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Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 7:35am
Winter Weather Emergency Declaration
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 5:10pm
2017 saw an increase of 2.3 million visitors over 2016, marking the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth NEW YORK— Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC & Company—New York City’s official destination marketing organization— announced that 2017 was the eighth consecutive year for record-breaking tourism, with the City welcoming an estimated 62.8 million visitors last year, an increase of 2.3 million visitors over 2016. Visitation for 2017 was comprised of 49.7 million domestic and 13.1 million international visitors, both all-time highs. “We’re keeping our door to the world open,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Even with all the headwinds from the White House, we attracted a record number of visitors to our city. That’s a testament to the strength of our tourism sector and the values of our city.” “Despite geopolitical challenges and a travel ban that made our task of promoting tourism more challenging than ever, we are pleased to see that we overcame these hurdles to realize a consecutive eighth year of tourism growth in New York City, welcoming an all-time high of 62.8 million visitors last year. The strength from our Asia and South American markets helped offset drops in our traditional European core markets. At the same time, the City continued its constant trend of reinvention, always offering countless reasons to visit and discover all that our five boroughs only can offer, both iconic and new. And campaigns to counter the negative rhetoric such as New York City – Welcoming the World, reaffirmed our commitment to being an open and welcoming global capital,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. In 2017, NYC & Company launched two campaigns, “New York City – Welcoming the World” and “True York City”, which helped position NYC as a must-visit destination despite challenges in the geopolitical climate and changes in travel policies. Overall, tourism last year grew 3.8 percent compared to 2016, when NYC welcomed 60.5 million visitors. Domestic visitation grew 3.9 percent, from 47.8 million visitors in 2016 to 49.7 million in 2017. International travel increased by 3.4 percent, from 12.7 million visitors in 2016 to 13.1 million in 2017. "The world clearly loves New York, and we love our tourists - for the economic boost that comes with their visits as well as the excitement and energy that they bring to our streets. Our world-renowned attractions include the Theater District, Times Square and the High Line - and that's just in my Council district alone. I thank everyone for coming here and everyone who works to make those visitors feel at home in the Big Apple," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Tourism continues to be a centerpiece of New York City’s economy, and we’re fortunate to continue to welcome record visitors year after year,” said NYC & Company Chairman Emily K Rafferty. “Despite headwinds we faced last year, the City’s unparalleled vibrancy and energy endured, drawing record visitors once again. I want to thank NYC & Company’s board and the organization’s 2,000 private member businesses for continuing to power City’s travel and tourism industry and for catapulting us to an eight straight year of growth.” “New York is the cultural capital of the world, attracting more and more visitors from the US and abroad – tens of millions of whom come specifically for culture - to neighborhoods across all five boroughs, providing a major boost to local economies,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “From the biggest show on Broadway to the most intimate poetry reading, NYC’s diverse arts landscape – and the artists who create it – helps us build important and lasting bridges across cultures and borders.” “Domestic and international tourism being at all-time highs is a testament to New York City’s reputation as a place for all people. I’m proud that our city not only believes in this sentiment but is also able to successfully communicate this message to the world. More than just an incredible economic driver, tourism is also a mechanism by which to promote diversity and cultural awareness. I applaud NYC & Company on this tremendous accomplishment,” said Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, Chair of the NY Assembly Committee on Arts & Tourism. “It would seem to be no surprise that the greatest city would continue to see growth in tourism year after year. However, the reality is that many challenges had to be overcome in order to continue this unparalleled growth,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “ The real takeaway here is that our city continues to successfully create countless reasons for visitors to come and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to support initiatives and campaigns that will continue to make New York City the premier tourist destination in the world.” “The record number of tourists to visit our great city last year is a true testament to the spirit of inclusion and multiculturalism that makes New York City one of the most attractive cities in the world,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. NYC has the most active hotel development pipeline in the United States. Even with the 4,000 new rooms added to the City’s hotel inventory last year—bringing the total to nearly 116,500 rooms— demand remained strong. Last year, the City sold a record 36.4 million hotel room nights, a 4.5 percent growth from 2016. In 2017, 6.2 million meetings and conventions delegates visited the City’s five boroughs, contributing to the total 13 million business travelers that came to New York City. NYC & Company also signed more international City-to-City tourism partnerships than any other year to boost travel including new partnerships with Cape Town, South Africa; Toronto, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; and renewals with Mexico City, Mexico; and Seoul, South Korea. These partnerships included media exchanges to further promote New York City abroad. In 2017, the City saw several new Midtown attractions debut including National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, the NFL Experience, Opry City Stage, Gullivers Gate and Spyscape. In addition, Mayor de Blasio launched the NYC Ferry last May, offering the public more ways to access the City’s diverse neighborhoods through its waterways. NYC & Company continued to promote future developments and cultural offerings across all five boroughs to its global audiences under the banner of the “New New York City.” In November, NYC & Company unveiled its latest tourism campaign, “True York City,” to promote encourage global travelers to explore deeper and discover NYC’s “true” and authentic culture across the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Last summer, NYC & Company also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the organization’s signature marketing program, NYC Restaurant Week, the first dining promotion of its kind. NYC & Company also continued building on its popular seasonal programs with the launch of the new NYC Must-See Week to boost business at the City’s attractions during slower periods. The organization also continued its collaboration with Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the City’s Official Family Ambassadors. NYC & Company’s 2018 forecast anticipate another year of growth, with a 3.7 percent increase to 65.1 million visitors. All figures, estimates and forecasts are subject to revision as conditions develop and additional data become available. Due to rounding, there may be minor differences between estimates and final values. About NYC & Company: NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide. For more information, visit or contact Chris Heywood , (212) 484-1270.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 5:10pm
Five community parks initiative sites open with $24 million in renovations to playgrounds, courts and fields, more to come over spring and summer NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP today celebrated the opening of five newly renovated Community Parks Initiative sites totaling $24 million in renovations. The redesigned and rebuilt parks spanned the boroughs: Arrochar Playground (Staten Island), Grassmere Playground (Queens), Hilltop Playground (Brooklyn), Lyons Square Playground (Bronx), and Martin Luther King, Jr. Playground (Manhattan). “In 2014 we launched the Community Parks Initiative with a commitment to bring world-class neighborhood parks to all New Yorkers. Today, we’re seeing the results of that promise,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The five completely rebuilt parks we opened today illustrate the breadth and impact of CPI, which has already impacted more than one million children through physical park improvements, expanded programming, and enhanced community partnerships.” “Today’s ribbon cuttings mark a major milestone for our vision for a fair and thriving parks system. From start to finish, the Community Parks Initiative is about fairness: it’s about bringing best-in-class parks to neighborhoods that were once overlooked, giving communities a voice in the park-planning process, and partnering with neighborhood groups to keep parks healthy and vibrant,” said Parks Commissioner Silver. Launched by Mayor de Blasio in October 2014, CPI is a multi-faceted investment in the neighborhood and local parks that are located in New York City’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods where there are higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. CPI is NYC Parks' first major equity initiative and part of the Mayor’s OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City. Following an expansion of CPI in 2015, the program is rebuilding a total of 67 neighborhood parks with $318 million in funding. NYC Parks celebrated these openings with a “Ribbon-Cutting Relay,” in which Commissioner Silver traveled across the city to cut the ribbon on the following parks: Arrochar Playground, Staten Island – $5.1 million in mayoral, council and Borough President funding Two-level Arrochar Playground was transformed from a large asphalt field into an expansive, multi-purpose play area with a turf field, a track, and basketball courts on the upper level; and new play equipment, and an interactive spray shower with water games on the lower level. Parkgoers will enjoy new seating and planting across the park. Grassmere Playground, Queens – $3.3 million in mayoral funding Grassmere Playground received new all-new playground areas, a 100-meter track and junior soccer fields, an educational wooded trail, an outdoor classroom, a junior basketball court, adult fitness equipment, a children’s water play area, and improved planting, seating and lighting. Hilltop Playground, Brooklyn – $4.1 million in mayoral funding Formerly known as Saratoga Ballfields, Hilltop Park includes a large synthetic turf multi-purpose playfield for soccer and other sports, brand-new playground with equipment for children of all ages, an interactive spray shower, full- and half-court basketball courts. New fencing, landscaping, security lighting, and entrances will provide easy and safe access. A walking track and outdoor fitness equipment will provide the community with state of the art resources to get and stay fit. Lyons Square Playground, Bronx – $7.4 million in mayoral funding At Lyons Square Playground, NYC Parks redesigned and reconstructed the playground and added a multi-use area and an all-new comfort station. New additions also include a spray shower, basketball courts, improved safety lighting, a picnic area, ping pong tables, and fitness equipment. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park – $5.1 million in mayoral funding Formerly known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Playground, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park’s new designation reflects its expansive redesign: the park now features multiple play areas for varying age groups, a spray shower, two full size basketball courts, a synthetic turf area, as well as an outdoor gym featuring state-of the-art adult fitness equipment. In addition, each of the above sites received funding from the Department of Environmental Preservation, which committed $50 million toward the construction of green infrastructure – rain gardens, permeable pavers, and other design techniques that manage rain water and reduce its strain on city sewers – at nearly every CPI site. With today’s ribbon cuttings, there are now 17 CPI sites open. Thirteen sites are in design, 15 sites are in procurement, and 22 sites are in construction. Parks expects to open 15 more sites between now and the end of the calendar year. In addition to CPI’s capital investment in neighborhood parks, the initiative has an impact on these neighborhoods through community partnership building, park programming, enhanced sustainability, and operating support. Through funding from the City Council, in-kind donations from park conservancies, and community engagement through partners including City Parks Foundation, New York Road Runners, the Uni Project and El Museo del Barrio resources are allocated across critical categories including community outreach, recreational programming, green infrastructure, and park maintenance. “DEP is proud to be a partner in NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, which is transforming neighborhood parks across the city,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “By installing green infrastructure in these rebuilt playgrounds we are helping to reduce stormwater runoff and improve the health of local waterways including Jamaica Bay, Newtown Creek and the Bronx River.” “I thank Parks Commissioner Silver for his leadership in renovating Hilltop Playground, creating a great place for children and families to enjoy recreation and relaxation. Brownsville is getting greener – and that’s a good thing for a growing neighborhood that has historically been underserved in quality community parks. When we invest in open space, we invest in the health and safety of our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "The Community Parks Initiative is the right approach: using data-driven criteria to target parks investments in the neighborhoods that need it most," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I’m thrilled to see the new MLK playground open. The redesigned space and new equipment will bring the community together, help children play and learn, and help the neighborhood get the most out of this park." “I’m pleased that the public will now be able to use this revitalized space,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “I was happy to allocate funding to this project, which provided much-needed upgrades to this park. With these renovations and new amenities, even more people can enjoy our outdoor spaces and get active. I am committed to our local parks and will continue to allocate funds for upgrades of parks throughout the Island.” “We know there are tremendous health benefits from physical activity for all age groups – young and old. Keeping our public parks and playground accessible for New York City residents is vital to keeping our community healthy,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “I commend NYC Parks Commissioner Silver and all who worked to complete the renovation of Harlem’s Martin Luther King Jr. Playground and for helping make today’s announcement possible.” State Senator Andrew Lanza said, "I strongly support creating more open green space for our community to enjoy. The Community Parks Initiative makes this park better and will provide for a more enjoyable experience for all those who visit. I wish Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver a spirited day as he sprints through all five boroughs to unveil newly designed parks throughout our City. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, and the leadership of the Parks Department and Department of Environmental Protection for your efforts with this project." "Our public parks and playgrounds are a major resource in our communities. Community Parks is an exciting initiative and I am happy to see this investment in parks that have gone underfunded for many years. All children and all communities should be able to have safe, clean and quality outdoor space available to them,” said State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. State Senator Diane Savino said, "In the Borough of Parks, I am thrilled to see another state-of-the-art park updated for our youth and families. I am confident this will be a new favorite spot for my constituents this season." Assembly Member Marcos A. Crespo said, “Not too long ago, I proudly joined NYC Parks, P.S.75 students and faculty, as well as community activists, during the ground breaking ceremony at Lyons Square Playground in my district. Today I am thrilled to see the process come to full a circle. I commend NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, and all key team members, for consistently showing strong desire and determination towards making all play spaces accessible and appealing to Bronxites and all New Yorkers.” “We live in a society where we have to beg our kids to go outside or to put their smartphones down, so it’s gratifying to know that they have a new park that will make them forget about the smartphones,” said Assembly Member Latrice Monique Walker. ”I commend New York City Parks for giving the children in the 55th Assembly District a park they deserve.” “The fully renovated park at MLK Houses will provide much needed park space for our residents in an area that is lacking open spaces and recreational areas. Adults and children will now have the opportunity to enjoy state of the art play areas that enhance the quality of life in Harlem. I fully support the Community Parks Initiative and look forward to seeing more of our City parks come to life under this important program,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. “It is wonderful to start spring by opening renovated city parks in all five boroughs,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation. “Every New Yorker deserves access to a quality local park, and today’s ribbon cuttings under the Community Parks Initiative bring that vision closer to reality.” “There is no better justification for the Community Parks Initiative than the opening of Grassmere Playground in Far Rockaway,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “This beachfront community has been severely underserved by green space for decades, forcing seniors and children to travel dozens of blocks to find a beautiful and safe open space. This brand new park will surely bring many educational and entertainment opportunities for families and schools throughout the peninsula. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Silver for their commitment to providing green space to underserved communities that have deserved better for far too long.” Council Member Steven Matteo said, "Our beautiful parks, open spaces and playgrounds are invaluable assets to Staten Island residents, but we must continue to invest in them to keep them that way. That is why I always prioritize parks projects in the budget and I am particularly happy to have helped steer funding toward renovating Arrochar Playground. This park has always been an integral part of the community, but with these new, state-of-the-art multi-purpose courts, fitness equipment, seating areas and green infrastructure, it will continue to provide enjoyment for generations to come." “Today’s Ribbon cutting and park renaming is exciting because it gives our children a safe and colorful place to have fun and engage in healthy play time! I encourage all local families to come by and make great use of all this beautiful and state of the art park has to offer!” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. Council Member Rafael Salamanca said, “The re-opening of Lyons Square Park is a testament of our commitment to creating access to beautiful parks and green spaces for our community to enjoy for years to come. I am proud to join NYC Park’s Commissioner Mitchell Silver as we celebrate the first day of spring and showcase the $7.4 Million Dollar investment made right here in the South Bronx.” Former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, who is now the President/CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said: “As we come upon the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the renovation of this park takes on more significance as a reminder to our youth and others of his life and legacy in the fight for civil rights, social justice and respect for human dignity. As a teenager in Alabama, I was inspired and motivated by Dr. King, which led me to march with him, face water hoses and other threatening situations, and spend six days in jail. This experience shaped my life’s work in the tradition of what he represented.” Genese Morgan, Chairperson of CB #16 said, "In spite of the chill in the air on this first day of Spring, it is heartwarming to see the community's advocacy become a tangible asset available to the residents and visitors of our community. We look forward to Hilltop Park being a place that forges new memories, meaningful experiences, and civic relationships for the Ocean Hill-Brownsville community beyond the foreseeable future. We thank the Parks Department and our elected officials for allocating much needed funds to develop Hilltop Park."
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 5:10pm
Josh Robin: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. We’ve been telling you about Cynthia Nixon’s announcement that she is running for governor. Nixon is a longtime supporter of my first guest tonight, so will he support her campaign? Mayor de Blasio joins me here in the studio for his weekly interview. Good evening, Mr. Mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good evening. Robin: How did you find out that she was running? Mayor: I found out the same way you did, from the media today. Robin: No heads up from – Mayor: No. Robin: And are you going to be supporting her? Mayor: I’ve said many times that in terms of the 2018 elections, I’ll address them as we get further down the road, but I really don’t have anything to say about it at this point. Robin: When was the last time you spoke with her? Mayor: So over a month ago and, you know, was not sure in fact what she was going to decide. Robin: Advice? Any issues that she should focus on? Mayor: Well look, I think right now all over the State, people want to talk about the same things we talk about here in the City, you know, economic fairness, obviously ensuring that people can have a decent standard of living. It’s a big issue all over the country and you are seeing candidates all over the country coming forward, talking about issues like income inequality, talking about a progressive agenda, it’s become quite a national phenomenon, so I’m not in the advice giving business but I think that’s what we are seeing everywhere. Robin: Did you see the video? A lot people have – Mayor: Yes, I have seen the video – Robin: What did you think? It was pretty well done – Mayor: Look, again I’m not here to do punditry, you know, it’s – I just had not seen it recently, saw it today for the first time, but again this campaign will play out over the coming months, there will be plenty of time to comment on it. Robin: Well let me just ask you, if you would, just a couple more questions on it? The fact that your former campaign aides are working with her, you’re not endorsing the Governor, you’re not endorsing Cynthia Nixon either, you – just leaves a lot of people to think that you’re somehow behind this candidacy, that you are at least tacitly supporting in. Mayor: You know, I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not involved, I did not know which way she was going to go with her decision, as I’ve said I haven’t spoken to her in over a month. I don’t know how many times to say it, not involved, some people who used to work for me are involved, but they are professional campaign consultants, of course they are going to work for different candidates, that goes without saying. Robin: Right, clearly as you mentioned before about the issues, you want her – and you found your differences with the Governor, and we’re going to talk about some of those substantial differences in a moment – but you want her, I would say, to articulate those issues that you care about. To represent New York in a better way that you feel the Governor is. Mayor: Well, she will talk about what she cares about, obviously. She is a very strong person and she will make her own judgements on what her campaign is about. I’m going to be talking to everyone around the state, to the legislature, to the Governor, to candidates, to everyone, about the same thing, which is fairness for New York City. You know, my view, I always quote what Ed Koch used to say, that as Mayor my job is to support anyone who helps New York City and thank them and praise them, but if anyone does anything that hurts New York City, take them on, challenge them. So that’s the way I look at everything involving the state government. I wish the state government more often tried to help New York City. Unfortunately right now we’re facing budget cuts from the State, between $700 and $800 million, that’s a lot of money, that’s going to have a hugely negative impact on our schools, on programs that help young people and kids in need, families. By the way, something as important as the Close to Home Program which has been reported on, which has been major, major reform in juvenile justice, State used to fund it, they cut it in this budget. There is no money for Raise the Age, which is tremendously good, progressive reform legislation to get juvenile’s out of adult incarceration. That’s a great thing, but the State voted for that, didn’t send us the money to go with it, we’re fighting to get that money, that’s what I’m focused on. Robin: How is – how has the Governor been as far as New York City? Mayor: It’s been a mixed situation, and I’ve spoken to each time. You know, last year I appreciated that he worked with me to extend mayoral control for two years. That was a good thing, I think it should have been longer, but it was still good thing. This year he has proposed between $700 and $800 million in budget cuts to New York City, that’s a bad thing. So I’m going to call them like I see them. Obviously that’s been a mixed experience. I would like to see any Governor focus on the whole state of course, but recognize New York City as 43 percent of the state’s population, the engine of the state economy, the biggest contributor to the State Budget. We just want fairness, you know, we want fairness for the people in this City, 8.5 million people and growing, and that’s what I’ll keep fighting for. Robin: Well you also – and I’m going to ask you one tangential question about this, then we are going to move on, we also want fairness from Washington, D.C. You’ve been extremely critical of the President, and I have a political question about this. There are some who see someone in the White House without political experience and they object to that. Would you say that that is something that people in New York should consider? Someone running for office without political, elected experience. Mayor: I think the whole landscape around us is changing and you see it all over the country. Folks are running who don’t come out of the political class, who don’t come out of government, a lot of them are community activists, people with other kinds of backgrounds, you know the number of candidates this year, particularly from the Democratic Party, is overwhelming, it’s outstanding at all levels of government. It’s a very healthy thing. But a lot of those people do not come from the traditional path. I don’t think that’s the only way to become someone who can be really effective in government. I think comes down to the individual. And more and more I think what the public is looking at, and the voters are looking at, is people’s character, and their values, and what they stand for, and I think it’s perfectly valid that someone can be effective even if they don’t come from government. Robin: Ok, moving on, let’s talk about you’re former, longtime aide, Phil Walzak, he is now the top NYPD spokesman and the police officer’s union isn’t particularly happy about that. In a statement they said, in part with the Mayor’s former campaign manager now overseeing information given to the press, including the body worn camera footage that the Mayor and Police Commissioner have pledged, to be released in violation of State Law, how can either police officers or the public have any confidence that it will be dispensed with an eye towards safety and justice, and not filtered through a purely political lens. Mayor: Well that’s political if I ever heard it. That makes no sense whatsoever. Phil Walzak has been a great public servant, he’s served for years in City Hall, very effectively did a lot to help this administration achieve many of the things we have for New York City, worked very closely with the NYPD productively, and that’s where he got to know Commissioner O’Neill over the years. Worked at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington during the Obama Administration, so he served the country as well. I think that’s absolutely unfair, he by the way did not happen to be my campaign manager, he was a senior member of my campaign team but he did not happen to be a campaign manager, so they should try to get their facts straight. But no, it’s outrageous, he’s a fair, strong, smart public servant and I’m certain he will serve the people of this City well, and the NYPD well, and Commissioner O’Neill well. Robin: Let me ask you about self-driving cars, I don’t know if you heard about what happened in Arizona – Mayor: I did. Robin: An Uber crashed and killed a pedestrian there. You have been critical of self-driving cars here in the City, another difference with Governor Cuomo, does this redouble, if you will, your concern about bringing them into dense area. Mayor: It absolutely does. This is a tragedy, what happened today, and it’s a wakeup call. I respect, of course, the technology community. But when it comes to self-driving cars, there has to be a willingness to slow down, look at the ramifications, look at the dangers, as well as some of the potential advantages, and really focus on safety first. So I think this is a case where people were willing to move a little too fast, and that was my point of view in saying we’re going to defend New York City, we’re going to defend the people of New York City, because this is not a place, in my view, to test autonomous vehicles when we know they are far from perfect at this point and unfortunately this crash today proves it. Robin: It’s pretty incredible that the Governor has some power over you when it comes to introducing that within the streets of New York. Maybe you could explain what the law is briefly? Mayor: Well it’s a – I always say there is a neo-colonial dynamic between the State of New York and the City of New York that makes no sense in the modern age. Its 2018, as I said, we’re the engine of the State economy, we shouldn’t have to get Albany sign off on everything. It’s extraordinary how many things we have to go to Albany for. Protecting our own people, protecting our own streets, should be a matter of local decision making. By the way, you know, Uber is throwing around a lot of money in Albany. And let’s be really blunt about this, and all over the country – Robin: And in the City too. Mayor: Yeah, and we should be clear that when it comes to people’s safety, that should not be a political decision, that should not be a decision based on who gave the most campaign donations. So I’m saying upfront, I don’t want their money, I want to keep my people safe, and right now, again, these autonomous vehicles are not ready for primetime, and they’re certainly not ready for the streets of New York City. Robin: Ok, you had an announcement today in Staten Island. We’re going to talk about that in just a moment. We got to take a very quick break and I’ll be right back with more from Mayor de Blasio. Robin: Welcome back to Inside City Hall I’m speaking with Mayor Bill de Blasio. You were out on Staten Island today with the First Lady and with the Borough President talking about an extremely important issue all around the city and particularly in Staten Island. What was the announcement? Mayor: Well we are talking about the opioid crisis. It’s a huge issue in Staten Island. It’s a huge issue in the Bronx but it really is a citywide reality and in fact nationwide and it is affecting every part of the country so today we talked about intensifying our initiative called HealingNYC. Now the reason we are putting more money immediately into it is the results over the last year have shown us that you actually can fight this crisis back. We had a horrible, horrible increase in opioid deaths as the fentanyl drug started to be infused into the opioids. That was killing a lot of New Yorkers, a lot of people all over the country. We have found ways to fight back through the HealingNYC initiative. We put $38 million into it initially. It started to work. We saw the number of deaths, thank God coming down. We are redoubling our efforts. We are putting $22 million in more. We are going to get naloxone, the drug that reverses the overdose. We are going to get that even more widely spread all over the city. We are going to get a lot more peer counseling out there, a lot more treatment capacity out there. We see these things working. If you get – God forbid someone is an addict and it is part of the human condition as my wife always says, addiction is unfortunately, a human reality just like mental health challenges are. If someone is addicted we have many more chances now to get them to treatment, get them to counseling help them get away from the danger. Or God forbid they go into overdose, now naloxone is so much intensely spread all over the city, every NYPD officer on patrol has it, every EMT, every firefighter. We know last year 3,000 overdoses were reversed by our first responders and other partners, 3,000 times they saved a life. That’s finally bringing down this horrible epidemic but we want to go on the offensive now. We want to knock it down even further. Robin: Someone has an addict in their family, they are watching now. Do they call 9-1-1, do they call 3-1-1,do they call the mental health line? Mayor: So 888-NYC-WELL is the go to number for anyone with a mental health challenge or substance misuse challenge. It’s part of the Thrive initiative my wife Chirlane started. It’s 888-NYC-WELL. You get a trained counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, multiple languages. Someone will talk to you as long as you need to work through the problem. And if you need counseling then to follow up, if you need drug treatment to follow up they will literally stay with you, make the appointment, make sure you get what you need next. If you need naloxone you can call that number you can also call 3-1-1, they can tell you where to get naloxone. Pharmacies now have them, no prescription needed, widespread and obviously first responders as well. Look, this is I think a turning point in this crisis because we have taken these tools and we have spread them out widely. But we got more to do and I have to say one thing was very important today on Staten Island. We heard from a woman who lost her son to opioid addiction and she talked about the pain of that but she said to other parents and to other family members – don’t look away from the problem, don’t try and deny it, acknowledge it so you can get help in time. And that is what we have to do is get rid of the stigma – make sure all New Yorkers know that if you need help just ask for it and help is there. Robin: Acknowledgement is the first step. Mayor: Exactly. Robin: Let’s shift gears over to NYCHA. The Governor again visited a NYCHA facility over the weekend, a second time in about a week – saying that the State was going to commit $250 million in repairs if the private sector were brought in to help with those repairs. You’ve talked that it isn’t a good idea. Why isn’t that a good idea? Mayor: Look, the problem with NYCHA has been decades and decades of disinvestment. The entire concept of public housing was built with federal support decades ago with the notion of ongoing federal commitment. That started to decline after the election of Ronald Regan in 1980. Our public housing and our residents have been suffering ever since. The conservative estimate of need in NYCHA – about $18 billion, that was a few years ago, newer estimates have said between $20-25 billion in physical needs going on – Robin: You are not going to get anymore in this administration. Mayor: We are certainly not going to get anymore from Washington. We would like to get more from Albany. When the money is there we make sure that real physical change happens. Look at Queens Bridge Houses, the biggest development in North America, we put a lot of money into fixing the roofs, all of the roofs were fixed there. We put a lot of money into fighting violence, brought down violence a lot there, put in – wired the place for high speed internet so people would have opportunity. NYCHA has proven that it can make investments and can make things work if it has the money. So the State needs to play a role. If the Governor is offering $250 million, well first of all I say amen. But we don’t want to do it through the private sector – Robin: Why? Mayor: Because what we have seen in too many cases with the private sector is that it leads to privatization, it leads to projects that are done for the private sector’s interest, not for the public’s interest. Here’s a case where the public sector can get the job done if the money is there. The other think I want to remind you is, I’m interested in the $250 million that the Governor already should have sent to NYCHA – $50 million for the 2015 budget, $200 million from the 2017 budget. Josh, these budgets were passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor, the money was authorized for the public Housing Authority of New York City. We still haven’t seen that money. Robin: But if the private sector could do it in a leaner way, isn’t that a win-win? Mayor: I think the leaner way is to keep using the ability of the public sector with design-build authority – that allows us to cut through a lot of the various rules around procurement that allows us to speed up the process, allows us to save a lot of money. That’s the kind of flexibility that you see at the School Construction Authority. The Schools Construction Authority is a public sector entity that used to be a nightmare. Now it’s considered very efficient, very effective because it has that freedom and that flexibility. The State can give us that design-build authority for NYCHA. We can get a lot done if we had it. That’s where the focus should be. Robin: But the School – and I want to move on – but the School Construction Authority also uses builders in order to build. Not all – Mayor: NYCHA consistently contracts with private sector firms but the activity is controlled by the public sector. Again, it’s part of my criticism of Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s a potentially a privatization of scheme, a lot of private financing, who benefits in the end? I’m willing to work with the private sector but on the terms determined by the public sector and again the thing that would cut through the most and save the most time and the most money is design-build. Robin: Alright, a nice segway to my final question here about Jared Kushner. The Associated Press had a story about how Kushner Companies lied on documents that showed how many rent protected tenants were in the building. The documents that the Kushner Company signed off on said that there were no rent protected tenants and in reality it emerged that there were dozens. I don’t know if this is a story that you had heard of but the companies now are only facing a $25,000 fine. That’s really pennies compared to what they are worth. The City Council is holding hearings on. Is this something that you were aware of? Mayor: I’m very concerned about this. And I don’t have all the details but I can tell you that any landlord, any developer that tries to evade the rules around rent regulation or the safety of our tenants, or tries to harass tenants, or evict them illegally we will throw the book at them. And that can be financial penalties, in certain cases it can criminal penalties. I don’t know the specifics here but I can tell you we are not going to take this lightly. We are going to go right at them and if in any way they evaded telling the truth there will be very serious consequences. Robin: Okay and in a final sort of light hearted moment, did you ever watch Sex and the City and do you have favorite character? Mayor: I definitely watched Sex and the City. There were a lot of great characters. On a purely ethnic loyalty level, I think Mario Cantone’s character was really – Robin: And mine was Harry Goldenblachtt so there you go. Mayor: There you go. Great minds think a lot. Robin: Okay excellent, alright thanks so much Mr. Mayor I appreciate it. Mayor: Thank you.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 11:35am
