s just not clear what to do, removing a child has very big consequences. Anyone in this room who is a parent can understand that or anyone who has a child in their life, how traumatic that can be. It is a tough decision that has to be made right. So, I would really caution against trying to put it – I’ll certainly let you follow up – I would caution against trying to put it in a neat box because it never is in a neat box. There’s so much complexity. What I am convinced is ACS over the last three years has and ACS will continue to be aggressive and when the evidence points to the need for safety, requiring a removal, I don’t think anyone will hesitate. Question: So, to follow up – it’s just that given that foster care removals are down, there are fewer than 9,000 children in foster care. Are you comfortable right now with the wait list for prevention – that children who being left at home instead of being placed in foster care that those preventative services are meeting that need? Mayor: No but for a different reason I think than you’re indicating. The reduction in foster care has been a success. There’s no question. We want fewer kids in foster care, more kids in their own biological family if we can make the situation work or with another family member if it’s not their nuclear – with another family member. That’s always optimal and there’s been a big focus on that successfully over the last few years. We have seen, as you know fewer indicated cases of abuse and neglect over the last decade. It’s been going down and that’s a good sign too. What I don’t see is what you would be pointing to that the reduction in the number of kids in foster care has correlated to some increase in the amount of abuse and neglect in the home. I’m not seeing that and that’s good. That being said, the reason I think it’s a very important question – I don’t think preventative service is where we want it to be. And Commissioner Hansell and I have talked about this. You heard the fact we’re serving 6,000 more kids than we served before this administration. That’s not enough. We need to figure out what the amount of preventative services we need are in terms of quantity. We also have to work on the quality. So, one of the key points of our discussions was my mandate to Commissioner Hansell to go and look top to bottom at the preventative services system to figure what will strengthen it, what is that amount he needs to make things work optimally to protect our kids, and also how to make sure our preventative services organizations are working as best as they can. And some we may want to deepen our relationship with, some we may not want to continue with. That’s another thing he’ll be looking at. But I want to say what he said. I told him that he will have my full support in getting the resources he needs to keep improving this agency. Question: Do you think, given – both of you, Mr. Hansell and Mayor – given the fact that ACS is disproportionately involved in New York City with families that are made up of people of color. I know that you have said about the police for instance that some of their proportionate involvement with people of color and stops and certain things, that some of that might have to do with implicit bias. Do you think there’s any kind of bias at work in the way that ACS or the child welfare system deals with New York City’s families of color? Mayor: I – in my, you know, eight years as the chairman and then four years as Advocate when I looked at these issues, and now Mayor – I don’t believe that’s the case. I think we are talking about extremely complex situations and frontline workers who are trained and were certainly trained a lot more in the last few years than in the past to go in and make assessments. We’re also talking about a workforce that looks like the people they serve by-and-large. So, no, I do not see that challenge. I think the challenge is, and again the Commissioner can speak to this or the Deputy Mayor, I think it’s extraordinarily tough decisions. I think these are the equivalent of the split second decisions that a police officer has to make that can have life and death ramifications. For a caseworker to figure out whether a child should remain or not is a very, very complex decision and often with many, many moving parts. I interview family court judges before I appoint them. And I ask them to talk about their thought process. And when you hear them outline all of the factors they have to ask about trying to get a sense of the case – all the family history, all the different members of the family, anyone from outside the family who may in the home, economic status – all sorts of things that go into these decisions. It’s a very, very complicated matrix that has to be run to make the decision right. I think that’s the challenge that has to be confronted. I don’t think it has to do with any other factors. Question: Could you just, Mr. Hansell, can you just explain to me what evidence-based intervention is? [Inaudible] – Commissioner Hansell: Evidence-based interventions are essentially programmatic approaches or in this case sort of child welfare or social services practice approaches that have tested, that have actually been evaluated against either other approaches or no intervention at all to see if they actually make a difference in improving outcomes for children and families. So, they actually are demonstrated proven approaches. So, basically, these are methodologies that either or staff at ACS would use or our contracted vendor staff would use in their interactions with families with children – the ways that they actually work with the families of the children. Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner Hansell: There are quite a number of them. They relate to, sort of, how you strengthen parenting skills for example, how you help children deal with – one of the things that we’ve learned a lot about in recent years is about the kind of trauma that children carry with them even if they’re taken out home and returned to homes, even if they’re moved on to permanent family situations, we have learned that most children carry with them some degree of trauma from the experience that they’ve had as a result of the abuse or neglect that they’ve suffered. And there are a number of approaches not that are helping to address that kind of trauma so that children are better able to move forward in school, in life, to be successful and healthy adults. Mayor: Okay, other questions – yes? Question: Mr. Hansell, you certainly have a [inaudible] experience in government and management but none in child protective services. So for you personally, what do you see as the biggest challenges for you going into this position? Commissioner Hansell: Well, I actually do think I have experience in child protection and child welfare. I did oversee the program nationally for a couple of years. So, I have seen national models and I was actually involved in implementing some federal legislation that was passed in 2008 just before I moved into the Obama administration. And I also have, in my previous work at HRA, while I was not at ACS and I was not doing child welfare specifically, I worked very, very closely with ACS. So, I think I do have child welfare experience. But I also know that we have many, many deep, deep experts in child welfare and social services at ACS. So, I’m going to draw on their expertise. And I while I hope I can also bring is the management skill that will enable them to use their skills as effectively as they possibly can. Mayor: Okay, other questions on this – yes? Question: Going back to the question that Melissa had asked initially – you’re calling for more preventative services potentially, right? It’s my understanding that a lot of those services are provided by the contracted providers outside of they’re not City employees, they’re contracted workers. They’re saying that the proposals this year to increase their salaries in the City budget don’t go far enough and that some of these covered providers haven’t gotten across the board contract increases in more than a decade and that is what is forcing – Mayor: I’ll jump in for that. Alright, I’ll start if you want to add. Look, I think there are many pieces to any issue but in terms of nonprofits that do social service work for New York City – what we announced in the budget was the second raise since we got here. So, two raises in three years and that’s against a backdrop of a lot of other things we’re trying to do to strengthen that sector and we’ll keep doing that work. I don’t think that is the core of the challenge we’re addressing here. I think the issue of how to make sure each preventive service organization does their job as best as possible is a broader qualitative question and to make sure we have enough of these services available when we need them for families in immediate need which is an issue that again, I remember in the time I was General Welfare Chair which was 2002 to 2009, this was a nonstop fight with the previous administration to increase the amount of preventative services because it was quite clear that there were times when families needed help immediately. And if ACS didn’t have that tool they didn’t necessarily have a lot of options if it was not a situation where removal made sense immediately. But they were not – the ACS workers were not comfortable with the status quo in that family they needed something that they could add to the equation and that would be preventative services. So, we have to make sure the quantity and the quality is right. In the meantime we’re certainly looking for every opportunity to improve the dynamics for those workers and the compensation they get. Question: Mayor, you talk about – and Mr. Hansell talked about involving the police department more in these services. Can you just give us a big picture idea of what that might be that they’re not already doing? Mayor: I’ll start and then feel free to jump in, Deputy Mayor, Commissioner, Chief if you have anything to add, of course. The – I will take you back in time to the year 2006 and again, one of the worst tragedies we’ve ever seen in this city which was Nixzmary Brown which was worst not just because she was an angelic girl and every New Yorker felt her loss very personally but also because there were so many opportunities to save her. I don’t know a case where there was more chances, more documented chances to save a child than that case. And one of the things that became clear after that was that there was not the right communication between the NYPD and ACS that the two cultures had not met and had not learned to speak a common language and to support each other. A lot was done in the aftermath of that to address the situation. The Deputy Mayor can speak in a second to the presence of former NYPD officials in ACS today. That was on the things that particularly got momentum from the aftermath because no one disagreed that the two agencies were missing an opportunity to work on a common cause. Since then I think there’s been real improvement but we constantly see the need for more. So, one of the things we announced a few weeks back was that Chief Boyce would co-chair the CHILD-STAT meetings to really deepen that connection. And again, because the Commissioner has a lot of experience with the metric model I think this is going to be a great opportunity to take another step into the full integration of the work of ACS and NYPD. Deputy Mayor Palacio: Thank you, Mayor. Yes, I just wanted to sort of expand on the Commissioner’s opening remarks which is that he’s going to be looking at building on some strengths that ACS has already had. As the Mayor mentioned, there have – that relationship with ACS and NYPD has been strengthening over time. We have over 100 former NYPD officers who are part [inaudible] of the ACS workforce – full-time staff led by the former Chief of the Special Victims Unit, Detective Sue Morley. So, we already have a very robust infrastructure. We’ve been, over time, strengthening the relationship between NYPD and the children’s advocacy centers so that there are forensic interviews that are done in a compassionate and holistic manner of a child who may have been the victim of physical abuse with NYPD right there in the room so that everybody is hearing the same information and that we benefit from the NYPD expertise on forensic interviewing. In addition, I’ve had several conversations leading up to today with the Commissioner about ways that he might want to further and deepen that relationship. And as he’s says he’s met with Chief of Detectives Boyce. And I’ll let you expand on some of your ideas. Commissioner Hansell: Yeah, thank you, Dr. Palacio. So, just to expand on that – yes, there are really three immediate areas where Chief Boyce and I have talked about strengthening the collaboration with NYPD. First is around the CHILD-STAT program which we’ve already talked about at some length. Second, is making sure that NYPD is sufficiently involved in our investigations where there are allegations of criminal activity, and we need to supplement what our staff and our investigators can do with the involvement with the NYPD. And the third is around the protection of our staff at ACS. Our child protective investigators and field workers have certainly some of the most difficult and sometimes some of the most dangerous jobs in New York City. And we have an obligation to make sure that they are protected as they do that work and we want to work closely with the NYPD and Chief Boyce in making sure that we have their support in doing that. Question: Mr. Hansell, you said you’ve had a chance to look at New York’s ACS program. You’ve looked at what’s working, what’s not working, you’ve taken a look at some of the case files, you’ve also said that there are people in place already that have a great deal of expertise in working with child services. So what do you think is the problem then? What is the main problem? Is it a managerial issue? Is it a problem with programs not being available? Is it a manpower issue? What do you think is the problem? Commissioner Hansell: Well, first of all, I did not say that I had already had the chance to take a look at the programs or the case files. I have not done that. I will do that as soon as I start in two weeks but I have not done that yet. I do have some familiarity with the agency. I do know some of the senior staff there but I have not had the chance to do that kind of a deep dive which I will certainly be doing. But I think, as the Mayor said, it’s a very – the work that ACS does is very, very complicated and it requires a set of resources, it requires training of the staff, [inaudible] skills. And so, there’s no single thing that makes a difference. It’s a matter of constantly looking at opportunities to improve in every aspect of the work that ACS does and that’s what we’ll try to do. Mayor: I would just add to that. There’s three immediate areas where we want to go deeper. We want to continue to drive down the casework ratio, as I said, 100 more caseworkers will be at the agency by April. We want to continue to expand and improve the preventative services. We’ve already put $49 million into that. We will keep investing more as the Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor see fit. And we need to improve the training. That’s been an area of tremendous focus in the last three years. This is an agency where the complexity of the work required a lot more training a long time ago. And under Commissioner Carrion there was a very intensive focus on training and a lot of additional resources added to training of the new workers. We want to expand further upon that because it’s work that requires so many decisions and so many factors that have to be taken into account. We want to deepen that training regimen even further. Question: Are you going to include conversations with pre-schools and schools in this discussion? Mayor: I’ll start and then my colleagues can add. Again, this is a personal issue for me because at the time when I was chairman one of the things we learned with the tragedy of Nixzmary Brown was, again, DOE was not sufficiently linked to ACS. We have made a series of changes in the last year to further address that issue. Now, this is, to be clear, a problem of scale unquestionably – 1.1 million school children and 60,000 reports to ACS – trying to match up those two realities while respecting confidentiality is a very, very difficult undertaking. But there has been progress in the relationship between ACS and DOE. There needs to be more. One of the things that is working better is DOE having the kind of communication with ACS to alert them when there is a pattern of absences. That was an area that was not strong enough in the past and that’s starting to change, I think, very intensely. Deputy Mayor Palacio: I would just add that the question raises the importance of a leader who really can take – and will take a system’s approach to protecting the safety of New Yorkers. It is not – it is ACS’s unique responsibility but not ACS’s sole responsibility to protect our children. And so a leader who knows how to reach out, build relationships, strengthen relationships with other agencies across our system is critically important if we’re going to protect New Yorkers together. Mayor: Yeah, I want to just add to that. Again, that’s a very powerful statement the Deputy Mayor’s making – unique, but the unique responsibility of ACS, but ACS if by far not the only actor in this. Our schools, our police, our other social service agencies, our hospitals – everyone has an opportunity here to help protect children. And ACS can do its work even better when it has the fullest information. So this gets back to the point of one, people who fear a child is being neglected or abused need to call it in. It’s absolutely crucial. And if they’re not certain where to turn, they can call 3-1-1 and be connected to the State Register. This again, to take you back to that very painful moment in 2006, many, many people acknowledged that they thought something was going on, and they thought Nixzmary Brown was in danger, but they didn’t feel comfortable making the call. They didn’t know if they should get involved. And a lot of them, I think, have spent the rest of their lives since then regretting it. So if you fear a child is in danger, pick up the phone, and let the professionals follow up. But also, to all of the folks who work in public service – you know, the army of one theory is operative here. Any one person can save a child by acting on any kind of evidence they have – any kind of signal they have that something may be wrong. And the more our public servants do that, the better ACS can do its job. Let’s see if there’s any other questions on this topic. Okay, over here and then we’ll come to you guys. Thank you. Question: “The kids are our kids,” slogan you have is a phenomenal slogan. Is there a process where you guys are going to set that up so that all of us now actually see that? Because a lot of times we’re just pointing fingers at ACS, and like you just said, ACS is not the only caregiver for the kids in our city [inaudible]. Are you going to set up a campaign where there will be a social media campaign [inaudible], so that we can as well take ownership of this? We can’t continue to say: oh, what’s happening at ACS? But all of us in here as adults, as parents, need to start saying: the kids, globally, are our kids as well – not only the ones that we have at home. Mayor: Yeah. I think that’s a very powerful point. And that has been done in the past, and it’s something we need to keep coming back to. Okay, yes? Question: How do you expect to work with the independent monitor or by the State, and under the [inaudible], the Department of Investigation, Comptroller’s Office, and the State? Commissioner Hansell: Well, I refer to my remarks to the number of reviews that have been done. There have been quite a few recently. ACS has gotten a lot of attention. But I think all of them – the ones that have been done to date have given us recommendations that I think will be helpful, and that as I said, I will – as soon as I arrive at ACS, I will look at the status of implementation of those and how we can expedite that. Looking forward to working with the independent monitor. It’s a very highly regarded organization. I think they too will give us helpful feedback. And I’m looking forward to partnering with them, and also partnering with our counterparts at the State. Mayor: Yes? Question: Mr. Mayor, you keep mentioning Nixzmary Brown, but there was just the Zymere Perkins case where the City’s own report showed that there was opportunity after opportunity missed that would have potentially saved this child’s life. So just looking at that report, I mean, what needs to be done specifically in those case where there’s – you know, there’s not a judge issue, there’s – there was a clear opportunity there, a clear motive to remove this boy and try to save his life. Deputy Mayor Palacio: Let me speak to that. Mayor: Be careful. Be careful on that full assumption. Go ahead. Deputy Mayor Palacio: Let me speak to that. So, as you know, we did a very thorough internal investigation, and we’ve published those findings. I think that there are improvements that can be made at many levels. The City took action. Where there were failures in accountability, the City took action. Where there are systemic reviews that need to be done, I think the Commissioner is well-poised and well-credentialed to come in and look at very significant organizational issues that might be made. But this isn’t an either, or. If there are individual accountability issues, individual accountability issues will be managed. Where there are systemic and organizational issues, those will be implemented. We have to move on every front to make sure that the organization is leading, that the organization is doing everything that we have in our power to protect children within our responsibility. And that we are working across the system to make sure that all of us are taking responsibility for our children. Mayor: I want to contest the premise, respectfully. I’ve looked at both cases very, very carefully. The difference right off the jump is the first instance with Nixzmary Brown, it pointed out massive systemic problems – absolutely overwhelming systemic problems that then led to a series of huge reforms by that administration. In the case of the Perkins case, which is a tragedy equally, we did see some things that needed to be acted on systemically, but we first and foremost saw individual failure of people who were supposed to do their jobs and didn’t – some of whom are no longer a part of this agency, others of whom have been reprimanded in other ways. We’ve got to be able to see that difference. If someone doesn’t do their job, there will be consequences. And with every element of public service, there are some people who are not cut out for the work, and our job is to weed them out. There are some people who need to be re-trained. It’s a whole host of different points on the continuum. But every agency, whether it’s NYPD, or FDNY, or DOE, or ACS – if an employee doesn’t do their job, there will be consequences versus when we see systemic issues that have to be worked on that require a change in how we do the work overall. Question: I’d just like to hear the Commissioner’s response to that. And then – but does an individual, repeated individual failures report to a systemic problem [inaudible] possible? Mayor: I would just say possibly is the key word, and it depends on what the investigation tell us, but. Commissioner Hansell: I don’t want to speak to the specifics of that case, but I think in general we have to look at both. We have to look at systemic issues, and we have to look at individual issues. Absolutely, in terms of bringing a management approach to ACS, my intent is to begin to look at the systemic issues – that is where are the policies, the procedures, the practices, the tools, the training, the technology at ACS not providing the kind of support for the quality of services that we need. And those are the things we’re going to start looking at. Where there are, as the Mayor just said, where there are situations where individuals are not complying with appropriate case practice or are not carrying out the function of the jobs as they should, we’ll take action as we need to. Question: It’s hard to know whether it’s a systemic problem or an individual problem every single time one of the things these things happens. But I will point out to you – when Zymere Perkins died September 26th, this was – I don’t know – several months after DOI had already done a report. DOI report made five recommendations, by the time Zymere Perkins died, four of those recommendations had yet to be complete. After Zymere Perkins died, DOI did another report and found even more systemic problems that had to do with the Jaden Jordan case having to do with weekends into nights. So those, by the way, all of those things that I just described are systemic issues. So Mr. Mayor, do you have any regrets about just a piece of reform at ACS prior to Mr. Hansell’s arrival? Mayor: Let me start, and then I think the Deputy Mayor will add. Again, I’m sorry, I don’t always agree with the premises of your question. And any oversight entity that puts forward a report, we look at, and we look for the things that we believe are accurate. And we also look at things that we think may not be capturing the full reality. It’s absolutely simplistic, with all due respect, to act like any other report by any other part of government is flawless. So we have to look at every piece of input, and that’s why we’re perfectly comfortable working with a monitor and any and all other entities, but in the end, the Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor have to decide as the members of the executive branch what will actually help protect our children. I think in a number of cases, we have seen individuals not do their jobs. And it’s our obligation to make sure there are consequences. I don’t doubt for a moment you can have individual failure combined with some systemic things that have to be worked on, and it’s our obligation then to make those changes. But I think there’s some temptation in the reporting to take something that is unusual and exceptional and try and suggest it is systemic when I’m not sure it is systemic. And again, I’ve been at this a long time. I can tell you some things that we’ve found over the years that were absolutely systemic, which is that the difference agencies like DOE and like NYPD did not have the right working relationship with ACS. There’s been real progress. We still have more we have to do. And there are some things that are systemic like lack of training was a real problem that had to be addressed. When I look at the last three years, I see an agency that we added $122 million to that needed more resources, that need more preventative services. That was one of our big thrusts, that needed a stronger training regimen. We put that in place. It’s still not good enough. So I don’t dwell in regret. I say we did some of the right things. We’ve got to do more. Deputy Mayor Palacio: Thank you, Mayor. Yes, I agree and I think that they’re – some of those reports really start at the individual and make extrapolations that I think we need to be cautious about making extrapolations from an individual case to a broad system because in fact, one can do harm by making those extrapolations inappropriately and laying on reforms that in fact, may theoretically fix one thing, but break several others. So I think we need to be judicious and informed about the way we move forward towards improving an organization. Mayor: Okay, last call? Yes, please. Question: Mr. Mayor, I’d like to know what is new in the investigation about the case of Michael Guzman, and [inaudible]. And we’d like to know why haven’t you – any arrests [inaudible]. Mayor: I don’t know – sorry – if I have those details. Do you have? Deputy Mayor Palacio: I don’t have those details, but we can – Mayor: Come on up, Chief. Come on up. Chief Boyce: Good morning, everyone. In the case of Michael Guzman, the 103 Precinct, that case is still open. It’s still being investigated. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has requested other details in the case to be developed, and that’s where they are right now. The rest of the children in that house have been removed and are with relatives, from what I understand. The mother and the father are off by themselves, so that’s where we stand right now. We’ll know in the more in the coming weeks where we are with the investigation. But right now, we’re not ready to proceed in any grand jury fashion, until all the facts are ready. Mayor: Okay, last call? Yes, please. Question: How does the job of the ACS Commissioner change with the monitor in place? Mayor: I will start and then my colleagues can answer. I don’t think it does. You know – I, in my different work, had not had a lot of experience with monitors, and the person who really educated me about working with monitors was Bill Bratton who said that pretty much everywhere he had been in recent years, there was a monitor – LA most famously. And his point was, if a smart, effective monitor is in place, you work with them, and you work collegially and you get to a good place. That’s certainly what we’ve found with the NYPD, with Mr. Zimroth, working with the NYPD on the stop-and-frisk issue, which we’ve found with Corrections. That’s what we expect to find here. I think the Commissioner is going to do his job, but also consult with the monitor, and I think it will be a collegially situation. Commissioner Hansell: Yeah, I completely agree. I – you know, I’ve always found that the more sources of information you have, the more kind of educated analysis you have of the work of an organization, the better off you are. And so, I look at the Monitor as a resource to help us understand what’s happening at ACS and how we can improve it. Mayor: Let me see if there’s any more on this topic – ACS. Alright, going once, twice – we’ll go to other topics. Question: Mr. Mayor, a couple of Donald Trump related questions. One is that you repeatedly said that you’re certain that approaching him from a position of strength is the right way. Can you explain what your evidence is for that? Many people believe that Trump responds very well for praise and listens to people who praise him and give him ideas that he can then make his own, but you seem assured that it’s coming at him from a more combative position. Mayor: I’m not saying it’s always combative to be strong. I’ve watched him carefully. I had the opportunity to take his measure personally, but I’ve also talked to a lot of the people who have had dealings with him over the years. I absolutely believe that he responds to strength, and that if he senses weakness it’s certainly not a way to impress him. And I understand why people have the attitude that he’s thin skinned because he’s certainly done things that suggest it, but that’s a very different question that how you govern when dealing with someone else who has an important impact on our city. Absolutely convinced – and I think this is true of the political process in general – everybody in public life responds to what they see happening on the ground. If there is deep concern, if more and more people speak out that affects behavior. I think a good example is his ever evolving line on the dreamers – on the DACA kids – which you’ve seen change week by week, and I think that is some of the outcry he’s hearing. I think that’s people in his own life saying to him – ‘This is a real problem. These kids didn’t choose to come here.’ I think that’s evidence of why a strong stance and a resolute stance is much more likely to get a positive outcome than trying to placate. This is not someone you’re going to win over by trying to placate. Question: [Inaudible] you’ve often told us that you don’t deal with hypotheticals, but in selling your mansion tax you’re pushing it on the premise that Washington is going – is surely going to cut taxes for the wealthy. How do you square that? Mayor: There are – generally I don’t deal in hypotheticals – absolutely. Is there a one percent chance there will not be a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations in this Congress and this president? Sure. I think anyone who watched the Congress since Newt Gingrich came in in 1994 would say they have been waiting for this moment. And this president because he’s the first president we’ve ever had who comes out of the free enterprise system first and foremost has been salivating for the opportunity to reduce corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy, and he’s named a cabinet of millionaires and billionaires. So I think it’s a really, really good betting assumption there will be tax cuts for the wealthy and the corporations. If not, and I would add this because it’s a perfectly fair question, I still think the mansion tax makes sense. Remember the typical home that would be affected is $4.5 million in value. The buyer pays the tax. Someone who’s buying a $4.5 million home can afford to spend a little bit more, so we can help our seniors have affordable housing. Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, I actually have two questions. First of all, the Republican candidate for Mayor, Paul Massey, is asking prosecutors to investigate how you plan to pay your legal bills. He’s raising the specter of pay to play. I wonder how you plan to guarantee that people who contribute to your legal bills don’t want something from you. Mayor: You know, Marcia, we haven’t even gotten to the point of figuring out how to set up the appropriate entity. A legal defense fund is something that as an idea has been around for decades. Many people have used them, but we haven’t structured it yet. We’re certainly going to be sensitive to making sure it’s fair. But we’re just not there yet. Question: What if they’re doing it because they want you to do something for them? Mayor: Again, that’s part of how we have to address the structuring of such a thing. And of course that’s a fair question, and I’ll be sensitive to that question, but, you know, as I’ve said – I’m not a millionaire or a billionaire. I’m not in a position to do this and pay these bills myself. We’re not asking the tax payer to pay my bills, so when the time comes we’ll structure something, and we’ll make sure it’s fair. Question: [Inaudible] he’s also charging that you’ve been so distracted by the corruption investigations [inaudible] and you agencies that you haven’t had as much time to spend on running the city, and that’s why you have problems like with ACS and the homeless and things like that. Would you address that? Mayor: I don’t think he knows a lot about the City of New York, and I think if he did he would recognize crime is down three years running while stop and frisk is down simultaneously while we’re instituting absolutely groundbreaking approach to neighborhood policing; that our affordable housing plan is ahead of schedule; that the graduation rate is up; tests scores are up in our school; jobs are up; and a plan to add 100,000 more good paying jobs. Look, again, I’ve been around a while. I think if you just reel off those points and say is that an example of a government that’s getting something done, the obvious answer is yet. So I don’t know what metrics he’s pointing to, but I would point to those metrics. Yes? Question: Related question. Comptroller Stringer says that you needed to get approval from the Conflict of Interest Board to do any such legal defense fund. Do you intend to do that? Mayor: Again, we’re going to go through a process to create it. We haven’t gotten there yet, and when we do we’ll talk about how it was done. But we’re just not there yet. Question: Follow up to the follow up to the follow up. [Laughter] Mayor: I’m impressed by the continuity levels today. Question: I understand you haven’t gotten there yet. Can you just assure us right now as we’re sitting here that you will not solicit funds from anyone who’s doing business with the city? Mayor: We’re going to set up a clear standard that’s fair and avoids conflict. But I’m not going to go into detail because that’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of lawyers figuring out what’s the right way to do things. And I’m just not going to keep repeating over and over again – until we get there, I can’t answer any specifics. Question: Can I ask you about BEDCO, the nonprofit that ran the shelter where the two girls were scalded to death? The city removed some contracts from them, but other contracts remain. Why not remove all contracts from that organization. Why allow them to keep any city [inaudible]? Mayor: You’d have to ask Commissioner Banks about the specific decision. Commissioner Banks came to the conclusion that for the type of work – one type of work – they were doing with building management he was not comfortable continuing that, and as you know he has made that decision in the case of several other nonprofits. But I can’t get into the specific exceptions, you’ll have to ask him directly. Question: Are you comfortable as Mayor – with this company’s history – with them maintaining contract? Mayor: I’m very comfortable that Commissioner Banks holds very rigorous standards. He has cancelled contracts for other nonprofits previously. He has my full support. Whenever he decides that an organization is not providing the kind of work he wants he has my full support in cancelling the contract or modifying it. But again as to specifics you’ll have to ask him. Question: A recent report named the Cross Bronx Expressway the most congested city, country roadway – city roadway in the country Mayor: Country roadway in the city? No. [Laughter] Question: [Inaudible] contributing to higher rates of asthmas in the Bronx and Washington Heights. Can you tell us a little about how your upcoming plans for transportation might affect that? Mayor: I have long since identified the Cross Bronx as my own personal nemesis. When I drove myself for many glorious years it was like – for those of you who have read Moby Dick by Herman Melville – the Cross Bronx was the great white whale that was my nemesis, and no – it needs a lot of work. The state has certain responsibilities. The city has other responsibilities. And when we come up with a congestion plan we’re going to be talking about what we can do, and we’re going to talk about different parts of the city. I think, you know, the one where there’s been a lot of focus is Midtown Manhattan even before Trump Tower but even more so because of Trump Tower. But we’re going to talk about other parts of the city as well. That’s still several weeks away, but I will assure you the Cross Bronx will be addressed even if we have to explain the difference between what we can do and what’s a state obligation. Rich? Question: Mr. Mayor the St. Patrick’s Day parade is less than a month away, and it would normally pass Trump Tower. Has there been any discussion that you know of about moving the route around or changing you know the manner of the parade – will people be able to stand in front of the place and watch the parade? Mayor: It’s a good question. I have not heard any suggestion of a change, but you know in the scheme of things we haven’t gotten into the planning meetings – at least in terms of me being briefed by Commissioner O’Neill and others. So I would put that in the category of ‘damn good question.’ We can have an update to you shortly, but I certainly have not heard of any suggestion that we change the route. Question: Hi, there. Hi, Mayor. My question is relating to affordable housing lotteries. Specifically, the Stuyvesant Town lotteries recently reopened, but odds are it’s going to open again in two years because from the way I understand it works, you know, if they don’t fill up all the apartments they have to go through the process again. Is there a chance that in the next time it opens that it would be – give any kind of preference to existing community residents? Mayor: To the best of my knowledge – and again I’ll answer this a bit the way I did on the question related to Commissioner Banks – that certainly is a question to bring to Commissioner Torres Springer at HPD in terms of the specifics. To the best of my knowledge we use the same criteria in all lotteries. The mix of residents of the Community Board and folks from all over the city, but I don’t know in the plan that was developed for Stuy Town and Peter Cooper if there were any additional elements to that plan that might suggest otherwise. So I just don’t have something more specific for you. Okay? Question: Yes, Mr. Mayor about 18 months ago you announced the City was going to put forward NYC-SAFE or SAFE-NYC to deal with seriously mentally ill, and I asked you about this in October and November, and you said details were forthcoming like imminently. Given that the number of people who are subject to Kendra’s Law has declined, and the number of – the percentage of people in Rikers with serious mental illness has gone up, and the number of EDP calls to 9-1-1 have gone up, can you tell us what are you planning to do – without talking about ThriveNYC – what is the city going doing to address serious – Mayor: Yeah, I’m not sure I agree to any of your premises honestly. So let me – Question: Those are the facts. Mayor: The premises – because one I want to see them for myself before I agree to them. What I know is the population of Rikers has been going steadily down. Again that – Question: [inaudible] Mayor: – that may be your view, and that may be accurate. I just don’t know that for a fact, and I want to see that for my own eyes. But the vision of providing more access to mental healthcare – this is happening across the board, and I want to thank Deputy Mayor Palacio and Deputy Mayor Buery who have both been a part of this effort. The vision of reducing the population at Rikers has been continuing successfully. And NYC SAFE is functioning and having an impact every single day. And as I’ve been updated on it, I’ve been impressed by the impact. Now, I think it’s fair to say we have more public announcements we need to make. But in terms of the operations of NYC Safe, I’ve seen steady progress. Deputy Mayor Palacio: So, NYC Safe is more robust. We are now managing NYC Safe as an operational center out of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. That allows for coordination across providers with protected health information. It allows us to really do assessments of people coming into NYC Safe with a particularly lens of making sure that anybody who has that nexus of violence over the past six months and mental health disorder can be assessed for whether or not they’re appropriate for an NYC Safe type – level of services. We continue to expand the number of people who are NYC Safe. We continue to expand the number of people who are on AOT, which is Kendra’s Law. And those services are being coordinated. We’re actually seeing very good results out of NYC Safe. Question: What is NYC Safe as opposed to an AOT? Deputy Mayor Palacio: NYC Safe actually allows us to do a much more flexible and robust array of services even than AOT. We’ve got special teams that are not dependent on the usual payer sources, such as Medicaid, who really can follow people, and meet people, and treat them where they live, where they hang out, where they work. So we’re not waiting for people to come into a doctor’s office. We’ve got multidisciplinary teams that can go out and find somebody on the street, that can deliver services, that can make sure that they are receiving their appointments, that can follow them into the hospital. So really a very dynamic team that can provide the services that people need that can help them get housing. Very robust – much more robust than even the AOT. Unknown: Two more questions. Mayor: Yes? Question: I was just curious. At this press conference happening simultaneously with the mayoral candidate Paul Massey. He’s just been asked if he supports expanding stop-and-frisk nationwide, like Donald Trump has proposed, and has said – I haven’t established an answer to that question. And I wondered if you would respond? Mayor: You know the issue really hasn’t been in the news the last few years, so who could blame him? Yeah, I would suggest you need to have an answer on that one. This was one of the dominant issues of the 2013 presidential campaign. I was sitting at Hofstra University when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton personally debated it on national television. We’ve made announcement after announcement first, with Commissioner Bratton, then Commissioner O’Neill, about the reduction of stop-and-frisk over the last three years – 93 percent reduction since we got here; constant reduction in crime simultaneously. Those are the facts someone who wants to be Mayor of New York City really should know. Yeah? Question: Chief Boyce, any update on the First Precinct, the jewelry store [inaudible]? Chief Boyce: Yes. The case is progressing quite well, but I’m not ready – it’s confidential at this point. I can’t put anything out to you right now. Mayor: I’m going to shake off Eric for a moment. See if I’ve got a few more? Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I was going to ask you about immigration. Have you seen the new – the new plan that is proposing the Department of Homeland Security on cracking down on illegal immigrants. They are basically announcing today that they have a new plan to crack down more. [Inaudible] Mayor: I’ve not seen the plan. And look, what we’ve found with the executive order was – the original one on immigration – that when we saw the actual wording, we recognized there were huge Constitutional challenges and problems, and we found it very susceptible to legal challenge. Let alone, it was quite clear that the way they might go about pursuing it would only hurt our public safety efforts here in New York City. So, I want to see the exact wording of what’s being proposed. The general thrust from the Trump administration has ignored the fact that the first people he should be talking to are the police leaders of America. And I said this to him, and I said it to the now Attorney General back in November. Don’t consult with politicians. Don’t consult with political-partisan folks. Go talk to the police chiefs of this country about what will keep us safe, and they will explain how important it is to protect the working relationship and dialogue between immigrant communities and our police. So I fear the new proposals again, could undermine that relationship between police and community. But I want to see the specifics before I comment. One over here. Go. Question: Your State of the City, Mr. Mayor – I’m wondering when you decided to focus so much on the affordability. You know, I’m sure you have a lot of discussion on the – how did you decide on the focus just on affordability? And the 100,000 jobs plans – where did that number come from? If this booklet isn’t ready yet, how did you, how did you get to that number? Mayor: State of the City or state of anything, as you know, is a moment people work toward all year. And a lot of thinking goes into it, and a lot of different ideas are bandied about. I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that literally up to the final days in any government – different parts of the government are trying to get their issues into the speech. It’s considered a very important moment. Really, over the few weeks leading up to this speech, I thought a lot about what I had heard from people all over the city and what I heard at town hall meetings. And I had an interesting after-the-fact confirmation of what I was thinking. I happened to be on the Brian Lehrer Show last week, and he acknowledged that if they took the calls from listeners according to the issue area that they were concerned about, he said 60 or 70 percent of our calls is about affordability, and the fear of displacement, the cost of housing, etcetera. So I had felt that for a long time. I felt that it would be smart to focus on it. As you’ve seen with some other leaders around the country, there’s been some experimentation lately with doing the annual speeches – the “state of” speeches on a major topic, a specific topic – as the leading element. And I felt – you know, look – we had, over the last few years, articulated pretty clearly our vision around policing, around neighborhood policing, reduction of stop-and-frisk, etcetera. We’d articulated the education vision with Equity and Excellence. I’ve come back many times to explain what was happening with that. When I thought about where we needed to add more to the public’s understanding of the direction we were taking, it seemed to me it was around affordability. And that combined for more aggressive efforts on the housing side – so the additional legal aid, and legal services, and the mansion tax – with the fact that we had to do more on the job side and the income side. The 100,000 plan emerged from looking at the strands that were already starting to move and asking how far we could take them, and what was a fair numerical stretch-goal to reach for. And that’s very consistent with how we did the affordable housing plan, how we did the pre-K plan – you name it. You know the question on the table is always what’s in motion, where can we take it, and then push it to its farthest extent. And I thought it was an important thing to focus on and really give people a sense of where we were going and what we could achieve. Question: People looking at the job numbers over the last 10 years say it’s not really much of a push. It’s not really much of a stretch. Mayor: Those people are not looking at the last 10 years. Do you see my point? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Aha. Okay, what was 10 years ago in our history? Anyone, anyone? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Thank you. So we had huge job loss, and then we had impressive rebounding. But the notion that 100,000 jobs at the kind of pay-level we’re talking about is extraordinary, especially because it immediately supports over a quarter-million people. We’ve gotten a little comfortable because we had such extraordinary success over the last couple of years. The first two years alone that I was in office was about 250,000 jobs. The difference now is the keep generating an intensive pace of job creation, but to focus more on the high-paying jobs. That’s going to take government simulative effect, if you will. That’s going to take us doing smart, strategic things to keep growth high. So no, I don’t know anywhere in the country. I don’t know any city, any state that if you said we’re going to do 100,000 jobs, and the goal is to have them be over $50,000 each in salary – I don’t know anywhere where people wouldn’t say that’s a huge change and a huge impact on people’s lives. Unknown: Last question. Mayor: Erin? Question: Was the City involved at all in the incident that happened at JFK airport as far as the lack of screening? And are there are any updates you could give? Mayor: I’m sorry, could you define the situation? Question: Yeah, 11 travelers were able to enter without being screened through security. I think it was mostly a Port Authority Police issue, but I don’t know if NYPD has been involved in that at all, or if there’s any update as to whether there was a real security threat? Mayor: I don’t know if Chief Boyce happens to know this. I have not heard of any NYPD [inaudible]. Chief Boyce: We – it’s the Port Authority Police, and if they ask for our help, we of course give it to them. So no, I don’t have an answer for that. Mayor: Okay, thanks, everyone.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:10pm
Former Obama Administration official to lead ACS, deepen agency’s mission to protect NYC’s most vulnerable children NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed David Hansell Commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Hansell, a skilled manager with decades of experience overseeing large-scale agencies and delivering effective social services for at-risk communities, comes to ACS after a nearly five-year tenure as Managing Director and head of the Global Human & Social Services Center of Excellence at KPMG. Hansell has built a reputation as a proven manager with a data-driven focus on improving outcomes for vulnerable populations, especially at-risk families and children. Hansell has worked at the national, state and local levels in child welfare and social services, including prior service in the New York City government in the Department of Health and the Human Resources Administration, in addition to his experience in the private and non-profit sectors. “Our most solemn responsibility is to provide vulnerable children with the care and support they deserve,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “David Hansell understands this mission deeply – and that’s why I know he’s the right choice to lead ACS and implement an aggressive reform agenda focused on preventive services for kids and families. David has spent his career on the frontlines working with at-risk communities, and I have no doubt he’ll tackle this job with the same focus and intensity that’s defined his career.” “David Hansell has dedicated his career to uplifting some of our most vulnerable populations, including at-risk children, low-income families, and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “He’s a skilled manager with exactly the type of experience and vision needed to lead a complex child welfare agency like ACS. I know he’ll be a tenacious advocate for the welfare of children across the City, and couldn’t be prouder to bring him onto our team.” “I am honored to lead ACS at this critical time, and confident that my long-term experience in government well-prepared me to strengthen ACS’ mission and programs,” said Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David A. Hansell. “Under my leadership, ACS will continue implementation of needed reforms to better protect and serve our most vulnerable children and families throughout New York City.” "David was a valued member of my original Senior leadership team at HHS in the Obama Administration,” said Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services. “During his tenure at the Administration for Children and Families, we took important steps to strengthen the Head Start program, enhance efforts to achieve permanency and stability for children in foster care around the country, and rescue hundreds of orphans imperiled by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These and many other accomplishments speak to David's broad policy knowledge and proven management skills. I applaud Mayor de Blasio's decision to tap him for this critical assignment." The de Blasio administration has invested over $122 million in new funding to strengthen the child welfare system. Currently, fewer than 10,000 children are in foster care – the lowest number in decades – due to better child protective investigations, more preventive services and improvements in foster care practices. During 2015, more than 46,000 children received preventive services, creating a universe of 22,000 families benefiting from preventive services during that year. In 2016, ACS hired more than 600 new Child Protective Specialists to increase staffing for those dedicated workers who carry out the critical work of responding and investigating reports of child abuse or neglect. Hansell will begin his position at the Administration for Children’s Services on March 6, 2017. About David Hansell David Hansell is an accomplished manager with decades of experience in social services work across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Since 2012, Hansell has been a Managing Director at KPMG, and served as head of its Global Human & Social Services Center of Excellence. In this position, Hansell expanded advisory relationship with government agencies both in the U.S. and across the world, with a focus on social service delivery in areas such as child welfare, income security, nutritional support, and employment training. He previously served as a consultant to the non-profit Case Commons, Inc., where he helped further the use of Casebook, a collaborative, family-centered case management system for child welfare work. From 2009 to 2011, Hansell served as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At HHS, Hansell helped oversee a division with an approximately $50 billion annual budget and managed a staff of approximately 1,400 employees across headquarters and ten regional offices. His areas of responsibilities included child welfare, economic support, early childhood education, and special population programs. In his role, Hansell helped implement the “Fostering Connections to Success Act”, which incentivized state child welfare systems to create new kinship care arrangements, improve services for older foster care youth, and enhance educational continuity for children in the foster care system. In 2007, Hansell was appointed by former New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, becoming the first openly gay man to become a commissioner in the state of New York. For the next three years, he oversaw a roughly $5 billion budget, with responsibility for administering New York State’s public assistance, food stamp, child support, and homeless housing programs, among others. He supervised a staff of approximately 2,400 employees, spanning offices in Albany, New York City, and across the state. In this position, Hansell helped achieve an all-time high level of household participation through the Working Families Food Stamp Initiative and helped reform New York State’s child support programs to heighten compliance and increase payments to custodial parents and children. From 2002 to 2006, Hansell served as Chief of Staff of the New York City Human Resources Administration under Commissioner Verna Eggleston. He has also held a variety of roles in the New York City Department of Health, including Associate Commissioner of Planning and Program Implementation (2000) and Associate Commissioner of HIV Services (1997 to 2000). As part of his HIV treatment and prevention work, Hansell managed a portfolio of over $100 million in medical care and social support programs. Hansell has served as a consultant to several non-profit, government, and philanthropic organizations on a diverse array of health and social services policy and advocacy issues. From 1998 to 1994, he served in various roles as an advocate and activist during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including Director of Legal Services and Deputy Executive Director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which served as the largest privately-run AIDS services agency in New York. Early in his career, he served as an Associate at Berle, Kass & Case, specializing in environmental and land use law, and as a law clerk for Judge Irving R. Kaufman of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is a former aide to U.S. Senators Donald Riegle, Jr. and Carl Levin and began his career as a sixth grade teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. Hansell, 63, received his JD from Yale Law School, where he served as an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Haverford College with a BA in Psychology.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:10pm
"David was a valued member of my original Senior leadership team at HHS in the Obama Administration,” said Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services. “During his tenure at the Administration for Children and Families, we took important steps to strengthen the Head Start program, enhance efforts to achieve permanency and stability for children in foster care around the country, and rescue hundreds of orphans imperiled by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These and many other accomplishments speak to David's broad policy knowledge and proven management skills. I applaud Mayor de Blasio's decision to tap him for this critical assignment." "David Hansell is an accomplished leader in the delivery of social services, and a smart, effective manager," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I welcome Commissioner Hansell back to city government and look forward to working with him in his new role." “This position requires a unique combination of experience, competency, and compassion," said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. "David Hansell fits the bill on all three points. His experience shows that he has real applicable relevant skills in managing a large agency like ACS. I'm confident David is up to the task, and I look forward to working together in support of our City's children." “The Administration for Children’s Services is a crucial agency, protecting hundreds of thousands of New York City children each year. I welcome the opportunity to work with Commissioner David Hansell to ensure that programs are properly funded and the agency can successfully meet its mandate,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance . "The de Blasio administration has made a quality selection in David Hansell to lead such an important agency," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "Through years of experience serving and advocating for those in need, Mr. Hansell has proven capable of leading large scale operations and this is the leadership we need to protect our city's most vulnerable residents." “David Hansell is a natural fit to lead ACS. With exemplary experience in both the private and public sector, including his role in the Obama administration, David has all the tools necessary to shape and guide ACS for the foreseeable future,” said Council Member Vincent J. Gentile. “The Administration for Children and Families is tasked with an incredibly difficult job, entrusted with the care of some of the City’s most vulnerable children. I welcome David Hansell as the new ACS commissioner. I am impressed by his qualifications and look forward to working with him,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “I’m thrilled with the appointment of David Hansell to lead the Administration for Children’s Services,” said Council Member James Vacca. “David Hansell is one of the most qualified individuals to deal with the critical issues currently facing ACS. He will utilize both his public and private sector managerial experience to bring new ideas and revitalize the agency. I look forward to working with him.” “At Win, we’ve worked with David Hansell over the years with one goal: protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO of Win, formerly Women in Need, the city’s largest provider of shelter and support services for homeless women and their children. “We know him as a fierce advocate for homeless kids, and we are confident he has the management experience to turn ACS around. David has brought depth of knowledge and commitment to decades of senior government and advocacy positions and insisted on change in HIV and AIDS treatment models through direct activism, and we applaud the Mayor for this appointment. On a personal note, I’ve known David for years and have great respect for him - and I’m looking forward to partnering with him to implement the changes in policy that will ensure that ACS delivers on its promise to kids and families.” Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. said: “David Hansell is the right man at the right time to bring back the kind of accountability for kids in need to this troubled agency, as we did together years ago when I was Speaker, for the police using Compstat to make this the safest big city in the nation. We have to do no less for needy kids in danger, and I applaud the mayor for choosing David Hansell.” Anthony Wells, President of Social Services Employees Union, Local 371 said, “David is a good choice. My experience with him has always been positive. I think we will work well together to address the issues at ACS. With the right support, things can improve.” "I am confident that the City of New York, and more importantly, the children of New York will be ably served by David Hansell, a tested and proven leader in human services and government," said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA. "I look forward to working with Commissioner Hansell and the Administration to help ensure that our most vulnerable children are kept safe, and that their families and human services workers are supported to care for them.” Community Service Society President and CEO David R. Jones said: “It’s often said that the true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. One of this city’s biggest challenges is protecting children from abuse and neglect. Simply put, we have to do better when it comes to ensuring that child welfare workers on the front lines have the resources, supervision and support they need to perform their jobs. In choosing David Hansell to lead the City’s Administration for Children’s Services the mayor has selected a seasoned manager who understands how relevant government agencies interact, and that there is no higher priority than the safety of the city’s children.” Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens' Committee for Children said, “Citizens' Committee for Children looks forward to working together with the new Administration for Children's Services Commissioner, David Hansell. His previous management and child and family policy experience at the federal, state and local level are assets which should positively inform his work with the children and families served by ACS.” “We congratulate Mayor de Blasio and Davis Hansell on this appointment. Mr. Hansell is known as a first rate leader and as someone who cares deeply about the people his agency serves. We look forward to working closely with him at ACS,” said Jim Purcell, CEO of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies. Casey Family Programs' President and CEO William C. Bell said, “New York ACS has been a model of large system child welfare reform. Leadership transitions are always difficult but Mayor de Blasio is to be congratulated for the selection of David Hansell as the ACS Commissioner. Mr. Hansell is familiar with the City and has had a very distinguished career at both a Federal and Local level that prepares him for the challenges of administering such an important agency. Casey Family Programs stands ready to continue our support of the important improvements in child protection services that the City is committed to and the new leadership is prepared to deliver.” Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO of The New York Foundling said, “David Hansell has had a remarkable career and is held in very high regard by the human services community. I have no doubt he will be a bold and visionary leader at ACS and the NY Foundling looks forward to working with him to ensure the well-being of all children and families in our City.” “David Hansell is a seasoned leader with a track record of strengthening services for children and supporting families at every level of government. We are thrilled that he is returning to New York City in this important capacity and stand ready to work with Commissioner Hansell and ACS to ensure quality services for New York City’s children,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said, “GMHC fully supports Mayor de Blasio’s appointment of David Hansell as Commissioner of the New York City Administration of Children’s Services (ACS). His reputation as a fierce advocate for comprehensive social services and his vast experience in City, State and Federal government will serve him well in this vital role and bring added strength to the ACS. GMHC is proud of David’s leadership and activism on HIV issues while serving at our agency during the 1980’s and 90’s, which led to his impressive work at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Human Resources Administration (HRA), where he proactively addressed the needs of individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. As Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration for Children and Families in the Obama Administration, David advocated for federal child welfare and early childhood education- the core work of ACS. David is the perfect choice to be charged with protecting our city’s most vulnerable children.” “David Hansell is an exceptional choice for ACS Commissioner,” said Dr. Jeremy Kohomban, President and Chief Executive of The Children's Village and Harlem Dowling. “He is a strong manager, an experienced professional who understands child safety and family support, and he has a firm grasp of the issues facing children and families in NYC – qualities that will serve ACS and our sector well.” "Mayor de Blasio has made an excellent choice in appointing David Hansell as Commissioner for the Administration for Children's Services,” said Jess Danhauser, President & CEO of Graham Windham. “David's intelligence, integrity, experience and commitment to New Yorkers in need make him the right person to lead this vital work for NYC's children and families." “We look forward to working with David, who brings to his new position not only a lifelong commitment of service to our City's most vulnerable residents, but also a deep understanding of the challenges facing the nonprofit providers whose work is so critical to ACS's mission of protecting children and stabilizing families,” said Marla G. Simpson, President & Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Services. "We applaud Mayor de Blasio for appointing David Hansell as the next Commissioner of ACS," said Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. "David is a long-time advocate for low-income children and families across generations, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with ACS to ensure culturally competent, linguistically appropriate programs are available for underserved families." Jacquelyn Kilmer, Esq., Chief Executive Officer of Harlem United said, “Throughout his career, David Hansell has been a committed and tireless advocate for vulnerable populations, working to improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS, and poor and working class individuals, families and children. His dedication coupled with his strong management expertise make David uniquely qualified to lead ACS. We applaud the Mayor’s choice and congratulate David on this new chapter in his professional life.” “I am hopeful that David Hansell will continue his stellar career and improve the critically important work of ACS. I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s decision,” said James Matison, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society. “In the nearly 20 years I have known David Hansell, I have admired his intelligence, warmth, his focus and determination,” Phillip Saperia, former CEO of The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies said. “As an informed administrator, he is a sterling choice for ACS Commissioner. He knows both government and the private sector from the inside. David is a great manager as well as visionary. The Mayor could not have made a better choice!” “I have had the opportunity to work with, and observe David Hansell’s outstanding managerial success for over two decades. David is an extraordinarily talented leader with a penchant for taking on tough, non-glamorous bureaucracies. He has the skill, temperament, and vision to make truly tough decisions,” said Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, CEO of the Addabbo Family Health Center, and former CEO of GMHC. “New York City’s most vulnerable children are in excellent hands.”
