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Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 5:58am
Steve Inskeep: This next story underlines the challenge of diversity and the complexity of getting it right. Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, wants to change the way that students are admitted the city’s most elite public high schools. De Blasio wants to admit more people of color but not all people of color agree with his plans for some of the most famous public schools in the country. Mayor Bill de Blasio: They are really the jewels in the crown of public education in New York City. They include Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science. Inskeep: Students are admitted to these schools if they score highly on a single test and that’s what the Mayor wants to change. He wants to broaden the criteria to include another test as well as kids’ performance in middle school. The proposal has met with a passionate response. De Blasio has been accused of watering down the standards, though the Mayor argues he’s getting the standards right for schools where the stakes are high. Mayor: They literally are the breeding ground for the future leaders of this city and even in some cases of the nation. Eric Holder and David Axelrod came out of Stuyvesant High School, for example. Inskeep: Former Attorney General and former advisor to President Obama. Mayor: Exactly right. But what’s happened over the years is they’ve become more and more exclusionary. Stuyvesant High School in its last admissions process only admitted ten African American students for an incoming class of almost 1,000. I mean that’s really the most painful example of what’s gone wrong with these amazing institutions and it speaks to a larger reality of the need to create diversity and opportunity in all public schools and particularly in our strongest public schools. Inskeep: Although, there’s a dilemma here because it’s not the people of color in the broadest sense that are excluded. It’s something like half of the kids admitted to these schools are Asian-American. What’s going on? Mayor: Well, look, let’s start with the reality of New York City today. We are a city that’s almost two-thirds people of color and you’re right that some of the specialized high schools have a very substantial Asian population and also a very strong white population in the schools. But the problem and the challenge is New York City is majority African-American and Latino. And these schools don’t even come close to representing the communities that make up our majority. Inskeep: Well, why aren’t they doing better on the test? Because as some people know, there’s been a single test that students are administered and everybody takes the same test. Mayor: But the problem, in fact, is the test on many levels. The simplest way of saying it Steve – you know the finest universities in this country, graduate schools, no one makes their admissions choices based on a single test. It’s an outmoded concept. What we propose is to look at the grades that students have had over the course of their whole middle school career, to look at their scores that they’ve had on a variety of State tests on education. But to get away from this notion of a single determinative test – you know high-stakes testing has been very controversial, rightfully, all over the country. And you know there’s a lot of great, talented kids that just don’t happen to test well and there’s some families who have a lot of resources and focus on test preparation. It’s a very skewed dynamic. Inskeep: So, is this fundamentally an economic issue? You have more affluent kids who might be white or might be Asian and the families have time and they have money for test prep, and black and Latino kids, statistically speaking, would have less of that? Mayor: I think some of it is an economic reality. I think some of it is the problem of a single test unto itself. Inskeep: Why don’t you just invest in more test preparation for people who need help? Mayor: Because we don’t believe in a single test as a way of making decisions. So, I think the point in this – we can’t allow this level of exclusion. It’s just not acceptable. It creates kind of a continuity with a broken past that we don’t want to allow around here. The plan that we’ve put forward, some it is rooted in a great model in the State of Texas, you know the University of Texas system made a decision a few years back to admit the top ten percent of high school classes in the State of Texas – Inskeep: Sure, wherever you are in Texas, upper class school, lower class area, whatever – if you’re in the top ten percent you get into the University of Texas. Mayor: And it was meant to really provide opportunity to a broader cross-section of Texans. And in many ways I think it’s been a great success. That was one of the inspirations for us to say we want to admit the top kids in each middle school in this city. Right now we have 600 middle schools. Half of them don’t send any kids to these specialized high schools. We want every middle school to be represented. We want to make sure that there’s another measure in play which is those State test exams. Everybody takes those. It’s a real universal measure but the skew had gotten so great that we couldn’t live with it anymore. Inskeep: Well, there has been so much debate and I want to mention a couple of the things that have been said about this. Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal writes in that newspaper that this is what happens when you try to reconcile what is irreconcilable – group preferences on the one hand and equal treatment of individuals on the other. Are you going for group preferences here? Mayor: No, we’re talking about the single test problem while we’re simultaneously talking about a problem of lack of representation. The fact is that one facilitated the other. Inskeep: Peter Koo, a City Councilman, made remark that perhaps is familiar to you, that is quite personal. “The Mayor’s son just graduated from Brooklyn Tech and got into Yale. Now he wants to stop this and build a barrier to Asian Americans, especially our children.” Mayor: Well, obviously, that’s not true. The whole concept here is universality and inclusion. Many, many kids are still going to have an opportunity, from all backgrounds, to go the specialized high schools but lots of other fine high schools. But I go back to two un-moveable pieces of this equation. We cannot make decisions based on a single test. And two – we cannot have the majority of our people who are black and Latino left out of the equation and that’s what’s been happening for years and years. It’s not an acceptable situation morally and it does not say to all those kids that they have an equal future. Inskeep: One other thing – an Asian-American scholar writes in the New York Times that the real problem is there’s only a small percentage of schools that are really good. Why isn’t everybody having opportunity for an elite school? Mayor: And I think that is a very fair critique. The larger solution is that parents can look across a whole range of high schools and say, “I’m really satisfied my child will do well there and have a great future.” But I don’t think it’s right to say, well, until we get to that day, let’s keep an exclusionary process in place. Unfortunately, in this case we have to walk and chew gum. We have to create more fairness with the best high schools we have today and build a whole set of higher quality high schools going forward. Inskeep: Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks very much. Mayor: Thanks so much, Steve. Inskeep: New York City’s Mayor says he can order some changes in the testing process himself but for larger changes he will need the approval of the New York State legislature. Big battle may be ahead.
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 6:43am
Brian Lehrer: It's the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. And we will begin as we usually do on Fridays with my questions and your questions for Mayor Bill de Blasio in our Ask the Mayor segment. 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, if you want to ask the Mayor something this morning, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2 or you can tweet a question. Use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Brian. Lehrer: And I want to acknowledge that you couldn't make it the last two weeks, first for the funeral of Assemblyman Denny Farrell and last week because you were sick. So, I'm glad you're back and I assume you're feeling better? Mayor: I'm getting there. I appreciate it, Brian. Lehrer: And we see that your son, Dante a student a Yale, has an op-ed in the Daily News today about overt racism at Brooklyn Tech where he went to high school with comments about the black students there not really being qualified and snickering that a black cafeteria worker should go back to Africa. Would you talk about that and tell us any of the things that you were aware of or had to deal with as a parent during his high school years? Mayor: Well, listen, first of all Brian, I got to tell you. I'm very proud of him, putting into such powerful words what he experienced and what it meant to him and a lot of his fellow students. And so, you know, speaking first as a father, it's powerful, it's really heartfelt and well-written and it makes me very proud of him but it also makes me sad that he had to write it. You know, like many teenagers there were some things he would come home and talk about and other things he didn't. It wasn't really until the hashtag came out about what was happening at Brooklyn Tech that he started to open up more about the sheer extent of what he felt. I think he tried to [inaudible] himself to some extent for some of these realities during high school, tried to put on a brave face. But I think like many students he often felt isolated and he often felt judged unfairly. I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think this was some of the reality as he said. I find it very sad to think that there's this whole generation this year and years past, decades past who worked so hard to get that kind of opportunity and felt like people around them including adults were belittling their accomplishments. And by the way, I hate to say very little has changed in this light but my wife, Chirlane, talks about teachers in her high school in Massachusetts overtly discouraging her from applying to Wellesley because they said she'd never make it and she couldn't perform at that level. And the notion that adults would join in to discouraging young people of color from following their dreams and reaching their potential, that's still happening in this day in age, is deeply, deeply troubling. So, I'm really glad he wrote it because it proves that there's a lot more we have to do. We have to make these bigger changes in the specialized schools, I'm absolutely convinced, in the name of fairness. But it also, beyond that, we have to get to the heart of the matter that if we're really going to value all of our young people, we can't tolerate any of these kind of actions or behaviors from adults or young people alike trying to exclude or belittle each other. Lehrer: So, on the specialized high school admissions reforms to make them more diverse, that you and Chancellor Carranza want, since Albany has jurisdiction over at least three of the eight – Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant, and Bronx Science, and maybe all of the eight – do you have any new thinking on those five out of the eight specialized schools? All of the ones other than Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech that you might have the power to reform without the State? Mayor: You're hitting the nail on the head that it's a gray area and a debatable area legally and when – I'm a firm believer when you meet a legally unclear situation, the best way to resolve it is through legislative action. The proposal we put forward in Albany is all about fairness. Our specialized high schools, being a place where very few middle schools are represented. You know about half of the kids in our specialized high schools come from 21 middle schools out of 600 and I think there's about 300 middle schools that right now send essentially no kids to specialized high schools. Rather than accept that kind of reality, rather than accept a reality where Stuyvesant is one percent black students, three percent Latino students in their last admitted class, let's create a fairness-based system. We will accept the top performing kids from every middle school judged by both their grades over their whole time in middle school and their performance on the universal State exams, not just this one specialized high school test which is very narrow and particular and only some kids take. And I think that is a universal approach and I think it can win in Albany ultimately because the fairness speaks for itself. That then solves the issue of how we treat all of these schools going forward. Lehrer: And how about expanding the number of seats at the specialized high schools as some people have suggested for more students who are qualified but they don't make the cut-off because the seats are so limited or doesn't that really solve the problem because the feeder system is the same and so the demographic imbalance would be the same? Mayor: Yeah, it's a great question. So, three things. One – we got to go to the root cause. We have to overwhelmingly change our school system. This is what the Equity and Excellence vision is all about. We're still a long way from where we need to be. Even though our schools have made real progress on graduation rates and college readiness and a lot of other measures, they're a long way from where we need to be so we got to go to the core of improving middle school and high school quality across the board and I think a lot of things we put in place will do that. The second is we need more good high-quality high school options in general and that's not just specialized schools. There are other great high schools that need to keep growing, that need to keep presenting that option. We have a lot of great high schools that a lot of parents don't even know about. We've got to get that out there. We have to keep growing those and the number of seats in those schools. And lastly, I've said to the Chancellor, I've given him the direction to go and create a plan to maximize the number of seats in the specialized high schools and a range of quality high schools. He's going to come back with a plan in the coming months. I think there are places where we can expand the number of specialized high school seats and we would certainly want to do that. But that's just – as you indicated, that's just in affect a small piece of what needs to be a much bigger solution. Lehrer: New topic. On May 15th, you announced the 30-day task force to study the city's marijuana enforcement policies. Here we are on June 15th. Do you have anything to announce? Mayor: Your sense of the calendar is exceptional. We will, next week with the NYPD, be announcing the results of that task force and the actions that will be taken. I think it's been a very productive process and the goal here is straightforward. We are the safest big city in America. We want to be the fairest big city in America. Those two goals go together in my mind. They actually support each other. We need to reduce any – and obviously get rid of any arrests that's unnecessary. We need to reduce and ultimately end disparities and that was the charge that I gave to Commissioner O'Neill and his team. They've been working actively on it and I think next week, we're going to be able to show a really smart plan to reduce those disparities, reduce unnecessary arrests but also continue the clear progress we're making on safety. Lehrer: Can you give us a hint? Any bit of a sneak preview? Mayor: I'm not going to give sneak previews but I am going to say I think it's going to have a real impact and I think the results of the plan will start to be felt even in the course of this year. Lehrer: 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC on our weekly Ask the Mayor call-in. 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2. Kate in Brooklyn, you're on with the Mayor. Hi, Kate. Question: Hi, hi. I'm the parent of a kid who's at a Success Academy school in Brooklyn. And just a few days before the end of the school, 70 families were told that their school, Success Academy Lafayette Middle School, which was actually supposed to open in ten weeks' time, will not be allowed to open. So us parents see this as another attack on Success Academy by the Mayor. And I would like to ask the Mayor this question – will you and the Chancellor commit to meeting with the affected parent community to hear about our concerns and to talk about the future of the school? Mayor: I am not familiar with the specifics of this situation. I know there's been several situations where we had a plan to accommodate the needs of a Success Academy school and other factors came into play. In one case I know there was a legal issue but other factors as well. So, I want to be really clear to all of your listeners, Brian, that – it's well-known I have some philosophical differences with the Success Academy approach but as a matter of administering our school system, we work with Success Academy every day. They have a strong presence in a number of our buildings. When we say space is going to be made available, we make it available unless there is a legal or logistical or other problem beyond our control that comes to us. I'm happy to make sure senior folks at the Department of Education and City Hall sit down with the parents. I'm not ready to commit personally to this sit down but I am ready to make sure that some senior folks sit with the parents right away. We want to make sure listening to the parents' concerns. Those kids are part of our family, our city. We want everyone to be well-educated and we certainly want to hear the concerns and we'll talk about what we're going to do to address the situation. Lehrer: Kate, thank you very much. We're going to go to [inaudible] in Harlem. You're on WNYC. Hello, [inaudible]. Question: Hello, Brian, thank you for taking my call. Hello, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Hey, good morning. Question: Good morning. I called a few weeks ago and I asked about plastic bags and we all agreed they're kind of a scourge to our wonderful city. But honestly I don't have a place to bring the recycle. Whole foods doesn't take them. Fairway doesn't take them which I think is antithetical to that plastic bag act Every place I go. I have a big plastic bag filled with plastic bags. It's the size of Delaware – [Laughter] Mayor: That's the metaphor, right there. A big plastic bag filled with plastic bags. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Look, let's be clear the answer here is a ban. You know, there's been some progress now on the State level. I need to get an update on exactly what the next steps will be. I think a ban is the right way to go on plastic bags. We got to work out the details. I think a ban is the right way to go on plastic straws. We have to work out those details. I don't – recycling works with a certain type of product but we also have to remember recycling is always imperfect. We're still trying to get New Yorkers to engage in recycling more and more. It's always something that takes a period of time to really acclimate to and get people bought into. With plastic bags, given the history, I've never heard of a realistic way to do recycling in a big scale. The answer there is a ban in my view. Lehrer: [Inaudible] thank you for that call. On that first caller regarding Success Academy and Lafayette. My brain was telling me there was something specific in the news about that this week with the Chancellor and I just looked it up. On KingsCountyPolitcs.com it says Success Academy families and educators are continuing their fight to create a new Success Academy Lafayette Middle School next year despite the City's recent decision to scuttle the plan and scatter about 70 SA fifth graders in current SA middle schools throughout the borough next year. Success Academy has been operating a K-4 school at P.S. 25 on Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and wants to convert the space to serve middle school grades. This says the conversion would require no additional classroom space and the co-located school, P.S. 25 would not lose a single square-foot. So is that a particular situation that you're not familiar with? Mayor: Yeah, we have 1,800 schools so I cannot tell a lie. There are some situations that I'm just not updated on. I would need to get the facts. But I think the broader point is again we've been really clear now over four full years-plus that we work to find fair outcomes for Success Academy and its kids. But there also has to be a balance with other factors that come with running an entire public school system and working with the other schools that are in a building or the other needs that come with that building. So, it's not – I didn't read that article. I'm not familiar with that case. It's not enough to just look at one side of the equation. We have to understand why the Department of Education is making its decisions, all the other factors in play to be able to put it in perspective. I'd be happy to speak about it next week after I get a briefing. Lehrer: Jay in Brooklyn, you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Jay. Question: Hi, Brian. Thanks for taking my call. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Good morning. Question: I'm calling because I'm a small homeowner kind of on the Clinton Hill Prospect Heights border. And we have a lot of development going on around us and I had a problem – I still have a problem with a developer who flooded by basement by leaving their building stripped down over the winter, pipe froze, flooded my basement. My insurance won't cover it. And they're just not making it easy. It's not like if I flooded someone's basement, I would just be saying sorry and either try to get my insurance to cover it or pay out of pocket. So, anyway, as I was talking to neighbors about it, it became apparent to me that a lot of my neighbors have problems with development happening on the edges of their property and they always have to get lawyers, and it's expensive, and I was wondering if the City ever considered making – and I called 3-1-1, they're helpful and nice but it's a process and people are supposed to get back to me – how about a special line for homeowners, I know it might be hard to make those distinctions. But considering how big these developers are – like the company that did this to me, they own life 15 properties. I don't even know why they would let a pipe flood. Why should this be on me to spend all this time and money to fight a much bigger entity who's actually been a feckless and inconsiderate neighbor to me? I was just wondering if there was something the City could do about that. And also they kind of seem like they feel empowered to treat me this way which makes me wonder, they must know that they get away with this all the time and I know from some neighbors, they have gotten away with rather atrocious behavior to smaller homeowners. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor. Mayor: I think the concern is really valid because we hear this a lot around the city that developers, landlords big and small often do these very insensitive things to their neighbors. And look, we want to make sure they're held accountable and we want to make sure if they do something wrong that the folks who are victimized are fully compensated. I'm not sure, hearing it for the first time as a proposal – I'm not sure the notion of a separate hotline is necessarily the way to do it. I think what's been important here is that you can call 3-1-1. You can report it. The Buildings Department does come over. We've added literally hundreds more Buildings Department inspectors in the last few years because of this very kind of problem. And I've found that we get real consequences and real action in a lot of these cases. If there's examples that prove we need to toughen our laws more or raise the penalties or anything like that, I'm always ready to do that because I find it truly upsetting when people do not respect their neighbors particularly if they're busy making profit at the same time. But I have heard of plenty of examples where real compensation was given and real penalties were applied. So, I think the 3-1-1 system does work. I think the Buildings Department is doing more and better work but I'd like you to give your information to WNYC so we can follow up in this specific situation and try and make sure that we get a fair outcome here. Lehrer: So, Jay, hang on. We'll get your contact information off the air. And speaking of housing, I guess, I want to ask you a couple of questions about NYCHA. Of course, earlier this week came the consent decree with federal prosecutors for the City to spend money to reverse the horrid decline in conditions in public housing buildings. Among the failures that the U.S. Attorney asserted, as you know, were that at least 19 children are at risk of lifelong neurological problems as a result of lead poisoning likely to have been caused my crumbling lead paint at NYCHA, that's their words. And that's just 19 known cases, there are probably many more, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. And they said, "Year after year NYCHA falsely certified that it was in compliance with lead paint regulations when it was not." That happened before you were Mayor as well as while you were Mayor. So, I'd like to ask, who in your City Hall knew when the NYCHA Chair, who was Olatoye, signed off on any false certificates of lead inspections. I'm told that Deputy Mayor Glen met weekly with her as part of her job. When did the Deputy Mayor first learn about this deception and when did you first learn about false certifications filings compared to when they were publicly revealed? Mayor: Let me start of the beginning where you talked about the children involved. I am a parent and this entire administration is focused first and foremost on children obviously with pre-K and everything else we've been doing. So, the health and the safety of our children is the very top of what I care about and it – I'm very, very concerned for any children whether in NYCHA or not in NYCHA that might suffer from lead paint poisoning. We're, by the way the City of New York and our Health Department, we've been driving down as a city over the last couple of decades lead paint poisoning across the board. A lot of progress, thank God, in that area. In fact tremendous progress including for people who live in NYCHA. But that said, if any child gets poisoning, that's a huge concern. Now, the problem is we do not know all the facts. You're right – what the U.S. Attorney said was a series of allegations but we don't know specifically what happened with each child because unfortunately with lead paint there can be many sources. There are unfortunately a number of sources that have nothing to do – lead poisoning, I should say. There are a number of sources that have nothing to do with housing or lead paint. There are other sources that can be the cause for something. We just don't know in each case what happened. What we do know is if any child is identified as having elevated lead levels, our Health Department, our Health + Hospitals Corporation will provide all the support and all the care they need. We want to in any case – and I want to say this to all your listeners. If anyone knows of a child who they suspect has elevated lead levels or they know, they can get treatment for free. They can get help for free through our public health system and we need them to right away and we'll stick with that family and that child until the situation is addressed. On the question of the history. I'm only going to stay very broad on this and obviously the U.S. Attorney spent two years looking at this and agreed with us on a series of steps through the settlement to address the issue and that was the right thing to do, Brian, to make a long term plan to make a huge amount of investment. I was actually very conscious of committing my successor to this settlement and long term funding to fix the underlying problems in NYCHA which have been developing for decades literally. But on the question of the certification, I'm only going to make a broad point which is – we've said it, I've said it many times, there were people inside NYCHA and I believe the best way to characterize them is folks who were there on a career basis, who understood that the inspections stopped circa 2011 during the previous administration. And they should have told us the day we walked into the door that they needed to be restarted and I wish we had figured it out. I'm not happy about it but I also know people withheld information. I also know for a fact, and it's been verified by HUD, that as soon as our Chair understood what was happening, she reported it to HUD. That's the right thing to do. I can't give you the tick-tock over things that happened a few years ago in exact detail but I can say once we understood that the inspections were not happening, we ordered them to happen. When we understood that a whole host of things needed to be differently, we put the resources in. We've obviously put a lot more in. And the goal is to fix this problem once and for all. That's where I found common ground with the federal government. We wanted to fix the problem once and for all, and we're going to need federal help and we're going to need State help to do it in the long term. But I think this settlement gives us the framework to get there. Lehrer: So, as far as holding people accountable, you're asserting that as soon as the leaders of NYCHA that you appointed – I guess would be Ms. Olatoye and Michael Kelly, the general manager – as soon as they found out that there had been false compliance reports, certifications they reported that to HUD? Is that what you're saying? Mayor: I can't give you specific tick-tocks. I can give you what I know and I've said it before publicly. When – in the case of Shola Olatoye, the Chair – when she found out what had happened she reported it to the regional director of HUD. The regional director of HUD at the time has said that publicly. And actions to fix the problem ensued from that point on. The bottom line on all of this is we can continue to look at the past and that's fine but the real issue is how are we going to fix these problems going forward. That's why the settlement made so much sense to say we are all agreeing. What ever happened before, what ever happened in our years or the years before us even if the origins of the problems go back decades, here's an action plan with a huge amount of resources to actually fix the problem. And I can also tell you Brian and it's crucial, for the first time since 2011 – in 2017, NYCHA complied fully with Local Law 1, which is our anti-lead paint poisoning law, inspected all the appropriate units, and has now remediated 90 percent of them. There's still about ten percent where there's been a problem getting access with the residents. I've given an instruction that even though I respect obviously everyone's privacy, that in terms of remediating lead that is a broader public interest and that we need access to those apartments one way or another to do that. And we will proceed to do that. But we are in compliance with Local Law 1 for the first time in a long time and I want to make that the norm going forward. Lehrer: Roy on the Upper West Side, you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Roy. Question: Hi Brian, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for taking my call. We on the West 89th Street block have a serious a private trash carter constantly picking up – we're a residential block mostly – and constantly picking up in the middle of the night in violation of City noise ordinance. They pick up at a local private school mid-block [inaudible] and disturbing the sleep of hard working residents and endangering the health of many of our most seriously ill seniors. I am a senior and I just had a massive heart attack and [inaudible] – Lehrer: So, this is about garbage trucks, very loud, picking up in the middle of the night on your block. Mr. Mayor, is there a policy with respect to hours? Mayor: First of all, Brian, I just want to say to Roy, I'm so sorry for what you've been through health wise and in terms of this issue. I don't know enough about the specific rules regarding the pick-up times. I do know there's a host of problems with these private carters and haulers that – safety issues, noise issues. There's a lot we need to look at again and be aggressive on. And we're also going to be doing a lot more. We're working with the City Council to take some new aggressive actions to address noise which is a huge problem in this city. And I really get what it means if people are trying to get some sleep in this place and it's disturbed in the middle of the night unnecessarily, how frustrating that is. So, Roy, please give your information to WNYC so we can follow up on the specifics of this particular company, this particular site. But Brian, I would say we're going to have more to say on anti-noise efforts and certainly more to say on how to address the problems of these types of companies. Lehrer: You happen to know if noise is still the one – number one complaint topic to 3-1-1. I know when it was first launched, right away that was the number one thing in the first few years of 3-1-1 under Bloomberg. Mayor: I do not know that. Having spent now most of two decades in public service in this city including at the City Council level, I can sure tell you that it's something a lot of people care about, a lot of people talk about. I'm not sure I've ever thought it's the number one concern but it's a deep concern. And what's sad about it, and I think a lot of New Yorkers feel this, is hey, we can deal with the noise that's unavoidable, what we don't like is the noise that's avoidable. And a lot of cases where people are insensitive to their neighbors or where companies in the name of profit do things that are like Roy is describing, there's a better way to do. I think it's a high concern still for sure. Lehrer: Steve on Staten Island, you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Steve. Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Good morning. Question: Since the loss of Cromwell Recreation Center eight years ago, there is a lack of public recreation on the North Shore of Staten Island. We are still the only borough without a Parks Department indoor pool. There is talk you're about to announce the Petrides Education Complex as the site for the aquatic center. The North Shore Indoor Pool Committee feels this is not a good location due to poor public transportation options for children and those without cars. The Petrides location will also impact an area which already has severe traffic problems. Will you meet with us as you promised at the town hall to discuss other options? We have other locations which will be better for all of Staten Island. Mayor: Well, I absolutely look forward to meeting with community members as part of a bigger discussion which I believe will start soon around the potential rezoning in the area around Cromwell and I think there's a lot of good I think we can achieve for the community in that and certainly there's a chance in that process to address the loss of Cromwell – what could be done to bring back a new facility. And that is something I've said when I was out on Staten Island for the first time a few years ago and I'll say it again here that that's something that would be a high priority to address in the context of rezoning but it needs to be addressed in that context. I've also said as you indicate there's going to be an indoor pool for Staten Island that should have been there before. We're going to make sure there is one. It's something that has been missing for decades in the borough, an indoor public pool, but we're still working on the details of that and when we have an announcement we'll make that and we want to make sure everything we do is balanced. Whatever we do with the rezoning, serving folks in that community, whatever we do with the pool which is meant to serve people from all over the island, that it be something that people can use from every part of the borough. So, more to come on that but yes, definitely look forward to meeting with community members about Cromwell but also about the larger rezoning process. Lehrer: I want to ask you about school safety agents. WNYC News is doing some reporting on them and many advocates and students being interviewed have raised concerns about those agents being able to issue summonses and arrests for low-level offenses and violations and about the school safety agents responding to mental health crises or emotionally disturbed students. To that second point, one report found last year that SSAs or other NYPD officers responded to more than 2,700 incidents of a child in crisis where a student was restrained and transported to a hospital for psychological evaluation. The advocates say that SSAs are not sufficiently trained to respond to these situations. There should be more social workers and guidance counselors who are qualified. I gather that the NYPD said at a City Council hearing last month that it has proposed revisions and passed them along to City Hall and the Department of Education. The DOE says the revision process is ongoing but I gather they won't say who has been involved and what changes they are considering. My question is are you personally aware of this issue and can you give us an update on what changes are being considered? Mayor: Alright, that was an essay of a question, my friend. Let me try to piece it apart a little bit real quick. So, first, Chirlane and I had a town hall meeting with young people after the tragedy, and the horrible situation in Parkland, Florida and one of the things that was really powerful in that meeting with high school students from all over the city was they talked a lot about the relationship they had with school safety agents and the relationship they wanted to have and they talked a lot about the need for mental health services and counseling and for it to be more widespread. I say that to say there is no question in my mind these are areas we have to do more on. There's been a lot more done to train both police officers and school safety agents in how to address mental health issues. This is obviously very much connected with what Chirlane is working on with Thrive NYC which is about training a whole swath of public employees but also every day New Yorkers in terms of how to address mental health issues better. We're going to keep looking at ways to increase the amount mental health services available in schools. Right now every school has access to some which is a major change that happened because of Thrive NYC and our community schools which are about 215 schools, all have a mental health professional regularly on the premises. But we need to do more on both counts on mental health in the schools but I think in terms of school safety, our leadership there really wants to make sure that we deepen the relationship between students and school safety, that we get more of a dialogue going. That's part of what we need here, more human connection. But yes, we're going to keep deepening the training and look the NYPD model is important here. We've got over 8,000 NYPD officers who have gotten the mental health training and [inaudible] training so that they can more effectively deal with mental health challenges. That's the wave of the future to keep giving more and more people that training and that's what we want to do. Lehrer: So, are there specific changes or is that it, just more training? Mayor: It's ongoing. This is not a flick-the-switch kind of situation. This is a [inaudible] change. Let's face it that mental health in general was not given its due in all discussions of young people's well-being or health care or any area that mental health touches until recently – the mental health piece of the equation was being left out or downgraded or stigmatized or whatever choice you want to make. We are trying to systematically – and I want to give Chirlane a lot of credit for leading this charge – systematically remake how we approach government, understanding the centrality of mental health and you see it a lot at the NYPD and you're seeing it more and more at the Department of Education and it's going to be a deep remake. But to the core of your question, do our young people need more access to mental health services, more access to counseling, and do all the people who interact with them need more sensitivity on how to address mental health realities? Yes and that's going to take years of retooling and more each year – you'll see more specific pieces being put on the table each year. Lehrer: Last caller. Jim in Jackson Heights you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Jim. Question: Good morning. Mayor, I wanted to take a moment to thank you very much for the work that you've done on Queens Boulevard making it safer. Mayor: Thank you. Question: I have – there's a missing link on 43rd in Sunnyside and Skillman and it's tied up in the community board and what happens is in these community board meetings [inaudible] residents against residents and really it's a safety program that your great commissioner came up with and she did all these tweaks for the community and it's still not happening and it's very dangerous to get between – to get to Queens Boulevard and to get to the bridge and there's just a missing link and I'm hoping that in the future, personally, I'm hoping you can take care of this but in the future that you don't put neighbor against neighbor with these community board meetings if you know it's safer. Look at how many lives that have been saved on Queens Boulevard. Lehrer: And Jim, I'm going to leave it there because we're over time. Mr. Mayor, are you familiar with Skillman and 43rd? Mayor: Yeah, I don't know all the nuances but I can speak to the issue. First of all, Jim, thank you and please give your information to WNYC so we can follow up with you on the specifics. Look, Queens Boulevard has been the best example. It is literally called the Boulevard of Death for decades. It is now a place where, thank God, crashes are a rarity and that is something that is all about the changes that we've made and we're going to keep making them. On the question of how we talk to communities, I think it's pretty clear – the Vision Zero approach is working. It has driven down pedestrian deaths. It's driven down traffic fatalities consistently. We're going to keep deepening it. There's going to be more. But it's also important to engage communities before getting to the final plans. I have no problem saying, when we've come to the judgement that it's about safety, that even if there is opposition or concern, we're going to make that judgement in the name of protecting lives. But I do like to hear from communities. I do like to see if we can balance concerns and get people to hear that we're actually trying to adjust where we can for real and honest needs. That part of the democratic process is worthy but we're not going to – and I've shown this many times on Vision Zero – we're not going to give in to some loud voices who want to keep the status quo in place that actually endangers people's lives. We're going to keep building the Vision Zero model and I'll make sure my team follows up with you to see what we have to do more on Queens Boulevard. Lehrer: By the way, to the previous caller, a listener tweets on the plastic bags that Staples has bins to take back plastic bags and I don't know if that's true. I know that they take electronic recycling but maybe it's true. So, passing that along for people who – there's so many of us that are frustrated with all the plastic shopping bags, if in those instances where the reusable bags are not available. So, you can check that out, folks. Mr. Mayor, thanks as always. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thanks, Brian. Take care.
