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Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 3:25am
Brian Stelter: Welcome back to Reliable Sources, I’m Brian Stelter. If you ask New York City’s Mayor what lies behind a lot of the negativity and the divisiveness gripping this nation, he’s got a simple answer for you. He says it’s the media empire of Rupert Murdoch that’s at fault. Bill de Blasio has long been a critic of the hometown New York Post newspaper; Murdoch has owned it for years. He says it’s right wing propaganda. Now he’s also been talking about Fox News as well, of course on week when Laura Ingraham’s hateful comments are in the news. This critique of right wing corporate media coming from the left, may have appeal in the 2020 Democratic primary, but isn’t it rather Trumpian? Mayor Bill de Blasio joins me now here on set. Mayor, thanks for coming over. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Brian. Stelter: What is your critique of Murdoch? You were quoted recently by The Guardian saying “imagine the country if Murdoch had never had papers or networks here?” Mayor: We would be a more unified country. There would be less overt hate; there would be less appeal to racial division. I guarantee it because what Murdoch did, through Fox News and the New York Post, among others, is to create a dynamic where that stuff could come out in the open. We saw it in New York City for years and years, where race was infused into the dialogue in a very negative way and it was a sort of an apocalyptic vision was created of the notion of going back to a time of crime and decay and always putting that through a lens of people of color as the villains. Now whether you talk about the Central Park Five or so many other instances, certainly you saw that around the election of David Dinkins in New York, the way he was vilified by the Post throughout his mayoralty, but you’ve this on a national level as too. They don’t just dog whistle, they go a lot farther than that. They put race front and center and they try to stir the most negative impulses in this country. There is no Donald Trump without News Corp. I firmly believe that. He never gets to the presidency, because he would never have been elevated the way he was consistently for years and years. So I believe in free strong media with diverse views; I’ll defend it with all I got. But we have to be able to call out when a particular company has a corporate agenda, has a political agenda, and has very effectively changed the American discourse. And by the way, when I was growing up with, I think, some real heroes of journalism, Walter Cronkite’s an obvious one and Murrow and so many others before him; they set a tone of evenness, respect. The Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties got a fair hearing because the American media gave them that opportunity to be heard. Today, you have one outlet and one outlet only that is constantly sewing division and we should be able to talk about that. Stelter: So you’d rather not have the New York Post or Fox News exist? Mayor: Look, it’s a free country. I’m saying because they exist we’ve been changed for the worst. Now if you said— Stelter: But isn’t that like saying they’re fake news or an enemy of the people? Mayor: No, because I think what the President has tried to do is create a dynamic that is anti-media, anti-free speech, undermining democratic norms. This is a president that doesn’t really believe in democratic norms, it’s quite clear. I believe in them deeply. And I believe in a free discourse— Stelter: Sure sounds like you feel anti-media feelings. Mayor: No, I feel anti-News Corp feelings. I feel very angry when I see a media outlet, a corporate giant, a profit-making giant dividing people. And creating hatred and negativity and changing our political landscape for the worst. Now I think we have to be able to talk about that. We have to respect their constitutional rights, of course. But we also are consumers. We’re also citizens. If we don’t talk about it, and we they continue to do this to our country, something’s wrong. Stelter: There’s lots of media critics out there but politicians make lousy media critics. Why do you feel it’s your role to be calling out a newspaper because you don’t like the content? Mayor: Because I feel it’s not happening enough. Now I do agree with you— Stelter: So you’re doing it because nobody else is? Is that what you’re saying? Mayor: No it’s not because nobody else is, It’s not happening the way it needs to. I agree with you. Anyone in public life, we’re going to get criticized by all kinds of media, right, left, and center. And we have to respect it and we have to take it and we have to listen. By the way, even the New York Post sometimes writes a story on something happening with a government agency that proves to be right and we have to address it, we have to fix it. But I think it’s also fair to say that when you look at CNN, for example, you look at the major networks, they do not harbor a daily, hourly political agenda and bias. They provide both sides, it’s a part of their DNA; they may have values and views. When it comes to News Corp, they have a political mission, and we have to be able to talk about it— Stelter: By singling out News Corp it’s like – it’s like Trump singling out CNN. Two wrongs don’t make a right? Mayor: No. Stelter: Two versions of something bad aren’t— Mayor: I couldn’t disagree more. CNN on a regular basis provides both sides of the story. CNN, you could find – find some politics in CNN but it doesn’t even come close to resembling the clear political agenda of News Corp. Now again to your point, why should we talk about it, because it’s changing our lives and if we don’t talk about it how do we address it? Stelter: Look I had staffers of the New York Post say to me this week say to me, you are doing exactly what Donald Trump does. Mayor: Couldn’t be more untrue. Stelter: So you think it’s a false equivalency? Mayor: Unbelievably false— Stelter: But two things can be bad even if they’re not equal. They can both be bad. Mayor: Ok so let’s break it down. If one agrees, and look at the facts over decades, does News Corp have a right wing agenda? I think that one is pretty obvious. Do they sensationalize, racialize, and divide? Yes. Does that compare to CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, The Washington Post? No. One of these things is not like the other. They have a right to exist, but we also have a right to confront what they are doing to our country and not simply stand idly by because we fear a comparison to Trump— Stelter: Okay, but if Post staffers say that makes me feel unsafe, leaving my building in Midtown Manhattan, isn’t that a problem? Mayor: It’s not a problem if we say we respect all media, we defend all media’s rights, but we also have to be able to say if a media outlet is affecting the national discourse in a certain way. We can’t— Stelter: Are you doing this because you want to run for president in 2020? Mayor: I am Mayor of New York City and I will continue to be; my term goes to 2021. Stelter: Because I think Bernie Sanders hit on a vein when he attacked the corporate media in 2016. It makes me wonder if you view this as a wedge issue or a campaign issue. Mayor: I’ve been talking about the corporate media since the 1980s— Stelter: That’s true— Mayor: Okay so the fact is— Stelter: You have been, you have been. Let’s go through some examples actually because something you said about the tabloids I thought was pretty hurtful. Here’s what of some you said according to private emails that were leaked out, released by court order actually, at one point you said the news media is pitiful. Saying it’s sad for our city and nation. You accused the New York Times of bias. At another point you said maybe if the New York Daily News went online only that would be good for us. But know the Daily News has had to lay off half its staff. Isn’t that hurting our city? Mayor: What I was calling out is the sensationalism which I think has infected the Daily News too much was as well, which creates a bad civic discourse. We want a respectful, high road, intelligent civic discourse. What I think has happened to tabloid culture has actually created a lot of division in my city and a lot of obscuring of some of the bigger issues affecting millions of people. We have a massive income inequality crisis in our city. But if you look at the tabloid approach, it takes the attention off of that and on to unfortunately a lot of the divisions that exist, particularly along the lines of race. I want to see that fixed. But I also believe the Daily News plays an absolutely crucial role. I would like it sold to someone who cares about New York City. Tronc., its parent corporation, does not. They don’t want real insightful reporting. They don’t want the Daily News to dig in to everyday stories of everyday New Yorkers. They want a profit and they’re laying off half the newsroom, that’s unacceptable to. So, I hope you can hear that I believe in free strong media and diverse views. But that doesn’t mean we should be silent on the outcomes of some of the approaches if they are specifically for an agenda and that’s what gets me back to News Corp. I don’t accuse the Daily News or New York Times of having that kind of an agenda. I sometimes say the New York Times takes an elite view of the world too often, I don’t think that’s a news flash. But I respect what they do and I respond to what they do. But if we have a force in our society that has fundamentally changed us, just again, think of that equation, a world without News Corp. A world with the kind of reporting, both sides, and a real devotion to objectivity that was the norm up through the 1970s in this country. What would we look like today? I guarantee you Donald Trump would not be president, and I guarantee you that what we’re seeing today in Washington, the right, and the alt-right, and the negativity and the division coming out in the fore and feeling it has license, that wouldn’t be true and that’s good when those forces feel they don’t have license. Stelter: I still think politicians make lousy media critics though. Mayor: We may. But if you’re someone who has a belief system as I do, you can’t stay silent if you see something not being recognized. It’s not the same. And this is part of my argument. You know, sometimes when I’ve made this criticism people have tried to say we have to defend the Post or everyone else; I defend the right to exist. But can we not acknowledge that they are different than essentially every other outlet out there. And in a world where we almost saw Sinclair take another huge step forward and build its empire, and we can also see some of the same tendencies in Sinclair towards clear political agenda infecting news reporting; that should be a concern for all Americans. Separating editorial from reporting I think that’s a pretty core American civic value that does not happen at Fox that does not happen at News Corp. Stelter: Mayor, thank you so much for joining me today. Mayor: Thank you.
Saturday, August 11, 2018 - 5:45am
Brian Lehrer: Good morning everyone and we’ll begin as we usually do on Fridays with our weekly Ask The Mayor segment. My question and yours – questions – and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio, yes I will ask him more than one. 212-433-WNYC if you want to be one of the askers, 212-433-9692, or you can tweet a question: just use the hashtag #AskTheMayor. Mr. Mayor, good morning, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. Lehrer: Let me start today with some questions about criminal justice. As of last week, the NYPD was still not complying with a law to release demographic data, like race, sex, and age, every three months on who was arrested for fare evasions in the subways and at what stations. The law, as you know, is designed largely to see if there’s racial discrimination in that, and you said they would begin complying. Sir, can you give us an update? Mayor: Absolutely. I spoke to Commissioner O’Neill about this yesterday in fact; we will be putting forward a policy, this month, August, to align with a law which I find and believe in, which is to make sure we have transparency on these issues. And if it generates a healthy public discussion about what enforcement should look like I think that’s good. It’s normal that between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch there may be differences on some specifics and the NYPD has to be very sensitive to making sure that strategic considerations are taken into account. Obviously, we do not want to do something in the vein of putting out information that actually leads to more law-breaking. We have to be mindful of that. But I’m very certain we’ll have a policy out this month that will fully conform to the law. Lehrer: What do you mean by put out information that could lead to more law-breaking? How could that happen? Mayor: I think – I think it’s really important for people to recognize that the NYPD is charged with enforcing the laws we have and we’ve tried to be, I think, smart and creative in how to approach the proper application of the law. For example, deciding not to arrest for low-level marijuana possession originally, now we’ve evolved that policy further until we won’t arrest for other marijuana offenses, certain other marijuana offenses, but we will, of course, give summons. But the bottom line is it’s going against the law so there will be enforcement, there will be consequences for anything that’s against the law. Fare evasion is against the law. There are some folks who try to say, oh shouldn’t we just look the other way on that en masse; I don’t agree with that. I think the vast majority of New Yorkers pay their fare and they rightfully demand that there be a common standard, and a fair universal standard. So we want to be careful about not putting out information that in anyway implies that there’s places where you could or could not evade your fare. You’re not allowed to evade your fare anywhere. Lehrer: What does it say about the rule of law in New York City, though, when it’s the NYPD that refuses for months to comply? Mayor: I don’t agree with that statement. The, again, I really think the facts matter here; legislation was passed, I signed it. The NYPD is a – an agency that’s part of my administration. We absolutely believe in that transparency and we will honor that transparency. But there are differences between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch on how to specifically do that. And what specific details to include, that’s normal. That’s true in any democratic society. The bottom line is we will comply with the law; we will do it in a timely manner. We’ll do it in a way that we think both respects the need for transparency and the demands of public safety. Lehrer: Can you talk a little more about the dilemma? I think that’s fair way to describe what you’re expressing and what you feel, that, you know, you want to reduce arrests for small things that add up to mass incarceration. But you don’t want to defund the subways, or make fare payers feel like chumps when there are no consequences for fair evaders. Can you talk about it as a dilemma? Mayor: Yeah, I think it’s a good and healthy conversation to have. The, and by the way, I’ve talked about these issues at a lot of town hall meetings, I’ve had, I think it’s 55 town hall meetings around the city and it’s very interesting how really clearly the majority of the people at the meetings where this has come up believe it’s crucial to respect the fair payers, the vast majority, and honor the fact that there has to be a single universal standard, while obviously not wanting to further mass incarceration. In fact, we are entirely focused on reducing mass incarceration. In this city, since I took office, incarceration levels are down 28 percent, we have the lowest number of people in our corrections system that we’ve had in generations. So we’re very focused on that but there has to be the rule of law and universal standards that people can respect and so I think the balance that you’re raising is we’ve got to figure out how to say okay, if you don’t like the law, by the way, change the law. Let’s start by fair point. If you want a entirely, free subway system, I don’t know how on Earth you’d pay for it, but if you want to do that, okay work for that. If you want marijuana allowed everywhere, you can work for that. But we note, in the states even that have legalized marijuana, smoking in public is still not allowed and there’s still a sanction. So these issues come up in almost all of these situations but the bottom line from my point of view is to clinically say, okay the public demands safety, the public demands fair, universal standards, and the public believes in the rule of law. At the same time we want to reduce mass incarceration, we want to reduce disparity in enforcement, and we want maximum transparency. How do we balance those factors? And actually over the years, I found we can do it with some painstaking work. And I look at the city today, versus five years ago; I think we got a lot more information out, a lot more healthy discussion of disparity issues, a lot more creative approaches to reduce mass incarceration. I mean the number of arrests alone, now this is the essence of fighting mass incarceration, reduce arrests. We have 100,000 fewer arrests last year than we did four years ago and the city got safer. So, I think we’re in a very powerful – a positive moment here, but it something we work on every day to strike that balance. Lehrer: Along similar lines perhaps, all this week here on WNYC we’ve been airing our series by reporter Mirela Iverac on the largest gang takedown in city history that happened two years ago in The Bronx. As you know, 120 people were arrested. You’re a big supporter of gang and crew takedowns, as I understand it. You’ve said they helped bring down crime rates to levels not seen since the 1950s, they have done that. But throughout the series we’ve seen a number of people, mostly young men of color, who sold weed, facing federal, not local, racketeering conspiracy charges and I’m curious why when your reforming marijuana enforcement here are you throwing some of these kids through federal charges into the hands of Jeff Sessions? Mayor: Well I want to differentiate. I don’t have all the facts on all the individuals and the charges against them but I feel I can make a general point of what you said. First of all, the gang takedowns are hugely important. People in this city know that we’ve made huge progress on safety; we are the safest we’ve been since the 1950’s, but we still have some parts of the city that are far from safe enough. We’ve got a lot more work to do, and a central problem is literally a few thousand violent individuals primarily associated with gangs and crews. The horrible, disgusting murder of Junior Feliz up in The Bronx is an example of why people want to see the very aggressive, very aggressive enforcement by NYPD on gangs. And those takedowns mean you arrest a large number of gang members, capture their weapons, their drugs, everything simultaneously, in one fell swoop, and they’re all prosecuted. But here’s the point, I don’t want us to mistake someone who selling marijuana it’s illegal to sell marijuana, but if someone is doing it on a low level, then it’s different reality than if someone who is doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, a violent gang that involves itself in murder and whole host of other violent activities as part of an approach. Those gangs must be disrupted. There must be serious consequences for the members. The only way we will dissuade a number of other people from attempting that approach is if they see there are real consequences and for too many years there weren’t. So I want to separate – I think a lot of times when we’d be asked the question, not unfairly, you think about the small individual, the little guy kind of situation. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about a highly organized criminal enterprise that has, in many cases, created an immense amount of violence for a community that must be dismantled, that must be destroyed. Lehrer: Are those the only – Mayor: That only happens with those serious prosecutions. Lehrer: Those are the only ones, you’re saying, that go to the federal prosecution system? Mayor: Again, not only am I not a lawyer, I’m not an expert on how cases go to the federal system versus the state system, but I would say the more serious the case, obviously, and if it involves an organization that operates in multiple states, etcetera, those are the dynamics that often lead to going to the federal system. But this balance, I say this as a progressive who believes in civil liberties and believes in addressing structural racism fundamentally; at same time we have to defeat violence in our society. And that does involve creating real consequences and talk to people in neighborhoods all over the city who’ve been terrorized by gangs in their midst; they want to see real consequences but in a way that strikes a balance so the last thing I want to see is low level offenders suffer from incarceration. But serious dedicated criminals who are part of highly organized gangs; those are folks who actually deserve long-term incarceration. Lehrer: So one more follow up question on this. As a progressive who’s trying to fight structural racism while trying to do law enforcement as mayor, Mirela’s series looks at the effects on a community, for better and worse, when so many young people are removed from it all at once, 120 in this Bronx instance, some of them only mildly involved in a gang, are you contributing to something we should call mass incarceration? Mayor: I – I want to emphasize – no, I do not believe we are because first of all, I don’t know the specifics of this case, and nor what you’re reporting has portrayed and I’m happy to look at it and respond further, but here’s the bottom line: you’re not going to get a serious charge – in this approach we’re taking today – you’re not going to get a serious charge if you haven’t done a serious crime. So the notion of someone who is vaguely associated with a gang ending up in the same situation as someone who is a, if you will, full time member of a criminal enterprise, I dispute that, I think – charges will align to the level of involvement and activity. But I also, think, and I will caution all my fellow progressives, including folks who perhaps are not experiencing the reality of crime in their everyday life; let’s listen to the folks who have to live with it at the community level, at the grassroots. They would be the first to say we have to end mass incarceration and we have to end the injustices of the past. And at the same time they should not be terrorized by violent criminals. And we have to strike a balance and there is a progressive way of doing that and a fair way of doing that. That’s what we are trying to achieve. Lehrer: It’s Ask the Mayor on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC as every Friday from 10:00 am to 10:30 am. 212-433-WNYC, for Mayor Bill de Blasio and Tania in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor, hello. Question: Thanks for taking my call and thanks for having this platform with the Mayor and thank you for accepting it. I don’t want to change the subject and I know mass incarceration is very important but my stance is about Uber and how will this affect me. I’m an African American woman I take Uber, my daughter uses it. If we are going into Manhattan, how would it affect us getting back home from Manhattan with this cap and things like that, how would that affect us? Because cabs never pick up African Americans and now I really have no sympathy for the cab drivers, they don’t service me so why would I, I just don’t feel sympathy for cab drivers, they don’t feel sympathy for African Americans, I don’t feel it for them. I just want to know how that Uber is going to affect me getting into the city and how would it affect me getting back out? Mayor: Tania let me speak to that and I appreciate the question a lot. I think it is an important issue to talk about. I’m your fellow Brooklynite so I see this from the perspective of the outer boroughs as well. But I want to dispute immediately one thing you said, even though I know you said it with a whole heart, I’ve talked to a lot of cab drivers and they happen to be of all backgrounds and in fact the gentleman who introduced me at the vent we did yesterday happens to hail from Africa. I think cab drivers come from all backgrounds, I think cab drivers like everyone else, there’s a lot who do respect the law and respect the idea of treating everyone fairly and there are some bad apples. Now the bad apples now suffer a lot greater consequences than in the past. I checked the facts on this. And when anyone brings a case of being discriminated against, refused service by a cab driver, to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the rate of substantiation, meaning someone brings a case and says I was discriminated against, those cases 50 percent of the time are confirmed and then the penalties are very intense. The first penalty is financial; I believe it $1,000 fine for the driver. The second penalty is the driver’s license is suspended to be able to be a cab driver. The third penalty is it’s revoked and they can no longer be a cab driver. So those are serious penalties and a serious rate of enforcement and in fact, we working with the City Council are going to intensify outreach efforts to the public to get as much reporting as possible and to train cab drivers to understand they cannot treat anyone that way. But the second part of the question is how do you get around. Right now, typical Uber vehicles, 40 percent of them, plus, 40 percent have no one in them, no passenger and are driving around waiting for business, clogging the streets, creating more pollution but most importantly for those drivers, driving down their wages. These drivers, it’s been studied, live on sub minimum wage because what Uber did very cynically was flooded the market with too many vehicles and too many drivers. This pause that we are creating, there are still going to be a lot of vehicles available to you and your family Tania. But the fact is we are going to finally be able to create something fair and rational and fair to the drivers as well because a lot of those vehicles driving around empty will now have customers because the market will start to balance again. Question: Thank you because now I understand the situation and I’m all for that because I don’t want it clogging up Manhattan either. Mayor: Thank you, I appreciate that. Lehrer: How about that Mr. Mayor. A conversation with a disgruntled citizen who then says she heard your argument. Mayor: Well Brian I find that honestly this may be a shock to some observers but I find that to be very typical and certainly our Town Hall meetings are a great example of give and take. Sometimes people convince me I’m missing something, sometimes I convince them they are missing something but I find the vast majority of New Yorkers are into having a serious dialogue about the issues affecting them and are very constructive about it. Lehrer: I will follow up on one thing from that exchange. The issue that I feel like I hear from a lot of African Americans in the city is not simply that some yellow cabs will pass them up when they are trying to hail them and that’s the kind of enforcement I think you were just talking about. It’s that they don’t even go to their neighborhoods. Mayor: Well again, the world has changed a lot in the last few years. Not only all the for hire vehicles, and they will continue to be a part of the landscape, they just won’t be endlessly proliferating and creating this ridiculous situation that drives down wages and creates congestions and everyone loses. There’s still – right now we are freezing in place the number we have, we have too many as it is. So there’s not going to be a problem with getting a for hire vehicle. There’s the green cabs that didn’t even use to exist but now obviously serve the outer boroughs. There’s the car services that always used to be the mainstay and certainly what I relied on for years and years in Brooklyn. On top of everything else we are trying to do to expand mass transit, select bus service, ferry service, biking. All of these pieces contribute to giving people better options to move around. They are all moving simultaneously. The one thing we are doing here is not allowing a corporate giant to flood our streets artificially with vehicles that aren’t even being used. We are rationalizing the situation and balancing the pieces better. Lehrer: Let’s take another call on this. Abdul in Manhattan who I believe is an Uber driver or taxi driver, Abdul you’re on WNYC, hello. Question: Good morning Mr. Mayor, and Mr. Brian. How you guys doing? Lehrer: Alright. Mayor: Good man. Question: I got two points but first of all, I would like to tell Brian I got fired from my first job because I listened to you too much, I couldn’t drive and listen to your show and not get fired. Alright. I think I have – Lehrer: I don’t even know what to say to that. Drivers listen to the Brian Lehrer Show, I feel like one of these alcohol you know companies that says with their advertising their product and they say but remember drink responsibly, so drivers listen to the Brian Lehrer Show responsibly. Anyway Abdul go ahead. Mayor: I got two points, one for Mr. Mayor and one for Brian yourself. The number one point is how [inaudible] not answer the first caller’s question, I think – Lehrer: Are you a yellow cab driver Abdul? Do you drive a yellow cab? Question: I’m an Uber driver but I work with via much. Lehrer: Okay. Question: I think every driver should have a camera on his car and the reason why I say that though is I had an issue with Uber is that a lady put a destination and she didn’t want to arrive at that destination and we had a little argument about that so she complained to Uber and lied and said that I was drunk driving. Which I never do because I don’t drink, I’m a Muslim. So Uber took her side and didn’t listen to my story and even though I told her I have camera to prove that I’m right. So they would rather [inaudible] as a driver because I’m always replaceable but they cannot lose the client. Lehrer: So are you proposing cameras on cars almost like police have the body cameras now? Question: Yes, yes. Not a body camera but it should be recording every conversation and it should be outside so in case a black person stops him and that person says the cab driver never stops because I’m black, they can look at the camera, if it’s true or it’s not true. So there you go, there’s a simple answer to your question. Lehrer: Alright, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Well Abdul it’s a really interesting idea. I mean I want to emphasize obviously in a system like Uber where there’s the reviews by passengers is one thing I think there’s a different dynamic than say a yellow cab but I do think you raise an interesting point about whether there would be a virtue there for ensuring that disputes can be addressed and certainly for addressing any instance of discrimination. I’m not sure if a camera would capture everything we need to. But I think it’s an interesting proposal. I’ll certainly ask the Taxi and Limousine Commission to look at it. I do want to emphasize that the notion that the individual customer today in the current system we have, separate from Uber, I’m talking about with yellow cabs here, obviously they can report anything they consider inappropriate and there is follow up. And again on discrimination specifically, 50 percent of those cases were proven right and there were real penalties. So I think we have some strong tools right now but it’s certainly worth a look whether technology can help us do it better. Lehrer: One other thing on the City Council pass and I guess you are going to sign it next week, one year cap on the number of Uber, etcetera cars to study their impact. What happens after the one year study? What metrics would trigger what kinds of more permanent actions that you would conceivably consider? Mayor: Well I think that the good news is Brian, I think this is going to have ramifications around the country and around the world in fact because you’ve seen these conflicts between these giant corporations like Uber and local governments that were simply trying to create some regulations, some fairness and some rules. These huge corporations want to dictate the terms to the people of New York City and other cities and want to bypass any of the kinds of rules and regulation that other companies know they have to submit to. So for the first time we are going to put the horse before the cart and say okay we are studying the overall situation. It’s going to yield a lot of information. It’s going to yield information on what kind of wages these drivers get, and we know already that the flooding of the market by Uber and the other companies have depressed wages for for-hire vehicle drivers and yellow drivers a like. So we are going to look at that issue to further look into how can we make sure wages are fair for the drivers? We are going to look at congestion issues. We are going to look at environmental issues. We will look across the board to determine what is a fair approach, what’s a fair number, what balances the market. Just like we would with anything else we regulate. We want to make sure there’s lots of different transportation options and for-hire vehicles will clearly be a part of them going forward. But we also want to make sure that there aren’t other social ills created. And that’s what regulation is about. So for the first time that will actually happen in a logical, transparent fashion. Lehrer: And it’s certainly what City Council and you did this week, certainly we see it in the media all over the world setting a precedent for major cities everywhere. But the cap is only a time out on adding new cars. The 100,000 Ubers are the road today, if those stats are right, can keep going. Might you want to force a reduction of that number under any scenario? Mayor: First of all, I’m not going to bias the discussion with an assumption but I’ll say – and this is what Speaker Johnson said yesterday and I agree with him. I give him a lot of credit, and the City Council, here. We need to figure out what that number is. We know the number of yellow cabs. We have a medallion system that literally determines how many yellow cabs we have. We’ve had that for years. And the government has determined how that market has evolved. We control all elements of government including with the State with the MTA, we control the amount of mass transit, we control the amount of bikes and ferries and Select Bus Service. The only piece of the equation that – on this kind of scale has been absolutely without any boundaries or control or public interest, has been these for-hire vehicles. We’re going to rationalize that. So, the answer to your question – the number could be held flat, the number could go up, the number could go down depending on the facts but it will be an evidence-based decision on what that number should be that creates fairness for all New Yorkers. Lehrer: Larry in Bayside, you’re on WNYC. Hello, Larry, you’re on with the Mayor. Question: Good morning, gentlemen. Mr. Mayor, there seems to be a great deal of contention about the speed light cameras – speeding cameras at the school intersections enough so that the New York State Senate has basically let the program die or be suspended. If we’re all interested in protecting school children, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just put speed bumps around the schools? They cannot be ignored. There are some people that speed and consider paying the camera tickets just like the cost of high insurance and operating a fast car, speeding around streets at 50 and 60 miles an hour. If anyone has ever hit a speed bump at even five or ten miles an hour, faster than the design, you go airborne and have a very unpleasant experience and damage your car. So, they would be continuous guardians of the children and the streets in front of the schools and they can be controlled by your office and the Department of Transportation, and no cooperation from Albany would be required. There seems to be quite a lot of trouble and friction between New York City and the State. Mayor: Yeah – although, I want to say I appreciate the suggestion. I’ll speak to it but I first want to just correct that last piece. I want to be abundantly clear to all your listeners, Brian. The New York State Assembly not only passed an extension of speed cameras but an expansion. The Governor has said he would sign that, to his credit. So, there’s three pieces of the equation – Assembly, Senate, Governor. Two of the three pieces have said not only are speed cameras working, we should have more around schools. The State Senate has said repeatedly that they’re going to discuss this issue, they’re going to deal with this issue. Senator Golden is supposed to be one of the people on the Republican side who agrees with the Democrats that this should be done but we have not seen action yet. The school year is starting in four weeks or less even now. And we really need the Senate to come back and finish the job and give us the speed cameras around the schools. But to the point raised here, I think it’s a good one because – not only yes, of course, we should add any measure that will help but the problem here is speed bumps don’t work everywhere. I think there’s a bit of an assumption – I hear it, again, at town halls around the city – a lot of people want speed bumps more extensively in their neighborhoods. There are some streets that it really works for. There are other streets it doesn’t. For example, any street that has a bus route or a truck route, it does not work. Certain other streets just because of the physical layout and all. So, speed bumps can be part of the solution. We’re going to use everything we got but I would also caution the traditional means – you’re right, in the moment the when you hit a speed bump, you’re going to slow down. After that speed bump, you know, just like you think people would stop at stop signs and stop at stop lights but they don’t in a lot of case. The speed cameras provide a much higher level of discipline and we’re talking around schools where the danger to kids is so high. So, I think you’re right to say – can speed bumps be a piece of the solution? Yes they can, and it is something we can do on our own in some places. But the speed cameras achieve things that we cannot achieve without technology in a lot of places particularly on bigger streets. Lehrer: The Uber cap was one contentious bill that the City Council passed on Wednesday. The other was Inwood rezoning. I want to ask you one question about that without going through all of the pieces again and the objections of those in the neighborhood who object. But one piece I believe is ten years of limited rent increases for retail stores at the ground level of new apartment buildings. That’s being hailed as a first of its kind. And if I have that number right, ten years, isn’t that a pretty short time? I ask because we’ve seen so much loss of affordable housing with these temporary programs like Mitchell Llama, 20 years and then all these tenants get forced into market rents. Why not see ten years as a short term token? Mayor: Okay, first, on the example. I want to emphasize. Even with the Mitchell Llamas – and you’re right there is a huge problem with a lot of them going private. It used to be a huge problem with a lot of them going private because it was a time limited approach. What we’re doing now is catching a lot of those Mitchell Llamas before they go private and re-subsidizing them to keep them affordable for the long haul. So, it really is up to City government and in some cases State government to be very aggressive on anything time limited to stop it from leaving affordability and restructure and keep going with more affordability. We’ve proven that could work on a big scale. On the question here – I don’t know on the specifics, the concept, if it just ten years in terms of those small businesses that will get an affordable rent. I think what’s great about what was achieved – and I give Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez a lot of credit here – is it was not just let’s build a lot of new affordable housing and that’s going to be 1,600 apartments. It will serve over 4,000 people in this community. Let’s preserve – we’re going to preserve several thousand units that keeps the people in those homes right there, subsidized, with an affordable rent for decades to come. All that and a bunch of other investments – schools, parks, etcetera. This was a really interesting new element to say we’re going to create affordable small business space in the new developments so that businesses in the community are guaranteed in addition to what – those that stay where they are. If for some reason they need a space or they need to move, they have a space that is at an affordable level. It’s the first time that I know of it being done particularly in this fashion. If this works, this is something we might be able to do a lot more of in other rezonings. And you know what – again, I don’t know exactly if all them are supposed to be a decade but let’s just take that example of a decade. A decade is a long time in the life of a business in a changing community. If we need to find ways to extend upon it going forward, it gives government the opportunity to do so. But right now it says to a lot of neighborhood small businesses, here’s a place for you that will work. Lehrer: You know the things we’ve talked about today – some of the hard choices you’ve had to make as Mayor like on fare evasion versus responsible citizenship, mass arrests in the Bronx that you see in the public interest, Inwood and its discontents – you’re going around the country as a symbol of progressive values. And I’m curious, it’s a serious question, how much has four-and-a-half years at this job been a lesson in the tensions and the compromises with your values that the real world demands? Mayor: It’s a great question. I’ll give you the topline answer. It’s probably worth its own show. But the – my view is, one, I am literally more optimistic that big, progressive change can happen particularly at the local level. I’m more optimistic than I was five years ago because I’ve seen how much can happen so quickly and I’ve seen what powerful tools we have in this city and that people want these big, bold changes and they embrace them. So, I’m optimistic. On the balance piece – look, it does take hard work but I think part of it, and this is why I refer to those 55 town hall meetings, I think [inaudible] with people. You say, here’s what we got to balance and here’s the way we do it. You know, take the fare evasion issue. It’s an obvious one because when I say to people, we got to be fair to all people who do pay everyday who ride the subway, I get a whole lot of nodding heads and a whole lot of applause that they want that balance. Same on marijuana. There’s a lot of people that do not like marijuana being smoked on their stoop or in their building lobby or on their block. They have rights too. How do we strike that balance? And I think what we’ve done here is really good – to say, we’re going to enforce, it’s against the law, we’re going to enforce but we’re not going to fall into the trap of furthering mass incarceration. We’re going to try and do it in a way that improves the relationship between police and community rather than undermines it. And you know what I’ve seen is that that actually can get you a long way. It’s not perfect but it can get you a long way. The whole concept of neighborhood policing is, I think – it really captures the positive resolution of that tension. You must have enforcement of the law, you have to create a safe environment for everyone but you can do it in a way where there’s a lot more dialogue, where there’s a lot fewer arrests, where there’s creative ways to enforce that are less punitive and don’t create so many unintended negative consequences. And then if people start more of a dialogue with police, that actually improves the overall social fabric of the city. So, the big answer is, yes that balance can be struck and I’ve seen it in real life here in New York City. Lehrer: Last thing before you go – I’ve been asking you in recent weeks and I guess I’ll keep asking you until you take a position – Mayor: Don’t break – [Laughter] Lehrer: Which is Nixon versus Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Assuming you’re not ready to announce at this moment, let me ask you about one particular issue – Mayor: Sure. Lehrer: That Cynthia Nixon has raised which is endorsing – she endorsed allowing public employees to strike which under current law, the Taylor, they cannot. Do you support that? Mayor: I don’t. I always say I have a lot of respect for Cynthia Nixon and I think her voice has been very positive and very powerful as part of the debate over the future of New York. So, I give her a lot of credit for the issues she’s raised and the impact she’s having but on this one I just disagree with her. I think we have very fair laws right now. She did say – I want to be fair to her – she did say she would exempt first responders from it but I think the current approach is the right one that says public employees can’t strike but they do have many, many ways to make their views known and there’s obviously collective bargaining and I think it strikes the right balance. I think we have a pretty fair and consistent approach to labor relations in this city right now and to respecting the rights of working people. I do not think that needs to change. Lehrer: So, when are going to make an endorsement? Mayor: Again, the election is still a little ways off. Most people are only going to focus at the very end. I’m going to make all my decisions in the coming days. I’ll announce them case by case. This is going to be true on our work related to New York State but also around the country. As I endorse someone, I’ll announce it and announce that I’ll be doing something to help them. I, this week, announced that I am supporting Zellnor Myrie for the State Senate seat in Brooklyn against Jesse Hamilton. Jesse Hamilton – obviously a Democratic Senator who went to the IDC and I think that was a huge mistake. I think Zellnor Myrie is someone who is very, very promising as an up and coming leader in Brooklyn and I hope he becomes the next State Senator. I’ll speaking to those specific races and others, you know, literally day by day as we go forward. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thanks as always, talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you, Brian.