First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good morning, everyone. And thank you – thank you, Fredi for sharing your story. I cannot imagine having to sit here and relive, retell that story again. It breaks my heart and – my heart breaks for your family. At the same time I am deeply inspired by your courage. By talking openly about Miles’ struggles with addiction, as difficult as it is, you remind everyone that this crisis is not about numbers or statistics, it’s about the people we love. It’s our sons and our daughter, our partners, and our friends. It’s our neighborhoods and coworkers. I doesn’t matter if you’re rich or you’re poor, black, white, or brown the opioid crisis touches us all in some way and sadly there are thousands and thousands of New Yorkers across the five boroughs who have lost loved ones to this terrible epidemic. By sharing her grief and pain, Fredi helps them feel less alone and encourages us to create a resolve. If we want to end this epidemic, we must all be part of the solution, every single one of us. Treatment for opioid addiction is available right now in New York City for anyone who needs it. It can mean going to your trusted and familiar family physician who has been trained to prescribe buprenorphine. The pills prescribed to help manage cravings are often paired with counseling. Or treatment can mean going to a clinic in your neighborhood to receive a daily dose of methadone, usually through a small cup of liquid. Treatment is patients working together with physicians and nurses to manage the symptoms. And just as some diabetics take daily insulin shots and others don’t, some patients require more intense treatment for addiction than others. The bottom line is people suffering from addiction need our help and support not our judgement, not punishment. [First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish] Through ThriveNYC, the de Blasio Administration is working hard to change the way people think about addiction and mental illness, establish prevention protocols, and create a culture of healing and wellness. And everywhere we can we are opening doors to support. I want anyone looking for support to manage their addiction or help a loved one to know that you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL – that’s 1-888-NYC-WELL – at any time of day or night. For free, you can speak to a trained counselor and that counselor can connect you to treatment or help you find a place to pick up naloxone which can reverse an overdose. [First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish] For too long talking about addiction has been taboo. For too long we have refused to help people cope with the mental illness and emotional pain that often go hand in hand with substance misuse. Not anymore. Not in New York City. We are taking action and the man by my side is always pushing to help more people to save more lives. My partner is all things – our Mayor, Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you very much, Chirlane, and thank you for not accepting the stigma. And if we get one point across today it’s that that stigma pervades our society and has to be defeated if we’re going to save lives. And Fredi, thank you, because what you said was so powerful and thank you for your honestly. To everyone, this is not easy for Fredi to come here and tell this story. It’s painful for her. You can see it in her face, you can hear it in her voice. But Fredi, this is how we save other people’s lives. So, some other children are going to be saved because of what you said today and I want to thank you. Let’s all thank Fredi. [Applause] So, this city is devoted to destroying the stigma. It has to be stopped once and for all. People have to be able to talk about it. Chirlane always makes the point that if there’s something wrong physically, that if you broke your leg, you have asthma, whatever it is – people aren’t ashamed to talk about that but we have found even after four years people come up to us wanting to talk about their experience, wanting help, and they start whispering. They pull us aside and they start whispering. It’s 2018 and people still feel a stigma when it has something to do with addiction or has something to do with mental illness. But these are parts of the human condition, they’re no one’s fault, they’re part of who we are as human beings. The only fault is in not acknowledging it and acting on it. So, this is, to me, the first step in all things – it’s acknowledging that people have to talk openly about the problem they have. They have to be willing to ask for help. People have to talk to each other and say the help is there because it is. I want to thank everyone who’s here. You’re going to hear in a moment from the Deputy Mayor, you’re going to hear from the Borough President, and the DA. I want to thank all of them for their leadership. They’ve all been deeply focused on addressing the opioid crisis and coming up with new tools that really work. I also want to thank other key leaders in this effort who are here with us. I want to acknowledge them and tell them how much I appreciate their hard word. Of course our Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett. I want to thank the Chief Medical Office at Health + Hospitals, Dr. Machelle Allen. I want to thank our Fire Commissioner, Dan Nigro, and thank everyone at FDNY and EMS who are on the front line of making sure that families have naloxone after a crisis. I want to thank the new Chief for Staten Island for the NYPD, Ken Corey, and congratulate him on his appointment. And of course, I want to thank our host here at RUMC, the President and CEO, Dr. Daniel Messina. Thank you so much for having us with you today and thanks for the great work your team does in addressing this crisis. We all know this is a problem all over New York City. We know Staten Island has suffered intensely. We know the Bronx has suffered intensely. But it’s a citywide problem. We know it’s a nationwide problem and what’s so shocking is it knows no boundaries. The opioid crisis is in cities and it’s in rural areas. It’s in big states and small states. It’s on the East Coast, it’s on the West Coast, and everything in between. This is a national crisis. It deserves deep consistent solutions. That’s what we’re trying to build here in this city. We’re all shocked by the intensity of this crisis particularly how its grown in the last year or two, and it has so much to do with fentanyl. But we know that the tools we have started to use are working and so today we announce a deeper investment and going farther with strategies that are starting to bear fruit. I want to remind people in the beginning this is a man-made crisis if ever there was one, fueled by corporate greed, fueled by the actions of big pharmaceutical companies that hooked millions of Americans on opioids to begin with. And some of them still are addicted to prescription drugs and others have migrated to heroin but we know where it began for so many people. And bluntly it was so a very few people could profit. And obviously the horrible actions of criminals who sell drugs and profit in death as well, that combination has led to where we are today. We need to remember that those origins at the root of this problem means it’s a problem that can be defeated. We can fight back against the big pharmaceutical companies. We can fight back against the criminals who pedal drugs. We can change in so many ways including changing the entire culture around this issue so we can help people. We know that the last few years were entirely sobering. We saw an uptick and a terrifying spike in overdose deaths in just the last few years and we know what this means in human terms. We heard it from Fredi. We heard it from Chirlane. We know this is the most human of crisis. And it leads to so many people at the end of this horrible, horrible path standing by a graveside and asking why. What could have happened differently? How could this life have been saved? A year ago, to respond to the crisis, we rolled out HealingNYC and we used every tool we had in terms of health, in terms of policing, in terms of prevention, in terms of treatment – every tool we had to start to fight back. Well, as painful as this crisis is, we are beginning to see some real progress and Staten Island has led the way. And I want to commend all the leaders of Staten Island for their extraordinary efforts and all of the City agencies that have been working so hard to address the crisis here on Staten Island. The preliminary data for 2017, thank God, shows that the number of lives lost to opioids on Staten Island went down in 2017 compared to 2016. We’re beginning to see progress. And emphasize the word beginning. It’s going to be a long fight. But we do believe the strategies that are part of HealingNYC are working and so it’s time to go farther. With the HealingNYC initiative we have begun to stop this deadly surge. We’ve begun to stop this horrible epidemic. Now it is time to go on the offensive. It’s time to fight it back and so we’re going to pour in resources. We’re going to pour in personnel. We’re going to focus everyday on how to bring down this horrible, horrible crisis – how to save more lives. The plan we’re announcing today over the next four years we believe will save at least 400 lives. And I want to emphasize at least. We believe that some of these tools are really working and as we continue to see evidence that it’s working, we’re going to keep investing. But we know that getting people the help at the time they need it right at the moment they need most, getting naloxone there, getting peer counseling there, getting the help at that moment of vulnerability and then keeping it in people’s lives, making sure they get connected to treatment and stay in treatment – that is the winning formula. I will end by saying we have to remember – and this is one thing Chirlane said to me a few years ago and it blew me away. She said, look every mental health challenge is treatable. You know there’s still some physical diseases that science had not found a treatment for but when it comes to mental health, every challenge is treatable. The challenge of addiction is treatable. It can be addressed. Overdoses can be stopped. It’s up to us, everyone of us not just the government, everyone in every community to be part of that solution because it is a crisis we can stop. Just a few words in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] So, as I turn to the Deputy Mayor, I just want to say the goal is simple – save as many lives as humanly possible. We believe we can save a lot more lives with this strategy. Now, our Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Herminia Palacio. [Applause] Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio: Thank you so much, Mayor de Blasio, for your leadership in confronting this issue directly. Thank you, First Lady, for your leadership in ThriveNYC which has set a foundation for this work. And thank you Ms. Weinstein for that incredible testimony. The loss of a child, a father’s grief, a mother’s deep sorrow always changed by guilt because that’s how parents feel about their children. There’s many questions about what if? What could I have done? Every parent knows that little voice inside one’s head. But imagine compounding that grief, that sorrow, and that internal voice of a parent with the external voices of shame and guilt that society throws upon them. How long? We say no longer. We saw a 50 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, and fentanyl was involved in almost half of these cases. We knew that we had to act and that’s why we launched HealingNYC to disrupt this epidemic. And as the Mayor said, our work has started to make a difference. Now, we’re beginning to see some encouraging signs in the data regarding overdose deaths. From 2016 to 2017, the number of deaths is starting to flatten rather than continue to shoot upwards at an amazing pace. But we have so much work to do and that’s why we’re here. The Mayor has charged us with using every tool at our disposal – data, policy, our collaborative partnerships – to address this crisis. So let me begin briefly by reviewing some of the milestones and accomplishments that we’ve hit since launching HealingNYC last March. First, we distributed 100,000 naloxone kits citywide through the Health Department and community-based organizations, in homeless shelters, at Rikers’ visitor center, and to every NYPD patrol officer. And since launching HealingNYC, City workers and community partners have used naloxone to reverse overdose more than 3,000 times. Second, we’ve positioned our public hospital system as a leader to treat even more New Yorkers in need. 17 Health + Hospital sites can now give out naloxone without a prescription. And at Health + Hospitals, we’ve also put peer educators with lived experience at three emergency departments and trained 200 providers to prescribe buprenorphine. Third, we’ve worked in partnership with voluntary hospitals to launch the Relay program, putting peers in emergency departments to engage people in the hours immediately after they survive an overdose. Relay is up and running in five sites including right here at RUMC. Fourth, we’ve connected people to a effective proven medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. And since launching HealingNYC, we’ve trained over 700 new clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine. I want to be clear, buprenorphine and methadone treatment is available for New Yorkers who need it right now across all five boroughs in doctor’s office, health centers, methadone maintenance treatment clinics, and emergency rooms with treatment options that are suited to different individual needs. And finally, we’ve run media campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with treatment not just the stigma associated with opioid addiction but the stigma associated with treatment because our society has not only made it hard for people to raise their hand and say, “I have this medical condition,” we’ve made it hard for people to raise their hand and say, “And I’m getting treated for it.” Again, that has to stop now. We’ve launched media campaigns to warn people about the danger of fentanyl and to make sure everybody knows how to easily get naloxone. These are important accomplishments and we need to take them to the next level and that’s why we’re here today. We will increase the ways that we can serve people when they’re at the hospital. We’ll be expanding our peer workforce in all 11 Health + Hospitals emergency departments, and adding Relay teams in five more voluntary hospitals including Staten Island University Hospital. These emergency departments together see 74 percent of overdose visits in New York City. We’ll expand in-patient addiction treatment services from four to six Health + Hospital sites and we will continue flooding the zone with naloxone. We will, for example, be launching a new cutting edge leave-behind program where every time a fire department EMT responds to an overdose call – and that happens about 5,000 times year – they will leave behind a naloxone kit with a family member. The Health Department will launch an End the Overdose training institute to train and provide naloxone kits to 25,000 more city staff, community-based organization staff, and community members every year. Among the City staff that will be trained will be front line staff, probation intake officers, Parks enforcement patrol, and Thrive mental health service corp. We’re also working with 800 more independent pharmacies including more than 40 here on Staten Island to encourage them to offer naloxone without a prescription. And as the First Lady mentioned, you can call either 3-1-1 or 1-888-NYC-WELL for information on where you or your loved ones can get naloxone. We’re partnering with Bronx DA Clark to replicate DA McMahon’s successful HOPE programs in the Bronx. This will allow more people to be placed into treatment rather than the court system. And finally, we’ll expand our crisis tools giving NYPD neighborhood officers resources to act immediately when they encounter somebody with risk of overdose. They’ll call a 24/7 triage desk, a new model that’s co-staffed directly by Health staff and police officers. And they can deploy teams to people where they are to help them in crisis. This might sound like a lot of complicated activities but that’s because this is a massive and complicated problem. This work relies on the hard work of so many dedicated public servants, so many community-based organizations, so many families out there fighting the fight every day to help their loved ones. And I want to thank people for their courage, their bravery, their commitment because every time somebody like you lifts your voice – your voice will reach the ears of somebody in need, it may change the heart of somebody who hasn’t been able to find their way forward. So thank you because these investments in HealingNYC – we want to continue to take the urgent steps needs to prevent every opioid death in our city. Now a few words in Spanish – [Deputy Mayor Palacio speaks in Spanish] […] Mayor: Okay we are going to take questions on this announcement and on the opioid crisis in general and then we will take questions on other topics. First on this announcement, Mara – Question: Questions – is HealingNYC designed to, is the goal here to solve this crisis or is to curtail it by deploying naloxone and treating it. In other words are we treating the root cause and is there enough, are there enough resources going to the root cause of it? Mayor: I’ll start and then I imagine more than one person up here would like to say something to that question. I am not a doctor so I am going to speak very humanly from what I’ve learned over four years. We have an addiction problem in our society and you know, I think what the DA said is really important. Maybe if it was a world in which there had never been a concerted effort by the pharmaceutical industry to push opioids and to hook, you know doctors into prescribing them and then over prescribing them over and over again, maybe if that hadn’t happened we would be having a different discussion. Maybe if fentanyl hadn’t been created and pushed into the American life of this country, maybe we would have different reality. But here we are today with a crisis that’s very deeply established. And I think when you say, how do you get to the root cause? Well I would argue it is trying to make sure that people who are having any challenge can get help immediately, early on. I mean I think that’s a core concept on the Thrive initiative. If someone at any point in their life is tending toward addiction – unfortunately we know that is a human reality but we can stop it at the earliest point and get the most help to people. A lot of people are going to spend their lives in treatment, let’s be very clear. And if you looked at the recovery movement, for example Alcoholics Anonymous and other efforts – it is a recognition that people will deal with this challenge their whole life. But I would argue that all the efforts that are being talked about here do try to get at the root cause. First of all cut off the supply of course, second stop doctors from overprescribing to the maximum extent possible, third go at the root cause which is the pharmaceutical companies’ practices and trying to undermine them and change them. You know, something Jimmy Oddos talked about a lot – reaching young people early, educating them about the dangers of drugs. All of those pieces are necessary. I think that is a combination going at the root cause but also dealing with aftermath. Anyone want to add? First Lady McCray: I would just add that there is no one root cause of addiction. That is part of the challenge that we have and then of course when it comes to this epidemic there is no silver bullet to solve it. So that’s why we have taken the approach that we have and we have so many different tools to address what’s going on. Addiction is part of the human condition we have, you know, we have more than just addiction to opioids. Alcohol is a huge problem in our city. We have more than 70,000 alcohol related visits to our emergency rooms every year. But of course those aren’t taking the same number of lives that this opioid epidemic has in such a short period. We’re trying to save lives here. But as the Mayor said we have to employ more than one tool and prevention is really the way to go and that is what we are doing with Thrive – educating people about addiction, educating people about the tools they now have access to and we will be doing more of that going forward. Question: Sorry, just to follow up – President Trump has said that he wants the death penalty and increase penalties for drug dealers as part of his push to fight opioids. Maybe for both of you if you both want to respond to that. Mayor: Well but I also wanted to just see if folks want to respond to the initial question because I know a lot of people have given a lot of thought to this question of the root cause question. So anyone want to jump in on that? Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark: I think that my approach is multi-faceted. We have to use all of the tools in our tool kit. So prevention is one, education being the key to that. Treatment, a big part of it – to make sure people get the resources and the treatment they need regardless of their status, you know, in life, whether they have money, insurance or not – just making sure that they get to the treatment that they need. And the law enforcement side, I mean I’m a prosecutor. I was a drug prosecutor for ten years before I became a judge and then the DA. I know how important it is to try to stop the supply and you better believe we are working each and every day towards identify the illegal suppliers and to make sure that we cut that off. We have seizures day in and day out and we are working those cases to make sure that we keep it out of my county. So with all of those things we are trying to solve – we are trying to solve this problem. But again no one thing is going to solve it – we need all of those things together. Mayor: Doctors, you just want to add or have we – you’ll tell us if we – Deputy Mayor Palacio: I think you guys have – Mayor: I was trained by the two doctors and then I translate into English, you know. Mara to your question – a couple of things. I haven’t seen the President’s plan that he is putting out today. I hear it will include some resources for prevention and treatment, obviously I applaud that. I want to see the details but I applaud any additional resources for prevention treatment because we need that endlessly. In terms of how we address it through criminal justice. You know one of the things that our Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill has said, you can’t arrest your way out of the opioid crisis. This is something that goes beyond simply criminal justice approaches. So I would caution that we have to be really clear about we need all these tools to address this crisis. But I would also say I disagree with the President on the death penalty because I disagree with the death penalty. I don’t think the death penalty is morally right and I don’t think it is a deterrent. [Inaudible] Okay, Marcia? Question: First Lady, I wonder how you would connect homeless drug users to treatment given the fact that it is really difficult for them to come off, to even get them to come off the street. Is that a big problem? And how would do it? First Lady McCray: Well, we actually have an outreach team and perhaps Dr. Palacio or someone can speak more to that. We know they are not going to come to us so we have to go to where they are and I think that’s the approach that we take with much of what we are doing now. We know that we have to get to them to make that they are getting the treatment they need. Do you want to add to that? Question: [Inaudible] problems that you think you have in terms of reaching people who could potentially OD? First Lady McCray: The most intractable problem? I – Mayor: I don’t think it’s intractable? First Lady McCray: Yes I don’t think it’s intractable, exactly. Mayor: Remember, I’ll pass to the Deputy Mayor but HOME-STAT Marcia, you know this is important how all these pieces come together. We are engaging homeless people on the street all the time through the HOME-STAT initiative – 1,500 of them in the last year and a half or so have come in off the street. Now they are in places where we can make sure if they have other challenges like substance misuse, that they can get treatment. So HOME-STAT literally means knowing where each homeless person is connecting with them as often as possible, try and move them. But that can also be to get them treatment and help. Go ahead doctor. Deputy Mayor Palacio: Yes absolutely this is – again I think you have heard us say that there is not one single strategy or one single bullet. And most of these strategies come together. So we are distributing lots of naloxone in, we have got all of the shelter staff trained in naloxone, how to administer. Our outreach teams are reaching people where they are and connecting them. People who end up sometimes cycling in the criminal justice system for other reasons – we are making sure that family members have access to naloxone and treatment there because we know if somebody leaves jail that can a particularly high risk for overdose. We’ve got linkages to treatment in our needle exchange program. So this is a fabric we are trying to weave closer and closer and closer so that people have an opportunity to engage at multiple points of contact because we understand that people come in contact with city services, with community based services at multiple points and you never know which one of those contacts is going to be the critical one in allowing them to get help. Question: I just have another question. Mayor: Sure. Question: What is your position on supervised injection sites? Have you got – is there a report done and are you moving towards that? First Lady McCray: We are studying the information right now and we have asked for more information because this is a very complicated concept. And you’ll be hearing from us in April, next month. Mayor: Yes, April – we’ve communicated this to the City Council as well – April will be when the report is published and also when we respond to its findings. Who else? Way back, way, way back, that’s you, yes. Question: [inaudible] you talk about prevention and treatment but drug abuse and – Mayor: I just want to make sure because I don’t recognize you, we are doing media questions, are you media? Question: No, no – Mayor: oh I’m sorry. Media questions – Question: I’m [inaudible] I’m the CEO of [inaudible] – Mayor: And thank you for your good work. Forgive me that we have to focus on media questions in this session so that’s alright. David? Question: You tried to avoid me Mayor but – Mayor: No I go back to front a lot David, sorry. Question: I wanted to ask of you a couple of quick questions. One – what portion of the $22 million that you are adding will go to the NYPD for this sort of supply side that you described? And then you talk about by 2020 wanting to reduce the number of deaths by 400, so that’s about 100 a year – that goal seems akin to the kind of goal that you set up for the homeless shelters, or excuse me, the homeless population where the reduction more or less get us back to where we were at the start of your administration, maybe not even. I wonder by if setting a goal like that you’re admitting that this is a problem that is going to be with us for a long time and that the city is powerless to really reverse? Mayor: I disagree with your interpretation fully so let me restart but I will pass after that to the Deputy Mayor to go over the specific numbers in the plan. And I find your question a tad editorial my friend. We all just said here we believe this is a battle that can be prosecuted effectively. We have just come off a couple of years of intensive increase for the reasons I outlined – the introduction of fentanyl on a broad scale and unfortunately the very dastardly actions of the pharmaceutical industry. The full brunt of that increase was felt and we tried to figure out a variety of tools to fight back. We believe, certainly we know for a fact on Staten Island we’ve seen some actual, tangible progress from 2016 to 2017. The numbers city-wide are beginning to encourage us. The reason we have put forward that number is to be conservative and careful and not over claim. We are literally tracking a whole series of investments to see if they are working. Based on what we know so far we believe that’s the impact we are going to have. But I said the word at least very pointedly. The goal is to go a lot farther but we are in uncharted territory, let’s be very clear. These new factors I mentioned have created a crisis that we haven’t seen before. When you look back at other crisis like this over the generations you look for the tools that work and once find them then you lock on and you invest a whole lot more. So we are still in the phase of trying to confirm that these are the right tools, the right mix. If we find they are working we are going to investment a lot more. If we find they are not working we are going to go in other directions. But know the goal is to go as far humanly possible. This goal in terms of number of live we save is greater than the previous because we believe that’s honestly what’s happening. These things are starting to work ergo we can say we are going to save more lives. But no there’s no sense that we can’t ultimately win here. It will take a while. If the one part of your question I agree with I want to amplify. No one is saying this going to be – no one is saying mission accomplished. No one is saying it’s going to be an overnight victory. It’s going to be a long battle because we are up against a very complex problem. Would you speak to the specific numbers? Deputy Mayor Palacio: Yes so in HealingNYC, in this phase of HealingNYC the budgetary numbers are really for the hospital systems for the leave behind, for the naloxone. There’s not a specific enhancement to the NYPD activities. These are really on the health activities and I just want to reiterate what the Mayor said. What we are facing here, what we were seeing was a complete change in the landscape by the introductions of fentanyl and a narrowing of the time in which we can reverse people and this goes a little bit to Maura’s question as well. So we really are beginning at that very critical interface, because fentanyl has really changed the way – the window to impact survival and we’re starting there with so many of our efforts because you can’t get people into treatment, you can’t change their lives if they are not alive to begin with. So it’s really preventing overdose deaths from there, it’s recognizing that some people aren’t quite ready to enter treatment and it’s really making sure that we continue to build on the leadership that New York City has had in things like needle exchange. From there it’s moving a little bit further for those people who are really ready to take that step into treatment and then there’s supporting people in prevention and keeping communities healthy from a public health perspective. Mayor: Just one more point on the police department, I really want to emphasize this and we’ve talked about before, to my friends in the media, but I want to emphasize it again. NYPD is the most strategically agile organization I have ever seen in my life, they are constantly changing their approaches according to where the need is, and that’s the whole ComStat ideal obviously. So you’ve seen now four straight years of violent crime going down, but at the same time with the City Council we increased the patrol force by 2,000 officers. That obviously allowed for things like neighborhood policing that allowed for greater focus and greater personnel for anti-terror, but it also means that there is a lot of capacity to address a challenge like opioids. So what NYPD does is moves resources around to where the problem is greatest and thank God we are seeing less violent crime, that means more officers strength, more patrol strength, can be put into addressing something like the opioid crisis. Question: I just want to follow up, so that means no new money is going to NYPD? The $22 million doesn’t include any money for the NYPD, is that - ? Mayor: Not in the new tranche, right. Yes, Bridget? Question: Mr. Mayor, the last press conference we had on the opioid crisis was when you were talking about the lawsuit against Big Pharma, I was wondering if there was any update on where that’s at, the status of that? Mayor: I’ll have the Corporation Council speak to you about it, he’s not here today, obviously, but we know that’s going to play out over many months and years likely, but as he told you at the time we are gathering in a coalition with other jurisdictions around the country and we think it’s going to make very big impact. But it’s going to be a long process. Question: And second question, just as we were talking about here, you’re taking a broader citywide approach to dealing with this epidemic, I’m just wondering are you having – what kinds of conversations are you having with your peers regionally? Are you talking to Governor Murphy and other folks in law enforcement to sort of look at how you can tackle this from a regional perspective not just here in the City? Mayor: I think the central challenge that we are addressing today are thing that we have to do in New York City, making treatment as clearly available as possible. I want to emphasize this one of the most fundamental points, there is a lot treatment available right this minute that is not being utilized and I want everyone to understand that. And that is a credit to a lot of organizations in this City, that the treatment is there, we got to do a better job at connecting people to it, we got to do a better job with breaking the stigma, all of these things are things we have to do right here. On the law enforcement front, I think the coordination is very high between the law enforcement agencies. Honestly, Bridget, that’s not been a concern that’s been raised to me by the NYPD or any other – or the DA’s, I think they feel that coordination is happening very well. Jillian? Question: Mayor, the District Attorney sort of alluded to this point, that sometimes while it’s a citywide issue, at this point the opioid epidemic can look different in different communities, you know, she alluded to a long standing problem with heroin in the Bronx, in Staten Island there was a very well documented problem with prescription pills that sort of morphed into where we are now. I’m just curious, are you taking different targeted approaches to different areas of the City or different aspects of this problem, or have you found that perhaps wherever it started everybody is kind of in the same situation now in terms of what they – Mayor: I’ll start and then if Chirlane or either Doctor wants to add, I mean from my point of view, you’re right. The origins were very different, but I think the reality now is very much the same around the – around the city and around the country, I think we’re all in a common struggle now. Remember a lot of those folks who started tragically through prescription drugs, you know, slowly but surely ended up on heroin. So, no, I think the fundamental thing, breaking the stigma, getting people connected to treatment, I think these things are universal needs at this point. Anyone want to add? Deputy Mayor Palacio: So, yeah, I think that we have seen a convergence of what it looks like, but in general, sort of not just so much for HealingNYC, I want to give Dr. Bassett and the entire Health Department credit for really taking a very community oriented, community informed approach to whatever topic they are doing. So to the degree that there are nuances, and certainly the First Lady is always very much making sure that any services that we’re delivering – we’re delivering in a culturally appropriate, linguistically appropriate manner. Because in order to reach people you need to be able really communicate effectively and meet people where they are, and this includes, you know as we we’re talking about meeting people where they are. If they were homeless, it’s across the broad spectrum of where people are in their lives may require a nuanced approach. Mayor: I just also on the – to the core of that question, you know, two facts that are absolutely citywide realities, 23,000 patrol officers who now have naloxone on them at all times, that’s everywhere, and 3,000 reversals since HealingNYC began. That’s, you know, when you look at the extent of this crisis, to think about the fact 3,000 overdoses were stopped dead in their tracks, because naloxone was now so widely available with NYPD, with FDNY, with so many of other partners, again that’s based on a universal strategy that works everywhere. Yeah? Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask about the 29 additional staff that the money is going to go toward in part to the Rapid Assessment Response Team and this is – I guess I’m curious a little bit of what they do and also the triage desk, why are so many new staffers needed for that? And is the current staffing shortage impacting the City’s ability to respond to overdose calls currently? Mayor: Let me start and I’ll give the very much layman’s interpretation and then let the experts weigh in, and Dan, Mary, Armenia all have different perspectives on this. First of all, the frontline of addressing this issue, the Health Department, the police department, FDNY EMS, they are doing that intensely every single day. They don’t lack for anything to be able to address the crisis, and I think that’s why you’ve seen 3,000 overdoses reversed. I think what we’re learning by doing is that we’ve got to continue to perfect the process of getting support to people who are addicts, and their families and friends, as quickly as possible to establish a pathway to treatment that sticks. I think it’s one thing to stop – I think the Deputy Mayor said powerfully, you can stop an overdose. That’s only step one. You have to connect that individual to treatment, and it may be peer counseling, there’s all sorts of elements that might work, but it’s very individualized. What works for one person may not work for another. So I think what we’re finding is, that these very hands on, labor intensive approaches are working, that’s why we’re investing more in them. Deputy Mayor Palacio: So I’m just going to begin with one brief anecdote from my own experience as a clinician because I think the – you never know when that one conversation will change somebody. A patient who went on to be very long term patient of mine, came in one day just because his job made him come in for a TB skin test, but he had gotten a new patient appointment, so I kind of had him captive a little bit, we had a long discussion, it turns out that he was using heroin quite actively. We had a long discussion at that time I worked at a clinic where although organizationally was different, I couldn’t have walked him down the hall to the methadone maintenance, he wasn’t ready at that time, but because I sat and had a long conversation with him about it, and about what resources are, by the time I called him to give him the results of the skin test, I remember, he said, doc I’ve been thinking about what you’ve said. And that was the one conversation. And if I had just written him off as the guy who needed a TB skin test, right, it was just that one moment, it wasn’t something magical about me, it was magical about that one moment he was ready to hear what I said and as we think about these resources that we’re building, it’s - we’re layering, we’re building upon success, the triage desk and the rapid error response do very different things. One, the triage desk we’re building on an infrastructure that we had built to handle calls from emotionally disturbed persons, and we want to expand to be able to handle calls from substance use, the Department has deployed rapid area response and other real – sort of – by using real time data to interact – to interface in communities, including K2 and I’ll let Dr. Bassett sort of describe a little bit about how we’re building from what we’ve learned from the past to try to address this crisis. Commissioner Mary Bassett, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Thank you Deputy Mayor, these are two separate strategies, part of this whole holistic approach that the administration has supported. The rapid response is really taking an almost infectious disease kind of model, seeing that we have seen overdose clusters, or even single overdoses, reported from areas where we hadn’t seen them before. And then there is the concern that community is not familiar with opioid overdoses, and this team can be rapidly deployed to ensure every pharmacy in the area is reminded about naloxone, every physician in the area is reminded about identifying overdoses that the community is alerted to all the resources that we have – because they haven’t seen overdose deaths before. The other strategy as the Deputy Mayor has said, built on an effort that we began now two years ago with the police department that we call co-response, recognizing that response to emotionally disturbed people, or even to overdose events when there’s an emotionally disturbed person, don’t only need police response, but also need a health response. And jointly, because this really has been a join program, we agreed that there are cases where a medical only, a health only, response is appropriate and that can be extended from responding to people who need mental health needs also to include people who – to the overdose situation. So they can be deployed from a jointly staffed triage desk, the PD can call and ask for what we call HEAT Teams, these Health Engagement and Assessment Teams, that’s what the 29 people will be for, two shifts per 24/7, actually 16 hours a day, I misspoke, all year long it takes that many people. Mayor: Just wanted to see if Chief Corey or Commissioner Nigro want to add in general about our efforts. Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro: Sure, this is – this is a long table, and everyone here has a different role, some people have more than one role, but the Fire Department responds over 4,000 times a day to people in need of medical care and many of those calls have been for people who’ve overdosed. So at one time only our paramedics were able to deliver naloxone to folks through intervenes or intermuscular now, of course, every EMT, ever firefighter, you heard every police officer has the ability to do this and to do it immediately. Last year alone, we administered naloxone more than 7,000 times, and if you do the math, it seems almost once an hour of 365 days a year, we are providing this to people of New York. And we heard before, over 3,000 of these overdoses were reversed. Now the difference – the change here, part, our part of the change, is that we will be able to later this year leave behind a kit so that medication can be delivered, it shortens the time it can be delivered on scene before we arrive, and that’s a big change for us and we believe that will be part of also what saves lives. So more and more people will be able to get the treatment you’ve heard about and recover and improve their lives, but the first part of it is what we do is try to get them to the hospital alive. Mayor: Chief, you want to add anything? Assistant Chief Ken Corey, NYPD: Sure, as many people have said, you know, we recognize the complexity of this issue and that it needs to be addressed in many different ways and through many different facets, and certainly all the ones spoken about here regarding treatment options, naloxone, or reversal agent deployment, and also through education. So here in Staten Island we have the “Too Good for Drugs” Program, where our police officers go into the schools and teach our children about the dangers of drugs, and all of these officers are volunteers, they do this willingly, they ask to do it. It started as small program, we are now in every school in Staten Island, we education fifth, seventh, and ninth graders. We’re going educate 14,000 students this year and it fits in so nicely with neighborhood policing, because the police officers are now in the school and forming a bond with these children, and these additional resources now give those officers so many more options to refer people who are in need, who these officers have bonded with, to resources. We don’t have to arrest someone to get them into treatment, that there are other options available to them. Mayor: So who else, anyone else on this topic? In the back? Question: Is there already a CATCH program at any Staten Island hospitals, and if so, what kind of results has it produced, and if not, why wasn’t the CATCH program included in the six hospitals the City’s – ? Mayor: As I turn to the two doctors, I just want to say again, Rumsey’s been fantastic in the forefront of addressing this crisis, and we’ve been honored to partner with Rumsey on it and that’s why we are sitting here today because they’ve been leaders in this City in the effort to address the opioid crisis. Why don’t you talk about our work with the Staten Island hospitals? Deputy Mayor Palacio: Sure, as I think I mentioned in my remarks, we’ve got relay teams, which are teams that are dispatched from emergency rooms, both Rumsey and Staten Island University Hospital now in the next phase have agreed to allow these teams, staffed with Health Department staff and community based organizations and peer reviewers, come in and work with clinicians to try to address somebody when they are at overdose. CATCH is really a program that has been initiated at Health and Hospitals, again as – with a City that operates the largest public healthcare delivery system in the nation, we felt it was both an opportunity and a responsibility to position Health and Hospitals as a leader in this space and CATCH is really – their effort to supplement substance abuse treatment services in the inpatient setting, this is not in an emergency room, this is really in the inpatient setting, and we are expanding those, based on again, letting the data guide where we – the institutions that see the most hospitalizations for overdose data – for overdoses. Question: Mayor, there’s been a couple of proposals to have more access or access to naloxone in City schools, whether through having School Safety Agents carry them or by having a program where each school would have some kind of access to naloxone, what do you think of those proposals? Mayor: Well I want the experts to assess them. I mean obviously we’ve been expanding access to naloxone constantly over the last few years and it is contributing to some real progress, but we also have to make sure we are getting where it’s most needed. So I’d – sure it’s something that we’re assessing, but if either one want to speak to it? Commissioner Bassett: Sure, the – we’ve seen zero overdose deaths in the age group of children in schools, so that’s a really good thing. I do want point out that anyone who is in a family where there is somebody they are concerned about using drugs, using opioids, can call 3-1-1 and get information about how to get naloxone and be trained in its use, there is no age limit, if you are a kid and you’re worried about, as long as the pharmacist is convinced that you can be trained, and it’s a very simple product to use, we can make naloxone available. So I want everyone to know, if they use or if they know someone who uses in their family or circle of friends, we want you to carry naloxone so you can save a life. Mayor: And to the doctors I think this is also important too. I was very surprised as I got educated on this issue, that it actually age wise, effects an older demographic than I would have expected. Can you both speak to that? Deputy Mayor Palacio: No, I think you have that exactly right. This is a crisis that is largely effecting mostly people over 30 and you know, the Mayor was correct that we are both trying to get things widely distributed but our emphasis is on those areas where people are at most risk and where we know that the risk of overdose is high. Mayor: Let me see is there anything else on this issue, go ahead. Question: You said you can’t arrest your way out of this crisis but isn’t the rock bottom issue keeping, getting fentanyl out of the system totally? I mean don’t you really need to stop fentanyl from coming into New York City and the country? Mayor: Well no question that every possible effort needs to be made to stop fentanyl. There’s no question about it. And certainly Commissioner O’Neill and everyone in the NYPD is doing everything they know how to do that. As you just herd it can be concealed in very small shipments which makes it difficult to just use policing to stop the problem. But I want to emphasize also before fentanyl there was still a huge problem with heroine and a lot of people got to heroine through prescription drugs. So it’s not just one thing. Fentanyl is the single most deadly piece of the equation. But we are losing plenty of lives to heroine that is not laced with fentanyl. We are losing plenty of lives to people who are hooked on prescription drugs. We need to attack all of the problems. And I think the idea of saying wherever the problem is, getting people to talk about it, come out in the open, get treatment, get help, or god forbid there is an overdose, make sure there is naloxone there. That’s the true frontline. If we could stop drugs from entering our country, then we would have done that a long time ago on all fronts so we have to be realistic about the fact that some drugs are going to get through. But treatment is available for everyone – naloxone should be available wherever it is needed. That’s what we know we can guarantee. Go ahead Gloria. Question: You sort of spoke to this already but there had been some criticism from the advocate community that the initial pot of money was going mostly to the NYPD and now today’s announcement you’re saying none of it is going to the department. So I’m wondering if you are at all responding to that? Mayor: No, we are just continuing building on what works and look, the fact that our first responders have naloxone – that was one of the central expenses we paid in the previous plan, that’s been crucial to saving a lot of lives. That’s one of the reasons why we finally see these numbers starting to move in the right direction. So I am absolutely comfortable with the investments we made initially through HealingNYC and these are the next level. We found more and more that this is the piece we needed so we are going to keep investing. And I want to emphasize, anything that continues to prove effective we will put more resources in because our goal is to save more lives. Last call on the opioid issue. Question: You mentioned about trying to reduce the stigma – I feel like that is really what you are trying to break through, that’s like really a step [inaudible.] Yes trying to get the drugs off the streets but to try to let people say hey, I have problem. What is the tactic if any that you are using on the ground right now to let people know, like yes you can say it, for them to feel even comfortable? Mayor: I will turn to the chief stigma buster of our administration – new title. First Lady McCray: As with addiction there is no one way that we can address stigma. We have to use many different tactics and one of them is our Weekend of Faith were we have clergy members talking about addiction, clergy members all around the city – addressing their congregations, giving messages, messages coming from clergy members are very trusted because they are trusted, people tend to listen to what they are saying. So that is one way that we are addressing stigma. We have ad campaign where we have testimonials by people who have overcome addiction, telling their personal stories in multiple languages – in bus stations, subway stations all around the city, the people, and online, where people can see, people who look like them, talking about addiction and what to do so that they can overcome it. Stigma is tough. It really, it’s going to take time and it’s going to take many different avenues for us to address it. But every story told, just as Fredi told her story this morning, helps other people feel more comfortable telling their own story and perhaps reaching out for help. So I think we are making progressive and we just need to do more. Mayor: Yes, and every time, I’ll just state the obvious – every time you guys portray a family’s story and listen to someone like Fredi and show the rest of the community that, it helps break down the stigma. So we know we have to do a lot. I think the news media can play a crucial role as well. First Lady McCray: Yes. Mayor: Okay, last call on opioid questions from the media. Going once, twice, okay for anyone who needs before the off record this is your chance to disembark. […] Mayor: Okay, we are almost ready. Everyone, get cozy. Amoy, take a seat, you’re blocking the cameras – this is your conscience speaking. [Laughter] Alright, everyone get settled, close that door in the back. Good there? Okay, other questions – Question: Mr. Mayor, on Friday, on WNYC you said that you didn’t believe that drivers who park in bike lanes for less than 30 seconds should be ticketed, and I’m wondering if that’s actually something that you’d like to see the NYPD implement and whether you have any plans to have them formalize that in any way? Mayor: We’ve talked about this for years. I’m a little surprised if anyone thinks it’s news – this came up a couple of years ago. And look, one of the things that Commissioner O’Neill has emphasized in the new way that we train officers in the NYPD is officer discretion. We want our officers to have the freedom to use their own good judgement and their training. So, my point is, if, for example, a parent stops outside of their house to let their kids off, or outside of school to let their kids off, or their getting groceries into their house and then moving along promptly, I think discretion says we’re not going to ticket for that. But we are going to ticket if someone leaves their car there for any appreciable amount of time and doesn’t, of course, respond to the instruction to move along quickly. That’s a common-sense approach. That’s what we’ve been doing for years and, to the best of my knowledge, that’s how precincts orient their officers. Question: Is that something you’ve communicated to the Commissioner, that you’d like – Mayor: Communicated publicly – again, go back and check. And Mr. Phillips will help you, this is something we talked about a few years ago. I’ve been very clear about it. Look, I was a City Councilman, I think about life from the neighborhood perspective. We’re not going to ticket people who are stopping very briefly, for example, to let off their kids – that’s just not right. But we are going to ticket people who, in any way, shape, or form block bike lanes for any appreciable amount of time. By the way, so many of the things we’ve talked about with enforcement – the goal is to fix the problem, not to slap someone with a ticket if we don’t have to. So, if an officer sees someone in the bike lane, they’re going to go up to them, they’re going to say you need to move along. If someone says, oh, I’ve got to get this last bag of groceries in, I don’t think you’d ticket them. I think you just make sure they get their groceries in and move out immediately. What else? Yes? Question: I have two questions both about Rikers Island. What do you plan to do to protect the Correction officers? I spoke with the union president and he is claiming that you don’t care about the safety of the Correction officers. Mayor: That’s ridiculous, and that’s unfair, and he shouldn’t play politics with something so important. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Rikers Island safer. There are now cameras all over the facility – that wasn’t there before. There’s a much more intensive process for trying to keep out contraband and weapons. I’d like to go a lot farther – I need scanners, but that requires approval from the legislature, which we’re fighting for right now. We are recruiting and training officers much more intensely than we did in the past. A lot of the incidents have gone down, in fact, and we can provide you with the facts about that. But the real difference with the union is over what’s called punitive segregation, or solitary confinement. We believe for anyone 21 years or younger, it is counter-productive. We believe it actually leads to more violence and more dysfunction and doesn’t not help to turn around people that we’re hoping to get on a better path and hoping to reintegrate into society. Where I think we can do better is finding other kinds of punishments – and this is one area where the union I think has raised some very valid concerns, and it’s something we’re going to push to get done through the Board of Corrections. Other punishments that are abundantly clear to inmates – that make clear any infraction, any violence against anyone – an officer or a fellow inmate – is not acceptable and there will be real consequences. That’s already happening in terms of re-arrest and new charges, and District Attorney Clark has been a fantastic partner in this. Much more than in the past – bluntly, go look at the history, too many times in the past, if an inmate assaulted an officer or assaulted another inmate on Rikers, they didn’t necessarily get additional charges and follow through on that. Now, with this administration and this DA, we’re adamant that there are going to be additional charges and the very great likelihood of serving a lot more time if you assault an officer. So, that’s a new part of the equation I think the union would also acknowledge that’s been a step in the right direction, but we’ve got more to do – we’ve got more to do. Question: And the section question is – according to a recent Manhattan Institute study in City Journal magazine – Mayor: An entirely non-partial study. Go ahead – Question: Okay, well, the question was posed that why is jail violence seeming to be up when the jail population is at such a low number? Mayor: So, two points are important here. One – seeming, is a crucial point. I don’t think we’ve done a good job as an administration is showing the fullness of what’s happening, because, again, these investments have led to declines in a variety of areas of problems. Certain types of violence have gone down. Certain types of assaults have gone down. There are some things that are actually working very well. To the point about there being fewer inmates – the inmates who are there now tend to be proportionately those for more serious crimes, those who have, in some cases, have done more violent crimes, because, as you know, we’re working very hard, and so are the DA’s, to divert those who have done very low-level and non-violent offenses. So, it has changed some of the nature of Rikers and the whole Corrections system. But I think what we know works is to make sure people are separated if there’s any propensity to violence, to make sure there’s clear penalties that they can see will happen to them, there’s consequence they know will happen – that’s something we’re adamant about. As I said, we could do a lot more if we had some more support from Albany, particularly in terms of scanners. And we want to – some of these questions are throughout the Corrections system, but some of them are particularly challenges on Rikers. Obviously, we want to get off Rikers once and for all. Now, you asked something else, I might have missed one piece of it – Question: It was just that the jail violence is up when the jail population is such a low number. [Inaudible] you’re saying that this small number is such a violent number. Mayor: And I want to be clear, not everyone there – first of all, everyone knows some people in Rikers are there awaiting trial and they are innocent until proven guilty in our country. Some are sentenced, but they’re only sentenced for up to a year, which means, by definition, they haven’t done some of the most violent offenses or they’d be upstate in the State prison system. But proportionally speaking, the population on Rikers, as it’s decreased, it has concentrated folks who are in the more-serious crime category, compared to in the past where a lot of folks who had done very low-level offenses were still on Rikers. That’s something we’ve obviously moved away from. So, again, I think what we need to do better for all of you, is show you the trend lines of each type of challenge. In some areas, they have clearly gone done, meaning improvement. In other areas, we’ve got to do better, and I think adding consequences is one big piece of that. David? Question: Question for you, Mr. Mayor, and then for the First Lady. For you, in the Fiscal Year 2019, you anticipate breaking ground on the BQX, and, if so, are you putting money into the budget to facilitate that breaking ground? And as a side note, do you think that $2.5 billion is still the amount that it will cost to do that project. Mayor: We – I’m going to nobly punt because we have the executive budget coming up, and I don’t want to speak ahead of that. We’re looking at that very issue right now – when, how much, what’s it going to take? I’ll state the obvious – between now and April 1st, well before the executive budget, the single most important thing could happen for – you’re saying the BQE, right? BQX – I’m sorry. I thought you said BQE – let me finish that point for everyone’s consumption – they sound so similar. The single most important thing that could happen for the BQE is design build authority from Albany that would save us at least $100 million and at least probably a year on that crucial project. BQX – also stay tuned, we’re going to have updates in the coming weeks, and going into the budget process, there’s a lot to do to make it work, but we feel it’s going to be a very big contribution to this city. But again, I don’t want to get ahead of that announcement. Question: And for the First Lady, you just came back from Puerto Rico – part of that was paid for – at least, the initiative that you were going down there to promote was paid for by the Mayor’s Fund. How much time do you spend in your schedule – percentage of it – is spent fundraising for the Mayor’s Fund? First Lady McCray: I can’t give you an exact – David, I don’t have an exact percentage that I can share with you right now, but we can get back to you later. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: We don’t do rough. [Laughter] We like to be precise. First Lady McCray: It’s a tough measure because there’s phone calls, there’s visits, there’s reviewing reports – we have to – Question: Ballpark – the Mayor likes ballpark [inaudible] Mayor: Very clever, very clever – First Lady McCray: I really can’t tell, but happy to get back to you later. Mayor: Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, I noticed that today, yet again, the press release for the event that you have said the Mayor and the First Lady announce – and this has been a pattern over the last several weeks. I wonder if this is – even though she’s not elected and you are – this is an attempt on your part to give her credit for the work that she’s been doing for so long. Mayor: It’s absolutely an acknowledgement of the work she’s been doing. When the First Lady is present, it’s because she has worked on the effort. So, let’s go over the kinds of things you’ve seen on opioids, on mental health, on the selection of key leaders of the administration – those are all areas where the First Lady is deeply involved. And in the case of choosing key leaders – new Deputy Mayors, the new Schools Chancellor – she’s one of the only people, ultimately, involved in the final decision. So, that’s where she participates with me and speaks about the work she’s been doing as part of it. Go ahead, Jillian – Question: Mayor, there was news over the weekend that Jared Kushner and the Kushner company had lied on paperwork to the Department of Buildings, saying they didn’t have rent regulated units in buildings where they had very many rent regulated units. I just want to get your reaction to that, but also wanted to ask why it took an outside group to find this when the City had the information that they were rent regulated at HPD but not at DOB. Why was there no ability to cross reference there? Mayor: Well, a couple of things – I have not seen the details, so I’ll caution that, but it’s not acceptable to lie when you’re filling out a form for the City government. So, let’s be really clear here – if it proves to be true that they lied to evade regulation, they have a problem on their hands. But I agree with your point, we have to do a better job at cross-checking our information too, and that’s something we want to do. I think we found for years ago when we got here, that most government agencies had almost no contact with other agencies, no coordination – like, all sorts of information that should have been shared wasn’t. We tried to break down some of that, some of those silos, some of that separation, but we’ve got a lot more to do. So, I think it’s a valid concern and I want to see how we can get those two agencies to be coordinated, because, if someone’s violating the rules, we want to get them – it’s as clear as that. Question: Mr. Mayor, there’s a lawsuit pending filed by three whistleblowers against the largest health insurance company for City employees and retirees – GHI/Empire. They are alleging that the insurance companies defrauded the City of over a billion dollars and didn’t meet the terms of their contract, which has been renewed repeatedly over a decade. And so, my question is, the City had the option of joining the lawsuit, the City Law Department so far has not joined the lawsuit, but they are monitoring it. And so, the question is – you’ve taken on Big Pharma, you’ve taken on Big Oil, would the City consider taking on ‘big health insurance’ if you find that they’re not meeting their obligations? I know the City Council plans to hold some oversight hearings to determine what’s going on there. Mayor: I appreciate the question. I like to be straightforward when I’m not aware of the details, so this is one where I need to get briefed. In fact, I’m seeing the Corporation Council today, so I’m going to ask him about it and I’m happy to answer it the first opportunity I see you after that. Look, we would not hesitate – as a general principle – not speaking about this case because I don’t know the facts – as a general principle, we’re not shy about litigating when we think we’ve been wronged, but I can’t speak to this one until I get the facts. Question: It seems the tension between you and the Governor is getting perhaps worse, not better. What is your perception of that? And are New Yorkers getting caught in this crossfire? Mayor: No, this is – I go back to the whole approach we take, and, you know, I borrowed it from Ed Koch, who I got to know a little bit before he passed away. And it was a simple rule – if the Governor is helping New York City, thank him, praise him; if the Governor is doing something that hurts New York City, call him out and fight back. We’re not shy about fighting back here in this city. So, the Governor’s proposed a budget that has over $700 million in negative impact on New York City. $400 million or so in cuts to social services, some of which your outlets have really gone into detail on – I thank you for that – things that would really affect out ability to serve kids and families; $200 million less in education aid than we had expected; almost $200 million in money that we’re losing that we need to implement the Raise the Age initiative. So, these are the kinds of things we should raise an fight back on, and a lot of folks in the Legislature agree with us on that. So, it’s the season – it’s coming up on the budget. You remember a few years back the Governor proposed major cuts to CUNY and to Medicaid that would have really been harmful for the Health and Hospitals Corporation? I fought back – a lot of people fought back in the city, and we won. We’re going to fight these cuts as well. Question: [Inaudible] what should they make of this? Mayor: I think they should make of it that there’s two different jobs with two different responsibilities. My responsibility is to the people of New York City. I have 8.5 million constituents that I have to serve, and if they are being wronged by Washington or Albany, it’s my job to fight back. I’m not going to take it lying down, they don’t want me to take it lying down. I think the State government should look at New York City as we are. We are almost half the State’s population, we are engine of the State economy, we give a lot more money to Albany than we get back. We just want to be treated fairly. And when a budget’s proposed that treats us unfairly, you’re going to hear from me. Question: Yesterday, the Governor toured a NYCHA complex, and I believe pledged more State funding that has yet to be approved. What are your thoughts on that? Mayor: I think that’s great, if it’s real. But I have seen a lot of bait and switches out of Albany, and, you know, what is it? Fool me once – how does it go? [Laughter] Shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me. So, I’m not going to be fooled. It’s great if we ever see the money. Look, NYCHA – so, the conservative estimate when we put out the NextGeneration NYCHA plan was that NYCHA had $18 billion in physical needs because of literally decades of disinvestment, primarily by the federal government but the State government didn’t do anything to help either. Under my administration, we have put $2.1 billion in new money into the physical needs of NYCHA – that’s never happened in a previous administration. We put $1.6 billion in new expense dollars into NYCHA – that’s never happened. But we need help from the other levels of government. Now, guess what? I’m not sitting by the phone waiting for Donald Trump to call, or Ben Carson to call to tell me how much they want to help public housing in New York City. So, it would natural to hope that Albany would help us out. Here’s the first problem – they’ve got $250 million they put in budgets for us that still hasn’t gotten here. $50 million from the 2015 budget that we have not seen yet; $200 million from the 2017 budget that we gave them all of the paperwork, all of the information, and now you’ve seen publicly the Governor trying to add additional conditions on – even though it was already approved in the budget process. So, that’s $250 million – that’s a quarter-of-a-billion dollars that could be going right now to solve problems at NYCHA. So, why don’t we get that money first – that would be a really good start. And then, of course, I applaud him if he’s going to put an additional $250 million in and actually deliver it. That would be fantastic. If he’s trying to double-count the previous $250 million – we don’t accept Three-Card Monty around here. Okay, last two – go ahead. Question: Mr. Mayor, there’s a piece in New York Magazine that was pretty critical of Cy Vance – of his handling of Harvey Weinstein case. I’m just wondering, you know, it’s such a high-profile case here in the City, what’s your view on it? And do you have any concerns with how long it’s dragging out? Mayor: I want whatever’s done to be done right. I’m not a lawyer, as you know. I don’t know the nuances, I haven’t been briefed on the specifics. I think, based on everything we’ve heard, this guy hurt a lot of people, and the prosecution has to be effective. So, whatever it takes to get to an effective prosecution, and I have faith in the District Attorney and the Police Department that they are putting that together right now. Go ahead – last call. Question: Mr. Mayor, part of what the Governor has said as part of what he’s doing on NYCHA – he has talked about bringing in private developers to do some of the work on NYCHA. He’s singled out two specific ones. I just wanted you to respond to that general idea. Mayor: Again, I’m going to start by saying we need to do a better job on our team of delineating everything that has happened in the last four years at NYCHA. I’ve tried, but I think we have to make it even more clear, factual for you. And this is the answer to the question, because when you look at the four years of investments that have been made, when you see roofs that have been fixed and, therefore, stopping, thank God, the leaks and the mold, the scaffolding that was put up where it was needed to protect people, taken down where it was no longer useful, the investments in public safety that have reduced crime consistently – this notion that money put into NYCHA doesn’t work is a fiction. The Governor doesn’t understand the facts in this case. We need to document that for you better to show you all of the impact that the spending so far has achieved. [Inaudible] the second part, and I say it about President Trump’s infrastructure plan, and I say it about the Governor’s suggestion of the private sector being involved in NYCHA – beware privatization schemes. Unfortunately, in too many cases, when the private sector was brought in and heralded as the savior, we didn’t see work get done and we saw a lot of individuals profit. We don’t want to let that happen again. Right now, the City’s approach to contracting is working much better than it did in the past. Let me give you the poster-child – the School Construction Authority that used to be a wreck, now is extraordinarily efficient. NYCHA could be more efficient if it had design build. So, I’ll get you to America’s number-one sexy topic, once again – design build. The first one of you to push design build on the front page, I will buy lunch, okay? I’ve got to see it in the title though. Eric – we’ve started a sweepstakes here. [Laughter] The design build would save us an immense amount of money and allow NYCHA contracting to move much more quickly – that’s what we need. The public sector can get this done, but we need that ability to compress the timeframes and be more efficient. So, that’s where I’d focus our attentions. Thank you, everyone.
Monday, March 19, 2018 - 5:05pm
New investment will create peer intervention programs at more hospitals, increase naloxone distribution and connect more New Yorkers to treatment NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced a $22 million annual investment to expand HealingNYC, the citywide plan to combat the opioid epidemic. This new investment will create peer intervention programs at more hospitals across the City, increase naloxone distribution and training on how to use this lifesaving drug, and connect more New Yorkers struggling with substance misuse to treatment. With this new investment, the City will spend a total of $60 million annually to reduce opioid overdose deaths. More New Yorkers died from drug overdose in 2016 than suicides, homicides and motor vehicle crashes combined. The City launched HealingNYC in March 2017 to reverse this surge in overdose deaths. While the 2017 opioid overdose data is still provisional, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is seeing a flattening in the overdose death rate compared to 2016. The City predicts that this expanded HealingNYC could help save as many as 400 lives by 2022. “The opioid epidemic has destroyed lives and hurt families across the country. In New York City, we are harnessing every tool to stop this deadly surge in its track,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new investment will help to save more lives and connect those struggling with addiction to treatment.” “Addiction is a chronic disease, and people suffering from any disease need our help and support, not our judgment or punishment,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “Through ThriveNYC, we’re working hard to change the way people think about addiction and mental illness, establish prevention protocols, and create a culture of healing and wellness. With this expanded investment, we will open more doors to support for those who need it.” “We are beginning to see some encouraging signs in the data regarding overdose deaths,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “From 2016 to 2017, the number of opioid overdose deaths is flattening, rather than continuing to shoot upward. But we have much more work to do – and that’s why we’re announcing new investments to expand HealingNYC, so that we can serve more people in the emergency department and inpatient settings, equip more front-line City staff and community members with naloxone, and expand our crisis response tools – including deploying peers with lived experience - to serve people at risk of overdose.” This new funding will start in Fiscal Year 2019 and be at full ramp up in Fiscal 2020. With this additional $22 million annual investment, the City will implement the following strategies: * Expand Emergency Department Peer-Based Interventions: New York City Health + Hospitals will expand its peer advocate program from three to all 11 of its emergency departments by the end of 2018. DOHMH will complete expansion of the Relay peer intervention program to 15 private hospitals by June 2020, up from the 10 sites currently slated for funding. With the expansion of these two programs, New Yorkers with an opioid use disorder will have access to peer support at the 26 hospitals that provide nearly 75% of all emergency services for overdose. * Expand Inpatient Hospital Interventions at Health + Hospitals: NYC Health + Hospitals will expand plans for its Consult for Addiction Treatment and Care in Hospitals (CATCH) program from four to six sites, with four to be launched in Fall 2018 and the other two by the end of 2019. CATCH teams will connect inpatients admitted with substance abuse disorder to medically assisted treatment and outpatient care. The six sites will be NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, /Lincoln, /Metropolitan, /Coney Island, /Elmhurst, and /Woodhull. These sites were chosen because their neighborhoods are some of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. * Launch “Leave Behind” Naloxone Program: FDNY EMS will distribute 5,000 naloxone kits annually at homes they visit in response to an overdose call. The leave behind program will launch by the end of summer 2018. * Establish End Overdose Training Institute: DOHMH will launch the End Overdose Training Institute by spring 2018 to teach 25,000 New Yorkers annually, including front line city workers, how to administer and distribute naloxone. * Expand HOPE Program: The City will expand the HOPE program which diverts people arrested on low-level drug offenses into treatment rather than the criminal justice system. The City will fund peer workers in Staten Island, and launch a new HOPE program in the Bronx. This new investment will divert 1,400 people annually from the criminal justice system and connect them to medication-assisted treatment and other resources. * Expand Crisis Response Services: The City will hire 29 additional staff to expand the capacity of the Health and Engagement Assessment Team, and Rapid Assesment Response Team which help to respond to overdose calls and connect New Yorkers to care. This additional staff will help to enhance the DOHMH and NYPD 24/7 Triage Desk to coordinate the City’s response to opioid overdoses. “Healing NYC has been critical in addressing the opioid crisis and this expansion will go a long way in providing the medical and mental health supports necessary to help New Yorkers who use drugs and are at risk of overdosing," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "These new and expanded initiatives will provide New Yorkers in communities across the City with the support to prevent overdose and to engage them in the care and treatment that can prevent untimely death and promote recovery.” "Thousands of times a year FDNY Paramedics, EMTs and Firefighters have utilized quick intervention with Naloxone to save patients suffering from drug overdoses," said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. "With this funding to expand HealingNYC, we know in the years to come that many more New Yorkers lives will be saved." "The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant challenges facing health care today, especially for public health systems dedicated to caring for those most in need," said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. "Our work to improve access to evidence-based treatments—in primary care, emergency department, and inpatient settings—focuses on linking thousands of additional New Yorkers to life-saving care." "With the help of the Mayor’s HealingNYC initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals is not only building capacity to save lives at risk of opioid overdose, but also fostering a culture of compassion that will make us national leaders in caring for people with all substance use disorders," said Luke Bergmann, PhD, Assistant Vice President of the NYC Health + Hospitals Office of Behavioral Health. Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, said, "Programs like HOPE have the potential to be life-saving. They also represent a critical turning point in how New York City works with people who have drug dependencies, by calibrating our justice system so that it can be a pathway to treatment and recovery." The opioid crisis has had serious effects on families throughout New York City. Rates of drug overdose deaths in New York City more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 19.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016. DOHMH reports that while drug overdose deaths affect every neighborhood and demographic in New York City, residents of impoverished neighborhoods are the hardest hit. Since HealingNYC was launched in March 2017, the City has distributed nearly 100,000 naloxone kits to opioid overdose prevention programs; expanded access to medications for addiction treatment; launched Relay, a new peer-based program in hospital emergency departments for people who experienced an overdose; trained more than 700 clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine; offered 1:1 education on judicious opioid prescribing to 1,000 doctors; and significantly increased community outreach and public education efforts. “As I continue to reiterate, we won't declare victory until there is not a single overdose death. I commend the Mayor and First Lady for aggressively revising the Healing NYC initiative to save more lives than they initially targeted by investing in what we know is working—such as District Attorney McMahon’s HOPE program. The great work being done every day by law enforcement, hospitals, government entities, and treatment providers to combat this epidemic will be bolstered by this much-needed infusion of resources,” said Borough President James Oddo. Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, “Since January of 2017, the HOPE program has diverted hundreds of Staten Islanders battling substance abuse out of the criminal justice system and into meaningful engagement with recovery services. The lynchpin of this groundbreaking effort are our peer mentors, who literally bring HOPE participants out of jail and onto their first step in recovery. I would like to thank Mayor De Blasio and First Lady McCray for their commitment to this life-saving program, for expanding it beyond our shores, and for recognizing that we must not waver in our commitment to helping those who find themselves trapped in the depths of addiction.” “No American city has been untouched by the opioid epidemic and New York City is similarly suffering,” said U.S. Representative Joe Crowley, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “Healing NYC has saved lives by pursuing a rehabilitative, rather than punitive approach, in addressing this crisis. By expanding this program, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray will draw New Yorkers struggling with addiction out from the shadows and help them find the path to recovery.” “We are in the midst of a nationwide opioid crisis. What has been largely perceived as a rural white problem has now become widespread among black Americans in urban communities. Studies show that black Americans are dying at alarming rates of fentanyl overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2017 that drug deaths for black Americans increased by 41% compared – outpacing any other racial or ethnic group,” said U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke. “This Spring, I will introduce legislation to help combat the opioid crisis in both urban and rural communities. I applaud the Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray for their leadership and look forward to working with them to combat this very serious and very real issue.” U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said, “The opioid crisis has touched every corner of our city—really every corner of our nation. So many families are struggling with this epidemic, and the more resources we can put towards treatment and life-saving care, the better. I thank Mayor de Blasio, First Lady McCray, and City officials for making this commitment to expand the HealingNYC program.” “The opioid epidemic is a national crisis that is not letting up,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Like so many communities across the country, New York City and New York State have seen increases in overdoses involving prescription painkillers and heroin in all socioeconomic circles. I applaud today’s effort to invest critical funding in programs that will help save lives.” “Healing NYC is a comprehensive strategy that has proven effective at addressing the opioid epidemic in NYC. With this additional funding, the City will be able to help more people and address this crisis at a faster rate. By 2022 hundreds of lives will be saved and our neighborhoods will be safer. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray continue giving this issue the attention it deserves,” said U.S. Representative Jose Serrano. State Senator Andrew Lanza said, "The drug epidemic afflicting our community continues to call for an all hands response. Today we renew and expand our commitment to help family members, friends, and neighbors make healthier choices and enhance access to the support they need. I will continue to work with Mayor de Blasio to build upon the successes of HealingNYC as we band together to save lives." Assembly Member Matthew Titone said, “How we spend tax payers’ money should reflect our priorities and values. Increasing resources to combat the opioid epidemic on Staten Island demonstrates the commitment of the city and the mayor to ensure we have the necessary tools to do just that. I heartened by this critical step we are taking to invest in prevention and treatment.” “The expansion of Healing NYC exemplifies New York City’s commitment to defeating the opioid epidemic,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disablilities, and Addiction. “Programs such as CATCH and HOPE can save lives and reduce the addiction-to-prison pipeline, which has disproportionately impacted our communities for decades. Reducing overdose deaths requires a holistic approach and this expansion signifies a step in the right direction.” Council Member Steven Matteo said: “Opioid addiction is not just a Staten Island problem, it is a New York City problem and a national problem, but there is no doubt our borough has been hit extremely hard by this epidemic. I have always believed that stemming the tide of fatal overdoses would require a determined, multi-pronged and intensive effort from all levels government and all facets of our community. There is now some evidence this approach is starting to work. I applaud the mayor for continuing to invest in these strategies, and I applaud law enforcement as well for continuing to break up the networks of illegal drug activity and cutting off some of these lethal substances at the source.“ “With overdose numbers at alarming rates, it remains clear that we must be relentless in our efforts to combat addiction. These additional investments in interventions and treatment build upon previous commitments to mental health care, drug treatment and enforcement. This multi-pronged approach is what is needed to combat this epidemic effectively and save the lives of countless New Yorkers,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “Happy to hear that this expansion will include funding for peer workers to enhance the effectiveness of the HOPE program here on Staten Island. I’m also looking forward to the opening of the End Overdose Training Institute this spring, which will allow for much greater access to the Naloxone trainings that are in such high demand on Staten Island and throughout our city,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli.