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 6:43am
Six NYCx Moonshot Challenge finalists piloted breakthrough charging technologies for electric vehicle use citywide. NEW YORKMayor de Blasio today announced six finalists for the NYCx Climate Action Challenge. The challenge, which was announced in December, was the first of its kind. Mayor de Blasio, in partnership with NYCs Mayors Office of the Chief Technology Officer, NYC Mayors Office of Sustainability, NYCs Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and NYCs Department of Transportation, called on the tech industry to develop solutions for scaling electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and accelerating the use of EVs citywide. Nearly three dozen international and local organizations submitted breakthrough technology solutions, including solar canopies, energy-harnessing infrastructure, and software to connect vehicle batteries to the energy grid. Here in our city, were doing our part to leave future generations a cleaner and healthier planet. New York City continues to lead the charge against climate change, exploring all our options to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The technologies developed by the NYCx finalists could make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to switch to electric vehicles and other alternative, clean modes of transportation. Nearly one third of greenhouse gases produced in New York City come from transportation, and private vehicles account for 90% of those emissions. New York is one of many cities around the world demonstrating leadership and action on scaling EV use. The City of Paris is collaborating with the NYCx Moonshot platform and the EV challenge to increase access to fast charging stations. Finalists received up to $13,000 to demonstrate their solutions in NYC. In addition to their demonstrations, finalists delivered presentations to senior government leaders, including New York Citys Chief Fleet Officer. The winner of the challenge will be announced in July and may have the opportunity to do a longer demonstration project with the NYC Department of Transportation or Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Winning solutions will complement the Citys plan to develop fast charging stations across the city with a $10 million investment to develop hubs with up to 20 chargers per site. These efforts can, in coordination with the Citys Clean Fleet program, support the Administrations target of having 20 percent of motor vehicle registrations in New York City be electric by 2025. In addition to their NYC demonstrations, finalists will be invited to Paris to meet senior leaders from across City government, the local startup ecosystem, Paris&Co (the economic development and innovation agency of Paris), NUMA Innovation Hub, and others. They will also be invited to participate in the City of Pariss upcoming Innovation Districts Competition focused on new mobility, with more details to be announced at a later date. The following six finalists demonstrated their work: Volta Charging is a San Francisco-based company delivering a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations by partnering with brands to sponsor free charging for all EV drivers. Volta believes that its unique business model and sponsorship approach can accelerate EV adoption citywide. Their final round demonstration included a detailed visual mockup of a future fast-charging hub in NYC. WAVE is a Salt Lake City-based company providing wireless charging infrastructure for transit, port, industrial, and off-road EVs. WAVE believes that wirelessly or inductively charged electric vehicles are cost-competitive with conventional vehicles. Their final round demonstration included visualizing, via computer-aided design images and video, how a wireless charging retrofit might be implemented on an existing fleet vehicle and how a wireless charging pad might be installed in an existing roadway. Adaptive Motion Group (AMG) is a Solana Beach-based company designing and delivering smart vehicle technology and smart ecosystems where intelligent systems work in harmony with humans -- safely and intuitively. They believe that mobile charging infrastructure is the principle way to scale EV adoption citywide as the charging units are able to move between different parking spaces instead of being a fixed asset. Their final round demonstration included showcasing how a mobile Freewire MOBI charger could be used to navigate tight corridors like parking lots or industrial yards to effectively charge stationary vehicles. JUMP Bikes is a Brooklyn-based electric bike share company that in 4 years has delivered 15,000 bikes into 40 different markets traveling 5 million rides. Their Social Bicycles were the first ever smart-bikes with integrated GPS, payment systems, and locks, and they believe that dockless, electric biking is the future of clean transportation. Their final round demonstration showcased the design, form-factor, and user experience of newly-installed chargers in their existing Brooklyn Navy Yard pilot. Ubitricity is a German electric mobility company with a passion for rethinking infrastructure solutions for electric vehicles. Over the past few years, with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economics, Ubitricity has developed and integrated smart mobile metering within its patented charging cables, which has unlocked charging solutions in walls and inside public lampposts. Their final round demonstration included showcasing the different components of their lightpole retrofit technology. Innogy Consulting is a Boston-based management consultancy with a mission to support energy leaders in mastering the challenges of a transforming energy world. In partnership with Chinatown Bureau, a New York-based digital product studio that has led mobility solutions for Ford and Lincoln Motor Company in the US and China, theyre proposing a concept focused on accessible and quick EV charging infrastructure in a one-stop shop Mobility Hub. Their final round demonstration included building a physical installation of their lightpole retrofit technology as well as showcasing a detailed interactive VR experience of future fast-charging hubs across NYC. The outcomes of this challenge will be instrumental to introducing emerging technologies that can help the City achieve its climate action goals while simplifying the charging needs of electric vehicle users and future adopters, said Jeremy M. Goldberg, Deputy CTO, NYCx, Mayors Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Im thrilled to see these new technologies come to life in a way that benefits all New Yorkers and addresses the pressing global challenges of climate change. The NYCx finalists have created cutting-edge transportation technologies with extraordinary potential to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and further the Citys ambitious sustainability goals, said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayors Office of Sustainability. The six finalists selected as part of the NYCx Moonshot Challenge offer the City a tremendous opportunity to test new, clean technologies that can accelerate the electrification of mobility, said Marisa Lago, Director of the Department of City Planning. These diverse and innovative experiments in electric vehicle charging represent a critical ingredient of the Citys efforts to promote a greener, cleaner transportation system. Nearly one million New Yorkers self-report as people with disabilities. As we lay the foundation for a future that is innovative and energy-efficient, we must ensure that it is designed for everyone including individuals with disabilities, said Commissioner Victor Calise of the Mayors Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). MOPD is proud to work with the CTOs office on the Climate Action Challenge to ensure that our future smart city is fully accessible for all. These six finalists are committed to inclusive design that incorporates people with disabilities and we look forward to ultimately selecting a winner that will help make New York the most accessible city in the world." This competition shows there is huge private sector interest and capability to help New York City adopt lower-carbon transportation, said Michael Replogle, Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the New York City Department of Transportation. Though our city has lower transportation greenhouse gas emissions per person than any other American city, thanks to our large reliance on walking, cycling, and public transportation, and large municipal green fleet, we need to sharply accelerate electric vehicle adoption to meet our ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. "NYC operates one of the nation's largest electric fleets with more than 1,300 units, said Keith Kerman, Chief Fleet Officer, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Technology development is critical to this effort and NYCx is introducing new and exciting approaches that will help power the electric fleet of the future. "Vehicles in New York City emit tens of millions of tons of greenhouse gases and harmful pollutants every year, said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection. Not only does this imperil our climate, but it also leads to health problems such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses. That's why programs like the Moonshot Challenge are critical to helping us reach our 80x50 goal. These are bold and innovative solutions equal to the unique challenges facing our city, and I want to congratulate all the finalists on their selection." Volta is excited to build on eight years developing urban EV charging networks with our proposal to install and operate NYCs first major municipal charging network," said Scott Mercer, Volta CEO and Founder. "The hundreds of EV charging stations we hope to build in NYC would give away over 20 million free, electric miles every year to New Yorkers across all five boroughs. We would be thrilled to support all New Yorkers by working with a major brand to increase access to clean transportation, improve air quality, and help make NYC the fairest big city in America. WAVE has solidified a wireless, hands-free EV charging product platform with scalability up to a MegaWatt, said Michael Masquelier, CEO of WAVE. Integrating this technology will enable NYC to deploy a city-wide shared wireless charging infrastructure for all medium and heavy duty vehicles. The NYCx Climate Action Challenge has opened our eyes to the role NYC is taking towards embracing leading-edge, yet proven technology to power the city's growing EV fleet. Adaptive Motion Group is leading a team of highly innovative companies (Sprint, United Rentals, FSG, HNTB, P3, Freewire, LG, W8less, and Locbit) committed to smart city transformation, said David Bruemmer, CEO of Adaptive Motion Group. Together they have developed a solution that will reduce CO2 emissions through a dramatic increase in the use of electric buses, cars and industrial vehicles. The NYCx program has galvanized new strategic partnerships for the Adaptive Motion Group team, serving as the impetus for the collaborations necessary to scale the new solution throughout the city. JUMP is bike share, electrified. In order to do this, we have to keep our bikes charged, said Ryan Rzepecki, Founder and CEO JUMP Bikes. We have been developing and piloting our e-bike charging unit for several months and are very excited to see what it and our e-bikes can do to truly help shift urban transportation to a more ecologically sustainable mode. We cannot wait to show the simplicity and power of our design. The NYCx Challenge again proves New York City's place as one of the most innovative and forward thinking cities. Ubitricity believes passionately that the future belongs to green energy solutions and clean sustainable transport, said Knut Hechtfischer, Founder & Senior Advisor Strategic Corporate Development & Finance. We are delighted to be participating in the NYCx Challenge which will allow us to showcase Ubitricitys truly unique EV charging solution, retrofitting charge points into the humble street light. Were very excited to participate in the finals of the NYCx Challenge and cant wait to see how our solution plays out in the streets of New York! Its terrific to see how the City of New York opens up this Challenge to the tech ecosystem including large corporations and small startups in order to set new global standards for urban transformation, said Dr. Klaus Grellmann, Managing Director of Innogy Consulting. We are thrilled and humbled to have been selected as part of such an impressive group of innovators with the mission to drive environmental, societal, and economic change. Innovations to make the world a more environmentally sustainable and livable can come from anywhere and anyone said Andrew Rasiej, CEO of Civic Hall. NYCx demonstrates once again that the City of New York is leading the building a 21st century government that recognizes its citizens as true partners in a better future.