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 5:38am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everybody, this is a beautiful day in every way. It is a day of victory. How sweet it is, everybody. [Cheering] How sweet it is. And this is a victory for everybody here, every hardworking driver, everyone who went out and unionized and organized and talked to people and mobilized people. This is a victory for the people. So, give your neighbor a round of applause right now. [Cheering] To Bourema – for his passion, for his leadership – this is an example of someone who knows how to fight and win. Let’s thank him for all he has done. [Cheering] Three years ago we took a stand against corporate greed. But corporate greed won the day then. Well, this time the people won. [Cheering] This time the drivers won. [Cheering] It didn’t matter – up against a huge multinational corporation. It proved once again, power resides in the people. [Cheering] This City Council deserves such respect and appreciation for the leadership they have shown. [Cheering] And you’re going to hear from Speaker Johnson. You’re going to hear from Council member Levin. I want to say a thanks to all Council members, but to them, these two in particular – it is not easy to stare down Goliath but they ever wavered. Let’s give them a big, warm round of applause. [Cheering] It’s a day of victory – a day of victory for the Taxi Workers Alliance. [Cheering] It’s a day of victory for an organization that begins with the number 32 – Audience: B-J! Mayor: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. 32 – Audience: B-J! Mayor: This is a victory for you as well. I want to thank everyone who is here – all the elected officials, all the Council members in particular, everyone who has been a part of this fight. I want to thank from my administration someone who – you’re going to hear from Meera in a moment but I also want to thank someone who was right in the middle of this in such an important way, our Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Victor Calise. Thank you for your leadership. [Cheering] And today we celebrate but we also know there’s been some tragedies, tragedies that deeply moved the people of this city, that everyone felt very personally. And one of the families is here. I want to thank Richard Chow and his whole family for being with us, for their strength, for their leadership. This is your victory and this is a reminder. We will not forget Kenny. This is a way to honor Kenny’s memory. Let’s thank the Chow family. [Cheering] Let’s be very blunt about what’s happened in this city. It’s the greatest city in the world, that’s true, but for five years app-based cars have flooded our streets unchecked and it was based on a very cynical, corporate plan to oversaturate, to purposefully flood the market, to purposefully dominate regardless of the consequences. Here is a fact. Forty percent of app-based cars drive around empty today, at any given moment. Forty percent empty. Horrendous for the drivers, horrendous for our environment, a horrible element of congestion all because of a corporate and greedy strategy. And what has meant for the people who do the work, for the taxi drivers, for the for-hire vehicle drivers? It has meant their livelihoods are being steadily destroyed. People who once expected a good income and a pathway to the middle class, are now forced to live on poverty wages. You know, if you’re talking about – I don’t need to convince anyone here. Drivers who can work not just five days, not just six days, but seven days a week – in too many cases, no break. But what do we learn from the University of California study? Eighty-five percent of for-hire vehicle drivers living on poverty wages now because of what these companies did to them. I don’t have to tell you that meanwhile someone is laughing all the way to the bank. The corporate leadership, the shareholders of Uber, in particular, pocketing billions on the backs of working people. That was true until yesterday. [Cheering] But it won’t be true anymore in New York City. [Cheering] Because the people have spoken. [Cheering] And, by the way, a lot of everyday people have said to me they are sick of corporate exploitation and they’re sick of congested streets, and they see, in one fell swoop, this City Council attacked both these problems at once. In a decisive manner. It also is going to send a message around the world: that cities can fight back, and that we will fight back. And it sends a message about the resolve of New York City. No big corporation will tell us what to do. Not big oil, not the big pharmaceutical companies, and certainly not Uber. [Cheering] They don’t get to set the rules. This is first in the nation legislation. The Council did its job. I will do my job on Tuesday when I look forward to signing this legislation making it law. [Cheering] And 100,000 workers and their families will start to benefit immediately. [Cheering] New licenses capped for a year, with the obvious exception of accessible vehicles and we need more of those. [Cheering and applause] And, by October, a new minimum compensation rule, the thing we’ve need for so long, this guarantee that drivers get a decent income. You will hear what our opponents are already preparing to already preparing to say. You’re going to hear it now, you’ll hear it time and again: they say because of this action, there will less service for consumers and there’ll be transit deserts. And they will paint a bleak picture— Audience: Not true! Mayor: And it’s not only not true my friend. They’re lying. [Cheering] They are lying. There are plenty of vehicles. Now, finally, those vehicles will have plenty of work and better wages. That’s the whole idea. [Cheering] I’ll finish with this. If you talk to everyday New Yorkers you will learn one thing very quickly: It doesn’t matter if you’re low-income, working-class, middle-class; most New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. Most New Yorkers in the greatest city in the world are struggling to make ends meet. It is our job every single day to help relieve them of that burden; to help make it easier to live in this city. What this city council did yesterday, took a 100,000 people who were struggling just to survive and gave them a pathway to a good life and I say God bless you to all the members of the City Council. [Cheering and applause] And this is a big step towards a goal of these four years ahead, to make this the fairest, the fairest big city in America. A place where people get treated decently and a hard day’s work equals a good days pay. Amen? [Cheering] And I’ll do a few words in Spanish. Now I must say for this industry I could do a hundred different languages and I wouldn’t be done — [Cheering] — and I wouldn’t be done! But I’ll just do one. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] A fairer city and better city for all, and at this point, someone who deserves just the greatest credit, because, I’ve watched for years and years and years and I know when you’re Speaker of the City Council, a whole lot of pressure comes your way, a whole lot of different interest groups make their views known. Some of them like to even threaten. But they don’t know Corey Johnson. [Laughter] He knows how to stand up for working people. [Cheering] And he said he was going to do it, and guess what, brothers and sisters, he did it. [Cheering] Our Speaker, Corey Johnson! [Cheering] […] Mayor: Our next speaker is small in physical stature but she is powerful and strong and Lord knows she’s borne the brunt of all of those corporate interests. There’s ever been a good for Meera Joshi, this is that day, and congratulations on a long journey to justice, Commissioner of TLC, Meera Joshi. Audience: Thank you. [Applause] Commissioner Meera Joshi, Taxi and Limousine Commission: Thank you. This has been more than marathon. It’s been a ultra-marathon, so I’ll try to be brief. Yesterday was a great day for local government. Yesterday was a great day for good government. Yesterday was a great day for drivers and a great day for everyone who uses our city streets. Which struck me the most as I was watching the roll-call vote, was how much the Council Members care, the empathy, and they represent all of our communities. It was evident that they care about drivers. They care about people who want outer borough service after years of not getting it. They care about people that are refused because of their color and they care about who never get a ride because the car they’re trying to get into can’t accommodate their wheelchair. And they care about congestion and how it reduces our quality of life. The package of bills that was passed yesterday addresses all of these concerns in a way that makes sense. And that’s a huge achievement in a world were legislation more often looks like sausage and is not reflective of our community values. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his leadership and his amazing team for the time and energy that they spent learning about this complex industry to draft the best possible legislation. I want to thank my incredible boss, Mayor de Blasio, for his unwavering – [Applause] Audience: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Commissioner Joshi: -- Commitment to do the right thing for all New Yorkers. It’s clearly his fundamental determination in the face of extreme odds that got us to this day. I want to thank the many drivers, and many of the drivers and their family and friends for those that we have tragically lost, they are advocating today. I want to thank the labor leaders for your active participation. Your voices were heard. And I am honored by the City’s confidence in the ability of the TLC to resolve the complex challenges of underutilized vehicles and underpaid drivers. I know my amazing team is up to the task. Thank you. [Applause] […] Mayor: Alright we are now turning to the news media to take questions about this legislation. We will take questions about other topics after but let’s first see any questions about this legislation, Grace. Question: So there’s been some talk from many of the speakers about congestion and the role that this bill will play in improving the congestion situation or at least not making it get worse. For a lot of New Yorkers they say congestion pricing is the best way to address congestion in the city yet you have not been supportive of it. What do you stay to them? Mayor: I would say first of all to recognize this legislation achieves so many things at once. It achieves fairness for working people, it’s going to raise wages, it’s going to improve the environment and I want to thank the environmental groups who’ve been part of this fight as well. It’s going to help respect the rights of folks with disabilities. I also believe it is one of the tools we will use to address congestion. There’s going to have to be a lot of different pieces the come together and for example we have a very important effort right now to see if ending deliveries during rush hour will help reduce congestion. We have an important effort that we are going to be doing to do more enforcement in HOV lanes. There’s a lot of pieces. But look I said it before and I’ll say it again, show me a new congestion pricing proposal, a specific proposal and I’m looking at it – I think it’s really good that the Governor’s commission came up with the idea of getting away from bridges and that opens up new possibilities. But I also would say to you there is not a formal congestion pricing proposal in Albany and when there is one I’m certainly going to look at it. Please. Question: Is this an issue that you would take the lead on as the Mayor of New York City, a bill that would directly affect – Mayor: Again I’m open to a solution and I’m looking at all possible elements of that solution. Alright on this legislation, yes? Question: Council Speaker said that this wasn’t a specific war against a segment of the industry but in your comments you did make it sound you know, fairly specifically targeted towards corporate greed, how big of an element did that play in this legislation? Mayor: Look I will speak for myself and the Speaker will offer his view. My view is this was a legislation that achieved a lot of things at once. Most importantly it was good policy because it addressed wages and the environment and congestion all at once. And I think it is very smart legislation. I think the backdrop is we had a number of corporations, particularly one very powerful corporation trying to dictate to the people of this city. And the Council showed that that’s not going to happen. Other questions on this, yes sir? Question: Mayor what do you think is different this time that when you proposed this legislation three years ago and can you tell us a little about what you have been doing between the last time the legislation failed and now? Have you been doing behind the scenes work, what’s been going on? Mayor: Look I think three years ago we were right. And I appreciate what Bhairavi said very much and she was right and a lot of people here were right and we had to keep working for the day. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: I was wrong. Mayor: It’s all good, brother. We had to keep working for the day and the idea was kept alive for sure. But we had to wait for the right moment where it could actually be achieved. So no one ever gave up, I won’t go into a whole lot detail, I’ll say we all kept talking, we all kept the idea alive, we all kept waiting to see the moment where we could get it done. And I think people all over the city, increasing felt the impact of something that was broken. They saw, I mean I heard from plenty of constituents, why are all of these cars driving around empty? We didn’t hear that as much three years ago. That’s what we feared was coming. But in the last three years people say it, they felt it. So I think you know, the world changed and it became the right time to act. Question: Mr. Mayor is there anything that you could say, that the company, you talked about the corporate giant and they had a lot of influence last time around, and that was a big part of why that effort failed. Do you see their effort against this this time around as being any different? Do you think they were less aggressive? Mayor: I think, yes they were plenty aggressive, again Corey jump in at any time you want you were an eye witness, I think I’ll speak to it and then you should. They were very aggressive and they had lots of resources and they were using them. Any time people go up on TV with a big TV buy, that’s plenty aggressive among other things they tried to do. I think the most important point here, is it was more and more obvious for the people of this city that something was wrong and had to be addressed. We had a Council with strong leadership ready to act on this issue. Let’s face it, the world’s gotten wise to Uber in the meantime too. You know Uber a few years ago tried to be, you know some white knight and now people understand just how much damage Uber has done in so many ways. And that was important and that you can’t advertise your way out of the truth. And I think that was an important part of the equation. Speaker Johnson: I would just say, Gloria that you know they were very engaged and very involved and I think in a responsible way on our part, we gave them a full seat at the table so that they couldn’t say that they didn’t get to participate. And we listened to their concerns, we looked at the data with the TLC and we tried to come up with a sound public policy solution. But I will tell you that the 11th hour offer of $100 million for us to change our legislation, I think showed you how much of a fight they were putting up to try to make that offer at the end. It was an offer without any real specifics and I‘m not saying that there was any coercion or potential quid pro quo at play but they knew that the decision that we arrived at we did because we were looking out for the best interest of the city and workers. And I just want to say this one other things on these companies to go in line with what Hector said and with what the Mayor said with what Carlina said which is Uber made $375 million in revenue last year in New York City, $375 million with $50 million of overhead, so they made $325 million in profit last year in New York City. Their drivers, the Independent Drivers Guild came out in favor of this package of legislation because their drivers are struggling and in this gig economy Uber’s drivers should be full time employees. They deserve unemployment, and disability and sick days and vacation days. They deserve that dignity that other workers have and I hope that will be part of this conversation moving forward. Unknown: [Inaudible] Mayor: It started here, Corey. Question: How do you address the concerns that – Mayor: Hold on, let’s our friends in the media ask their question. Go ahead. Question: How do you address the concerns of the New York Urban League, the National Action Network, the three Democrats who voted against the bill yesterday of racial profiling or outer borough’s unreachability with this bill? How do you address the concerns there? Mayor: I’m going to speak as an outer borough person. You’ve seen a flood of these for-hire vehicles on top of the other forms of transportation like car services that have been there for a long time. There are options. The problem is with a flood of vehicles what’s ended up happening is a lot of empty vehicles that aren’t transporting anyone and aren’t make any drivers any money and are just clogging the streets. So, we know this for a fact and that’s true in Manhattan, that’s true in the outer boroughs. There’s tons of congestion problems in the outer boroughs. Ask anyone from outer borough neighborhoods, they will tell you. So, I don’t buy the argument from the companies because I know there’s so much excess capacity out there and what it’s going to mean is those drivers will now have fares and will actually rationalize the situation. On the question of discrimination – we will not tolerate it. I want to be very blunt and clear. I know Corey won’t tolerate it, the Council won’t tolerate, I know Meera won’t tolerate it. By the way, I checked with her again today – of the cases brought of discrimination against a rider, failure to pick up a rider, 50 percent of those cases have been substantiated and there’s been a penalty to a driver who did that. The first penalty is a substantial financial fine. The second penalty is a suspension of the driver’s license. The third penalty is revocation of the driver’s license. So, there is real teeth in the current rules and there’s real follow through with 50 percent of the cases people are being found responsible. But we’re going to be doing a lot more. We have a new office that the Council really helped us to innovate, of inclusion. We’re going to do a lot more outreach. We’re going to train drivers to make sure they’re sensitive and understand the ramifications. But it’s as simple as this. We will not tolerate discrimination and anybody, New Yorker or visitor, who suffers discrimination from any driver, needs to report it immediately. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: On this topic? We’ll come to you afterwards. Question: Sir, is this [inaudible] – Mayor: Is what now? Question: The city’s leadership [inaudible] open to more regulation once the study is over? Mayor: By definition. I mean, I’ll start and feel free to jump in. This legislation very smartly says we’re putting this cap in place. We’re going to have a formal study for a year and then the TLC is going to look at what we have to do next and that will be governed by the facts. So, by definition, we’re open to more regulation if that’s what the facts demand. Speaker Johnson: Yeah, there was a package of bills that introduced yesterday which I think is 2.0 of what we need to do moving forward. One of the bills, I think – very, very important, it’s a bill that would create a health care fund for taxi drivers in New York City so they could have health insurance. The TLC previously tried to do this by rule but the court ruled that it needed to done by legislation in the Council and I look forward to moving that legislation forward to give taxi drivers health insurance in New York City through a fund. That’s number one. Number two is the Mayor and I have talked about this and some of the members have bills in this. We have to go after, as much as we can potentially with the Department of Consumer Affairs, these predatory leasing companies that have been preying upon drivers. That’s number two. Number three – what you’re going to see, I think with the quarterly data reports that the TLC is going to receive moving forward, is we’re going to have to look at real utilization standards that are going to be put in place. The industry is changing quite a bit so I don’t know what the right number of cars is that should be on the road. Is it 104,000? Is it 110,000? Is it 80,000? There will be natural attrition. What we want to do is we want to maximize cars being occupied and doing that through rule that the TLC will do based off of data and working with the for-hire vehicle companies and the taxi companies. I think there were five or six bills that were entered at the Council yesterday and I think all those bills will have a hearing this fall. Question: Corey, what’s the timeline on passing them? Speaker Johnson: I can’t tell you when we’re passing them. We’ll have a hearing this fall and then we’ll go through the legislative process in working with the TLC, again, all the stakeholders involved so it’s a fair and inclusive process. Mayor: One quick point to make visual what Corey was saying about how you’d like to see vehicles utilized. Remember that point I raised earlier? Over 40 percent of these for-hire vehicles are now driving around empty at any given moment. That’s madness. Classic image of a New York City taxi – the taxi pulls up to let someone off and someone new gets in right then. That’s the perfect world, right? That’s not always the case but that’s the perfect work. So, we want to see these vehicles – whatever that number is – used all the time. That’s good for the drivers. That’s good for the environment. That’s good for reducing congestion. The last thing we want to see is a bunch of empty vehicles driving around. Okay, on this topic – yes, sir? Question: Practically speaking, how are you going to carry out the minimum wage part of this bill? Some drivers are part time; a lot of them are driving in Uber saturated areas. Just the problem you’re trying to solve. Mayor: So, Mary, you want to speak to how you will build those minimum standards? Commissioner Joshi: Sure, so drivers don’t work by the hour. So there is no such thing really as a minimum wage. But we did put together a proposal that was reviewed by two economists, one from Berkeley, and one from the New School. And that proposal really takes a look at what you do get paid per minute, and what do you get paid per mile. And it puts a price on the minute and the mile, and that price builds in the fact that you’re not working that whole hour. So you need to be paid extra to account for your downtime. And on top of that, that whole minute/mile formula is going to go up or down depending on how well a company can keep a driver occupied. If they cannot keep a driver occupied for the hour then they are going to pay more per trip. And if they can keep a driver occupied they’re going to pay a little less, but the driver will end up making more because they’ll be busier. Although we we’ve used the word minimum wage because its an easy term to use when we talk about pay. It’s not actually accurate to how you regulate in this space. Mayor: Thank you, okay last call on this topic. Yes, sir? Question: Can Ms. Joshi talk about [inaudible]? Mayor: Say it again. Question: Can you talk about the importance of dead head and what that means? Mayor: Are you trying to impress us [inaudible] [Laughter] Commissioner Joshi: Dead head, nice, nice. Mayor: What is it? Dead head? Commissioner Joshi: Dead head is the empty time when you get the call until you get to your passenger. We consider the dead head time as down time. That’s the same as when you’re cruising. You’re not getting paid, you don’t have a passenger. And all of that downtime has to be factored in because that’s still worktime. The app is on, and you’ve got to be attentive, and you’ve got to be ready, willing, and able to pick up a customer. So that dead head and downtime cruising is all factored in and it goes into the minute and the mile calculation. Question: [Inaudible] if you’re a yellow cabby, you’re given money to drive back to the city. That’s not [inaudible] – some of the drivers [inaudible] yesterday want to expand that [inaudible]. Are you willing to do that? Commissioner Joshi: If you pick up a trip under our accessible dispatch program, yes we threw a fund will pay the dead head portion of the trip. Taxi’s generally work by hail, so dead head is more of a foreign experience for them. But in a proposal that we have on wages, the drivers of accessible vehicles would get paid more to account for the fact that those accessible vehicles cost more to maintain. Question: I just wanted to clarify. Did the TLC actually require the City Council to pass legislation that’ll allow you to set that minimum rate or were you able to do that regardless? Commissioner Joshi: We can do it through rule making. It is a much stronger statement of our entire city sentiment on how we think people and workers should be treated that as a city, as an entire city, City Hall, the TLC, and City Council together stand strong on this issue. Mayor: Other topics? Yes, Sir? Question: Sorry, just one more question about this topic. Mayor: You may. Question: Okay, thank you. And back to the question I’ve asked before. How do you respond to calls I’ve been hearing about you know from the Republican nominee for the New York Attorney General, however slim that chances may be. Civil rights groups are saying they will press a civil rights suit against the city, against this law. How do you respond to that? Mayor: I don’t even understand that concept. We are, we are going to – if you’re talking about the question of fighting discrimination. Again, we have very strong standards. I would say please everyone report on this if you’re interested in the topic. Financial penalty leading to license suspension, leading to license revoking in three steps. That’s pretty tough stuff. And a 50 percent rate of these complaints being found substantiated and penalties being applied at strong regulation and we’re going to strengthen it further and do a lot more outreach, and a lot more education. I think it’s quite clear we’re fighting discrimination with a lot of strong tools. So anyone who wants to meet with a TLC about other things we can do, we’re game because we want to fight discrimination in every way we can. Question: Can you respond to the new numbers out of Puerto Rico of the death count from Hurricane Maria? Mayor: I’ve got to be honest with you because I was working on a number of matters before I came over here. Tell me what the latest is because I have not heard it. Question: Over 1,400. Mayor: It’s horrible. It’s painful. And it is, you know, this is our – this is the place we’re closest to in the world, right? As New Yorkers, this is the ultimate sixth borough and you got 800,000 New Yorkers for whom Puerto Rico is their ancestral homeland. So we’re all suffering when we hear that truth and made worse by the fact that I think a lot of us don’t feel like the federal government told us the truth about what was happening and they certainly haven’t taken responsibility for fixing what happened. Question: Do you think that this legislation – Mayor: A little louder. Question: Is it an example in other cities, other countries, like Spain [inaudible] Mayor: On the – on the – we’re talking the for-hire vehicles again? Look, I think what is happening now as we confront multi-national corporations is that cities around the world are banding together and supporting each other and learning from each other. We’ve seen some extraordinary efforts by cities saying no to companies that tried to dictate to them. I hope today’s progress will be felt around the world and it will remind cities to take power and not allow multi-national corporations to do things that hurt there people. Yeah? Question: Mayor, your administration is proposing, as one of several options, building more luxury or market rate housing than originally planned on property adjacent to some NYCHA developments as part of the sort of NextGen program. Have you changed your thinking on what the mix of affordable and market rate housing should be on NYCHA property? Mayor: So there’s two different questions in my opinion. The first is this particular site, which is the only place where we’re having this discussion. We wanted to offer the idea to local leaders because we saw the differential in terms of the amount of money it would provide to NYCHA. NYCHA – we now know and it’s tragic because of decades of disinvestment, the needs in NYCHA now exceed $30 billion. We have very little new federal money coming. We have still have not seen any new State money in years for all intents and purposes. We’ve got to get money for public housing and so we’re going to, in this case on the West Side, look at this option to see if it’s going to bring us a lot more money for public housing, we need to consider it, but it will of course go through a ULURP Process and that will be the ultimate decision. We have not decided which model to go with. We’re going to talk to local leaders and decide. The second point is where we go in the future with NYCHA. We have not decided that yet either except to say, we know one thing for sure, we have to find models that will bring in resources. People are very frustrated for good reason. The public housing is in such tough shape in this city. We can’t just be frustrated. We have to find solutions which means finding literally billions of dollars more to address what people are going through. That’s something we’re going to come forward in the coming months with new solutions for. Question: Mayor, if I could just follow, I mean this was something that sort very similar to what was provided by Mayor Bloomberg, you had some – and lots of people had strong opinions about that and building market rate housing and green space or parking lots on public housing - I guess – are you going to balance, you know, I understand the rising capital need, for you, personally, how are you balancing all of the issues at play here? You know, it strikes some people as unfair to build luxury housing next to – Mayor: So the first point is, again, in the name of accuracy, we do not have a decision on what the bigger policy is going forward and we don’t even have a decision about this site. It’s a new – just for clarity – it’s a new idea that is being ventured. The original idea is on the table as well. The Bloomberg administration now seems like a long time ago but I remember vividly part of why I was uncomfortable, and I think a lot of public housing residents were uncomfortable, because there was not a clear policy to stop privatization. So the profound difference from day one, is we’ve talked about any potential development on NYCHA land, is it comes with a very clear strategy to protect the public ownership of that land and to protect the long term affordable housing that is there. And also to put legal guarantees in place, which unfortunately the previous administration, there were too many times when things related to affordable housing, promises were made and they were not kept. So I think it’s a very different reality. But I can only say to you, one way or another, we have to find billions upon billions of dollars to fix public housing in this city. Marcia? Question: Sir, I have three very short questions. Mayor: Okay. Question: First of all, there was a fight that broke in a nail salon in Brooklyn last week. Now black leaders are demanding that the nail shop not to be allowed to open again, your feelings about that? Mayor: I think a better solution is for the owners of that shop to apologize, to retrain their staff, and to make sure it never happens again. I think we need to move forward. Question: An ACS worker turned out to have a record of [inaudible] convicted murder, served 28 years in jail, hired to deal with children – your feelings about it and also what should be done to find out if there are other people with records who have been hired [inaudible]? Mayor: So, my feeling, as a parent – it absolutely disgusts me. It’s unacceptable and it never should have happened. That individual will not be working for ACS in the future and will go nowhere near children. It should not have happened and I believe – because I’ve asked this question in real detail – that it could not happen anymore. There’s a whole new series of employment background checks now that would have stopped that had they been in place – I believe he applied in 2013, got hired in 2014. Those rules were not in place then. They are in place now. Someone like that could not be hired. Question: [Inaudible] are your people – Mayor: We are looking and, so far, thank God, we have not found any other case like this, but we are absolutely looking at all hires in the last few years to make sure there’s no one else who possibly should not be in that kind of role. Unknown: [Inaudible] Mayor: Hold on – hold on. Go ahead – Question: Cynthia Nixon has said that the public service employees should be allowed to strike, that the Taylor Laws should be changed. How do you feel about that? Mayor: I have a lot of respect for Cynthia, but I disagree with her on this. I acknowledge and appreciate that she said there should be an exemption for first responders, but I don’t agree with changing the Taylor Law. I think the Taylor Law serves an important public purpose and, at the same time, there are lots of ways for worker’s rights to be acknowledged and their voices to be heard. I think we have the right law now. Question: What do you say to the Inwood Residents who are furious and critical of the rezoning plan passing yesterday? Mayor: Some residents were against, some residents were for. Continue – Question: [Inaudible] just saw what happened in the Chambers yesterday, they were pretty [inaudible]. What do you say – Mayor: Again, my friend, I just want to make a point. I was a Council member, there’s 160,000 people in that Council district. Now, unless you’ve talked to all of them, what I would advise is there are some strong-willed activists who are against it, there are a lot of community leaders and every-day people who are for it. I respect all voices, but I can tell you that the number of people who show up at a hearing is a very, very small number compared to the residents of the community. And the real question is, what’s best to help the residents of the community and what does their representative believe is in their interest. Ydonis Rodriguez is someone who has served that community as an activist and elected official for decades. I think he really has his finger on the pulse and he demanded a lot of affordable housing, a lot of investment in schools and parks, and that’s what people in the community wanted, and I think it was a fair outcome. Question: Just to follow up on Inwood, Fransisco Moya, the Councilman who is the chair of the subcommittee on zoning and land-use, said last week that he would no longer negotiate with your office over upcoming neighborhood rezoning because he doesn’t feel the process is fair, he had issues with some of the contractors who were selected, even one labor unions have come out. I mean, what do you say to that? I know you said I haven’t spoken to everyone in Inwood. You probably haven’t spoken to everyone in Inwood either, and there’s clearly some issues with these rezonings. What’s your response? Mayor: I respect Council member Moya – disagree with him. It’s very clear, from the City Council as a whole, that this process has been fair. The fact is, the Council has decided – the leadership, the member representing the community, and the Council majority in favor of rezoning in East New York, East Harlem, Far Rockaway, Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, and now Inwood – that’s democracy. So, that process is going to continue. Question: [Inaudible] clearance from the Conflicts of Interest Board to fundraise on behalf of the Fairness PAC? And if so, are you willing to share – Mayor: Again, the Fairness PAC is governed by electoral law. It is a campaign committee, it’s governed by State and federal law. That’s where the guidance is. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: We seek guidance on all sorts of specific situations from them and we always will. But again, the law is abundantly clear. The Conflict of Interest Board plays one role, but in terms of how you create political committees – for example, if you create a City political committee, it’s the Campaign Finance Board; federal is the Federal Election Commission; State, the State Board of Elections. The guidance is very clear. Question: As the days go on, you seem to endorse anti-IDC, or former-IDC members – you’re endorsing their opponents. Mayor: I endorsed one, but stay tuned, but yes – Question: Former secretary – your former press secretary – Mayor: Well, again, we’ve done one. We’ve done one – Zellnor Myrie. I don’t know what you’re assuming. We’ve done one so far. Question: I know your opinion of the former IDC leader, so do you have any plans to endorse the former IDC leader’s opponent? Mayor: I’ll say what I’ve said to a lot of your colleagues before, every campaign, every race is going to be looked at individually. Everything is case by case. I have made one endorsement for Zellnor Myrie in Central Brooklyn, who I hope will be elected the next State Senator from that community. And his district reaches into some of the areas I used to represent as well. And we are going to look at each specific set of candidates and come up with specific ideas about each, but that’s going to be case by case. We’ll announce them as they are decided. Media question – last one. Is it a media question? You’re media? Okay – Question: Mr. Mayor, my question has to do with noise pollution. Mayor: Yes, sir. Question: And specifically in the neighborhood over on East 26th Street and Second Avenue has had a great influx of ambulances and helicopters, and the residents – we’re talking like every five minutes [inaudible] – Mayor: So you want to know what we’re going to do about it? I think noise is a serious problem and issue in this City. In some ways it’s gotten worse. Our Deputy Mayor for Operations, Laura Anglin, is putting together a new plan to address a variety of elements of noise pollution. And it needs a little more work, but we’ll have something to say on that soon. Thank you, everyone.