Monday, March 19, 2018 - 11:35am
First Lady Chirlane McCray: Good morning, everyone. Maidin mhaith. Good morning. Okay, welcome to Gracie Mansion. This is the people's house, this is your house, and you are always welcome here. And you're especially welcome here on St. Patty's Day, when all New Yorkers get to show our Irish pride. Now in addition to being St. Patty's Day and a great holiday, March is also Women's History Month. [Cheers] Some people are happy about that. So let me ask a question to the women here, are you feeling proud to be Irish? [Cheers] Alright, let me hear you! [Cheers] Alright, we all know that Irish immigrants changed the fabric of our city and our nation but not many know that Ireland sent more daughters than sons. A 17-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore was the first person to go through Ellis Island where her statue stands as an enduring symbol of the many young - many brave young women who made the journey from the Emerald Isle. Women of Irish descent have contributed so much to our country, to arts and literature, to economic advancement, to the pursuit of social justice. Unsurprisingly, they haven't always gotten their due. Of course their names we know, like Mother Jones, Nellie Bly, Kate Chopin, but there are many, many more that were forgotten or obscured. So this St. Patrick's Day, I want to especially celebrate the daughters and the granddaughters of Aaron. Will you all join me? [Applause] Now when Mary Robinson became the Republic of Ireland's first woman president, she observed that her victory was driven by the women of Ireland who, instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system. To all the women who are rocking the system day in and day out, may the road rise up to meet you and may the wind always be at your back. It is now my pleasure to introduce another admirer of all things Irish, and my partner and love in life, and I would like to point out that my last name gives me a wee bit more Scottish-Irish cred than his, don't you think? But since it's St. Patty's Day please join me in welcoming our Mayor Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everyone. Audience: Good morning. Mayor: Extraordinary energy for this hour. God bless the Irish, I'm impressed. I'm impressed. Well I see a lot of Irish-eyes smiling today and there is so much to be proud of. I want to welcome everyone to Gracie Mansion. You are people who make so much this city. Everyone here contributes so much to this city, makes us great in so many ways, and you are so deeply committed to your heritage that you all got up at five in the morning. So, that - I want to thank all the members of my administration who are here, who so proudly celebrate this day, I want to give a special thanks to a very ,very proud grandson of Ireland who keeps us safe every day our Police Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill. Thank you. [Applause] And since Chief Terry Monahan wore his nicest uniform I'm going to thank him too. Thank You Terry. You even took it to the dry cleaner this time, I'm impressed. We have some extraordinary guests with us you'll hear from in just a moment but a special thank you to some other leaders who really grace us with their presence, first of all the leader of the Irish-American caucus in the City Council, Councilman Danny Dromm, thank you. [Applause] See, what a fan club and thank you all the other elected officials. We thank you deeply for your support of this wonderful event. I want to thank and welcome the Council General of Ireland, Ciarann Madden, welcome and thank you for all you do. The permanent representative to the United Nations from Ireland, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nasim, thank you. [Applause] The Ambassador to the United States from Ireland, Daniel Mulhall thank you. [Applause] And the President of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald, we welcome you and thank you. [Applause] I'm going be very quick but I want – I want to put this in context. This City is great, no disrespect to any city in Ireland or anywhere else in America. We believe we're the greatest city in the world right here, who's with me? [Applause] We are great in large measure because of our Irish identity, because of the Irish contributions to this city because the Irish strength and resilience that courses through the City of New York. It’s unmistakable, look at our history if you took the Irish out of the history of New York City, there would be no New York City as we know it. It wouldn't even be close. And so we celebrate that and we celebrate it with an embrace and an appreciation that I hope one day will be the norm all over this country, all over this world. A recognition of what each people brings to make us greater to make us in fact greater than the sum of the parts. Now when you think of the history of the Irish in New York City and in America, it is rich with passion, and poetry, and music, and dance, and political - deep, deep political involvement. There are so many ways the Irish shaped this city, and I want to just focus for a second on the poetry because when the Irish were here initially, their names, their culture, their language their music were shunned by those who are already here and they were put down and they were discriminated against and they were treated of lesser value than others. I asked for some examples of names of places in Ireland that gave a sense of the pure poetry of the Irish language Kilkenny, Killarney, Skibbereen, these are beautiful, beautiful names that speak to a rich culture. But again remember none of that was celebrated when the Irish first came here in fact for many, many decades it wasn't celebrated. Remember we all have heard the phrase Irish need not apply, that was commonplace you could see that in the windows of New York City for decades. Today we would say that is fundamentally against all of our values, in fact against our laws. But it was tolerated and it was the norm for so long. If someone spoke with a brogue they were immediately excluded. We came to understand over generations how wrong that was. And in large measure the American experience and the New York experience of finding a better path is because of the persistence of the Irish, because they in so many ways were the group that blazed the trail to a more equal society. Remember 1928, the first Irish American man with his name on the ballot for President United States Al Smith who we honor to this day in New York. But that was a breakthrough moment for all of America to finally have someone who was not from the only group that had ever been allowed to lead breakthrough and that culminated with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, which opened the door for everyone else in this country. Remember there wouldn't have been a Barack Obama had there not been a John F. Kennedy first and that unites the struggle and the efforts of everyone towards a more just and equal society. So when we think about the Irish contributions, you could go on all day we could start here early in the morning and be here at the same hour tomorrow, and count the contributions and the heroic names and the famous names all the way through. But what I like to focus on is how the Irish were the catalyst to so many changes that helped so many others. Never forget what people had to struggle through because it helps us think about this moment in history. We all can see with our eyes this is not a political event I assure you I will speak in the broadest terms, but we can see a type of nativism setting in in some quarters that could remind us of the days when the Irish were told they need not apply we don't want to ever let that reassert itself in our city or our nation. And that history is our guardian in so many ways. Remembering that history is our bulwark against those efforts to exclude. This day means so much to New York City, and I can safely say certainly in the context of the United States, maybe in some ways in the whole world. The center of the universe on St. Patrick's Day is right here in New York City, the greatest celebration. [Applause] And if you want proof of that statement, I'm about to introduce the Taoiseach, and if he's here it must be the center of the Irish universe. Now we got together yesterday to celebrate that the resources have finally been put together to open the Irish Arts Center and won't that be great for New York City. [Applause] And we're very proud in New York City to have contributed a lot. The City of New York is profoundly committed to the Irish Arts Center, but we needed one last push and it came from the government of Ireland and isn't that a beautiful symbol of the link between our people that this great cultural institution was made possible together. I also want to say as I bring him forward that through his election and through his vision he is showing not only the people of Ireland but of the whole world what an inclusive society looks like. You know, actions speak louder than words his very presence his very story reminds us of where we will all go together to a better place where all are respected. And I want to say for all of us who believe in justice what profound respect I have for the people of Ireland for voting for marriage equality. [Applause] And for having this man as their leader, ladies and gentlemen my honor to introduce the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. [Applause] […] Mayor: Taoiseach, thank you so much, and again we are so honored to have you. And Taoiseach, thank you for recognizing that this is although a day of celebration and we're all in a good and festive mood that there is a sense of mourning too in this city for the loss of our two firefighters who were serving in the military. And before we go to our next very special guests let's just take a brief moment of silence and honor the two firefighters we have lost. Thank you very much. Well, the last speaker is someone who has truly left his mark on history and it gives me tremendous pride to have him here at Gracie Mansion. By the way if you go down that hallway you'll see there's a photo on the wall next to a desk where Nelson Mandela sat and signed some papers when he visited Gracie Mansion. Some people leave a special mark because they fight for justice but they also understand the power of peace. And if you look at the history Gerry Adams, he obviously in everything he did, did not accept injustice, he didn't tolerate it, he fought against it. In every way he has been an activist. I think of no prouder title that someone can hold. And he understood there was no place in this world anymore for colonialism, and he fought against that with all he had. Remember; remember that great ideas never die. They may be set back sometimes but they never die. And I honor Gerry Adams for his lifelong pursuit of the goal that makes so much sense, the goal of a united Ireland. Gerry has in all he's done, accepted that life of fighting for change came with peril came with the threat of violence and the actual experience of being attacked came with condemnation, it came with arrest and times in jail. But it did not deter him, and at the same time we could say that his most revolutionary act was to be an architect of peace, because peace requires opening a hand, and that can be a challenge in every way as Gerry has said and I’ll paraphrase him. It is harder to make peace than to make war. But that is precisely what he chose to do. He is formally retiring, but I think his words, his actions, his example continues to animate many. Twenty years ago when he and others helped to bring about the Good Friday Agreement, they did something that for many of us seemed almost impossible because we had watched years and decades of struggle and strife. But history will remember Gerry Adams for being one of the people who did something truly heroic and truly revolutionary who found a path to peace where others could not envision it. And so many are alive today because of that. So what a special opportunity for all of us to salute a man who has done so much in his life. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Gerry Adams. [Applause] We have – Before you hear from Gerry a token of the esteem of the people of New York City. Gerry if you step up and hold this. You're no stranger to the photographic ceremony. This proclamation lauds your life and achievements but I want to just read the final sentence because it's the one that I think is most special today says “I, Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim Saturday, March 17th 2018 in the City of New York as Gerry Adams Day.” Congratulations, well done. [Applause] […] Mayor: Everyone I want to thank you so much for joining us. I want to thank another guest has arrived just to acknowledge her and thank her. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney thank you so much. Alright you all get a gold star for getting up so early. Now, I advise you to stay up late and celebrate this wonderful day thank you everyone. Happy St. Patrick's Day. [Applause]
Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 7:35am
"Today, we mourn the deaths of FDNY Lieutenant Christopher J. Raguso and FDNY Fire Marshal Christopher T. "Tripp" Zanetis, who were killed in an American military helicopter crash in Iraq on Thursday, March 15. They are truly two of New York City's bravest - running into danger to protect and defend others, both in New York City and in combat overseas. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to their families, loved ones, and fellow service members and FDNY members."
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 5:10pm
Brian Lehrer: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. Lehrer: Let me begin by following up on two things we talked about last week both on education. You repeated your long-held position that Albany should allow the city to change the admissions criteria for the specialized high schools not just the single test so they could become more diverse but Politico New York reports today that if you parse the language in the State law governing those admissions it seems only to apply to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech. The city, as you know, has since created five other specialized high schools all really good and really selective. And for those who may well have the power to expand the admissions criteria – and the borough presidents of Brooklyn and the Bronx are asking you to do so. Do you agree that you have that power under the law and will you try to use? Mayor: I want to have that power unquestionably and so far in the view of our Law Department it, sadly, is not as straightforward as that. I will certainly go back and look again and talk to our lawyers again because I think this is a matter injustice that has to be addressed. The fact is that many of our specialized high schools, which are some of our very best high school are fundamentally unrepresentative of the population of the city and certainly the population our schools. I don’t even understand why Albany gets to decide anything about our specialized high schools to begin with. It should be a local decision. And if I had my way there would not be a single test that determines admission to some of the greatest schools in the country and obviously [inaudible] future. I mean the fact it’s based on a single, high stakes [inaudible] makes absolutely no sense – Lehrer: Right and your position is clear on that but can you talk a little more about your Law Department's interpretation because I think the way that some are reading it is that the law names Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and Brooklyn Tech and therefore you have more flexibility with the schools created since? Mayor: And again let me say very clearly I will revisit it because I would love nothing more than to have a pathway to action. I think the challenge here and it refers to everything with our school system is we're still working under a State law rubric in general. Remember I had to go up to Albany last year to get a renewal of mayoral control of education to begin with and it was only a two-year renewal which I think was a mistake but it was what we could get. My point being we do not have the total independence that I think would be ideal for a mayoral control system. But that being said I will revisit it because I want to find any form of action that I possibly can find. Lehrer: And the other follow up question is about you incoming Chancellor Richard Carranza and the $75,000 settlement paid by the San Francisco schools to one of the other former top administrators there, Veronica Chavez after she accused Carranza of derailing her career for calling him out on alleged inappropriate flirting with another educator. You said here last week that Carranza “explained that he was not the subject of the lawsuit” but the Daily News published a quote from the lawsuit that claimed “Carranza retaliated against and subjected Chavez to a hostile work environment.” So will you acknowledge that you were not accurate here last week? Mayor: No, Brian, respectfully I don’t understand why you're looking at Daily News stories and repeating them without independently verifying the facts – Lehrer: They were quoting from the lawsuit. Was that an incorrect quote? Mayor: It’s just inaccurate. Look at the whole lawsuit. It was not directed at him, he was not a subject of it. I mean he's not. He wasn’t the defendant. It’s clear as a bell. Of course we studied this. That is a line that's true in some of the court documents but he wasn’t the defendant, there were no findings against him. This is a case that was settled by a school system. That school system in San Francisco continues to say clearly he was not a defendant, he didn't do anything wrong, and he left that school system after seven years in very good standing. I don't understand – and I think it's a real problem when there’s character assassination without facts. So look at the facts and you'll see he was not a defendant. Lehrer: The defendant in a case is usually the employer or frequently in this case I guess that would be the district but was the allegation not against him for retaliating against her? Mayor: [Inaudible] I don't know how many times I have to say it to you and I really don't think it's fair. Look the Daily News has axe the grind here. Let's be very clear about that and I wish it was about the facts but I don't think it is. So the bottom line here is we studied this carefully. He had an excellent record in San Francisco of achieving real change and improvement in that school system. He was respected greatly for being inclusive of all communities. He had leadership that reflected the city obviously in terms of gender and background. There's nothing here. We looked at it and there's nothing here. Lehrer: New business but also on education – Comptroller Scott Stringer has a new report on homeless students in the city public schools, the number rising during your administration from less than a 100,000 kids to 111,000 if you count kids in shelters and in families that are double up without their own homes or anyone in a temporary housing situation. And it was a small sample I'm sure you've seen this of about 70 kids but found a very high rate of the schools failing to follow up on absenteeism and absenteeism itself among those kids at the alarming average of 41 days per school year. Do you acknowledged the rise in the number of homeless students and the report's assertion that there aren't enough staff to keep up with the city's obligations to their special needs? Mayor: I have not seen the report. I haven't read the report. I would say if the question is do we need to continue to invest to make sure homeless students get the help they need and attend school? Yes, we've been doing that we obviously gave for the first time consistent school bus service and MetroCards to homeless students so they could get to school. We’re reorienting the whole shelter system to begin with to localize it more, get people to be in their home borough or hopefully in their home communities so kids can go to school in their own neighborhood and not be moved all over the city. We have guidance counselors, tutors, attendance officers in the shelters helping to make sure kids get the help they need. But I'm sure we've got to keep deepening that effort. What I would caution because your listeners I know care very deeply about the fact – when you hear the number it really has to be looked at in its fullness. The fact is we have a lot of kids in shelter, in our homeless shelter. It is not a good situation, we have to keep driving down that number. We have more families today than we ever had in the past and that has everything to do with the economic reality of the city, the cost of housing, etcetera. But that number, when they talk about those students they include obviously many more students who are not in a shelter. I think it's really important to understand that. Temporary housing which is a definition – I don’t know the formal definition of – people who are double up. That obviously is a lot of people in New York City, a lot of families, a lot of individuals who are in those kind of circumstances but it's not all by any stretch kids in shelter. In fact the vast majority of kids are not in shelter, I just want to make that clear. Lehrer: Fair enough but would you say that the report by Stringer unfairly defines the burden on those kids in other words the kids who are doubled up because their family has lost their home maybe they're able to stay with a friend or a relative temporarily but that that's not having the same kind of impact on their absenteeism. Mayor: I think each situation is different. I think that the goal is the same goal. If what Comptroller is saying is we have to make sure that no child gets missed when it comes to their attendance and the support they need to succeed in school including overcoming some of the challenges if they're either in a shelter or some other kind of, you know, double up circumstance or something – I agree with that goal 100 percent and we've invested a lot toward that goal and we're ready to do whatever it takes. I want it to be clear though this has been very central to our strategy starting with reorienting the shelter system to a local perspective because again if a kid – God forbid any family ends up homeless but the kid at least can stay in her home community and go to the same school without having to go to another part of the city, that at least improves the chances of continuity in their education but we know they need extra support. We're going to give it them. Lehrer: On what support they need – the advocacy groups Advocates for Children and the Citizens Committee for Children of New York called on you to create a Deputy Chancellor position specifically for highly mobile students. Good idea? Mayor: Well it's an idea I haven’t heard that one previously. I think I'd say it a little definitely and I feel this on a lot of topics. There needs to be one of the Deputy Chancellors very specifically focused on this mission and obviously with the new Chancellor we’re going to look at our whole structure and figure out what makes sense. We also have a Chancellor who I think is going to be very purposely focused on this. So I appreciate the idea and we'll look at that as something to focus on as we go forward with the school system. Lehrer: Alex in Harlem you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hello, Alex. Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor. Hello, Brian. My research featured in New York Times this weekend showed that 50 percent of bus stops and 40 percent of bike lanes are blocked in my neighborhood of Harlem and probably there are similar rates around the city. With bus service at an all-time low and falling bicycles in dying in the streets, how are you going to fix the problem of enforcement because the laws are there, the NYPD is unwilling and unable to enforce traffic laws. What is your solution? And don't tell me it’s a state issue. Mayor: Well, Alex, respectfully I'll tell you what I want to tell you and I would appreciate if you – I’m listening respectfully your question. I think you should be respectful as well. I disagree with your overall frame. I think you know if you have an ideological worldview that's great but I would ask you to look at the facts too. There are real problem with bus service, no question about it and we're going to very much push the MTA on that front but we're also going to the fundamental investments to change situation which is why we announced 21 new Select Bus Service lines which will be faster and take a lot of investment to give them the lanes they need and the speed that they need and we've been doing that. But I agree that there's lots of other problems with the bus service we have to address and we will push the MTA and try and work with the MTA in every way on that. I disagree that the PD is not focused on enforcement, first of all from a Vision Zero perspective, I, again, disagree with your characterization of the situation in our streets. As you may know the number of fatalities has gone down, thank God, four years in a row because of Vision Zero and we are going to be adding a lot more Vision Zero elements going forward including a whole lot more NYPD enforcement. It’s been ramping up every year against drunk driving, against failure to yield to pedestrians, against speeding. We're going to do a lot more. The plan I put forward yesterday calls for the State to give us twice as many speed cameras around schools. We need to fight for that. Guess what, pal, that’s a State issue. So, you can say what you like but the facts are the facts. It’s a State issue to authorize those additional 150 speed cameras. We need them to protect kids around schools. We need State action to make sure that doctors are required to report someone with a medical condition that could cause them to be unable to control their vehicle and kill people as happened in my neighborhood very recently. We need State action to ensure that if someone's car consistently is part of incidents where they’re speeding and going through stop signs and stop lights, that there's a sanction on the car owner including the ultimate taking of their registration. So, don't for a moment think the NYPD can't enforce. They’ve been doing more and more and they will and they are concerned about obviously bus stops and any other place that needs enforcement. The first focus is on speeding and failure to yield but you will definitely see continual enforcement of the other areas as well. Lehrer: Do you think that the caller had a certain ideological axe to grind – you suggested that? Mayor: It’s abundantly clear, first of all when people are reading from a script. It’s quite clear. But I understand – Lehrer: What ideology? Mayor: I understand there's an advocacy community – Lehrer: For bicyclists. Mayor: For bicycles and other things but I think and I've talked to a lot of them over the years – and I think we often agree on core issues including the Vision Zero concept and how aggressive it needs to be. But I don't like when people leave out the facts. We can’t do some of the things we want to do without State legislation. I wish we could. If we didn't need State legislation it would be done already. And no one should denigrate the efforts of the NYPD on enforcement. They’ve been constantly ramping up enforcement in a way you never saw the NYPD do in the past. I wish people would acknowledge that and then say, hey we want more [inaudible] bus stops and all – 100 percent, I want that too. But I don't like when the efforts that have been decisive in bringing down fatalities are ignored. Lehrer: What's the biggest remaining obstacle to enforcing the bus lanes in particular? Mayor: I think it is obviously there's always the question of where we put our officers to have the maximum impact. So first and foremost addressing violence and serious crime but again you know in the Vision Zero context, I want precinct officers to focus on intersections where there's been problems with speeding for example or failure to yield. That's where I want the first energy go to protect lives. I absolutely agree if someone is blocking a bus stop or bike lane – now again I’ve said it very clearly, I’ve said it very humanly. If someone's blocking it for – for example, a bike lane for 30 seconds while they take out the groceries or let their kid off, I don't think they should get a ticket for that. If someone leaves their car for any meaningful amount of time they should be penalized and that should be an enforcement priority. But it has to be balanced against the other crucial things each precinct does. Lehrer: and I know you've spoken about the tragic traffic incident that killed two children in Park Slope. We know now that the car involved had been given many tickets for traffic violations near schools but the driver's license wasn’t suspended I guess because the red-light camera can tell the vehicle's license plate but not who was driving. And you're calling for change to that law, right? Mayor: That’s exactly right, Brian. Look let’s be very blunt about this. There is a car culture that must be addressed bluntly in this city, in the state, in the country. For too long the concept is, you’re behind the wheel of a automobile, you can do whatever the hell you wanted. And I said very bluntly yesterday, in the wrong hands a car is a weapon and anyone dealing with it recklessly can take another life and we need to understand that and it needs to be seen as something that is handled with a lot more care and a lot more concern than what I think historically has happened both in our culture and in our laws. Our laws need to reflect the reality that if you get behind the wheel of a car, there’s real consequences if you harm or kill someone. And when there's negligence involved then there has to be the kind of penalties we would apply to any other situation where someone was injured or killed. So one of the things that I put forward is the notion that if your car is – it doesn’t matter if you're driving it or your cousin is driving it or your kid’s driving it or your friend, if your car is consistently involved in situations of speeding, going through stop lights, going through stop sign endanger other people’s lives that’s on you. If you're giving your car – if you're giving a deadly weapon to someone who uses it recklessly and could take another life that's on you. And so we are very clear about the fact there needs to be escalating penalties and if there's a consistent pattern in a limited period of time then your registration gets taken away. Look, Brian, I don’t want to see this happen to anyone. I don’t – the goal we have with all the enforcement like the speed cameras is stop speeding and you won’t get a ticket. In fact when speed cameras are around, we see speeding go down 50 percent in the school zones. So people get the point. I think when there’s teeth in the law, people get the point but you can't let your car be used by someone or use it yourself in a reckless manner repeatedly and feel no consequence. You shouldn't be able to use that car if you’re going to act that way. Lehrer: Jessica in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC. Hello, Jessica, you’re on with the Mayor. Question: Good morning. Thank you, Brian and thank you, Mr. Mayor. So I wanted to congratulate you Mr. Mayor on your choice for our New York City Chancellor for education, Mr. Carranza. He [inaudible] real goal for real inclusion and equality in education. I am personally thrilled because Mr. Carranza is of Mexican heritage and I feel that he can serve as a great role model for the Mexican American community [inaudible] students who unfortunately right now are leading in the high school dropout rate – 41 percent of all Mexican American high school students are dropping out of high school. But to get to my question – I'm wondering why it is when a student transfers to a new school after October 31st, the funding for that student doesn’t transfer to the new school. This is of concern because we see this trend happening a lot in charter schools right before the State test. Mayor: Well, Jessica, I appreciate that question a lot. I think that’s a very fundamental question about how we are guiding our schools. First of all, I agree with you about a Richard Carranza. I think he's going to be a role model for kids of all backgrounds I think obviously because he is so very proud of his Mexican culture and history and heritage, and because he is bilingual – actually spoke Spanish at home before he ever learned English. He learned English in school. I think a lot of kids are going to be inspired by that. I think it's a very important moment for the Mexican-American community of this city that is very big already and growing a lot. On your question, look, it gets to a core point. There are charter schools who I’ve said some do what I believe is exactly the right thing the same as traditional public schools, they take all children regardless of ability and need, they take them all. Special-ed kids, kids who are English-language learners, kids who don’t take tests necessarily so well, and work with them and help them. There are some others that work explicitly to push out kids who don't take tests well or have other challenges. That is unacceptable to me so I have not heard that previously Jessica that there's a funding dynamic that may in some way incentivize the wrong behavior by a school. I want to look into that and if you'll get your information to WNYC, I’ll make sure we get you an answer because I think that's a very important question. Lehrer: Jessica, thank you. Hang on we'll take your information so the Mayor's Office can get back to you. A question Mr. Mayor about the new report yesterday Public Advocate Letitia James on the gender wage gap in the city which the report says includes that women employed by the City government suffer a gender wage gap two-and-a-half to three times larger than women working in the private sector. Also the wage disparities for women of color in New York City are significantly worse than the national average. The most specific request of you in that report is for you to issue an executive order prohibiting City agencies from asking for previous salary information of job applicants, and ensure that agencies provide a salary range to applicants in job announcements and advertisement. So have you read the Public Advocate’s report and would you issue such an executive order? Mayor: I haven't read it. We already banned City agencies from asking salary history so I’ll certainly get analysis from my team of the different items in the report. But no, we – I happily signed a bill and I give the Public Advocate credit, she pushed that concept very hard. I happily signed that bill. I believe we should not be asking about salary history and the City government does not ask about salary history any more. On the bigger issue look, again, in an administration where the majority of the senior positions are held by women we believe in addressing the inequalities of the past. I am very adamant with everyone that we have to address any pay inequity. I don't know if those numbers that the Advocate put forward are accurate. I want to caution. I’d like us to do our own analysis and put that out publicly. But there's no question we don't tolerate pay inequality. Lehrer: If the pay wage gap – sorry the gender wage gap for women of color is bigger in New York City than the national average, that's not about the government, I think that's about all the employers in the city. Is there – are there additional ways, or ways that you already are, addressing that? Mayor: Well, obviously beginning with the ban on asking salary history that affects public sector and private sector in New York City and I got the usual flurry of calls from some business leaders concerned about it and reminded them that the history was unacceptable and we have to do something bold and this is the kind of strategy to really make an impact. So that’s the law in New York City for all businesses. We're certainly going to look at anything else we can do to push the private sector and you know if there's overt discrimination, there’s opportunity to bring complaints to our Human Rights Commission, for example. But we are looking to see if there’s any other measures that we can put in place to keep pushing tangible progress on pay equality. Lehrer: Phineas in Harlem, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Phineas. Question: Yes, hi. I’m a senior – 65 years old. I'm confined to a wheelchair and I was arrested several years ago for selling acid out my apartment. I lost my apartment. I was evicted and I lost my Section 8 which I had. I was subsequently in a drug treatment program and all the charges [inaudible] 18 months intensive treatment and all the charges against him were dropped. I'm trying to get my Section 8 back and I filed for a special accommodations and the City is adamant about not giving it to me. I've had three informal hearings rules at HPD and I filed two Article 78s at the Supreme Court for a special accommodations and the City is adamant. I think that people should be offered a second chance. I’ve really struggle to get my life together and right now living in very difficult circumstances. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Phineas, I, first of all – I’m very sorry for all you've been through and obviously we want to in any way we can help you get to housing. I don't know obviously the facts. I want you to give your information to WNYC so we can follow up. My fear when I hear you tell the story is that we're running into a problem with the federal guidelines of Section 8. Remember Section 8 is a federal program. It is funded federally but that means different requirements have been put on it over the years that we have to abide by it so I don't know if that's part of the problem or not but that's my thought initially when I hear you say that. Let’s see. I’ll have senior folks at HPD follow up and see if there is either a way to address this through Section 8 or if there's a different kind of approach we can take to help you get affordable housing. Lehrer: Phineas, hang on and [inaudible] in Queens you’re on WNYC. Hello [inaudible]. Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. HI, Brian. Lehrer: Hi, there. Question: I have heard the Mayor talk about Vision Zero and I am a driver myself and I think it's a great time but I've never heard of you talk about how high beaming affects the drivers at night. I've seen that so many drivers right now are using high beams cities with no reason. High beaming can really affect our vision and some cars have like – they added some more LED beam lights on the front of their car and it’s really, really bright and it just blinds me and I think it blinds everyone [inaudible] and so far I've seen more and more of them but I've not really seen anybody doing anything about it. That's the question. Mayor: [Inaudible] thank you. Brian, this is the epitome of what is good about your show and the opportunity for New Yorkers to call in with ideas because this is one that makes a lot of sense to me. In all of the Vision Zero discussions over last four years, I actually have not heard high beaming focused on him but as someone who used to drive myself I agree with [inaudible] entirely. When high beams are on the car coming the other way it can be blinding and I agree that some of the new lights are even more intense. I will go back to the NYPD to see both where this stands legally in terms of whether there's any light [inaudible] being used that shouldn't be used legally or what the laws are about using high beams when they're not absolutely necessary and if there's an enforcement opportunity there. We also might want to do a public education campaign on it to remind people that it can cause a real problem for others. So this is a very helpful suggestion and give me a few weeks to sort it out and I'm happy to follow up. And [inaudible] give your information please to WNYC so we can keep you updated. Lehrer: Christine in Brooklyn on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Christine. Question: HI. Hi, Brian. Hi, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for taking my call. You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a little nervous if my voice waivers. Mayor: No worries. No worries. Be at peace. Question: My partner in the Executive Director of the Big Reuse. They are a nonprofit now based in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They divert building materials – building and construction materials from landfill and they also sell the salvaged building materials in the store to fund their community programs which include composting and work training programs. They do work with some City agencies so I hope I’m not stepping on any toes here but what I wanted to bring to your attention is that they recently lost their warehouse in Astoria, Queens due to a significant increase in their rent. The landlord more than doubled it and so they had to leave. Now they’re facing in the same thing at their Gowanus, Brooklyn location where the landlord – obviously Gowanus is a hot spot right now and he is going to raise their rent so they're looking for a new location. So, I guess – not my question but I guess I want to bring this to your attention because they provide such an incredible service to the City and they have an incredible warehouse. You know when anybody re-does their kitchen, they [inaudible] kitchen and replace it. They take all those things and then can re-sell them at a huge discount to other consumers – Lehrer: So this is like a rising commercial rents problem? Question: Yes exactly, exactly – Lehrer: Mr. Mayor – and I’m going to jump in there because we're going to run out of time soon but I think you know Mr. Mayor this one comes up time and time again. Mayor: Sure but I want go to the first issue which is recycling and so, Christine, I think this is a fantastic idea. You know taking the salvaged material and not allowing them to going in to landfill. That's very consistent with the vision we have for the city of intensifying all forms of recycling. I'm a personally obsessive recycler and look to make sure everyone’s putting everything in the right bin around the office or one thing or another. So I love this idea that there's a systematic effort to take the building materials and divert them. I want to see if we can help you and your colleagues with this. So, I’m going to have our Sanitation Commissioner follow up to see if we can find an appropriate location that would make sense. Of course to Brian's point, it is caught up in the rising cost of housing and land in the city we grapple with all the time. But for something like this – this is something the public sector can get involved and we have City facilities that might make sense and City land that might make sense for something like this. So this one, because it's about a public service, I think we can find hopefully a creative way to find you guys a right home. Lehrer: One more. Anna in Greenpoint, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Anna. Question: Hi, there. Thank you for taking my call. Hello Mr. – Mayor de Blasio. I am calling – first I want to thank you for all your support of the student walkout and on the issue of gun violence. I am a promise leader with the Sandy Hook Promise. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it half but it was founded by Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden who lost their children at Sandy Hook, and they've been working tirelessly on this issue and this is a program – the goal is to stop gun violence before it starts through grassroots education and outreach programs. And one of the programs is called Start With Hello and that’s an elementary school program. And I'm going to be implementing it – I'm a parent as well. I have a kindergarten student and we're going to be implementing a Start With Hello Week at P.S. 31 in Brooklyn. And we're trying to get other schools in the area involved and of course my dream is to implement Sandy Hook Promise citywide. So, my first question is, are you familiar with it, have you considered it? And I’ve already spoken to your Director of Community Affairs and sent some information to you but I wanted to invite you personally to come to our Start with Hello Week. Mayor: Anna, thank you. Thank you for the work you're doing. I would love to see this in action. I am not familiar with it, no, but I would love to see this in action. I want to note because you mentioned the walk out – the numbers are amazing. What we're seeing is almost a million kids participated around the nation, all 50 states. This is a change moment that we've never seen before when high school students and even younger are taking this matter into their own hands in such a positive, productive way. So this is a very big moment our history and I think we’re going to see a lot more so I certainly want to keep supporting it. But I like what I'm hearing of what you're doing. I would love to see it in action. Lehrer: And so to finish up Mr. Mayor maybe you can give us an update if you have one, on the preparations for next Saturday's March For Our Lives. There's going to be the big one in Washington but [inaudible] pretty big one here in New York too, locations around the country and certainly including the city. Do you have a route, do you have the time? Has that PD been working with the organizers? Can you give us an update? Mayor: Yeah I don't have in front of me the final route. I believe the time is 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and look we're going to do everything to accommodate the marchers and make sure it is safe and people can get their point of view out as we would with people of any point. So I expect it will be substantial. I think that obviously the number one focus is on Washington but I do expect it will be a substantial march and we're going to work with that. But we'll have more details forthcoming on the final details on the march. Lehrer: And we’ll get to speak one more time before that next Friday. Mr. Mayor as always thank you very much. Mayor: Thank you, Brian.