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 6:43am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: It is truly an honor to be with all of you today here at Station 2-6. This is a place that I want to honor for all the extraordinary work the men and women who serve here do. And I want all the members of 2-6 to know we grieve with you still, and we stand by you, and all the members of the FDNY to know that you’re in our hearts at all times, and what I have learned over these years is how this family of the FDNY grieves together, stands up for each other’s, supports each other, and supports the families for the long term, because if there’s ever a definition of family, it is the FDNY. So, I thank you all for that and share with you this moment in appreciation of a life that now is gone but is not in any way forgotten someone who left such a powerful imprint. And I am going to talk about her, but I want to thank also everyone who knew how important it was to be here today. Of course the leadership of the NYPD that is present, I want to thank Commissioner Nigro, First Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh, Chief Leonard and the leadership of the NYPD. I want to thank all the labor leaders who represent the men and women of the FDNY. I am sorry FDNY. The elected officials who support the FDNY in so many ways and this is really important to acknowledge and appreciate. I want to thank City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson who every year when we talk about the things we need to do to support the FDNY she is right there with us. Thank you Councilmember, thank you Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Thank you DA Darcel Clark for your support as well. You know when you think about the notion of an angel; a guardian angel is something we all can conceptualize in our own way. Well, I have no doubt in my mind that Yadira Arroyo was an angel who walked among us, a guardian angel for family who she loved so much, a guardian angel for the people who she met every day in her noble work. Yadi made a decision in joining EMS to be there for people in their toughest moments and to go toward the challenges, to go toward the danger, to go toward the unknown. What I’ve heard so often from her family, and from her colleagues, and from her friends was what a big heart she had, what strengths she had, because to do this work you need both. It is s not enough to simply be strong, and it’s not enough to simply be filled with loved and compassion, you’ve got to be both. And Yadi was an outstanding person, a natural leader, a natural example to those around her. The spirit of serving others animated her, and she understood what a calling this was. And I think it’s important for us all to reflect on that. We were all shocked; this whole city was shocked the day we lost her. It was a reminder of the dangers that people face in this work. But it was also a chance to reflect for a moment on why people come forward to take on this challenge. Because they know it will make a profound difference. We will never forget that painful day and we’ll never forget that Yadi was doing exactly what she intended to do in the middle of a run to go help a pregnant woman in need. What higher calling could there be than that. With her partner Monique Williams answering the call of duty and then suddenly tragedy struck in such a painful way. And everyone here felt that pain and still feels it. But I also know everyone here is so moved by her example. To Yadi’s family, I want to honor you and thank all of you. To her parents, Laida and Luis, her stepfather Efrain, her partner Phillip, who also serves this city, her sons, Jose, Edgar, Kenneth, Justin, and Isaiah, her whole beautiful extended family, I want to thank you for bringing Yadi to all of us, and thank you for your strength, your dignity, your love in the midst of crisis, this whole City watched with admiration and this whole City and the FDNY will stand by you. And a particular word to her sons who I had a chance to spend a little time with and saw there goodness and saw how they were carrying on their mothers heart. I want to tell you something that I hope you know, but it has to be repeated, which is that when you are the child of a hero it will strengthen you and sustain you. We will all meet adversity and we’ll all meet doubt in our lives, but there is one thing that you do not have to doubt, you will always know your mother was a hero and you’ll always know that she is in you, and you’ll always know that she is looking out for you. Someday at a fork in the road, you may feel that you need some extra strength, I know she will be there for you. And I also want the whole family and everyone to take solace in the fact that there are people in this good borough, in this good city, walking around today whose souls were healed, whose bodies were healed, because Yadi was there for them one day when they were in distress. There are families who are whole, their lives who were saved, and that is part of her legacy as well. Today we’ll dedicate a plaque, and today we will name a street, those are the physical acts, but the act in our heart is to carry on Yadi’s legacy and try in our own way to live just as well as she did. I say on behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers to the family, God bless you, we stand by you, and thank you for Yadi. Captain Joseph Jefferson, FDNY: Thank you Mayor de Blasio. Next we hear from our Fire Commissioner, Daniel Nigro. Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro: Good morning, everyone, and thank you Mayor for those kind words for our sister Yadi. Plaque dedication ceremonies are among the most important and most sacred moments for this fire department. For us it is an opportunity to honor, remember, and to celebrate an extraordinary person who gave her life for others. And as everyone who knew Yadira Arroyo could tell you, and as evidence by this tremendous turnout here today, she was an extraordinary person who touched so many lives. Sadly and cruelly Yadi was taken from all of us as she fought an attacker who was trying to stop her from responding to a call for help. She was on her to provide urgent medical care to a pregnant woman in pain. Yadi was an 14-year-veteran of the FDNY, a mother of five children, and a mother to so many more here at Station 26. She was an exceptional EMT, the one that her captain would as a partner to new members to help them learn the right way of doing things. She was a leader, mentor, a friend, and she cared for every one of her patients. A year ago, as we gathered here the day after she was killed, I was moved by the number of the people from this community who came by to pay their respects and simply to say thank you. Yadi not only worked in this neighborhood, she lived not far from here. She had seen the residents here, coming and going from calls, and many times she responded to care for those same people. The store owners here on Boston Road knew her, the children who walked by here saw a role model in Yadi, someone who they could aspire to be like when they grew up, and the many patients she cared for, those she had responded to and cared for numerous times, they were all deeply touched by the incredible life of service that she led. Today, as department, we have come together to continue a sacred tradition, to dedicate a memorial plaque in Yadi’s honor and to see that the street she traveled down countless times has been named in her honor. Today we ensure that Yadi’s memory will live on forever and that she will always be part of this station, and this neighborhood that she cared for, and when young children walk by this station and they see her name on the wall here or on the street sign, Yadi will still be serving as a tremendous role model for them and every young EMT to ever walk through these doors. To Yadi’s family, know that all of you will always have a home in this department and especially here at this station that Yadi so bravely served in. May God Bless EMT Yadi Arroyo and the entire Arroyo family and may God continue to bless the FDNY.
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 5:40am
"We've been saying for years that we need more advanced body scanners to keep small blades and weapons out of our jails. The passage of legislation authorizing our use of these scanners means we'll have another crucial tool to help keep staff and inmates safe, make it far more difficult to bring weapons into our facilities, and bring down the number of slashings and stabbings even farther than this year's 15 percent decline. "I want to thank Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Leaders Flanagan and Stewart-Cousins, bill sponsors Assembly Member Weprin and Senator Hannon, and all members of the legislature who supported this critical piece of legislation."
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 5:40am
Group of experts will coordinate a six-month community process resulting in a strategic plan that will inform the City’s next steps for preventing and ending youth homelessness NEW YORK—Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio today launched the Youth Homelessness Taskforce, a group comprised of 15 City agencies and initiatives, 26 nonprofits and 10 youth leaders from the Youth Action Board, in partnership with the NYC Coalition on the Continuum of Care. The taskforce will coordinate a six-month community process resulting in a strategic plan that will inform the City’s next steps for preventing and ending youth homelessness. The Youth Homelessness Taskforce will also coordinate with the Interagency Homelessness Accountability Council – an ongoing effort to strengthen our citywide system to support homelessness prevention – to ensure the objectives of the two groups align. “The Youth Homelessness Taskforce is another sign of the Administration’s unwavering commitment to addressing youth homelessness. Building on existing initiatives, this work group will put forth new ideas to prevent youth homelessness, while ensuring that those who are in our care have the ability to leave with the appropriate resources to live healthy and productive lives,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “I’m thrilled to bring together this excellent group of experts who will help us imagine new solutions to making New York City a place where no youth experiences homelessness.” "I applaud the City’s latest effort to end homelessness among our young people," said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray. "This task force brings together a powerful group of agencies and experts in this administration who have already shown their commitment to making life better for our most vulnerable New Yorkers. Having a place to live is a basic human right. If we are to truly help New York youth reach their full potential and contribute their talents and energies to our city then we need to find some new solutions to the homeless problem." “Addressing the needs of young people facing hard times is crucial. Through this taskforce, experts from City agencies, nonprofits and youth advocacy will come together to improve the delivery of services to help more and more young people transition back into permanent housing,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “Homeless youth need a safe place to stay, supportive services and opportunities to succeed. The taskforce will deepen the City’s progress in improving and finding effective, innovative practices to work toward ending youth homelessness.” “Giving all young people an opportunity to succeed is our top priority in New York City—and for youth facing homelessness, that means providing dedicated spaces, resources, and programming that will help them stabilize their lives in a safe and supportive environment,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “This announcement demonstrates our City’s commitment to connecting young New Yorkers’ experiencing homelessness with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive and lead healthy, inclusive, successful lives. We look forward to continued collaboration with our Agency partners as we continue to turn the tide on homelessness citywide.” “Every New York City child deserves a home, and that’s why the city’s first-ever Youth Homelessness Taskforce is so important: it is a groundbreaking step forward to help address youth homelessness here in New York City. The Administration for Children’s Services is proud to participate in this important initiative because it will ultimately provide our most vulnerable youth with the support they need to thrive,” said David A. Hansell, Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services. To spearhead this effort, through a Deutsche Bank Americas grant secured by New Yorkers for Children, the City has hired Cole Giannone (they/them pronouns) as a Senior Consultant for Youth Homelessness. Giannone, working with the City’s Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence (CIDI), will lead the process of coordinating the taskforce, as well as collecting, organizing and analyzing information and data from relevant stakeholders. Prior to this role, Giannone spent seven years at the Ali Forney Center, a runaway homeless youth provider in New York City serving LGBTQ youth. In their time at AFC, Giannone created a Youth Advocate program to elevate the voices of and pay young people to help lead the efforts in the amendment of the NYS Runaway Homeless Youth Act. Giannone has a B.S. in Communications from NYU and a M.S. in Nonprofit Management from the New School. “As someone who has worked with young people experiencing homelessness, an experience that no individual should ever have to endure, it is an honor and a privilege to help coordinate our city’s efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. Our city leaders have been willing to listen, to make changes in our delivery of care and to add significant resources to our system in order to address this issue. To acknowledge that there are areas where we can make improvements is commendable and shows tremendous humility. In collaboration with service providers, city agencies and most importantly, young people with lived experience, we aim to ameliorate our system of care even more. Preventing and ending youth homelessness in possible, and through this project, we will be closer than ever,” said Cole Giannone, Senior Consultant for Youth Homelessness to Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “New Yorkers For Children is thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking effort to address youth homelessness and inter-generational poverty. We applaud the City and Deputy Mayor Palacio for developing a solution-oriented approach to this epidemic and we are immensely grateful to Deutsche Bank for partnering with us to support this work,” said Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez, Executive Director, New Yorkers For Children. “Aligning inter-agency policies, developing a shared vision and plan, and establishing a consistent measurement system that evaluates the challenges will move us closer to the shared goal of eliminating youth homelessness altogether.” “Homelessness in New York City - for youth and for all people - is a humanitarian crisis that merits the same urgency, resources, and coordination we give to similar crises like natural disasters. It is also a challenge that we’ve proven we can solve if we partner strategically across sectors and levels of government and bring dedicated resources to the effort. Deutsche Bank is committed to ending youth homelessness in New York City and is proud to be a founding member of the Task Force. We invite all private sector and philanthropic institutions committed to making New York an equitable, sustainable, community of opportunity to join us in this work,” said John Kimble, Vice President of Philanthropic Initiatives with the Community Development Finance Group of Deutsche Bank. The Youth Homelessness Taskforce includes participation from the Administration for Children’s Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Social Services/Department of Homeless Services, Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration, Department of Youth and Community Development, Housing Preservation Department, Department of Education, and City University of New York. Other city initiatives participating in these efforts include the Unity Project, Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, NYC Economic Opportunity, Center for Youth Employment, Office of Food Policy, Young Men’s Initiative and Center for Youth Employment. Nonprofit providers include The Coalition for Homeless Youth, Ali Forney Center, The Legal Aid Society, The Door, Sheltering Arms, Good Shepherd Services, Covenant House, Supportive Housing Network of New York, Jericho Project, Safe Horizon, Bailey House, GEMS, CSH, Children’s Village, West End Residences, Point Source Youth, Urban Justice Center, Princess Janae Place, Destination Tomorrow, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Advocates for Children, Youth Invincibles, Homeless Services United, Coalition for the Homeless, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and Volunteers of America Greater New York. “This task force is a major step forward in addressing the city’s youth homelessness crisis and I am proud to have contributed to the creation of the city’s first ever youth shelter as well as expanded hours at drop-in centers. Youth homelessness is a heartbreaking problem that requires bold ideas and innovative solutions as we work to address this issue,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I look forward to working with this task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent and eventually end youth homelessness in our city.” “I’m proud that my administration was at the forefront of moving the needle in the State Legislature and City Council to raise the age at which homeless youth can stay in shelters to 24. Tackling the youth homelessness crisis requires a coordinated effort from various stakeholders across community-based organizations and government agencies that have a committed understanding of the demand for housing and how to address it,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “This comprehensive task force is a further step in the right direction to ensuring all of Brooklyn’s young people, particularly LGBTQ+ and vulnerable youth, have a loving and warm place to call home, regardless of their circumstances.” “I commend Deputy Mayor Palacio and the de Blasio administration for launching this important taskforce to end homelessness among one of our city’s most vulnerable populations,” said State Senator José Serrano. “Homeless youth, often LGBT, face unique challenges in accessing essential housing and services. I am hopeful that this effort will provide our young people with the support and resources they need not only to live, but to thrive in New York City.” “We know that effectively addressing youth homelessness requires a coordinated community response. It is fantastic to see such a robust team representing a range of city agencies working together in NYC. I can’t think of a better person to lead the effort than Cole Giannone. They have been working alongside youth experiencing homelessness in NYC for years,” said Jama Shelton, PhD, Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College. “The Ali Forney Center takes heart in these efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness in New York City, and are further heartened to see our beloved Cole Giannone coordinate those efforts,” said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director, Ali Forney Center. “For far too long NYC has put the needs of homeless young people on the back burner. Whether it be by downplaying the number of homeless youth that exist, or by not providing programs adequate resources to address the overwhelming need. With the creation of the Youth Homelessness Taskforce, NYC is taking a critical step in assuring that no young person is forced to sleep on the street or in other unsafe situations, by identifying gaps in the current system, and proposing solutions that are informed by professionals in the field and homeless young people themselves. CHY is proud to be a part of this initiative, and is looking forward to see the end result,” said Jamie Powlovich, Executive Director, Coalition for Homeless Youth. “LGBT young people need a comprehensive system of caring providers working together to support them,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director LGBT Community Center. “This task force is a step in the right direction. We appreciate the city’s commitment to helping the young people who need it most.” The Youth Homelessness Taskforce builds upon a number of significant initiatives taken by the de Blasio Administration to prevent and reduce youth homelessness, including: * The recent NYC Unity Project announcement, a new $9.5 million investment to prevent and address homelessness for LGBTQ youth across the City. This investment includes funding for the City’s first ever youth shelter for young people up to age 24 and an expansion of hours at the City’s youth drop-in centers. * The Adopted budget increased the commitment to 60 new beds for Runaway and Homeless Youth up to age 24. * In 2017, the City's Department of Homeless Services also opened Marsha's House in the Bronx, the first-ever shelter for LGBTQ young people in the New York City adult shelter system. Named after famed LGBTQ activist Marsha P. Johnson, this facility gives more than 80 homeless individuals aged 21 to 30 years the opportunity to be sheltered in a welcoming and supportive space providing targeted resources and demonstrates this Administration's leadership ensuring LGBTQ homeless youth have the tools, resources and opportunities to lead healthy, inclusive and successful lives. As we transform a DHS shelter system that has built up in a haphazard way over many decades, DHS continues to improve and increase collaboration with partner agencies across the City to ensure we effectively address the unique needs of young LGBTQ New Yorkers with dignity and the services they deserve. * The addition of 500 beds for 16-20 year olds who are homeless and deployment of additional staff to coordinate services for youth entering City shelters, bringing the total beds to 753 by July 2019, up from 253. * The commitment to allocate of 1,700 supportive housing units for youth through the Supportive Housing NYC 15/15.