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:10pm
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. And we begin as we usually do on Fridays with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Brian. Lehrer: And I’m going to ask you most of the questions today relating to your State of the City address this week. And listeners, you can ask whatever you want at 2-1-2-4-3-3-W-N-Y-C, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2. Or as always, you can also tweet a question using the hashtag #AsktheMayor. So, let me start here: the proposal from your State of the City address probably getting the most attention and also with the most blanks to fill in is the promise to create 10,000 new middle-class jobs a year – jobs that pay at least $50,000 a year and come with skills training. And I wonder if you could talk first about the underlying condition for that, which is the private company is creating lots of jobs these days in New York, but too many of them are low-wage jobs. So what’s the skew in the market compared to the past that you feel government needs to address? Mayor: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head, Brian. We, need to understand that left to its own devices, the free market has been creating jobs, but not enough good-paying jobs. And I think the way to contextualize this – what I tried to do in the speech is say – for years now, a lot of us have been fighting to lift the force as they get to things like a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, paid sick leave. Those were pre-requisites to New Yorkers being able to live a decent life. We’ve achieved those things. They’re all happening now. But that’s not the same thing as living a life where you really can make ends meet and invest in your family, invest in your future. You know, too many people even at a better minimum wage are still struggling to pay all their bills. So the goal now is to increase the number of good-paying jobs for people from the five boroughs, give them – as you mentioned – the training that allows them to have a career for a long term, so the things we talked about in the State of the City: retrofitting, which is going to be a huge area going forward in this city as we address climate change; film and TV technology; life sciences; advanced manufacturing. And all of these are areas where the public sector can spark and catalyze job growth with stipulations, and this is part of the power. We went the day after the State of the City to Sunset Park to the Bush Terminal. And that’s a place where we’re going to create 1,500 such jobs over the coming years. And it’s – because we are investing in the physical capacity to get, for example, more of our garment manufacturing to stay in New York City, to get more of our film and TV work to be done in New York City – we’re stipulating in that plan that the companies in that complex have to first and foremost hire not only people from the five boroughs, but people from the surrounding communities, like Sunset Park. Lehrer: So the question becomes – and a lot of people are asking this – how and at what cost? Is it subsidies to individual industries or companies? Is it tax credits? And how is it accounted for in the preliminary budget that you released for the next fiscal year? Mayor: As you know, we have – in this administration – we have not used subsidies to individual companies except for some very rare occasions. The goal and the approach we use is to foster whole economic sectors. So for example, look at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; look at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. These are examples where we invested in the physical space. We invested in the space to create growth in the industry. That’s what we’re going to do with life sciences as well. We took the model that I think worked well in the Bloomberg administration with Roosevelt Island and Cornell Technion, creating more ability of our technology sector to attract talent, to develop talent here that will stay here, that will build companies here. These are foundational investments. It’s not the notion of subsidizing direct companies. It’s the notion of creating an infrastructure that supports the development of sectors that we want to keep growing. We want technology to keep growing, advanced manufacturing, film and TV, life sciences – these are all potential growth areas for New York City, all of which come consistently with good-paying jobs. And we want those jobs to go to young people who come out of our City public schools, come out of CUNY. We want to make sure that it’s not just that we create better-paying jobs, but to the maximum extent possible, we direct them to people from the five boroughs. And that’s where things like the tech talent pipeline come in that specifically train and prepare young people to go into the technology sector. What we’re doing today – announcing a very exciting center we’re going to have in Union Square for the technology ecosystem to encourage New Yorkers to get these jobs in this growing sector. This is how you build a different kind of economy and make sure that people from all five boroughs, all different backgrounds have access to these good-paying jobs. Lehrer: So is there enough already in the pipeline of the kinds of things – I realize here you talk about supply-side and demand-side, so you’re helping education, so that there’s a supply of people who can qualify for better-paying jobs; and Brooklyn Navy Yard and other infrastructure like that. But if your goal is 100,000 additional in ten years or 10,000 a year, then is there going to be a major new initiative that we’re going to hear? And what’s it going to cost? Mayor: We’re going to keep building every step of the way. We have two that immediately are on the table right now. The initiative to develop the life sciences sector here in this city. We announced that $150 million plan over multiple years. We announced the plan to keep building up the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I don’t have the exact dollar figure in front of me. We’ll get that to you. But the Brooklyn Navy Yard – we’re on track to add 10,000 jobs in the coming year. So those are two big chunks right away. The goal – I mentioned the 1,500 jobs we’ll do at the Made in NY facility, Bush Terminal, Sunset Park. We’re just going to keep adding them up. And look, this administration – I’m very proud of the fact that the team I’ve put together has excelled at taking on difficult goals and achieving them – the affordable housing plan, the pre-K plan. These were things where there were strong, tight numerical goals, and they achieved them. But you said one other thing that’s very important. You build up a strong economy with the basics – a safer city, which we’ve been able to achieve; a better education system, which we’re in the process of creating; more affordable housing, obviously a crucial priority of this administration. Those are the foundations of a better economy, more diverse economy. But if you really want to grow these sectors that we want to be stronger than ever. We want life sciences to eventually be 100,000 jobs in this city. We want the technology sector to add another 100,000 or more jobs. We want – we think advanced manufacturing has tremendous growth potential. We know film and TV right now – studio space is maxed out right not in New York City, and the film and TV industry wants more ability to film in New York City. So we need to keep stoking the situation and building the foundation so we can create a lot more good-paying jobs. Lehrer: Let’s take a phone call. Andy in the Bronx – Andy, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Andy. Question: Morning, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Good morning. Question: My situation – and I do want to change the topic for a minute. Mayor: Sure. Question: I work with the City [inaudible] Department of Finance. And I got laid off, but I found out everybody has gotten rehired. And I was hoping you might be able to assist me. I was on the 55-a program, but they let that program go too. Lehrer: You told the screener you wanted to ask about an affordable housing program. Is that also part of your question? Question: Yes, it is sir. Lehrer: Go ahead. Mayor: Go ahead. On the first point, if you’ll let the folks at WNYC know how to contact you, I’ll have my folks follow up and we can see what we can do. What’s the affordable housing question, though? Question: Right, because I really need to get my job back because I’m really struggling, Mr. Mayor. I got laid off for no reason. I’m sorry that I keep telling you this. Mayor: Well, Andy, I guarantee you someone is going to follow up with you today, and we will find out what happened. I’m not guaranteeing you – Question: I really appreciate it Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Andy, listen to me. I’m concerned, obviously, because I don’t want to see anyone in a bad situation. We’re going to follow up with you today. I’m not guaranteeing you an outcome, but I will guarantee you we’ll follow up and we’ll get down to the bottom of it today. Lehrer: And do you have a specific affordable housing application question? Question: Yes, I do. [Inaudible] I have applied in the past for low-income housing, but the situation is with that is – they go obviously by your income, but it’s either too high or too low – in between. For instance, if it’s $18,000 a year, it has to be like $21,000 so you’re not qualified. Mayor: Yeah, Andy, let me speak to that because we made a major announcement in the last few days that we are within our affordable housing plan – it’s 200,000 apartments. It’s 120,000 that will be preserved and subsidized in place. It’s 80,000 that will be built new over the next now eight years. And I announced that within that plan, we’re shifting and adding resources so that 10,000 of the apartments within the plan will now go to folks who make up to $40,000. So in addition to the apartments already for folks in that income level, we’ve added more for the range of New Yorkers who make up to $40,000 – mainly people make in the $20,000s, in the $30,000s. In that, we also included a special allotment for seniors and for veterans. So we’re continuing to refine and improve the affordable housing plan to meet the different parts of the city that need help. But I want to assure you, I hear a lot from people – oh you know, so many people are either too-high, too-low. I think that’s not accurate in light of our plan. Maybe that’s true in terms of the past. Our plan is 200,000 apartments, and if you look at the original document – the Housing New York Plan – it was published; it’s online. It delineates how many are going to each income area and it covers a wide range of people who are middle class, working class, folks who are lower income. There’s options for everyone. The problem is there’s just so many people who need affordable housing, and it is a lottery system and people have to keep getting into that lottery. And I’ve met people who’ve won but it does take time. Lehrer: So, to that point, to some degree, in your State of the City you also announced new housing initiatives for lower-income people, as you just said, those making up to $40,000 a year. How much will you acknowledge that that was a response to so much pushback – I’m guessing more than you anticipated on your original affordable housing plan, ambitious as it is, along the lines of affordable for whom? Mayor: Brian, I will more than acknowledge what we experienced because I’m very comfortable with it. We came out with a plan that was the biggest affordable housing plan in the history of the city that had a huge amount of units for lower-income folks but also for working-class folks and middle-class folks. This is something I fundamentally believe in. We needed to serve a whole range of New Yorkers who were struggling to find housing they could afford because we want a city that’s economically diverse. We put that into play. We definitely heard from a lot of Council members, a lot of community members. They wanted to see if we could do more on the lower side of the income scale. I believe in it. We had to find a way to do is the honest truth. We had to find a way to create the resources to make that happen because it costs more money. And I made the decision this would be an additional budget priority. It’s a substantial new investment in our capital budget. But we also thought the other pieces of the plan needed to keep going at the same time. So, that’s how it happened. I did hear the voices of the people all over the city. But we honestly did not know if we would have the resources to do it in the beginning and we were able to find them over the course of the three years. Lehrer: So many questions that come in to you every week, as you know, are about housing. If we just let it go and say, “Ask about anything, every week, all the time,” I think 60, 70 percent of the questions would be about affordable housing. So, let’s take another one. Rick in Queens, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Rick. Question: Oh, hi. Thank you so much, Brian and Mayor de Blasio. I’m calling about how you can go further – even further with affordable housing. If working with the real estate agency in New York City, which is the private sector, is not meeting the needs of a majority of the people then it’s up to the public sector, right, the government to step in. So, what we’re proposing is introducing a government run public option into the housing marketplace – the same idea as in healthcare – where the City can itself hire the best architects and contractors, use all union workers for the highest quality and safety, and build beautiful, gorgeous housing without the profit incentive – Lehrer: It’s called public housing. We have a lot of it in the city, right? [Laughter] Mayor: We have a word for that already, Rick. [Laughter] Question: This is different because it’s for middle-income people, and of course you can learn from many of the mistakes that were made with NYCHA. But with this idea, the government could build affordable housing that could be 20 percent market rate and 80 percent affordable housing – Lehrer: Flip the usual requirement. Well, I guess if that was affordable, the City would be doing, right Mr. Mayor? Mayor: Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head. Let me say this to Rick – first of all, Brian, I really want to thank you for the comment you made right before the question when you said 60 or 70 percent of your calls would about affordability and affordable housing. I keep saying this everywhere I go and I think a lot of my fellow elected officials have the same experience – when our constituents talk to us, the thing they talk about the most is they’re afraid they’re not going to be able to live in their own city, their own neighborhood. They’re afraid they’re going to be priced out and they want to know what we’re going to do about it. And I would urge on this program and everywhere else that the media is, we need to talk about this all the time because it’s the number one thing that New Yorkers are concerned about. On Rick’s point – yeah, Rick, I’m sure you’re not talking about the way public housing was done in the past but you are talking about a fully governmental approach. And if I had endless resources, I would be using that kind of approach a lot more. We have to look in the eye – and I think a lot of my brother and sister progressives have to really understand this mathematical reality and come to grips with us with this fact because we’re making tough decision based on it. The federal government, since the time of Reagan and then the Gingrich Congress, has decreased support for affordable housing constantly. I expect, sadly, a lot more decrease coming up when the tax cuts for the wealthy and for the corporations are put in place by this Congress. Where are they going to make up that revenue? They’re going to cut things like affordable housing, I fear. So, the notion that we could depend on the federal sector is obviously arcane. The State government has done precious little so far particularly when it relates to public housing. New York City is largely on its own and our existing public housing – our public housing authority, NYCHA, where 400,000 people live had $18 billion in unmet physical needs, capital needs. So, the notion that we’re going to do fully government financed new low-income housing or even middle class housing misses the fact that we’re in hole economically to begin with. The reason we believe that we can get things done more effectively through regulation of the private sector – that’s why I’m so excited we passed Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. We require private developers who got a rezoning of any kind to provide 25 percent or 30 percent affordable housing in their buildings and with clear income stipulations on affordability. And that’s how we’re going to produce a lot of units quickly. People want apartments now. They do not want to wait for a government plan that may take affect someday. So, this is about economics and it’s about the availability of resources. If I had a lot more money, I would be going in the direction – one version of the direction Rick’s talking about. Lehrer: Also on housing is obviously homelessness. And you referred in the State of the City to new proposals coming to deal with the record homeless shelter population. I’m going to ask if you can give us a preview of any kind. And I also want to refer to the Post – your favorite paper – which has an editorial today on the rising homeless shelter population that says the reason is that the homeless shelter acceptance rate under you and HRA Commissioner Steven Banks is 50 percent, more than double what it was in the Bloomberg era. So, did you loosen the criteria? Mayor: So, Brian, I think the world of you. I’m surprised at how many times you go to the Post as your go-to information source. But that being said – I don’t think that’s the story at all. I think what happened here – and we have lots of evidence to prove it – is the biggest shock to the system, the biggest reason why shelter population increased was the 2011 decision by the Governor and the Mayor then to end the Advantage program. That took the shelter population at that moment – April, 2011 about 36,000 in shelter. By December of 2013, not that much time passed – two-and-a-half-years passed – the shelter population was 50,000. So, we saw a rapid increase once the number one tool that the City had to address homelessness was take away. I think it was a huge mistake. We came into office and we found that on top of that the economic reality – the fact that people were not seeing the kind of incomes that they needed to keep up with the cost of housing. The cost of housing was constantly increasing – a lot of families’ economic reality collapsing. And more and more, the people in shelter – and I’ll give you all the facts, we’ll reel them off to you – now, people in shelter are families with children, overwhelmingly. That was not true even when I was General Welfare Chairman in the City Council. Ten years ago that wasn’t true. It has been a sea change because of the reality of rising cost of housing but not increasing wages that keep up. So, that’s what we’re dealing with today – a different homelessness reality. We have been very clear that we are going to be tough but fair on the entry policy – Lehrer: Did you also loosen the entry policy criteria? Mayor: Again, the reason I want to say this exactly is that there were different points along the way – we dealt with some different State rules that then we didn’t agree with but got adjusted in the end. So, that ended up in a better situation. Different things were done along the way. I think at this point, we have good rules and the right rules to serve people fairly but also make sure that only folks who truly need shelter get them. So, the bottom line – Lehrer: But is there an example of that? I’ll get to this – I just want to get as specific as we can on this. Did you loosen some criteria because you thought it was too hard under Bloomberg for families to get in? Mayor: I would not say that. And again, I’ll get you chapter and verse because I want to be very, very exact. We had some situations where the State changed rules but again, I believe that situation has now been fully resolved and we’re at a point where we think the rules are proper. We had some things that we worked through. I think we’re now in a very good place in terms of having tight rules. There were different points along the way. We can get you an exact description but I don’t want to speak beyond the details I know. Lehrer: Okay. And anything new coming that you can preview, as you said in the State of the City there would be? Mayor: Yeah, again, I’m – I generally don’t preview but I will say to you that we’ll be making these announcements soon and I think it is about being very blunt with the people of New York City. This is going to be a long tough battle to overcome the homelessness crisis. It is a crisis that has been with us since the 1980s. We believe we are going to be able to turn the tide, but again – it will take a long time to get it right. And we are going to be very focused on working with communities who obviously are concerned about the issue. But we want to also help people understand that the folks who are homeless come from neighborhoods all over the city. And we are going to be working with families to do more for their family members who are homeless and we are going to do more to support them to take in family members who are homeless and get them back on their feet. So, a lot more detail to come. I am not going to give you a deep preview – Lehrer: Sure. Mayor: But, that gives you some of the flavor. Lehrer: Thank you for that. Steve in Brooklyn, you are on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Steve. Question: Good morning Brian. Good morning Mayor de Blasio. For many years now, the City has been promoting its IDNYC program, which I think is wonderful. It’s one of your initiatives and I know you are still trying to get the enrollment up, but I think that the City can make some effort on the other end to gain greater acceptance of the card. And I am sure all city agencies accept it, but I was shocked and surprised to find out that the federal government, specifically the Social Security Administration will not accept that as identification. I mean they won’t even accept – it has nothing to do with IDNYC, they won’t even accept the New York State EBT, Electronic Benefits Transfer Card as identification. But as far as the city is concerned I think you should perhaps negotiate with the federal government [inaudible] your agencies to accept the cards. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor – Mayor: Yes, it’s a great question. Look, we created IDNYC and thank you for your comments. It’s been a great success and it’s helped a lot of people. It’s helped people get bank accounts, get leases, get access to their child’s school so they can visit the teacher and all sorts of really fundamental things. And folks have really appreciated the benefits of the cultural institution memberships and all the other benefits. We did it first and foremost for life in New York City. We did it with close collaboration with the NYPD. And as you know the NYPD does accept it as ID. If someone has an encounter with a police officer, IDNYC is absolutely a viable ID card. Also the agencies do, a lot of banks do. There’s plenty of ways you can use it. People have asked the question before, how do we get more connection, for example, to the federal government or other institutions? We are going to keep working on it. I never have the illusion that other institutions that are not run by the City of New York are going to necessarily understand why this is such a valuable thing and fair thing. But we are going to keep working on trying to get as wide acceptance as possible. But I want to note that again, its central mission is already being accomplished and you hear that’s particularly from NYPD. It has been extraordinarily helpful to our officers that more and more people are walking around with an ID. It was a fundamental problem in the City. All sorts of people –folks who were citizens all their life and folks who were undocumented. Folks who were immigrant. All sorts of people weren’t carrying ID and it’s very good and important in terms of public safety that people have an ID. And this is where IDNYC has worked. Lehrer: We have another question about the municipal ID on Twitter from somebody who wants to know if you are going to destroy the underlying information. I am paraphrasing this tweet, but destroy the underlying information to protect undocumented immigrants from the federal government and in conjunction with that –there’s this that just came in from in the Associated Press. I am guessing you haven’t seen this yet. This just crossed. Trump administration considers mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants. So have you heard anything about that? I don’t know if it’s just a tweet that he came up with or if they’ve notified the City of any kind of policy – so that and the municipal ID. Mayor: I had not heard that before. We are all learning not to be shocked by anything that President Trump does, but I had not heard that before. I think that will undermine public safety all over this country. If the President attempts to do it, I also think he will run into a fundamental problem that the National Guard is at the command of governors around the country in all but situations of national emergency or natural disaster, etc. I think that’s a fair definition. I think he’s going to find tremendous resistance. I think it is not an appropriate role for the National Guard. I think it will create tremendous tension between local law enforcement and the federal government. Look, our Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill and police commissioners all over the country have said do not upset the balances constructed by law enforcement in working with immigrant communities. Not only with undocumented people who, we know, are in our cities – about half a million people and in cities and towns all over America. But, remember their family members are permanent residents. Their family members in many cases are citizens. The disruption of the relationship between law enforcement and millions and millions of people all over this country will hurt public safety day to day on the ground. So I believe that President Trump will run into a host of problems: legal problems, opposition locally, opposition from governors, opposition from police chiefs. We will be in the forefront of opposing any such policy. But no, we’ve gotten no indication whatsoever that – that is being attempted. Lehrer: And again I say - this is just coming across. The AP is now saying that this comes from a draft memo that was leaked to the AP. So it could be something that’s – when they something draft memo it’s maybe something that’s in formulation that somebody in the administration wanted to get out to stop it. You know how these leaks go, usually from people who want some advance publicity for something either as a trial balloon or because they are outraged by it and they want public attention to it. So that’s what we have on that from the AP. Mayor: But, look Brian – whatever the source of the information, people should be outraged. Because here is why I am so distressed about this whole discussion – when I met with then-President-elect Trump, one of the most important topics that came up was immigration. And I said to him point blank – talk to the police chiefs about this country. If you don’t think the politicians are right, talk to the police chiefs of this country. Ask them what an attempt to round up undocumented immigrants [inaudible] would do to public safety in this country and how much of a destruction of the progress that we’ve made. We are the safest big city in America – right here. Safest big city in America in large measure, because going back to the Giuliani administration and before, a decision was made that our police should never be put in the situation of being immigration enforcement officers or gathering information from undocumented folks and passing it to the federal government. That trust that we were able to build by proving year after year that we would respect people’s privacy, and respect their humanity allowed us to become the biggest, safe city in America. If that is eroded or even worse- if one element in our law enforcement in the military is turned to do something against the interest of another element, against our local forces interest and our communities’ interest – that will have a huge corrosive impact on the social fabric of this country, let alone on public safety. Lehrer: I also see that your office issued a press release today that says New York City leads coalition of municipal governments filing amicus brief in court, supporting a challenge to President Trump’s travel ban. But my understanding from his news conference yesterday was the travel ban as rejected by the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court is not going to be appealed again. Instead, they are going to issue a new one next week. So what is your press release related to? Mayor: Again, we have so many changes in direction from the Trump administration that until we are certain that the current attempt at the travel ban is pulled back, we are going to continue to work with cities all over the country and all other interested parties to stop the travel ban. It is on its face, unconstitutional and divisive and again, it is a pathway to a religious registry which is what we should be even more worried about in terms of our constitution and our values. So we have worked with 34 cities to file an amicus brief against the travel ban and to support all those who are working to stop it. And, look I think the court actions on this is the reason people should be very proud that our constitutional system is working. That a court that was bipartisan in terms of who appointed the members stood up and said that the travel ban was unconstitutional. It wouldn’t accept it on its face. That’s a great thing. We are going to keep fighting that battle. I am not going to trust that any replacement is any better until we see something that we can verify. Lehrer: We are just about out of time. I know we are going to ask you one more question from a listener via Twitter and this actually will serve as a segway to our next segment. We are going to have the editor of that Jewish newspaper from Brooklyn from whom a reporter asked a question at President Trump’s news conference yesterday. That started out as a supportive question from an ultraorthodox perspective and then the President bit his head off. I don’t know if you saw that? Mayor: I saw that clip specifically. Yes – Lehrer: So we have the editor of that paper and another guest coming up. But related to that here’s the question from a listener that says, “My question to Bill de Blasio is what is your response to the rise in anti-Semitism in New York City?” So there is a premise there that there is a rise in anti-Semitism in New York City. Do you see it and if so what’s your response? Mayor: Yes. There is no question and it’s very, very troubling and its [inaudible] things we’ve seen as the result of the election and no one should mince words about it. The horrible, hateful rhetoric that was used in this election by candidate Trump and by a lot of his supporters, directly connects to an increase since the election to anti-Semitic incidents, in anti-Muslim incidents and anti LGBT incidents. It is clear here and it is clear around the country. And the NYPD is very forcefully confronting this situation. We are making very clear that any bias attack will be due in immediate and direct and serious consequences for anyone who perpetrates it. And when we see any patterns of attack we reinforce certain communities or certain areas with additional NYPD presence working closely with the community. But, I gave some remarks at a synagogue on the West Side a couple of weeks ago and I talked about the fact. There is a rise in anti-Semitism not only in the United States directly related to our election, but look at these xenophobic parties in Europe that are bringing out all the worst instincts in Western European countries and these are parties that directly connect to a Nazi and fascist history directly. These are parties formed, in many cases, by people who are involved in Nazi and fascist movements in the 30s and 40s. These parties are now surging in Western Europe – you see an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. I thought the reporter’s question was 100 percent fair and respectful. I am never surprised of the President overreacting and overreaching, but the question needs to be dealt with. Negative forces have been unleashed in this country and they have to be beaten back. And in this city we are going to do that very vividly. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, as always thank you very much. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you, Brian.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 11:30am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well everybody, it has been a long day in Albany, hasn’t it? Is that not right my Congresswoman – long day in Albany. [Laughter] But I want to thank everyone for being here to support the great work of [inaudible] which has for years – remember this – for years been establishing the idea that there was so much we could do neighborhood by neighborhood to support small business, to help people create jobs and uplift the community. That’s what happened in this organization year in and year out including when it was not easy. Is anybody out there? [Cheers] Okay, good. Which means we have to thank Roy Houston for all he has done – all the leadership he has provided, let’s thank him. [Applause] Now, I’m just going to say something very simple to you; the City of New York believes in supporting small businesses. The City of New York believes in righting the wrongs of history. And so we have committed ourselves to a goal that 30 percent of all city contracts will go to minority and women-owned businesses. [Applause] And we need your help getting the most businesses certified, getting the most opportunity in the hands of people who will then create real opportunity neighborhood by neighborhood. So, I want to thank you for all you do, but we need you to help us build and go farther in this city. The other thing I want to say to you before I introduce my wife is this is a tough moment in history. It is difficult to turn on the television lately. I don’t know how Yvette Clarke does it because she has to go to Washington D.C. every week. [Laughter] That’s not easy. [Applause] Thank you, Yvette. But it is also a transcendent moment. And it may not feel like it sometimes. We may feel behind the eight ball. We may rightfully fear the challenges, but look at the way people are organizing all over this country. And may I thank the women of this country and the three million people who came out on January 21st all over this nation to stand up for the rights of women. [Applause] That is just a small example of the changes that will be made by the people, by the organizing and mobilizing of the people in this country. It is already beginning. So, don’t let Donald Trump get you down because the people will have the final say my friends. Now, I have the great pleasure of introducing my partner in all things, but I want to introduce her with this simple point; in this city that we love – I know we’re in Albany now, but I’m going to speak about New York City. In our City with eight-and-a-half million people – for generations people have suffered in silence because as a society we could not talk about the truth of mental health. We couldn’t acknowledge the challenge that everyone, every family was touched by it; that somehow there was a taboo that kept us from acknowledging it. That wasn’t good, that wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right. Someone decided to do something about it. And she made the focus of her work as First Lady a change, a revolution in how we approach all of our families, all of our loved ones including those with mental health challenges who need our support. And it is having a profound impact. So, I want to introduce to you someone who had the [inaudible] and the focus to say we can change; we could break down the stigma, we could reach people who never got reached before and it is time to do it now. And she is making it happen now in New York City – our First Lady, Chirlane McCray. [Applause] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good evening, everyone. I’m very happy to be here with all of you my brothers and sisters. I’m going to be brief. I want to thank you for standing up for New Yorkers, especially our Caribbean brothers and sisters. I want to thank you for protecting the progress that we have made in this country and thank you for being strong and determined and ready to fight. We’ve got to be ready to fight – this is a rough situation we’re in. You know, we all like to feel good so that we could do what we got to do and that is why I’m doing work that I’m doing – make sure that everyone gets the mental health services that they need. We are all affected. This is part of the human condition just like Bill said; one in five is the number. But because there are so many of us who are affected we have to remember that all of us could be part of the solutions. So, I want to ask three things of you: one, take a mental health first aid class. We all know what to do if someone is bleeding, right – apply pressure, [inaudible]. We should know what to do if someone is suffering from a panic attack or depression or some other mental health condition. We should know this and we can. Mental health first aid classes are free. You can sign up online at Number two, talk to your clergy members. We had a mental health weekend last year – last May – that was so successful. We had the ministers, pastors, rabbis – everybody putting mental health at the top of their agenda and making it a public conversation so that we don’t have this fear and stigma and shame about something that is just a disease like every other disease like asthma and diabetes. We had 1,000 houses of worship participate last year. We want to do even better this year. [Applause] So, I know if you talk to the people you know – talk to your folks get them involved. We would love to have them and we’ll help them with tool kits and resources so they know what to say to their congregations. And number three; we have a new connection to mental health care. It’s only one click or one call away. You can talk to a trained mental health counselor or a peer or get connected to a provider. It’s very – it’s free. It’s confidential and it is available in more than 200 languages – and 365 days a year, 24/7. [Applause] And I’m going to give you the number. It’s for you or for a loved one – 1-888-NYC-WELL. Please repeat it after me: 1-8-8-8-NYC-WELL. One more time. 1-8-8-8-NYC-WELL. You can call that number for yourself or a loved one and it’s free. Remember that number please and thank you. I love you all. [Applause]
Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: [Inaudible] Chirlane and I heard there was an Alpha conspiracy happening here. As we talked about in previous years – this is important, Alphas, you’ll want to hear this about you. As we have talked about in previous years, it is only a matter of time before the Alphas take over our entire nation. [Laughter] So, Chirlane and I come here every year to remain in good graces preparing for that day. I want to thank Chris for his leadership. Let’s give him a big round of applause – [Applause] I want to thank and congratulate your honorees – the great inventor Dr. Marshall Jones. Well done, sir. [Applause] And I got to thank on behalf of all the children and families of New York City, Dr. Lester Young who is one of the great educators that has ever come out of New York City [inaudible] – [Applause] So, I’ll be very quick but I want to tell you – I don’t need to remind you that the progress of Alphas in government is already extraordinary whether it’s our former boss, David Dinkins or the new breed, Walter Mosley and Michael Blake, and of course [inaudible] – extraordinary leaders, all. Now I want to say – just one quick moment before I introduce my wife. I want everyone to remember the Alpha motto. I want you to note how this motto fits this moment in history. Okay? This is going to be deep. You have to come away from the bar to hear this. [Laughter] The Alpha motto in the age of Donald Trump – listen carefully – the motto is, “First of all servants of all we shall transcend all.” [Applause] Now, my friends we have some really important transcending to do in this moment of history. It will not be easy [inaudible] challenge coming out of Washington. But that spirit of transcendence must animate us. I got one example I want to give to everyone in this room. If at any point you’re feeling down, you’re feeling depressed, you’re in a state of shock, remember on January 21st – the over three million Americans who marched around this country for the rights of women. [Applause] They were all transcending. They were not accepting a status quo that did not serve them. They were creating a new reality. Alphas have done that for years. We all have to do that in this moment in time. And speaking of the ability to create a new reality, I will introduce to you a woman who said, in New York City with all its challenges – eight-and-a-half-million people – we could take the challenge of mental health head on and we could break the stigma, we could reach people who before never got the help they needed. And she’s making it happen everyday – the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. [Applause] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good evening, everyone. Audience: Good evening. First Lady McCray: You all sure look good. You’re a little noisy but you’re very handsome. [Laughter] Can I be an Alpha? Audience: Yeah. First Lady McCray: Yeah – honorary Alpha. I see so many familiar faces. Now, who’s not an Alpha? Really? So, I just want to thank you all for standing up for your brothers and sisters, all the good work you’ve done. Thank you for protecting our progress. Thank you for doing all of the good work you do. And you know, mental health is my thing. I know that you can do so much to help all the fear, the stigma around this issue. It affects so many of us. The statistic is one in five New Yorkers suffers from some kind of mental health condition. That means in this room, every single one of us knows someone [inaudible] directly or indirectly we’re affected. But it also means that everybody can be part of the solution. Now, Alphas, you are powerful, aren’t you? Audience: Yeah. First Lady McCray: Yeah! So there are three ways you can get involved. Take a mental health first aid class or sponsor a mental health first aid class. It’s free. You’ll learn all the signs and symptoms – learn the language to talk about this which we have never talked about in any real way. So, take a mental health first aid class. [Inaudible] or you can go to the website – Number two – be part of the Weekend of Faith. The Weekend of Faith that we have for clergy. We had it last year and we had 1,000 houses of worship participate. Clergy members put mental health at the top of their agenda and we helped them do it with the resources and the tools. We’re going to do it again this May. All of you, if you could just reach out to people you know and get them involved and maybe we can double that number this year, and we’ll have a real public conversation about mental health needs in our communities. And finally, number three – 1-8-8-8-N – Mayor: This is the important part. Listen up everyone. First Lady McCray: Well, it’s all important but – [Laughter] I want you to remember this number. Repeat after me. 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. Audience: 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. First Lady McCray: One more time. 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. Audience: 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. First Lady McCray: That is the number to call if you or a loved one suffers from a mental health condition and you need to talk to a trained counselor, a peer counselor, anyone to help you figure out what to do or get connected to a mental health provider. It’s free. It’s confidential. And it’s available 365 days of the year, 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Alright. So, there’s no excuse. If you’re suffering from anxiety, having panic attacks, depression, bipolar disorder, whatever it is, you call this number and talk to some for free. One more time and I will let you go. 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. Audience: 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. First Lady McCray: I love you. Thank you. [Applause]
Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: [Inaudible] and I want to thank everybody. I’ll be very quick. I’m trying to be quick and meaningful. First of all, before I say anything, I need to say thank you. You know that doing the work of change is not easy. It comes with a lot of opposition built in. When you try and create justice, when you try and support working people and heal the wounds of the past and right the wrongs – that is never an easy journey. It takes friends and allies and comrades in arms to actually achieve these changes. And I could not ask for a better partner than DC37. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every single day the work you do, the work that all your member’s have done to make our city work, the work you do as trade unionists is holding up the labor movement even in this hour of struggle. The partnership this administration has had constantly with this union on so many issues, so many issues by the way which this union said for years something different and better could be done. And guess what? You were right. Remember you said we could do civilianization at the police department? Remember? Remember how many years you kept saying that and they always would say in the previous administration it was impossible to do. We came along and we found it was perfectly possible. It was the smart thing to do. It was the right thing to do and you had the idea a long time ago. [Applause] I want to thank you for all of that and I want to thank you also because the people of New York City are going to make a decision this year about the future of this city. And I have you on my side as we go forward for the people, and I’m so appreciative. [Applause] Unknown: We love you. Mayor: Thank you, my dear. Thank you. Love you back. [Laughter] Don’t tell my wife I said that. [Laughter] So, wait ,she said she knows about us. [Laughter] That’s confidence. I want to tell you that Henry is someone that I have profound respect for. I want you to hear this because when I want to think through some of the tough problems or I want to think about how we change this city for the better, I turn to Henry all the time. This is a thinking man. This is a great leader for this union. So, let’s thank him. [Applause] I’m going to say one more thing and then I get to make an introduction of my partner. What I want to say is it is a tough moment in history. It’s a tough moment in history but it is not a moment to give in. It’s not a moment to underestimate yourselves or this movement or this union. I think it is an amazing thing – I’ve seen it many times – when people with power want to undermine us, they want to undermine working people, they want to undermine people of color, they want to undermine cities, they start to convince us we’ve run out of power. You see it every single time. They start this sort of almost subliminal suggestion repeated over and over and over again. They want to make us think things like that the last election in November, their candidate won the majority of the votes. But that’s not true. That’s not true but we have to keep reminding ourselves. What Donald Trump is doing – he does not have a mandate from the people [inaudible] electoral college but not from the people. [Applause] And if you watch carefully he is losing support all the time because of his shenanigans. That’s my nice word for it. [Laughter] So, I say that to say you will hear repeatedly different forces out there trying to convince you to just give up, just give in to it. And no – we actually are the ones who have the majority. We are the ones who represent the interests of the people. [Applause] And we are seeing something beautiful happening in our country in just these last weeks. We are seeing a spontaneous vocalization of people, an uprising of people speaking out. Remember on January 21st, over three million Americans marched for the rights of women all over this country. [Applause] That didn’t happen previously. That didn’t happen previously and maybe this threat, maybe this challenge is bringing out something in us that needed to be brought out a long time ago. But now that it’s here, now that people have woken up, now that they’re ready to act it may feel like it’s his time but I say it’s our time. [Applause] So, keep that strength, that vision, that focus clear. Teach others to have it too. That’s how we change our city and our country for the better. Now, I want to say one thing as I make this introduction, if you ever doubt that things can change – and look, people in this room have fought for good causes all your lives, and you know it can be tough and you need to dispel the doubt sometimes. So, if you’ve ever doubted that things can change – I want to tell you a quick story that relates to my wife. She had the audacity a couple of years ago to believe that she could take on a challenge that previously had gone unmet. This is mental health. We had a problem throughout our society that was not being talked about, that was so pervasive in every family, in every neighborhood, and yet was somehow taboo. And even to this day people will come up and they will congratulate her and thank her for the work that she is doing and then they’ll start whispering about the mental health problem in their family because we’ve been taught to be ashamed, taught that something that is a part of the human experience is somehow something wrong with us. It’s never been something wrong with us. Whatever the many stigmas and taboos in our society, they were always false. So, she said we could do something different. And if we all work together we can all actually break down that stigma. If we break down that stigma then people come out of the shadows. If they come out of the shadows, they get the help they need. If they get the help they need we start to heal our society. We start reduce crime. We start to reduce homelessness. Our children graduate from high school, go on to college. [Applause] If we can deal with the problem at the root cause that’s – that’s what she decided this city could do. Brothers and sisters, she’s actually changing this city through her leadership and her example in all that she is doing. I introduce to you the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. [Applause] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good evening, everyone. Hello. Hello. I’m so happy to see you, so happy to be here with all my brothers and sisters. I want to thank you so much for standing up for New Yorkers. Thank you for protecting the progress that’s been made over the years. I can’t thank you enough for all the work that you do to help our city [inaudible] and move forward. You know, we’ve been through a lot [inaudible] we have to stay strong. We have to stay determined and we have to fight hard. To do that we’ve gotta stay well. Right? And keep our families well. And [inaudible] say there’s no help without mental health. Audience: Amen. First Lady McCray: [Inaudible] [Applause] It’s not easy out there but you know you got great support here in this room. You’ve got great support up on high. [Laughter] And we’re with you every step of the way. Given that one in five New Yorkers suffers from a diagnosable mental health condition [inaudible] substance misuse in any given year, you know, there’s a lot that we [inaudible]. We’re all affected by this and we all have a stake in the solutions. Is that right? Audience: Yes. First Lady McCray: That’s right. So I just happen to have three easy ways that you can be part of the solution. One – sign up for a mental health first aid class. Most of us in this room did not grow up with the words, with the vocabulary for talking about mental illness. So, we don’t know an anxiety condition from a panic attack from depression from many of the other conditions out there. Take a mental health first aid class. We know what to do when someone’s bleeding but we don’t know what to do when someone’s depressed or anxious. Is that right? Audience: Right. First Lady McCray: This mental health first aid class is free. All you have to do is go to and you can sign up. You can actually [inaudible] class for your congregation or your organization or you know, whatever, any kind of group you have. You can do that. We’re training trainers as well. So that these trainers can go and train 30 people every month so that we can get to the communities that have a highest needs – maybe speak different languages [inaudible] and are not as connected to the main frame mental health workforce. So, I just want you to know that this course is available. You can do it within the union and it’s free. Number two – we had a Mental Health Faith Weekend last year – last May. We thought [inaudible] 200 churches involved, but we ended up with 1,000 houses of faith [inaudible] – [Applause] There is a hunger out there to have this public conversation about something that we’re all affected by. We’re going to repeat that at the end of May – this May. And I know all of you in some way or another is connected to some house of faith. Please let them know that we are doing this again and encourage them to be involved. We’d really like to have even more people involved this year so that we can continue this public conversation that we started last year. And I have one more thing to ask of you that will help you and your families and the communities that you live in. And that is – I want you to spread the word about NYC Well. NYC Well is our central access point to connect New Yorkers to mental health care. You can call this number and get an appointment. You can get a follow up call to make sure that [inaudible] actually got to the appointment. You can speak to a peer counselor. There are mental mobile health crisis teams that go to a location and do an evaluation if need be. Most importantly, these counselors can talk to you and help you figure out what to do if you’re in a situation and you don’t know what the next step is. So, the number is 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. And I want you to please repeat this number with me. 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well Audience: 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. First Lady McCray: One more time. 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. Audience: 1-8-8-8-NYC-Well. First Lady McCray: Please remember this number. It’s a free call. It’s a confidential call. We have translations in more than 200 languages and it is operative throughout the year – 365 days a year, 24/7. So, you never have to worry about where to go, where to call, what to do in a situation where there is a mental health need. So, again, I want to thank you all for all the work you’re doing. You are really a [inaudible] soldiers in our fight to do right and for our fight for progress. I love you all. Thank you. [Applause]
Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everyone. Audience: Good afternoon. Mayor: Alright, we’ve got a lively group. I like that. [Laughter] Thank you to my friend, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez. Thank you for all you do up here. Thank you for all you do for East Harlem. Let’s give him a big round of applause. [Applause] I’ll be very quick but I want to make sure everyone in this moment in history – I want to make sure everyone is feeling your own power at this moment because I say to people, we went through – some weeks after the election – the November election where people were depressed and people were shocked but now it’s time for people to organize to fight back – to organize to fight back. Let me hear you. [Applause] And I don’t say that because it’s nice say. I say it because you see it happening all over the country right now – the Women’s March, the day after the inauguration, the largest demonstration after an inauguration in the history of this country – [Applause] All those people going out to town hall meetings in every corner of this country, fighting to save Obamacare. Are you seeing this? The same tactics used against President Obama are now being used against those who want to repeal Obamacare. That’s powerful. We see young people in particularly organizing and getting involved like never before. So, there is a moment here, despite the dangers and the challenges, we do not underestimate what is happening in Washington D.C. There is a moment for us to do the work we do that in many ways is going to be stronger and a greater moment of opportunity than we’ve experienced in years because the people have woken up, they’re paying attention, they’re feeling ownership, and more and more, they’re getting involved. Now, labor has to lead the way organizing communities, correct? [Applause] And we have a chance to do that more than ever. Look, the more people are paying attention, the more they understand that the economy is unfair to working people – people are going to have their health insurance taken away. If they’re going to have all the basics in life in danger, if the right of labor to organize is in danger, that is a danger to all working people. So, now we have a chance to do something about it. Let’s send a message right here in New York State about where we need to go. While we’re fighting those battles in Washington, let’s be an example. So, one thing we’ve got to do – let’s continue the millionaire’s tax here in this state. [Applause] I guarantee all you, all of your members, all of our constituents think it is fair to ask those who have done better than ever – the one percent has done better than ever – it’s fair to ask them to pay their fair share. Now, there’s a danger there will be big tax cuts in Washington for the wealthy and for corporations. And we got to try and fight that. But another thing we can do to even up the score is to pass a mansion tax here in Albany. [Applause] And we need your help. It’s real simple. A mansion tax means if someone sells a home for over two million dollars they pay a little more in taxes. And what does that money go for? Affordable housing for our senior citizens. [Applause] If the wealthy pay a little bit more, the mansion tax will allow us to provide affordable housing for 25,000 more senior citizens. Do you believe in that? [Applause] So, I ask everyone, when you’re talking to members of the legislature, let them know how important it is that we pass this mansion tax. One more thing – and a lot of you in labor, we’ve stood shoulder to shoulder taking on some of the right-wingers from the hedge funds, some very wealthy folks who’ve thrown a lot of money around. They’ve attacked teachers. They’ve attacked the union movement. And one of the things that they do not want to see happen is that hedge fund managers – some of the richest people in this country – they don’t want to pay the same amount in taxes, the same tax rate as the rest of us. They literally pay a lower tax rate than working people. There’s a chance for New York to do something about that by closing the carried interest loophole. That simply means that hedge fund millionaires and billionaires should pay the same tax rate as the rest of us. Do you agree with that? [Applause] We can win these things. And I’ll conclude with this point – whenever people tell you what we can’t do, remember the things we already have done. 70,000 kids in New York City in pre-K each day. [Applause] So, feel your power. Remember your power. Aim high. Let’s win in New York State and that will help us win in the whole nation. Thank you and God bless you all.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much everyone. I want to congratulate you. This is a powerful gathering – a powerful, purposeful group of leaders from all over the state. I want to commend you. There’s more and more talent amassing all over the state and making it all the way to the legislature – more women of color who are making their impact felt and that is to the good of New York City and that is to the good of New York State. [Applause] I, with no fear upon [inaudible]. [Laughter] No, [inaudible], it is not you – [Laughter] Even though you are wonderful, let’s thank our Public Advocate for all she does. [Applause] But I’ll say very quickly – you heard from Chirlane and I, everywhere I go, I say she has transformed the way people think about mental health. She is killing that stigma and working with all of you to kill that stigma so people can get the help they deserve and that is a [inaudible] – [Applause] I want to thank your co-chairs, Latoya Joyner [inaudible] for their excellent work [inaudible] – [Applause] [Inaudible] there is – I’m sure you’ve heard it, in these last weeks there’s some people – I understand that they’re feeling hurt and I understand they’re feeling shocked and I understand they’re feeling depressed about some of the things happening in the country and about the way the election went. I [inaudible] some fair statements say – many people gathered in this hall would say, if you’ve faced adversity before, but you realize do not have the option of falling in [inaudible] or giving up. It’s only a question of how you face a new adversity. And what I am seeing all over this country is [inaudible] it’s making me downright inspired and energized because I see people rising up. I particularly see it among younger Americans and young New Yorkers. I see it among people of color and particularly women of color organizing like never before. And this is going to change the country. So, we are in a [inaudible] but the next two to four years are a very [inaudible] blip in history compared to what it’s going to be in the future [inaudible]. They are taking matters into their own hands in the best sense. People who share our values are now deciding it’s their business to get involved [inaudible]. We actually – even though it feels like [inaudible] set back, I believe it is a setup for something much greater. [Applause] So, I want to thank you all for gathering together in solidarity. It’s part of giving people strength to do more, bringing the next generation up like we’re seeing here right before our eyes [inaudible] and showing people that yes, we want [inaudible] front and center – gives them a sense of ownership, gives them [inaudible] So we all have to make that our business [inaudible] And while I’m standing here I want to give a public thank you to Tamika Mallory. What you and your colleagues did in Washington D.C. on January 21st blew my mind [inaudible] – [Applause] And yeah, we can give her a standing ovation for that one because [inaudible] absolutely amazing– [Applause] But these young women, they [inaudible] who thought they would have a pleasant little march the day after the inauguration. [Inaudible] repeat it over and over again so people can actually [inaudible]. The Washington march was supposed to be a good march. It ended up being half-a-million people. One of the biggest marches ever [inaudible] – [Applause] The New York City march was supposed to be like [inaudible] there were 400,000 people in New York City. [Applause] When you [inaudible] these women decided to spark something with not a lot of time and using digital media [inaudible] they sparked a movement that [inaudible] hundreds of locations around the country in every state, and over three million people participated [inaudible]. Three million people – that is the largest demonstration against [inaudible]. The largest response to a new presidency in the 240-year history of the United States of America. [Applause] So how can you feel down if we’re able to do that together? Go forward with that strength and that inspiration, God bless you all. [Applause]
Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 11:30am
NEW YORK–Mayor Bill de Blasio today sent a letter to 17 banks and financial institutions urging an immediate withdrawal of financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline – a more than $4 billion underground pipeline project spanning four states. The pipeline would directly threaten the human and tribal rights of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and violate its sovereignty over ancestral lands. In addition, the pipeline would accelerate the threat of climate change and pose a significant risk of water contamination by transporting over a half million barrels of crude oil a day over 1,000 miles of U.S. soil. In his letter, the Mayor also highlighted deep concerns over the financial and reputational risks associated with financing the project, including the potential cost to banks if Energy Transfer Partners – the developer of the pipeline – is unable to repay its financing. The banks' financing poses a risk of losses to City pension funds that have more than $165 billion in assets and pay benefits to more than 700,000 New York City active and retired beneficiaries. "The people of Standing Rock should not be threatened by the greed of a few wealthy oil industry executives," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The Dakota Access Pipeline not only poses a threat to our environment, but to the human, tribal and water rights of the entire Standing Rock Reservation. We deplore allowing our pension funds to run the risks of being associated with such a dangerous and misguided project." "As a coastal city with 520 miles of shoreline, New York City knows all too well the risks that climate change will have on our city and our planet," said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. "Instead of financing new fossil fuel infrastructure that contributes to the problem, it is imperative that we instead chart a course together toward clean energy that will transform our nation and provide good jobs to Americans. Our planet and its people deserve nothing less." The letter can be found here . The 17 banks include: Wells Fargo BNP Paribas SunTrust The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Mizuho Bank Citibank (CitiGroup) TD Securities Credit Agricole Intesa SanPaolo ING Bank Natixis BayernLB BBVA Securities DNB Capital ICBC London SMBC Nikko Securities Societe General
Friday, February 17, 2017 - 5:10pm
Hub will support over 600 jobs in tech ecosystem; provide a gateway to tech jobs for thousands of New Yorkers Space Will Be New Home for Civic Hall, Including Digital Training Hub for 21st Century Jobs and Flexible Workspace for Growing Startups NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio met with tech workers at AppNexus today to unveil the latest designs and details for the new Union Square Tech Hub, a City-backed project to provide space for tech worker training, education, start-ups and convening. See renderings of the new hub here : The hub itself will generate 600 good paying jobs, and serve as a new home for Civic Hall that will include a digital job training facility for all New Yorkers, and modern, flexible workspaces designed to meet the unique needs of early-stage startups in New York’s vibrant innovation economy. As part of his 2017 State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio is committing to spurring the creation of 100,000 good-paying jobs, including these innovation jobs, within the next decade – and including adding 40,000 jobs in the next four years. “This new hub will be the front-door for tech in New York City. People searching for jobs, training or the resources to start a company will have a place to come to connect and get support. No other city in the nation has anything like it. It represents this City’s commitment to a strong and inclusive tech ecosystem,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am thrilled we're seizing this opportunity to create a new technology nexus in Manhattan," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "By anchoring the tech and public policy nonprofit Civic Hall, digital job training, and leasing flexible-term office space for tech startups in this project, we are creating the opportunity for the kind of cross-pollination that will produce innovation and jobs for business, government, and everyday New Yorkers-- not to mention the construction work to build it! Kudos to Mayor de Blasio for understanding the need, and filling it.” “This project will set a new standard for the booming creative economy around Union Square,” said Robert A. Levine, President & CEO of RAL Development Services. “From the outset, we identified Civic Hall as the perfect anchor for this project, and we’ve built a comprehensive, cutting-edge program around their strong track record in the industry. So many promising young companies train their sights on the Union Square area and this project will provide them with the leg up they need to flourish in the neighborhood. At the same time, we're incorporating traditional and flexible office spaces that will provide tech companies with direct access to a steady pipeline of potential future employees. We're honored to work with the de Blasio administration and the EDC team on this important jobs initiative for New York City.” “We are thrilled to be the anchor tenant of a project that solidifies The City of New York's commitment to making sure every New Yorker has access to 21st Century skills and jobs,” said Andrew Rasiej, Founder and CEO of Civic Hall. “When complete, the facility will not only produce thousands of new digitally trained workers to support the city’s fast growing technology ecosystem, but will also act as a model for how technology can support economic and civic renewal.” “We’re working to ensure tech businesses can grow and create jobs, and New Yorkers can get the skills they need to access those jobs. This new innovation hub at Union Square offers both – with space for more than 600 good jobs at growing companies, and affordable job training for all New Yorkers. It will be a new beating heart for the innovation community right in the heart of our city,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of NYCEDC . “The Union Square tech hub is another clear signal to the tech community across the country and around the world that New York City is committed to the next generation of digital and technology innovation,” said New York City Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan. “Come build here, grow here, thrive here.” “It's exciting to see a new project along the 14th Street corridor in my Senate District that will help train New Yorkers for the technology jobs of the future and serve as an incubation space for early-stage start-ups,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I'm grateful to the de Blasio Administration for creating employment opportunities and expanding NYC's competitiveness in the tech sector.” “Look out Silicon Valley, here comes Silicon Alley, supported by a city government that is providing the funding, space, and data the tech sector needs to thrive," said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for this investment, and Civic Hall's Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry for their leadership.” “We are glad to welcome this