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 5:10pm
NYC launches expanded citywide advertising campaign to put young adults on path towards career success and build a pipeline of talent for New York City employers [Need a sidekick at the office? Slammed at work? Not enough hours in the day?] NEW YORK–The Office of Strategic Partnerships marked the beginning of the 2018 summer intern hiring season by launching a campaign that encourages New York City employers to provide internships to young New Yorkers. This week kicks off a two-month citywide advertising campaign reminding employers that hiring high-achieving, diverse local students means “getting help and giving experience” that will prepare the future workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. “New York City employers don’t have to look far for impressive talent – it’s right here in our backyard,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Our young people are extraordinary, and they are ready to seize upon opportunities to learn outside the classroom and succeed. I encourage all New York City businesses to hire a local intern. Your companies and our city will be better for it.” “Our young people are our City’s most valuable resource and best investment,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “Through this campaign, we are expanding opportunities for all New York City students. Our young people will get hands-on, real world experience from some of the brightest leaders in our City, from technology and media to finance and fashion. I applaud this work and encourage all business leaders to hire a NYC Intern!” “Too many promising young New Yorkers are approaching adulthood without the necessary skills and exposure to the workplace that could put them on a path towards career success. At the same time, employers struggle to bring onboard a pool of diverse, local talent that they need more than ever to thrive. For the public and private sectors, this is a shared problem that requires a shared solution,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “Through the Center for Youth Employment, we’re partnering with employers and the private sector to shape our future workforce. This summer, we urge employers to be part of the solution – increase internship experiences for New York students and prepare tomorrow’s workforce, today by hiring an NYC intern.” The campaign was designed and donated by Young & Rubicam (Y&R) and will be featured prominently on Clear Channel Outdoor billboards, OUTFRONT Media digital and static billboards, LinkNYC kiosks courtesy of NYC Media, and in bus shelters across all five boroughs. It also features two 15-second public service announcements that will run across city broadcast channels and on Taxi TV, along with an accompanying radio PSA that will air on iHeartMedia NYC radio stations and on New York City’s on-hold messaging reel. Mayor de Blasio has made increasing access to good jobs a key component of his commitment to equity and fairness. In 2015, the Administration created the Center for Youth Employment – a program of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City – to deliver “more and better” employment opportunities to local youth. The advertising campaign is part of the Center’s mission to increase the number of opportunities available across all youth employment programs and to make sure each of those programs help young New Yorkers gain experience, add skills, and explore potential career paths. To date, the Center is on target to meet its goal of providing 100,000 young New Yorkers with internships, mentorships and summer each year jobs by 2020, and can exceed this goal with participation from local employers. “This is a win-win for New York City: young people are connected to hands-on internship opportunities more closely aligned with their career goals, and employers looking to fill their ranks are able to tap into our City’s diverse pool of talented teens and young adults. As a result of last year’s campaign, the number of employers participating in the Ladders for Leaders program more than quadrupled, and we look forward to building on that success this year,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “Opportunities abound in our city’s media and entertainment sectors, and we are pleased to once again support the Center for Youth Employment in its efforts to provide young New Yorkers with meaningful, paid summer work experience,” said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “The Ladders for Leaders program is a testament to the power of public-private partnerships to enhance access and inclusion. I thank all of the employers who have pledged to provide internships this summer, allowing students to build strong foundations for their future careers.” "As a former principal, I know how important it is for students to have experiences that enable them to learn about the world beyond their classroom walls. Internship opportunities help our young people take full advantage of this great City and prepare them to succeed at the next stage of their lives. At the same time, our partners gain the intellect, energy, and worldview of our extraordinary students," said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the NYC Department of Education. “The Mayor’s Fund is once again thrilled to be supporting the promotion and growth of internship opportunities in New York,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. “Building the support of local employers is essential to helping us prepare our city’s workforce of today and tomorrow, and this campaign as an important step to making more companies aware of this great opportunity. We are thankful to our creative partner, Y&R, as well as all of the many companies who contributed their resources to make the campaign possible.” “At the Center for Youth Employment, our mission is to ensure that every young New Yorker can go as far as their skills and ambitions take them—regardless of what neighborhood they come from or who their parents know,” said David Fischer, executive director of the Center for Youth Employment. “These young people aren’t asking for anything but a chance. Through this campaign, and the commitment of our employer partners, many more of them will get one.” As a result of last year’s campaign – which focused on recruiting employers for Ladders for Leaders – 600 employers across a variety of sectors hired interns in 2017, increasing employer participation in that program from 130 in 2014. Building on that success, the 2018 campaign will recruit employers for both Ladders to Leaders and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Industry Scholars: * Ladders for Leaders : Launched in 2006, Ladders for Leaders is a nationally recognized program that operates through the NYC Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and offers outstanding high school and college students the opportunity to participate in paid, professional summer internships with leading corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies in New York City. * CTE Industry Scholars : The CTE Industry Scholars Program operates through the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and provides work-based learning activities and internships for high school students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The program includes industry-specific internships and a variety of career activities – including career days, work readiness trainings, mock interviews, as well as employer site visits and tours. These internships and activities help CTE students apply their skills in authentic industry settings, gain real-world work experiences, and advance their college and career plans. The Center for Youth Employment supports internships in priority sectors of the City’s economy through “Industry Funds” that allow young adults to gain work experience and explore potential career paths. Industry Fund sectors include fashion and retail, business and professional services, hospitality and tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, real estate, and technology. Each fund is seeded with a financial investment from the industry’s largest players to support paid internships at smaller companies that do not have the resources to do so on their own. Founded in 2016, paid interns were supported over the past two years in part by Industry Fund partners including: Astoria Energy, CBS Corporation, Citi Foundation, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Discovery Communications, Deloitte, Guardian, Hearst, Industry City, JPMorgan Chase, Maimonides Medical Center, Marriott International, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), National Grid, Santander, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), NYC & Company Foundation, Pearson, RBC Capital Markets, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Rudin Management Company, Time Warner, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch and Tishman Speyer. “Young people in our City are the future who will one day be calling the shots,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “By helping them get valuable experience and exposure through summer jobs and internships, we are helping ensure that everyone receives the same opportunities to succeed and that our City will be left in good hands. I applaud the Mayor’s Office and its partners for this campaign and their confidence in our City’s youth.” “I commend the City for encouraging employers to hire young people across New York City in internships this summer,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Brooklyn is a diverse place with many ambitious youth seeking to grow academically and professionally in their careers. Our employers are leading the way in innovating to meet the needs of a 21st century economic powerhouse, while offering opportunities across a range of sectors. This initiative will provide young Brooklynites with the tools for success in all their future endeavors.” “Having worked with at-risk high school students for much of my career, I know firsthand how important it is for young people to receive real-world, hands-on experience as they chart paths to their own careers,” said Council Member Debi Rose, Chair of the Committee on Youth Services. “Providing an internship opportunity for a young New Yorker is an investment in their future and in the future of our city’s workforce. I host interns in my own offices throughout the year, and I know them to be valuable resources for me and for my staff. I encourage all local businesses to check out opportunities to provide internships and help young New Yorkers prepare for their own future success.” “We are thrilled to work with Ladders for Leaders to create a campaign for the second year that we hope will encourage more companies throughout the city to participate and help young people seek out what they love to do and find their career paths. Y&R has also been a participant in the program for more than 10 years and the benefits for both the students and our employees are beyond measure,” said David Sable, Global CEO, Y&R “We believe in using our resources to inspire action in the thousands of neighborhoods where we operate our business, and, where our employees live and work. Summer jobs and internships are a key building block in the economic foundation for community success,” said Jack Jessen, Regional President, Clear Channel Outdoor. “We’re proud to join with the Mayor to promote, and offer, summer internship opportunities in New York.” “As the largest out-of-home media company in New York City, OUTFRONT realizes that we have a responsibility to the community we serve to ensure we are creating opportunities for our city to continue the growth, success and global leadership we have experienced for centuries,” said Jodi Senese, Chief Marketing Officer, OUTFRONT Media. “We’re excited to join this initiative for a second year to support increased access to experience and employment opportunities for the rising population of smart young people in our city.” "At iHeartMedia we have a long history of fostering the personal and professional development of young people and have placed many interns into successful full-time positions. Internships are an ideal opportunity to expose students to practical work experiences that will fuel excitement and empower them to set and achieve personal goals," said Scott Hopeck, President, New York Region, iHeartMedia. “We are proud to continue our collaboration with the Cities for Financial Empowerment, Mayor de Blasio, First Lady McCray and the NYC Center for Youth Employment, to connect more young people in New York City with summer job opportunities,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “Over the past four years, we’ve worked together to leverage the summer job experience by adding financial education to the mix and helping shift youth attitudes about money management and long-term goals.” “The Real Estate Board of New York is proud to once again support this successful program that gives students meaningful opportunities to gain valuable, career-building experience. We want to thank the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the participating members for helping interns to develop new skills, giving companies a chance to discover new potential, and working to increase diversity in the real estate industry,” said John H. Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York.
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 11:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everyone. We’re here at the 7-8 Precinct, this is my home precinct and I want to just thank the men and women of this command for all they do for our neighborhood and our city. They had to respond to the tragedy at Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street. I want to just emphasize how tough that is for our men and women in uniform to have to deal with a tragedy like this – the loss of two young children. And they are the ones that have to try pick up the pieces, they are the ones that have to try and comfort the caregivers and the parents and try to make sense of a situation that makes no sense. So I just want to thank the officers of the 7-8 Precinct for everything they do. And I feel such pain for these families. I know the officers here feel the same. Our whole community is still reeling from this tragedy. I talked to a lot of my neighbors. Everyone is taking it very personally and for good reason. We’ve all walked through that intersection a thousand times. And we assumed when the lights you know says walk, it’s okay to walk. And that’s what everyone felt that day. And you’ve all seen the video, it’s terrifying. The notion of people going about their business - perfectly normal day, middle of the day, suddenly a car is plowing into them and two children are lost. It’s something we can’t accept, and that’s what today is all about. We want to use every tool possible, to protect our children and to stop these crashes. The families, they all have received a tremendous amount of love and support from this community and from the whole city. They know the people are with them, but that doesn’t bring them their two precious children. Abagail Blumenstein was four-years-old, Joshua Lew just a year old. These children are gone forever, and it’s a clarion call to all of us in this city to go farther to take Vision Zero to the next level, and to do that we need help from our state government, and we’re going to talk about that today. I want to thank the Speaker of the State Assembly Carl Heastie and the Assembly Majority. They passed a one house bill this week, a budget bill, with speed camera expansion in it. I really want to thank them for stepping up and showing that change can come in Albany and we’re going to need their help to protect more kids. I want to thank the Speaker for that. I want to thank all of my colleagues who are here. All of whom share a sense of mission. I want to acknowledge – you’ll hear from a number of folks, but I also want to acknowledge NYPD Chief of Transportation Tom Chan, who’s been one of the great leaders of the Vision Zero initiative. And I want to thank for hosting us the new commanding officer of the 7-8 Precinct Captain Jason Hagestad. As I said we lost these two children, and we’re all feeling that very, very personally. We also lost in January a young man, 13-years-old Kevin Flores, another young person who should not have died. And everyone one of us when we hear of these tragedies we think what if that was my child. And for Chirlane and I, it’s immediately personal. We went through that intersection literally I think thousands of times is not unfair with Chiara and Dante over the years and living in this community since 1992. That’s right in the center of our community. So, it’s just shocking to all of us and once you say what if that was my child it put things into real perspective that we’ve got to leave no stone unturned. I want to say to everyone in Albany this cannot be about politics. It cannot be about politics, it cannot be about political convenience. Everyone at this point has to recognize it’s a matter of life and death. And I’ll tell you one thing we learned from Vision Zero, a lot of people said in the beginning that if you lower the speed limit, you’d get a lot of political opposition. If you redesign streets, you’ll get a lot of political opposition; if you put bike lanes on Queens Boulevard you’ll get a lot of political opposition. It does not matter if there is political opposition. We can listen to communities, we can work with communities, but this is about saving lives. And I got to be clear about that, it’s not business as usual so when we talk about things like speed cameras around schools; think about it for a minute. It’s a speed camera, nothing happens to you if you’re not speeding. It’s near a school, that means there are kids there. If you want the right to speed where there is kids, there is something wrong with you. So no one should be afraid of a speed camera around the school. You should just follow the law. And no one should be afraid of the political consequences of making sure our kids are safe. The Vision Zero concept is literally to lose no one, to end these crashes once and for all. And in the beginning there was some cynicism about whether progress could be made. But now we have four years of experience in the biggest city in the country to prove this approach works. We just have to keep going farther, and we got to keep changing behavior. I want to emphasize this, one of the things I think has been most powerful about Vision Zero is it has made people wake up, it’s made them think about what it means to drive a car. If you don’t drive your properly, if you drive your car recklessly. You have a weapon in your hands, it’s no different than a gun misfiring. You have a weapon in your hands, and you can kill someone if you don’t handle that car the right way. I think for a long time in this city, and in this country that wasn’t what people were told. People were told drive your car with impunity, doesn’t matter what you do. We’ve got to break the back of that mentality once and for all. When you drive a car you have a responsibility to everyone else, and if you don’t, if you don’t drive your car the right way someone could die. We’ve got to get that through people once and for all. And I do think Vision Zero has helped a lot. Public education is great, but consequences are important too, so every time one of those speed cameras goes off, everyone an NYPD pulls someone over who is speeding or who fails to yield to a pedestrian, it changes their mind. It’s a wakeup call. So we’re going to do a lot more of that. We’re proposing today three pieces of legislation and we will fight tooth and nail for them. And we have the best allies there are. The families that have experience tragedies I wish none of them came into this struggle because they experienced tragedies, but I honor them for taking their pain and turning it into action. The first proposal would allow the city to extend and expand the school zone safety camera program. We want to double the number school zones with cameras, and we want to make sure we can put them cameras where they’re going to have the biggest impact in terms of protecting kids. Right now we are limited in the locations that we can put cameras around the schools. It’s a very narrow law. We need to be able to put the cameras where the NYPD and the Department of Transportation know they will do the most good. If our proposal passes, it will allow us to go to any intersection near a school that might pose a danger and put the speed cameras in. I want to be very specific. Had this legislation been in place previously, we would have had the right to put a camera at the intersection of Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue. We need that right so we can protect kids. We know the cameras are working. Again, when you’ve got four years of experience under your belt you’ve got real facts, it should change the discussion. The cameras are working. On average speeding declines 60 percent 6-0, 60 percent in areas where speed camera is in place. Injuries decline 15 percent, pedestrian injuries in particular decline 23 percent. That’s what we found already. And that’s without the ability to put the cameras where we think might be the ideal location. Even just having some cameras present has already led to that kind of progress. We want to go farther. The second proposal, we want to increase penalties for drivers who get speed red light violations, speed camera violations. And it’s very simple. Right now as we saw in the case of this tragedy a driver can get numerous violations without a consequence, now the theory behind that is, you don’t know if the person to whom the car was registered is the person driving. Okay, that’s a fair point. But we still have to address the issue. The current reality is unacceptable. So we want penalties to be on the car owner, the person who holds the registration. The more the car runs the red lights, the more the car gets the infractions because they went through the speed cameras the more they will pay. And if they do it too many times their registration will be suspended. It’s very straight forward, if you repeatedly break the law, you will suffer consequences. And you shouldn’t be able to hide behind the fact that the car is registered to you but maybe someone else was driving. You have to take responsibility for you own vehicle. If someone else is driving your vehicle and they’re regularly speeding and blowing through stop signs and red lights, you shouldn’t let them drive the vehicle. And you have to take responsibility because now you’re part of it too. The third would require doctors to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles whenever one of their patients has a dangerous medical condition that might lead to the inability to drive a car. This right now is only a voluntary rule in New York State. It is not a requirement. We specifically obviously want to focus on people who may have a condition that causes them to lose control of the car. We’re not talking about people with everyday medical conditions. We’re not talking about people who are disabled. We’re talking about if a doctor identifies a special condition like a propensity to seizures that could cause to someone without any warning to be unable to control their car. Someone in that situation should not be driving a car. Right now there is nothing truly stopping that in New York State. So we know and we have a good example from our neighbors in New Jersey. We know this could be required of doctors to report it to the DMV and then the DMV has to act. These are the kinds of measures that will make us safer. Obviously these are the kinds of measures that could have averted the tragedy that happened in this community. So I’m just going to say a few words in Spanish. But I want to conclude with two points before we hear from our colleagues. One, our goal is to get these proposals passed in this legislative session in Albany by June, it’s as a simple as that. And everyone here is going to fight for them. And I don’t think there is any further evidence needed for the legislature in Albany to see why this is so important. Second, we can’t accept a reality where it is normal for someone to kill a pedestrian with their vehicle. We just can’t let that be anything we regard as normal in our society. For too long people would negligently kill another human being with a vehicle and essentially walk away. We’ve got to end that once and for all. And these proposals I think will really make clear there are serious consequences to the kind of behavior that was accepted for too long. In Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that I know want to turn to the First Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD, Ben Tucker who will give you an update on the NYPD’s efforts under Vision Zero. First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, NYPD: Thank Mr. Mayor. Good morning everyone. So the Mayor mentioned Vision Zero and the initiative and it certainly as the Mayor indicated, the whole purpose here is to save lives. And so I just want to go through some of the data and give you some updates as to where we are and what the success looks like thus far to date So in 2017 New York City experienced the lowest number of vehicular fatalities on record, pegged at 216 -- down 6.9 percent from 2016. And this was highlighted and I think underscored by 30.9 percent reduction pedestrian fatalities in particular. With respect to enforcement going back to 2014, since that time the department’s continuing focus on dangerous driving has led to a 27.3 percent increase in speed enforcement, a 54.1 percent increase in failure to yield to pedestrian enforcement, and a 95 percent increase in texting enforcement. Moreover, the highly successful Dusk and Darkness safety campaign is a great example of our partnership with Commissioner Trottenberg at DOT as well as TLC and the NYPD, and it’s Vision Zero partners overall. The initiative which focuses on drivers and diminished visibilities associated with the short of daylight of hours so this data from October 27th to March 11th, in that six months has led to a decrease in pedestrian fatalities from 53 in ‘16 and ‘17 to 40 in the six months period from October to March of 2017 into 2018. The NYPD increased its presence during the sunset hours during this project, focusing its enforcement on dangerous drivers who speed and fail to yield to pedestrians. The department is certainly supportive of extending and expanding as the Mayor mentioned, the school zone speed camera program. The speed program provides an efficient compliment to the enforcement by our officers. And speed cameras at key locations will certainly be effective tools in reducing speeding. In addition fines should be elevated, obviously for repeat offenders and that will send a strong message, certainly and must be sent to people who choose to violate the law in that area. At the same time the department is also supporting the legislation requiring physicians to notify DMV to report medical conditions which already are being done in other jurisdictions – in New Jersey and certainly in California. And in light of the recent tragedy, this is obviously a common sense approach and hopefully will result in fewer tragedies such as those, that which we experienced here in this precinct. Certainly driving is a privilege and not a right and so with respect to the legislation drivers who fail to recognize the responsibility of operating a vehicle must be held accountable. Unlicensed drivers, drivers who should not be driving that have medical reasons and experience medical conditions and those holding repeat traffic offenders accountability, must be held accountable. And certainly the department will continue our work with our partners in Vision Zero and the public to achieve the goal of Vision Zero which is to reduce traffic deaths all the way down. Strengthening the laws will certainly give us the opportunity to protect our citizens on an ongoing basis. Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Now I want to turn to the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Polly Trottenberg, who is going to be talking about things DOT is doing with Vision Zero and what is coming up ahead in DOT’s actions and efforts. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation: Thank you Mr. Mayor and again thanks for your leadership and thanks for the leadership and the partnership of NYPD and our sister agencies, the city and state elected officials, the advocates, and the regular New Yorkers who’ve all been such a part of Vision Zero and I’ve heard from many of them and join them in the grieving with the Mayor for the two young lives last weekend and the other lives lost. And it’s part of what drives us in this work. And I think as the Mayor as pointed out I’m often asked as DOT Commissioner what do you think is the most important factors in Vision Zero and I always talk about speed for the logical reason, no matter what’s happening on the streets, if you are driving at a safe speed, you’re going to have more reaction time. If there’s a collision there is less likely to be a fatal consequence. So the Mayor is right, reauthorizing and expanding the speed camera legislation is our highest legislative priority. As many as you know we’ve had the ability to do speed camera enforcement in 140 school zones and we think it has been one of the key elements in the fatality reductions we’ve seen in this city at a time when as many of us know fatalities on the roadway have gone up nationally. And so we’ve been up in Albany and the Mayor spoke about the leadership there. We will be working with them. We hope to get this legislation reauthorized because it expires this summer, and expanded as well. You know as the Mayor said we’ve seen extraordinary drops in speeding and in injuries at the school zones but none the less, 85 percent of the deaths and severe injuries on our roadways in recent years have occurred in times and places where we cannot use speed cameras including in Ninth Street in Park Slope. So we also talked last week, I testified in front of the City Council, many of you know we are going to be looking at potential street redesign elements on Ninth Street, you know among the things we are looking at -- protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands, turn restrictions, new signal timing, and pedestrian signals. And of course we will also be taking a careful look at the curbside uses – it’s a busy street, a lot of businesses and institutions. We hope to be presenting something at the end of the month and obviously taking feedback from local community, community board, etc., and working that through the community board process. And as you heard from Commissioner Tucker, continuing our work on campaigns like Dusk and Darkness. We are going to have another campaign, we’re going to be potentially rolling out for the summer months, another time where we sometimes see spikes in fatalities – those first warm summer weekends. So we will be working with NYPD on that. And once again we also stand ready to be part of the efforts up in Albany on the important the legislation the Mayor has announced today. I think obviously the tragedy that hit last week you know reminds us, even as we found so many areas to continue our work on Vision Zero there is still so much more to be done. Thank you Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And now I want to turn to my colleagues from the City Council. They have been front and center in fighting for these changes and the Council has acted legislatively, has acted as allies in the fights in Albany -- I really want to thank them for their vigorous advocacy. First I want you to hear from the chair of the committee on public safety, Councilman Donovan Richards. […] Mayor: Thank you very much. That was obviously from the heart and I appreciate your activism and your voice. Thank you. Okay, let’s take questions about these legislative proposals and everything related to Vision Zero, and then we’ll go to other topic. Way back? Question: Mr. Mayor, so, obviously [inaudible] vehicle registration suspensions, but what about drivers who can continue to drive with a suspended registration? [Inaudible] happened before where people are killed. Are you looking at increasing penalties for that offense? What is the actual penalty – Mayor: I’ll let my colleagues from law enforcement talk about that. I think this tragedy pointed out something that was a glaring gap in the law – that if you were pulled over by an officer for these types of offenses, there was a clear sanction – escalating sanction. But if your car was caught on a speed camera repeatedly, it didn’t lead to the same outcome. And again, I get the argument – maybe you weren’t the person driving your own car – but the problem with that argument is, it explains away reckless driving and dangerous driving, and it unfortunately leaves open the possibility of someone being hurt or even killed. We’ve got to put things in their proper order – protecting human beings comes first. So, what we’re proposing here makes sense because it says, look, if it’s on your vehicle, it’s on you. And it doesn’t happen the first time, it escalates, but if there’s a pattern of your vehicle consistently blowing through stop lights and stop signs, there will be much more severe penalties than there has been in the past. As for the question of what the penalties are now, if someone drives – I think you said with a suspended license or a suspended registration – could either the Commissioner or Chief – do you want to speak to that? Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, NYPD: An individual – if we come across a vehicle, it’s parked on the street and the officer or the agent scans that particular registration and it indicates that the registration is expired, simply, we can issue a summons and we’re certainly paying more attention to it. We can also have that vehicle towed once that summons is issued to that particular vehicle in question. Question: [Inaudible] mentioned [inaudible] any other specific conditions that doctors will have to report and will this be modeled on New Jersey’s law? Mayor: I think – I’m not an expert, obviously, on the New Jersey law or the California law, but I think it’s good that we have something to work from that clearly has more teeth. I think seizures are an obvious example. Anything where a doctor believes that an individual could lose control of their vehicle involuntarily with no notice, that’s the kind of thing we have to act on. Again, we – Question: Could there be specific conditions? Or would it say anything a doctor believes? Mayor: I’m not going to talk about the legislative drafting. I think it should be clear what the goal is – the kinds of things that could cause someone to lose control of their car suddenly. I would imagine some specific conditions will be named, but my focus is – very pinpointed focus on where are the conditions that could lead to someone not being able to control their vehicle. Question: Could we get an investigative update – perhaps this is a question for the Chief – you said you’d hoped there would be charges, if I’m not mistaken – Mayor: I did. Question: [Inaudible] even see charges under the current State of New York law? Mayor: I’m just going to reiterate before turning to the Chief. I think, as a non-lawyer, two children were killed because of reckless driving – of course there should be charges. That’s the way I look at it. Everything I know about the law – that’s what should happen. I respect that there has to be a very careful investigation. I respect that if charges are going to be brought, they need to stick. And I understand why the NYPD and the DEA have to be meticulous. But it makes no sense to me that someone killed two children and would not be arrested. Go ahead, Chief. Chief Chan: The Police Department, the CIS Unit, and the Brooklyn DA’s office were on the scene that particular afternoon when the collision occurred and they’ve been working hand-in-hand with us. ADA [inaudible] and also the Vehicular Crimes Unit bureau chief is also on board and working with us closely on that. So, certainly, our team, working together, are investigating. We’re taking a look at the medical records. Subsequently, once the records are ascertained, the DA will also review those records to make sure what are the parameters – the medical portion of it in reference to the ability of the driver and things of that nature. So, it’s a joint investigation, and it’s moving forward, and it continues to be active. It has the priority of the Police Department, and certainly of the DA’s office. It’s got our full attention. Question: Has she been arrested or interviewed at all? Chief Chan: The woman was hospitalized. My understanding is that her license was suspended. We served a suspension notice to her. There will be a further hearing date with the Department of Motor vehicles. We believe that’s going to be at the end of this month. Currently, her license to operate a vehicle is suspended. Our investigators and the DA’s office is working closely on this particular case. Question: [Inaudible] interviewed her? Chief Chan: The individual was interviewed at the hospital and also possibly on the scene. But again, I’m not going to go into the details of the investigation. Mayor: We’re going back to front on this side, and then we’re going to that side. Question: You said the Assembly passed a speed camera expansion as part of this budget bill. Does that include all of the speed camera measures that you want? What stage – have all of these ideas been written and introduced? What stage are you – Mayor: Let me separate, and Commissioner Trottenberg will help me on this. I haven’t seen the final wording that the Assembly passed. I know it did pass an expansion, but I don’t know for sure if it was the way we had articulated. Commissioner Trottenberg: I think it’s similar language to what the Assembly actually passed at the end of last year’s session, which is expanding our ability to put cameras from 140 school zones to 290, allowing us to use a radius instead of the abutting street, because sometimes kids are crossing on dangerous street that are not the abutting street. So, we think that would be a very powerful step forward. Question: What about the doctors? The medical measure? Commissioner Trottenberg: Those are bills – Senator Hamilton has introduced a bill and Assemblymember Carroll, but there’s not been any legislative action. Mayor: Right, so we’re going to be working with our colleagues in Albany on the other two elements to make sure that entire an existing bill matches them or a new bill is introduced to achieve the outcome. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Chan, I know the driver in the Park Slope crash was hospitalized afterwards. Is she still in that hospital? Where is she now? Chief Chan: She’s been discharged. Question: Do you know where she is? Or is she in any kind of police custody? Is she being – Chief Chan: She’s not in police custody at this time and she was released from the hospital. Question: Mr. Mayor, under the new proposals, is the suspension for the underlying violation for failing to pay – is it for the underlying debt violation or is for failing to pay bills? Because under the current State law, drivers are suspended for failing to pay bills and not necessarily for the current – Mayor: Great question. And again, I’m not a lawyer, but I’ll just give you my common-sense answer. I’m not interested in people breaking the law and paying a fine and then going and breaking the law again. This is meant to have a bigger consequence if the behavior is repeated. So, yes, there is a fine structure – the more you violate the speed cameras, or go through stop signs – there’s an increased fine structure, but then it leads to a suspension of registration. So, it’s not – certainly what I want to see happen is not something you can just pay your way out of. It’s about identifying a pattern of behavior and then showing to everyone that if that behavior continues there are much more severe consequences. Question: So [inaudible] it hasn’t been drafted yet [inaudible] interested in seeing legislation that, you know – in which the suspension is dependent, at least, in part, the actual violation. Mayor: Absolutely. And look, the goal here is not to see people’s registration’s suspended willy-nilly. We want to make sure there’s a fair process. Obviously, as with everything else, there’s an appeals process. But what we’re talking about is, repeated behavior in a limited timeframe, which, to me, is a no-brainer. If you once in a blue moon have a violation, that’s one thing. But if the behavior is repeated and it’s in a sharp timeframe, there’s not much to discuss here. It makes very clear that unfortunately you’re not a responsible person, and you have a deadly weapon in your hands, and it you’re using it recklessly. There needs to be a sharp consequence for that. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I think that’s idiotic. Let’s get real here, we’ve been fighting this battle for four years. I don’t know who said that – you could at least let me know who said it so I know who I’m directing my feelings to. [Laughter] Please? Is it a blind quote? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: One of their communications people, okay. So, tell that individual, please, I said that was idiotic. [Laughter] For four years – for four years we have been pushing the Vision Zero initiative, including for an expansion of speed cameras. This is not new. And the families have been fighting for this vehemently up in Albany. Everyone in Albany is quite familiar with the presence of those families for what they regard as justice, and I agree with them. So, let’s get real, how about people feel something about this tragedy, because it could have happened to any of our children, and do something about it. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Well, we got the original cameras and we have maintained those, even though there are clearly loud voices that want to get rid of them. I think this is a matter where every member of the Senate will be held personally accountable by their constituents. I know the family members are going to be up there in force, again. I know there’s going to be a lot of activity in each Senator’s district, making clear how important this is too – I have no question about that. You either are doing something about it, or you’re not. So, here’s a chance to save lives. And again, if some people don’t like it, well, you’re supposed to stand up sometimes and be counted when it comes to something this morally important. So, my answer is – it isn’t politically convenient in the eyes of some, so let’s make it politically inconvenient the other way and let them feel the voices of people at the grassroots. Let them feel the wrath of these families. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I have – as you know, the end of the last session – worked very well with Leader Flanagan. I have a lot of respect for him. We managed to work on some very important matters, for example, on education. I have no doubt we can come to reasonable solutions, but the members have to step forward and say it’s time. Question: Street design is another aspect of Vision Zero. [Inaudible] are you planning on increasing the budget for DOT to increase the pace of the [inaudible] redesigns. Mayor: I’ll turn it to the Commissioner, but I want to say two things. One – whatever the Commissioner has asked for that can be done, I have supported putting in the budget. And I want to be absolutely clear that when we put money in the budget, we have to believe – and certainly, that’s what the Office of Management and Budget is there for – we have to believe the money can and will be spent on the timeline laid out. And I believe DOT has done a fantastic job of moving a wide variety of projects. I’ll always to the Commissioner, if you find a way to do more, faster, you’re going to have the money you need. The second point – let’s be really clear about this incident. This is about a problem in our laws that I think these specific proposals really get at. How was this individual allowed to have all of these violations with no consequence? We have to change the law. How was an individual with a medical condition – as far as we know so far – a medical condition that caused her to be unable to control her vehicle – how was that not report and acted on? We have to change our laws. This one – I’ve seen the video – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – the car is at a dead stop and suddenly then it’s plowing into pedestrians. So, this is about tougher laws and more enforcement. That, to me, is the way we change a situation like this. We care deeply about the intersections too, and we’re certainly going to give the Commissioner she needs. Commissioner Trottenberg: And I will echo that. You’ve heard me say this, David – I mean, I just testified that in coming years I’m going to have a $1.5 billion to invest in Vision Zero projects. And I’m grateful to the Mayor, and what he says is true – he has never denied me the resources I need. We have – I think each year that we’ve been in this administration, we’ve done more and more street redesign projects. And as I’ve told some of you, it’s not just a numbers game. I mean, we’ve done – working on Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, some of the biggest, most difficult corridors. So, it’s not only the numbers – some of those corridors run for miles, and miles, and miles, and I think you’ve seen the results. When you look at Queens Boulevard or Grand Concourse, we haven’t seen a pedestrian fatality on those two streets in several years, and those were both notorious places for fatalities. So, I thank the Mayor. We have the resources. There’s always going to be work to get the designs right, to work with communities, etcetera, but I think we’re working at an aggressive pace. Mayor: I also want to thank the Council, because, you know when we – every budget is a choice, and I’d say about these two members, and a lot of other colleagues, when all that money went into Vision Zero, they understood something else could not be accommodated but they always made it a priority too. Question: [Inaudible] on the speed cameras and the fact that lives are at stake, you know, you’re suing the big oil companies and opioid manufacturers – if you’re saying that the State legislature is basically, by not doing this, costing lives, are there other more dramatic steps you can take to make this happen? Mayor: Look, you know I will consider any step that will work. This one is really straightforward to me and I do believe people are going to respond to this tragedy. I want to look at this from the positive point of view first. I think everyone in this city felt the loss of these two children. I think the members of the Legislature are going to understand that. And it’s not particularly defensible that someone could have a medical condition and nothing be done about it, even if it endangers other people’s lives or that a car could be part of numerous violations that obviously indicate a pattern of recklessness and nothing happens. No member of the Legislature wants to see people die who shouldn’t die, right? So, let’s be clear – I want to assume they will be listening, but we will of course use every tool at our disposal – never have hesitated to do that. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Chan: Drunk driving – yes. That’s a program, certainly, that has been very useful. Not only are individuals driving while they’re intoxicated, while drinking alcohol, but they could also be under the influence of drugs. Currently, this year – as a matter of fact, this month, we started training our price recruits – how to interact with individuals during a car stop possibility and to identify infractions that may be prevalent during intoxication or drug use, or things of that nature. So, we are training our police academy recruits, and we’re also training our officers out there. And again, this is something that we certainly look at. When the officers, if they look at an individual and they appear to be impaired, and it may not necessarily be alcohol on their breath or things of that nature – if there’s a possibility and they believe there’s some type of impairment, then they will ask for our drug recognition expert officers that will respond and, again, do the testing, and if they’re arrested, certainly follow through on looking for drugs as a possible cause for their driving impairment. Question: And are there more or less arrests since the program’s been re-instituted. Chief Chan: Not necessarily re-instituted – it’s something that was started – it has been increasing. And again, we are training more officers to recognize that, and we have 22 individuals in the New York City Police Department who are trained as drug recognition experts. So, that is a program that will continue to expand and be used. Question: Was Dorothy Bruns ordered by a doctor to not be driving during the time of the crash? And was she under any type of medication? Chief Chan: I’m not going to go into the details on that because it’s being investigated at this time. Question: Mr. Mayor, according to the chart here, the fines escalate but nothing really happens until the fifth incident. Don’t you think it would be more effective if people had to pay a [inaudible] earlier on? Mayor: Again, this is what we think sends a very clear message that, in short order, you can pay the ultimate penalty, which is to lose your right to use your vehicle. And we’re mindful or trying to make clear that that’s where this goes. We’re mindful of something we think answers the kind of concerns we would expect from the Legislature about how to balance the issue of it not being the same as a car stop with a police officer with an individual identified. Again, I understand that those violations might be with different drivers of the car, but we’re trying to send a message that very quickly if that pattern exists, it doesn’t matter whether it’s different drivers, it still has that outcome. Question: [Inaudible] time frame from, let’s say, how many incidents in a year? Or how many incidents in – Commissioner Trottenberg: That penalty, Juliet, it’s over a two year period. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I haven’t but I’d certainly be willing to think about it because I’ve seen people crossing a street texting who are absolutely oblivious to everything around them, and they’re putting their life in danger and they’re certainly maximizing the chance there might be a crash. I think we have to look at all pieces of the equation. I don’t have a proposal for you today, but that’s something we would certainly look at. Question: [Inaudible] Chief Chan: I don’t have any additional updated information, but we can look into it further for that. Question: Commissioner Trottenberg, you said that you’re looking at [inaudible] two dozen pedestrian fatalities in the city so far this year. Are you doing that same review every single month [inaudible] Commissioner Trottenberg: Every time there is a fatality or a serious crash, DOT’s team goes out, as does NYPD’s and we take a look at the street designs, etcetera, and we also often at that time go back and look at the crash data as we did in the case of 9th Street. In many of those cases, we will do some types of interventions, and we also are looking, as many of you have seen, our Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans where we look at five-year data of what the crash history looks like on some of the major corridors around the City. And DOT and NYPD together, that’s where we target our enforcement, our education, and our engineering efforts. Question: While this is going on, Councilmember Joe Borelli wrote on Twitter that the DOT has been against adding speed bumps in certain places and making all school crossings mandatory four-way stops. He’s saying there’s some sort of discrepancy there in the approach. Commissioner Trottenberg: I’ll take a crack with that. Whenever we get a request from anyone – from community, from elected officials – for speed humps, for all-way stops, for traffic signals, we go out and do an analysis. There are often reasons you can’t put speed humps in – you don’t put them in where you have buses or trucks, or where you have a lot of driveways. So, we put them in – generally, we put them in where we can. There are sometimes streets where they don’t work from a geometry point of view. For signals and stop signs, we use – some of you have heard me talk about this – the federal engineering tests, which look at traffic volumes and whether putting those in will make the intersection safer or not. I would say, under this administration, we have been accelerating the pace in which we install signals, all-way stop signs, leading pedestrian intervals. So, we’re ever-increasing that work every year, but, it is true, we don’t say yes to every single request everywhere because we have our engineers go out and take a look. Mayor: So, I want to follow on that. It’s unquestionably correct to say that there are situations where sometimes people in a community want something that physically actually wouldn’t work or would cause all sorts of unintended consequences. That being said, I want to pick up on the point the Commissioner just made. We have been speeding up the approvals and changing our sense of the criteria, and we’re going to keep evaluating that. Vision Zero has to be consistent. It has to be an idea that we apply everywhere and in every way we can. So, I respect the Councilman, and I think it’s a fair concern to say should we go and make sure we have not missed an opportunity to put in those additional measures? Yes, we are going to keep looking at all of them and go back even over ones we have previously rejected and look at them again. Question: In what ways does making a four-way stop at a school intersection ever made it less safe? Commissioner Trottenberg: When the engineers look at it, they look at traffic volumes – and this has come up in a couple of cases in Staten Island. You have to also – when you look at the crash data of what’s happening there, what is the cause of the crashes? The one thing you don’t want to do is – and you can sort of envision these – in places where there are very low volumes of pedestrians, if you put those stop signs in, sometimes vehicles will get in the habit of not obeying them because they almost never see a pedestrian. And so, when the pedestrian does cross, they have a sense of safety which is sometimes unwarranted. One thing we have been doing, to the Mayor’s point, is, I think, we have been trying in recent years to really refine the times that we go out, working closely with schools or other institutions, to figure out exactly the times of day when we are most likely to see those pedestrians. And that is part of why we have been increasing the pace that we install these, but it is – we use sort of the engineering standards that every jurisdiction around the country uses to determine when it makes most sense to put them in. Mayor: Okay, I want to see if there’s anything else on the announcement today before we go to other topics. One more chance on Vision Zero – going once – okay, going to other topics. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I’m very troubled by it. Hold on, let folks have a moment to leave. Thank you, Cara. Thank you very much, appreciate it. [...] Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: [Inaudible] pass to the Commissioner. I’m very troubled by it. This was a premeditated killing of a police officer. That should be life in prison, period. Just nothing else to discuss. I don’t understand how there possibly was parole in that situation. First Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Yeah, just listen. I was in the – I was on the job then back in the early 70s and the time that I came on and came out of the academy, we had only [inaudible] and Jones but Rocco – Greg Foster and Rocco Laurie assassinated – premeditated assassinations. And of course more recently in ‘14, Ramos and Liu assassinated. So from my perspective – and the Mayor is correct, if we catch you and we prove that you’ve done it, you’ve been tried, convicted, then you should spend life in prison. It’s as simple as that because it’s not just about the personal impact that it has on the city and the officers but it has – it speaks volumes about our system and the way it’s supposed to work. And when you start to shoot police officers who represent those who protect the rest of us, everyone, then you run into some serious concerns. And so you know it’s just pretty clear that if you’re in, you should stay and serve the time. Mayor: Yep, okay, let me see if there’s anything over here. Coming over. Marcia? Question: So, I have two questions. Number one is [inaudible] homeless shelter [inaudible]? Mayor: I have not gotten all the details but what I do know is that one of the facilities is temporary. When the caller called in, I don’t blame her for being concerned whether it be a permanent facility or not, I know one is definitely temporary. It is, as I understand it, a hotel that is paid by the day and that is slated ultimately to be shut down not right away but that’s part of the overall plan to no longer use those types of hotels. But I also emphasize we are trying to make sure that everyone on the street comes in off the street, that everyone who by law has a right to shelter has it. We need to find locations that allow us to do that while consistently closing down those cluster sites. And you’ve seen a number of announcements lately that we are getting rid of more and more of those all the time and the next step will be to get rid of the hotels. But we’ll keep looking at that community to make sure that what’s done is fair. Question: And my second question, it has to do with the Mangano trial. Lawyers are threatening to call you as a witness [inaudible] plea deal. I’m wondering [inaudible] – Mayor: I’ve spoken to this so many times. I really have nothing to add. What we did, what my team did, what I did was legal and appropriate. We’ve discussed it exhaustively. There’s really nothing else to say. Question: [Inaudible] – Mayor: Again, I’m not a lawyer. I’m just speaking to what I know. There’s nothing else to say. Go ahead. Question: Mayor, when the Daily News had a series about Detective Rice who had sort of investigating certain cases or [inaudible] – Mayor: Say it again, I’m sorry. Question: Detective [inaudible] – Mayor: You’ll be shocked to know I don’t read everything in the Daily News. Question: [Inaudible] extensively at the time said that – Mayor: Okay but I’m saying I don’t know it by the way you’re referring to it. So, please explain. Question: [Inaudible] Rice who had lied about meeting with witnesses to crimes [inaudible] when he hadn’t actually investigated them – Mayor: Right, okay. Question: At that time, you had said if that had happened under your watch he would have been disciplined differently and potentially be fired. The News launched a new series this week focusing on disciplinary actions of the NYPD including two high-ranking NYPD members who were disciplined for stealing time and you know falsifying overtime sheets and in another case for getting into an altercation with another police officer [inaudible] relationship. But those people who were disciplined under you watch weren’t fired or anything like that. Are you satisfied with the disciplinary action – Mayor: Okay, I think you’re blending together a lot of stuff so let me try and piece it apart and obviously feel free, if you want to add Ben. I believe if you look at the discipline record of this administration and of the NYPD, I think there’s been a consistent approach to ensuring that there’s real disciplinary action when an officer does something wrong. Of course there are due process rights, we respect that, but there have been a series of very tangible often very severe acts of discipline by the department. I think the example you use of the officer who falsified records of numerous crimes is apples and oranges from some of the other things that you described which I’m sure I don’t know the facts of any cases but are serious. But what I responded to in the question several weeks ago was the notion of someone consistently abrogating their responsibilities to the people and to their profession on a systematic basis. That’s an entirely different situation than some of these other examples you gave. The bottom line to your core question – do I have confidence in the disciplinary process of the NYPD? Yes. Do I have confidence that Commissioner O’Neill meets out discipline in a way that he believes is consistent? Absolutely. First Deputy Commissioner Tucker: I would just reinforce the Mayor’s comments. But more importantly I would add just this notion of you know I’m responsible for discipline in the NYPD so the trial, the department advocate, the internal administrative trials process, but also in making recommendations to the Commissioner with respect to firearms review and discharges. I oversee the force investigations division which is new as of the middle of 2015. And that was – I mean we really tightened up our investigative process. It’s much more transparent and the investigations are much thorough than I believe than they had been in the past. So, in every respect, when it comes to the disciplinary process, the way in which discipline cases are processed, on how quickly they are processed. There were some backlogs early in 2014 when the new department advocate came onboard – Commissioner Richardson. That process has been tightened up and I think streamlined and even our work with the CCRB is I think much more effective with respect to how quickly those cases move once they come to us. In many respects, we’ve striven, as you know, to build trust with the community outside. Much of what we’ve done with discipline internal to the department as has been directly impacted on our officers who are disciplined, who get into trouble. They know that they’re going to get a fair shake. They’re not going to be languishing and waiting for a decision to be made. We’re pretty well expediting those cases as quickly as possible. By doing that, we build trust with the officers. They understand that they’re no longer going to be sent to the hinterlands and never eligible for promotions or whatever depending on obviously the nature of and the seriousness of the conduct in which they’ve been engaged. So, the process is really as tight as it’s ever been. It’s fair and equitable and of course when it is, officers come to work, they do their job, and they treat the public more – better as well. Mayor: I’m going to add only one thing. I think you have much more institutional memory than me but I think it is tighter than it’s ever been. I just want to amplify that one word choice because from what I have seen and been in a lot of meetings on the topic of what we need to reform the police department – I believe it’s clear that there will be discipline when people commit an infraction and that that process had been made clearer and more consistent. Question: Last week Chairman, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, Ronnie Hakim testified in front of the City Council particularly about the need to fund the subway action plan. $400 million that you’ve previously said you were not going to do until Albany gives back the money. Speaker Johnson seemed pretty receptive to it if there’s a few conditions which Chair Lhota seemed willing to make and discuss. So, my question is have you changed your opinion on funding the subway action plan and if the City Council puts it in the budget will you sign it? Mayor: Okay, let’s break that into several parts too. No, I have not changed my opinion. The way the budget works is that I propose the executive budget and then the Council holds hearings and then we obviously negotiate on a number of the specifics. So, as with every dynamic in the relationship between the executive and legislatures, the executive puts budget forward. I have no plan to put that money in the budget because I have been very, very clear – and I don’t honestly know why this has not been more interesting to the media. $456 million was diverted from the MTA. Why is that not more of a concern? It’s almost half-a-billion dollars. I honestly say this, guys, if I had done that you would be all over me and you would be right to be all over me. So, I don’t remember a single article tracing that $456 million and how it was possibly diverted and they got away with it. It was MTA earmarked revenue, give it back. The State is very creative in its accounting – guarantee that statement. They can out that money back into the MTA budget. That would cover all the needs of the subway action plan. Second, the Speaker and I have had a number of conversations. We sat down at length yesterday. We talk several times the day before. We have been working together very, very closely. I want to thank him for continuing to say any action taken in Albany that generates revenue whether it is for-hire vehicles or zones or anything, it needs to come with a lock box to guarantee the money stays in New York City for our subways and buses. It needs to come with local sign-off on the specific priorities. He’s been fantastic on that point. He and I have a difference – and I don’t think it’s a giant one – we have a difference on the subway action plan but we’re also in regular dialogue. So, I’m very comfortable that that’s a natural difference that we talk through and we’re working together on the big picture of what has to happen. Question: Somewhat related question and then a second question. Are you at all worried about how this [inaudible] the MTA and NYCHA a little bit of wheeling and dealing. And your thoughts on the Governor – Mayor: Explain what that means to you. Question: Just that the State government saying [inaudible] and more money from the subway you know – excuse me vice versa – [inaudible] more money for NYCHA in you [inaudible] more money for the subway. It seems to be almost there’s been wheeling and dealing going on. Mayor: Well, I don’t know if any wheeling and dealing has occurred because I certainly have not agreed to anything and Speaker Johnson and the City Council members didn’t agree to anything and that was made quite clear by their response to the awfully strange letter that came from the Governor’s Office. So, no, I think our view is more straightforward. I’ll certainly speak for myself. First of all on NYCHA, the State of New York owes us $250 million. That’s a quarter-billion dollars. $50 million from the 2015 budget – I wish I was kidding but go back and look. $50 million that was authorized, signed, sealed, delivered in 2015. It still has not arrived. $200 million more that has not arrived, also signed off. The legislature voted for it. The Governor signed the budget. We provided the proposal, answered all the concerns, now strangely in that letter additional conditions were being added to something that was from an approved budget. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. You can’t add the conditions later on. It was part of the budget. Just give the money to NYCHA so they can get to work. The State’s been delaying for months and months. So, I want to amplify what Speaker Johnson said. When you’re talking about a capital need of what looks like now well over $20 billion, yes, the money matters. And if you want to see – and I think we need to do a better job of showing all of you how money is being used at NYCHA. I want to take you to Queensbridge Houses to show you how the roofs were fixed, internet service was put in, obviously the work that’s been done on safety there that reduced crime, reduced shootings. This is all work NYCHA is doing every day and getting the job done. And anyone who is paying attention to the specifics of NYCHA would understand that. So, we need that money. That’s job one and equally we need the $456 million back for the MTA. So, I’d like to see the focus being on the State. Just – this is all money from the past – just keeping its obligations first on the money that’s it’s already supposed to give us. Then as you saw the Assembly, to their credit, is calling for an additional $200 million particularly to address things like the heat situation. That would be tremendously helpful and we’re ready to get right to work on that and I hope the legislature will follow the Assembly’s lead. Question: [Inaudible] question – Mayor: Yeah. Question: Have you [inaudible] conversation with your wife about what she would run for? Mayor: No, when my wife said that she was interested in running – you’ll be pleased to know that she issues statements without coming to me for approval. And that said – the nature of our partnership and our relationship is she will say what she believes and what she feels. So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that that day when she said it weeks ago. She said very clearly what she wouldn’t do and some of the things she would think about but this is years and years into the future and not the focus right now. Question: Mr. Mayor, you’re saying that the NYPD – back to Jill’s question for a moment – you’re saying that the NYPD disciplinary process has been made clear [inaudible] that it’s never been tighter than it is now but because, as we all know, of the disciplinary records being largely undisclosed, New Yorkers essentially have to take the City’s word for it. So, do you have any concern about what that does to public trust in police department? And you know, also, can you tell us specific actions that your administration has taken this year to change 50-a. Mayor: Absolutely. So, first of all, the number one thing I do vis-a-vis Albany each year is I testify in front of the budget related committees. I made clear that was one of highest priorities for the city there. I have spoken out publicly in favor of 50-a reform. I mean I can go back and count how many dozens of times in the last year I have called for it. My team in Albany has been lobbying individual legislatures consistently on it. I have raised it to the Speaker of the Assembly. I have raised it to other leaders in Albany. I have also called for people who are supportive in different movements for reform to join us. It’s an ongoing effort to build up support. We understand the barrier that we have to overcome. We understand the historic reluctance of the Senate to act on this. But when you have the Commissioner of the biggest police force in the country calling for it, his predecessor Bill Bratton called for it, I would think the Senate would understand that’s all the validation you need. If the police leadership is calling for it, why don’t we yield to them as the experts? Question: Do you – sorry, just the first part of the question – do you concerns generally speaking about what this law and what this situation does to public trust in the NYPD? Mayor: We would be better off if 50-a was reformed. We would be better off if we could put out more information. It would engender more public trust. That being said clearly there have been a number of instances where the discipline was reported even if it wasn’t through the process we would like it to be. You all have gotten a lot of information however you get it and you’ve put it out. So, there’s lots of instances where people see that there is an outcome and there is a disciplinary process that works. Second, we’ve been now releasing body camera footage and all of our officers – patrol officers will have body cameras on them by the end of this year. I think that’s another very important part of engendering trust. Obviously I think neighborhood policing is as well. So, I would take your question to heart and say, I think that trust question plays out on a lot of different fronts. I think on most of the things we’re doing it is engendering more trust. I think we’d be better off the day that we get that reform in Albany. First Deputy Tucker: And let me just – to follow up to your question because it’s important to note that we also – I mean internally – we are looking at ways in which we can get as close to the line as possible with respect to sharing information about disciplinary proceedings. So, we will do that and shortly we will be publishing some of our trial decisions in a way that will be summaries but at least give and provide more transparency and additional information. I’m not going to give you a date as to when we’ll actually do that. We’re still finalizing it and what that should look like in structuring it. But that will happen as well. So, when it comes to transparency that’s what we’re trying to do, it’s to move in that direction. It’s not because of a lack of will. We have the statue in our way right now and hopefully we’ll through this legislation change and fix, we’ll get to a point where we can be even more candid. I will also add that looking at that website – look at the NYPD website with respect to we have tons of data and information probably more than any agency that I’m familiar with in this country with respect to some of what happens or much of what happens in the agency. So, there’s – we’ve demonstrated, I think, in a number of ways our willingness to be open as opposed to you know keeping things closed. Question: Mr. Mayor, I have two questions for you. I want to go back to the back and forth last night between the Governor and the Council Speaker. What is your [inaudible] of what went on there that initial letter from the Governor’s Office then 24 hours later this response. Do you have sort of an analysis of what went on from the – what the Governor was trying to do? Mayor: I think it’s really, really strange. I spoke to Speaker Johnson before he went into this meeting, I spoke to him after he came out of his meeting. And I sat down with him yesterday. And everything he said was consistent in every conversation that nothing was agreed to and that they had – the Council delegation heard some things they were open to and other things that they were far from convinced about. I don’t understand how an official of the Governor’s Office could summarize a meeting in a way that wasn’t accurate. It doesn't make sense to me. It’s not going to achieve anything. Question: I have just another question. We had a story out this week that looked at some of the benefits that labor unions that work in NYCHA get as part of their labor contracts. And you know we looked at some things such as paid holiday [inaudible] able to leave early during the summer hours. All of these things cost money – cost a lot of money [inaudible] overtime costs are rising. I just wanted to ask if you could respond to that but also if you could speak to the relationship between the labor unions and NYCHA and these [inaudible] they have and how that affects the overall state of the agency considering how much money it needs. Mayor: I think there’s a real issue there we have to work on and we hope to find a way to work cooperatively with the union involved. People need help in NYCHA buildings. They need repairs. They need work to be done as quickly as possible. And we want to make sure that the structure of the work under the contract allows for that to happen. And obviously, we’ve pushed for that previously and there’s been some resistance. I’m hoping as we go back to the table going forward that we can make some real progress. Question: The Governor just put out a letter to the State Education Commissioner calling it unconstitutional for schools to have blocked students from participating in walkouts yesterday. [Inaudible] doors being blocked. Do you concur with the view that it’s unconstitutional and are you looking into those reports yourself? Mayor: I have not heard those reports to date. The reports I heard were on – of a lot of participation and things that went pretty smoothly. But if there’s any evidence that happened, I agree that it would be inhibiting the right of free speech. So, I would not accept that. So, I want to know more about that and if there’s evidence then certainly there will be repercussions for that. Question: Mayor, in regards to [inaudible] any indication that the Trump administration [inaudible] show of support to it in conversation [inaudible]? Mayor: I am mystified by the President’s tweets and actions on the Gateway Tunnel. This is one of the most important things for the future of the New York City economy. The folks who he turns to for advice from New York, from everything I know, all understand that this is crucial. So I just don’t understand why he is ignoring their counsel. But I’ve – we’ve also come to realize that what the President tweets one day is not necessarily what he does the next day. So, we’ll fight for this. Biggest single thing that could happen for the Gateway Tunnel is for the Democrats to take the majority in the Senate which would mean that Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and I know it’s a priority for him. So, I think we’re going to get there one way or another but I’m just shocked. It makes no sense. This is the single most populous metropolitan area in the country. This is the key to our future. It’s the kind of thing any President of the United States should be trying to support 100 percent. Question: So, the First Lady said that she disagreed with your statement that she should be paid for the work – Mayor: As I said, she does not seek prior approval. Go ahead. Question: [Inaudible] can you explain what the line of thinking was and [inaudible] – Mayor: I have no regrets. Question: Do you still have the same position? Mayor: Look, let me try and break it down. There are laws that prohibit it and I understand those laws and I respect those laws and we’re certainly not making any move to change those laws. I was speaking humanly. I see her work hard everyday. I see her get a lot done for the people of New York City and yet she cannot be compensated. I find that strange. I think someone who’s working that hard and getting things done should be compensated but I know she’s not going to be and she knows she’s not going to be. So, life goes on. Question: Mayor, two quick questions. One – Comptroller Stringer is out with an audit today showing a rise in absentees among homeless children in the shelters. Is the City doing anything to address that issue and to make sure that children who are already homeless are also going to school? Mayor: Yeah, absolutely. I have not seen the report. Let me [inaudible] but we’re very concerned to ensure that there is good attendance by kids who are in shelters. So, first of all remember that a couple of years we moved to add school bus service where it didn’t exist for kids in shelter and then we put forward a year ago an entirely differently model for how we’re going to approach shelter that focuses on keeping families in their own borough and ideally as close to their home neighborhood as possible, one of the number one reasons being so kids could go to their home school, you know to the school they’ve been a part of a lot more easily. That is increasingly becoming the norm as people come into shelter they are being moved to a location that’s close to their home community as possible. We also have put into shelters tutors and attendance officials to help make sure that there’s follow through to get kids to school. So, it’s a real issue, no question. But it’s one we’re trying to address at the root and one we take seriously. Question: [Inaudible] do with, you were asked about the Herman Bell parole, you said you didn’t agree with it. This is real time world happening. Should the – the PBA was informed that you agree he shouldn’t have been paroled and wondered could the Mayor do something? Could you make a phone call? Would that be something that you would try to stop before it happened? Mayor: I would absolutely try to stop it. I don’t know personally what impact such a phone call would, if it would make a difference but I would be very ready to do that because I don’t think he should get parole. It’s as simple as that. I’m going to do two last ones. Go ahead. Question: In January you said that reforms to the property tax system were coming soon and the creation of a [inaudible] commission to look into the issue. It’s been more than a month now. Where does everything stand on [inaudible]. It took you about three weeks to put together your monuments commission, why is it taking so long to put together the property – Mayor: The monuments commission was no small matter but property tax reform is a gigantic undertaking. Stay tuned. You will see an announcement very shortly on this. We need to get the right combination of people to do work, which as I’ve said is probably going to be a year or more because of the level of complexity. But this is an announcement you can expect quite soon. Last call. Question: Mr. Mayor, Percoco was found guilty of several [inaudible]. Just wanted to get your reaction on that and do you think it changes things for the Governor who’s [inaudible] re-election [inaudible]? Mayor: I will disappoint you by not doing punditry. I want to talk about two things. One – it’s just humanly very sad because there’s obviously a family involved. Two – it’s unfortunately another indicator that the culture of Albany has to change. This has been going on for a long time. Some deeper kind of reform and change has to happen because we can’t see this kind of thing recurring. It really undermines public faith. So, that’s all I got for you. Thanks. Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 5:05pm
Rachel Godsil named Vice Chair, Matt Gewolb named Executive Director and Counsel NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of Cesar Perales as Chair of the City’s newly formed Charter Revision Commission. The Commission, announced at this year’s State of the City and part of the Mayor’s DemocracyNYC agenda, is charged with proposing a plan to deepen New York City’s campaign finance system and empower New York City government to enhance voter participation and improve the electoral process. As required by law, the Commission will also examine the entire Charter to identify additional areas for potential revision. Perales’ appointment follows a 50-year career in public service and advocacy. Most recently, he served as New York State’s Secretary of State, where he was directly involved in the state’s economic development, government efficiency, local government services and anti-poverty efforts. He was also the co-founder of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (PRLDEF). In 1981, as President and General Counsel of PRLDEF, he initiated successful anti-racial gerrymandering litigation in New York City. Previously, Perales successfully sued to require New York to provide language assistance at the ballot box-a requirement that was subsequently made an amendment to the national Voting Rights Act. He also has expansive experience in the health and human services field, working as senior vice-president for community health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services under Mayor Dinkins and Assistant Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. “For democracy to truly function, we have to get big money out of politics,” said Mayor de Blasio. “With Cesar at its head, the Charter Revision Commission will help New York City lead the nation in improving our democracy.” “It is an honor to serve as Chair of this commission,” said Cesar Perales. “I have spent my entire career trying to make government more democratic. I look forward to this opportunity to review our City’s charter to help make New York a more fair and equitable place for all of us.” Today’s announcement also marks the appointment of Rachel Godsil as Vice Chair of the Commission. Godsil, a Professor of Law and Chancellor's Scholar at Rutgers Law School, is the co-founder and director of research for the Perception Institute, a national consortium of social scientists, law professors, and advocates focusing on the role of the mind sciences in law, policy, and institutional practices. She collaborates with social scientists on empirical research to identify the efficacy of interventions to address implicit bias and racial anxiety. She is also a former Chair of the Rent Guidelines Board, worked previously as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as an Associate Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Joining full time in May, Matt Gewolb will be the Commission’s Executive Director and counsel. At present, Gewolb is the Assistant Dean and General Counsel of New York Law School. In his current role, Gewolb advises the Dean and President, Members of the Board and the senior administration on significant policy, management and legal issues and coordinates work on institutional regulatory and accreditation matters. He was previously the director of legislation for the New York City Council. He is the former Director of Government Programs at Columbia Law School and teaches State and Local Government and Law of the City of New York at Fordham Law School. “I am honored to join the Commission led by Chair Perales in a thorough review of the New York City Charter with the goals of promoting democracy and equity in City governance,” said Rachel Godsil. “It is a tremendous privilege to have the opportunity to work with Chair Perales and the Commission,” said Matt Gewolb. “I am looking forward to a robust public process and extensive stakeholder engagement as we engage in this critical work.” The remaining members of the commission will be announced in the coming weeks. Their first public meeting will be held by early next month. “I have worked closely with Cesar, and know that he will bring the utmost integrity to this role. His dedication to making our system more democratic and equitable makes him the ideal candidate for Chair of the Commission,” said Former Mayor David Dinkins. “I know Cesar cares deeply about improving democracy and know from his advocacy in connection with the 1989 charter review process that he is strongly in favor of a commission that is independent, committed to an open process, and relates transparently to all the citizens of New York City,” said Frederick A.O. (“Fritz”) Schwarz, Jr., Chief Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, and former Chair of the 1989 Charter Revision Commission.