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 5:40am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: So, I just want you to know when they handed me gardening shears for the ribbon cutting I thought it was like an amazing innovation. I had never done a ribbon cutting with gardening shears before. I said this is going to be amazing; this is going to be great. But Gregory you’re right, I think it was – end up being a metaphor for the challenges of New York City. It took a few tries my friends, but we got there, and the ribbon was cut, and good things are happening. [Applause] I wanted to start with a thank you to everyone. This is a really precious place in New York City, and the New York Botanical Garden is a jewel in the Bronx and particularly a pride for the Bronx and something that people in the Bronx are so thrilled to experience, but it’s for all of us. It’s for all five boroughs, and a lot of you here, I want to thank the members of the board, I want to thank all the people who work here, all you do. I can tell it’s a labor of love. You can tell from the care with which this place is kept and the amazing impact it has on so many lives in this city. The people put their hearts and souls into it, and it’s something that’s beautiful about this city. It’s so many people come forward, volunteers, and donors, and so many people who want to make this an extraordinary resource. So, I want to thank everyone but – I also something I like to do is to ask everyone to thank each other. So please clap for your neighbor in appreciation for all that you’ve done for each other. [Applause] And, I want to also say the City is so proud to be a part of this and yes it is the people’s money, and we are chosen by them to determine what is the best use of that money, and this is unquestionably such a good place to place to invest in, and I want to thank the person who makes sure that that money gets to the right place and is used the right way, our Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, thank you so much. [Applause] I want to thank for her extraordinary leadership when you see a lot success there is a great leader behind it who helped to make it happen with so many people. I want to thank the Chair of the Board Maureen Chilton. Thank you so much Maureen for all you have done. [Applause] And now to Gregory — 29 years, 29 years of making this place great, that’s the definition of labor of love. And to do anything for 29 years my friends takes extraordinary focus, and love, and patience. But Gregory you’ve made this place greater with every passing year. The attendance has sky rocketed, all the things that you’ve helped to create have made it something even more extraordinary. When you came here it was pretty amazing, but 29 years later it’s an even greater jewel in the crown and you have given your all. And I want to thank you on behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers. Let’s all thank Gregory. [Applause] Now an outdoor standing ovation, that’s very good, I like that. So look, just very quickly, part of why this is so important, it’s a moment in our history as humans where we really have to understand the earth more clearly and all of us as residents, as citizens are going to be part of deciding the future and protecting this earth that we need so desperately. When all of us have a chance to experience something we don’t get enough of in urban life, it’s crucial, it opens our eyes, it opens our minds, it makes us think and feel things that are so important for our children, that’s particularly important. And they need to know from early on how much mother earth means to them. By the way let’s applaud all of these children, for being here, being a part of us. [Applause] We also know that in this nation of abundance we have the strangest contradiction that there’s more food than we could possibly use in America, but not enough of it gets to the right people, and a lot of the food that does get to people is not healthy enough. And here you’re righting that wrong, you’re teaching our young people what health, natural food is from the very beginning of their lives, you are teaching them how to grow it, and that makes it very personal, it makes it very real. The children who don’t get an opportunity to understand what healthy food is are deprived in their life but young people from the very beginning have the chance to see it and touch it, feel it, grow it, they are empowered, and that’s what’s happening here today. Our young people are extraordinary. I have a 20-year-old and a 23-year-old and they teach me something new every time I talk to them. And this generation coming up here, they are more advanced than we ever hope to be. Just to sit next to one of them with any form of electronic device or computer and you will be immediately humbled. They’re not only the future literally, they are a different future because they start with such extraordinary understanding even at a young age, but we can help that along by giving them exposure to the things that they need. And let’s face, for a lot of us when we were coming up, we weren’t really given the clearest understanding of our interconnection with nature or what healthy food was or how to live a lifestyle and harmony with everything around us. Well these kids, thanks to all of you are getting a lot of the right understanding very early on and that’s why this is so important, and you know, this work has been going on at the Botanical Garden for a long, long time, and it’s been going on outdoors, and outdoors is beautiful and wonderful, but there are times in the year when you can’t just be outdoors growing Swiss chard, and you need to be indoors and the Edible Academy is so exciting because it means that so many more people, and so many more young people in particular, are going to have the opportunity year round, and it’s going to cultivate healthy habits for a lifetime. This is a beautiful thing. Each moment in one of those greenhouses is going to help create a healthy life ahead for each of these children and for their families up ahead in the future as well. So, you’re doing something amazing here with a huge, lasting effect, and all I want to say to all of you, is to cherish each of these children. Recognize every single one who comes in the door, has an opportunity to live a better life because they came here, and I ask of everyone involved at the Botanical Garden, just keep doing the great work you are doing, but get every child in you can, every additional child, every additional classroom full of kids, makes this a better borough, makes this a better city. So to everyone with deepest appreciation and congratulations, this is a great day for New York City. Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 4:35am
NEW YORK—Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and Steiner NYC today broke ground on 399 Sands Street, the latest addition of manufacturing and creative office space at the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard and a key component of Steiner's Admirals Row project. Deputy Mayor Glen announced a $40 million investment by the City of New York toward the building through the New York Works Program. That investment will directly fund the construction of 230,000 square feet of leasable space above the parking structure for BNYDC to serve manufacturing and creative tenants and is expected to create approximately 700-1,000 permanent high-quality jobs, furthering the mission of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. “New York City grew up around the Brooklyn Navy Yard - and thanks to the City’s $40 million New York Works investment in 399 Sands Street, the Yard will continue to fuel growth, and provide manufacturing and creative jobs for generations to come,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “Thanks to this investment by the City, 399 Sands will add up to 1000 more of the high quality middle class jobs we're so focused on creating here at the Yard," said David Ehrenberg, President & CEO of BNYDC. "We're increasingly hearing from companies who want to be here not just because the Navy Yard provides an opportunity to sustain a business, but also to grow one. With this investment, 399 Sands will be developed with exactly that sort of tenant in mind." “The Brooklyn Navy Yard is the epicenter of New York City’s innovative economy. Brooklyn is the home, and now workplace, of the creative class. This is where the job growth is, and where it needs to continue. Admirals Row, together with 399 Sands, represents a new urban model for mixed-use development. And Wegmans, which is consistently ranked as one of the top ten companies to work for in the United States, is the ideal anchor tenant. We are excited to be expanding this project and to invest alongside the City of New York. It feels great to help create so many jobs,” said Doug Steiner, Chairman of Steiner NYC. The Mayor’s New York Works plan to create 100,000 good-paying jobs in 10 years is focused on industrial and manufacturing jobs: Twenty thousand of the total jobs, or one fifth, are in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is among the country’s leading urban manufacturing centers, with some 400 companies currently employing more than 7,000 New Yorkers. In the next three years, that number is expected to more than double to 17,000 accessible middle-class jobs. The Administration has invested over $100 million to transform Building 77 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a 1 million square foot manufacturing center. This project opened in November and is expected to create 3,000 jobs. The nine-story 399 Sands was designed by Dattner Architects. Its first four floors will feature parking for 430 cars, available to customers visiting the adjacent Wegmans supermarket, expected to open in 2019, and other Navy Yard tenants. Floors five through eight will be dedicated to manufacturing space, and the ninth floor for creative office space. The parking portion of the building will be completed in 2019, and the manufacturing and office space in 2021. With today's $40 million investment by the City, the 399 Sands project will bring the total Admirals Row job count to 2,000 and add to the diverse mix of creative and manufacturing tenants at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The first three buildings in Admirals Row are currently under construction. The project also includes the reconstruction and adaptive reuse of two historic structures. “399 Sands Street will further cement the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a premier destination for creative and manufacturing innovation,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “This public-private partnership along Admirals Row will generate high-quality jobs that support our burgeoning borough. I thank the City for this investment in Brooklyn’s economic future, a future that must ensure that the popularity of our brand translates into prosperity for all Brooklynites.” Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, "The Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY) has done an excellent job of preserving the waterfront for industrial, manufacturing and maritime uses. More importantly, BNY is an exemplary model of how to engage the community in their work. I applaud their leadership in creating access and opportunities for residents of surrounding communities, especially NYCHA residents and youth. I am happy to see the City investing additional funds to expand opportunities at the BNY. I look forward to continuing to work with the Brooklyn Navy Yard towards preserving a working waterfront." "If anyone doubts manufacturing as a part of our City's future, they need only take one look at the Brooklyn Navy Yard," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "We are returning to the legacy of an economic and innovation engine whose heart beats in Brooklyn, but supports communities around the City. This latest investment will fuel the continued job growth that supports local businesses and empowers workers to provide for themselves, their families, and their community." “As we break ground on 399 Sands Street, we can clearly see how a good project can become a great one through partnership,” said Council Member Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “What would have been a parking lot, will now provide hundreds of quality jobs for New Yorkers, help to retain local manufacturing jobs and provide affordable creative office space. I look forward to this project’s completion.” “In a city where space is at such a premium, finding creative ways to utilize space that promote business and create jobs is a massive undertaking,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “I commend the City for its $40 million dollar investment in this project, as well as BNYDC and Steiner NYC for their ingenuity in bringing this building to fruition here in Brooklyn.”