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 5:38am
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, the City Council and advocates today joined a rally at Union Square Park celebrating the passage of for-hire vehicle legislation. Among other things, the package of legislation will set a minimum pay for drivers and mitigate congestion by placing a one-year pause on the number of for-hire vehicles app-based companies are able to have on New York City roads. “The City is sending a clear message: we’re putting hardworking New Yorkers ahead of corporations,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The City Council has spoken boldly, and now we can act. We are taking immediate action for the benefit of more than 100,000 hard-working New Yorkers who deserve a fair wage, and halting the flood of new cars grinding our streets to a halt. I’d like to thank Speaker Johnson, Council Member Levin, the City Council and advocates for seeing this legislation through.” “The City Council has taken a big step toward creating a fair and equitable framework for overseeing the for-hire vehicle industry in our city. FHV drivers should be able to support themselves and their families without working unhealthy hours, and they shouldn’t have to work longer and longer with each passing month because thousands of new cars are flooding the streets. I’m proud of this package of bills, and I am confident we will see meaningful change that benefits this city,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. "The Council's passage of this important, intelligent and brave package of legislation will help thousands of drivers to make a living and enjoy the equity they deserve, and pave the way for less congested streets," said TLC Commissioner and Chair Meera Joshi. "This would not have been possible, but for the City Council's enthusiastic willingness to work closely with the de Blasio administration to cut through the spin and rhetoric that have permeated and muddied this issue for so long to win a true human victory." "The Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities is committed to increasing accessible transportation options for people with disabilities whenever possible," said Commissioner Victor Calise of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. "We commend the City Council for including exemptions for wheelchair accessible service in the legislative package passed and look forward to continued collaboration to increase accessibility in transportation and, indeed, in all facets of life to ensure that New York is the most accessible city in the world." At the rally, the Mayor announced: * That he will be signing the legislation on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018. * The City will stop issuing new for-hire licenses that same day, with the exception of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. * The City will initiate a study to more comprehensively manage the changing industry to reduce congestion and protect workers by ensuring fair pay. * The City will introduce and adopt a new minimum compensation rule at the Taxi and Limousine Commission within 75 days. Once adopted, it will increase for-hire vehicle driver take-home pay by approximately 20 percent on average – that’s more than $6,000 per year. “Yesterday was a historic day. The New York City Council led by Speaker Corey Johnson along with my For Hire Vehicle Committee passed some of the most comprehensive legislation halting app-based ride sharing services and initiating a study on their effect in NYC. This is the first legislation of its kind in the nation and it will stand as a template for other large cities facing issues with their taxi industry. Thank you to all my colleagues who were a part of this package of legislation and we will continue to work for a more fair & equitable New York City,” said Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr., Chair of the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles, Sponsor of Intros. 634-B, 838-C, 958-A. “In a just a few years, the number of for-hire vehicles in our city has increased dramatically, snarling traffic and sparking a race to the bottom where all drivers are struggling to make more than poverty wages,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Sponsor of Intro. 144-B. “An average of 2,000 additional vehicles hit the streets every month, while drivers already spend nearly half their time with empty seats. Doing nothing was not an option. I'm proud New York City is leading the way, becoming the first city to comprehensively and thoughtfully address this issue. I thank my council colleagues, Speaker Johnson, and Mayor de Blasio for their support, leadership, and courage to do what is right.” “I’m proud that my bill will make New York City the first city in the country to establish a minimum pay standard and living wage requirement for Uber and Lyft drivers,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Sponsor of Intro. 890-B. “These new laws will ensure drivers are paid enough to make ends meet, maintain the level of service provided by these companies today, reduce congestion, and support accessibility. Huge thanks to the courageous for-hire drivers for organizing tirelessly and ringing the alarm bell on driver pay – and to Mayor de Blasio, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Council Speaker Corey Johnson for taking leadership on this issue.” “We should all be able to make an honest living whether it’s driving a yellow or green taxi, livery, black car or an app-based vehicle, and we should all be governed by the same rules,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “The package of bills passed by the Council yesterday will level the playing field. It will allow policy-makers an opportunity to step back and proceed thoughtfully on how to best improve ground transit in the city.” “This victory belongs to yellow taxi, green cab, livery, black car, Uber and Lyft drivers who united together in our union to transform our shared struggle and heartbreak into hope and strength. The legislation passed by City Council didn't just set a precedent for our city, it set a precedent for the entire world as companies like Uber and Lyft use technological innovation to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods. Yesterday, we took the first step toward ending the crisis of poverty devastating New York City's professional drivers. Tomorrow we will continue to fight,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “This victory shows the power that workers coming together in a common purpose, speaking out and supporting each other. This was possible because drivers from all sectors -- yellow, green and livery cabs, and those working for app-based companies -- joined together, organized and did not give up, even as many of them continued to drive long shifts to keep up. We will continue to support the Taxi Workers Alliance and all drivers as they seek a just system that will allow them to support their families and benefit their communities,” said Héctor J. Figueroa, President of 32BJ Service Employees International Union. “I was proud to support this package and I applaud my colleagues for their critical leadership. I look forward to continued partnership as we assess the For-Hire Vehicle industry and identify ways to sustain livable wages and provide critical transportation services, both of which are of tremendous significance to all New Yorkers,” said Council Majority Leader, Laurie A. Cumbo. “I am proud that NYC is the first to enact legislation to support for-hire vehicle drivers. Every day we hear complaints that NYC has become too expensive for hard working New Yorkers and public transportation has become increasingly challenging. For several years, for- hire-vehicle drivers found a way to make a decent living while customers found a better way to get around all five boroughs. But due to an unregulated industry, we now have too much congestion and too many vehicles on the road causing serious competition between drivers. This package of legislation will help all drivers and everyday New Yorkers navigate throughout the city in a more efficient, safe and affordable way,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “I am proud to have voted in favor of legislation to regulate the for-hire vehicle industry. The Council's package is bold, comprehensive, and influential - not only will it mitigate traffic congestion throughout the City, but it will also ameliorate working conditions for drivers," said Council Member Diana Ayala. "Additionally, as the Chair of the Council's Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I am thrilled this package includes an exception for wheelchair accessible vehicles. I commend my colleagues for their efforts in passing this legislation and thank Mayor de Blasio for swiftly signing it into law.” “The time for us to take action to address congestion – while giving drivers from all sectors an opportunity to make a living – is long overdue. With roughly 2,000 new for-hire vehicles being added to the road every single month, more and more Lower Manhattan residents are forced to suffer from the traffic safety and quality of life issues that stem from worsening congestion on our over-burdened streets. By putting a temporary cap to the number of new for-hire vehicle licenses, we as a City can push the pause button to better understand how these vehicles are utilized, level the playing field for drivers, and ensure that our streets are safe for children and seniors – all while continuing to give riders from all five boroughs the option to use their transportation method of choice. I thank Council Members Stephen Levin and Brad Lander and Speaker Corey Johnson for their tireless work to bring long-awaited equity to this industry,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Working closely together, the Mayor and the Council have produced legislation that will protect the over 100,000 taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers in our city,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “The legislation will make our streets safer and cleaner by reducing traffic congestion while ensuring that rideshare drivers earn living wages. As a Council Member who represents a large number of for-hire vehicle drivers, I celebrate this achievement which will improve the lives of many who call NYC home.” “The package of legislation breaks new ground about standards and efficiency in the for-hire vehicle industry. Midtown Manhattan, in my district, has come to a crawl due to congestion. This gives the city time to implement meaningful strategies to reduce congestion and increase efficiency,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “The bills we passed this week maintain current service for drivers and consumers, and give us a temporary pause in unrestrained growth while we study the effects of for-hire vehicles on our roads and on our economy. While the issues are complex, the goal is simple: we do not want one more suicide of a taxi driver. We will not stand by while lives are destroyed. New Yorkers deserve a system that works for riders and drivers of all for-hire vehicles, and this package of legislation creates a path to a better system,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “I was proud to co-sponsor the Council's just passed for-hire vehicle legislation. Ensuring every driver in New York City earns a decent wage, tackling the nuances of congestion, and properly regulating app-based vehicles is a fair, evidence-based, and comprehensive approach. Even better, the 12-month moratorium on new licenses exempts wheelchair-accessible vehicles -- a powerful incentive to finally start adding accessible vehicles to the road. Thank you to Council Member Levin and Speaker Johnson for their strong leadership on this important issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Assembly Member Harvey Epstein said, “While we have to recognize the yellow taxi industry’s history in relation to serving New Yorkers of color, we also have to recognize the impact that congestion has on our city’s quality of life. This legislation will help us to take a step back and evaluate the impact of overcrowding on our streets.” “Same as we limit the number of yellow cabs, we need to limit the number of app-based cars,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. “The rides can be a great convenience, but we also need to control congestion and protect the livelihood of career drivers.”g “There is no reason billion dollar app-based companies shouldn’t have to adhere to the same regulations as NY based businesses, regulations that were put in place to reduce congestion and protect New York’s drivers,” said Assembly Member David I. Weprin. “This cap levels the playing field for medallion owners and drivers of yellow and green cabs, who adhere to caps of their own, and gets these empty, congestion causing, cars off of our streets. I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson for taking this bold step and look forward to working with them to take additional steps to protect working New Yorkers” “As an organization that has many cab drivers as members, and many more family members of drivers, we say it is 'about time' that some regulations be put into place for the taxi industry to control the devastation and uncontrolled race to the bottom for wages. Credit goes to the taxi drivers from the Taxi Workers Alliance for leading the way by proposing policies based on their experiences and wisdom, and further reaffirming why the voices and organizing of workers themselves is so important,” said Fahd Ahmed, Executive Director, DRUM (Desis Rising Up & Moving). “The Interfaith Center of New York welcomes the common sense reforms passed today by the NYC Council. The 12 month-freeze on new for-hire vehicle drivers and the provision for a fifteen dollar minimum wage are humane steps towards helping suffering families and promoting a sustainable environment in our shared city. New York’s diverse religious leaders applaud the City Council’s steps to mitigate the results of unchecked profit-gain for a few corporations while providing a decent livelihood for drivers and a reasonable array of transportation options for riders within all five boroughs,” said The Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York. “The City Council approval of a cap on for-hire vehicle licenses is a crucial step towards supporting Muslim and immigrant drivers who make significant contributions to the taxi and for hire industry in New York City. Drivers working for different companies have shared with us that they were not making enough fares, and worried about how to pay rent and feed their families. When half a dozen drivers take their own lives because of financial problems, the urgency to prioritize their welfare is clear. Drivers are not expendable and they deserve fair wages. The City Council approval of a cap on for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months is a reasonable period to conduct a fair survey that analyzes the industry. We commend the Council and Mayor for their moral leadership and their balanced approach,” said Abdelhafid Djemil, PhD, President, Majlis Ash-Shura-Islamic Leadership Council of New York. “This legislation represents an important step in bringing NYC closer toward the goal of economic justice we all share; by assuring a decent, stable livelihood for the hard working immigrant taxi drivers that move this city. They deserve dignity, and a living wage; the City Council bills help them achieve that. ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’” said Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition. “Our groups supported the cap bill because it makes a smart exception for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. We applaud Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Johnson and the council for taking this crucial step toward wheelchair accessibility,” said Edith Prentiss, Chair of the Taxis For All Campaign. "Three years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio saw the need for a cap on for hire vehicles (FHV) to prevent the flooding of tens of thousands of additional vehicles. The mayor was 100% correct. Because of the mayor's persistence and the efforts of Speaker Johnson and FHV Committee Chairman Ruben Diaz Sr., for the first time in 3 years, medallion owners have hope that the city is moving in the right direction. We are hoping that City elected officials will work to protect, as stated in the TLC rules, those of us who invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxi medallions, and establish a more level playing field for the drivers," said Carolyn Protz, NY Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association. “Uber, Lyft and other for-hire companies now have a choice: They can kvetch about this common-sense rule or they can start putting wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the road. We will continue to work with the Taxis Workers Alliance for fairness for drivers and riders,” said Joe Rappaport, Executive Director, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, Member of Taxis For All Campaign. “As a gay man and former taxi driver, I know what it’s like when the deck is stacked against you. Taxi drivers work long hours and take on significant financial burdens to earn a living in New York City. The flood of ride-hail vehicles has put their livelihoods - and even their lives - in jeopardy. The LGBT community stands with the Taxi drivers and supports enacting these sensible regulations that will help level the playing field for hardworking New Yorkers,” said Allen Roskoff, President of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. “Chhaya CDC congratulates the NYTA for its tireless work organizing around the issue of regulating the gig economy, which has had dire effects for the livelihoods of drivers in New York City. We are pleased that the New York City Council listened to the voices of those who are directly impacted,” said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director, Chhaya CDC. “This bold step to do the right thing for New York - and for New York's struggling taxi and car service drivers, who are finding it more and more difficult to make a decent living - will set an example for other cities that standing up to powerful corporations on behalf of hard-working members of the community is the right choice. We applaud Speaker Johnson, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and City Council Members for supporting New York drivers, not only by setting a cap on ride-hailing app vehicles and a minimum pay standard for the drivers, but also by reversing illegal street hail penalties,” said Yanki Tshering, Executive Director of the Business Center for New Americans. "Powerful corporations have increasingly taken control of our economy and, in many ways, of our democracy, for their own financial gain. But this moment shows that massive wealth and power does not always prevail. This moment shows that workers, their organizations, and the brave and clear-minded elected officials who have their backs, can still win. And we must continue to win for the working people of this city. Congratulations to the Taxi Workers Alliance, SEIU Local 32bj, Speaker Corey Johnson, and Mayor De Blasio,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Most people cannot understand the suffering felt by hard working taxi drivers in New York City. But Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Members, and Mayor Bill de Blasio felt their struggle and heard their voices. The passage of these bills will positively impact thousands of our community members and will help the hundred thousand taxi thousands across New York City,” said Urgen Sherpa, president of the United Sherpa Association. “For generations, driving a taxi was a way to realize the American dream. But today drivers and medallion owners in New York City are barely able to feed their families. The passage of this legislation gives our community hope and the confidence that City Council and Mayor have our back. We hope this is just the beginning and look forward to additional measures to help both medallion owners who have invested heavily and all taxi drivers who work hard on NYC streets,” said Harpreet Singh Toor, Chairman of Public Policy & External Affairs at the Sikh Cultural Society.
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 12:36am
“Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock. The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action – and now we have it. More than 100,000 workers and their families will see an immediate benefit from this legislation. And this action will stop the influx of cars contributing to the congestion grinding our streets to a halt. I want to thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Levin for their leadership on this issue, and the entire Council for standing up for working people. I look forward to signing these bills into law.”
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 12:36am
The de Blasio administration announced today that the City will begin the process of acquisition, design and construction of Phase II of the City’s Master Plan for Hudson Yards. This final phase includes approximately three acres of all-new parkland, created by extending Hudson Boulevard and Park over the Amtrak rail cut which currently runs from West 36th Street to West 39th Street. “Every New Yorker deserves well designed public space,” said Mayor de Blasio. “In a growing neighborhood like Hudson Yards, three acres of new parks is a vital investment in the wellbeing of residents for generations to come.” “Today’s approval for additional investment in Hudson Yards allows us to fulfill our commitment to deliver to the Hudson Yards community three acres of new parkland – and demonstrates a smart approach to building density. I want to thank Speaker Johnson and the Council for their partnership in this effort,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen . “Completing this park has been a goal of the West Side community for years,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Securing this financing is an important step in ensuring that this neighborhood has essential public green space as Hudson Yards grows. All New Yorkers and people from around the world will one day enjoy this remarkable public park in what is currently a rail-cut. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Community Board 4 and everyone else who helped make this a reality.” “The history of development in NYC is based on the creation of great public places. As building continues at a record pace, this critical funding ensures that a huge gap in the public infrastructure and open space network of Hudson Yards will be completed,” said Angela Cavaluzzi, President of Hudson Yards Development Corporation. “We are excited to see Phase II more than double the acres of green space at Hudson Yards,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Projects like this increase our access to health, happiness and fun, and that’s a win for everyone.” “World-class public spaces bring people together in our neighborhoods and business districts and make New York truly come alive," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I'm pleased to see progress and investments that will make the three acres of new parkland in Phase II a reality.” “I’m delighted that the City is planning to create three acres of new public parkland as part of Phase II of the Master Plan for Hudson Yards. This new open space will be an extremely important amenity to this park-starved area of Manhattan, especially as the number of residents and businesses continue to rapidly increase,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "The Hudson Yards is a major new development and including more park space is key to making this part of the city a better place for the people who live, work and visit there," said State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. “Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) is thrilled to see the City keep its promise to the citizens of Hell’s Kitchen and the broader community by providing a pathway to complete the funding of Hudson Boulevard Park. Over the years MCB4 has worked with it's its elected representatives, private developers, and city agencies to find ways of funding sections of the park, lot by lot. In securing the financing for the last three blocks of the park the City is fulfilling its commitment to the community to provide a unique open space for future generations of New Yorkers,” said Chair Burt Lazarin. Phase II includes the investment of up to $500 million to complete infrastructure projects in the Hudson Yards Financing District, including the expansion of Hudson Boulevard and Park three blocks north from West 36th Street to West 39th Street. The construction of the Park and Boulevard will provide vital public space, and unlock the commercial development of the northern area of Hudson Yards. The addition of the new parkland expands Hudson Yards’ parkland by 75 percent. The Hudson Yards Development Corporation will manage the acquisition, design, and construction process. Once completed, the land will be transferred to NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation, who will collaborate with the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Business Improvement District on daily management. The design process will begin this fall.
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 12:36am
Plan delivers over $200 million in new public investment for affordable housing, waterfront parks, STEM education, and cultural institutions The de Blasio Administration and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez today celebrated the City Council’s approval of the Inwood neighborhood rezoning, the City’s plan to ensure Inwood remains an affordable, attractive neighborhood for working and immigrant families. Approval of this plan concludes more than three years of community-driven planning efforts to create new affordable housing and economic opportunities for Inwood residents. “The approval of the Inwood neighborhood rezoning means a fairer, stronger future for a community that has experienced decades of disinvestment. It means affordability, security, and opportunity for residents and new immigrants alike,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I thank Councilmember Rodriguez for his partnership in creating a bold plan that will benefit the community for generations to come. I also thank Speaker Johnson, Land Use Committee Chair Salamanca and the entire Council for joining us in our fight for affordable housing and strong neighborhoods.” “My community deserves the best,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “We came into these negotiations with very high expectations because we are a community of hardworking residents who have, against all odds, thrived in underserved neighborhoods that have seen very little affordable housing development in the last 50 years. This plan is an important first step in strengthening our community and an opportunity to bring many of the resources we currently lack in our neighborhood. We have secured over $200 million in public funds for new commitments in our community. In the next five years, we will create, preserve and protect over 5,000 affordable housing units. We will bring over $50 million in STEM and robotics programming and capital, and a new P-Tech school at George Washington Educational Campus. We are building 100% affordable housing development at critical public sites, including the DOT Bridge Repair Facility at 205th Street. We are bringing to our district a first-in-the nation Immigrant Research Center and Performing Arts space to be run by the New York Public Library and leading community-based organizations. Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Mayor Bill de Blasio, EDC and community leaders for listening to our community and working towards a responsible rezoning.” “The Inwood rezoning presents a balanced planning framework and aims to ensure that the neighborhood remains affordable for working families. With the passage of this rezoning, Inwood’s vibrant mixed-use character will be extended to the Harlem River, permanent affordable housing will be required in new developments, the existing character will be strengthened with preservation west of 10th Avenue, and new opportunities for job creation will be cultivated. I thank Councilmember Rodriguez for his vision, and Speaker Johnson, Land Use Committee Chair Salamanca, and the Council for their support,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. This comprehensive neighborhood plan will extend residential Inwood eastward across 10th Avenue to the Harlem River, transforming underutilized land currently zoned for manufacturing uses including 10 acres of parking lots into homes and public open space. Under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, new residential buildings in this area will include permanently affordable homes. All new waterfront developments will also be required to provide public open space which, combined with City investments, will achieve the longstanding community goal of reclaiming the Harlem River waterfront for public use and enjoyment. Developed over the course of three years, the Inwood NYC plan will deliver over $200 million in new public investment to the neighborhood. This will result in the creation, preservation, and protection of thousands of affordable homes, new parks and waterfront access, new STEM education offerings, and support for small businesses and good jobs. Highlights of the plan include: * Repurposing underutilized, transit-accessible land along the Harlem River to better serve community needs and provide a responsible framework for growth; * Creating an estimated 1,600 affordable homes through 100 percent affordable projects on public sites and MIH requirements on private sites, replenishing and expanding Inwood’s affordable housing stock for the first time in decades; * Preserving and protecting at least 2,500 affordable homes in Inwood and Washington Heights with new resources to prevent displacement and keep apartment buildings affordable; * Building two new waterfront parks, North Cove Park and the Sherman Creek Malecón – a major step toward the long-awaited goal of a continuous public esplanade along the Harlem River; * Rebuilding and renovating existing parks, including the transformation of Monsignor Kett Playground into an intergenerational park and destination; * Investing $50 million in local school infrastructure and expanded programming in science, technology, engineering, and math, such as a new STEM Institute at the George Washington Educational Campus; * Creating a state-of-the-art Inwood Library with a new Pre-K for All facility, a youth STEM education center focused on robotics, and a cultural and job training center, along with 175 new, deeply affordable homes; * Improving streets to make them safer and more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists, and upgrading sewer infrastructure; * Establishing an Immigrant Research Center and Performing Arts to celebrate the contributions of generations of immigrants to the rich history and culture of Northern Manhattan; * Encouraging affordable retail space by requiring long-term leases with limited rent increases in City-financed development projects; “Over the past four years, we have worked with Council Member Rodriquez and community stakeholders to develop a smart and equitable plan for the future of Inwood,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “Inwood NYC will deliver over $200 million in new public investment and create thousands of units of affordable housing, new waterfront open space, and high-quality STEM education. This plan will help Inwood remain a place for working families, and we thank Council Member Rodriguez for his leadership in making this a reality.” “The Inwood NYC plan shows what we can achieve when we work together to invest in our city’s neighborhoods, plan for the future, and protect the residents who built our communities. Thanks to an extensive planning process that incorporated invaluable input from the community, this rezoning will not only create over 1,600 new affordable homes, but protect 2,500 existing homes in this thriving Manhattan neighborhood that has long been a bastion for affordability in this city,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I thank the Mayor and Council Member Rodriguez for their leadership in this process, as well as the many community leaders and residents for their collaboration and commitment to keeping New York City affordable.” “It’s no secret that clear-sighted planning is central to creating jobs and preserving affordable housing for residents in neighborhoods across our city. I thank the Inwood community and Councilmember Rodriguez for their clear determination to ensure that everyone benefits from our sound plan for Inwood’s future,” said Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago. “The new Pre-K for All seats and STEM education center are long-term investments in our students that will put them on the path to college and careers,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “In these facilities, our students will learn how to create, work collaboratively and solve problems at a whole new level. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Rodriguez for their commitment to supporting the success of our students.” “The Inwood NYC Plan reflects many years of planning and advocacy for Inwood’s waterfront and open space,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The Plan represents significant investment that supports the community’s long-held desire to connect with a revitalized Harlem River and recreational opportunities at Monsignor Kett Playground, Highbridge and Inwood parks.” “The Department of Social Services is proud to be on the front lines of supporting tenants and low-income residents across Northern Manhattan,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “By increasing access to free legal services for Inwood tenants facing eviction, we are leveling the playing field between tenants and landlords in Housing Court. We are also doubling down on our commitment to provide wraparound services to New Yorkers by expanding our signature Homebase program to two locations in the area, including to an existing Health Department facility. At Homebase, we provide eviction prevention services, mediate landlord-tenant disputes, and provide connections to critical programs like SNAP, which help New Yorkers put food on the table every night.” “The Department of Small Business Services is committed to helping create economic security for all New Yorkers,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “We will continue to help the Inwood neighborhood thrive by ensuring that our free services are accessible to local jobseekers and small business owners. Our services include workforce development training, free commercial lease and navigating government assistance as well as targeted resources for immigrant New Yorkers.” “We’re excited to work with the Inwood community to build technology education and pilot programs as part of the neighborhood rezoning efforts,” said Alby Bocanegra, Interim Chief Technology Officer, Mayor’s Office of the CTO. “We see this as an opportunity to deliver technology in a way that will benefit Inwood and all New Yorkers.” “Residents of Community Board 12 should feel proud that their voices have been heard and their advocacy has created change. While we would’ve loved to see all of our recommendations incorporated into the final position, the Board is pleased that key provisions of our resolution have been considered - namely, the removal of the ‘commercial U’, the creation of thousands of units of affordable housing, increased funding and programs for preservation, millions of dollars for parks upgrades, and the addition of and access to the greenway,” said Shahabuddeen Ally, CB12 Chair. “NMIC's role as a settlement house is to provide a range of services to support and stabilize our community members. We are committed to working hard to ensure that the commitments made to Inwood through this rezoning are kept and that community residents are able to take advantage of the upcoming investments,” said Maria Lizardo, Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation. "For the past three years the community has been engaged in a process to improve the lives of the residents of Inwood and Washington Heights. It should be noted, that many of our residents have taken the opportunity to become engaged and have provided significant suggestions and recommendations and they have been heard! In this final phase of this process, I would like to give an enormous amount of recognition and credit to our Council Member for championing our community. He has fought for valuable and much needed resources to be invested in our community to ensure our successful longevity. We applaud the millions of dollars of investments that will be made in the arts, our parks, our schools, our adult education and skills training, our infrastructure, and our businesses! These are no short term wins, these are long term victories for our community,” said Yvonne Stennett, Executive Director of CLOTH (Community League of the Heights). “I am pleased that long-neglected Inwood and Washington Heights will receive much needed services and resources as a result of this approved rezoning,” said Fern Hertzberg, Executive Director, ARC XVI Fort Washington, Inc. “As the oldest not-for-profit in Inwood, we understand the needs of Inwood residents and the history that has brought us to this moment in time. While we respect the concerns expressed by advocates opposed to the rezoning, it has been unbridled greed in the Manhattan real estate market that has negatively impacted many neighborhoods – thus taking away a family's ability to not only to pay their rent, but also to enhance the lives of their children. We commend Councilman Rodriguez’s effort to reverse this trend by listening attentively to his community, and diligently crafting a rezoning initiative that is responsive to their concerns. We also applaud the Councilman's tenacity in the negotiation process with the administration, and his subsequent success in securing a host of sorely needed services for this underserved community,” said Charlie Corliss, Ph.D., ABPP, Executive Director, Inwood Community Services. "As part of the rezoning, the city has committed to building Inwood's first performing arts center dedicated to immigrants - an historic accomplishment for the arts and culture community uptown. People's Theatre Project is committed to working with its partners and the city to see this vision realized,” said Mino Lora, Executive Director of People's Theatre Project. Responding to City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s call for action during his State of the District speech in March 2015, a City team led by NYCEDC engaged more than 2,500 residents and other local stakeholders in planning for the long-term future of Inwood. From this dialogue, the City and its partners developed the Inwood NYC Action Plan, first released in 2017 and updated in 2018 — a set of strategies and actions to achieve the following community-identified priorities: * Produce affordable homes, keep existing affordable homes affordable, and protect tenants; * Connect Inwood to the Harlem River by extending the vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood east of 10th Avenue and reclaiming the waterfront for the public; * Preserve and strengthen Inwood's distinctive neighborhood character west of 10th Avenue * Invest in the people of Inwood by increasing access to workforce training and jobs, youth programming, and other services, and supporting local businesses; * Invest in infrastructure such as streets, parks, sewers and community spaces; This comprehensive neighborhood plan involves efforts from a range of City agencies, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Human Resource Administration, Department of Small Business Services, Department of City Planning, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Education, and Department of Transportation.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 7:19am
Errol Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. It’s Monday, and that means Mayor de Blasio is here for our weekly discussion. He is just back from a trip down to the Big Easy, New Orleans. Good evening, Mr. Mayor. How was New Orleans? Mayor Bill de Blasio: It was amazing. Progressive leaders from all over the country, and I can tell you this much Errol. There is some real energy on the ground to change the way we do things all over this country, it’s amazing. I spoke to a lot of my fellow mayors, folks all over the country, governors, all sorts of folks who – by the way a lot of them are looking at examples from New York City. Like with what we’ve done with pre-K, what we’ve done with neighborhood policing. They’re taking inspiration from that. But we’re also gaining a lot of great ideas from other places. But most importantly what I think you see is the kind of thinking that is going to change what’s possible, and this is what’s so exciting to me – pushing the spectrum, changing the debate. More conservative folks actually did this really, really well around the time when Ronald Reagan and after it to change what was possible in the public mind what progressives are doing more and more now. And I saw that really in action when I was in New Orleans. Louis: What’s the thing you think is the most exciting thing about what’s possible that wasn’t considered possible before? Mayor: I think there’s an entirely different discussion going on about – for example taxing the wealthy in a way that’s fair and appropriate. I think that whole discussion that led to the tax bill in Washington kind of had an interesting boomerang effect. Now people are talking about how to repeal that legislation. Remember, that legislation was horrible for New York City, and New York State. It took away state and local deductibility. There’s a huge movement out there building to go back and repeal that obviously with a different Congress. Take away that legislation that was a giveaway to the wealthy and to corporations, restore state and local deducibility and think more deeply about what real progressive taxation looks like in this country because that is going to give us the kinds of resources that we need to make a real change. Louis: Well, yeah, is it a fully fleshed out theory or is it more like look we need money to do different things like education, infrastructure. There are rich people we need a good source, which isn’t really a fully fleshed out theory of how to keep the economy booming. Mayor: I don’t think that people have thought about every single element of how to have an ideal economy, but I do think the building blocks are there. That you need to reorder the way we think about revenue. Right now we took a step in the wrong direction away from progressive taxation with the law that was passed recently. Again, that can and must be repealed. But then you go farther, for example one of the notions that’s been out there for the last couple of years, a trillion dollar infrastructure plan. That’s only possible if you achieve that repeal particularly speaking. But upon achieving that repeal, putting that money into something like infrastructure would be a smart investment particularly for places like New York. You know, I’ve talked to a lot of people about pre-K, and early childhood education. This is something that’s gaining real energy around the country. I talked to some of my colleagues who are really making it more and more of a priority. Think about that at a national level. Think what it would mean for the country to have Pre-K become the norm all over this country. What it would mean educationally, what it would mean in terms of kids not ending up in some of the troubles that they do later in life. So I think the whole discussion is changing. Is it a perfect plan yet? No. But I think the whole discussion is changing. Louis: Okay, very interesting. On the practical side of things we are somewhere in the 90 day range between now and the primaries and – your endorsements? You’ve talked about forming a PAC, you’ve talked about— Mayor: I have formed a PAC. Louis: Getting involved in some New York races. You have formed a PAC. [Laughter] Louis: And you’ve talked about sort of getting out there and sort of intervening in some races. I want to – if you don’t have specific races to talk about, what kind of district will a Bill de Blasio make a difference in? Mayor: Look, I would separate for a moment, you know, the primaries from the general. Primaries, I’m going to get involved, I’m obviously going to decide that real soon, but the good news is that most people don’t pay attention until the few weeks before the election. Uh, general election, we’re 90 days or so out, there’s still plenty of time. Look when you think about people around the country, obviously, some of them would like me to come in and campaign with them, others, their first need is for resources and that’s what they need most; that’s what I’m going to help them to do. It really depends. Each candidacy is different. And you know what I’ve always said, if you really want to support someone, you ask them a simple question: how can I help you? What do you need? Louis: What are they telling you? Mayor: Some say I’d love for you to come out and campaign and draw attention to what we’re doing, and validate it. Others say hey, I’d really like you to focus on resources. Some say both. But what I’m going to do in the coming days is decide on some of the elections in this state. I’m certainly going to making choices about which elections to be involved with around the country. And we’ll get rolling out as each decision is made and as each specific action is determined. Louis: I noticed you were, um – well, that Cynthia Nixon was also at the Netroots gallery in New Orleans. I’m wondering if you’d made a decision in her case. I’ll obviously be letting you know when that has happened. She was on a different day, although I understand she was certainly well received there. Mayor: Okay. Let’s move on to something related to elections, which is, I understand, you’re going to do something you must know is going to get you in some trouble politically. Which is to— Mayor: You’re reveling in this, you relish this! Louis: Well, no, no, well you know what I appreciate it, I appreciate it, because it’s so easy and I’ve, you know, I’ve spent decades covering people who do the easy thing. This is a not so easy thing. You’ve decided to go and use the resources of your office and the Board of Elections to make sure that people who are in detention, in the jail system, on Rikers Island, are registered to vote. Mayor: Yep. Look, we are in a moment – I think this is an inflection point in this country on two topics that now merge in this issue. On democracy, there’s a growing understanding that our democracy is hurting, that we have to absolutely change our approach to getting people to participate. We’ve got to open up the democratic process and encourage people – and right now, particularly in a state like New York, we’re doing the exact opposite. You can’t register on the day of the election. There’s no early voting. Everything is backward here and that needs to be fixed. But then there’s the question of mass incarceration. More and more in this country I think there’s an understanding that mass incarceration movement, that time in history was horribly broken, to get out of that we have to focus on never letting people go to jail to begin with but also, God forbid, someone does go to jail make sure they don’t come back. One of the best ways is to engage them as citizens and productive, positive members of society, and voting is one of the ultimate expressions of that. So, but for people serving time for a felony or on parole for a felony in the state, everyone else has a right to vote. Most people in Rikers, of course, are there for either a very short time for a sentence, or awaiting their determination by the criminal justice system, by the adjudication of their case. Why should they in effect be cut out of our democratic process? So what we found over the years, you know, there really wasn’t any effort to help them vote. There were no real absentee ballot efforts or registration efforts. From now on, we’re going to change that all. For the first time in the history of this city, there will be ongoing voter registration on Rikers Island and in the whole corrections system. There will be efforts to give absentee ballots to inmates for the districts they come from and a real effort to encourage voting and to recognize it as part of getting back in swing of being a positive— Louis: Okay, so you, in fact, you partially answered what my next question was going to be which was that: are they going to use, say, Rikers Island, as the address, I guess the answer to that is no— Mayor: It’s the home address, whatever they’re home neighborhood is. Louis: In some ways, it should be harder to do this than it is, meaning, I think in the fiscal year 2017 number, from your Department of Corrections, was that the average stay on Rikers and the related houses of detention is 63 days. I’ve seen some reporting suggesting that it’s considerably longer and closer to a half-year, but it really should be a relatively short window. Mayor: Right. Louis: People shouldn’t be there so long that, you know, we built a high school there for all of the juveniles. and in that you can register voters because it is a semi-permanent address at this point. Mayor: Well again that’s why we are not using it as the address. It’s where you come from is your address. And look whether you are there for days or you are there for months, we still want to respect each person as an individual, as a human being. They need to be involved in their society positively and productively. We want them registered to vote. We want them voting. We want them to never see the inside of a jail cell again and I actually think those ideas go together. Louis: And I mean not to trouble your sleep tonight but as you know registration records are public so people, reporters can find out who gets registered, compare it to other data bases and what will follow will be stories about somebody who did or accused of doing something fairly horrendous who now has the right to vote. You’re okay with that? Mayor: The law is the law. Right now the law in this state says as best I understand it, if you are a convicted of a felony and you are serving time for a felony, or you are on parole for felony, you cannot vote in that time. Once you have paid your debt to society you can vote. If you convicted of a lesser crime you can vote. If you are just accused of a crime but you have not been convicted, you can vote. We need maximum participation. We need to honor the constitutional assumption of innocent until proven guilty. We also have to honor the notion of that when someone has paid their debt to society, their situation should be normalized. I mean this is a fight all over this country, to a big fight coming up in Florida. I know you know a lot of about Florida, you know to make sure that folks who did serve their time now are given back their democratic right. You know someone might have done something really unfortunate and inappropriate but if they went through a process and served their time, they are still a part of our community, they deserve the right to vote. Louis: Okay, very good we’ll see how that all works out. We are going to take a quick break, I’ve got more to talk about with Mayor de Blasio. […] Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. I’m joined once again by Mayor Bill de Blasio. And Mr. Mayor, the Council is moving to a vote on capping the number of Uber, Lyft, and other app hail vehicles. We just had a report suggesting that people are already positioning themselves to turn this cap into effectively another medallion system where people are buying up lots of permissions, leasing, renting, will probably increase the price on those things. Are we replacing one problem with a new one? Mayor: Look it’s always good to ask the question are there unintended consequences. I don’t see that in this case but I want to start by saying procedurally what this law would do is it’s a one year cap and in that time there is time to study the overall situation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission would decide from there what to do. But here’s what I think we’ve seen – we’ve seen a race to the bottom in terms of wages and in terms of the livelihoods of these drivers, not just in the for hire vehicle sector but in the yellow cab sector as well. So the Uber business model is flood the market with as many cars and drivers as possible, gain more market share, and to hell with what happens to those drivers or anybody else involved. And in the end what that has created is the kind of race to the bottom that has literally driven down wages below minimum wage level for a lot of Uber drivers and even for other drivers. There was as study that came out from the University of California, went into real detail about the huge seismic impact of this. If you correct the situation by saying okay there’s a cap now, what I think will logically happen is the available number of vehicles and drivers distributed out to where the need is better, we get to see those drivers do better. We like to see everyone served but not such an oversaturation that no one can actually make a living and so I think when you add up all the for hire vehicles, huge new number compared to a few years ago – the existing yellow cabs, you know green cabs, all the liveries, car services in the outer boroughs, that’s a lot of different options for people but it’s not continuing to be this continued explosive growth that just forces down everyone’s wages. Louis: As you know there are, including some civil rights leaders, people sort of arguing the consumer side saying that you know we have had transportation desserts in effect created by first the yellow cab drivers and now there’s some signs that it’s not entirely solved, even as there are all of these new for hire vehicles pouring into the market, are there, are you comfortable that those voices are being heard? Mayor: Those voices are very important to me and they are certainly are very important to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Again as we study over the next year we are going to have account for that. Look I think transportation desserts are a bigger concern for the city and we have tried to address it structurally in a lot of ways, select bus service being added, 21 new routes coming, ferry service now reaching a lot of new areas of the city, the Rockaways, obviously Soundview coming soon in the Bronx for an example. You know, more and more bike sharing, there’s a lot of different things going on in transportation but I would note that when you have an over saturated dynamic, that is not helping a lot of people in need, that’s driving down the wages of the people who do the driving, it’s not necessary helping the people in the transportation desserts, especially if a lot of that attention is being forced on Midtown Manhattan. We need to think systematically about how to make sure that people in every neighborhood get the transportation they need in a way they can afford without any discrimination, that’s what we are going to study. But what I do know if purposeful oversaturation of the market doesn’t ultimately help anyone. It only creates desperation among drivers. Louis: Okay, we will see how all of this works out and I guess final question on this, are you concerned about possibly getting sort of bigfoooted in Albany meaning Uber and Lyft and others who want to maybe change things around, they suggested a $100 million fund, that was just kind of swept aside and not considered seriously for drivers, I would imagine their next step might be to go and invoke aggressive use of the Vehicle and Traffic Law out of Albany and maybe take the issue away from the City. Mayor: I wouldn’t be shocked if that was attempted, I don’t think it would work. First of all, on the offer of a fund, I mean, if they want to go ahead and do a fund, God bless them, and that would be a nice version of respect for, you know, all the people whose wages they have driven down but it would not solve the problem. And I think you cannot say, hey we’ll create a fund while continuing to deepen a fundamental injustice and a structural problem. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Going to Albany, they could try. But I think what’s happened here is people have woken up to this race to the bottom with wages, they’ve woken up to the fact that these are major, you know, giant corporations, multi-national corporations with their own agenda. Certainly everyone has been painfully moved by the suicides of the drivers and it speaks volumes to what’s going on out there. Everyone is experience more congestion than ever. I think there’s a lot of reasons why the leaders in Albany are not going to see things any differently than leaders here. I also think that we’re going to have Democratic State Senate that’s going to hear the voices of people all over the City that say that we do not want to see a dumbing down of wages and benefits for working people in this City and they’re going to be sensitive to that. Louis: Okay, my suggestion by the way, all electric cars. Right? Mayor: Ahead of the curve there. Louis: And make it all green. Let’s talk about the about the Inwood rezoning that’s also up – unprecedented amounts of conflict, controversy, the passion around this. Your Office is at the center of this. My understanding is how rezonings happen is that you first go to a member of the Council and say, look are you interested in this, and if they’re not interested you kind of move on. What happened here? Because despite what the Councilman has said, he’s kind of going back and forth on it, he’s the man in the middle. We’re going to hear from him at another time. Mayor: Sure. Louis: But it seems like the community is really up in arms about this. Mayor: I would caution. When you say unprecedented, that’s not my impression. I’ve been Mayor for four and a half years, but before that as Public Advocates Councilmember, I’ve seen a lot of rezonings, I think a lot of them have generated real passion on all sides. This one, you’re exactly right, the only way we proceed is, and here’s the basic message to any community and Councilmember, we’re ready to make the kind of investment in a community that only happens basically once in a generation. In this case it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re ready to create a lot more affordable housing, both new affordable housing and preserving existing affordable housing. That means people who are facing those displacement pressures actually get guaranteed continuity, they’re going to stay in the community, they’re going to be subsidized, they’re going to get to stay there. That’s a very big deal. In this case, you know money for education, money for parks, all sorts of things the community has wanted. If a Councilmember at the beginning says I’m sorry that doesn’t interest or I can’t accept that, exactly what you said, I’ve said it publically, we will take our resources and our focus and go to another community that wants it. And most do. You’re right, the Councilman who I think is a very good representative, someone I share a lot of values with, he’s engaged us throughout, he demanded a lot for his community, he got a lot for his community. Obviously the final vote is coming up but I think in the end a whole lot of people in Inwood look at the package and say, this is the kind of thing we’ve been asking for decades. We saw that in East New York, we saw that in Far Rockaway, we saw that in East Harlem, not necessarily every single activist agreed, but a whole lot of everyday people who have been clamoring for more investment in parks, and schools, and jobs, and more affordable housing, they said, you know, that’s what we’ve been asking for, we’re glad it’s finally happening. They want to make sure it was guaranteed, bluntly it was not in the previous administrations, in this administration these are legally binding agreements. Louis: On the question of development, the notion of new jail in Lower Manhattan. Everything I have ever heard for years about closing down Rikers Island talked about the need to expand, rebuild the Queens House of Detention, expand the Brooklyn House of Detention, get the Bronx Barge replaced with something on land, but everybody I’ve ever talk to said, look the Tombs, it’s too dense, it’s already in a sort of tightly congested area, you got to be happy with the 900 beds you have. You want to try something different? Mayor: Look, we have a situation here where we are creating four new facilities. The one in the Bronx will be on the Police tow pound up there. The barge will continue - I’ve said this to everyone – will continue till the end of the process, then we won’t need the barge when we know we can get off Rikers, we’ll no longer need the barge as well. But for Manhattan the initial assumption was that we would have to take the site that we currently have in Manhattan and build higher. There was a second alternative that was found just a few blocks away, that is being looked at as well, they’re both on publically owned land. We’re going to ultimately - the most important voice will be the Councilmember, Margaret Chin, who’s been a really important part of this process, who’s very much in favor of getting off Rikers and ready to work with us to get it done. So we’ve got two sites that we need to choose between but both could work, but in the end you’re going to have four sites around the City with roughly equal sized facilities and that will be enough to get us off Rikers once and for all. Louis: There’s this proposal that the New York Times is floating for a beach in Manhattan, yes, no? Mayor: So actually I think it’s an interesting idea. The initial response from my administration was one that was fair in saying, hey this will not be easy, it comes with lots of problems, I think that was a fair insider response but as a New Yorker I am kind of intrigued. So we’re going to look at it, it’s true some other cities have found ways to do it. Now let’s look outside of Manhattan, lets – I’m a Brooklynite, you’re a Brooklynite, we have great beaches in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, we have Orchard Beach in the Bronx, there’s a lot of great beaches, but for Manhattan if we could find a way, it would be really intriguing. It would take a ton of work. Here’s my message to all New Yorkers, until we open a beach formally, do not swim where you’re not supposed to swim. Louis: My dad used to swim in the Hudson River man. You could smell him from a block away, it was wild. Mayor: I want you to do a public service announcement okay. Louis: Thanks a lot. Good to see you. We’ll see you next week.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 4:18am
For the first time ever, City will facilitate direct pick-up and delivery of voter registration forms and absentee ballots in City jails, expediting the delivery process to meet Local, State and Federal election deadlines NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City is launching a robust voter registration and information campaign to help incarcerated individuals exercise their right to vote. For the first time ever, the City will facilitate direct pick-up and delivery of voter registration forms and absentee ballots, bypassing the jail mailing system to ensure timely delivery of paperwork. The effort is being led in partnership with the Department of Correction, the Legal Aid Society and the Campaign Finance Board. Increasing voting access is part of Mayor de Blasio’s DemocracyNYC initiative, which aims to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy locally and nationally, including by pushing the State to enact same-day voter registration and consolidate primary elections. “Voting access must be expanded and protected in our city. That applies to everyone, including people in custody,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This initiative will help more incarcerated New Yorkers participate in our democracy and have their voices heard.” “With DemocracyNYC, we’re ensuring that every New Yorker exercises their right to have their voices heard,” said Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson. “Incarcerated individuals have that right as well, and we’re working to get them the information they need to vote and become active participants in our democracy.” "Voting is the most basic American right, and we must take every opportunity to increase access to this right for all people. I'm proud that the Council was able to usher a law to ensure that all incarcerated registered voters can participate in the democratic process despite the circumstances they may find themselves in. I want to thank the Administration and the Department of Correction for continuing our efforts by facilitating and administering this program," said Speaker Corey Johnson . “Even though most people in our custody are here only a short time, it is our duty to help them by ensuring that they have appropriate access to the electoral process. Reminding the incarcerated that their vote matters is a powerful way of reinforcing their ties to our community and is just as important as the many job training and re-entry programs we offer every day,” said DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “Helping New Yorkers become civically engaged and shape the future of city they call home is the core reason why the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit was created by this administration,” said Mayor’s Public Engagement Acting Director Eric Rotondi. “Expanding our reach to City jails furthers our mission and will ensure that all New Yorkers have the ability to exercise their right to vote.” “Our democracy is strongest when all New Yorkers participate,” said Onida Coward Mayers, Director of Voter Assistance at the New York City Campaign Finance Board. “Giving incarcerated New Yorkers access to the ballot box by making sure they are registered to vote and receive absentee ballots helps ensure we are living up to that aspiration.” “Incarceration does not define these individuals, and they are entitled to express their opinion and deserve to be heard just like everyone else,” said Anthony Posada, Supervising Attorney with the Community Justice Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “We’re proud to help re-enfranchise and empower those New Yorkers who felt they had no role in our democracy because of their incarceration. Voting is a sacred right that helps with the transition back to society and it should never be hindered.” Before this initiative, registration forms and absentee ballots were processed with other outgoing mail in jail facilities, which is subject to security procedures that may have inadvertently caused missed deadlines. Incarcerated individuals will now fill out and submit forms directly to staff who will ensure registration forms and absentee ballots are delivered to the Board of Elections in a timely manner. There are currently many incarcerated individuals in City jails who are eligible to vote. On Monday, August 6, volunteers from the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, CFB and the Legal Aid Society launched voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns within DOC facilities. This included displaying more than 1,200 posters throughout facilities encouraging people who are incarcerated to vote and eventually stocking libraries with non-partisan information about candidates published by CFB’s NYC Votes. Additionally, incarcerated individuals will have the opportunity to attend daily, voluntary discussions with DOC program counselors to learn more about the voting process. The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit will also begin engaging visitors to City jails and encouraging them to register to vote. “I support the City’s leadership in facilitating the voter registration and absentee ballot delivery of incarcerated individuals in our jails who are eligible to participate in elections. Our democracy is stronger when it reflects the voices of all who have the right to vote,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans, as is access to it. Making it easier for those in custody of our city jails to vote – many of whom have not been convicted – shows that every voice counts, because they do. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for your commitment to ensuring that every New Yorker has a chance to vote,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice. “The Osborne Association applauds the City and the Legal Aid Society for their partnership to ensure that the thousands of people detained on Rikers know that they can vote, are provided non-partisan resources to learn about candidates, and have ready access to registration forms and absentee ballots that will be delivered to the Board of Elections in a timely manner," said Tanya Krupat, Director of Osborne's Center for Justice Across Generations. "It is crucial that everyone – especially individuals who are often the subject of electoral campaigns but are less likely to be invited into them – participate in our democracy in every way possible. That this initiative also includes outreach to the 700 adult visitors per day to Rikers further strengthens communities and their civic participation. We stand ready to assist the City in this effort.”
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 4:18am
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio signed seven bills aimed at making New York the fairest city in the nation: Int. 741-A requiring the city to provide free domestic telephone service to individuals within the custody of the Department of Correction; Int. 779-A requires the Department of Correction to issue reports on the use of tasers; Int. 510-B and Int. 724-A requiring the disclosure of information regarding the rights of those seeking bail bond services; Int. 399-B and Int. 411-A regarding Senior Centers; and Int. 981-A, requires online short-term rental platforms to report data about those transactions. Department of Correction Int. 741-A requires the city to provide free domestic telephone service to individuals within the custody of the department of corrections, and prohibits the city from collecting any revenue for providing said telephone service. “This piece of legislation will ensure that no incarcerated person will have to pay to reach their loved ones on the phone and maintain crucial connections to the support networks key to their rehabilitation,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Today we take a major step forward in the areas of criminal justice reform, public safety, and affordable housing. No one should have to choose between speaking to their loved ones and paying the bills and I am proud to say that New Yorkers with loved ones who are incarcerated will no longer have to make this decision. In addition, legislation to rein in illegal hotels and shady operators using Airbnb to the detriment of everyday New Yorkers will increase public safety and help preserve our affordable housing stock. I thank my colleagues in the Council for supporting these common sense measures and I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing them into law,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “Free access to telephone service will help people in custody maintain strong ties with friends and family and will play an important role in supporting their successful transition back into our community,” said NYC Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. Int. 779-A requires the Department of Correction to issue quarterly reports on the use by Department staff of any device capable of administering an electric shock (Tasers). “These pieces of legislation are a step forward for reform of the criminal justice system. Intro. 741 ensures those who are incarcerated have a line of communication with the outside world, at no cost to them. And Intro. 799 allows an appropriate check on the use of force inside our city jails. As Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, I thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Richards for stewarding these important bills, and the Mayor for recognizing their merit and signing them into law,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Chair of the Criminal Justice committee. “We should be using every tool in our disposal to limit attacks on our Corrections officers and emergency service workers, but at the same time, we should be keeping a close eye on the use of electric shock devices in our jails to ensure an increased use doesn’t result in increased abuse,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Int. 779-A will require the Department of Corrections to report on their officers’ use of Tasers and provide the public with the necessary transparency that should come along with any use of force by law enforcement. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and Council Member Powers for their support in making a more accountable and transparent DOC.” Bail Bond Consumer Bill of Rights Int. 510-B requires bail bond agents to post a sign prepared by DCA containing information regarding maximum premiums or compensation under state law, and how to file a complaint with DCA. Int. 724-A requires DCA to produce a consumer bill of rights for those seeking bail bond services, requires bail bond agents to post a sign containing the information about the business, and adds additional protections for consumers seeking bail bond services. “For far too long, New Yorkers have turned to the bail bond industry, which has a history of exploiting those who are economically disadvantaged and coming to them during a time of need, said NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Earlier this year, we took action against bail bond agent Marvin Morgan for engaging in deceptive and unlawful trade practices. These two new bills will allow us to continue to protect the economic lives of New Yorkers by requiring bail bonds businesses to provide customers with a bill of rights and to disclose information regarding charges, which will further hold bail bonds businesses accountable.” “Today New York City takes a meaningful step forward towards treating bail bonds as the dangerous consumer financial products they have always been. My bill requires bail bond businesses to post the rules they are required to follow so that vulnerable New Yorkers are informed about the laws that protect them,” said Council Member Rory Lancman. “The city must do everything in its power to ensure that bail bond businesses follow the rules the state has already laid out.” Senior Centers and Adult Day Cares Int. 399-B requires the Department of the Aging to report annually on participant attendance, services, budgets, costs, and rates of utilization at senior centers. Int. 411-A requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to ensure that all senior centers and social adult day cares that are food service establishments under Article 81 of the New York City Health Code are inspected on an annual basis. “For many of our city’s older New Yorkers, a meal at their neighborhood senior center or Social Adult Daycare is more than just a meal. It’s an entry point through which they can access specialized services, quality care, enriching programming and a supervised socialized setting – all of which are vital to maintaining full and healthy lives,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “By requiring annual Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspections and calling on DOHMH and the Department for the Aging to make inspection results publicly available, Intro 411-A will strengthen our City’s efforts to expand seniors’ access to nutritious quality meals that are in compliance with the New York City health code, and empower families and caregivers to make informed decisions for their loved ones. I thank Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, and fellow aging advocates for their continued partnership to build a city that puts our seniors first.” “The fact that the core of Department for the Aging’s service portfolio is the agency’s citywide network of 246 contracted senior centers frequently providing educational programs, congregate and home delivered meals, recreational programming, along with a variety of essential services, truly speaks to the importance of these centers and the population they serve,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “This bill will provide not just greater transparency, but also better understanding and insight for our senior centers in the hope that we can help adequately provide essential services to the population that needs it the most.” Short Term Rentals Int. 981-A requires online short-term rental platforms that provide booking services for a fee to report data about those transactions to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. The report shall be submitted on a monthly basis. The bill creates a per-listing fine of $1,500 a month for each month of inaccurate reporting, or the total fees collected during the previous 12 months, whichever is greater. “We look forward to working with our partners in the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to help deter illegal short-term rentals,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE. “This law provides the City with the critical data it needs to preserve our housing stock, keep visitors safe, and ensure residents feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue that impacts all New Yorkers,” said Christian Klossner, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. “I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for standing with the New York City Council, advocates, and tenants as he signs Int. 981 into law. Years before I was a member of the Council, I worked as a housing organizer on the Lower East Side, where I heard countless stories from tenants and organizers about illegal short-term rentals jolting them out of the security and stability of an affordable home. Now, with Int. 981, we will finally address this crisis by requiring short-term rental services to report vital data to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, allowing them to pursue more effective oversight and action over the bad actors that exist throughout this largely unmonitored market,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 5:12am
NEW YORK CITY –-Mayor de Blasio and NYC & Company—New York City’s official destination marketing organization—announced today that they will welcome Climate Week to New York City from September 24-30, 2018. Organized by The Climate Group, an international non-profit organization, Climate Week NYC will gather international leaders from across the public, private and government sectors to showcase and discuss global climate action in New York City, with support from NYC & Company. “We are honored to again welcome The Climate Group and Climate Week NYC for the 10th year,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Here in New York, we’re taking bold action on climate. Through our ground breaking OneNYC strategy and our ambitious 1.5˚C Plan, we’ve committed our city to hit the highest goals of the Paris climate agreement. We’re divesting from fossil fuels, mandating that our largest buildings cut their emissions, and investing in electric vehicles. Through investments in resiliency and sustainability, we are building a fairer city for all.” “Climate Week NYC is the largest climate week in the world and as one of the key summits in the international calendar—which runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly—has been driving climate action forward since its launch in 2009,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group. “We are thrilled to be hosting our 10th Climate Week NYC and to appear on the world’s stage, to continue to advance climate action to the top of the global agenda.” “Our goal is to leverage the City’s significant and growing sustainability efforts to position the destination as ‘the capital city of a responsible world,” said Fred Dixon, President & CEO of NYC & Company. “From our most iconic parks becoming permanently car-free, plans for Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to house one of the City’s largest rooftop farms, and many of our leading hotels embracing the City’s Carbon Challenge, events such as Climate Week NYC are the perfect platform to engage our City and the world to demonstrate their pledge to better protect the planet.” Approximately 10,000 people from over 40 countries are expected to attend 150 events—including panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions and seminars. An opening ceremony on September 24—featuring key speakers and dignitaries including Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Edmund G Brown, Governor of California, and President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti—is planned for The Times Center in Manhattan. Along with Climate Week NYC, New York City has recently attracted high-profile, large-scale events including WorldPride in 2019. These monumental events will help fuel record breaking visitation numbers. In 2017, there were a 62.8 million visitors. "New York City is thrilled to host the 10th annual Climate Week to showcase the climate leadership happening all across the five boroughs," said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. "In the absence of federal leadership in Washington, cities all across the country are stepping up their ambition to achieve the Paris Agreement. Here in NYC, we are accelerating our GHG reductions, adapting our city, and divesting from fossil fuels as part of our comprehensive OneNYC strategy. Congratulations to the Climate Group for building an effective and successful platform for climate action over the last decade and we look forward to the next 10 years of partnership." “From protecting our coastlines, buildings, and infrastructure to making our neighborhoods safer and more vibrant, New York City is dedicated to confronting climate change head-on and protecting our city and its citizens from the associated threats,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “Climate Week NYC brings together some of the most brilliant innovators around the world to do just that.” “Climate change is here and this moment requires decisive, ambitious, and collaborative action,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Climate Week NYC is an opportunity to inspire and embolden us all to deliver necessary solutions.” "As the Ranking Democratic Member on the State Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications, I am excited to celebrate Climate Week NYC. This is a great initiative and effective way to engage all stakeholders as we work to protect the environment,” said Senator Kevin Parker. A New Generation of Sustainable Hotels New York City’s evolving hotel scene is embracing eco-conscious design and practices. Overall, 19 properties are currently committed to the NYC Carbon Challenge. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge opened in 2017 as part of the eco-friendly 1 Hotels brand. The Grand Hyatt New York and The Peninsula New York have vowed to shrink their carbon footprints through upgrades like high-efficiency boilers and LED lighting. The Pierre participates in EarthCheck, a program which measures the property’s impact on the environment, and boutique Crosby Street Hotel was awarded the City’s first LEED Gold Certified building. Park Preservation and Honoring Horticulture As of June 2018, Central Park—the world’s most iconic greenspace, which welcomes more than 42 million visitors yearly—joined Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in becoming entirely car-free. Suspended above the City streets, The High Line—an abandoned elevated rail line transformed into a horticultural oasis—opened its first section in 2009 as a habitat for birds, insects and humans seeking respite. At Battery Park City, horticulturists manage the neighborhood’s park without pesticides and engage in large-scale composting. This summer, New York City welcomed new green spaces at Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Domino Park in Williamsburg, and Pier 3 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Green Roofs and Urban Farms The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is currently home to a 6.75-acre green roof, completed in 2014, which attracts wildlife, provides insulation that cuts the building’s energy use by 26 percent, and absorbs storm water. The Javits Center’s latest initiative is to cultivate a nearly 1 acre rooftop farm on the roof of the expansion, with the intention to grow produce to serve delegates. Atop Brooklyn’s Barclays Center—famed for its sporting events and concerts—is a 3-acre green roof with another sloping over its subway entrance. Brooklyn Grange keeps bees in over 30 naturally-managed, rooftop hives citywide and operates the world’s two largest rooftop soil farms in Long Island City, Queens and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. New to the Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden introduced Edible Academy this spring. The three-acre campus features a green roof, demonstration kitchen, technology lab, teaching greenhouse, solar pavilion, vegetable gardens, teaching and performance spaces and more. Established in 2012 to help feed, inspire, and educate the local community, Snug Harbor’s 2.5-acre Heritage Farm on Staten Island produces fresh fruits and vegetables in an environmentally sustainable manner. In 2017 Heritage Farm staff worked with over 100 volunteers and educated over 2,280 children on sustainable farming, food sources, and plant biology. Roosevelt and Governor’s Island Roosevelt Island is home to Cornell Tech’s in-progress campus, featuring cutting-edge green buildings the “net-zero” Bloomberg Center and “The House”, the world’s largest LEED-Platinum passive house structure. On Governors Island, eco highlights include an urban farm with resident goats, a composting center and the Billion Oyster Project, an ecosystem restoration and education initiative which has already planted 25 million oysters of a 2035 goal of one billion oysters, to create waterway filtration in New York Harbor. City’s Top Attractions LEED The Way The City’s LEED buildings are models of sustainable urban architecture. In 2009, the Empire State Building underwent a green-focused retrofit of the iconic 1931 skyscraper while One World Trade Center was constructed as one of the world’s tallest LEED-certified buildings. At Hudson Yards—the largest private real estate development in the history of the US—14 acres of gardens and public spaces, rainwater-collection infrastructure to reuse 10 million gallons per year and an on-site hyper-efficient power plant are leading green features. Of note, the first completed building in the emerging neighborhood, 10 Hudson Yards, is LEED Platinum certified. Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum earned a Silver LEED certification after it was built in 2008 for solar-generated electric power, recycled rubber flooring and geothermal heating and cooling, while the venue also teaches children about ecology through hands-on exhibits. The Whitney Museum of American Art is also LEED Gold certified for its energy-saving measures, recycled materials used in construction, and green roof which is home to two beehives. Shining examples of the NYC theater industry’s commitment to sustainability include the creation of The Broadway Green Alliance. To learn more about Climate Week NYC from Adam Lake, Head of Media and Corporate Communications at The Climate Group, and Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company, click here . NYC & Company Press Contact: Chris Heywood, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 5:12am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Brothers and sisters, did you just hear that extraordinary man? This is a sign of change, that Birmingham, Alabama elected Randall Woodfin. Let's give him a big round of applause. [Applause] And, Netroots Nation, there are so many amazing things happening these last days. Everyone here has a lot to feel proud and passionate about. Do me a favor, please, applaud your neighbor, give them some love and support. [Applause] Now, this is a room full of loud and proud progressives, and this is the place that I want to be because I can feel this is where change is going to start in this country. I know that with the activism shown these last days, all things are possible. I know we can create a country where healthcare is a right, not a privilege. [Applause] I know that we can stamp out structural racism once and for all. [Applause] And together, we can work for that day, and that day must come, when the wealthy finally pay their fair share of taxes. [Applause] Now, to get there we have to talk about our strength and the way to keep true to our values. And I'm going to tell you about what I've experienced. And I have to start by telling you, like Randall and so many other folks who are progressives and ran for office, I was not supposed to get this job. I was not supposed to have the honor of addressing you with this title. The conventional wisdom back in 2013, they wrote my political obituary literally the day I announced my campaign. And a lot of progressives have felt the exact same thing. But it turns out, the purveyors of conventional wisdom were wrong in New York City, wrong in Birmingham, wrong in New Orleans. They've been wrong a lot of the time, haven't they? [Applause] And this has led me to a fundamental idea I want to share with you, that as progressives we've been lied to a lot. We have been lied to over and over again. We've been lied to by the pundits, we've been lied to by our political opponents, sometimes by our political friends, too often by the very party that so many of us are members of. [Applause] And I think there's really three big lies and I want to talk about each very quickly. Lie number one, they say progressives can't win. Lie number two, they say progressives can't govern. Lie number three, they say progressives are the political minority in this country. I don't buy any of it. And I think they try to make us believe the lies they tell about us. That's what they try to do. They try and take away our passion and our confidence by undermining the things we know to be true. Let me break this down a little further. And to do so I'm going to take you far, far away to a magical place called New York City. Come with me on a journey. I'm going to talk about the three lies. Lie number one – in my city, they said a progressive could not win. That may sound hard to believe about New York City, but for two decades we were governed by Rudy Giuliani – Audience: Boo – Mayor: – and a billionaire who was the richest person in the city at that time, Michael Bloomberg. So, given that history, when the 2013 election came along, all the pundits said only an establishment Democrat could win. But guess what? Something powerful, something amazing happened. Progressives banded together, we said – no, wait, this is our city. We did not water down our message. We made it clear. New York City – I said it over and over again – New York City was a tale of two cities. The level of inequality was unacceptable, and it had to end. That led to a strong victory in the democratic primary, an even stronger victory in the general election. So now, what were those poor pundits to do? They said a progressive couldn't win, and they had a progressive mayor. So the next thing, lie number two, is to say – a progressive is in office and surely they will fail. They can't govern. It'll all come crashing down on them. Well, I knew that was wrong, but I also knew, and all progressives need to understand this lesson, that once we get into power we've got to move really fast. We've got to move fast, we've got to make a difference. The voices of opposition, the powerful forces of opposition, they will gather quickly. But we got a great lesson almost a hundred years ago from FDR and the first 100 days. Make change quickly. Make sure people can feel it. If they feel progressive change, they will want a whole lot more. [Applause] Mayor: So in the first six months we created Universal Pre-K for the children of New York City. [Applause] I want you to feel the sheer magnitude. The day I took office only 20,000 kids were getting full-day pre-K. Now every single school day in New York City, 70,000 children get all-day pre-K for free. [Applause] And think of that, as progressives that is the epitome of what we believe in – a fair and equal start for everyone. That's the society that we want, isn't it? We made that vision come to life and now we have to go farther, because if you're a progressive, once you get a victory you want to go farther, don't you? [Applause] So now we are going to give a free full-day early childhood education to every three year old in New York City. [Applause] Let me give you another powerful example of making real change. When I took office there was a horrible and broken and derisive policy of stop and frisk that degraded young men of color in our city, that divided police and community. And it was a dangerous, dangerous policy. It was based on a falsehood, and a falsehood that has literally cost the lives of people of color over generations in this nation – the falsehood that you have to choose between safety and fairness. That you can only have one or the other. You can have order and safety without justice, or if you want justice, well, you can't have safety. That's what we were told over and over again. Guess what? That was profoundly wrong. In New York City we created a model of neighborhood policing, of reform, and guess what? We became safer when people were treated properly and respectfully. We are now the safest big city in America and I want to tell you something that may blow your mind. We got safer and safer, and last year we had 100,000 fewer arrests than four years ago. [Applause] I want to give you one more example. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, the rent is too damn high. Never has a truer statement been made. In our city there had never been a rent freeze, but it was time for a rent freeze, and I said it was something we had to consider. Well, the landlord lobby attacked me, and they said it was illegal. We went to court, we beat them, and for two years we gave the people of New York City a rent freeze. And then we took another step, and we said anybody facing an unjust eviction deserved a lawyer for free to defend them and make sure they were not thrown out of their apartment. At every turn – this will be familiar to all of you – at every turn we were told we were going too far. Anyone heard that one before? Audience: Yes – Mayor: You’re going too far? Well, as progressives we are very used to being told that what we want to do is too bold, and it can't be done. My strong belief is that we should ignore that bad advice every time we hear it because it almost always can be done, brothers and sisters. The things we believe in can be done. So I've told you about lie number one, we can't win. And I've told you about lie number two, we can't govern. And both of those have been proven wrong. And now I'm going to tell you very quickly about lie number three. Lie number three is that we are the political minority in this country, now and forever. We are constantly told that our ideas will never win the day. They tell us to moderate, they tell us to speak to that great middle out there. They tell us that our authentic values and our message will never move everyday people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our authentic message, our authentic values are exactly what will move everyday people in this country. [Applause] What I see, it's not a time for moderation. It's a time for progressives to double down on what we believe in. [Applause] I see the dawning of a new progressive era. I see change coming like never before. The signs are unmistakable. It was years ago when you could see it in Occupy Wall Street. [Applause] You could see something beginning, and then you started to see all over the country good progressives getting elected. You saw people like Randall, you saw people like Chokwe Lumumba, and LaToya Cantrell right here in New Orleans. [Applause] You could absolutely see it in Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2016. [Applause] You could see it this year in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's extraordinary campaign. [Applause] That's a lot of evidence that something big is changing in this country, but how about on top of that the Women's March? And Black Lives Matter? [Applause] And the Me Too movement? And how about all the teacher strikes in all those red states? [Applause] And that extraordinary movement against gun violence started by the Parkland students. [Applause] Brothers and sisters, what makes this so extraordinary is it's all happening at the same time. I can't remember anything like that. You have to go back to the 1960s to see so many powerful social movements building with such passion and reach all at the same time. You have to go back to the election of 1974, right after Watergate, to see the kind of momentum that's happening on the ground. This is an extraordinary moment. And look, here's what I want to finish with. This is what we need to focus on – our power, the emerging majority that we are building. We can't think of it as we're just filling a niche. We have to see ourselves as authors of an emerging majority. We have to focus on our ability to reach people in every corner of this nation. I'm talking about everyone in this room and everyone who believes as we do, and everyone who's fighting for [inaudible]. But I'm not talking, by the way, about one person. There's a name I have not used. I have not mentioned Donald Trump on purpose. I have not mentioned on purpose, I'm not talking about him because we don't make change by talking about him all the time. [Applause] We make change with a bold, positive, progressive vision that speaks to everyday people's lives. We make change by showing people what we do actually improves their lives materially. We make change by organizing them and mobilizing them. I'm not talking about him, I'm talking about us – us. We need to focus on our own power. We need to focus on the America we want to build. And I'll finish with this, and I feel it from my heart. I am optimistic tonight. I am optimistic about what's happening in this hall, and what's happening on the ground all over this country. You know, I have been, for four and a half years the chief executive of a city of 8.6 million highly opinionated people. [Laughter] One might get a little worn down by that experience, but no, I am more optimistic today than the day I started. [Applause] And I am optimistic because I have seen progressive ideas take flight, I have seen those ideas become action. I've seen people's lives change. And I am optimistic, genuinely optimistic because of you. You're here in this hall because you don't believe all the lies we've been told. You're here in this hall because you know we need to seize the moment. You're here because you know the change comes from the ground up. It is not about the power brokers, or the consultant class, and it's certainly not about the big donors, is it? It's about all of us in this room standing together telling the voices of false pragmatism and phony moderation that we don't believe their lies. [Applause] We are the real thing, we are unapologetic, and we are bold. And Randall said it right, and I'm going to say it again – progressives, it's our time. Thank you and God bless you all.