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 11:35am
Changes would extend and expand speed enforcement cameras, escalate fines and revoke vehicle registrations for worst offenders, and require DMV notification of medical incidents that cause a driver to lose vehicle control NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a new package of State legislation to keep dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel. Following last week’s crash that claimed the lives of two children in Park Slope, the City is seeking to extend and expand its speed enforcement camera program, escalate fines and suspend the vehicle registrations of repeat offenders, and require physicians to notify the DMV following medical events that could cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. “In the wrong hands, a car can be a deadly weapon. We are fighting on every front to make our streets safer, but we need Albany’s help to keep dangerous drivers off the road, before we lose another life,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The NYPD continues to make New York City streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, resulting in the fewest traffic fatalities ever last year,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “This proposed legislation would provide us with additional tools to enhance safety, enforce the law, and keep dangerous drivers off the street.” “After last week’s tragedy in Park Slope, we must act to prevent future tragedies—whether via legislation, street redesign or enforcement,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Through the Mayor’s leadership we are continuing our fight for a range of state legislation to tackle dangerous driving, including more school zone speed cameras. Despite complaints about speeding along 9th Street in Park Slope, current law does not allow us to put a speed camera there. With more enforcement tools at our disposal, the Administration’s Vision Zero agencies can continue doing more important work—like the Dusk and Darkness campaign that just ended – that are helping reduce fatalities.” The Mayor also announced the results of the second year of the Vision Zero Dusk and Darkness campaign, a partnership between DOT, NYPD and TLC to reduce pedestrian crashes during the fall and winter evening hours that are most dangerous to pedestrians. In the most recent four-month period of this initiative that ended last week, pedestrian traffic fatalities dropped by 24 percent compared to the prior year. Proposed Changes to State Law Extend & Expand School Zone Speed Camera Program: The Mayor will push for the State Legislature to pass S6046/A7798 to expand the City’s speed camera program. Speed cameras have been proven to reduce speeding in school zones by 63%. This bill would authorize the City to install speed cameras at an additional 150 school zones and would also revise the definition of a school zone to allow DOT to address speeding on streets that are near a school, as opposed to only the street or streets on which a school is located. Under current law, 75 percent of children who are killed or severely injured in a traffic crash are struck at times or places at which a speed camera cannot be activated. Fee Escalation and Registration Suspension for Photo Violations: The Mayor will ask the Legislature to introduce legislation escalating the fees on red light and speed camera violations. Currently, there is a flat $50 fine for any photo violation, and fines do not increase with recurring violations. Insurers are prohibited from using camera violation data when setting rates. This proposal would escalate fines for multiple violations within a 2-year period as follows: Number of Red Light and Speed Camera Violations Fines Approximate Vehicles in This Class FY 16-17 1st $50 949,272 2nd $50 298,952 3rd $150 121,393 4th $250 55,469 5th $300 + insurance informed 27,838 6th or more $350 + registration suspended 34,134 Require Physicians to Notify the DMV Following Specific Medical Events: The Mayor also proposes requiring physicians to report certain medical conditions or incidents that may cause a driver to suddenly lose consciousness. This law would be narrowly tailored to those drivers at highest risk of losing consciousness or vehicle control, and will be modeled on a longstanding law in place in New Jersey and other states. Dusk and Darkness The Mayor also announced the results of the Dusk and Darkness campaign, which is ending this month and has shown promising results in reducing pedestrian crashes in evening hours. Now in its second year, DOT, NYPD and the TLC have since late October partnered on an enforcement and awareness campaign during the fall and winter evening hours that are most dangerous to pedestrians. Before the first campaign launched in October of 2016, severe crashes involving pedestrians increased by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter. Pedestrian fatalities during the current Dusk and Darkness initiative have once again decreased from the previous year: from November 1 to March 7, pedestrian fatalities declined to 38 from 50 over the same period in 2016/17, which in turn was a decrease from 62 over the same pre-initiative period in 2015/16. Last year was the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths under Vision Zero, with the fewest-ever overall traffic fatalities citywide, driven by a 32 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities. For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see . “Vision Zero has real life stakes—protecting our families and neighbors. Professional drivers are at the forefront of this work, and they have been the victims of unsafe driving as well. We affirm our commitment to Vision Zero, which includes street enforcement, DMV license monitoring, training requirements, and prosecuting complaints from the public,” said Commissioner Meera Joshi. “We are hopeful that more can be done to leverage red light and speed cameras to ensure unsafe drivers are off the road, and are exploring ways to improve our policies to address this issue.” “I thank Mayor de Blasio for supporting tougher laws to keep dangerous drivers off our roads,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Vision Zero compels us to act, in the name of Abigail, Joshua, Kevin, and every single soul who has been stolen from us in a preventable crash on our streets. I will continue to push Albany to advance a legislative agenda that puts safe streets first.” “Speeding and reckless drivers put New Yorkers’ lives in danger every day, and we must ensure we all work together to keep our streets safe. As part of my efforts to protect children, pedestrians and cyclists, I have worked tirelessly to pass my proposal to expand and extend the school zone speed camera program. With more than one million schoolchildren traveling to and from school every day, we have a responsibility to protect them. Unquestionably, the safety of our children and all New Yorkers should come first. The time for excuses is over. I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s push to expand the speed camera program and other traffic safety measures,” said State Senator Jose Peralta. “Just as the community unites to support the family, friends, and neighbors of the two little ones killed in a horrific crash in Park Slope last week, we as policymakers must unite to protect New Yorkers. We must hold drivers accountable for violations. We must create the necessary links between healthcare, public health professionals, and the authorities to prevent medical emergencies turning into deadly crashes. We must act to bring speed safety cameras to our communities. Upholding public safety is our duty as public servants and I feel an obligation to press the New York State Senate to act on these critical measures. Alongside parents, educators, advocates and concerned neighborhood residents, we must advance an agenda that honors the memory of Joshua and Abigail, and all those killed or injured by crashes,” said State Senator Jesse Hamilton. “This tragic event in Park Slope has been devastating. A driver ran a red light and killed 4-year old Abigail Blumenstein and 20-month old Joshua Lew, and injured Abigail’s pregnant mother, Ruthie Ann Miles, and others. We need serious study of 9th Street to determine why it’s been the scene of these crashes and to design street safety improvements. I support the efforts by the City to improve the conditions at this intersection, and the State must reform penalties for unsafe driving and expand speed safety cameras near schools, which drastically reduces speeding in those locations. The safety of our children and our community must be our highest priority,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “I want to commend Mayor de Blasio for bringing us all together to call on my colleagues in the legislature to keep dangerous drivers off the road. Driving is a privilege and after last week's tragic but preventable crash, we cannot wait any longer to do everything possible to keep unsafe drivers from getting behind the wheel. That's why last week I submitted two bills in the Assembly to do just that. The first bill would create a mandatory reporting requirement for physicians to the State Department of Health and Department of Motor Vehicles for patients under their care who they diagnose with chronic ailments which could suddenly impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The second bill would create an accountability system which would suspend the registration on motor vehicles that repeatedly commit traffic signal violations like red light and speeding in a school zone. If either of these bills were law, last week's tragedy may have been prevented,” said Assembly Member Robert Carroll. “The rules of the road are simple: reckless drivers who fail to yield endanger innocent lives and cause crashes. A driver's license does not give motorists the right of way to speed, cross red lights, or make impaired decisions that turn our city streets and sidewalks into crossroads of life and death. We owe it to the families of those who perished and the survivors whose lives were forever changed to increase enforcement and accountability to prevent future tragedies,” said Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo. “I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership in supporting legislation to keep dangerous drivers off our streets. All of these proposed regulations would have helped to ensure that Dorothy Burns – a driver with multiple medical ailments and eight different citations for speeding or red light violations – could not have been behind the wheel of her car. While it may be too late to save Abigail and Josh, Albany can still take action to take some of the most dangerous drivers off the road, and ensure that no other families suffer a tragedy like this,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “When we lose even one life due to a crash, it means that there is more we can do. A lot of that requires that the city and state work together with a unified goal,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. “As a city, we have made great progress in making transit safer through smart street design and committing to installing safety bollards. Now, I call on my state counterparts to further these efforts.” “Every life lost on the street is a tragedy, which is why we must do everything in our power to make sure dangerous drivers do not get behind the wheel,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Having safe streets for our families is one of the most important elements of public safety, so we must take action now to protect New Yorkers and support law enforcement to ensure that this never happens again. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill for their consistent efforts and priorities aimed at making our streets safer for all.” “Last Monday, I joined children, their parents, families of victims, advocates and other elected officials in a powerful demonstration of unity,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “We lifted our voices to ask the Mayor to implement solutions to address pedestrian safety. Today, Mayor de Blasio is here with us to demonstrate his commitment to ensure dangerous drivers are kept off the streets. I thank Mayor de Blasio for the unveiling of this new package of State legislation. Little Abigail and Joshua deserve our full commitment to strengthen our laws. We don’t plan on failing them.” “As families who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, or survivors of traffic violence ourselves, we are heartened to see the mayor recommit to fighting for the expansion of life-saving speed safety cameras in school zones," said Cara Cancelmo, a member of Families for Safe Streets. "Speeding drivers kill. And they kill the most vulnerable among us most of all: children and the elderly. These deaths need to end, and we know how to do it. Speed safety cameras will save lives, street redesigns will save lives -- we need more of them now. Ensuring that the most dangerous drivers receive greater and escalating fines for frequent and habitual life-threatening behavior will also save lives. Driving comes with a grave responsibility. When that responsibility is taken lightly, lives and communities are shattered. Members of Families for Safe Streets have gone through trauma and grief due to preventable crashes-- we are fighting so nobody else has to.” “We know what it takes to prevent traffic deaths, and the mayor's proposal to expand speed safety cameras is a strong step in the right direction. Along with redesigning dangerous corridors, automated enforcement have proven to be an effective tool toward eliminating senseless tragedies on our streets," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Vision Zero will remain out of reach until we've truly prioritized safety ahead of placating drivers, so we commend Mayor de Blasio for taking action toward keeping the worst offenders from being able to get behind the wheel.”
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you Alana. Thank you. Let’s thank all of the leaders of the Activism Club for making this happen! [Cheering] Murrow, I’m very proud of you today. [Cheering] I appreciate you and I appreciate students all over this city and all over this country who are standing up for change. I have to help you understand one thing, in the decades and decades before this moment, we have never seen anything like what you are doing today. [Cheering] There’s been a fight for change for a long time, but there’s never been a more powerful movement than what the students of Brooklyn and New York City and this nation have done in these last few weeks. You are making so clear to this whole country that you are sick of the violence. You are sick of the madness. You are sick of the slaughter, and you won’t stand for it. [Cheering] And we need your leadership. We need you because you have shown the kind of leadership that we’ve never seen before. And I am very certain in my heart that change is coming because of you, and I admire you and I appreciated you. Keep fighting. Thank you. [Cheering] Now my pleasure to introduce Ana.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 5:05pm
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will also provide a $100,000 grant to the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS to increase behavioral health services in Puerto Rico; the Hispanic Federation will match the grant to bring the total new support to $200,000 NEW YORK — First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio today announced the deployment of a 12-person team of mental and behavioral health experts from the New York City Health Department to train school staff across Puerto Rico in psychological first aid for students who have experienced trauma and emotional challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Additionally, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will provide a grant of $100,000 to the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Program to increase mental health services in Puerto Rico as part of the city’s support to recovery efforts in the island. The Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program will match the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City grant of $100,000, bringing the total new support for community health centers in Puerto Rico to $200,000. First Lady McCray and Deputy Mayor Dr. Palacio will travel to Puerto Rico Tuesday to meet with the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, the Mayor of Loiza, Julia Nazario, and public health and education officials to identify existing service challenges and gaps that may be addressed with additional technical resources from ThriveNYC and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “New Yorkers have a strong bond with Puerto Rico and the people of our City have never hesitated to help our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers in a time of great need,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund and who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “As NYC continues to stand with Puerto Rico, we understand that healing emotional pain is not as straightforward as rebuilding physical structures, or restoring cell service. With this deployment of psychological first aid trainers and an investment in behavioral health services, New York City acknowledges the long road ahead and will assist with the lingering emotional and mental challenges of recovery.” “It’s both understandable and right that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster we focus first on health and safety,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “But as the response effort continues, we begin to see how trauma and stress of the disaster can leave invisible wounds and lasting effects. That's why we're training 3,000 teachers across Puerto Rico with Psychological First Aid skills they can use to help themselves and their students during this time of recovery.” “Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray, New York City continues to support Puerto Rico during its time of greatest need. Our organizational mandate is to support actions that can help Puerto Rico rise up better, stronger and more self-sufficient,” said José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. “Puerto Rico is having a serious mental health crisis, and we’re so grateful that our city’s First Lady has taken a leading role to support and shine a light on the mental health needs of our neighbors on the island. We are very proud to work with the First Lady and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to establish a $200,000 Fund to increase behavioral health services at community health centers in Puerto Rico. It is essential support that will help provide critical help for many of our people on the island.” “New York City is committed to assisting our colleagues in Puerto Rico as they engage in the hard work of rebuilding the public health infrastructure and develop mental health supports following last year’s devastating hurricane season,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department is fortunate to have the expertise in disaster mental health response and recovery and a robust Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response to assist with the complex logistical issues associated with a mission of such magnitude.” “Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need our help as they cope with the trauma from the hurricanes. On our deployment last December to Puerto Rico, we saw the urgent need for mental health resources on the island, especially among children. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for their steadfast commitment to the island and their support to ongoing recovery efforts,” said Health Department First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. This deployment of mental health experts is a response to a request for assistance by the Department of Education in Puerto Rico and reflects the de Blasio Administration’s strong tie between New York City and Puerto Rico, and the City’s continued commitment to rebuilding and restoring Puerto Rico over the long haul. During its two week deployment, New York City Health Department staff will offer mental health training sessions each day throughout Puerto Rico, including in San Juan and Mayaguez to up to 3,000 education staff in Puerto Rico on post-disaster stress management and self-care to support their coping, and post-disaster recovery. The trainings will focus on stress management, self-care, and the importance of seeking mental health support for early intervention, and are based on evidence-based practice that reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To build capacity for mental and behavioral health interventions for school staff in Puerto Rico, the team will work with school social workers through a “train-the-trainer” model. The goal is to train to up to 1,000 social workers on mental and behavioral health curricula to help Puerto Rico’s Department of Education continue the trainings on the island in the coming months. The Mayor’s Fund $100,000 grant to Hispanic Federation/UNIDOS, and the $100,000 matching funds from the Hispanic Federation, will supplement behavioral health services and address unmet needs related to behavioral health services at community health centers in Puerto Rico. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City has donated $30,000 to the International Medical Corps to support the deployment of mobile medical units that provide primary care to hurricane-affected residents who do not have access to health facilities, and $70,000 to the Hispanic Federation/UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program to support general relief and recovery projects in Puerto Rico. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City received donations from City employees via automatic payroll deductions, and from online donations from everyday New Yorkers. Last November, the New York City Health Department deployment to assess Puerto Rico’s public health needs identified mental health in schools a significant gap. Following the fact-finding mission after Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDOE) extended an invitation to the DOHMH to train their education systems staff on post-disaster stress management and self-care. DOHMH-Division of Mental Hygiene agreed to provide a series of four-hour long Stress Management and Self Care after Disasters Trainings for Teachers and Education System Staff in Puerto Rico, up to thirty-six (36) sessions in nine days. The Health Department’s Division of Mental Hygiene’s Office of Community Resilience (OCR), under the leadership of Dr. Oxiris Barbot, First Deputy Commissioner at DOHMH, and Dr. Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner at DOHMH, took the central role in preparing the team for this mission. Office of Community Resilience (OCR) staff has also provided mental health support at the City’s service center opened last year to support individuals and families recovering from Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey. The OCR staff provided on-site mental health support to 1,397 members of the public and assisted clients with referrals with sister agencies and community-based organizations that provide mental health services. Since its creation after the 9/11 disaster, OCR has been leading the disaster mental health planning, preparedness and response in New York City. This deployment marks a key shift for the Health Department as it is the first time the agency has deployed a team of disaster mental health responders outside New York City to help fellow Americans affected by a disaster. “Hurricane Maria was a storm for the ages, and we as New Yorkers must help our friends in Puerto Rico,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I thank the First Lady for taking these important steps to address their mental health needs. They have a difficult road ahead, but we will do everything we can to help them find the way to recovery." “The residents of Puerto Rico have been ignored by the Trump Administration and it is up to each of us, New Yorkers doing what’s right, to help our fellow American citizens rebuild following last year’s devastation,” said Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Next week marks six months since Hurricane Maria first made landfall. Within that time, we have witnessed a growing humanitarian crisis as homes remain without roofs; buildings, hospitals and schools remain without electricity; clean water is scare; and the infrastructure and roadways continue to crumble. It is traumatic to lose your home or your school without the resources to rebuild, and the trauma is even greater for the most vulnerable individuals within the community, our youth and senior citizens. We must continue our work to address the daily and long-term challenges that these families face until Puerto Rico is fully restored.” “The people of Puerto Rico need all the help they can get as they recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. That includes improving their mental health as well, and these trainers will help provide Puerto Rico’s schools with the staff they need to assist their students as they recover from this disaster. I thank First Lady McCray for her commitment to the mental well-being of the people of Puerto Rico,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The trauma caused by Hurricane María has catalyzed a mental health crisis among our fellow Americans living in Puerto Rico,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health. “Suicide rates on the island have increased since the storm because of the profound loss residents continue to endure. To mitigate this, it is imperative to include mental health resources in our approach to help Puerto Rico recover. As Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Palacios, and the Health Department for their commitment to addressing the emotional and mental trauma facing Puerto Ricans.” “I thank First Lady McCray and the service providers for taking on this essential mission. As a New Yorker with family and friends on the island, I’m proud to see our City invest in the physical, emotional and mental well-being of Puerto Rico. These mental health services will address a growing crisis on the island as thousands of Americans continue to suffer from a dwindling federal response to this historic disaster,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “New York City will never leave Puerto Rico behind, and I look forward to our city continuing to provide aid in the coming months to Puerto Ricans on the island, as well as to those who were forced to relocate to the Five Boroughs and are facing their own set of challenges.” State Senator Gustavo Rivera Ranker of the Senate Health Committee said, "In the last few months, Puerto Ricans have survived a devastating natural disaster, a dwindling economy, and a slow rebuilding process that have left many at times struggling for essential goods and services. While we work to rebuild the island, it is just as important that we address the emotional and mental damage left behind by this storm. I thank First Lady McCray and Health Commissioner Bassett for providing resources to ensure Puerto Ricans have access to critical mental health services as they work to recover from this disaster." “Mental health services are critically needed in Puerto Rico. I thank the Mayor for his effort to provide experts from New York City to train Puerto Rican school staff in psychological first aid for students suffering from the emotional challenges following Hurricane Maria,” said Assistant Speaker of the Assembly Felix W. Ortiz. “We are dealing with an island in need of so much assistance. Every effort helps.”
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 11:35am
"Speaker Heastie and the State Assembly have the backs of NYCHA tenants. Today, they passed a bill giving NYCHA full design-build authority that will speed up critical repairs by more than a year. The rest of Albany needs to follow the Assembly's lead: stop playing games and promoting gimmicks. Deliver the key investments and reforms NYCHA tenants are waiting for."
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 7:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: …this opportunity to spend some time together and talk about the impact you are going to make on the future of this country. And I'm going to channel Tom Donohue in a moment, which I never thought I'd say. [Laughter] Amazing things are happening at the NLC, let me tell you. [Laughter] First, I just want to thank Mayor Stodola. He is a fantastic leader of his city, and I know this because I get this exciting email every Monday morning. Do any of you get Monday Mornings with the Mayor? Do you get [inaudible] email? I haven't even had my coffee and I'm figuring out everything that's going on in Little Rock, and it's very inspiring. [Laughter] Now, I give him a lot of credit – he started the week right for everybody. But, thank you for your great leadership, Mayor. I want to commend your [inaudible], we are looking forward to her great leadership – [inaudible] for her leadership, all in her city and beyond. And, of course, the inimitable, the unmistakable, Clarence Anthony, who does so much for the [inaudible]. [Applause] So, here's what I want to say to you – the National League of Cities is having a very big impact already, but you're going to have a much bigger impact, going forward. We're in a time in history where the rules of the game are changing constantly, and we are learning new ways of doing things that we're understanding our power in a different way. And I can say that we as leaders on the ground, where the rubber hits the road, where things have to get done – we have an ability to speak to people all over the country and move them in terms of the kinds of changes we need. We also have an extraordinary ability to move the Congress. And honestly, we have not even begun to tap into our potential. And that's [inaudible] and, again, I was listening to Tom there, and he – I've got to give him credit – I've got to give him credit, he was hitting that same note, that we can go up to Capitol Hill and change minds. And we can change those same minds in our communities by organizing our people and our leaders – our civic leaders, our faith leaders, our business leaders – in common cause for the amount of changes we need. We are never surprised when things don't happen in Washington D.C., right? Right? [Applause] So, we have no illusions. I mean, what a blessing to have no illusions. [Laughter] We can see clearly. We come here to meet because of our nation's capital, but we don't here assuming this is a place of action. But we can help it become a place of action because we're a people of action. [Applause] And we have the ability – and each and every one of you do it all the time – we have the ability to bring people together in our community, and their voices to be heard in a way that's unmistakable to the representatives here. Remember, everyone in this room knows something about the political process – when enough of your constituents stark speaking, when enough of those voices that you truly respect, or maybe even fear a little, start speaking up, it changes your mind, it opens your eyes. Our collective ability to speak up for the people of cities all over America and move the Congress is potentially extraordinary, but I know for a fact that it has not been tapped into, it has not been built the way it could have been, and, now, in this moment in history – in this sharp, intense moment in history, we have that chance to do it, and this is one of the places where it has to happen. So, I want to talk to you about another piece that makes us powerful and that's the fact that we all sit in a room together. Now, I just actually came up from a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Austin – the same exact reality. We sit in a room with each other, we get along, we work together. Oh, by the way, some of us are Republican, some of us are Democrats, some of us are Independents. We think it's normal to work together. [Applause] So, for us, bipartisanship is not some strange, mysterious, exotic thing. It's something we live every single day – now, maybe a rare commodity in Washington, but it's something we're really comfortable with, and that gives us a power. In a nation yearning to see people actually get results and actually find a way to get along and get something done, we already know how to do it. And that gives us a moral authority. When we speak in our communities or when we speak to a broader audience, we're speaking from the position of people who are actually modeling good behavior. [Applause] Now, I did not know the power we had until just a few years ago, and one of the people who taught me – this is another moment where I'm going to break character a little. I'm a progressive Democrat, I'm proud of that. But my teacher in that particular moment back in 2015 was – an unlikely source – Senator Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma. And I went to his office, and we were there to talk about the Highway bill. It was a group of Republican and Democratic mayors, urging more federal spending on infrastructure. And I sat down, Inhofe fixes me with a look, and he smiles broadly. He says, you know, I'm considered one of those most conservative members of the U.S. Senate. And I said, yes, Senator, I know that. And he says, well, but I'm also going to tell you why I believe that the federal government has [inaudible] work to do to address the infrastructure challenge. And he said to me, you all – all of you Mayors, Council Members, local elected officials – you need to get together with your business community, you need to get together with your farm community if you're in a farming part of the country, you need to get together with all of your local leaders and send a unified message and it will be heard by people in the Congress. And we proceeded to do that [inaudible]. And in – at that point in history, the Highway bill, you know, whether it was funding mass transit, roads, bridges, highways, it barely moved year to year. It was almost [inaudible]. In 2015, we had a breakthrough. We got a longer-term bill, we got a lot more money in it, because that bipartisan coalition, built from the grassroots, kept going to Washington, kept coming back, and went – Senators and Congress Members went to their district, they saw those same people right there. And it wasn't the typical one extreme or another group in front of their office, it was a truly bipartisan group. It was public and private sector together, and I started to see the power of that. And in no time will that be more important than this moment as this country's finally talking about infrastructure in a more serious way. And look, it doesn't matter what you think of each plan, or where you are on the political spectrum, one thing we can say, and it could be a real blessing, is – the issue is on the front burner. We – for us, every day it's on the front burner, right? In our lives, infrastructure and the things we struggle to deal with when it comes to infrastructure – we think about it all the time. We know what we could do to build our cities, build our economies if we actually had the resources to invest. And we know the danger if those resources never come. We know it could set us back. So, we feel it. We know it. Finally, it's on the front burner, so it's a moment of opportunity for all of us. Now, look, we need the understand and we need to communicate to our constituents and to the whole country, and certainly to the Congress, what ever you do, there's one thing you can't do. You can't leave this status quo in place. The current status quo on infrastructure in this country will leave us all behind. [Applause] We can't grow if we don't get some help. And we don't accept a reality in which so many other leading nations are growing and growing, because they're building bridges, and roads, and tunnels, and railroads, and everything they need they're investing in – and watch their economies grow – and we sit here, the greatest nation on earth, watching ourselves falling behind – that's not the American way. Look at the – a lot of people in this room can relate to the crisis of Amtrak. Amtrak's one of the things that actually unites this country. While Amtrak's crumbling, our competitor nations are building bullet trains all over the place. And we're watching, and we want to break that status quo, we want to get the nation moving forward. I have heard just as much passion from Republicans as from Democrats, smaller cities as from bigger cities. But here is our chance to change the equation. It won't change itself. The equation will not change within the boundaries of the Beltway here in Washington. It will only change if we change it. The power is in this room, because we represent the grassroots and we can show the members of the Congress that if all they do is reinforce that status quo, they're literally saying to their constituents – your lives can't improve, you can't get more jobs, you can't get a better standard of living. We've got to make it as plain as that. And this moment is powerful, and here's what I think. Again, everyone's going to have a different view, I'm going to give you mind. The jobs and infrastructure put forward by the Senate Democrats has profound advantages that, I think, every one of our cities can feel. It's a trillion dollars in direct federal spending. It focuses on local control – I think that's something we can all applaud. [Applause] If you want to get the job done, send the resources to the most local level. [Applause] There is not a requirement in the Senate Democrat bill that you have to provide matchable money. [Applause] Remember, for so many cities big and small, it's a death knell. If you have to come up with a huge amount of money is order to get more federal money, it's a non-starter – and, by the way, it's not fair. [Applause] Because, by that theory, then only the jurisdictions that happen to have a lot of resources will ever get ahead. So, the rich get richer. We need – there are cities all over this country, big and small, in every region that if they got some investment, their economies can start to surge. But if they don't have that initial money and they're left behind, that's not fair and that's not right. So, we have to fight for that [inaudible] and the Senate Democrat bill does that. [Applause] And it avoids the danger – and look, there is a danger if we think infrastructure and there is a door open for privatization. Here's what I've got [inaudible] when there is privatization involved, too many times the resources don't arrive; too many times the project does not prove to be "profitable" for the private sector; too many times you're left holding the bag. I don't want an infrastructure bill that helps Wall Street and leaves out main street. [Applause] So, we have to insist on the right kind of bill. And I saw it in 2015 – I saw the power of localities. I saw what cities could do together, showing the Congress that they have to do something different. And, lo and behold, it actually worked. We've got to do that again, but we've got to do it even more intensely. It's one of those hours of decision. I know we can help our constituents to understand that if the federal government gets back in the business of building up this country, everyone benefits. And, I remind you, history is on our side. There's a beautiful bipartisan history to this too. A lot of it started with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but in the heyday of our national government actually investing in all of us, a lot of that happened during the administration of Dwight Eisenhower – the Interstate Highway System, a great example. So, there was a bipartisan consensus. You had to invest to build up the country. You had to spend money so everyone else could make money, could have a decent standard of living. That was a time in our history when every-day working people actually thought they would do better. That they over the year would have a better standard of living, that their kids would do better than they did. Remember those times? Isn't that what we want again? [Applause] So, history teaches us it can be done. History teaches us it was the American way, and it worked for Americans all over the country. The solution will not come from this city. The solution will come from your city. If you feel the power, if you understand that you can be the difference-maker, this will be the time to break through, this will be the time that things change. And, because of you, your people will be better, and your people will realize that they're a great potential. There's great potential in our cities, there's great potential in our nation, if only we invest in what matters, which are the things that actually help our people. Let's do that together. Thank you, everyone.