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 4:35am
NEW YORK— Mayor de Blasio today announced that the City’s styrofoam ban will go into effect by January 1, 2019, following the dismissal of a lawsuit preventing the implementation of the ban. This means that food service establishments, stores, and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food service articles or loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” in New York City beginning in 2019. Over the next six months, the de Blasio administration will work with businesses across the City to ensure they understand the law and help them transition to new materials to replace foam products. “New York City’s ban on styrofoam is long overdue, and New Yorkers are ready to start using recyclable alternatives. There’s no reason to continue allowing this environmentally unfriendly substance to flood our streets, landfills, and waterways,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Following the dismissal of a lawsuit delaying the ban on Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam food service articles and packing peanuts in New York City, the city is now able to begin the process of implementing the ban. After consultation with corporations, non-profits, vendors, and other stakeholders, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) determined that EPS Foam cannot be recycled. DSNY also determined that there currently is no recycling market for post-consumer EPS collected in a curbside metal, glass, and plastic recycling program. As a result of the ban, manufacturers and stores may not sell or offer single-use foam items such as cups, plates, trays, or clamshell containers in the City. The sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” is also banned. There is a six month grace period from when the ban goes into effect on January 1, 2019 before fines can be imposed. DSNY, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Consumer Affairs will conduct outreach and education in multiple languages to businesses throughout all five boroughs beginning now and during this period. Local Law 142, passed by the City Council in December 2013, required the DSNY Commissioner to determine whether EPS single service articles can be recycled in an “economically feasible” and “environmentally effective” way. Under the law, if the Commissioner found that EPS was not recyclable, foam food service items and packaging peanuts were then banned. Non-profits and small businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue per year may apply for hardship exemptions from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) if they can prove that the purchase of alternative products not composed of EPS would create undue financial hardship. SBS will begin accepting applications for hardship waivers in the fall. “As we had previously determined, plain and simple, expanded polystyrene cannot be recycled, and we are pleased that the court decision will allow us to remove this problematic material from our waste stream. This necessary step will help us as we continue to move towards our goal of sending zero waste to landfills,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “We will now restart our outreach and education work to ensure all city businesses are aware of the new rule, and prepared for its upcoming implementation.” Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said, “In dismissing a lawsuit that sought to block this important environmental initiative, the Court recognized that the City’s determination to ban food service foam products was ‘a painstakingly studied decision’ and ‘was in no way rendered arbitrarily or capriciously.’ The Court has cleared the way for the City to begin its outreach to businesses so they are aware of and can prepare for the law’s specific requirements before any enforcement occurs.” “This is a pivotal and long-overdue step to protect New York City from the unnecessary damage Styrofoam does to our streets, water, and people,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “I am thrilled that the Courts have finally determined what many of us have known all along – Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not recyclable” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “If we are going to reach our goal of zero waste to landfill by 2030, we must begin targeting materials like styrofoam that have no post-consumer application and I strongly support the Mayor’s decision to begin implementation of the ban quickly. I want to thank my Council colleagues and all the advocates who fought so hard to throw styrofoam onto the trash heap of history. I’m very much looking forward to a future in which EPS no longer contaminates our City’s waste stream, waterways, and environment.” "I am thrilled that NYC can finally implement its styrofoam ban, without the Council having to pass new legislation," said Council Member Brad Lander, who introduced a bill to advance a styrofoam ban without having to wait for the decision of the courts. "Styrofoam is not recyclable, and it doesn't matter how many times that plastic and styrofoam industries claim otherwise. The fact is that styrofoam chokes our oceans, litters our streets and is ultimately sent to landfills where it will remain there, literally, forever. There are simple steps we can take as a city to do our part. This is one of them, and I'm grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Garcia, and DSNY for sticking with this issue over the years and for moving forward with implementation as quickly as possible. I also want to give a huge shout out to Sanitation Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, NRDC, NYPLI, Cafeteria Culture, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and so many more tireless advocates and community leaders who have helped make this ban a reality in NYC.” Council Member Costa Constantinides said: “At long last, New York City’s foam ban can take effect. The industry tried lobbying, and they tried litigation, but nothing they did could obscure the simple fact that polystyrene cannot be recycled in any practical way. Now the city can begin the process of rolling out the ban in a way that meets our sustainability goals while making the transition as easy as possible for our small businesses. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia for their perseverance in fighting to make New York one of the greenest cities in the nation.” Council Member Justin Brannan said, “New York City banning styrofoam is a win for our planet. There are plenty of alternatives out there so it makes no sense to continue using a product that doesn’t biodegrade, can’t be recycled and harms wildlife.” "The data speaks for itself: non-biodegradable, non-recyclable styrofoam products clog our storm drains and beaches, pollute our streets and pose long-term dangers to the future of our environment. Through this victory, New York City will continue as one of the leading municipalities to take bold action in achieving environmental justice," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "I thank Mayor De Blasio for his unwavering commitment to building a greener, sustainable city and, just as importantly, for partnering with local businesses to ensure they have the support they need to transition to environmentally-friendly alternatives." "This styrofoam ban will make NYC cleaner and healthier for all," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is notorious for spoiling compost and impeding the recycling process. Even worse, it is hazardous to fish and other marine creatures. In this day and age, with the many affordable and environmentally friendly substitutes available, a ban on EPS makes perfect sense. By coordinating a multilingual outreach plan and offering businesses this six month grace period, Mayor de Blasio has signified his desire to work with small business owners to ensure a smooth transition. As a co-sponsor of the legislation that created the styrofoam ban, I am pleased by this progress." "The days of styrofoam are over," said Council Member Rafael Espinal. "It has become increasingly clear that styrofoam cannot be recycled and that these items are contributing to our global waste problem. I am a proud supporter of this ban and others, which take aim at reducing single use items, especially single-use plastics and I congratulate Mayor de Blasio and all those involved." “Implementation of the ban on single-use Expanded Polystyrene is a major step forward in making New York a cleaner city, with a smaller environmental footprint. With this success in hand, we must continue to look for ways to eliminate single-use and non-biodegradable products, like plastic bags and straws, that are filling our landfills, littering our neighborhoods, and polluting our waterways. Thank you to all the New Yorkers who spoke out and fought to make our city more sustainable for generations to come, and to my colleagues on the Council and in the Mayor's Office for their leadership in making this ban possible,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "Styrofoam is a major environmental problem. Every day, approximately 1,369 tons of styrofoam is buried into U.S. landfills because it can't be recycled. Mayor de Blasio's support of Local Law 142 that bans single use styrofoam products will ensure that New York City does its part to reduce this harmful waste." "Single use styrofoam food containers and packing peanuts clog our waterways, litter our streets, and poison our planet. These products are bad for the environment — and that means they’re bad for New Yorkers,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh said. “With this ban, New York City will leave behind a record of innovative environmental protections — instead of tons of non-biodegradable styrofoam waste. I’d like to congratulate Mayor de Blasio on this legal victory and thank the Mayor, Sanitation Commissioner Garcia, the advocates who have worked on this issue, and everyone who has pushed so hard to ban these outdated, unhealthy products.” "Dozens of cities across the country have already banned single-use styrofoam products and I'm pleased that New York City has finally joined that list," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. "We're taking an important step in creating a safer, more environmentally friendly world for our children and grandchildren." Assembly Member Deborah Glick said, “In our crowded city, proper disposal of the waste stream has become increasingly challenging. The Manhattan Supreme Court’s appropriate decision will allow New York City to make significant progress in eliminating wasteful, environmentally detrimental packaging. I look forward to additional opportunities to improve our environment.” “This is a sensible schedule that balances the urgency of addressing litter and pollution problems from single-use foam plastic, with the need to give restaurants sufficient time to use up existing inventories and obtain environmentally preferable substitutes. When this law is fully implemented, residents of every city neighborhood will see cleaner streets, parks, beaches and waterways. Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is continuing to move the city’s Sanitation Department into a position of national leadership on sustainability issues,” said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. About EPS: * Expanded polystyrene is a plastic resin manufactured into consumer products such as “foam” cups, containers, trays, plates, clamshell cases and egg cartons. * DSNY collected approximately 28,500 tons of expanded polystyrene in Fiscal Year 2014 and estimates that approximately 90 percent of that is from single-use food service products like cups, trays and containers. * EPS is a major source of neighborhood litter and hazardous to marine life. EPS foam is a lightweight material that can clog storm drains and can also end up on our beaches and in New York Harbor. EPS containers can break down into smaller pieces, which marine animals may mistake for food. The environmental assessment prepared for the bill found that expanded polystyrene particles can wind up in the harbor, and in the floating gyre of non-biodegradable plastic debris that has been found in the Atlantic Ocean – creating a hazard for marine life such as sea turtles and fish. * EPS is a contaminant of the city’s organics program. The presence of EPS foam in NYC’s waste stream has a detrimental effect on the City’s organic collection program. During the collection process, foam can break down into small pieces that get mixed in with and contaminate organic material, rendering it unmarketable for anaerobic digestion or composting. * EPS is already banned in cities across the country, including Washington, DC, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Albany, and Seattle. In total, more than seventy cities have banned foam and businesses large and small have shifted to alternative products that are biodegradable or otherwise recyclable.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 8:26am
Errol Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. It’s been a very busy start to the week for Mayor de Blasio who, today, announced a $2 billion settlement with federal prosecutors over conditions in public housing as well as a budget deal with the City Council just minutes ago. Joining me now with more details on all of that, live from the Blue Room at City Hall, we’ve got Mayor de Blasio – Mayor Bill de Blasio: It’s the Blue Room, Errol, that’s right. Louis: Yes, good to see you in front of the Alexander Hamilton portrait there. Mayor: He’s still here. He’s still here. Louis: I want to start with the bad news – the NYCHA settlement, the consent decree. One thing that I found extraordinary, after more than a decade even of reporting on this stuff, was the levels of deception that were involved. Painting over false – broken or missing doors to try and fool the inspectors, putting danger signs up so that people wouldn’t walk into certain rooms, having people run ahead of the inspectors to kind of fake things for them. And I’m wondering, thinking back to your days when you were the HUD Regional Director, did you ever encounter anything like that in New York or anywhere else? Mayor: I did not but again what we know from this investigation by the federal government – but we’ve known for a long time – there have been a lot of problems in the institutional culture of the Housing Authority in some cases going back decades. Certainly the lack of investment in the Housing Authority goes back decades and I think the two realities are interconnected. I think the institutional culture degenerated over the years as the work got harder and harder and the resources got thinner and thinner and the buildings got more and more dilapidated. But it does not excuse what some individuals did and in fact the federal complaint, which is a set of allegations, we’re now going to review very carefully. And our new leadership at NYCHA – Stan Brezenoff, our chair; Vito Mustaciuolo, our general manager – are going to look right down to individual cases. If we find any individual who is still working with us and has done something inappropriate, there are going to be real consequences for those folks because you can’t accept it. We need help from the federal government, it’s true. We can’t fix the problems without it but we also intend to be very straight forward about the status of our compliance with federal laws and rules. The monitor is going to be helpful. We’re going to have a whole new compliance apparatus to help us do that. I need and expect federal support to fix the problems afflicting 400,000 New Yorkers. We want to get that support based on the truth. Louis: One this that was striking about the agreement is that the federal government is not going to provide any money that we’ve talked about so often that is needed. I mean they are not agreeing to do that at all. Everything that’s coming in now is coming out of the City. Mayor: Look, the federal government should provide support more and I think that is a beginning on that pathway. I would have much preferred immediate support. I don’t think it’s a shock with the current administration or the current Congress that was [inaudible] forthcoming when we got that news; it was not a surprise to me. That said, three important things did happen with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The current funding which has been continuous over all these years – I want to give the federal government that credit. Even though they greatly reduced funding over the years, there has been continuity in funding from the federal government. I cannot say that about the State. The State cut off funding back in the 90s and again we are still waiting for State funding that we haven’t seen going back to 2015. But the federal government did agree to lift any of the holds they had on federal funding to not reduce federal funding in light of this City contribution and to expedite a number of the regulatory relief concerns that we had and come to decisions quickly because that regulatory relief could save us a lot of time and money. Now, again, we need the same from the State with the design-build. We need to the State to [inaudible] that half-billion it still owes us and owes NYCHA to do this work. I also think, very importantly – I felt strongly that this paves the way to a form of cooperation with HUD, with the U.S. Attorney in common purpose that actually opens the door [inaudible] more federal funding when we have a different Congress and/or a different president. By clearing the decks, coming to agreement on all outstanding issues and agreeing to a common plan of action it does pave the way for the day that I believe will come when the federal government once again seriously engages supporting affordable housing and public housing. Louis: But, Mr. Mayor, we haven’t really dealt with all the outstanding issues. You say you’re going to continue to try and find out who was engaged in lying, who was engaged in the cover-up, who was engaged in all the falsification that the federal government is allegedly. I guess number one – when is that going to get done? And number two – why not just let them, if they have the allegations that they’ve already talked to people – why not let them continue their investigation? Mayor: Again, Errol, they have done their investigation for two years. These are the allegations that came out of that investigation. There’s also a series of findings in the consent decree that we agree with. But the point being, now we have to determine based on the information they provide us, what to do in the case of anyone who might have done anything inappropriate. We’re not going to tolerate it, I can tell you that much. We’re not going to tolerate anyone doing anything going forward that’s inappropriate. Anyone who knows Stan Brezenoff and Vito Mustaciuolo knows these are two public servants of very high integrity, a lot of extraordinary work in both of their careers going back decades, in both cases, serving the people of this city. Stan Brezenoff is one of the people who helped build this city’s pathway out of the fiscal crisis and just last year helped us turn around the Health + Hospitals Corporation which was literally nearly bankruptcy. He’s a true expert in turnarounds. He’ll be, I think, the kind of chair we need and Vito Mustaciuolo is a guy who has done tremendous work getting government to be responsive to people. Louis: But Mr. Mayor, there has been sort of, a question that’s been lurking in the background. I thought you were going to get to it in your press conference today which is that you can’t have something as extensive as the level of cover ups and deception that were going on up, down, sideways all throughout the Housing Authority without their being some kind of signal coming from outside the Housing Authority that they could either – they thought get away with it – Mayor: No, I disagree – Louis: Or they were being encouraged or allowed to so. Mayor: I just disagree with that. When you look at the information, first of all, again the information is a set of allegations. We have not independently verified them. The things we have independently verified are in the consent decree. We take them very, very seriously obviously. But no, unfortunately in such a vast organization, you can have a lot of people at the mid-level and lower who are doing things that the top leaders don’t know about. Louis: To the extent that the DOI, the Department of Investigation, came up with some of the first findings and were specifically thanked at the federal press conference today, are they going to lead the continuing investigation – Mayor: Again, we – you know, this effort, the lead here has been the U.S. Attorney. We have worked very productively with the U.S. Attorney, we’ll continue to do so. We’re going to work closely with them on the selection of the monitor and all the steps going forward. And we have [inaudible] as they do in ensuring that anyone who has done anything inappropriate feels the consequences. I really want to emphasize that. This is an example and there have been others in