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 6:57am
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, good morning everyone. You know, if you feel overwhelmed sometimes these days by the constant barrage of so many news developments in national politics, you may be relieved to know that we will begin the program today as usual on Fridays with our weekly Ask The Mayor segment. But you may not be relieved to know that it feels to me like the kind of week in New York City news that we’ve gotten used to seeing, or do we never get used to it, in national news. So much happening, and it’s not supposed to be this way, in what we used to call in journalism the dog-days of August when we search around for stories. There are no dog-days anymore or at least that’s what it feels like. Manhattan DA Cy Vance says he’s going to basically stop prosecuting marijuana possession or use in Manhattan. The de Blasio policy that heads in the same direction is under new scrutiny for perhaps giving the police too much leeway to make exceptions when it comes to marijuana arrests. There’s a similar debate about enforcement of turnstiles jumping. City Council [inaudible] moving toward a vote next week on a cap on Uber and other ride-hail cars and the company is furiously pushing back on civil rights grounds. A council committee yesterday approved the highly contentious Inwood Rezoning proposal; more affordable housing or more gentrification? That now goes to the full council for a possible vote next week, what legislature takes so many big votes in August, with implications beyond the one neighborhood. We had the last public hearing this week on the charter revision proposals likely to appear on the New York City ballot in November, changes to the City’s constitution in effect, that could change the way we elect the Mayor and other officials, and many other things that might be in that. And the Trump Administration continues to house children in New York City who are separated from their parents at the Mexico border, deemed “ineligible for reunification.” Many days I feel like that’s all we should talk about until those cases are all resolved. And there’s even more but I won’t keep adding to the list because our Ask The Mayor segment has to include the actual mayor at some point, so Mr. Mayor welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well that’s very generous of you, Brian. [Laughter] Let me just note your opening. You’re right. We deal with so many confusing stories on a national and international level. I just want to say, the things you talked about that are happening here in New York City are about creating affordable housing, they’re about criminal justice reform, there’s about making the reforms that will democratize our city further so I actually think New York City is a nice counterpoint, a positive counterpoint, to what’s happening nationally because everything you talked about was about creating constructive new policies to address issues, as opposed to the divisiveness – Lehrer: Whoops, what happened to the Mayor’s line? Mayor: Here. Lehrer: Oh, yeah we lost you there for a second. Mayor: Okay. Lehrer: And I was going to say touché in putting it in that context compared to what’s coming out of Washington. Listeners, it’s my questions and your questions for the Mayor, so our lines are open at 212-433-9692, or tweet a question, use the hashtag #AskTheMayor. So let’s go down a few of these stories before we get to calls: Inwood Rezoning. Full disclosure, you know I live there, and I’ve remained publically neutral because of my role as a moderator in these discussions, but you know that so many of my neighbors just don’t believe this will mean more affordable housing as opposed to more gentrification. Some feel betrayed by Councilman Ydonis Rodriguez, who was on the fence, casting his yes vote in committee yesterday. I believe some protesters are occupying his office even as we speak. I know you’re for it; how can you reassure people it won’t mean they’ll be pressured by landlords out of their suddenly more valuable apartments? Mayor: Brian, I’ve got to challenge the construct of the question, with all due respect. I believe you are struggling to maintain neutrality but the question wasn’t neutral. The concept of the rezoning, the reason we do rezonings, is to create affordable housing. I want to make this clear to all New Yorkers. If the councilmember representing a community, democratically elected to represent a community with – working with community boards and committee groups and public hearings [inaudible], if a councilmember says I’m not interested in a rezoning in this community, we will move on, we will go to another community that wants it. Why do communities want it is the underlying question, because it creates affordable housing, preserves affordable housing, in the case of Inwood, 4000 apartments will either be built or preserved and that means, when you think about the multiplier in terms of people, well over 10,000 people in that community will have affordable housing who don’t have it now. I’m talking about long-term, decades of guaranteed affordability. If anybody – any councilmember says no, I don’t want something that will create 10,000, you know, affordability for 10,000 of my residents who don’t have that guarantee right now, we’ll move on. In this case, in Inwood, $200 million in new investment in the community; it only happens because there is a rezoning. There are new educational programs, STEM programs, Pre-K initiatives in the community, there’s a new library. There are waterfront – there’s waterfront access and park improvements. There’s all sorts of things that this community has wanted for a long time. So respecting you, and respecting your question, you didn’t say well on the one hand a lot of people have demanded investment in the community and more affordable housing, on the other hand people fear gentrification. I think the gentrification has been happening already and Brian, I think the world of you, but I think you could objectively say, and knowing a lot of your neighbors, gentrification was happening well before, decades before, anyone talked about a rezoning. So I argue all over the city, the market forces are already creating the pressure on rent and on folks who live in the community. When the government steps in and creates some rules, and some boundaries and some guarantees of affordability it actually rebalances the equation in favor of the people. Lehrer: All true, and I would put the opposite emphasis, by the way, on the question to the opponents of the rezoning, you as a proponent of it get the question the way I framed it. But it your opinion what are the implications of this vote for other rezoning debates elsewhere in the city? Mayor: I think it’s very straightforward. The fact is, when you look at the major rezonings, East New York, Far Rockaway, Jerome Avenue in The Bronx, East Harlem, all communities that historically did not get enough investment from the city government. All communities that need more affordable housing, a number of them facing gentrification pressures. In each and every case after a very expensive public process, literally including hundred, even thousands, of community residents, in each case the rezoning passed because the judgement of the councilmember was it was a clear net gain for the community. That we needed the guarantees of affordable housing, both the new and the preserved affordable housing, we needed the big investments in schools, parks, all the amenities that a lot of these communities did not have enough of historically, and rezonings are basically a once in a generation opportunity to create a vision of what kind of new investment a community deserves from the city. Any, again, any community that says, or through the councilmember, “I don’t want that, keep the investment, I don’t want the affordable housing, I don’t want the new affordable housing, I don’t want the preserved housing, keep moving on,” we’ll take the resources and the focus elsewhere because there’s plenty of other communities who want it. So the bottom line has been over four and a half years, every neighborhood rezoning has passed because we created a structure that worked for the community, and here’s the difference in the path, and bluntly I will call out my two predecessors, who did not focus on affordable housing and rezonings and didn’t guarantee the outcomes. Whatever we commit to we are doing and people can see it. If we commit to affordable housing it is a legally binding requirement that that happens. And that’s part of why I think council members have felt comfortable that they’re getting a good deal for their community. Lehrer: Let me go on the issue of marijuana arrests. I’m not sure if you and the Manhattan DA are on the same page regarding not prosecuting or possession or public use. Are you 100 percent? Mayor: Yeah I think we are. I think it’s taken some time for all of us to make sense of new approaches on marijuana, on fair evasion, on a variety of issues, but I think we’re actually ending up in largely the same place. On the lowest level offenses and Brian there’s a crucial qualifier, if it’s a low-level offense only, not a low-level offense where some has an outstanding warrant for a serious crime, or a low level offense where someone also happens to have a weapon on them, or something else that might be an extenuating circumstance. For a low-level offense only, we all want to move away from arrest, and we are moving away from arrest. It’s a summons situation. In fact, what the NYPD announced this week, after piloting around the city this concept with fare evasion are now going to do it more broadly, all over the city, if someone is stopped because they’re evading a fare, the officer, right then and there, if they have an outstanding summons, outstanding warrant I should say, right then and there, will take them to the nearest court to address the previous warrant, to address the new offense of fair evasion, to clear it all, and move forward. But at the same time, Brian, it’s very clear there’s still enforcement; it is illegal to evade your fare, it’s illegal to smoke marijuana - that might change next year – or it’s illegal to possess marijuana, that might change next year, but this is a very different approach. Arrests are already down radically. In 2017 we had a 100,000 fewer arrests in New York City than we did four years earlier. That number is going down even further, many fewer arrests this year, crime keeps going down, and the other great thing is that this new approach is going to allow officers to get back on patrol because they are not going to spend a whole lot of time processing arrests, they’re going to deal with the immediate issue, and then get back to patrol which we think will add to safety. So I do think we are all getting on the same page here. Lehrer: The – well MTA Chair Joe Lhota says a more relaxed approach to turnstile jumping is one reason for the officially recorded decrease in subway ridership this year. Do you buy that? Mayor: I don’t have any proof of that. I think what’s happening and I – look I respect Joe Lhota, we want to in every way we can support real change at the MTA. We still – the jury is still out on whether the MTA is doing what it needs to do with the resources that we provided and the people of New York City have provided, but I want to see them succeed for sure. I think the central challenge around ridership is of course unreliable service and overcrowded trains. That’s why we’re trying to create more alternatives like bus service, ferry service, you know, biking, all sorts of other alternative. I don’t have evidence that there is more fare evasion. In fact the point here is by keeping the officers on patrol and not taking them away because of an arrest. An arrest basically takes an officer off their beat for the rest of the day. This new approach is going to get the officers to deal with the immediate issue and get right back out there. I think you’re going to see more presence around turnstiles as a result as a preventative measure and we still take it seriously. If you evade your fare there will be a consequence and I don’t think anyone likes to be stopped by an officer, given a summons, have to, you know, either appear in court or pay a fine or anything like that, that’s a real consequence. I think it will in fact give us more ability to prevent while doing a better job when someone is a fare evader of dealing with them quickly and efficiently and getting the officer back out there to do their job. Lehrer: The Politico New York Newsletter today emphasizes how your marijuana policy has a massive loophole for certain people with criminal records, a loophole the NYPD wanted it says, but the Times says that’s exactly the group of people most disadvantaged by the way marijuana arrests versus summonses have gotten decided in the past. And we know who that means in terms of race and ethnicity. How do you respond to that? Mayor: The goal here, we want to break all the negative cycles that have plagued our City and our society. We want to break the cycle of mass incarceration. We want to break the disparities and end the disparities in policing. This is part – everything we’re talking about here, on top of ending the broken policy of stop and frisk, retraining the police force in de-escalation, implicit bias training which our officers are now getting, it’s all part of a bigger vision of reform that’s moving forward, body cameras on all of our officers by the end of the year. We need to break that history and I believe what that exception is about to be exceptional, not to be typical, to allow space for the fact that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances where, for example, if someone has an outstanding warrant for a serious crime, we’re going to deal with that, and that’s for public safety. But the goal here is to consistently reduce the use of arrest. It’s been proven by the way under first Commissioner Bratton, now Commissioner O’Neill, arrests constantly going down, police interactions with community going down, and yet safety increasing and improving. So we’re dedicated to that, but I do believe there are some exceptions that are in the interests of public safety. Lehrer: And from the other side of the marijuana debate there are people who say, you know, you’re not enforcing public smoking anymore and guess what? There’s public smoking all over New York City today and some people don’t like it. Mayor: We are enforcing, but we’re enforcing in a different way. So first of all, the big decision that the State has to make as early as next year is whether marijuana use will be legalized but even in states that have legalized public smoking has still been illegal and you look at the country there are still sanctions for smoking in public. There are still fines for example and summonses. So right now, until that issue is resolved on state level, what we’re doing is we are enforcing, we’re just using arrests a lot less. I still believe, people respond, humans respond to a police officer approaching them, saying that they’re doing something wrong, telling them there is a consequence, and providing a summons or whatever it might be as a way of that consequence. That still affects peoples’ behavior. And that enforcement will continue. We believe in quality of life policing, we believe in addressing concerns that community residents raise, we believe in neighborhood policing which is supposed to be very community responsive, but it’s a different kind of enforcement, but there will be enforcement. Lehrer: Eric in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor, hello Eric. Question: Yeah, hi. When Mr. de Blasio was initially campaigning, one of his promises broadcast on WNYC was that he would see that all stairwells in public housing were properly lit since there great fears expressed by people having to walk up unlit stairwells, and as you may know, there was later the tragic incident of a visitor shot to death accidentally by a police officer whose life and career was ruined when he had his pistol out while patrolling an unlit stairwell. Has anyone been brought to account for being among those who would not follow through maintaining public housing causing the, you know, incidents to occur? I have not heard of anyone being prosecuted or having their career ended for ignoring Mr. de Blasio’s orders to put lights back in housing stairwells. Lehrer: Alright, Mr. Mayor go ahead. Mayor: Thank you for the question Eric. I mean I think there are a couple things that are a little different than the way you described. One, yes, we absolutely need to make sure all the stairwells are lit. It’s a huge job given the history of decades of disinvestment in public housing by the federal government and the State government, and even sometimes the City government. Since I came to the office, we’ve increased the budget for public housing by almost $4 billion in new money. We’ve made a pledge with the federal government to add even more on top of that going forward. That’s going to really help us address the problem. And in the coming weeks we’ll have a lot more to say on additional ways to help public housing. But I want to say I don’t think it’s right to say in a particular tragic incident like that one that the lighting was the whole story. I think there were other things going on there and obviously a human tragedy. But what we are making clear is as more resources are flowing into public housing and we have new leadership at public housing that is very capable and proven. We expect to see a lot more of these situations addressed. The other thing to know about is the lighting outside. In a lot of our developments there was a lack of lighting outside at night that really created a huge public safety problem. We had a serious crime problem when we were first coming in in public housing. If the crime in public housing has gone down substantially – there is more to do – but has gone down substantially, because in the most troubled developments we put in a whole lot of lighting so that residents could feel comfortable, police could see what was going on, discourage criminal activity. So that kind of investment is going to continue and deepen because people deserve to have well-lit stairwells and well-lit surroundings when they live in public housing. Lehrer: Do you have a good count on the number of lighting, especially stairwell lighting, problems in NYCHA housing? Mayor: I don’t, I’m sure our management, our General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo has that kind of metric. I mean we are addressing that issue while obviously addressing a host of other issues that are crucial, particularly related to health and safety, and again trying to get a lot done with much more limited resources than we would like. But it is an important problem and when it’s reported, it’s our job to make sure it is addressed by the local employees at NYCHA. Lehrer: Lyric in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor, hello Lyric. Mayor: Hi, good morning Mayor de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio we in our building are having problems with HPD and I know that we are not isolated in our issues. HPD relies wholly and solely on input from the citizen to ensure safe sanitary housing yet in our case we have, how do I put this, it’s pretty much a merry-go-round of violations are written and removed, written and removed, when nothing is ever repaired. If that’s not bad enough, we’re being forced to deal with an unwritten policy that HPD has in regard to heating in the common areas of buildings. Their position is, they don’t have to put it here so they can rip it out. However, sir, we’re in a rent stabilized building and that heating in the common area is a required base service for so much as State law. This is something that HPD has been made aware of but they just do not care and over the span of a year and a half, they pretty much aided and abetted our developer in violating the provisions of the rent stabilization law and endangered our building as well as the adjacent building via all the gas line hacking they turned a blind eye to. Now in my opinion this is sort of tantamount to a homicide detective telling a person that he can sell drugs to kids because he doesn’t deal with narcotics. Why is one housing agency aiding and abetting developers and landlord and violating provisions of the Rent Stabilization Law? I would think that would be an outrageous violation of public policy. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Well thank you for raising the concern and I would like you obviously to provide your information to WNYC so we can have folks follow up with you directly. I don’t know the specifics of your building but I have to say the – obviously I’m concerned but I don’t hear anything in the description of that consistent with what I’ve seen from HPD. From what I have seen from HPD, they have been very aggressive at going at bad landlords, very aggressive at going at bad developers, very protective of affordable housing. In fact we have a host of new anti-harassment legislation that the Council passed which gives a lot more power and teeth to the efforts of HPD and the Buildings Department to enforce on bad landlords. And I think the point about heating is, I mean heating needs to be available anywhere by law that it is required and we need to make sure that it happens, including ordering the landlord to do it or the landlord won’t do it, getting it done by the City and then the landlord is charged. The violations are a serious matter, they are not – if you experienced a merry-go-round, I need to know what happened there to see if someone is not doing their job or there is some misunderstanding. But the bottom line from my point of view is HPD is supposed to be a very aggressive enforcement entity. And job one for all of us is protecting affordable housing. So I want to have folks follow up because I want to understand what happened here and if we have to do something differently, we will. Lehrer: Uber and Lyft, Mr. Mayor, and Via also cited – we were talking about Joe Lhota saying that the relaxation of enforcement of turnstile jumping is one of the reasons for officially decreased subway ridership numbers this year. Also Uber, Lyft, Via cited as a reason for less subway use as more people use them as a way to escape poor service underground. That’s one way those companies are pushing back as you know against a one year cap on new cars that City Council might approve next week. The other big way they are pushing back is civil rights. The Reverend Al Sharpton and the Urban League and others saying an Uber cap will mean more people of color than otherwise can still be discriminated against by yellow cab drivers because an app doesn’t know what color you are. How much do you buy the civil rights argument? Mayor: I think there is an historic problem that’s very real and I don’t accept any cab driver, for hire vehicle driver, anyone discriminating against people of color and in fact we added some additional, new reality, working with the Council, there’s going to be an office within the TLC to fight this specific problem. But you should also know the existing penalties for refusing to serve someone because as a whole they are, are very intense. The first is a fine, the second offense is suspension of license, the third is revoking license, meaning someone can no longer drive a for hire vehicle. So – Lehrer: Can I jump in on that for a second on those criteria, we got a caller last week who said the problem with that is, it’s so hard to prove against an individual driver, first you have to be a regular person on the street willing to pursue the case after you get passed up and then according to this caller, you have to demonstrate that the driver made eye contact with you and somehow prove that to the TLC – that’s a high hurdle, that whole set of things, for an individual, you know victimized, potential rider. Mayor: Look, there has been a number of instances where the drivers were held accountable. So I believe, yes there’s a particular set of conditions that needs to be met, but has been met in a number of cases and we are adamant that we are going to enforce, so that’s a very real issue but we have a lot of the right tools and now we are getting new tools, working with the Council to strengthen that enforcement. I think we can do that very effectively and I think obviously in the age of the cell phone camera and social media, it’s much easier to go after bad actors. And we are going to send a clear message to all professional drivers that we will not tolerate discrimination and the consequences of it are very severe. But on the bigger point, I think the Council is doing the right thing here on this larger issue of for hire vehicles and one of the most central reasons is exactly why I ran for this office, to fight income inequality – I mean look at what is happening to these drivers in the for hire vehicle sector, recent study came out from the University of California Berkley, most overwhelming majorities of drivers are now making subminimum wage because the business model of Uber in particular is to flood the zone with more and more vehicles, more and more drivers, grab market share, even if it means a lot of the drivers have no opportunity to make money because there is so many people competing for a certain amount of rides, it’s dumbing down the whole reality, it’s kind of a race to the bottom. It’s hurting the livelihoods of the yellow cab drivers as well. So what’s happening across the board because of these huge corporations is they are driving down the wages of hard working people who work in this field. That alone is a reason to call a time out and assess what’s going on here. Lehrer: What were the additional tools that you referred to that there would be for enforcing discrimination against riders by taxi drivers? Mayor: A new office is being created, it was announced this week. – with the Council and the administration to further educate drivers and to educate the public on the kind of enforcement. So making very clear to the drivers that discrimination is unacceptable and that the consequences are severe including literally being unable to do that work anymore. And to educate the public that they can and should report any discrimination immediately and it will be followed up on aggressively. Lehrer: Dennis on Staten Island you are on WNYC with the Mayor. Question: Yes, good morning Mayor de Blasio. You mentioned earlier affordable housing and I’m really trying to wrap my head around it, because I hear so much about affordable housing but yet there is 23,000 children sleeping in homeless shelters. And to your credit Mr. Mayor, you have devoted a lot of resources to fighting homelessness, I give you credit for that. But my question is this – will you commit at least ten percent of the units in your affordable housing plan to homeless New Yorkers? And out of that ten percent can you make 24,000 of those units created through new construction? Mayor: Dennis, thank you for the question. I mean we have right now a plan that I’m comfortable with so I really want to respect that you are sort of putting a square question to me, but I’m answering by saying I think the current approach which focuses the affordable housing plan on addressing the affordability crisis for all New Yorkers, not just folks who happen to be homeless but a whole vast cross-section of New Yorkers who are facing affordable housing challenges but at the same time there is a substantial amount, I can get you an exact figure of that housing that is addressing the homeless problem on top the supportive housing that creates 15,000 apartments of supportive housing. That is new, permanent affordable housing to address folks who often have been homeless with for example mental health needs or substance misuse needs. So we have a very big commitment to affordable housing to get people out of homelessness. But the central effort, the central focus of our affordable housing plan is for the vast majority of New Yorkers who are struggling but thank God never became homeless. On the good side, since the administration began so now over four years, about 90,000 people who were in shelter were helped to long term affordable housing. So, we have had a lot of success with the existing affordable housing supply helping people out of homeless and keeping them out of homelessness. So, we want to just deepen those efforts. I think that’s going to take us in the right direction. Lehrer: Jordan in Greenpoint, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Jordan. Question: Hey, how are you doing? Lehrer: Alright. Mayor: Hi, Jordan. Question: Mayor de Blasio, I’m curious as far as your statement about affordable housing goes. I’m a real estate professional in north Brooklyn so you can probably guess where this is going. But you, pardon me if I’m wrong, made the case earlier that rezoning leads to a net gain of affordable housing. I would really like for you to point to some recent examples of that and if you could maybe address what the rezoning has done to north Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint. I would appreciate that very much. Mayor: Jordan, it’s a great question because what you’re also doing is raising the history here. So, let me say this real quick. The rezoning done in the Bloomberg administration in your community was, in my view, misguided in the sense that it did not focus enough on affordable housing, did not raise the bar high enough. Remember, the Bloomberg administration did not believe in Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. That’s one of our central affordable housing achievements. It was to get a law – a law, a binding law that says when the City grants permission via rezoning for development, there must be guarantees, legally binding guarantees of creating affordable housing. Depending on the income levels – if it’s a lot of lower income housing, it could be 20 percent, 25 percent, or 30 percent depending on the income mix. That law never existed before. It’s, I think, the most progressive in the country because it’s not debatable. You either – if you’re a developer, you follow those rules or you’re out. That didn’t exist when Greenpoint and Williamsburg were rezoned and I think, bluntly, the previous administration was pretty lax in following through on whatever commitments of affordable housing were made. So, in your community, it’s not a good example of what a rezoning should produce. Around the city, we’re beginning to see the more positive examples with tougher rules that we put in place. Part of why in the last fiscal year we financed over 30,000 affordable apartment is that we start to see to see the rezonings create more affordable housing. I mean there’s never been a year ever in New York City history when the government produced 30,000 affordable apartments. That’s enough to reach close to 100,000 New Yorkers. That was made possible in part by the new approach and more aggressive approach in the rezonings. The last thing to say – and I’m speaking now from my home neighborhood, Park Slope. I’m thinking about surrounding neighborhoods including Prospect Heights, including Bed-Stuy, including Bushwick that never had a rezoning, went through intense gentrification, and the development pressures pushed out a huge number of residents, raised the rents for a lot of people there. Nothing came back for the public in the bargain. There was no investment. There was no new affordable housing created. There were no guarantees. The absence of a rezoning has been proven, to me – the absence of rezoning can lead to rampanant negative impacts from market economics. The presence of rezoning with very tough rules to guarantee the public interest makes sure that there is some major amount of affordability created and preserved despite market forces. Lehrer: We’re just about out of time. Two quick things before you go. One – charter revision. We had a guest this week promoting instant runoff voting to be included as one of the things that your commission allows the city to vote on this November. Are you for it? Mayor: Not yet. I am interested in it. I think it needs some real study. I think for this charter revision commission, which has done great work and I want to really credit the – Lehrer: Whoops, I think we lost the Mayor’s line again – Mayor: No, I’m here. Can you hear me? Lehrer: Yep, we got to you. Mayor: We’re going to work on that technical difficulty. But in any event, the charter revision commission has done great work. They are first and foremost focused on the issues I put forward earlier in the year – campaign finance reform, getting money out of politics, more public financing of elections, better election outreach meaning better efforts to get people the information they need to vote, translation services to help people voting. They’re looking at some other very interesting reforms as well. But I’d say on instant runoff voting, it’s a big interesting idea. I don’t know enough about it to know yet if it would work in New York City, if it would be the reform we hope. I need to know a lot more about whether it really does increase voter participation. So, I think for this go-round it’s a big piece to consider. I think for the future, it’s the kind of thing that if we can really research it, it might be a very promising option for New York City but let’s look at how it has been used around the country and around the world and really get clear about what the impact would be. Lehrer: So when you see a big piece for this year, you mean it’s not likely to be in the proposal? Mayor: Again, that process is going on still so I don’t want to prejudge. I’m saying – my personal view – it is such a big idea and it’s such a major change to how we run elections, it’s certainly not what I proposed for this charter revision commission but I think it is a meritorious idea worthy of some real study and real public debate. I’m just not sure we can do that effectively on this timeline. The commission is certainly looking at it. But I think if they don’t do it now it’s something that deserves some real serious focus because, look, any idea that will increase voter participation and will increase representation is very interesting me. IRV may be one of those ideas but I need to know a lot more. Lehrer: And final thing. Politics – you haven’t endorsed yet in the gubernatorial primary. Cynthia Nixon gives the keynote speech today at Netroots Nation in New Orleans. We were covering this week how she’s running on New York State’s single payer which most Democrats in the Assembly and State Senate are for. The Governor has not taken a position. Are you there yet between Nixon and Cuomo, and I think you’re there on state single payer? But remind me. Mayor: Absolutely believe in the single payer idea for New York State – Assembly Gottfried’s bill. I support it. I think the time has come and the notion that one of the impact would be to reduce healthcare costs for everyone while requiring those who are wealthy to pay their fair share is absolutely consistent with this moment in history and everything that I believe in. So, I’m going to support hat vigorously. I commend Cynthia Nixon for taking that stance. And I think she’s raised a lot of important issues that are having a positive impact on the debate in this state. And that’s what you want to see in an election. As for who I’ll be supporting in New York State, who I’ll be supporting around the country because now I have a new entity I put together to support progressive candidates and Democratic candidates around the country. I’ll start to roll out those decisions soon. I remind everyone, you know, everyday people are really going to focus on this in the final weeks before the primary and then the final weeks before the general election so there’s plenty of time here but I’ll let New Yorkers know what I’m doing and why quite soon. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thank you as always. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you, Brian. Take care.