Monday, March 12, 2018 - 11:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, everyone. It is just so good to be with a room full of progressives. [Applause] Feeling good tonight? Audience: Yeah! Mayor: My brothers and sisters, first of all, I have to tell you Nydia Velázquez has been such a powerful progressive voice in our city and I really want to thank her and honor her for everything she’s done for us. But I have to say in the last year she has stood up, she has been the most passionate voice in this nation in defense of three-and-a-half million Americans in Puerto Rico. [Applause] And my friends, I have to say Nydia is a truth-teller and she has been very, very clear some people are profiting in the midst of disaster. A lot of people are being ignored in the midst of the disaster. I always like to make the analogy – there’s another part of this country that also has about three-and-a-half million people just like Puerto Rico. If the hurricane had hit and devastated the state of Connecticut the entire U.S. military would be there right now helping them back on their feet. So we go to be very clear and very honest that not all Americans were treated equal and that’s not the world we believe in. We’re going to keep fighting for the people of Puerto Rico, Nydia. I assure you, all of us will be with you. [Applause] I want to thank everyone in the Progressive Caucus. A special and deep thank you to Raúl Grijalva and Mark Pocan for your tremendous leadership making this organization such an important part of the dialogue in Washington and beyond. To all the members of the caucus, to everyone here, this is how change begins, when like-minded people gather together and work toward action. This caucus – I remember when it was a new thing and people regarded it as a kind of small thing. It’s not a small thing any more. [Applause] Almost 20 percent of all members of the House of Representatives are in this caucus and I predict to you that the second week of November, you’re going to have a lot more coming. [Applause] So I want to say to you what I think we are experiencing right now and when you’re in the middle of history, sometimes it’s hard to see the contours. Sometimes it’s hard to understand fully, of course, what we’re living through. And I’m not going to dwell on what we all could say about Donald Trump and his administration. I want to talk about what we’re living through. We are living through a once in a generation opportunity to make change. That’s what we’re living through. [Applause] This is a blessed time. Despite all the challenges, despite the setbacks this is a moment and I will be audacious but I feel this deep in my heart – I will tell you today this is the dawning of a new progressive era. [Applause] And you can see it all over the country in every kind of city and town, in urban areas, in rural areas, in red states, in blue states. You can see that people are taking matters into their own hands. They’re not accepting the status quo. You can see that there’s an incredible energy and the energy is with us, my friends. You can talk to people on the other side. Ideologically, they hardly even try to make the argument that the energy is with them anymore. The energy is with us and it’s happening in all sorts of ways and many of them you didn’t even expect, many of them were not projected or expected. A couple of weeks ago did you expect that teachers in West Virginia would strike and that they would win? [Applause] In this progressive era, things happen that we don’t even see coming, good things, powerful things, expressions of the people’s will. A few weeks ago we didn’t even see it coming and now it’s come and it’s gone already. They got that pay raise because they stood up. Now I just want to remind you what I just spoke, the place I just spoke about, West Virginia – and I’m going to borrow a New York phrase here. That famous song from Frank Sinatra that says, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” If you can strike and win in West Virginia, you can do it anywhere. [Applause] But it is about being bold. It is about being resolute. It is about being who we are, being comfortable in our own skins, being clear about our own beliefs, and never being ashamed to be a full-throated progressive. [Applause] I’m going to tell you my story very quickly. Nydia hit a couple of the notes but I’ll frame it this way. When I ran for mayor, the message out there from a lot of the mainstream was that if I were to prevail, chaos would ensue. [Laughter] You let a progressive run things, watch out. Of course there would be more crime. Of course there would be disorder. We would be well on our way back to the 1970s. Remember those apocalyptic movies about New York City? They literally put images – one of my Republican opponents put images on TV ads suggesting we were just a step from going back to the bad old days. But here’s the truth, when progressives win the opportunity to govern, when we govern on behalf of the people, when we have a bold vision things start to move, things start to change, and people start to feel that change. And I’m going to tell you something about New York City today. After four years, I can say it safely something very different is happening in New York City. Something big is happening. Something important is happening because the changes are taking root. Nydia Velázquez talked to you about pre-K. That was an idea we had and I can’t tell you how many times the editorial boards literally said – and so many other pundits they said – overly ambitious, can’t be done. It became commonplace to assume that this wonderful, empowering idea for our children and our families must be quaint and naive because it would help so many everyday working people. So, the day I walked into the door, there was about 20,000 kids already going to full-day pre-K. Two years later in New York City, 70,000 kids were going to full-day pre-K for free. [Applause] When I started my administration there wasn’t a single three-year-old getting full-day early childhood education through our public schools. There are now thousands. By 2021, it will be a universal right in New York City. [Applause] And let me tell you when you create new universal rights, people respond. As progressives we have something that’s really underestimated. We actually want to see equality. We want to see opportunity for all. When we provide it, when people touch it, when they feel it, when they taste it, they don’t want to go back. They believe in our vision. It’s our job to make the vision real. Let me mention one of the thorniest issues we face – criminal justice, safety, creating a society where people are safe but there’s also fairness, we were told for years that you had to choose. When I ran for mayor, what I heard from so many of my opponents and again the conventional wisdom purveyors – you have to choose, which one do you want? Do you want safety or do you want fairness? You can’t have both. The ultimate false choice in our society. Well guess what, in New York City today safety and fairness walk hand-in-hand. [Applause] We ended a discriminatory and unconstitutional policy of stop-and-frisk that was denigrating our young men of color. [Applause] And as we ended this policy we got safer the first year, then we got even safer the second year, we got even safer the third year, we got safer the fourth year. We are now the safest big city in America. [Applause] We know that what people want is fairness. If one thing defines progressives, it is that constant quest for fairness. When we give it to people and they experience it, they know what they were deprived of and it wets their appetite for more change. Let me tell you something else we’re doing in New York City. I’m so proud of it. My wife, Chirlane McCray, is leading the way. We are not allowing people to be ignored and stigmatized and kept from the help they need simply because they have a mental health condition. [Applause] And it’s the same scenario once again. My wife said, we are going to go and address the mental health crisis, we’re going to bring it out in the open, we’re going to tell people it’s okay to talk about it and that they deserve the care they need, and it’s our obligation to help them get it. Our First Lady, she went all over the city, she organized houses of worship – literally thousands of houses of worship to all speak on the same weekend about mental health, to bring it out of the shadows, to tell people whatever they were dealing with it was okay and they could get the help they need. The concept was called Thrive NYC and today in New York City every single day thousands of people are getting access to mental health that used to not be there for them but now it is their right. [Applause] So, these examples are to make a point. We have to be bold. We have to be uncompromised. We have to show all those looking to us that we’re not interested in half measures. We learned some painful lessons my friends. I don’t know about you but I think all those years when the voices of the DLC dominated the debate, too many times people fell for it. But talk about a world view that has been totally invalidated – [Applause] – when we come forward and say, you know what, we believe in labor unions. Period. [Applause] We believe in organizing. Every time there’s one more person who joins a labor union our society becomes stronger. [Applause] That’s what people need to hear. They need to hear us be clear about our devotion and our love for public education. We’re not ashamed of it. We believe in it. [Applause] They need to know that we are unafraid. We don’t care who has the power, who has the money. So you can tell a real progressive very simply when they can say this simple sentence – we should make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. [Applause] And they are paying less of their fair share than they have in generations. All the things that we believe in, all the good we could do in this world, some of it costs money. I know where the money is. The one percent, they have it. They ain’t giving it back but we need a people’s movement that demands a repeal of those tax cuts that just got passed for the wealthy and the one percent. [Applause] Progressives say clearly, we’re never going to go back and have another Great Recession. We are not going to allow Wall Street to run wild. We’re going to protect the reforms. We’re going to go farther with the reforms to make sure we are never the victims of a crash again. This is what defines us. Now, I’ll tell you something, people, when they hear those messages, they relate and they care and they feel it’s about them. And there’s opportunities coming up this year to tell people the difference between a true progressive vision and a compromising vision. Someday there’s going to be action on infrastructure and I for one will tell you the American people will not accept and should not accept a “infrastructure plan” that’s just another privatization plan. [Applause] A real infrastructure plan – and it was proven by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and if you want bipartisanship, it was proven by Dwight Eisenhower as well – a real infrastructure plan is when the federal government spends money to fix our mass transit and our railroads and our roads and our bridges and our tunnels all over this country. [Applause] I am telling you if we make it plain for people, they will respond because they can tell the difference and they can see what’s happening in their own communities. They can see what’s crumbling around them and they know it’s not going to be fixed because of the [inaudible] big corporations. Look, I think for a long time we were told not to be ourselves. We were told to somehow be ashamed of being progressives and you know what if people see you being ashamed of yourself, they don’t get inspired. But when we are who we are, it moves people. And this year, this is a year that we’ve been waiting for. 2018 is a year so ripe for change. And it’s not just my optimism speaking. It’s evidence. It’s evidence gleaned from places where we weren’t supposed to be able to find that kind of hope. Remember that night last November, not November 2016 – we’re going to put that night out of our minds. Let’s talk about 2017. Remember that there wasn’t a single person predicting the outcome in Virginia and everyone woke up – [Applause] The people of Virginia had another idea and I love it – I love it when the pundits and the pollsters and the purveyors of conventional wisdom don’t even know there’s a possibility of change. No one said the House of Delegates in Virginia could flip and it came this close to happening. And we saw progress that was more than expected in New Jersey. We saw it in Washington State. But of course it could not happen in a place like Alabama, could it? [Applause] No. I’m sorry that’s just impossible, my friends. But you know what – you know what has not been given enough attention? In Alabama with those restricted voter laws, with every tool being arrayed against every day Alabamians who wanted change, progressives turned out, people organized on the ground, people would not be held back. That result in Alabama is something that should speak volumes to every one of us. [Applause] And every time you start to wonder, can we take that next big step, someone comes forward to teach us a powerful lesson. Now, I wish it hadn’t happened because of tragedy but brothers and sisters, these extraordinarily noble students from Parkland, Florida – [Applause] They are teaching this whole nation a lesson in how to organize and how to educate and how to move people’s hearts. They are changing this country and no one could have even conceived of it just a month ago. These are the times we’re living in. They’re perilous times but they’re magical times also because the people are feeling their own power and when the people feel their own power things change. So I conclude with this – we have an opportunity here. The Progressive Caucus is going to help lead the way in Washington and I want to thank everyone in that state legislatures – great organizations like SiX that are helping to organize progressive action in the state legislatures. [Applause] I want to thank our brothers and sisters in LocalProgress who are doing so much on the ground. [Applause] We got to pull these pieces together and we got to encourage everyone in our communities to come out, to push for change, to organize, to register, to believe in their own power. And that power will sustain us and when this Election Day is over in November, we don’t want the rallies and the organizing and the door knocking and the registration efforts – we don’t want them to end on Election Day even if we are victorious. We want them to begin to get stronger that next day. [Applause] We want people to stop playing by the old rules. Those good people in Alabama decided they were not playing by the old rules anymore. Those teachers in West Virginia decided they were not playing by the old rules anymore. Those students in Parkland decided they were not playing by the old rules anymore. [Applause] It is a new day and it is our time. Thank you. God bless you all. [Applause]
Monday, March 12, 2018 - 7:35am
Coalition Launches To Encourage Other Cities To Join NEW YORK— Today, Mayor de Blasio, joined by 11 mayors and city leaders from across the country, signed on to the Cities Open Internet Pledge in coordinated resistance to the federal government's repeal of net-neutrality protections. The pledge encourages cities to use their local authority to protect net-neutrality. Mayors Steve Adler (Austin, TX), Ted Wheeler (Portland, OR), Mark Farrell (San Francisco, CA), Jacob Frey (Minneapolis, MN), Sly James (Kansas City, MO), Sam Liccardo (San Jose, CA), Ron Nirenberg (San Antonio, TX), Catherine Pugh (Baltimore, MD), Barney Seney (Putnum, CT), Paul Soglin (Madison, WI) and Chair Zach Friend (Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors) all signed on. "Corporate greed is the only reason net neutrality is gone. To help even the playing field, New York City is going to hit companies in the only place they seem to feel it: their bottom line," said Mayor de Blasio. "When the federal government fails to protect consumers, cities must band together to take action. New York City is leading the charge by establishing the Cities Open Internet Pledge." In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality rules that ensured that all internet traffic be treated equal. By overturning the net neutrality protections, Internet Service Providers can now slow down or charge customers more to access certain websites. Twelve cities have signed on to the pledge below: Cities Open Internet Pledge Over the past two decades, cities have increased their presence on the internet to provide information and services to constituents. In that time, conducting business online has gone from an amenity to a necessity. Cities have come to rely on the internet as an open medium with the assurance that a service provider will deliver a resident's request for government content just the same as they deliver any other content. The Federal Communications Commission's recent repeal of its Open Internet order violates that principle. Cities cannot allow private internet service providers to be the gatekeeper between our residents and the local government services on which they depend every day. We each commit our city to take all available steps to ensure the internet remains open and to keep gatekeepers from throttling, blocking or limiting government content on the internet. To that end, to the extent permitted by law and within our control, we will: 1. Procure applicable internet services from companies that do not block, throttle, or provide paid prioritization of content on sites that cities run to provide critical services and information to their residents. 2. Ensure an open internet connection with any free or subsidized service we offer to our residents. 3. Not block, throttle or engage in paid prioritization when providing internet service directly to our residents, such as through free public Wi-Fi or municipal broadband. 4. To the extent permitted, require clear and accessible notices of filtering, blocking and prioritization policies with enforceable penalties for violations to protect consumers from deceptive practices. 5. Monitor the practices of internet service providers so consumers and regulators can know when a company is violating open internet principles or commitments. 6. Encourage consumer use of ISPs, including municipal options that abide by open internet policies. Today also marks the launch of, a website where constituents can ask their local leaders to join the pledge. The de Blasio administration has already taken important steps to preserving net neutrality by incorporating net neutrality provisions into the LinkNYC franchise and issuing a "Truth in Broadband" RFI to evaluate in real-time how carriers provide internet service to consumers and to identify if they are engaging in anti-net neutrality practices. Additionally, to fulfill the goals of the pledge New York City will: * Review its Master Service Agreements and other agreements with Internet Service Providers to determine open internet policies can potentially be incorporated. * Evaluate all of the City's free Wi-Fi and other partnerships with Internet Service Providers to determine if they are compliant with open internet policies. * Evaluate the publicly available consumer terms of service from Internet Service Providers to determine how they meet our principles and what consumer protection and consumer education steps we can take to increase transparency and accountability. "Portland is leading the way. In the face of a federal government that is shirking its responsibilities, and a state government beset by budget deficits, our City is innovating to address the key issues of our time." said Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon. "An open internet gives startups reliable access to the lifeblood of a tech company. Repealing net neutrality hurts our entrepreneurs' ability to realize ideas and get them to consumers, and it would be bad news for Austin's tech scene and our job market," said Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas. "Net Neutrality and the protections it provides our residents and businesses are vital to ensuring a fair and open Internet for all," said Mayor Mark Farrell of San Francisco, California. "I want to thank Mayor De Blasio for taking the lead on the Cities Open Internet Pledge, and I am fully committed to having San Francisco follow through on the pledge." "Net neutrality is essential to our ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas, apply for a job, learn new skills, access government services, and connect with friends and neighbors. By signing this pledge, my office is committing to do what we can to protect the fundamental rights of our residents to a free and open internet, said Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Minnesota. "A truly open and fair Internet ignites innovation, breaks down barriers and brings communities together," said Zach Friend, Chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. "Net neutrality ensures that communities like ours can continue to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and economic vitality." "I signed the Open Internet Pledge Initiative because net neutrality is integral to creating digital inclusion in Kansas City," said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Missouri. "Without net neutrality, many Kansas Citians could be excluded from the digital economy, which is becoming a larger and larger chunk of the economy at large, and deprived of the opportunity to be a part of their community" "I'm proud to sign the Mayor's Pledge for Net Neutrality — especially as it becomes apparent that the industry-laden FCC is incapable of acting in the public's best interest," said Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California. "Together, we have a responsibility to protect the open, free, and fair internet that is imperative to innovation, growth, and bridging the digital divide." "A free internet critical to preventing the digital divide from growing in San Antonio and around the nation," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, Texas. "Americans of all economic levels must have unencumbered access to this essential tool." "I enthusiastically join the Mayor's Pledge for Net Neutrality. If we lose Net Neutrality we lose the right to choose which sites we browse and instead cede control to companies that have their own agendas," said Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Maryland. "Net Neutrality prohibits Internet providers from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of subscribers. Along with my colleagues across the country, I urge that we keep the Internet free, fair and fully accessible to all." "Net neutrality is so important for new business development within our entrepreneurial community. They must be given a fair start in order to someday finish big," said Mayor Barney Seney of Putnum, Connecticut. "From ensuring a healthy local economy to our nation's international competiveness, net neutrality is a must," said Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison, Wisconsin. "An open internet is the cornerstone to a fair and inclusive city that protects access to opportunity for everyone," said Miguel Gamiño, Jr., New York City Chief Technology Officer. "With this pledge, cities are empowered to defend the rights of their constituents to fairly access the internet for the information and services they rely on in everyday life." "A free and open internet fosters innovation, competition and growth for our economy," said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. "We reject the position that what you can access on the internet depends on what you're willing to pay. We stand with cities across the country against the repeal of net neutrality and we won't stop fighting to keep the internet free from blocking, throttling, and preferential treatment." "By repealing net neutrality rules, the Trump administration has opened the door to a world where your internet access provider can manipulate how fast you send and receive data depending on what's in it, where it's going, or who it's coming from. It opens the door to price discrimination and extra fees, and it is a nightmare both for consumers and for American tech jobs," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "It's critical that local and state governments explore every possible strategy to preserve the fair, open internet tech businesses and everyday consumers rely on." "The Open Internet Pledge reaffirms our commitment to the idea that an open and accessible internet is a contemporary necessity to maintaining the public good. Cities across the country are coming together in defense of this ideal, and New Yorkers will proudly step up to protect this modern day necessity," said City Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Technology Committee. "It was a dark day for consumers when the FCC repealed Net Neutrality," said City Council Member Justin Brannan. "Fortunately, smart local governments can step in and preserve an open internet for all. I applaud the mayors who are signing the open internet pledge. I too pledge to do everything possible in the city council to protect net neutrality." "Town by town, city by city, local leaders are taking back everyone's right to connect and communicate via an open internet," said Timothy Karr, Senior Director of Strategy for Free Press. "By signing the Cities Open Internet Pledge, mayors are posing a direct challenge to the FCC's unpopular decision to gut Net Neutrality protections. They're saying that access to an open internet is vital to the livelihood of cities and their inhabitants. If bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. won't protect Net Neutrality, mayors are obligated to step up for the people they represent and put in place the open internet safeguards that are essential to a healthy democracy." "In the face of the recklessness of the Trump administration, city leaders like Mayor de Blasio are forging a united front to protect an open internet," said Donna Lieberman, Executive Diretor of NYCLU. "Access to information over the web is essential to our daily lives, to a healthy democracy and an open New York. We hope other cities follow their example." "Demand Progress and our members are proud to support the Cities Open Internet Pledge. People across the country -- of all parties -- overwhelmingly support net neutrality. This is easy for local elected officials, with ears close to the ground, to recognize. And in defiance of Big Cable and the Washington policymakers whom that industry has captured, local officials are making it clear that they are willing to take meaningful action to push back, and to ensure that institutions and people retain a modicum of access to an open internet," said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. "These mayors know that the overwhelming majority of their constituents, and of all Americans, want net neutrality. They are sending a clear message to the Trump administration that when their cities are paying for internet access, their residents, and not the ISP companies, will decide what content they can access online," said Chad Marlow, Advocacy and Policy Counsel at the ACLU. 
Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 7:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Welcome to Gracie Mansion, everyone. [Cheers] It kind of looks like the year of the woman, doesn't it? [Cheers] Let's thank Jacqui for the great work she does – thank you, Jacqui. [Applause] This is one of the great events we do every year, because extraordinary women gather here at Gracie Mansion with their mentees. Are there mentees in the house? [Cheers] To all the mentees, will you join me in thanking the mentors? [Cheers] And every year, we see incredible energy at this event. But I can safely say, in the last year, it has just grown with such intensity, such feeling, because women are standing up and defending their rights, and fighting for a society that actually honors and respects them. That's what we are all about in this city, and it is the time to celebrate what is becoming a movement all over this country, and, more and more, all over this world. Remember, on January 21st, 2017 – the greatest and largest demonstrations in the history of the United States of America as women stood up all over this country. And you saw they had a lot of allies all over the world, standing up as well. Some of them were men, yeah? [Laughter] But this is a moment where you can just feel the change crackling in the air. You can feel the sense of possibility. Chirlane and I were at a town hall meeting we held with students just a few hours ago. And these are students who are motivated, so many of them, by the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, to stand up and fight for change in their society. And if you heard their energy and their focus, you too would have been inspired. And, I will say, I think Chirlane would agree, many of the strongest voices were young women students – 16, and 17, and 18 years old, ready to take this society into their own hands and to make a difference. [Applause] So, it is an inspiring time. I want to thank everyone who's here. I want to single out some of the folks who are here – leaders of our city. I want to thank – District Attorney Darcel Clark is here from the Bronx. Thank you, Darcel. [Applause] First African-American woman district attorney in the history of New York State – [Cheers] I want to thank the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer – thank you. [Applause] A thank you to any and all elected officials – if I can't see you, thank you anyway. [Laughter] And then, from my administration – a thanks to all of the Commissioners, all of the leaders in the administration. This administration, by the way, a majority of senior positions are held by women. [Cheers] That may be why the administration works so well. [Laughter] A special thank you to our Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Herminia Palacio. [Applause] Where you are? There she is – where is she? Okay, she's hiding off-stage. [Laughter] And in the vein of male allies, our newest Deputy Mayor, Phil Thompson – welcome. [Applause] So, here's what we believe in this city. We believe – okay, get ready, this stuff's going to be radical. I hope you can handle it. [Laughter] I hope you can handle it – I don't think you can handle it. [Laughter] You really think? [Cheers] We believe the government should look like the people it serves. [Cheers] I just want to ask, in New York City, who is the majority? Audience: We are! Mayor: We are is a good answer, that was good. [Laughter] We believe we are called to create equal opportunity where it has not existed. We are called to ensure there is equal pay for equal work where that has not existed. We believe we cannot call ourselves truly the greatest city in the world until we are truly the fairest city. You can feel when you're being treated fairly. You know it. You know a really good way to find out if someone feels if they're being treated fairly? Walk up and ask them. And if you feel there's opportunity, if you feel your contribution is regarded, and rewarded, if you feel the doors are open, if you feel you are truly a stakeholder, that's what it means to be the fairest big city in America. That's what we aspire – that every New Yorker can feel that, and we celebrate that today. What we do not celebrate is ideas that hold us back. Now, there are some very well-meaning people over these last years that Chirlane and I have worked around the City – some very well-meaning people who have used a phrase from another time that we don't use anymore. And they've tried to be polite, and they'll introduce Chirlane, and they'll say, behind every great man stands a great woman, and we frown upon that phrase, because it's outmoded, isn't it? Whoever you are, whoever your partner is, you stand beside each other. So, beside every great woman, if she has a partner that is a man, stands a great man. Beside every great man stands a great woman. I have a great woman by my side and we are partners in all we do. [Cheers] Now, I want to remind everyone, please check your calendar, check your smartphone, it appears to be the year 2018. [Laughter] And yet, when I say Chirlane McCray is my number-one advisor, the most trusted person in my life and in my administration – the person that I make all major decisions with, some people get uneasy. I am so at peace with the notion that the major decisions of this administration are made with Chirlane McCray, because she has always steered me right, and because she understands the lives of people all over this city. She understands the American experience. She understands what people of color have experienced in this country. She understands what women have experienced, and she is their voice every single day. I'm really comfortable with that. [Applause] Some seem to prefer the notion that the First Lady should work in the shadows – seen and not heard. Some seem to be harkening back to that phrase we also don't use anymore. Remember when they used to say, a woman's place is in the home? We don't accept that. So, it's 2018, and we are blessed to have a new kind of First Lady who is a proud, strong leader, and my partner in all I do, and someone who has done so much for this City. And every time we hear people talk openly about the challenge of mental health, every time that stigma that has held people back is torn down, every time we talk openly about the challenge of domestic violence, every time a survivor knows that there's going to be help out there, every time we will say we're not going to accept a status quo that holds back so many of our people, you can thank our First Lady for all she has done. It is my pleasure to introduce Chirlane McCray – [Cheers] First Lady Chirlane McCray: I love New York City. Wow – [Cheers] Happy International Women's Day! [Cheers] Thank you, Bill. Where did he go? It's so good to have a feminist husband, and a feminist Mayor, right? [Cheers] I want to thank Jacqui and the Commission on Gender Equity for all of the incredible work that they do to make New York City a model of equity and fairness. [Applause] And I want to say just good evening everyone, and welcome to Gracie Mansion – again! [Applause] This is amazing. I wish you could stand up here and see what I see. You are beautiful. You are really, really beautiful. And I love the energy in this room. I want to just like – can I do one of those things they do at concerts and – [Laughter] Something – something really special happens when women come together. Can you feel it? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: Yes. Take someone's hand. Take someone's hand next to you. Just – I – you gotta touch it. Right? Touch it. Right? Doesn't that feel good? Right? Say I am my sister's keeper. Audience: I am my sister's keeper. First Lady McCray: I am my sister's keeper. Audience: I am my sister's keeper. First Lady McCray: I am my sister's keeper. Audience: I am my sister's keeper. First Lady McCray: Now take a deep breath. It's good. You know we all have more power than we realize – all of us. And tonight we want to reconnect – we want to connect you with more women and more tools to help you tap into that power that you have that you don't really think about, that you may not acknowledge all the time. We asked all the leadership here tonight to bring a mentee or two or it looks like three, or four, or five in some cases – it's good, it's all good. Because it's up to all of us to help one and other and show our sisters the way our women power can be used. And I will note that the way we learn about our power does not always flow from older to younger. I am 63 – [Applause] Yes, it's true, it's true. I am 63 and I – I am learning all the time from women of all ages. As my mother used to say every day is a school day if you're paying attention. My mom was my mentor. After my mother I didn't really have many official mentors but I did have people who would encourage me, people who inspired me. People like Nikki Giovanni, and Maya Angelou, and Audre Lorde. Now, Audre was fierce. People who were activists and artists who touched me with their poetry and their prose and especially their personal narratives. From them I learned that I had a voice, a story worth telling, and the ability to be a force for change. Like all of you. All of you. In the years since then one my greatest joys has been to encourage others to reach their greatest potential. All of our – all of you who are mentees here today please let me hear you. [Applause] Okay. Alright. Well now. My message to you is no matter where you are in your career please make this a year where you step out of your comfort zone. Do something positive that is very unlike anything that you've done before. Seek out leadership opportunities at work and in your community. Speak up in meetings, and peruse your dreams. How about it for our mentors? [Applause] Mentors are you really here? Maybe it's because its 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Mentors let me hear you. [Applause] Mentors – my message to you we have to back these women up. When they speak up please make sure that their ideas are heard. Speak out against inappropriate behavior and harassment. And help us find ways to fill the talent pipelines in your fields with diverse candidates and help them succeed. And most of all remember to take care of yourselves. Aright? You know what they say when you get on the airplane, put on your oxygen mask first. Right? You know we always like to help other people, that's what we do. But put on you oxygen mask first. And we have a number in this city that you can call if you need help. What is it? 1-8-8-8-NYC-WELL. One more time. 1-8-8-8-NYC-WELL. And I want to make sure everyone always has a place to turn, somebody to talk to if you need it. Now, the #MeToo movement is changing the public conversation but we still have a long way to go. The good news is that we can all take action to support and protect our sisters. This administration has fought very hard for women from the very beginning. We secured paid family and sick leave and paid safe time for survivors of violence. Employers can no longer use the size of your last paycheck to determine the value of your work. And we will continue fighting for equal pay for equal work, economic opportunity, and safety for all women. Will you fight with us? [Applause] I said will you fight with us? [Applause] Will you fight with us? [Applause] Good. When women stand together we are an unstoppable force. Last year we took over the streets with our signs and made our voices heard. We set fire to a movement with our personal stories of harassment and abuse, and this year we can fill the ballot box with our votes. [Applause] That's right. And guess what? We can run for office too. Already more women than ever before are running for office. And let me take a quick poll, how many of you have ever thought seriously of running for public office? Please raise your hand. Look around, look around. Look to see who they are. Alright. Alright. That's – this is – this is good. But it's not good enough. In this room – in this room filled with exceptional women we have to get more of those hands up in the air. You agree? [Cheers] So, what's it going to take? How many of you are rethinking that question I just asked? Alright. Alright. Whatever your professional or personal calling is we need more women leaders. We need you to run for office and we need them now. Please join me this year in committing to helping our sisters embrace their power. Commit to volunteer. Give your time to help other women find their way. Commit to vote. Show up where it counts, and when it counts. And bring your friends. Commit to run. Encourage other women to run for office, and support the ones who do. Alright we're going to try this. Please repeat after me. I'm going to seriously consider running for office. [Laugher] Alright, you ready? Alright. I'm going to seriously consider running for office. Audience: I'm going to seriously consider running for office. First Lady McCray: Can we do that again? Alright. I'm going to seriously consider running for office. Audience: I'm going to seriously consider running for office. First Lady McCray: And I heard it takes three times before it sticks, okay, so we'll do it one more time. I'm going to seriously consider running for office. Audience: I'm going to seriously consider running for office. First Lady McCray: Now do you think this is fun tonight, all of us together? [Cheers] Right, this is really nice right? This is what a campaign feels like. It's fun. Take it from me, I've been part of I don't know, 30, 40 – I can tell you – Unknown: [Inaudible] First Lady McCray: Oh no, I think we have someone who is a little jaded. It – I'm telling you from my personal experience it is a lot of hard work – it is. But when you surround yourself with people like all of you it is also fun. So, please consider running for office. And whatever you do please commit to lead in your workplace, in your community, in your city. Alright? You going to do it? [Applause] Alright now. Please go forth and lead. Thank you.