the past. I talked about this at the press conference. Once upon a time, the NYPD was a very troubled agency. Once upon a time, the School Construction agency was a very troubled agency. There’s all sorts of agencies that have had challenges. I’m not happy about that but it’s fact. Good, strong leaders came along and created the change, created the culture of change, cleaned house. That’s what these new leaders are going to do. Some of this was absolutely shocking and painful to me, not things we had heard about or known about. We’re going to make sure it doesn't happen again. Look, the reality is we have to focus on changing the quality of life for people in the Housing Authority, 400,000 New Yorkers. They have suffered long enough through different City administrations, State administrations, federal administrations. This is the first time in a long, long time there’s a clear plan of action with a lot of resources behind it. So, it’s not all bad news actually, Errol. This is – in the midst of a lot of challenges, this is actually a path forward for people who live in public housing. Louis: Did you tell or did your Corporation Counsel decide to make non-prosecution of NYCHA or City Hall leadership a condition of signing the consent decree? Mayor: No, it’s quite clear. It’s in black and white, the corporate entity of NYCHA – as you know NYCHA is a free standing entity chartered by the federal government and the State government. It is not a direct City agency. NYCHA, as an institution, will not be charged with any criminal charges because the investigation is complete and the plan of action has been agreed to. In other words, the federal government has agreed with NYCHA, NYCHA has agreed with the federal government on a series of steps to make up for the mistakes of the past and they’re very aggressive and very important steps. Anything involving individuals is absolute at the discretion of the U.S. Attorney and it’s quite clear there in the consent decree, it’s vivid in there. Louis: Okay, we’ve got more to talk about including that $89 billion budget. Stand by, Mr. Mayor. We’re going to take a short break here. I’ll be right back with the Mayor when we come back. [...] Louis: Welcome back to the program. I’m once again joined by Mayor de Blasio. Joining us from inside City Hall. And Mr. Mayor from the budget announcement, I guess the big news is the Fair Fares proposal, credit where it’s due, David Jones at the Community Service Society, your appointee to the MTA board, was telling me about this at least two years ago, maybe three and deserves a lot of credit for it. What’s your initial thinking about how eligibility would be determined? Would this ride on the back on some existing category of entitlements or would you create some new way of looking at it? Mayor: No, I think we want to work some of things that exist. First of all I agree with you – kudos to David Jones and the Community Service Society. And David as a person is one of the great consciences of this city. I’m very proud to have him as an appointee to the MTA. And the Community Service Society is legendary for doing some of the best thinking in this city. So this is a good day for them that they earned. We want to – look I want to emphasize this – it’s not a subsidies to the MTA, this will be direct to people in need, people struggling to make ends meet, so they can get these lower cost MetroCards and get opportunity. It’s really to help people get to work, get to job interviews, get to education, that, in too many cases, they are being deprived of now. But yes, we want to work with existing ways that we reach out to folks with lower incomes and piggy back on that and get the support to them. Louis: It was described as sort of an early step forward with up to about $106 million and then a reassessment to see who gets involved but I think of this is what happens when you make a new road. It immediately gets jammed once people find out that it’s there. Sort of like ferry service. Mayor: Yes, you know that can be and sometimes the original projections play out differently because signing up for something is always a process. You always have to, you know, be part of validating who you are, one thing or another. I mean there is I think we could see a huge amount of uptick or we could see it take time. What we are going to do in the next six months is create the plan, promote it intensely. We have the $106 million ready. We’ve also agreed with the City Council that if any of that money is not spent in Fiscal Year ‘19, it will be forwarded to the next fiscal year to continue the development of the program. But I think it is too soon to see how people are going to work with it. We’ve got to really create the methodology and see how people feel about it. Louis: Okay, jumping back for just a minute to the NYCHA question – there are important budgetary implications for it coming out of the capital budget this time. But was the money already there? Where is the couple of billion dollars that is going to be allocated for NYCHA? Is that coming out of some other program? Is that coming out of reserves? Mayor: So let’s get the facts really clear. The consent decree has a minimum time frame of five years at which [inaudible] if it’s requirements have been met it could be removed or for whatever number of years it needs to continue it will continue. So the base level obligation of the City on top of all existing commitments we made to NYCHA. And that was a very clear part of this agreement that I was very comfortable with. You know, we took away the obligation that made NYCHA pay for police service. That was in my first year in 2014. I wanted that to be a permanent thing. I was very happy to confirm to the federal government that that should be a permanent reality – NYCHA gets to keep that money put it toward repairs. I’m happy to obligate my successor to that very same requirement. So some of this was continuing the money we’ve already put in. We’ve, in this administration, added $3.7 billion in new dollars to NYCHA that were not obligatory. The choice of this administration and this City Council, that’s never been done before. But on top of it we said we will do a billion dollars over four years. Then $200 million a year, all capital, from the fifth year on until the consent decree is over. So, the minimum amount would be $1.2 billion. If it continues, it grows. And look this conversation with the U.S. Attorney has been going on for months and the last weeks, really was coming together. So, we had the opportunity to program it into our budget models and prepare and obviously to prepare the City Council leadership and they understood as well. Louis: Okay very good. Jumping around now because we only have a couple of minutes – school accessibility – were are and are our schools in compliance with the ADA? What is the additional accessibility that’s being paid for with this new program? Mayor: Look, all of our new schools are in compliance with ADA, all of our schools that have gone through substantial renovation since the ADA took full effect are in compliance. That’s my understanding. But you know, in my neighborhood we literally have a school that goes back to 1875. You know we have schools a lot from the early part of the 20th century. No, not all of them are fully accessible. We want them to be. Council was adamant and the Speaker, it was really a very personal mission for him to get more money into school accessibility. We will be putting $50 million a year for the next three years into increasing the number inaccessible schools. We’ll still have more work to do no doubt. But it’s going to really make a huge impact. Louis: We are going to let you go now. You’ve got a lot to look through to find out what’s in the budget and we talk again real soon. Mayor: Take care, Errol.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 8:26am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: John, thank you so much and this is the right way to celebrate, to give credit to the folks who really originated this idea, who fought for it in the beginning, who heard the voices of the people, and I always say that social change comes from the grassroots, comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. So all of you are the change agents, give each other a round of applause. [Applause] John thank you for your great leadership, Riders Alliance working together with Nancy and David and everyone at Community Service Society, you took a powerful idea and you built that grassroots focus, and you deepened, and you told the world about it, and you spread the faith, and you both did a great job. You shepherded this movement beautifully with so many other good people here. It’s a day you should very both – very, very proud of it, and your organization should very proud of. And to Speaker Corey Johnson, this was a great – a great example of what the democratic process is supposed to yield, a give and take with shared goals, shared values, figuring out the right ways to get things done. I want to say to all the Council Members too, it’s a day you should very proud of, you fought for something that really mattered, like everything in life, it took time and energy to work it through, but we ended up with a really fantastic plan, so congratulations Speaker, congratulations to all the members of the Council. [Applause] I want to give you three quick reference points here. Five years ago, when I had the honor of running for this office, I talked about the tale of two cities. And this is exactly – you’re exactly right, this is about that tale of two cities, those divisions that we must overcome to be as great as we can be in this city. This is another day of taking on that tale of two cities and say we’re going to put it in our past, we want a New York City that actually works for everyone. Are we ready for a New York City that works for everyone? Audience: Yeah! Mayor: A year ago, in this very place, a number of us were here, and I had the honor of introducing Senator Bernie Sanders, and we spoke about the need for a millionaire’s tax to fund the MTA. We talked about what real fairness is, that those who had done so very well, often because of government policies that help them do so very well, that they would pay a little bit more so everyone else could get around, and so low-income New Yorkers could have a gateway to opportunity. We’re going to continue that fight for that millionaire’s tax. Audience: Yeah! Mayor: Are you ready for that fight? Audience: Yes! Mayor: And then at the beginning of this year when I had the honor taking the Oath of Office for a second term, I talked about the mandate for this term, the fairest big city in America, our goal over these next four years, and this is something I know the Council feels deeply as well, is to make New York City the fairest big city in America, to make it a beacon to this whole country. It is a tough time in our history, in this nation, that’s when you need to step up and show the way, we need to show this whole country what fairness looks like. And it’s not just a moral matter. First and foremost it’s a moral matter, but it’s also about the future of this city. A place that is a fair is a place that people want to be. A place that is a fair is a place that people can believe in, where everyone has a sense of belonging, and they know that we are actually all in it together. That is the city we are all at work building. One where everyone is respected and everyone is honored, and that’s what is being achieved here today with this huge step forward for Fair Fares, and everyone has a part of that victory, congratulations to everyone. [Applause] All of the pieces to create a fair city have to come together. We have to make sure there is opportunity and we have focused on that and this Council I want to say has been outstanding from the very beginning. Four plus years ago when we did paid sick leave, the way we fought for higher wages and benefits, more affordable housing, lawyers to make sure people weren’t evicted, we’ve all done that together. To make sure our kids had opportunity we created Pre-K, and now we are creating 3-K, that’s what fairness looks like and we got more to do. But at the beginning of January, people in this city are going to experience for the first time the Fair Fare. Isn’t that going to be an amazing day? And that is going to be a big step towards the kind of city that really respects and includes everyone. I want to very clear, and I know the Speaker feels this deeply, I don’t want to live in a city where someone is desperate to get a job but they can’t afford to get to the job interview. That’s not the New York we signed up for, is it? We need a city if someone strives to better themselves and get an education for their future that they can actually afford to get on the subway and get to that school right? We need a city where a parent who’s making sure that their child gets the very best education can actually afford to take their child to school on the subway. That’s what we are going to work for. But I’ll finish by reminding everyone, if we really want fairness we need a subway that works for everyone. We need a subway that actually works. It’s kind of – it’s not fair if it doesn’t show up. So this today is a big step, with New York City stepping forward once again, directly covering this cost direct to people who need it. As you heard earlier, not a subsidy to the MTA, we have done enough subsidies to the MTA. The people of New York City pay and pay and pay for the MTA, it’s time for the State to come up with a real solution for the MTA and that’s what we are going to fight for next. We’re showing people the way things should be done today. We’re acting like the city that we’re really meant to be, where everyone is in this together. Where we all ride on the same subway care, all of us united, and I wanted to congratulate everyone, because united you have pulled off a great victory. Congratulations to all. As is my habit, I’m going to say a few sentences in Español. I think one day I’m just going to throw in another language to throw people off. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] A city that is fair, a city that everyone wants to live in because everyone is treated fairly, thank you and God bless you all.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 8:26am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good – is it evening? Good evening, everybody. Audience: Good evening. Mayor: Well, it is an honor to be here with all my colleagues in government for this very important announcement. I want to thank Speaker Johnson who I will introduce in a moment but I want to thank him for the partnership, the hard work, the fantastic dialogue over these last months on our first budget together. And I think it has turned out to be a really great one. So, let’s – thank you, Speaker, for all you have done. [Applause] The protocol has been violated. We got to shut it down. [Laughter] Shut down the press conference. [Laughter] Alright, we’ll do that over in a moment. To all the members of the Council, thank you so much to everyone. I appreciate the hard work over these last months and the strong advocacy for your communities. I want to thank the City Council finance staff for their hard work as well. [Applause] And a thank you, of course, to a man who used to have something to do with the budget, First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan. Thank you for your leadership. [Applause] And congratulating her on her first budget as OMB Director, Melanie Hartzog. Congratulations. [Applause] And to your wonderful staff, the hard working folks at OMB, we thank them all for their great effort. [Applause] So, the adopted budget for Fiscal 2019 will be $89.2 billion and this budget focuses on the central goal of this administration, I know it is shared by the Council, to make this the fairest big city in America. There’s a lot in this budget that achieves that goal and helps us forward. You’re going to hear – after I give a few introductory remarks – I’ll turn to the Speaker and following him will be the Chair of the Council Finance Committee, Chair Danny Dromm. And then we will take questions and I know I will be ably assisted by Melanie Hartzog as we take some of those questions, all of us together. Look, I’m going to state something we have to remember each year, a budget is an expression of values and it’s a roadmap for our future and I’m very proud of the relationship with this City Council and the values that are truly shared, deeply shared. That’s part of why we’ve been able to do this work in such great partnership now in the fifth year. This budget is profoundly responsible. It is balanced. It is progressive and it is early. Congratulations, everyone. [Applause] And it’s against a backdrop where we saw some real challenges including the most severe budget cuts from Albany that we’ve seen at any point since 2011. That was a curveball we all had to deal with here but everyone did work together in unity to address that reality and make sure that we produced a good result for all 8.6 million New Yorkers. Now, nothing works without sound fiscal management. I am someone who has said many times – a lot of good people came before us who wanted to do good in the world but forgot to be careful and smart about their budgets and the city paid a price. What I’ve loved about working with this City Council is there’s been a deep desire to get a lot done but also a real strong sense of the bottom line and this Council’s been very focused, this year and in previous years, on adding to reserves and making sure the city was protected for the long run. That is a mark of real smart, thoughtful government. When people care deeply [inaudible] a lot of great programmatic potential and priorities but also say we’ve got to always mind the store, we’ve got to always protect the future. And so I want to update you on the reserves which have now been added to again to reach a new historic level. The Capital Stabilization Reserve that was created in this administration will remain at $250 million. And going into the adopted, the original plan was for $1 billion for the General Reserve but at the strong request of the City Council we are adding an additional $125 million to the General Reserve. In addition, at the request of the Council, we are adding another $100 million to the Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund. That will now bring the trust fund to the highest level it’s been at – $4.35 billion to protect our retirees and their futures. [Applause] I’m going to highlight five things before I turn to my colleagues from the Council. And I’m going to talk about this whole budget process. Remember this has been really the last six months in earnest – the budget process for OMB starts, it’s like the Macy’s Parade, the budget process for the next year starts the day after this one is adopted. But for most of us in elected offices, it’s basically a six-month process. In the course of that six month’s I’m really proud of what we’ve all done together. I don’t want to steal Corey’s thunder, the Council’s thunder, the Speaker’s thunder but I do want to say tremendous kudos to the Council and to the Speaker for the focus on Fair Fares which – [Applause] I believe that Speaker Johnson said the word Fair Fares to me – [Laughter] An unfair number of times. [Laughter] He was a picture – you were on message, Speaker. You were on message. And look, it’s something from the very beginning. This idea has been out there several years. It’s a profoundly good and moral idea. I have felt that from the beginning. The challenge was always how to make it work. Have to give a shootout and a thanks to the Community Service Society for their extraordinary advocacy. [Applause] The beauty of this idea in terms of making this the fairest big city in America is going to help so many New Yorkers to reach opportunity. Too often it is out of reach because of just sheer lack of resources. So, when you think about this Council that was undoubtedly the most passionate priority. It speaks volumes about all of these people and what they really care about and I think New Yorkers should be proud of that fact. So, I congratulate you all. [Applause] I will be very consistent with what I felt all along. We, while taking this action, remain focused on a much bigger playing field which is the future of the MTA. We need a sustainable funding source. We need renewable revenue. That is an important issue that has to be handled in Albany up ahead. I am continuing my strong advocacy for the millionaire’s tax, continuing to believe that that can cover a lot of things going forward. But this was the right thing to do now to get this very good idea started and I want to thank the Council for that. Now, we are going to work closely, the Council with my administration, to get this program up and running quickly. We’ll initiate the process in the new fiscal year starting in a few weeks. It’s a new program. It’s a start up. It will take time to make it come together but we’re very confident. This money, I want to emphasize, will go directly to New Yorkers. We’re not