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 6:57am
Dr. Bassett will accept role at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot to serve as Acting Health Commissioner NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that Dr. Mary T. Bassett will step down as Health Commissioner at the end of August and will be succeeded by First Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, who will serve as Acting Health Commissioner. Dr. Bassett will become director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and will be appointed the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the department of Social and Behavioral Science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Barbot will assume the role of Acting Health Commissioner on Sept. 1. A native New Yorker, Dr. Barbot has served as First Deputy Health Commissioner since early 2014. In this role, she has led the agency’s blueprint for achieving health equity, Take Care New York 2020 , and has led the agency’s efforts to bridge the gap between public health and health care delivery. She also oversees the Department's budget, contracting and emergency preparedness divisions, and leads the group responsible for agency performance measurement and policy development. Under Dr. Bassett, the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene refocused its efforts to tackle issues of health inequity in New York’s most under-served neighborhoods. “Dr. Bassett brought equity to the forefront of public health in New York City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “She led the push to bring health centers to underserved neighborhoods and helped ensure New Yorkers struggling with opioid addiction received the care they needed. Her approach to public health is helping make New York City a better, fairer and more just city.” Dr. Bassett first served in the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2002 to 2009, as Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. She was appointed Commissioner in January 2014. As Commissioner, she oversaw the City’s public health response to several disease emergencies, including Ebola, Legionnaires, Zika and leptospirosis. She also played key roles in the design and execution of major City plans, including ThriveNYC , HealingNYC and NYC End the Epidemic, and oversaw the development of a comprehensive legislative package to further curtail tobacco use. Dr. Bassett shifted the focus of the Health Department to health equity. She created the Center for Health Equity , as well as the Neighborhood Health Action Centers . These centers are housed in under-utilized Department of Health buildings and serve as resource centers that offer health and social services to communities in need, with the goal of increasing services to help reduce disparities in chronic conditions and premature mortality. Dr. Bassett also started Race to Justice , an effort to re-train the Health Department in implicit bias, which eventually expanded to other City agencies. “Mary has been an exceptional partner in bringing the vision of ThriveNYC to life. She has brought a deep understanding of the significant health disparities in communities of color, which has led to significant programs and initiatives that make our City safer and healthier,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Harvard is gaining a truly compassionate, whip smart public health expert and we wish her the very best.” “As City Council Health Chair, I had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Bassett in key health initiatives and legislation so I saw firsthand her depth of knowledge and commitment to making this city a better place,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “It was an honor to see someone with so much expertise in health and medicine up close in action, and I learned a lot in that time. I know she will do great work at Harvard University and I look forward to working with First Deputy Commissioner Barbot on the city’s health concerns.” “It’s been an honor to work with Mary. Her hard work and vision to create a city where race, ethnicity and ZIP codes do not determine people’s health outcomes will have a lasting impact on the way we carry out our public health policies,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “I wish her much success at the Harvard Center for Health and Human Rights, and thank her wholeheartedly for her leadership, passionate commitment to health equity, and the legacy of professional excellence she leaves at the Health Department.” “I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for giving me the opportunity and the honor of leading the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene over the last four and a half years. With unflagging support from the Mayor and Deputy Mayors Barrios-Paoli and Dr. Palacio, we have confronted Ebola and Legionnaires disease, strengthened our City's tobacco laws, and addressed the ongoing opioid epidemic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We have made family and child heath a priority, helped enroll tens of thousands of New Yorkers in health care, and reduced HIV infections to record lows. For the first time, we have made improving mental health a real priority, thanks to the incredible vision and effort of First Lady Chirlane McCray. Most importantly, we have infused all of this work with an unwavering focus on racial equity and social justice, creating a legacy that will improve our City's health in the years to come. I thank the outstanding and dedicated people who make our Health Department the best public health agency anywhere. And I thank Dr. Oxiris Barbot, who has been a great partner and will be a superb leader of the Department.” “I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for giving me the opportunity to serve as Acting Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It has been a privilege to work alongside Commissioner Bassett, an inspirational leader whose contributions to public health and racial equity will be felt in this Department and this City for many years,” said First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “I look forward to continuing the great work done every day by our incredible senior leadership team and more than 6,000 dedicated, talented and creative Health Department employees to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.” A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Barbot received her medical degree from New Jersey Medical School, and she completed her pediatrics training at DC Children’s Hospital. She served as Baltimore’s Health Commissioner from 2010 to 2014. She previously worked for the Health Department from 2003 to 2010, as the Medical Director for the Office of School Health. “Dr. Mary Bassett has been a shining star in a long tradition of outstanding NYC health commissioners,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “She's an outspoken and articulate advocate for public health and overcoming inequality in health care.” “I thank Dr. Bassett for her commitment to our city,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “She has been a truly exemplary public servant. It is my sincere desire that our next DOHMH commissioner builds on her work and makes deeper progress in advancing public health, particularly in embracing plant-based nutrition and other evidence-based approaches to improving wellness and combating historic inequities that put our children and families at risk.” "Congratulations to Dr. Bassett on her exciting new endeavor. I look forward to continue working with Dr. Barbot on the unique health needs of the communities I represent here in Brooklyn," said State Senator Roxanne Persaud.
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 6:57am
Now, New Yorkers age 10 through 13 can get their very own IDNYC; New tech upgrades streamline enrollment NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced updates to the rules governing the City’s official municipal identification card, IDNYC, that make the program more accessible than ever before. Now even more youth can enroll in the program as the age of eligibility is reduced from 14 years of age to 10 years of age. In addition, thanks to new technological upgrades, IDNYC can now help city residents who receive services from select City agencies more easily apply for the card. Over 1.2 million New Yorkers can already unlock opportunity across the five boroughs as IDNYC cardholders, and now even more New Yorkers will be able to enjoy the great benefits the card has to offer. “The promise of IDNYC is that it’s a card that connects all New Yorkers – to City agencies, to cultural institutions, and to one another,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It shows that no matter where you’re from, if you live in the five boroughs, you’re a New Yorker. Now even more of the city’s youth can take advantage of the card and its many benefits.” “Since the inception of the IDNYC program, over 1 million New Yorkers have become cardholders,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I’m thrilled that more of our younger New Yorkers—age 10 and up—can now enjoy the benefits, services and programs of being a cardholder. The success of this program, spearheaded in 2014 by the Council in collaboration with the Administration, reaffirms that this is a city for all New Yorkers. With the new tech upgrades, it’ll be even easier to apply for the program, without compromising security. I’m proud to live and work/serve in a city that is inclusive to all New Yorkers from all walks of life and I thank the Administration and Commissioner Mostofi for working to make this a program that more New Yorkers can enjoy.” IDNYC is already a great tool for families to explore the city, and now even more family members will be able to enjoy its myriad cultural, entertainment, fitness, and other benefits. New Yorkers age 10 and up can get their own IDNYC today, enabling hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers to obtain their IDNYC. In addition, the IDNYC program now accepts residency documents for students living in college and university housing here in the city. As New Yorkers return to school, more middle school and college students will be able to get their IDNYC and take advantage of free 1-year memberships at museums, zoos, and theatres, as well as discounts on movie tickets, entertainment options, and much more. IDNYC’s innovations have helped cities across the country and around the world develop their own municipal identification programs, and the latest technological updates will aid New Yorkers applying for their IDNYC. To apply for IDNYC, New York City residents must provide documents proving identity and residency – a full list of documents are available on IDNYC’s website. IDNYC is now able to utilize existing records from several City agencies in order to verify residency and identity information for some applicants who otherwise may not have sufficient documentation to apply. This new capability will help simplify IDNYC applications for New Yorkers who are clients of the Department of Homeless Services, the Human Resources Administration, the Department of Finance, and the New York City Housing Authority – specifically, applicants who: * currently receive Cash Assistance; * reside in NYCHA housing; * are the primary recipient of a Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption; * currently receive services from the Department of Homeless Services; or * were born within the five boroughs of New York City. Applicants will still be required to present an accepted photo ID. The City is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of all IDNYC cardholders and applicants. New Yorkers applying for their IDNYC are advised to bring all of the necessary documentation to prove identity and residency. This new tech update will help more New Yorkers become proud IDNYC cardholders and continues the program’s progress as an ID card for the 21st century. For more information on eligibility criteria, benefits, enrollment centers across the five boroughs and more, applicants can visit NYC.gov/IDNYC or call 311. Information on the final rule change that enabled the IDNYC program to complete these updates is available here. “Our kids are our future, and now even more of them can have an IDNYC,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “By bringing the youth in and upgrading our back-end tech, IDNYC is better than ever and I encourage all New Yorkers to apply.” “IDNYC’s accessibility has been key to its success from the very start, and these updates continue our forward momentum,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. “More New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, will be able to demonstrate eligibility for their IDNYC card, opening doors throughout the five boroughs. We look forward to continuing to work across NYC’s communities and with our sister agencies so that more New Yorkers can proudly carry their own IDNYC.” “IDNYC is the most successful municipal ID program in the nation and now even more New Yorkers will be eligible to get the card and all the benefits that come with it,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “We are proud to help make it easier for families and individuals to get the convenience and security of an official ID card that also provides access to services and to some of the most important cultural institutions in New York City.” “With access to IDNYC at a younger age, the City is empowering more young people to engage in educational and culturally enriching opportunities across New York,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Free memberships to places like museums and theaters can be transformative experiences for students and their families, and I’m thrilled the City is expanding this critical program.” “IDNYC is a safe, reliable form of identification which offers opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly for low-income and vulnerable populations, like those who rely on NYCHA for housing,” said NYCHA Interim Chair and CEO Stanley Brezenoff. “Expanding IDNYC to more New Yorkers is a great way to introduce our younger residents to New York City’s premier cultural institutions.” “IDNYC helps families save on visiting the movies or going on a trip to a museum,” said Jacques Jiha, Finance Commissioner. We’re glad to support the program’s latest upgrades that help more New Yorkers sign up for the card, including SCRIE recipients.” “Now many of our youngest New Yorkers have access to IDNYC, New York City’s premiere identification card,” said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm . “As prime sponsor of the legislation that created the ID, I am pleased that children as young as 10 years of age will benefit from many of the perks the card has to offer. I thank MOIA and HRA for expanding IDNYC and will continue to work with them to further enhance the program.” “Every time we expand access to the IDNYC, we are literally giving more power to the people,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “The IDNYC is the largest and most successful municipal identification card program in the nation. It’s success stems not just from the access it provides to critical city resources, but from the resounding message it send to every New Yorker – you are welcome here, you are part of this City, and we want to give you the tools to shape your own destiny. By lowering the age eligibility of the card and making it easier to apply, the City is telling the next generation that, regardless of your status, we want you to participate in the City’s civic life and to shape it for the betterment of yourself and your communities. I commend the de Blasio administration for recognizing that in these troubling times, the City has an obligation to do everything in its power to encourage civic participation.” “Our city’s walkability and its incredible transit network make it a place where children can grow up with unparalleled opportunities to be active, independent, and engaged in the world around them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “It’s great that we’re offering young people 10 years old and older access to an official ID card and access to the benefits that come with IDNYC.” "IDNYC is already a great and successful program. I applaud the De Blasio administration for expanding this program to include even more youth and to have them enjoy the benefits that come with having the municipal ID,” said State Senator Jamal Bailey. “New York City is home to many populations who struggle to get picture ID. Young people, students who don’t drive, immigrant populations are particularly impacted communities who are part of the rich tapestry that makes New York what it is,” said State Senator Roxanne Persaud. “Making it easier for young people and benefit recipients to apply for IDNYC makes our communities better.” “I’ve been a big supporter of the IDNYC program from Day One, sponsoring sign-up sessions and vigorously promoting it. The City’s move to offer its benefits to even younger youth is a giant leap forward for a program that offers so many benefits and makes so much sense for so many New Yorkers. Congratulations!” said State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “IDNYC has been a success for so many New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo. “Expanding opportunities and getting more of our young New Yorkers to take advantage of these benefits is a great thing and I commend the Mayor and my colleagues in the NYC Council for their leadership on this issue.” “Lowering the age threshold for eligibility to obtain IDNYC will give our City’s children more opportunity to experience everything New York has to offer such as free admittance to museums and zoos,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. “Since its implementation in 2015, the IDNYC program has helped thousands of immigrant families and New Yorkers gain access to services they need.” “We are glad that the City is making it easier for children, college students and benefit recipients to apply for IDNYC,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “Under the current federal administration, we must continue to find ways to protect the privacy of New Yorkers who live, work, and go to school here while they seek opportunities to make this city their home.” “For me, it’s very good because at this age, the only sort of identification is my Taekwondo ID. Knowing that this now is open to people like me, age 10-13 years old - it’s just incredible news,” said Sinai Perez, youth member of Make the Road New York. “I will be able to prove my identity. My family is already part of the IDNYC family, so I know how important this identification is for our communities, particularly for my mom and dad.” “New York City has historically been, and continues to be, iconic as a welcome landing place for new immigrants, and it is fitting that our great City is leading the way for municipal identification through the IDNYC,” said John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “The MinKwon Center for Community Action has supported the IDNYC program since its launch, and we applaud the new guidelines making it even more accessible and easy to obtain. New York City is a playground of knowledge, experiences, and resources that is unique to the world, and the IDNYC is like a key to the City that unlocks much of what it has to offer. The IDNYC benefits all New York City residents and we encourage everyone to apply.” “IDNYC is designed to reduce risk and create opportunity for our New York, regardless of a person's immigration status. We are excited to see this line of accessibility expand to include even more New Yorkers,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 1:56am
"Today's committee vote is the first step to ensure Inwood becomes a fairer and stronger neighborhood. It means security for families who deserve to stay in the neighborhood they love, and new education, employment and community investments that will open opportunities for lifelong residents and new immigrants alike. We're building and protecting affordable homes at a record pace. Today's vote means thousands more families in Inwood will have the security of affordable housing, and rent they can afford. We're adding new resources for tenants across Inwood to fight harassment and evictions. This new plan will bring significant new investments in community enrichment, including two waterfront parks, a new library, and a new Pre-K facility, along with key infrastructure projects. Councilmember Rodriguez has shown true leadership in supporting this proposal and members of the Inwood community will benefit for generations to come. I also thank Speaker Johnson and Land Use Committee Chair Salamanca for joining us in our fight for affordable housing and strong neighborhoods."
Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 1:56am
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for being here. First, I’d like to extend my sympathies from every member of the New York City Police Department to the family, friends, and colleagues of Robert Martinez. He’s one of our steamfitters who was tragically killed on the Gowanus Expressway yesterday morning. Robert was assigned to our plant management unit at One Police Plaza. He was one of the many extraordinary people that keep this building running and they actually keep our entire police department running. Robert was a Staten Island resident who had 18 years with the NYPD. He’ll be sorely missed by all who knew him and had the privilege of working with him. And second, I want to thank the New York media for the coverage that [inaudible] the many acts of bravery, kindness, and stoic professionalism our cops have been involved in lately. On Monday night when a distraught woman ran to the 1-15 Precinct in Queens clutching her baby girl who wasn’t breathing, she met 22-year-old rookie Officer Osvaldo Nunez. And quickly, with the composure of a veteran cop, Officer Nunez performed CPR and literally brought the beautiful little girl back to life. Incidentally Officer Nunez was one of the 725 cops who just graduated from the Police Academy on July 2nd. So, they’re out there along with the almost 300 Summer All Out officers currently placed in the commands around the city right now. So, we’re looking forward to even more positive stories in August and September. Let me mention, this coming Tuesday, August 7th is National Night Out Against Crime and I hope all New Yorkers, the whole family can come out and join us at the many events going on in all five boroughs. It’s a great time every year. It’s a great way to meet your local cops, to help build that trust and to strengthen positive relations. Look, we don’t turn away from criticism because we know it goes hand in hand with the possibility of making the safest big city in America even safer but we know that the public we serve, they truly need us. And we need them too, all 8.6 million New Yorkers plus the millions more people who commute in for work or visit each and every day. Just this morning just before 6:00 am, witnesses told police they saw a woman jump off the Williamsburg Bridge in the East River. Thanks in no small part to that quick reporting coupled with our remarkable coordination between our patrol, Emergency Service, harbor, aviation, and scuba units we located and pulled the woman to safety conscious and alert. We also found and removed from the river her friend who jumped in to try to save her. While we obviously don’t want everybody just putting themselves in harm’s way like that, sharing the responsibility for public safety does mean alerting the police to anything dangerous or suspicious and giving us a chance to investigate. And that goes for everything from terrorism to so-called traditional crime like gang-involved drug or gun trafficking. You see it every day, all the guns NYPD cops have taken off our streets. Overall crime and arrests are down but the number of firearms we seize continues to go up. It’s that precise focus on the real drivers of crime that enable us to keep reducing the shootings and murders. I’m confident in New Yorkers’ ability to push forward. That’s one of the reasons for the major changes we’re undergoing in the NYPD. The bottom line is all New Yorkers want all of our neighborhoods to be safer places for our children, for our elderly, and for ourselves. So, I’m asking the public we serve to keep supporting our police, keep working with us, commit to watching the backs of those you call when you’re scared, those you call when you’re in trouble. Everyone must participate and that’s how we’re safely making our way forward together. Mr. Mayor – Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Commissioner. I really appreciate that message that all New Yorkers are part of helping us to stay safe. Supporting our police officers, working with them, communicating with them – it’s a huge piece of the equation so I really want to encourage all New Yorkers to help us build on this progress. I want to give my appreciation to the Commissioner, to First Deputy Commissioner Tucker, to Chief of Department Monahan, the whole leadership team of the NYPD, and all the men and women of the NYPD for another very strong month in the month of July, 2018. I also want to share my condolences and the condolences of the people of this entire city, on behalf of the people of this city, for the family of Robert Martinez. Our hearts go out to you and we will keep the family in our prayers and I appreciate everything the Commissioner said about how he served this city and this department. And on a happier note, the extraordinary story of Officer Nunez, literally just weeks out of the academy, saving a life. And it’s a beautiful New York story and I really commend him for the heads up thinking and the fast effort to save a life. It’s absolutely everything that gives people faith in this great department. We’ve got some important developments to talk about for July and the bottom line here is this department continues to innovate, looks for new ways to make us safe. I have never been in a meeting where anyone said, well we’re the safest big city in America let’s just fold right there and just keep doing what we’re doing. No, the concept has always been let’s go farther, let’s do new things, let’s do better things. We all were honest in May and June that we saw some things we didn’t like so much and some things that we wanted to address differently. PD did that and targeted some key trouble spots, put a number of officers out versus Summer All Out to focus on those areas. You see some changes in July, some improvements in July because of decisions made in May and June, and adjustments made. And that’s been the norm with the NYPD. Also, I think a very smart, important development this week in changing the approach to addressing people who are stopped for fare evasion and have outstanding warrants, and addressing those immediately. So, addressing the past warrants, addressing the immediate offense that just occurred, and freeing up a lot of officer time to go back on patrol and keep us all safe – another great example of innovation. The month of July, I’m very pleased to say July, 2018, the safest July on record. So, NYPD has achieved something really important in July compared to July of 2017. Murders down almost 37 percent – tied the all-time low for murders in a month of July, compared to July, 2013. That was the other time when we got this low. But overall crime – the safest July ever. And now because of the great success in July, the year has shown really great improvements. So now year to date through the end of July, total crime down 1.7 percent compared to last year. And again last year was a record setting year and murders are now down 1.7 percent overall through July compared to last year. We’re on a pace right now to do what we did last year, to have the safest year in New York City history for the people of this city since the Cold War. And I keep trying to put it in perspective for everyone, how different, how far back you have to go to find times that equate to this in terms of keeping crime down. NYPD – and you’ll hear it certainly in Chief Pollock’s detailed explanation of July – NYPD is living by the concept that records are made to be broken. And they’re on pace to do it again. A quick few words in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio Speaks in Spanish] With that, my pleasure to turn to our Chief of Crime Control Strategies, Lori Pollock – Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock: Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Looking at the first seven months of this year, we are on pace to finish the year potentially under 100,000 index crimes and this would be only the second time that has occurred. Through the end of July year-to-date, we have recorded 53,937 index crimes. Just to give you a little perspective, in ‘94 in July we had 33,782. We finished last year with a little over 96,000 and we have currently recorded 911 fewer crimes than last year. These 911 fewer crimes represent a 1.7 decrease year-to-date. And again, to be within reach of the 100,000 number for the second time in the CompStat era is absolutely remarkable. As for the month of July, we recorded 8,500 index crimes or 157 less than last year’s record low of 8,657 for the month and that’s a two percent decrease. We’ve achieved these reductions in places like Patrol Borough Queens South where the hardworking men and women are commanded by Chief Dave Barrere and Investigative Chief Joe Kenny, where they impressively drove down crime 12 percent in July including a significant 24 percent reduction in robberies. This is done through timely pattern identification and aggressive apprehension efforts. The hard working police officers and detectives of the Bronx led by Chief Larry Nikunen reduced overall crime by 6.5 percent this July and brought murders down in July by 64 percent over last July. That’s five murders versus 14, a reduction of nine murder victims. The reduction was accomplished with thorough analysis and proper deployment of resources. Police officers are continuously shifted as conditions change and detectives relentlessly are following up on every case and every lead. As Chief Monahan announced to you last month, overall crime for the first six months of the year was at a record low. This downward trend continues especially as it relates to murders. This month we tied the record for the lowest number of murders for any July. The lowest number of 24 murders was also recorded in July, 2013. And we’re always cognizant that even one murder is too many. The 24 murders this July is a 37 percent reduction compared to the 38 murders in July of 2017. This brings our year to date murder number down by three – 171 versus 174. Gunshot wounds account for nearly 70 percent of the method of death with nearly half, or 43 percent, of the murders occurring with some type of gang nexus. We began observing a concentration of murders in northern Brooklyn which had six, or 25 percent of July’s total, and focused our deployment and other responses there. Four of those six victims were 16 years old or younger and were shot and killed by members of the same age group as a result of gang activity. This age range,17 and under, shows increases of both victims, that’s 12 versus three, and known perpetrators 200 percent up, 12 versus four for murders year-to-date. Again this highlights the need for community involvement when youth begin to go down the wrong path. Resources to help at-risk youth can be found at your local precincts and police service areas, and we encourage participation in Build the Block meetings where you can meet you neighborhood coordination and steady sector officers whose job it is to keep people safe and provide the community members with resources and collectively solve crime problems. You can reach or find out who your NCO is by calling or stopping into your local precinct or simply typing in NCO or Build a Block into the nyc.gov website. Domestic related murders for July are down 29 percent, five versus seven. This includes the tragedy that occurred in Astoria on Monday. We have seen a positive downturn but domestic violence is an iceberg that friends, families, and coworkers often don’t see until it’s too late. Again, if you know of a significant other, son, daughter, coworker, or friend who is being abused or you suspect is in a volatile relationship, call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation or the domestic violence police officers in your local precinct. Also the Safe Horizons [inaudible] crime victims advocacy program will be in every precinct by the end of the year. We consistently see that three-quarters of domestic violence homicide victims had never had police contact prior to their death. Looking at shootings, we’ll give you some context. Historically the summer months have the highest number of shooting incidents. July monthly averages over the last five years is 104. So, in 2014 in July, we saw 134 shootings; in 2015, 117 shootings; this July we are up 11 incidents, 90 versus 79. Still unbelievably low compared to last July which was the lowest number ever recorded for shootings in July. That makes this July the second lowest. We are currently at a record low in year to date shootings with 428 incidents compared to 439 last year. Taking a look back to previous years – I think we have a PowerPoint up there – we can gain perspective on just how we’ve reduced shooting violence and how much safer we are. But like murders for the month, shootings have also increased in parts of Brooklyn. The borough as a whole experienced an increase in July, 43 versus 25. We move on to rape. We showed an increase of ten reported rapes or 7.5 for July which is 143 versus 133. The trend we had seen earlier this year of victims coming forward to report incidents which occurred in previous years has waned. In July, 12.5, or 18, of the reported rapes occurred outside this year compared to the 20 to 30 percent we were seeing earlier in the months of 2018. Robbery has reached a new low for July with 1,065 against 1,243 last year. Felony assaults are down 7.3 percent or 141 crimes. I’m also happy to report that burglary has reached a benchmark low of 1,037 compared to 1,044 last year. We saw a slight uptick in grand larceny for the month of July – 3,837 versus 3,739 which is a 2.6 increase. Grand larceny auto has also experienced an increase in the month of July. They are up 14.3 percent, or 75, which is mostly motorcycles but every crime briefing – my third so far – we have stressed the importance of not leaving the keys on the car, leaving the cars running. That accounts for a very big segment of the year-to-date, and a quarter of the grand larceny autos for the month. Index crime in housing for July is down 11.7 percent – 409 versus 463, a total of 54 crimes. Index crime in transit for July is up slightly 25 crimes, 198 versus 173, which is predominantly seen in Manhattan driven by pickpockets and perpetrators that are targeting inattentive or sleeping passengers. I would like to echo the sentiments about going to your National Night Out Against Crime. Thank you very much. Police Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, any on-topic questions about crime? Question: Can you go back and just – you were saying about the gang related murders. Kids 17 and under, can you go back to that and explain what the numbers are and if that is really now something you have to look at that the victims are becoming younger, and younger as well as the assailants. Chief Pollock: I don’t know that it’s any different than it has been in the past. It’s just we have seen this month we have seen a rise in it, and then we looked at the entire year. There has been an uptick, like I said. We do have pockets of gang violence, right now its occurring in Brooklyn. Commissioner O’Neill: Tony? Question: Last time you had this [inaudible] the Bronx [inaudible] victimized. Could you [inaudible]? Shootings gone down, and murders gone down [inaudible]. Historically, how is that [inaudible]? Chief Pollock: Murders year to date are still up in the Bronx, but we saw we had a spike in April, June – April, May, and June. We have really turned that around. As I said it was five versus 12 for the – let me give you the right numbers. I can give you the exact number, I did say it. But like I said in July it has significantly decreased. So, I don’t know, I don’t see it as being some sort of trend that’s continuing. Question: The shootings situation in the Bronx – Chief Pollock: The shootings in the Bronx – so they are also down 15 shootings for the month. 18 versus 33. So, Chief Nikunen, and the hard working men up there, and women are doing a very good job. Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, in the back row. Question: You mentioned something about how officers change the way they were doing things in the very beginning. What are those ways – the processes that they’ve been going [inaudible] have changed recently? Mayor: I’ll let the Commissioner and his team speak to it. The central point I am making is there is an ongoing focus on innovation and one of the examples is the notion of figuring out ways to maximize officer time on patrol to help protect everyone and to address an issue like fare evasion at the point of contact and including the possibility of addressing previous outstanding warrants simultaneously. So, the Commissioner’s team can speak to do that. Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, Chief Coogan, he is the XO of the transit bureau. He’ll speak about that. Vinny? Chief Vincent Coogan, NYPD: Okay, evading the fare is still illegal, but we had a pilot project that we had in effect since February 1st. As of August 1st yesterday, new policy is in writing. There’s very few minor changes since the other thing. But if you are stopped for evading the fare you will be issued a tab summons. The majority of the people, some people who might not fit that criteria will be given a C summons. But then a small amount of people will be arrested. This is keeping more officers in the trains on patrol, out in the stations interacting with the public. And last week we increased our districts in neighborhood policing from two to six. We expect a remainder of the 12 districts to have neighborhood policing by the beginning of this year. And we want these officers out there, these neighborhood police officers out there in the trains interacting with the public. So this will keep more of them out. Mayor: Just one, if I may add. Chief, could you just explain the time reality of how addressing the outstanding warrant right away and all that is more time efficient than what you used to have to do arrest by arrest. Chief Coogan: Yes, I mean before if you had to arrest a person, obviously it would take many hours doing finger printing and arresting a person, putting them through. Right now if you have a SAP warrant. So if you got caught say eight years ago, 10 years ago drinking a beer in the street. Now, you’re going to be issued a criminal court summons. The officer is going to bring the person back. He is going to take care of that minor warrant and also take care of the criminal court summons at the same time and be back on patrol within a few hours. Question: I have a relating question. It’s kind of two parts. City Council back in December passed a bill that requires the Police Department to produce quarterly reports on fare evasion with demographic data, station data where this is happening. So the first part is – Commissioner O’Neill: I am going to just cut you off there for a second. Can we save that for off-topic? Question: Sure. Alright, that was a long question. So make sure you get it. Question: Yes. Commissioner O’Neill: Okay. Mayor: So, on the statistics. Commissioner O’Neill: Crime, yeah. Any other crime questions? In the back. Question: Can you give an update on crime stats on gangs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and citywide? Commissioner O’Neill: Specific numbers as to homicide, shootings? Question: To shootings. Chief Pollock: 40 percent gang related. Question: She said city wide? Chief Pollock: Yeah, 40 percent for both murders and shootings. Commissioner O’Neill: Tony? Question: There’s been rape complaints [inaudible]. Any ideas to what is causing [inaudible]? Chief Pollock: So, the question is whether or not they’re slowing down? Question: Yeah. Chief Pollock: So we definitely had a big campaign to get – and we still encourage people to come forward and report ones that are happening presently and ones that have happened past. We want to know when those crimes are happening now obviously. And we want to know who the offenders were before. Right now the rape complaints that are coming in from out of this year from prior years 2017 and back have slowed down. We’re not seeing such an increase in those reports. We’re still seeing an increase year to date but we’re not seeing an increase in the outer period reporting. Commissioner O’Neill: Any other crime questions? Alright, I am a man of my word, right there. Question: I appreciate it, so yeah going back. Commissioner O’Neill: I am going to have to cut you off again. [Laughter] And I don’t even know you. I am sorry. Chief we had an off duty Sergeant involved in an officer involved shooting this morning, and Chief Monahan is going to speak about that. And then right after that, you’re up. Okay? Chief of Department Terrance Monahan, NYPD: Alright, this is still under investigation. We still have a lot of work to do. But at approximately 4:56 am this morning and off-duty sergeant was walking west bound on Livonia Avenue heading towards Pennsylvania Avenue. He was confronted by a male and during his confrontation he fired two shots at him striking him once in the face. The male is currently in stable condition. Again, like I said this whole investigation is still on-going by the Firearms Investigation Division in the Kings Country District Attorney’s Office. We are still conducting numerous interviews with people that were involved and we are reviewing videos that are out there. The sergeant has been placed on modified duty and placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of some our initial findings. Commissioner O’Neill: Questions about the shooting? Tina? Question: What did the [inaudible] or [inaudible] guy who was shot say to the officer? Chief Monahan: That’s still all part of the investigation. We still have to find out. We’re still conducting interviews with everyone, even the hospital that the male that was shot and the sergeant is currently back in the precinct. Question: So, was it a robbery attempt or is just? Chief Monahan: We’re looking at the now, we think there may have been some sort of dispute prior to this incident. Question: So they knew each other? Chief Monahan: I don’t know if they knew each other or there was just dispute prior. Still part of the investigation, we have a long way to go on this one. Commissioner O’Neill: Hold on, yep right there. Question: Was the man who was shot, was he armed or did he have a weapon of any sort? Chief Monahan: Still all part of the investigation at this point. Commissioner O’Neill: Yep, in the back row. Question: Did the sergeant help to give medical attention to the man that he shot? I am not saying that he had to. But did he? Chief Monahan: We are still looking at that. We’re reviewing all the video. At this point I don’t have that answer. I know he did call 9-1-1. Question: So at this point can you say whether it appears to be a justified shooting or can you go – Chief Monahan: We’re not going to make any determination at this point until we can actually interview everyone that’s involved. So this is going to be an on-going case with the Kings County DA. Commissioner O’Neill: Just to clarify there was no firearm found at the scene, no firearm recovered. Question: would it be – is it normal for the sergeant to go on modified duty after an incident like this. Is this a normal process more something that happens like this? Chief Monahan: There are certain things that we saw in this investigation that we have questions that I want answered at this point. Until we answer that, we felt it was best to place him on modified duty. Commissioner O’Neill: Any other questions about the off-duty shooting? Alright, there you go. Hold on. Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know your first name. What’s your first name? Question: Vincent – Commissioner O’Neill: Vincent – okay, Vincent goes first. Question: The City Council passed this bill that requires quarterly reports on subway fare evasion enforcement. The NYPD has refused to comply with this law. I wanted to get – citing public safety concerns – I wanted to see if you could elaborate – first part of the question is, if you could elaborate on what those public safety concerns are. And the second part of the question is for Mr. Mayor, why would you sign a bill into law that you knew your Department – Mayor: Let me start – this is going to be resolved and this will be addressed, is the bottom line. There are some obvious – I’ll speak as the non-policing expert – speak in the language of every-day New Yorkers – there are legitimate concerns in terms of not portraying information that interferes with the work of the NYPD. That’s always a consideration, but we can address those concerns while achieving transparency and conforming to the law. So, this will be resolved. Commissioner O’Neill: And Chief Donoghue will speak about it, but with your characterization as a refusal, I’m not sure if I agree with that. We are working with the City Council to get this right, and we do have to balance safety and transparency. Assistant Chief John Donohue, NYPD: Yeah, we have actually been in conversation with the Council members and sponsors of that legislation and the questions of transparency and being – having visibility into the activities of our officers with respect to theft or service arrests. We are working very diligently to have that resolved very quickly. We expect that to happen very soon. Question: Shouldn’t it have happened before the bill became a law? That’s typically how this process works, right? Mayor: I’ll speak as the person involved in that process on a regular basis, and also as a former Council member – no, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. I think there are times when a fair amount of detail is worked out in the legislative process, but you still have to figure out how you’re going to implement something. And then there are other times where the intent is agreed on but not the mechanics. And I think this point that you have to think about protecting the ability of the NYPD to do its job is obviously valid. But we want transparency and we’ll achieve it, and I think that’s something you’ll see in a matter of the next few weeks. Question: I was hoping you could go over the process for the fare evasion again – what’s going to happen if somebody is caught. And then I was wondering how much the demographics – I know you haven’t released that information yet – but how much that played into the decision here as well as maximizing time for officers? Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, Vinny, do you want answer the first part of that? Deputy Commissioner Vincent Grippo, NYPD: If you stop [inaudible] most people will get a tab summons – it’s a civil summons returnable to transit adjudication court. In certain circumstances, you can get a C-summons. And then there are other circumstances, if you don’t fit all the criteria, you will still be arrested. Question: What are those? Deputy Commissioner Grippo: You will be arrested if you have a warrant felony, a misdemeanor warrant [inaudible] you will be arrested. If you evaded the fare and you’re a transit offender – you fit under that category – you’ll be arrested. If there’s a legitimate law enforcement purpose, you may be arrested. And if you cannot be properly identified. We try all we can to properly identify people. If everything fails, then you will be arrested. Commissioner O’Neill: So, as to the second part of your question – we are always looking to improve the way we deploy our resources, specifically the Transit Bureau Officers. We’re always looking for efficiencies. We look at outcomes too, we look at the number of people that were arrested and what were the outcomes. Was there a fine paid? Was it [inaudible]? Was it not prosecuted? So, we are in constant talks with all of our prosecutor partners to make sure that we make this as efficient as possible, not necessarily looking at the disparities. Question: We took a look at gun prosecutions in this city and it shows that there’s a disparity borough by borough. The Manhattan DA’s office, for example – 61 percent of all people arrested with a loaded gun get prosecuted on the top count, face three-and-a-half years in prison. In Brooklyn, that number is just 25 percent; in Queens, 36 percent; in the Bronx, 34 percent. What is your thought about these disparities and how prosecutions are being handled – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, so this is without a doubt our bread and butter. This is how we reduce violence, by targeting people that carry guns and use guns. So, each and every week, we work with all of our prosecutorial partners, the local DA’s, the US Attorney’s offices, and we go down case by case to make sure that those prosecutions are as effective as possible and that there are consequences if you carry a gun in New York City. While there are disparities, we continue to work with all of the DA’s offices and the US Attorneys to make sure that if you’re carrying a gun in New York City there are severe consequences. Question: Are you satisfied with these numbers? Commissioner O’Neill: I’m never satisfied. I’d like it to be 100 percent. But I’m never satisfied with the numbers, I want them to continue to go up. And we’re working with Eric’s office, we’re working with Darcel’s office, we’re working with Cy’s office to make sure that we improve upon those numbers each and every day. Question: So, when you say 100 percent and hear a number that the Brooklyn DA’s office is only 25 percent – Commissioner O’Neill: You putting words in my mouth here? What are you going? I know that trick, Jonathan. Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have any thoughts on this? Mayor: All of us have to do better. You know, we have a great deal of respect for the DA’s but we would like to see more prosecutions, there’s no question. And there has to be a culture of consequence. There has to be a realization that anyone who thinks that they can get away with having an illegal gun in New York City, that that’s not going to work and that they’ll do a lot of time. And so, this is something we’ve all been working on, had a lot of conversations with the folks up here over the last few years on how we can improve that. And we’ve also had those conversations with the DA’s including talking to them about how we can help them – what they need to be able to do that more effectively. Commissioner O’Neill: So, Jonathan, I do owe you a real answer. We – in Brooklyn North, Laurie spoke about the number of – the increase in shootings we’ve had in the month of July. So that’s – we really need Eric’s office that we’re in lockstep with them about moving forward with the prosecutions of these cases. So, the number – what’d you say? 31 percent in Brooklyn? Question: 25 – Commissioner O’Neill: 25 percent – yeah, it needs to be much higher than that. And some of that is Eric’s office, and some of it’s the work we do, quite frankly. We have to make sure we do our jobs correctly so we present them with good cases. Question: One more follow-up on that – those enforcement reporting – so are you saying [inaudible] when you’re going to start publishing them? You’re still working that out? And would you commit to publishing the previous quarter reports retroactively once you reach and agreement with the Council? Commissioner O’Neill: Jack, you want to talk about that? Joe, you’re up next. Chief Donohue: Yeah, so within the next couple of weeks, we will have this resolved and we are going to retroactively produce the reports back to the – at the last quarter of 2017. Commissioner O’Neill: Joe? Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea. Can you describe for me different changes [inaudible]? Chief Dermot Shea, NYPD: A little trouble at the end here – how was it administered today differently – Question: [Inaudible] differently today than they used to be? Chief Shea: So, when you look at building a case – a prosecutable case – at its fundamental core is the issue of the identification procedures. Certainly, today, we have the luxury of dealing with – I would argue, more evidence than we have at any point in time when you look at the electronics, when you look at the video that’s available today, the forensic evidence. But ID procedures are, at its core, still a significant part of the case. Like anything else, we constantly asses how we police New York City, how our detectives investigate New York City cases, how we do on those cases. I’m confident that, today, as we sit here in 2018, we’ve worked very hard of the last couple of years, working with our partners on the prosecution side – it’s not just on gun cases, Jonathan, it’s how we bring evidence to prosecutions to bear. Not just with prosecutors, we also listen to and work with advocates – how do we make changes? Just because we follow an accepted practice today, a constitutional practice, does not mean that we’re content to not look for other ways in an era of transparency to be fairer. So, specifically, the changes in the last couple of years – two significant changes when you look at how we administer photo arrays – the blinded procedure has been put in place. And that’s not a decision that’s put in place solely by the NYPD. Again, it’s after long consultations with the entire community, really, of prosecutions – on the defense side, on the prosecution side. When you look at how we collect statements today in the NYPD, very different just in the last couple of years. Taking a statement – is it a written statement? Today, in the NYPD world, it’s more often than not a video taped statement that then is made available to prosecutors and defense. So, I guess I would just sum it up that we’re confident where we are today in how we build cases, but that’s not to say that we’re resting on our laurels and we’re always looking outside New York City – best practices nationwide. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea: So, it’s probably [inaudible] for this conversation. You have blinded photo arrays, double blinded photo arrays. This is a case where a photo array, generally speaking, six photos, one being the suspect, shown to a defendant. The witness, or the complainant, picked out, and the person showing that array does not know what place the defendant is. That would alleviate any beliefs, whether appropriate or not, that the person is steering the person to pick one. You cannot do that if you don’t know which one it is. And that’s – again, that’s a process put in place built on nationwide best practices. Question: Police made an arrest in the murder of Ebony Young [inaudible] Texas was arrested. Do you guys have any more details? Chief Shea: Just very brief – I don’t have that in front of me, but that’s a case earlier this year. It’s a case out of Brooklyn where a woman was stabbed to death in the general vicinity of a bodega in Brooklyn. There were several people involved in that death. We’ve recently located one of the individuals responsible for that stabbing homicide – a female in Texas and brought back to Brooklyn to face charges. We can give you the details, DCPI can follow up. Question: Commissioner, on the question of 3-D gun printing – instruction printing that’s currently now, I guess, restrained by a restraining order out by a federal judge. What was your feeling when you saw [inaudible] potentially creating more firearms? Commissioner O’Neill: I had the same feeling I got when I saw the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. We don’t need more guns in New York City and we definitely don’t need guns that are not traceable, because that 3-D printer guns are basically a zip-gun. It’s one round that’s fired and there’s no rifling, so there’s not way to trace where that gun comes from. And if you carry one in New York City, you’re committing a felony, so I have very strong feelings about that. We don’t need any more firearms in New York City. We definitely don’t need firearms that are untraceable. Question: So I know part of the turnstile – the fare evasion arrests – is that people with outstanding summonses will be given rides to court. Will that be extended to, for example, with the new marijuana policy? Will people arrested, or at least given summonses for marijuana possession in public, would they – Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know if I would classify it as rides to court. I think if you were arrested for a theft to service, or given a summons for theft to service, and you were placed in a police car and brought down to court, I don’t know if you’d consider that a ride. So, it’s a pretty serious sanction – Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, it’s a serious sanction. Mayor: I want to jump in – I think it is a ride in the sense that you get into a car and you go somewhere. [Laughter] I don’t think you feel the same way. It’s not like getting into a taxi. I think there’s a very preventative impact if you are stopped by an officer because you’re doing something illegal and the message is you need to come over with us to court to address these outstanding issues. I think that probably sticks in someone’s mind. Commissioner O’Neill: And the ride is in handcuffs, so – [Laughter] Question: [Inaudible] new marijuana policy of giving summonses as opposed to – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, if we have – if we’re going to give somebody a summons and they have an outstanding summons adjudication [inaudible] that’s a criminal court summons, it’s not a misdemeanor or a felony warrant, the same process will take place. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea: Regarding the case, there isn’t much new to report. There was a couple articles in the paper yesterday, but I will say what I’ve said before. We are very interested in the history of Mr. Drayton, we have resources devoted to really following up on his past, what can we learn, what other victims may there be. We’ve made some outreach, whether it’s through Twitter, whether it’s through proactive reporting with some of the people in this room, and we encourage anyone to come forward that may have any information, whether you’re a victim or whether you just may know something about Mr. Drayton or any of the previous encounters. We have not received to-date any crime stoppers tips regarding new victims, or to our sex crimes hotline. That could be a good thing – that there’s no other victims coming forward. But again, I would reiterate what I said, anyone with information, call. The current status of the case is what has been already reported. He is being held in California. At some point, he will be brought back to New York City. He has two separate cases that he will be coming back to New York City for. The homicide in the 105th Precinct and the rape that occurred in the 72nd Precinct. How long that process will take, that is not an easy question to answer because of the severity of what he’s facing also in California. He has made statements to investigators in California that would make you believe he is responsible for other crimes, some of which occur in New York City. Nothing to this point has been able to be verified by us. Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know your first name. What’s your first name? Question: Vincent – Commissioner O’Neill: Vincent – okay, Vincent goes first. Question: The City Council passed this bill that requires quarterly reports on subway fare evasion enforcement. The NYPD has refused to comply with this law. I wanted to get – citing public safety concerns – I wanted to see if you could elaborate – first part of the question is, if you could elaborate on what those public safety concerns are. And the second part of the question is for Mr. Mayor, why would you sign a bill into law that you knew your Department – Mayor: Let me start – this is going to be resolved and this will be addressed, is the bottom line. There are some obvious – I’ll speak as the non-policing expert – speak in the language of every-day New Yorkers – there are legitimate concerns in terms of not portraying information that interferes with the work of the NYPD. That’s always a consideration, but we can address those concerns while achieving transparency and conforming to the law. So, this will be resolved. Commissioner O’Neill: And Chief Donoghue will speak about it, but with your characterization as a refusal, I’m not sure if I agree with that. We are working with the City Council to get this right, and we do have to balance safety and transparency. Assistant Chief John Donohue, NYPD: Yeah, we have actually been in conversation with the Council members and sponsors of that legislation and the questions of transparency and being – having visibility into the activities of our officers with respect to theft or service arrests. We are working very diligently to have that resolved very quickly. We expect that to happen very soon. Question: Shouldn’t it have happened before the bill became a law? That’s typically how this process works, right? Mayor: I’ll speak as the person involved in that process on a regular basis, and also as a former Council member – no, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. I think there are times when a fair amount of detail is worked out in the legislative process, but you still have to figure out how you’re going to implement something. And then there are other times where the intent is agreed on but not the mechanics. And I think this point that you have to think about protecting the ability of the NYPD to do its job is obviously valid. But we want transparency and we’ll achieve it, and I think that’s something you’ll see in a matter of the next few weeks. Question: I was hoping you could go over the process for the fare evasion again – what’s going to happen if somebody is caught. And then I was wondering how much the demographics – I know you haven’t released that information yet – but how much that played into the decision here as well as maximizing time for officers? Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, Vinny, do you want answer the first part of that? Deputy Commissioner Vincent Grippo, NYPD: If you stop [inaudible] most people will get a tab summons – it’s a civil summons returnable to transit adjudication court. In certain circumstances, you can get a C-summons. And then there are other circumstances, if you don’t fit all the criteria, you will still be arrested. Question: What are those? Deputy Commissioner Grippo: You will be arrested if you have a warrant felony, a misdemeanor warrant [inaudible] you will be arrested. If you evaded the fare and you’re a transit offender – you fit under that category – you’ll be arrested. If there’s a legitimate law enforcement purpose, you may be arrested. And if you cannot be properly identified. We try all we can to properly identify people. If everything fails, then you will be arrested. Commissioner O’Neill: So, as to the second part of your question – we are always looking to improve the way we deploy our resources, specifically the Transit Bureau Officers. We’re always looking for efficiencies. We look at outcomes too, we look at the number of people that were arrested and what were the outcomes. Was there a fine paid? Was it [inaudible]? Was it not prosecuted? So, we are in constant talks with all of our prosecutor partners to make sure that we make this as efficient as possible, not necessarily looking at the disparities. Question: We took a look at gun prosecutions in this city and it shows that there’s a disparity borough by borough. The Manhattan DA’s office, for example – 61 percent of all people arrested with a loaded gun get prosecuted on the top count, face three-and-a-half years in prison. In Brooklyn, that number is just 25 percent; in Queens, 36 percent; in the Bronx, 34 percent. What is your thought about these disparities and how prosecutions are being handled – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, so this is without a doubt our bread and butter. This is how we reduce violence, by targeting people that carry guns and use guns. So, each and every week, we work with all of our prosecutorial partners, the local DA’s, the US Attorney’s offices, and we go down case by case to make sure that those prosecutions are as effective as possible and that there are consequences if you carry a gun in New York City. While there are disparities, we continue to work with all of the DA’s offices and the US Attorneys to make sure that if you’re carrying a gun in New York City there are severe consequences. Question: Are you satisfied with these numbers? Commissioner O’Neill: I’m never satisfied. I’d like it to be 100 percent. But I’m never satisfied with the numbers, I want them to continue to go up. And we’re working with Eric’s office, we’re working with Darcel’s office, we’re working with Cy’s office to make sure that we improve upon those numbers each and every day. Question: So, when you say 100 percent and hear a number that the Brooklyn DA’s office is only 25 percent – Commissioner O’Neill: You putting words in my mouth here? What are you going? I know that trick, Jonathan. Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have any thoughts on this? Mayor: All of us have to do better. You know, we have a great deal of respect for the DA’s but we would like to see more prosecutions, there’s no question. And there has to be a culture of consequence. There has to be a realization that anyone who thinks that they can get away with having an illegal gun in New York City, that that’s not going to work and that they’ll do a lot of time. And so, this is something we’ve all been working on, had a lot of conversations with the folks up here over the last few years on how we can improve that. And we’ve also had those conversations with the DA’s including talking to them about how we can help them – what they need to be able to do that more effectively. Commissioner O’Neill: So, Jonathan, I do owe you a real answer. We – in Brooklyn North, Laurie spoke about the number of – the increase in shootings we’ve had in the month of July. So that’s – we really need Eric’s office that we’re in lockstep with them about moving forward with the prosecutions of these cases. So, the number – what’d you say? 31 percent in Brooklyn? Question: 25 – Commissioner O’Neill: 25 percent – yeah, it needs to be much higher than that. And some of that is Eric’s office, and some of it’s the work we do, quite frankly. We have to make sure we do our jobs correctly so we present them with good cases. Question: One more follow-up on that – those enforcement reporting – so are you saying [inaudible] when you’re going to start publishing them? You’re still working that out? And would you commit to publishing the previous quarter reports retroactively once you reach and agreement with the Council? Commissioner O’Neill: Jack, you want to talk about that? Joe, you’re up next. Chief Donohue: Yeah, so within the next couple of weeks, we will have this resolved and we are going to retroactively produce the reports back to the – at the last quarter of 2017. Commissioner O’Neill: Joe? Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea. Can you describe for me different changes [inaudible]? Chief Dermot Shea, NYPD: A little trouble at the end here – how was it administered today differently – Question: [Inaudible] differently today than they used to be? Chief Shea: So, when you look at building a case – a prosecutable case – at its fundamental core is the issue of the identification procedures. Certainly, today, we have the luxury of dealing with – I would argue, more evidence than we have at any point in time when you look at the electronics, when you look at the video that’s available today, the forensic evidence. But ID procedures are, at its core, still a significant part of the case. Like anything else, we constantly asses how we police New York City, how our detectives investigate New York City cases, how we do on those cases. I’m confident that, today, as we sit here in 2018, we’ve worked very hard of the last couple of years, working with our partners on the prosecution side – it’s not just on gun cases, Jonathan, it’s how we bring evidence to prosecutions to bear. Not just with prosecutors, we also listen to and work with advocates – how do we make changes? Just because we follow an accepted practice today, a constitutional practice, does not mean that we’re content to not look for other ways in an era of transparency to be fairer. So, specifically, the changes in the last couple of years – two significant changes when you look at how we administer photo arrays – the blinded procedure has been put in place. And that’s not a decision that’s put in place solely by the NYPD. Again, it’s after long consultations with the entire community, really, of prosecutions – on the defense side, on the prosecution side. When you look at how we collect statements today in the NYPD, very different just in the last couple of years. Taking a statement – is it a written statement? Today, in the NYPD world, it’s more often than not a video taped statement that then is made available to prosecutors and defense. So, I guess I would just sum it up that we’re confident where we are today in how we build cases, but that’s not to say that we’re resting on our laurels and we’re always looking outside New York City – best practices nationwide. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea: So, it’s probably [inaudible] for this conversation. You have blinded photo arrays, double blinded photo arrays. This is a case where a photo array, generally speaking, six photos, one being the suspect, shown to a defendant. The witness, or the complainant, picked out, and the person showing that array does not know what place the defendant is. That would alleviate any beliefs, whether appropriate or not, that the person is steering the person to pick one. You cannot do that if you don’t know which one it is. And that’s – again, that’s a process put in place built on nationwide best practices. Question: Police made an arrest in the murder of Ebony Young [inaudible] Texas was arrested. Do you guys have any more details? Chief Shea: Just very brief – I don’t have that in front of me, but that’s a case earlier this year. It’s a case out of Brooklyn where a woman was stabbed to death in the general vicinity of a bodega in Brooklyn. There were several people involved in that death. We’ve recently located one of the individuals responsible for that stabbing homicide – a female in Texas and brought back to Brooklyn to face charges. We can give you the details, DCPI can follow up. Question: Commissioner, on the question of 3-D gun printing – instruction printing that’s currently now, I guess, restrained by a restraining order out by a federal judge. What was your feeling when you saw [inaudible] potentially creating more firearms? Commissioner O’Neill: I had the same feeling I got when I saw the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. We don’t need more guns in New York City and we definitely don’t need guns that are not traceable, because that 3-D printer guns are basically a zip-gun. It’s one round that’s fired and there’s no rifling, so there’s not way to trace where that gun comes from. And if you carry one in New York City, you’re committing a felony, so I have very strong feelings about that. We don’t need any more firearms in New York City. We definitely don’t need firearms that are untraceable. Question: So I know part of the turnstile – the fare evasion arrests – is that people with outstanding summonses will be given rides to court. Will that be extended to, for example, with the new marijuana policy? Will people arrested, or at least given summonses for marijuana possession in public, would they – Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know if I would classify it as rides to court. I think if you were arrested for a theft to service, or given a summons for theft to service, and you were placed in a police car and brought down to court, I don’t know if you’d consider that a ride. So, it’s a pretty serious sanction – Question: [Inaudible] Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, it’s a serious sanction. Mayor: I want to jump in – I think it is a ride in the sense that you get into a car and you go somewhere. [Laughter] I don’t think you feel the same way. It’s not like getting into a taxi. I think there’s a very preventative impact if you are stopped by an officer because you’re doing something illegal and the message is you need to come over with us to court to address these outstanding issues. I think that probably sticks in someone’s mind. Commissioner O’Neill: And the ride is in handcuffs, so – [Laughter] Question: [Inaudible] new marijuana policy of giving summonses as opposed to – Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, if we have – if we’re going to give somebody a summons and they have an outstanding summons adjudication [inaudible] that’s a criminal court summons, it’s not a misdemeanor or a felony warrant, the same process will take place. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Shea: Regarding the case, there isn’t much new to report. There was a couple articles in the paper yesterday, but I will say what I’ve said before. We are very interested in the history of Mr. Drayton, we have resources devoted to really following up on his past, what can we learn, what other victims may there be. We’ve made some outreach, whether it’s through Twitter, whether it’s through proactive reporting with some of the people in this room, and we encourage anyone to come forward that may have any information, whether you’re a victim or whether you just may know something about Mr. Drayton or any of the previous encounters. We have not received to-date any crime stoppers tips regarding new victims, or to our sex crimes hotline. That could be a good thing – that there’s no other victims coming forward. But again, I would reiterate what I said, anyone with information, call. The current status of the case is what has been already reported. He is being held in California. At some point, he will be brought back to New York City. He has two separate cases that he will be coming back to New York City for. The homicide in the 105th Precinct and the rape that occurred in the 72nd Precinct. How long that process will take, that is not an easy question to answer because of the severity of what he’s facing also in California. He has made statements to investigators in California that would make you believe he is responsible for other crimes, some of which occur in New York City. Nothing to this point has been able to be verified by us. Question: For the Commissioner and the Mayor, there was a case of an immigrant taxi driver from Queens who was arrested by ICE last month after he was picked up by police on a very low-level charge back in May. The fingerprinting from the arrest obviously put him on ICE’s radar and that’s how they found him to arrest him. They plan to deport him next week. His name is Edison [inaudible]. Advocates have kind of raised fresh concerns about the impact of fingerprints from arrests getting transmitted to the State database that ICE can then have access to [inaudible] people for deportation. I’m wondering what the two of you – what, if anything, the City can do to protect immigrants given the city’s stated goals in being a sanctuary city given kind of the framework that exists with fingerprinting and [inaudible] – Mayor: Look, the first thing to say is we have to keep people in this city safe and that’s our sacred obligation. In fact, that’s why we have been so clear with the federal government that will not ask documentation status in our encounters with people in the city whether it’s the Police Department, schools, public hospitals, you name it. The very same principle though that public safety underlies the vision applies here. If someone commits a crime, we have to address that crime for the safety of all. I think the crucial point here is there’s a whole host of low-level offenses where someone is never fingerprinted. I mean I’ll even take it the step back before that. The vast majority of people don’t commit any crime including immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. So, most people – this is a moot point because they never do anything that brings them into contact with law enforcement. The next category of people are people who do something very, very minor that would never lead to – under our approach – fingerprinting, and therefore there is no nexus. I do think the challenge is if someone has committed a crime that leads to fingerprinting, yes, there is that potential for the information flowing but the first obligation we have is to protect the people of this city. I also think we’re seeing ICE go after people in all sorts of ways that have nothing to do with flow of information from here. They’re obviously doing every manner and sort of raid with no differentiation of whether someone has committed a crime or not. That’s one of the biggest things that really needs to be focused on here. They’re picking up people who done nothing except are here undocumented. They’re doing that on a regular basis. So, I think that’s several of the angles to look at here. Police Commissioner O’Neill: Anybody else? Dean – Question: Can you just give us an update on the departmental trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo over the last couple of weeks? There’s been a lot of talk about, you know, there will be a departmental trial in September now that’s moved back. CCRB is involved. Is that trial going to be here? Is it just Daniel Pantaleo? Can you just break it all down – Police Commissioner O’Neill: Dean, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson will speak about the process. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson, NYPD: Yeah, good afternoon. So, on July the 20th, disciplinary charges were served on Daniel Pantaleo. Those charges are from the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The Civilian Complaint Review Board has the case. They are prosecuting the case. They are evaluating the evidence. They’re going over their witnesses and when they’re ready, they’re going to bring the case in front of the Deputy Commissioner of Trials in this building where a trial would be held. I can’t give you the timeframe of that. That’s completely in the CCRB’s hands. As I said, they’re evaluating their case as it stands right now. Question: Can you talk to that? Is this a case where now we could be another year from now if the CCRB is evaluating the evidence in the case again or – Police Commissioner O’Neill: Dean, I don’t see it going a year but there is a process that needs to be followed and it needs to be respected. So, he was served with the charges and as Commissioner Richardson just explained – what the process and how long it takes. So, there’s really not much that we can do about that. We do have to follow the process. Mayor: Dean, I get the full impression that everyone wants to move this process along. Obviously, again, respecting due process, being thorough. But no one wants to delay. Everyone wants to move. We’ve resolved the issue with the Justice Department. It’s time to put this behind us. Police Commissioner O’Neill: Jonathan? Question: Commissioner or for Chief Shea, the Schneiderman case [inaudible] a new woman had stepped forward, yet to file charges. Has anyone stepped forward to file a complaint [inaudible] criminal investigation [inaudible]? Chief Shea: Yeah, nothing has changed in that case, Jonathan. Nobody has come forward. Police Commissioner O’Neill: Tony? Question: For Chief Shea, could you – do you have extensive briefing on the criminal homicide, suicide out in Astoria? Is there any clarity now on those final minutes or moments that led to that in terms of the investigation. I believe it was a custody dispute [inaudible] – Chief Shea: What I’ll say is that there are some facts that have come to light not to change what we know. I won’t get into great detail. Tragic incident. The heart goes out to the family, for that young child, for the families of the victims first and foremost. In terms of motivation, I don’t know that we will have a complete picture. But what we have is we have social media posts, we have interviews of many people now as we’ve gone forward from that incident of a disturbed person and a couple themes come up. Money and finances have been raised. Issues with his business have come up. I’m not going to tell you how I know this but it has come up in the investigation. And the custody issue. All those three things have been raised by the individual that took the lives of the three innocent people [inaudible] and that’s a combination of what I’ve said – it’s a combination of open source social media, it’s a combination of talking to witnesses and family, and somethings that I won’t get into. Question: Commissioner, in the back and forth with the DOJ over proceeding with the Pantaleo disciplinary process, the Department of Justice recently said, and this was on the record, that they informed Lawrence Byrne in the spring that the NYPD could go ahead and proceed with the case. Have you gotten to the bottom of that? Do you know whether he actually was informed and why there would have been this – Police Commissioner O’Neill: No. He was not informed of that. This is something that we’ve been following very closely obviously for years. He’s had many discussions with DOJ and never at any point prior to a couple of weeks did they say it was okay to move forward. Unknown: Thanks, everybody. [...] Mayor: I want to give you an opening statement before we go into other off-topic questions. Alright, the door is about to close. Okay, so I have a bittersweet announcement to make. Some of you may have heard already, our Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett has accepted a teaching position at Harvard School of Public Health and will also lead their Center for Health and Human Rights as the director. I will speak for the whole administration in saying New York City’s loss is Harvard’s gain. And I certainly understand why she was attracted to such a prestigious and important position. Her tenure here, I’m very happy to say, of four-and-a-half years – everything I hoped it would be and more. I think she did extraordinary work. I want to mention a few things in particular. I think in the midst of some of the biggest challenges we faced in recent year, she was an extraordinarily calm and clear and methodical voice addressing really complex issues. Most notably the Ebola crisis which I think for all us was the ultimate in uncharted territory. And Mary Bassett, at that moment, really was particularly a powerful and important voice in this city helping everyone to understand the disease and to recognize how we would work our way through that crisis, and we did, and I’m very, very proud of what New York City did at that time and in many other moments. She played a crucial role in the success of the Thrive NYC mental health initiative and that work will continue to deepen at Department of Health. She created something very important, the Center for Health Equity and took existing efforts but really focused them on addressing disparities effectively. She also made the Health Department, itself, a fairer place to work. She did something I know was near and dear to Ben Tucker’s heart and she instituted implicit bias training and that has been a very high impact initiative at the Department of Health. So, her whole career – consistently about addressing disparity, addressing racial injustice. She’ll have the, I think, extraordinary opportunity to continue that work by literally teaching the next generation of public health leaders in this country, to follow her good example. So, we are definitely going to miss her but appreciate her deeply. And with that said, I also want to let you know that the Health Department will be in very capable hands in the interim as we determine our pathway to new leadership. Dr. Oxiris Barbot who is the First Deputy Commissioner will be the interim Health Commissioner. She has been at Dr. Bassett’s side the whole time and knows her work well, also served in a very important position previously for four years as the Health Commissioner of Baltimore and oversaw some really extraordinary reforms and improvements there. So, the people of New York City can rest assured that we are all in good hands with Dr. Barbot leading the agency for the foreseeable future. With that I want to open up for questions about that or anything else. Yes? Question: Mr. Mayor, a lot has been [inaudible] about the speed camera program and Vision Zero through your tenure and we ran the big numbers for 17,000 vehicles – City vehicles. We found nearly 2,000 with open recalls not fixed [inaudible] airbags, ignition switches. These are issues that have killed upwards of 50 people and it’s injured more than 200 people across the country. Just your comment on that and why DCAS doesn’t get these cars fixed. Mayor: First, I appreciate you doing that. That is a great example of the media alerting us to a problem we have to fix. So, thank you. I don’t know a lot about this issue to be very honest with you. I do not – not an expert of DCAS’s approach to recalls but that needs to be vigorous as it would with anybody’s vehicle. So, we’ll certainly look into that and I want to make sure that anyone who drives a vehicle for this City, it’s safe and if there’s something we have to tighten up, we will. Question: [Inaudible] two of them are FDNY ambulances with [inaudible] airbags – Mayor: Again, I want to caution not knowing the specifics. I think the bottom line is whether it’s DCAS or any of our agencies, we have to make sure the vehicles are safe for everyone involved, and particularly want to protect our employees. And so, we need to hold our agencies to a high standard but I need to get some specifics from them before I can comment further. Yes? Question: Just quickly on Dr. Bassett stepping down. I wonder if you know anything about whether the revelations that the Health Department’s failure to communicate those cases of elevated lead levels to NYCHA and that the subsequent DOI investigation into that that’s been reported – if that played any role – Mayor: No, absolutely not. Look, that matter is an ongoing investigation but really was about flow of information and clearly all the agencies involved are doing everything they can to address the underlying issues and the Health Department has done extraordinary work. Lead poisoning in this city is down 90 percent since 2005 and that’s a lot because of the work of the Health Department. But in terms of communication between agencies and reportings – there obviously was work that had to be addressed and that has been addressed. No, she’s made clear the outreach she received from Harvard goes back many months. And a tenured professorship at Harvard and the head of a major center, that’s a pretty amazing offer. Question: I think the last time a commissioner post came open was the DOE commissioner position and that was interesting that you had a person and that person went away – Mayor: Interesting, yes. I agree with that statement. I think it was kind of operatic actually but go ahead. Question: Have you learned anything about trying to hire – Mayor: Don’t let that happen. That’s – I, look, I said at the time, I’ve never seen something like that. I’m happy to put it out of my mind. Thank you for bringing it back. In all of my days, I never saw anything like that. I think we can say that was a pretty singular episode but no, look, I’m very, very proud that we have a whole lot of people in this administration who have gone the distance now which is pretty unusual in public life. You know, a lot of people in these high-intensity public jobs do two years. We got a lot of people who are now in their fifth year. And we’ve had very – I think, real success finding strong successors. Except at PD, everywhere else – oh, wait, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were here. We found fantastic people and, I will say for the record, the Commissioner is a good example. Richard Carranza is a good example. I know we’ll find someone really good. Public health – the Commissioner of Health in New York City is one of the most prized health jobs in America. There will be great people