innovative development to our community, and we look forward to working with the administration to give our community more opportunities for jobs in the 21st century economy,” said CB3 Chair Jamie Rogers. Currently the site of PC Richard & Sons Union Square, 124 East 14th Street will be transformed into a hub for civic innovation, job creation and fluid work and learning opportunities in a state-of-the-art tech-enabled facility. The 258,000 square-foot project will be developed by RAL Development Services and designed by Davis Brody Bond, and is expected to create more than 800 construction jobs. The project will be union-built and staffed, and in compliance with HireNYC guidelines. The $250 million project on City-owned land, will bring together the best-in-class programs offering affordable digital skills training for New Yorkers seeking to join the 21st century economy – all in wired, open, and accessible workspaces. It will be anchored by Civic Hall, a collaborative work and event space advancing the use of technology for the public good. Civic Hall has grown to more than 1,000 members, including a diverse mix of community organizations, tech companies, city, state and federal agencies, and individual civic entrepreneurs. The new Civic Hall plans to include the following workforce development partners: the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education, General Assembly, Per Scholas, FedCap, Code to Work, and Coalition for Queens. Technology and innovation are driving an evolution to a future of work that is more dynamic, open and collaborative than ever. New York City’s tech ecosystem – which permeates a number of sectors, industries and products – is a prime environment for 21st century workspaces and a diverse 21st workforce. The Union Square innovation hub will meet an increasing need in New York City for tech-focused infrastructure and diverse tenanting policies. Tech-enabled companies need spaces and workers that can rapidly evolve as they grow and change. Even as co-working spaces proliferate and as older industrial spaces are re-modeled to meet growing demand, much of New York City’s existing building stock is best-suited for traditional sectors - with more siloed layouts (cubicles, corner offices), five to ten-year leases, and larger floor plates. The Union Square innovation hub will provide 58,000 square feet of fluid space needed to attract diverse growth-stage companies– smaller floor plates, flexible expansion opportunities, and shorter lease terms ranging from 6 months to 5 years. The Union Square innovation hub will ensure that careers of the future are accessible to New Yorkers of all backgrounds and skill levels. The Union Square innovation hub will feature a 36,500 square foot tech training center that facilitates formal and informal learning, networking, collaboration, and real-time feedback about industry needs. The site will also provide classrooms and breakout spaces that allow on-site partners to train students; these spaces can also be used for shared programming for a wider audience, supported by a diverse network of technologists, makers and social entrepreneurs built by anchor tenant Civic Hall. Key partners in technology workforce development - such as the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education, General Assembly, Per Scholas, FedCap, Code to Work, and Coalition for Queens – will provide discounted training, remove barriers to tech education and foster a culture of inclusivity and opportunity. The building’s location in the Union Square neighborhood provides ample access to transit throughout the 5 boroughs, and will allow New Yorkers across the City to access programming at the building. “The new innovation hub at Union Square will be a great new addition to support a diverse talent pool that will allow New York City companies to grow, thrive, and compete successfully in the 21st century economy,” said Kevin Ryan, Chairman and CEO, AlleyCorp. “The launch of the new Civic Hall at Union Square is welcomed news for New York’s technology community,” said Brian O’Kelley, co-founder and CEO of AppNexus, a global internet technology company headquartered in the Flatiron district. “Investments in education and workforce development will produce more jobs and innovation, and that’s good news for everyone who shares a stake in the city’s success.” "I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York for having the vision to recognize the need to build a new center to not only allow all New Yorkers to get digital skills training, but to provide flexible new office space to support New York’s growing technology industry,” said Fred Wilson, Partner, Union Square Ventures. “The new innovation hub at Union Square will be a welcome addition to our growing tech industry, serving as a geographical hub and a real resource for the talent needs our companies face,” said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of tech:NYC. “This project shows a real commitment by the City of New York to further develop the tech community in NYC in substantive and lasting way.” “As a longtime provider of Workforce Readiness opportunities, Fedcap is pleased to be part of this innovative project utilizing this newly planned innovation hub at Union Square,” said Christine McMahon, President and CEO, Fedcap. “Companies of all sizes and in every industry will be able to benefit from the activities of the new innovation hub at Union Square,” said General Assembly CEO & Co-Founder Jake Schwartz. “General Assembly is not only excited to be included as part of this planned facility but also proud to offer even more options for individuals in NYC to access and acquire tech and digital training.” "We are excited for Civic Hall and Mayor de Blasio to make this transformative investment in New York City and are proud to be a supporter,” said Jukay Hsu, Founder and CEO of Coalition for Queens (C4Q). “This new innovation center will be a hub for worldwide civic tech innovation and will become a center for ensuring all of our communities have access to the skills training, resources, and networks to fully participate in the innovation economy." "Code to Work is very excited to be part of the newly planned Union Square innovation hub,” said Melinda Chang, CEO of Code to Work. “As a technology workforce intermediary, our work revolves around increased collaboration in the NYC tech ecosystem. A critical step towards this is the creation of a centralized hub where educators, employers, jobseekers and policymakers can come together and create meaningful impact for workforce development in NYC.” “The New York Foundation for Computer Science Education (CSNYC) is thrilled to be included in this new planned Union Square innovation hub where we hope to build the city's future workforce through K-12 computer science education,” said Michael Preston, Executive Director of CSNYC. "We particularly look forward to collaborating with our peer organizations and the City of New York to support teacher education and equip our students with the analytic, problem-solving and creative skills of the 21st century.” “Per Scholas is thrilled be part of the new innovation hub at Union Square,” said Angie Karmath, Executive Vice President, Per Scholas. “Our employers, students, and alumni will be able to use state of the art facilities to teach, learn, and upgrade their tech skills in one of the city's most accessible locations. As we all contemplate how automation and the new industrial revolution 4.0 is impacting our current and future workforce, we are thrilled to work alongside some of the City's best technology education thinkers to equip New Yorkers with the skills to succeed.” “Today’s announcement further solidifies Union Square’s position as the epicenter of New York’s growing tech scene with our area’s unrivaled transportation access, wide range of amenities surrounding Union Square Park, and our world-class Greenmarket,” said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “The Union Square Partnership is thrilled that NYCEDC is developing 124 East 14th Street into a hub for tech and innovation in Union Square. Today’s announcement by Mayor de Blasio is a true win-win for all involved that will drive job creation for New Yorkers of all backgrounds. We at the Partnership look forward to welcoming 14th @ Irving to the Union Square district and look forward to many years of success.” “The new innovation hub at Union Square will serve as an important catalyst in the continued growth of technology workforce development in New York City,” said Jessica Lawrence, CEO of NY Tech Alliance. “It will enable more New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the city's thriving technology ecosystem.” “Now more than ever, closing the gender gap in technology is at a critical junction,” said Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “It will take the continued work of organizations committed to affecting change through innovation - like Civic Hall - to ensure that young women succeed in this field.” Over the last decade, the City has rapidly become one of the most innovative technology centers in the world. New York City companies received $4.6 billion in venture capital funding in 2014, up from $2.4 billion in 2011—a 91% increase that has contributed to the growth of the City’s $125 billion technology economy. The innovation economy is comprised of a variety of fast growing industry sectors, such as engineering, advertising and design that have greatly outpaced more traditional sectors in employment. The City has played an active role in efforts to foster the growth of the innovation economy. Since launching in 2009, the City’s incubator network has provided over 170,000 square feet of affordable real estate to approximately 1,000 startup businesses, which in turn have raised more than $180 million in venture funding. In May 2016, the City announced new commitments and expanded training programs designed to equip New Yorkers with 21st century skills and connections to employment as part of the administration’s NYC Tech Talent Pipeline initiative. In September 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Computer Science For All (CS4All), a new 10-year initiative to bring meaningful, high-quality computer science education to all public schools by 2025.
Friday, February 17, 2017 - 5:10pm
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez as a Senior Advisor. Cortés-Vázquez has extensive experience serving communities across New York State and was the first Latina to serve as Secretary of the State in New York. As Senior Advisor, Cortés-Vázquez will advise and assist the Mayor’s Office, the Community Affairs and Public Engagement Units, and agencies across the Administration to expand their community outreach across the five boroughs. She will specialize in engaging the Latino community around issues related to immigration; Universal pre-K; criminal justice reform; housing and economic development; M/WBE contracting and outreach; economic justice; and job creation. Cortés-Vázquez will be working within the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez’s vast managerial experience in government, the private and non-profit sector, partnered with her clear dedication to the Latino community and the community as a whole, make her the perfect candidate for this advisory position,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am looking forward to working closely with Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez as she continues to work to make an impact in the community.” “I am honored to work with Mayor de Blasio and his team who have given this City Universal Pre-K, which will increase the educational achievements of all communities for many years; took a critical step to address income inequality by increasing the minimum wage; and who have halted the unbalanced stop and frisk policy and simultaneously brought crime down in one of the nations' largest and most diverse Cities. I am most proud to support the Mayor’s Federal and State agenda to ensure that we continue to protect and preserve the rights and dignity of all New Yorker's regardless of their status, sexual preference and religion – a New York that works for all” said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. About Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez In September 2015, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez joined Emblem Health as Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations and Government Affairs. Previously, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez was the Executive Vice President for the American Association of Retired People (AARP). She oversaw implementation of overall Brand Awareness and Acquisition Campaign for target audiences. She also oversaw formation of the Multicultural Markets and Engagement Unit. Prior to joining AARP, Lorraine was Secretary of State in New York from 2007 to 2010 – the first Latina to serve in that role. During her tenure she re-aligned the Community Services Block Grant Program to target specific areas that include at risk youth, healthy families and workforce development. Before her appointment by Governor Spitzer, Lorraine served as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Cablevision. She also worked for 14 years at the New York City Department for the Aging's Bureau of Program and Resource Development. Earlier in her career, she held a variety of social impact positions in East Harlem. From 1998 to 2004, Cortés-Vázquez served as President of the Hispanic Federation, aiding more than 2 million Latinos annually. She also has prior experience on the New York State Board of Regents; she was Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez; and she oversaw the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force and the Somos El Futuro Conference. She was also Executive Director of ASPIRA of New York, the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit Latino youth leadership development and education advocacy agency.
Friday, February 17, 2017 - 11:30am
34 cities and other municipalities across the country – where more than 23 million people reside – file brief in Darweesh v. Trump asking the Court to continue its hold on enforcement of the President’s Executive Order restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that New York City, collectively with a coalition of other municipalities across the nation have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to support the plaintiffs in Darweesh v. Trump, who are seeking an extension of the temporary court order preventing enforcement of the President's Travel Ban. The plaintiffs brought legal action after being detained and threatened with deportation despite holding valid visas to enter the United States. The federal government has sought to lift the hold, but Amici cities say this would deeply harm millions of residents by interfering with local economies, immigrant integration and public safety efforts. “The President’s ban violates both our Constitution and the values we hold dear,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Americans of all stripes should be alarmed that religious liberties and Constitutional rights have been taken hostage by the White House. We will do everything in our power to fight back and stand up for the rights of all people.” "New York City may be the President's second home, but we will never be a City that houses hatred and division in our streets," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "The City Council will use every resource at our disposal to continue to stand up and support our immigrants, who fuel our economy and propel our city forward. New York City is never stronger than when we are united, and we are proud to join this amicus brief challenging the President's unlawful, reckless, xenophobic executive order." Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said, "In this brief, cities across the country have detailed the harms of an unprecedented presidential order that is contrary to our fundamental principles of law and the values of tolerance and inclusiveness that make our cities great.” “I witnessed firsthand at JFK airport the impact this travel ban had on mothers, children and ordinary individuals who were treated with suspicion simply because of the country they were born in, and despite the fact that they had all undergone extensive vetting procedures prior to entry into our country. Cities are where immigrant families, from all walks of life and all corners of the globe, live, work and love, while being an integral part of the fabric of city life. With this brief, New York City – in concert with cities and municipalities across the country – affirms that our strength comes from our diversity, our ability to protect all of our residents, upholding our laws and staying true to our values,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Led by New York City, the brief was submitted by jurisdictions with sizable immigrant and refugee populations tracing back to the seven countries explicitly targeted in the Executive Order. Cities said the presidential order, which targets the populations of entire countries or the adherents of an entire religious faith, was unprecedented, disregards the values that sustain city life and sends a message that will “deeply harm our cities.” According to the brief, the Executive Order: Will damage the economic life and social fabric of amici cities, which depend on openness to immigrants and visitors. The court should recognize the significant and irreparable harm caused by the Executive Order – including separating families, prohibiting travel by professors and students, and stranding residents abroad. The Order chills the educational and cultural life of cities which thrive on the free movement of students, scholars, teachers and artists – and with them the free exchange of knowledge and ideas. The Executive Order would undermine key segments of our cities’ economies and our cultural institutions, and damage cities’ standing with counterparts and partners across the globe. Virtually every aspect of city life would be affected, including in New York City where welcoming immigrants and visitors is the centerpiece of its economy and a common thread running through all its residents’ daily lives. Contains no constitutionally required due process. Not a single procedural safeguard is included for any of the individuals caught in the Order’s sweeping net. Residents and visa-holders have no opportunity to contest removal, nor any assurance that, if they travel, they will not be denied re-entry without recourse. No mechanism exists for permitting individuals from the affected countries reaching ports of entry to make applications for asylum, as federal law requires. "Stripping the procedural rights of particular groups harms the civil rights of all, by weakening key links in the chain of legal protections that hold our democracy together", the brief said. Does not make us safer. While the Executive Order is purported to be a tool in the fight against terrorism, nationally respected leaders and security experts have cautioned that the Order actually undermines that effort. It projects bias and hostility towards broad swaths of the population with no connection to terrorist activities. Adopting a national policy that discriminates based on religion and national origin will make it more difficult for cities to eliminate discrimination and hate crimes, which have increased dramatically since the November election. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation created by the Order could chill cooperation with local law enforcement among immigrants and minorities. Cities agree that their collective safety and well-being is best served by adhering to the core American values of equality, religious freedom, and respect for individual rights, which the Executive Order undermines. The amicus brief can be found here . Participating Cities: NEW YORK, NY; ALBANY, NY; AUSTIN, TX; BUFFALO, NY; CHICAGO, IL; GARY, IN; ITHACA, NY; JERSEY CITY, NJ; LOS ANGELES, CA; MADISON, WI; MINNEAPOLIS, MN; NASHVILLE, TN; NEW HAVEN, CT; OAKLAND, CA; PATERSON, NJ; PHILADELPHIA, PA; PLAINFIELD, NJ; PORTLAND, OR; PROVIDENCE, RI; ROCHESTER, NY; SANTA MONICA, CA; SEATTLE, WA; SCHENECTADY, NY; SOMERVILLE, MA; SOUTH BEND, IN; SYRACUSE, NY; TRENTON, NJ; WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA; AND YONKERS, NY; THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, CA; THE TOWN OF CARRBORO, NC; THE BOROUGHS OF HALEDON, NJ AND PRINCETON, NJ; THE VILLAGE OF SKOKIE, IL “New York is the world’s greatest immigrant city, and the contributions of people who come here from all over the world are an essential part of our civic, economic, cultural, artistic and academic life,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This unlawful, un-American executive order hurts our city and every New Yorker, and I thank Mayor de Blasio, Corporation Counsel Carter and Commissioner Agarwal for ensuring City government is standing up and speaking out against it in court.” "The President's Executive Order is a form of wholesale profiling. Similar measures of exclusionary, state-sanctioned discrimination against legal visitors and even citizens have been some of the deepest stains on our nation's history. As the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States, and home to over 2.3 million residents – half of whom were born abroad – the Borough of ‎Queens resoundingly denounces this Muslim ban," said Borough President Melinda Katz. House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley said, "President Trump's hateful and discriminatory Muslim ban is antithetical to our values as Americans. New York City has always been a haven – welcoming individuals regardless of their backgrounds, and I'm proud to support City leaders in challenging this travel ban." Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, "President Trump’s Executive Order to shut out people from several Muslim nations is ill-conceived, discriminatory and counter-productive. The United States has always been a place of refuge that welcomes people of all religions and nationalities and it is incumbent upon us to continue our efforts to maintain our nation's fundamental values and ideals." Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez said, "America is a land of immigrants and New York City's character and vibrancy are owed to our rich immigrant history. The Administration's travel ban is an affront to these values and we must fight it in every available avenue." Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said, “The President’s Executive Order blocking refugees from Muslim nations seeking to enter the United States based on their nationality or religion was outrageous and un-American. In practice, the Order “blacklists” Muslims, creates a state-sponsored religious hierarchy, promotes confrontation and hate, not cooperation and diplomacy. I am heartened to see New York City and other major municipalities join the fight in court." State Senator Marisol Alcantara said, "I came to this country to participate in the American experiment, in which people of all races and religions could coexist and make lives for themselves. The President's Executive Order violates basic principles of our republic by targeting certain Muslim-majority countries. There have been episodes in the past where the United States has fallen short of its ideals, and we are now living in such times. The bigotry and authoritarianism Donald Trump represents requires vigorous opposition from all branches of government, and I fully support Mayor De Blasio's efforts to hold this administration accountable to the Constitution." "Trump's Muslim Ban is a callous and calculated act. It's not in the interest of national security or the American people. There isn't a shred of evidence to support it, or a Constitutional provision to warrant it. It's the ill-conceived act of an overbearing and unchecked ego," said State Senator Martin Malave Dilan. "Not only does the travel ban implemented by this administration violate our Constitution, but it also betrays the values our country has championed for centuries," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud Mayor De Blasio's courageous decision to join several cities and counties throughout our country in filing this amicus brief in Federal Court. We cannot remain silent and let this administration blatantly discriminate based on a person's faith. I remain firmly committed to defending our immigrant communities as they continue to contribute to our City's social, economic, political and cultural wealth." State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "New York City has a strong interest in protecting immigrants, who make up over 40 percent of the city's workforce. I'm proud of my city for leading this amicus brief and fighting Donald Trump's shortsighted and unconstitutional immigration ban that targets a religious minority and undermine the rights and civil liberties of all Americans." "Make no mistake. The Travel Ban issued by The White House is just that – a ban that is aimed at singling out and persecuting Muslims, while doing absolutely nothing to make Americans safer," said State Senator Jose Peralta. "I applaud New York, and all of the amici cities, for doing their part to see that this unjust Executive Order is deemed unconstitutional. Let us all continue forward in our fight against racist rhetoric and policies that are not only an attack upon our nation's immigrants, but also upon the core values of all Americans." State Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “Bigotry in the rarefied legalese of an executive order is still bigotry. It has the same corrosive impact on the communities it touches. America’s cities have been vibrant exemplars of people from all faiths, all ethnicities, all backgrounds living together for generations – none more so than New York City. That economic and cultural dynamism is threatened by the Trump administration’s unwarranted, unjust, and unconstitutional executive orders that seek to wall us off, one from another. An injustice against families seeking to visit ailing relatives, an injustice against students seeking to continue their studies, an injustice against all people of good conscience who know the importance of our values of tolerance and inclusiveness. I commend this coalition of cities for upholding these values and showing the world our true American spirit.” "New York City has always been at the forefront of protecting Immigrant families and ensuring our constitutional rights are upheld," said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa. "Today we ask the U.S. District Court to extend these protections so that our brothers and sisters are welcomed into this nation regardless of religious belief or practice." “I join with Mayor de Blasio in supporting his legal brief challenging President's travel ban. It is unfair, it is unjust and it is un-American. We have to reach common sense answer to immigration issue in our nation. This is not a way to do it,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda. "The President's executive order is an affront to every value this nation holds dear, and an open door for countless terrorist recruiting videos. Not only does it expose us to greater threats, it surrenders the higher ground our nation has always held, codifying prejudices and normalizing xenophobia. Trump's executive action without a doubt breaches our constitution and we must ensure that no one falls victim to the egregious overextension of the oval office," said Assembly Member Francisco Moya. "I am proud to live in a city that stands up to protect the rights of all people," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. "The hastily drafted Executive Order against immigrant communities that has been put in place at the federal level has wreaked havoc on the lives of so many people due to its broad strokes. As we continue to fight for our constitutional rights under the 14th amendment which guarantees equal protection under the law and due process, I am glad to see New York City take a stand and be joined by other cities around the country in filing this Amicus Brief in order to prevent the enforcement of the travel ban, which essentially, among other things, denies due process for those being detained or removed.” "This travel ban is an attack on American values and the constitution itself," said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. "As a State Legislator and an immigrant, I will do everything I can in the legislature to help protect my community and ensure that our state continues to be a beacon of hope for immigrants around the world" “Local and state governments must serve as the front line against the discriminatory policies coming from the White House, including travel bans based on ethnicity, religion, or national origin,” said Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. "We know what happens when certain ethnicities or religions are deemed to be enemies of the state or when those in most need are not given entry into our country. So many of my mentors lived through the Japanese Internment, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Holocaust. We know, and we remember, and we know that it is wrong. Travel bans like this one fail to keep us safe, they separates families, and hurt our economy, and I will continue to advocate at the state level for protections for immigrants and refugees. Thank you to the advocates and municipalities for filing this amicus brief.” "Like my grandparents, people have immigrated to America from all over the globe, strengthening our American character, and bringing a unique vibrancy to our American spirit. The Executive Order's travel ban is antithetical to our American values, totally unwarranted and must not be allowed to stand. I am proud of my city and my colleagues in government for standing tall against this unjust and unconstitutional order," said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, said, “Cities are protected by the will of the people, with legislation and in the courts. This amicus brief shows municipalities are leading the fight against the President's unconstitutional travel ban. To protect our immigrant families and uphold our true American values, we will use every tool at our disposal.” "I join legions of City officials across the nation in calling on the Court to continue its hold on enforcement of Donald Trump's odious executive order," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "I stand in solidarity with immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees and all who have been impacted by Donald Trump's immoral and unconstitutional travel ban. This executive order is the antithesis of all that our country stands for. I will continue to oppose it with every fiber of my being." “As New Yorkers, we are pleased and proud that Mayor Bill de Blasio has stood up for all New Yorkers and supported the ACLU's legal challenge to the inhumane and unlawful Muslim ban,” said Donna Liberman, Executive Director of New York Civil Liberties Union. Deborah Axt, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “The Trump administration’s unconstitutional and immoral immigration policies require a stiff response from local and state government officials. We greatly appreciate that Commissioner Agarwal and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs are submitting this amicus brief to the court to stand firmly on the side of immigrant communities and the Constitution.” Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition said, "We applaud Mayor de Blasio for leading a coalition of cities in challenging President Trump's immigration travel ban. New York City is a hub for people from around the world – students, working professionals and tens of thousands of immigrants, including refugees, come to the U.S where they live with their families, work, study and seek refuge. These diverse people strengthen New York's economy and vibrancy, and we will not rest until we get a complete reversal of this executive order. While the 9th Circuit Court's decision to maintain the temporary restraining order remains intact, we will also push back against any new executive orders that try to further reframe the issue in an attempt to ban immigrants and refugees from our country." "Hispanic Federation stands in solidarity with Mayor de Blasio, allied municipal leaders and the plaintiffs in Darweesh v. Trump against the dangerous and discriminatory travel ban. The fear-mongering that this administration is partaking in undermines the safety and security of this nation, especially in cities with large immigrant populations who are becoming unduly fearful of their future in the communities they contribute so much to. Our city and indeed our country’s economic prosperity, social stability and safety depend on principles of inclusion and civil rights, neither of which this ban promotes. We strongly support the extension of the court-ordered stay on this reckless executive order," said José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. ‎"The International Refugee Assistance Project is thrilled to have the support of Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York in our efforts to prevent further damage from this blatantly discriminatory and unconstitutional Executive Order. The coalition of cities and counties who came together on this brief sends a strong message that Americans will continue to welcome refugees and immigrants, regardless of the position of the President," said Becca Heller, ‎Director and co-Founder of International Refugee Assistance Project. "As a sanctuary city that has been home to immigrants from all over the world, we will not allow immigrants to live in the shadows. We will do everything in our power to work with Mayor de Blasio to insure they remain vibrant members of our city," said Debbie Almontaser, Board President of the Muslim Community Network. "As an organization of African immigrants, we have seen first-hand how the Executive Orders have created a climate of fear in our communities, and made African newcomers feel like strangers in their new land. We stand with New York and cities around the country in calling for this discriminatory travel ban to be halted," said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director of African Communities Together. "The Executive Order, also known as the Muslim Ban, is flawed and irresponsible on legal, economic and moral grounds," stated Afaf Nasher, Executive Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, New York . "We applaud New York City and others for reaffirming what their residents already know: the Muslim Ban thwarts the interests and principles of our city and our nation." "This fight goes beyond a single order or a single lawsuit, it will be a continuing campaign to protect the rights of Muslim Americans at the airport, at the mosque, and in their own home," said Council on American Islamic Relations, New York Legal Director Albert Fox Cahn. "The Trump Administration has not just attacked the rights of Muslim Americans, but our country's proudest traditions of religious freedom. He has created constitutional crises on a scale rarely before seen in our nation's history, and it's only been 1 month. We are proud to see New York take a leadership role in opposing the Trump Administration, and we expect it will keep up this effort for as long as Muslim New Yorkers are being targeted." 
Friday, February 17, 2017 - 7:30am
Statement from Mayor de Blasio: "New Yorkers understand that today's House of Representatives vote is step one on the road to stripping away vital reproductive healthcare provided by Planned Parenthood and others. That won't happen here. In New York City, we will use every tool to protect our families from ideologues who are more concerned about political points than women's lives." Statement from First Lady McCray: "Congress should be ashamed of what it did today. Planned Parenthood has been taking care of New Yorkers for 100 years, and it is a literal life-saver for many women and men who have nowhere else to turn. When women are denied access to reproductive healthcare they suffer. Experience and lessons from history teach us that when women suffer, families suffer, and when families suffer, communities suffer."
Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 5:10pm
“Wealthy landlords and high-priced lobbyists have spared nothing to line their own pockets at the expense of hardworking New Yorkers. Today’s court ruling keeps $183 of water rate relief out of the hands of everyday homeowners – for now. We will continue to fight and are confident that, ultimately, we will prevail and return that money to the 650,000 New Yorkers who earned it.”
Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 5:10pm
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Grace Bonilla as Administrator of the Human Resources Administration (HRA), which is now part of the Department of Social Services. Utilizing her years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors – including senior-level experience at HRA, Grace Bonilla will be responsible for leading HRA to fight poverty and income inequality. She will report to Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “The people who work at the Human Resources Administration are tasked with achieving one of the most important goals of this City – combatting income inequality and poverty,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Grace Bonilla’s years of experience at HRA and fighting for New York’s most vulnerable make her a fine addition to the team to expand upon HRA’s critical work. I welcome Grace back to HRA and look forward to working with her.” “I’m thrilled to welcome Grace Bonilla back to the Human Resources Administration,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “As a longtime advocate for and champion of vulnerable New Yorkers, Grace brings critical expertise and an incredible sense of purpose to HRA. I look forward to working with her in this new role as we work to connect more New Yorkers to the critical services HRA provides.” “We are very excited to have Grace Bonilla back in our agency in her new role as Administrator for the Human Resources Administration,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “She brings with her a wealth of experience in public and community service that will be a great asset to the agency as we continue to implement our reforms to help the neediest New Yorkers. I look forward to working with her again and to her leadership of the HRA team.” “It is with a newfound purpose that I return to HRA and look forward to serving this Administration at such a critical time for our city and country. I am honored to work with Commissioner Banks and the stellar team at HRA as we continue to strengthen the safety net and assist millions of New Yorkers. I bring with me all the lessons that I have learned from the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families staff, our parents and students, and will work to effectively represent their hopes and dreams for themselves and our city. I am humbled by Mayor de Blasio’s vote of confidence and look forward to serving the city in this capacity,” said Grace Bonilla. As part of the 90-day review of homeless services, the Mayor determined that to better coordinate services to New Yorkers and prevent homelessness HRA and the Department of Homeless Services should both report to a single Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, with an Administrator appointed to directly manage each agency. Grace Bonilla has been selected to fill the Administrator position at HRA. About Grace Bonilla Grace Bonilla was most recently the President and CEO of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families (CHCF), a non-profit which combines education and advocacy to expand opportunities for children and families. In her role as President of CHCF, Bonilla served on the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Group. She also served as co-Chair of ACS’ Racial Equity and Cultural Competency as well as the Community School Advisory Board, among others. From 2012 to 2014, Bonilla served as Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Community Affairs and Immigrant Services, working to remove potential barriers to services for 1 million limited English proficient (LEP) and immigrant clients. Prior to this, she spent 10 years in senior roles at HRA. From 2011 to 2012, Bonilla was Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Constituent Services at HRA. She oversaw the daily operational needs of the Office of Constituent Communications and Infoline, the agency’s call center. She also collaborated with senior staff to ensure that HRA effectively implement legal mandates associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act and improved collaboration between the Office of Constituent Services and other program areas. From 2009 to 2011, Bonilla served as Director of Legislation and Policy in the Office of Child Support Enforcement at HRA. In this role, she supervised the legislative and policy unit in efforts to adopt best practices from around the country. She also collaborated with the New York State Family Court to bring innovative approaches to reducing arrears for low income non-custodial parents. In addition, Bonilla was a project manager for a pilot program that examined the benefits of beginning child support orders through agreements outside of court for families on cash assistance. Bonilla also assisted as a liaison with New York Family Court to eliminate millions of dollars in arrears for low income non-custodial parents. Prior to this, she served as a Senior Legislative Analyst and Agency Attorney at HRA. Bonilla is the proud daughter of immigrant parents. Born and raised in Queens, Bonilla continues to live there with her husband Michael and three sons. She is a graduate of St. Johns University and Brooklyn Law School. About HRA Now part of the Department of Social Services, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) provides economic support and social services to families and individuals through the administration of major benefit programs including cash assistance (CA), the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and Child Support Services. HRA also provides homelessness prevention and rental assistance, educational, vocational and employment services, assistance for persons with disabilities, services for immigrants, civil legal aid and disaster relief. For the most vulnerable New Yorkers, it provides HIV/AIDS Services, Adult Protective Services, Home Care and programs for survivors of domestic violence. “Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Grace Bonilla has devoted her efforts to educating and strongly advocating for our City's most vulnerable children and families. Her ample knowledge of the agency she will now lead and her commitment to public service are truly valuable assets that will allow her to efficiently address some of the most pressing challenges facing our City. I look forward to continue working with her to improve our City's social services systems,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I am proud of the Mayor's appointment of Grace Bonilla as the new Administrator of the Human Resources Administration. Grace exemplifies all the qualities that a public servant needs to succeed and deliver. She has a track record of serving the most needed New Yorkers through the execution of services and advocacy. I am sure she is going to be a great asset to HRA and the administration," said Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa. Steven Choi, Esq., Executive Director of The New York Immigration Coalition said, "We applaud the Mayor for bringing on Grace Bonilla to serve as the new Administrator of the Human Resources Administration. Grace has the requisite experience, skills and a deep understanding of New York's immigrant communities to run HRA, which is a key institution for so many of New York's immigrants all across the City. We look forward to working with Grace to ensure that HRA successfully supports all New Yorkers in the years to come." “Grace Bonilla is a longtime champion for children and families in New York City,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “From her years working to ensure that immigrant families have access to the services and support they need, to her recent leadership of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Grace is a partner in CCC’s efforts to make New York City a better place for children. We look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role.” “On behalf of URI, we are excited for Grace’s new role,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of the Urban Resource Institute. “She is a champion of social service issues and will continue to bring her passion and voice to further the sector.” “Housing Works supports the continued work of Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks to help the lowest income New Yorkers,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works. “BronxWorks believes Grace Bonilla is an excellent choice for HRA Administrator, and we look forward to collaborating with her as we both work towards improving life for Bronx residents. With her decade of experience at HRA and her recent work at the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, we believe that Grace is excellently suited to lead HRA to meet the needs of New Yorkers,” said Eileen Torres, Executive Director of BronxWorks. "We are truly excited about the appointment of Grace Bonilla as Administrator of the Human Resources Administration. For many years, Grace has served and advocated for the rights of low-income communities. As we are living in uncertain times, it is crucial that we have people like Grace leading critical institutions like the Human Resources Administration. We are encouraged that Grace Bonilla will continue to build on the visionary leadership of Steven Banks and use HRA as a tool to support and uplift low-income New Yorkers who depend on its vital assistance," said Afua Atta-Mensah, Esq., Executive Director of Communities Voices Heard. Theo Oshiro, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York, said, "Grace Bonilla has been a leader in social services for New York's poor and has always had the interests of immigrant communities at heart. She was a pioneer in implementing language access at HRA and in making sure immigrants have access to our city's safety net. We congratulate her on this appointment; New York City is lucky to have her in this new position." Raul Russi, CEO of Acacia, said, “Acacia Network extends congratulations and a warm hand to Grace Bonilla. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for the well timed and important appointment of a Latina woman with exemplary leadership, impeccable skills and deep commitment. Her experience addressing both policy and front line interventions will leverage the best the City can offer to improve the lives of our most vulnerable. Acacia Network is proud to be a partner with the City to address root causes of income inequality and homelessness, and we are re-invigorated with the addition of Ms. Bonilla.” “We are grateful that the City is moving ahead so forcefully to strengthen the management of social services,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “Putting high quality people in charge – and giving them clear authority to get the job done – is exactly what’s needed to reduce hunger, poverty and homelessness in the city.” "We applaud Mayor de Blasio's decision to appoint Grace Bonilla to the position of HRA Administrator," said Angela Fernandez, Esq. Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “Grace understands the struggles of every day immigrant New Yorkers and as a result we are confident that she can devise and implement systemic solutions through her leadership of this critical New York City agency.”