for it. Question: Mr. Mayor, how was jury duty? Mayor: It was actually – I’m a sucker for democracy so it’s a very moving experience. The last time that I served, I served for a substantial period of time on a murder trial back in I think it was ‘96 and I was deeply moved by that experience. I said to people – we were all talking while we were waiting to know what would happen in the jury room and I said to people that it’s actually one of the most powerful experiences in democracy you can have, to have everyday people of all walks of life brought together to make such an important decision. And it’s interesting, I talked to people there and everyone had that – we’re all busy New Yorkers and hoping they would not be – have their life disrupted for too long but there was also a really strong undercurrent of people saying this is important. And if it were me who had a case that I was involved, I would want to know that good people were there trying to make sense of it. So, I found it an inspiring experience in its own way. Question: Hear you’re heading to New Orleans this weekend. You discussed with us your new path and how you’re going to sort of wade into some Democratic races outside of New York City. But you’ve yet to make an endorsement in the gubernatorial race here in New York or in any number of pretty hotly challenged primary races in the State Senate. Some of these IDC – why should people trust your endorsement for out of town races if you haven’t yet made an endorsement in the ones you know the best? Mayor: Well, as I’ve said to you, I am reserving my right to get involved in any number of races and some of that I expect to speak to pretty soon. There’s a lot that I have to do every day and I have to consider anything I do in the State in light of that. But I fully intend to make my views known before this election cycle is over. That said, what’s happening around the country is going to deeply affect New York City. By the way, when I talk to every-day New Yorkers, they get this immediately. Whether there’s a Democratic House representatives in Washington, or a Democratic Senate in Washington – massive impact on New York City. The possibility of having Chuck Schumer as majority leader of the Senate alone – a huge, huge impact for this city and this state. So, I think I’ve got to attend to both and I intend to. Question: Mr. Mayor, the federal complaint that was submitted against NYCHA by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office, it said that the Department of Health – there were a few lines about the Department of Health, and one of them said that from 2010-2015, DOH only inspected 60 percent of the apartments where a child registered elevated lead levels that meet its criteria for inspection, meaning, under DOH’s own policies they should have inspected 202 apartments, they only inspected 121. I’m wondering, since then, have you made any effort to get to the bottom of that? Mayor: We’ve already addressed the substantive issue, meaning I don’t have the complaint in front of me and, with all due respect, I would need to see the literal wording to be able to speak to it. But the underlying question, we obviously have put out a policy now where in any instance, public housing or private housing, where there’s evidence of a child having an elevated lead level that Department of Health will be available to inspect. The vast majority of that is happening in private housing and we intend to be just as vigorous there as in public housing. Obviously, meanwhile, a whole host of things are being done differently with both Department of Health and NYCHA, including getting to the original question with NYCHA and going and inspecting 130,000 units at their foundation using better technology to determine if there’s lead there to begin with. So, all of those approaches have now been updated regardless of what happened, going back to 2010. Question: I mean, the policy then was that they should have been inspecting these apartments and weren’t. Don’t you have any interest is finding out why they weren’t following – Mayor: I have an interest in fixing he problem once and for all, and I really don’t want to retread. Obviously, if we find anything along the way that suggests something was missed, we are always going to look at it, but the bottom line here is – right now, what matters in this city is inspecting every unit that needs to be inspected, getting care to any child that needs it, and addressing the underlying issues once and for all, and that’s what the consent decree gets at for NYCHA. Question: A couple of questions on the PAC and your trip this weekend. The first is – could you respond to your decision to hire the head of your PAC, Tate Hausman, was convicted of voter fraud. It sounds like you were aware of that – Mayor: Yes. Question: – when you hired him. And then, my second question is, have you raised any PAC money? And the third question is – Mayor: Okay, wait, let’s – my brain can’t go that fast. Tate – I’ve seen the coverage. I’ve talked to him about it, but, more importantly, I wanted to see the objective coverage of what happened then, and it’s very clear and consistent. He was involved in a major voter registration and turnout effort in Ohio. He spent months there. He believed he was doing the right and appropriate thing to register and vote there, because he was living there. He wasn’t voting any place else. He thought he had done it the right way, turned out he didn’t. He went back and accepted that he made a mistake, and paid the appropriate fine, and went on. But the – if you look at the history, it was clearly consistent with the work he was doing trying to help people vote, and absolutely understandable. What’s your second question? Question: The second question was have you raised any PAC money since the – Mayor: I have been raising money, you know you call people and you make a request and it takes a while for money to come in. And you know that will all be proceeding now and then we’re going to be following the reporting structures of the Federal Elections Commission and the State Board of Elections, and then doing some additional disclosure beyond that. Question: And the final question was with New Orleans. Our understanding is that some of the trip will be paid for by tax-payers, by the city, and some from the PAC. What’s sort of the rough breakdown, and what qualifies this for some tax-payer funding? Mayor: So, look, again I’ll give a laymen’s answer. The lawyers can give a more exact answer. But the central point is. When you’re working on substantive issues not partisan politics it is governmental. When you’re working on partisan politics it’s political. Most of this trip is clearly governmental. I am going to be meeting with fellow mayor’s and elected officials and talking about common efforts to address issues in our cities and to achieve changes that we all need. I also think that speaking to people about a bigger agenda for progressive change is crucial to achieving what we need here in New York City. We’ve got to push the spectrum on some of these issues to get the kind of changes we need in Washington. So, that all will be determined by lawyers, and obviously with a check in with the Conflict Interest Board. But I think the simple way to define it is the partisan politics is the part that needs to be addressed with the PAC. Mayor: Anyone, yes? Question: Grace asked a question but so – if you will be doing some partisan stuff there can you tell us a little bit more about that. Do you plan to meet with other candidates, or people who are running for office there? I mean what’s your political involvement? Mayor: Yeah, so I can’t in this case speak to the trip because some of the details are still being worked through. I think a more typical example just to give you something to make sense of it all is. For example, if I go somewhere – often have gone to U.S Conference of Mayor’s meetings for example, and while at one of those meetings then campaigned for someone in a partisan fashion. You know that amount of the trip has to be split off. And there’s a – it’s not a new thing. There’s a formula for how to do that. Question: So will you be campaigning for anyone there? Mayor: Again the trip has – even though it’s real soon. The final details have not been resolved. Okay any other topics on other people’s minds. Yes? Question: I just want to get your thoughts on the [inaudible] corporation study that was put out yesterday about a proposal for a single-payer health care in New York have found that implementing the system under the Dick Gottfried’s bill would actually decrease overall health care spending across the state and kind of shift the cost burden in new taxation to the wealthiest New Yorkers. I am wondering what you think of that given that there’s kind of a picture now of the practical implications in your favorability toward taxing the rich. Mayor: Yes, thank you for noting that. I believe, and I believed when I first ran that the wealthy were not paying their fair share in tax and it’s gotten worse because of the recent legislation passed by the Congress. I have not seen the [inaudible] study but I do support Assemblyman Gottfried’s bill and I think it’s in the right direction. So in a good way it does not surprise me that the objective study of it showed that it could reduce costs and create a more equitable burden in terms of who pays for health care. But I’d have to see it to give you a more exact answer. Okay, last call. Anything else on people’s minds gong once, going twice, thank you everyone.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 4:41am
New office will address refusals of service by taxis and FHVs that affect people of color and outer borough residents in New York NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson today announced the creation of a new office within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, the sole purpose of which is to ensure that all passengers receive the service they expect, and to which they are legally entitled. The new Office of Inclusion, originally proposed by Council Members Donovan Richards, will focus on the development and implementation of anti-discrimination training for drivers, and will expand on its public education campaign, encouraging passengers to file complaints with the TLC when denied service, so that their experience may be investigated, and appropriate actions taken. “Service refusal is real, unacceptable and we’re going to fight it in every way we can,” said Mayor de Blasio. “These new steps will help ensure that anyone considering this unfair and illegal practice knows that it's wrong, it carries severe consequences, and it has no place in this industry.” “Today we take a major step forward in ending service refusal once and for all in the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I congratulate my colleague Council Member Donovan Richards on this vital idea becoming a reality and I look forward to working with the TLC Office of Inclusion to ensure that there is zero tolerance for service refusal in our city.” “Denying someone taxi service because of the color of their skin, their gender or their destination is simply unacceptable and has gone on for far too long in New York City,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “While we work to improve conditions for drivers, the TLC Office of Inclusion will be working to ensure that all passengers receive the same level of respect and service. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for addressing my concerns and creating this office to ensure that our taxi and for-hire-vehicle reforms promote and advance inclusion.” "There is nothing more fundamental to what we do than making sure New Yorkers are welcomed and served into our city's yellow cabs," said TLC Chair Meera Joshi. "Service refusal in general, and bias-based refusal in particular, is a terrible experience for its victims -- it is visceral, hurtful, and just wrong." “Unfortunately service refusals by taxis and for-hire-vehicle’s on the basis of skin color, religion, gender or pick-up and drop-off destinations are an issue that has a long history in New York City. Over the years, many residents have complained of vehicle’s refusing rides to and from my district. I commend Council Member Richards, and his continued efforts to combat this issue through the Office of Inclusion within TLC focusing on discrimination that’s often overlooked. The creation of this office is a step in the right direction to help ensure equality and inclusion for those that utilize taxi and for-hire-vehicles,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “No one should be denied transportation because of the color of their skin, but we all know it happens much too often in New York to people trying to hail a cab. This office will work to address this long-standing problem and I am proud to support it for my constituents, the majority of whom are people of color,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “Service discrimination is still the reality for far too many New Yorkers of color, depriving them of a critical transportation service in all five boroughs. I thank my colleague, Council Member Richards, for his leadership on this issue and look forward to supporting the important work that lies ahead for the TLC Office of Inclusion,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. "For too long, people of color in this city have struggled to hail rides to and from their neighborhoods due to livery drivers' refusal to give them service. While innovation in the sharing economy has meant increased access to ride-hailing services, the problem of service refusals within the taxi industry persists. Dedicating an office to combat service refusals is a necessary step toward making transportation more accessible for all New Yorkers, especially those in communities of color,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy. “I applaud Council Member Richards' efforts to institute an Office of Inclusion to aggressively address the longstanding, ongoing issue of selective discrimination within the taxi industry,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “As a member of the Committee for For-Hire Vehicles, I will monitor the progress of this office and the experiences of people of color, in particular African-Americans, a group that has been disproportionately impacted by these practices.” “In February, I held the first ever FHV committee hearing which lasted 8 hours, and the results of what I heard resulted in the three bills I have prepared. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for giving me this committee and allowing me to take it in the direction of hearing the plight of drivers, and sees to restore balance, fairness and equity,” said Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr., Chair of the Committee on For-Hire Vehicles. The bulk of TLC’s service refusal violations are in response to passenger complaints. TLC’s prosecution unit investigates each complaint thoroughly. Drivers face significant fines if cases are substantiated, and ultimately license revocation if they continue refusing service. Service refusal violations lead to penalties of $500 for the first violation; second violation in 24 months is $1000 and possible 30 day suspension; third violation within 36 months is $1000 and revocation prehearing. The TLC recognizes the continued challenge many Black, Latino, other communities of color and outer borough residents face when hailing taxis and getting service to their destination in NYC. The TLC has provided outreach and education to drive down service refusal numbers. The proposed TLC Office of Inclusion will be tasked with: * Encouraging service refusal complaints (based on a protected class including ethnicity or race or gender, or destination) to be submitted to the TLC; * Prosecuting service refusal complaints provided by the public; * Increasing and insuring taxi service in outer boroughs; * Aggressive outreach to the TLC's regulated driver communities on NYC’s zero tolerance for service refusals, and the significant penalties they face if they make the wrong choices. Refusals include not stopping when hailed, refusing to go to location requested, and not accepting passengers; * Outreach to community groups whose members have experienced service refusals, to stress the importance of reporting service refusals; * Overseeing production and roll-out of a ride refusal awareness campaign, including a Public Service Announcement that will be distributed citywide to venues outside of taxis to ensure robust exposure to the public. This PSA will also be incorporated into new and existing training for drivers. The awareness campaign will also be shown on local TV, heard on local radio, and transformed into images for digital and printed outreach materials; * Develop and provide mandated Continuing Driver Training prior to license renewal. Training includes diversity training and review of zero tolerance rules and penalties; * Recruitment efforts focused on encouraging members of underrepresented communities to become drivers; * Encourage extensive citywide coverage by TLC drivers in all communities and ensure that the public has data on service levels in their local community by providing metrics on service levels by geography.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 4:41am
Errol Louis: Good evening, welcome to Inside City Hall for Monday, July 30th, 2018. I’m Errol Louis. The week begins as a major policy fight is making its way to a vote at the City Council. Three years after a failed effort to regulate ride hailing apps like Uber, the Council is once again is preparing to take action as soon, possibly, as next week. Now over the last few days, Uber has been pushing back and now the stage is set for round two of a political fight that is being closely watched by law makers, taxi drivers, and New Yorkers just trying to get around town. Joining me now to talk about that and much, much more, somebody who is going to play a pivotal role in this issue. Mayor Bill de Blasio is here for his weekly interview. Thank you for joining us, always good to see you. Mayor Bill de Blasio: My pleasure. Louis: Let me put up just a couple of numbers for my viewers. The number of monthly trips that people are taking has really exploded – six million, February of 2016, up to 17 million February of this year. Meanwhile medallion trips, 11 million in the month of February of 2016 has fallen by more than half since then, and we know that they are hurting over on the yellow taxi side. There are more app-based vehicles than ever before. The estimate now is something like 80,000 compared to 13,000-plus medallion taxis. The simplest sounding solution is to just put a cap on it. Is that something that makes sense to you? Mayor: Well that’s the direction the Council is going in and I think they are headed in the right direction. The Council is trying to grapple with an issue that has many elements but I tell you the numbers you point out there get to one of the most important things – the constant pressure downward on wages for people who drive vehicles. Here’s what’s happening and I think your numbers are powerful. It’s unfortunately become a race to the bottom. The model employed by companies like Uber and Lyft has been to flood the zone with more and more vehicles, more and more drivers. What we saw recently was a study done by the University of California Berkley that showed that now most of these for-hire vehicle drivers are at subminimum wage and it’s really become an unacceptable state of affairs in terms of the kind of standards we as New Yorkers expect. We expect people to make a decent living. There’s been a whole fight over $15 minimum wage and a lot of other things in the state but when it comes to for-hire vehicles it’s actually literally gone steadily in the opposite direction. And that’s spilled over to the yellow cabs as well. That’s been again a race to bottom. So the Council is I think trying to do some common sense things to say how do we create some order here and restore a decent standard of living for these workers. Louis: Now the issue that concerns me most, and I’m not an economist but it seems to me that – Mayor: But you play one on TV? Louis: I’ll occasionally, I’ll reflect something interesting that I heard which is that if you put a cap on, even if it’s a fairly high number 70,000, 80,000, you basically recreated the same problem that lead to the crisis in the medallion taxis, meaning once you have a cap it’s then in the interest of those drives to go where the most lucrative fares are which is the central business district in Manhattan and the airports, which is right back to where we started and guys like me can’t get a ride anymore. I mean, it seems to me that, that’s where that would be heading. Mayor: So let me say two things – one, anyone who is not being given a ride is an unacceptable state of affairs, I just want to be very clear about that. There are really clear penalties, anyone – if you are talking about the question of discrimination there are very clear penalties and we intend to get even tougher. It’s clear right now that is someone – a driver acts in a discriminatory fashion and we find out about it, we have real sanctions including at the time of the third offense, revoking their license to drive a for-hire vehicle. So this is something with real teeth that we want to work on even more. But on the question of what the cap does economically, look I would argue that right now the current system, the constant flooding of the market with more and more vehicles, more and more drivers by, let’s face it, huge corporations, that’s part of their effort to grab market share. It’s absolutely done without any consideration for the workers themselves, thus you see these ever decreasing wages but what it means also is lots of empty vehicles circulating around for no purpose. It’s a cynical business model that’s hurting us in a lot of ways. So I would much rather see a situation where we created some order. And again the Council will be looking at a variety of options. They are showing a lot of leadership here. But the status quo is unacceptable, that’s the one thing I know. Louis: So do you intend to weigh in with the City’s plan to lay alongside whatever the Council arrives at? Mayor: Right now we are looking very carefully at what the Council has put together, I like the direction they are taking, we are in regular communication with them, but I expect they are going to get to a good plan. Louis: Okay, let me switch topics to something that we have all been reporting on, we all have been talking about and of course that’s the migrant crisis. The families that have been separated in some cases, reunified, we just missed one deadline, there are remaining issues that are out there. Where is the City in all of this now? Mayor: So Errol it’s astounding the Trump administration still does not have a plan for reunifying these kids with their families. We believe there are still a hundred or more kids in our city. We want to take direct action to try and address the situation. New Yorkers have come forward. They have been very generous, they want to help. We came up with a new plan that I think will make a big difference. We got 16 city employees, some are lawyers, some are social service workers who are going to go down to the border to one of the key reception centers in Dilley, Texas and provide direct support to immigrants seeking asylum, to immigrants trying to reunite with their kids, to folks who have be reunited but don’t know what’s going to happen next. They need legal support, they need social service support, clearly the federal government is not supplying it so New Yorkers are going to take matters into our own hands and go down there. Now the Mayor’s Fund has been collecting resources that New Yorkers’ have donated trying to help these kids, we’re going to use those resources to send these professionals down to the border to help, to pay their expenses. They’re volunteering their own time, so they’re using their own vacation time but it’s going to make a difference because right now we have a situation – if someone doesn’t have a lawyer, if they’re someone seeking asylum or a parent trying to get reunited with their child and they don’t have a lawyer, it’s not going to happen, but we are now going to give them the professional support they need to make their family whole again. Louis: Is there going to be a connection to New York that’s sort of a requirement of this? I understand from what you’re saying this doesn’t sound like it’s going to cost personnel time or even travel resources from the City, these people are doing it and there is a charitable effort to send them there. Are they going to go and sort of look for people who have a New York connection or is it going to just be help to whoever might happen to need it? Mayor: Although I’m sure there will be some with a New York connection, the first obligation is to help those who don’t have the legal, don’t have the social services, particularly the parents who are trying to find their kids. It may turn out some of those kids are right here, right now, but again we’re still playing this extraordinary game of connect the dots because the federal government won’t come forward with information or a plan. That said, I think this is in the American spirit to say if our government is not serving us, we’re going to go and help people directly in our own way. Louis: Not that it would necessarily change the way anybody in the administration feels about you or New York City, but in some ways is that sort of like a thumb in the eye to the federal government? Mayor: Look, if there is any thumb in the eye it came right from Washington towards the values of the American people who clearly do not like what they see, do not like seeing children separated from their families, and do not like the degradation of the asylum process which is something that has been honored by Republicans and Democrats for decades. No I think original sin is quite clear with the family separation policy and the “zero-tolerance policy”. New York City has been clear, I’ve been clear, we’re going to stand up for immigrants, we’re going to respect their humanity, I think that’s where the majority of American people are. As to standing up to the Trump administration, one I’m proud to do it, two it sure couldn’t get worse because we’ve made our views quite clear. Louis: Well that’s true, right? Like I said it’s not like you’re going to get a - I think a Christmas card from Donald Trump or an invite to the White House. Mayor: I’m not coming off the Christmas card list because of this. Louis: Yeah, fair enough. Okay, let’s take a short break, we’ve got more to talk about, we’ll be right back with the Mayor in just a minute. Later on tonight we will turn to the race for governor where the Democratic candidates have been busy picking up some support on the campaign trial. We’ll tell you all about it in just a minute, stay with us. […] Louis: Welcome back to inside City Hall, I’m once again joined by Mayor de Blasio, and Mr. Mayor I wanted to talk about Airbnb. I understand there’s been – there’s some legal action, your administration is looking into some purported possible bad actors who were using a lot of their property to allow folks to use Airbnb in violation building codes. They’re pushing back though and they are partly saying, look Airbnb itself is just a platform, if there are bad actors who are using it, it’s sort of established law that you don’t sue Facebook, or YouTube, or Google because somebody who is using those avenues is doing something illegal. The pressure on Airbnb to divulge the names of their uses and information about their users would seem to violate that and I’m wondering what you make of that? Mayor: Well I certainly understand why some people make a parallel. I don’t think there is a parallel and I’ll speak to that. First to say on how you started, the Office of Special Enforcement I think has done an outstanding job. We’ve been providing more resources each year and the Council has been very much in favor it too to crack down on some of the extraordinary situations. First of all – were basically some bad actors have created de facto hotels, which is absolutely against our local laws and our state laws and a lot of other situation. For example, folks who are in affordable housing have stipulations, they are not supposed to making money off this situation, there are all sorts of examples. Office of Special Enforcement I think has really been a game changer because they’ve been aggressive and they’ve sent a message that illegality will not be tolerated and we’re going to deepen those efforts. To your point, I think the difference here is that Airbnb and other similar services clearly are facilitating, in a very active way, the business transaction. They have standards they keep, they have to certify in effect both the seller and the buyer. They promote the service, they connect everyone financially and otherwise, you know, the idea of comparing that to say going online and finding, you know, some place where you can buy tickets for something. I think they are very different realities. The latter is much more passive this is much more active. But we need that data, we need that data – I agree with the City Council on this – because we have to protect people. Unfortunately what we’ve seen where there has been abuse of these rental dynamics is that we’ve seen some unsafe conditions, we’ve seen situations where people live in the same building don’t even know there are strangers in their building, there is a host of issues that are raised that we really have to come up with proper regulation on and we can’t do that without data. I’ll make the parallel to the hotel industry stating the obvious, here is an industry where it’s buildings, we inspect them, we know what revenue they make, we tax them, there’s a whole series of regulations so the public has assurance that the public is getting their fair share of revenue but also that we know what is happening in those buildings and we can keep them safe. We don’t have that ability with Airbnb until they give us the information that allows us to protect the public interest. Louis: Okay, let me – let me switch to the topic of public housing. There are a lot of different things that are going, I wanted to take these one at a time. First off, the Department of Investigation – your Department of Investigation – is investigating whether or not the Department of Health and NYCHA were in proper communication about possible lead exposure and the danger of lead exposure within their units. And I guess the main question I have is all of these are City agencies and I’m wondering if there was ever a point at which you sort of personally told Health Department and NYCHA, hey get your act together, coordinate, make sure the information is flowing properly. Mayor: Look, throughout these last months as we’ve learned more and more, my message to all the pertinent actors in our government is to get this together and come up with a single, unified approach that could move us forward and I think we’re seeing the results of that now. The settlement we reached with the federal government was very comprehensive. It really included a clear sense of how we’re going to address a lot of these issues. Obviously a huge amount of new investment, but also the announcement we made ourselves, a few weeks ago, that we’re going to go back into NYCHA, to a 130,000 apartments that never were definitively screened for lead. We’re literally going to use X-Ray technology to look through all the layers of paint that exist to see if there is any lead and then at the end of each inspection be able to say, this apartment has no lead whatsoever, it will never have to be inspected for lead again, this other apartment has the presence of lead: we have to make sure it’s remediated in the proper fashion. That’s never been done before in the history of the Housing Authority. So we’re going to be very aggressive. The problem you raised: it’s unacceptable; it is and has been addressed. There was a gap, there’s no question, not acceptable, but now we have the Health Department and NYCHA on the same page. And again, against the backdrop now, we’re finally, after the gap that started in the previous administration, we have now caught up where there’s regular inspections, regular remediation under our Local Law 1, and that will continue every year from this point on. Louis: But why is DOI looking into it if it’s resolved at this point? Mayor: Um, I think – I can’t speak for DOI, but I can say they do look at retrospective situations, um, you’ll have to ask them specifically why, but I can say that this issue now has been resolved and the two agencies are coordinated. Louis: Let me talk about the No Smoking rule that takes effect today. This was passed, I didn’t realize this, by the Federal Government in February of 2017— Mayor: Yep. Louis: So every public housing authority in America had about 18 months to figure out how to implement it and so forth. Mayor: Yep. Louis: Once specific scenario that I’ve heard kicked around that that makes sense to me is that in certain places, because the neighborhood is dangerous frankly, it’s actually risky to go outside to have a smoke, right. This then leaves people with the choice of either, breaking the rules and facing sanctions for staying in the house and smoking a cigarette, or coming outside to smoke a cigarette and getting at least 25 feet away from their building and exposing themselves to other kinds of dangers. I was wondering what you make of those kinds of— Mayor: We have to – first of all, the mission is to address all of the challenges to health and safety, so when it comes to the safety of NYCHA residents, we have clearly more work to do but I do want to note, not so many years ago in this city, crime in NYCHA, shootings in NYCHA, were a really constant topic of discussion. Since the first year I was in office, I want to give a lot of credit to NYCHA, and the NYPD, for driving down crime in public housing [inaudible]. It’s really a different situation than it was, say, a decade ago certainly. We’ve got more work to do, but we – I wanna be very, very clear, a lot of the NYPD’s resources are going into protecting the people of NYCHA, we’ve got a lot of support from the people of NYCHA, and the neighborhood policing program, which now has our NCO officers in NYCHA developments where they get to know the neighborhood residents and the residents of the developments. It’s a whole different approach that I think is more promising. On the health side, we protect people against the dangers of smoking. I want to give Michael Bloomberg a lot of credit; he changed the paradigm of the city for the better. We tried to add to that, including in public places, you know, in parks and in other places there’s no smoking zones. It’s taken a lot of education, a lot of effort to warn people not to do it. It tends to work on the basis of education so I think as this is implemented, it won’t be magical, it won’t instantaneously take effect. But I think with constant education, constant efforts to remind people, you will see the amount of smoking in public housing go down. For folks who want to quit, they can call 311 and get real support to quit. So to your scenario, look, I never wanna see anyone do something they think puts themselves in danger, but I do want see them quit smoking for their own good, and for everyone around. Louis: Is this an unwanted outside federal mandate or do you sort of embrace both the logic and the endpoint that HUD is trying to push everybody towards? Mayor: The logic and the endpoint I embrace. The how you get there, I think it’s gray and I think we have the clearest guidance on how you actually make it work, and we’re going to have to find our way, we’re talking about 400,000 people; it’s a city within a city. But I do think the great lesson of the last decade or two is setting the bar, and the public education that goes with it, changing the idea about smoking, goes a long, long way. I think people constantly hearing this is not something you should do in public areas has really changed people’s behavior. And I think the message will spread, and I think it will protect people, but it will take work. Louis: The Brevoort Houses, this is a situation where the water was just out for at least 10 days, and people, the thing that I think affected me the most was that notion, even seniors were out hauling their own water, didn’t even think that there was a place that they could go to sort of raise a cry of urgent alarm, which to me spoke to I guess a situation where I guess they just didn’t feel like the city was there for them. Mayor: Well, look, the Housing Authority is its entity and we try and support them in a lot of ways, but that said, this was an unacceptable situation. It derived, as you know, from an attempt to repair the water system that, somehow, lead to a breakdown. So some kind of normal mantainence as far as I understand that lead to a breakdown. I don’t have all the specifics about the response, clearly no one should have had to seek water that way, I’m going to find out what happened, from my point of view it’s not acceptable. There needs to be a clear paradigm to get people water in their homes and not have to go looking for it. The situation has been resolved, the situation is fixed, but I don’t take that lightly, that’s the kind of thing we can’t see happen again. Louis: Okay, before I let you go, you’re going to New Orleans this weekend? Mayor: Yes. Louis: You never need an excuse to go to New Orleans but there is this thing called Netroots Nation which is a – a sort of a left-of-center political gathering, skews a little bit towards younger people. What are you going to be doing there? Mayor: So Netroots is one of the preeminent progressive gatherings every year in this country and it’s a chance to talk about how we build a progressive movement that’s going to have a huge ramification for New York City and beyond. I’m going to go there and talk about some of things we’ve done in New York and the impact it’s making and get to know a lot of other people who are trying to create the same kind of changes around the country because, you know, while we’re fighting the political battles at the national level, a lot of the most profound change is happening very locally and we all need to share those ideas and figure out what works. So, to me, it’s a very important place to keep furthering a progressive vision. Louis: Okay, bring back some beignets— Mayor: There we go. Okay, just for you Errol. Louis: We will see you next week! Thanks a whole lot.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 1:40am
Administration will recruit City staff to provide pro bono legal services at detention center in Texas NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced a multi-agency public-private project to provide pro bono legal assistance to families facing detention at the southern border. The Administration is recruiting City staff—attorneys and licensed clinical social workers—on a volunteer basis to travel to Texas for a week to help address the immense need for legal assistance. Travel expenses will be covered by donations to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “The Trump Administration has repeatedly violated the fundamental human rights of families fleeing violence and seeking refuge in our country,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The federal government has reunited some of the families it broke apart, but parents and their children are now together in family detention centers at the border. New Yorkers have showed these children overwhelming support, and my Administration is taking the next step in addressing this crisis by recruiting volunteers to help families access the humanitarian protections they deserve. New York values demand that we act to ameliorate this inhumane situation.” “New York City will continue to fight for families detained at the border under this inhumane policy,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “In addition to the trauma these unnecessary detentions have caused, there is the great expense of legal services. New York City will send clinicians and attorneys to help families at the border navigate this crisis and get the competent legal counsel they need. I am proud of the generosity of New Yorkers, and enthusiasm of our volunteers for this effort. “The Trump Administration is now attempting to pressure detained immigrant families to surrender their legal rights. After all the confusion and chaos they have instigated, we’re mobilizing to tackle the immense need for pro bono legal help,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Detaining families and forcing parents to navigate a complex legal landscape for themselves and their children alone is wrong. With this volunteer group, we aim to support immigrant families exercise their legal rights, putting New York values in action.” “New Yorkers have once again answered the call to support those in need, and the Mayor’s Fund is proud to play a role in helping bridge the good will of private funders and the reach of government. As families are reunited, they will have to navigate an incredibly complex immigration system with little to no support. Today, we can say that through the generosity of New Yorkers and private partnerships, more families facing detention will receive the legal help they deserve,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York. Hundreds of migrant children remain separated, continuing the unnecessary trauma meted out by the Trump Administration’s policies and practices. Under federal court order, many separated children are finally being reunited with their parents. However, some of these children have been brought to family detention centers, reuniting them with their parents but re-introducing the trauma of detention. After the trauma of forced separation, many immigrant families continue to face horrific conditions in immigration detention. In addition, immigration law is extraordinarily complex, and detention only adds to the complexities of pursuing immigration relief, including applying for asylum. The de Blasio Administration—including the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, Law Department, Administration for Children’s Services, NYC Health + Hospitals, and Department of Social Services—is joining with the pro bono legal community to provide additional resources for these families. Organized by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the City volunteer group of approximately 15 individuals will travel to Dilley, Texas from September 9 to September 15 to work with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, a partner of the Immigration Justice Campaign . From September 10 to September 15, the volunteers will work at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas to assist in this pro bono work. MOIA and the Mayor’s Fund are also exploring private partnerships to cover costs of airfare, travel, lodging, and meals for the City volunteer group. The need for legal assistance at detention centers like the one at Dilley is immense, according to local and national partners, so the de Blasio Administration is stepping up to help. Since the unaccompanied migrant children (UAC) crisis in 2014, New York City has played a leading role in addressing the needs of migrant children who have come to our city. The de Blasio Administration took the unprecedented step of stationing City staff at Immigration Court in order to enroll UACs in public school and Medicaid. In addition, the Administration helped establish the Immigrant Children Advocates’ Relief Effort (ICARE)--a public-private partnership between the City Council, the Robin Hood Foundation, and New York Community Trust--to provide immigration legal help for UACs facing deportation. More recently, as the Administration learned about the crisis of separated children placed in New York City, the City mobilized to help ensure these children were receiving proper care. Working with federally-contracted foster care providers, advocates, and legal services providers, the City assisted addressing the needs of these children, including by offering health care, recreational activities, and offering immigration legal help to these children and potential sponsors. The City will continue to aid separated children in any way we can.