sending it through the MTA. We’re going to work out a methodology to get it directed to New Yorkers to ensure it reaches those in need. And again we’ll take more in the future, I’m sure about it, but I already believe New Yorkers are paying their fair share and then some to the MTA but this is a great way to support our fellow New Yorkers directly. So, congratulation to the Council again. [Applause] Another item that the Council emphasized in its budget response that I thought was so important and such a high priority that we actually put it into our executive budget, was funding for Fair Student Funding to bring more fairness – [Applause] Getting every school, right away, to the 90 percent base level, making the citywide average 93 percent. Now, this is on a pathway to every school getting 100 percent Fair Student Funding in the next few years. This was a major step forward but I think we’re all united that that is the goal to achieve and we need the State to fulfill its obligations under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity so we can get to that day in just a few years where every school has 100 percent Fair Student Funding. But this is a great step forward. [Applause] And the sheer magnitude, and again thanks to the Council for making this such a priority, 850 individual schools will benefit because of this action we’re all taking together. So, congratulations. Now, third of five – third, everyone knows this is the nearest and dearest to me, pre-K and 3-K. With real energy and support from the Council, we have added additional districts earlier to the 3-K program. We talked about that previously. And affirming, because of your great support, we are on track so that every school district in New York City will have 3-K by 2021. That’s something we’re going to do together. [Applause] Fourth, in terms of the Housing Authority, well, everyone knows the news of the day. We have made a huge amount of previous investment. And again everything has been done together. I mentioned earlier the $3.7 billion in combined capital and expense funding over the last four years that began with the preliminary budget of 2014. I can tell you in so many conversations with the Council, NYCHA has been one of the top priorities all these last five years. Separate and apart from anything we talked about in today’s announcement, this administration and this Council put a new – a brand new $3.7 billion into NYCHA over the last four years. Today’s announcement adds to it. The settlement we reached with the U.S. Attorney will add an additional $1 billion in capital over the next four years and shows very clearly that the City of New York is going to do everything in our power to help fix the challenges at NYCHA, to help provide for the 400,000 people who live in NYCHA. We want their lives to be safe and healthy. This Council feels it, I feel it, and everyone is putting the investment behind those feelings and we look forward to the day where the State follows us and we hope that day is soon – the half-billion that the State is holding. We would like to have that released. We would like that design-build authority to help us speed along these projects and one day – and I believe that day can come – we look forward to the federal government investing once again in affordable housing and public housing, and we’re all going to work for that together. Finally, this one we talked about some months ago but it really bears repeating because it’s so important to the future of this city and the improved relationship between our police and our community. And with great support from the Council, our plan for body cameras on all police officers by the end of this year – one year ahead of schedule. Thank you for your great support. [Applause] So, in conclusion, these are investments that will touch millions of lives and make a huge difference in this city and it came out of an atmosphere of partnership and collegiality. Two budgets in a row early – that speaks volumes in a world of other levels of government where maybe that’s not the norm. Let’s just put it that way. It’s good to see what we’re able to do here together and I think it really bodes well for the future of this city. A few words in Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that – and again a tremendous thank you to the Speaker for his leadership, his partnership. This has been a great process together. I’m not going to say, you know, you should elect more people from Massachusetts but I can say we speak – we do speak the same language. This was a wicked fast budget. [Laughter] Well done. Well done, Speaker. Now, out front here. Let’s do this right. [Applause] [Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson shake hands] [...] Mayor: Alright, it’s a lively presentation. So we are ready for questions on this budget announcement. Questions on the budget – Question: Mayor, you’ve said for a long time that you didn’t think it was appropriate for city money to go towards Fair Fares. Can you just, [inaudible] change your mind? Mayor: Yes it’s always been a good idea. It’s always been a morally strong idea. It’s always been ultimately the right thing to do. Council, obviously for them it was a passionate priority. That matters every year. Now it’s the fifth time I’ve been here at this gathering and I say what the priorities of the Council are matter deeply in the final outcome. And this was a particularly strong priority. We had common ground on the goal of an ultimate renewable source of funding for the MTA and again this is something that could one day be part of that funding stream. But I thought the notion that this was good, it was fair, it was something we could get started now while working in the future – all made sense. We obviously had some revenue come in that helped but all things considered it’s part of the democratic process. I heard how much it was a priority for the Council and we found a way to do it that I thought made sense. Okay over here, yes? Question: On the same issue because the problem that you presented was essentially a lack of funds and this could be you know a program that goes far in the future but not only did you fund this, you found funds for reserves and where did all this money suddenly materialize from? Mayor: It’s not sudden, it’s been building. I mean look the economy of the city is very strong, thank God. And some of it is intrinsic, we’ve talked about recently for an example we are at an all-time high for jobs in this city. We see a lot revenue coming in from a number of sources, that’s crucial. I really want to thank the Council again. One of the things they prioritized despite that strong picture was even more for reserves. And they didn’t say oh, it’s the good times let’s spend everything. They said it’s the good times, let’s do some serious saving and I think that’s crucial but we had some resources to work with. Now as we caution back at the time of the exec, some of those resources are one time only because of specific realities in the federal tax legislation and previous legislation on repatriation. That lead us certainly to a focus on making sure we were prepaying as much for next year as possible and it certainly made it easier to put more into reserves as well. But when it comes down to it, I thought the Fair Fare proposal was smart, it was fair. We are going to start with this money. We are going to try to reach as many people this year, again any money – if we turn out to not spend all of it, we will forward it to next year – so that money would help pay for the following year as well. But it just came down to the confluence of a strong situation overall and the high priority the Council put on it. Question: [Inaudible] because as recently as April you were saying essentially it’s a good idea, that you agree with it, but we just don’t have the money. Mayor: Right. Question: It’s only been [inaudible] two months – Mayor: Look, just look at the numbers. The numbers add up and that’s the bottom line. Every budget process is in real time and the numbers add up. Yes? Question: This is really more a question for the Speaker. You know in terms of Fair Fairs being funded for one year only, talk a lot about budget dance and what not, are you concerned about this being a problem in the future or something that we are repeatedly discussing – City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: It’s not being funded for one year only. There is a commitment from the Mayor and the Council to as the Mayor just said, we are budgeting for the implementation is January 1st, we are budgeting $106 million because that’s half the fiscal year. We don’t believe that we are going to spend $106 million from January to July but we thought it was important to make a statement on the eligibility and breadth of the program. As the Mayor said if we spend $50 million and there’s $56 million left over, that will get forwarded to the next year and then next year during the budget process we will look at the data, we will look at the sign ups, we will look at the uptick, and people who are taking advantage of the program to help them and their families and we will continue to budget based off of growth. So ultimately could this program grow to $212 million? Yes one day it could but we are going to budget appropriately each year based on the information that we have. So this is not a one time commitment but we are leaving also some flexibility in so far as if we get a millionaire’s tax or something along the lines of congestion pricing that works for the city or another revenue stream. We would love for help in paying for Fair Fares but Fair Fares is not contingent upon that but we would love to tap some of that. And this is going to be looked at as an ongoing program, not just a one year program. Mayor: What he said. [Laughter] Mayor: Gloria? Question: [Inaudible] technical question on how the Fair Fares program is going to be administered, who’s going to, how are people going to sign up? Is this going to go – Mayor: You are way ahead of us, way ahead of us. I can only give you the broad strokes and then our team, and Melany, and everyone will follow up with you – it’s direct funding to New Yorkers, the money is not going to the MTA. We have a variety of measures of folks who need this support in ways to deliver it. That’s what all need to get to work putting together now. So OMB will be involved, the Council will be involved, we are going to work out which agencies or agencies will be in the front line of implementation. But as the Speaker said that’s what we are going to work on now for the next six months preparing to make this launch January 1st. And I’m confident we can work out the details in that time frame. Yes. Question: Your first budget was $75 billion, this one is $89 billion. It’s an increase on 19 percent. What do you say to New Yorkers and tax payers who are, and also head count continues to grow, salaries keep going up. What do you say to New Yorkers who are anxious that there seems to be this expediential growth well above inflation etcetera? Mayor: I’ll let OMB do the comparisons to inflation and other analysis – I will speak to the bigger picture. What we achieved over five years now with these budgets, it’s an investment model. It’s a strategic investment concept. And I want to give the Council a lot of credit. They have been very focused for an example on investments in public safety. That is directly causal to the fact that we have the safest big city in America. That crime has gone down four years in a row. That relationship between police and community is greatly improved. That took money to achieve those goals. That was some of the best money we ever spent. Working together we have Pre-K for All, we are well on the way to 3-K For All. Working together we have created an economic circumstance where we have the highest number of jobs we have ever had and growing. All of these things happen for a reason. If you have a safe city, a city with improving public schools, a city that the quality of life continues to be addressed positively – it creates a strong economic environment. It improves jobs, improves revenue. It also creates fairness. And I believe fairness is not only a moral value, I believe fairness is going to be one of the things that determines our future. People of all backgrounds, people of all abilities, talented people, entrepreneurs, everyone wants to live in a place they feel is fair – they feel is just, they feel included. And New York City is at the cutting edge of that now in this country and globally. So I think these were very smart investments, at the same time we have had historic reserves and we’ve made sure that the things we’re investing in are proving themselves and those head count additions are a great question. I feel great about the head count additions in terms of police, pre-K, special education, very comfortable we’re getting what we expected from those investments. Yes? Question: Do you know how much roughly tenant costs put together the property tax commission? When are they going to get to work? And why wasn’t the $400 property tax rebate in – Mayor: So three questions, the cost of running the commission. I don’t have an exact cost, we’ll develop that in the coming weeks. That’s going to be a modest cost. The – getting to work, they’re going to get to work quickly. As the Speaker said, there is going to be a series of hearings around the city. There has been an absolutely a collaborative effort. Everybody on that commission was chosen in common. This work is going to happen in common. We all feel frustrations with the current system; we want to see major reform. So, you should expect their work to start quickly but we’ll get a more formal schedule together soon. On the question of the rebate, I’ll speak for myself. We had a huge number of priorities we had to address. We had the importance of adding to reserves. In the final analysis we had to make choices. I think the more fundamental need for property tax payers and for homeowners like myself is not a onetime one shot answer, it is a structural answer. We need to reform our property tax system, that’s where our energy will go. Okay, going from this side over to this side. Let me see anyone hasn’t gone on this side, this side, yes? Question: The NYCHA consent decree obviously costs a lot of money today. Does that have any effect on the budget? Do you have to change anything up in the last minute? Mayor: Not in the last minute, because we’ve been in constant conversation about the situation. It will be reflected in the fiscal 19’ budget and beyond. Go ahead. Question: I just want to follow up on that, how will it be reflected in the fiscal 19’ budget? Mayor: It will literally be a line in the budget. Question: I mean, will it be only in capital? Or is there anything that might increase the 89.5 to something higher? Mayor: The plan with the U.S. Attorney to consent decree speaks specifically about capital funding. That’s where we expect to see the reflection in this adopted budget. That’s what’s explicit in the agreement. Question: [Inaudible] question for both of you. What was the argument that in your mind got this agreement together on Fair Fares – that Corey gave to you? Mayor: I think it was a good back and forth. It’s a funny – it’s a perfectly fair question. But it’s a funny argument when you both agree on the goal. So it’s not like the Speaker came in one day and said we should have Fair Fares to help struggling people get to work and get to job interviews, and I’m like no I don’t want them to have job interviews. No, we all agreed from the beginning. This was a good policy. The question was how to pay for it. I think crucial to the discussion was a recognition exactly what the Speaker said. One, our respectful attitude towards the MTA is that we gave them a one shot investment and that’s it. That this was not going to take form of subsidy for the MTA. That the MTA situation – and I think Mr. Byford’s report points it out even more strongly. It needs a structural solution that only Albany can provide. We’re going to work for that. I am hopeful as my certainly original vision along with Senator Gianaris and Assemblyman O’Donnell. We all wanted to see a Millionaires Tax that included Fair Fares. That some kind of model like that might ultimately win the day which would be ideal for everyone and free up resources for other important needs. All of those pieces contributed, and I think also a very practical conversation about how it would play out over several years to full implementation where I thought it was just reasonable on both sides about creating something workable. So it was a very good process. Yes? Question: Question for the Speaker. Is there anything the City Council gave up [inaudible] to fund Fair Fares? Speaker Corey Johnson: I mean, I would say everything was a negotiation, and it was a good faith negotiation. The Mayor and I spoke about what was included in the executive budget, and there was a lot of spending on things that we know are important for running this city. But we knot things that we highlighted in our budget response. But the one very big thing which we stood in this very [inaudible] and celebrated together was the very significant increase in fair student funding, and we’re really grateful about that. The property tax rebate didn’t make it, but the conversation that the Mayor and I had, and that was a respectful conversation about a property tax commission that would have funding that would go out and come out with real recommendations from a blue chip set of people who really have experience and are well respected in their fields. So even though we wanted to provide some temporary relief we were able to compromise and say that the work will continue throughout this year and hopefully we’ll be able to bring a product to the state legislature in next year’s legislative session with some recommendations on fixing the property tax rebate. There was minor stuff that the Mayor, and I went back and forth on – normal stuff agency by agency, things that were important to the members here, increases on some youth programs that have been important to the council, some education programs, cultural and libraries, and public health programs. And that was, that wasn’t stuff that got us stuck. We continued to talk through it. We had a back and forth with our staff on the details. Mayor: [Inaudible] compromise. Speaker Johnson: Yeah, and we compromised actually on many, many of those things. The Council didn’t get exactly what it wanted but the administration worked with us in a reasonable way to fund it in a way that would make sense. So everything was a real give and take throughout. Unknown: We’ve got time for two more folks. Mayor: Two more, I see two more. Question: There was a lot of criticism from the Council during the hearing process about the large increase in homeless shelter spending. Is that addressed in here at all, is that fully funded as it was in the executive, or was any kind of changes made [inaudible]? Mayor: Look, there is a lot of common ground on addressing the challenge. We have to fund the immediate needs, but the Speaker and a lot of members of the Council have said what can we do to make sure this money is being spent most effectively and change the overall trajectory which is our goal too. So what I’ve said is I expect by this point next year we’re going to be in a very different situation if our plans continue apace and we’re going to be able to start some real reductions in shelter population, and that’s the number one way to reduce costs. Look, in a strange good news with a twist we just announced that the Home-Stat initiative is bringing more people off the street, more street homeless folks into shelter, and ultimately to permanent housing than we’ve ever seen before. The number is now about 1,800 people in the last two years. That’s fantastic for reducing street homelessness. It does cause a short term bump in shelter population. But overtime we really believe that number is going to come down on the shelter side and reduce the costs and we will work collegially with the council looking for every efficiency we can in that area. But we as part of this budget, we’re making sure these expenses are covered. Speaker Johnson: I just want to say one thing. Mayor: Please. Speaker Johnson: We didn’t – the Mayor and I didn’t highlight this and what we discussed today. But it will be reflected and another thing we really partnered on together was increasing the amount of supportive housing for folks that need those types of services and so we’re increasing from 500 units to 700 units a year within an additional capital investment and expense side investment to create more supportive housing units which we believe is going to help on this homelessness crisis that the city faces. Mayor: Okay, last call. Question: Since it’s a budget press conference, who paid for the flowers? Speaker Johnson: Majority leader. Mayor: Did you? Councilmember Laurie Cumbo: I’ll get you some. Mayor: Alright, thanks everyone.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 1:26am
NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm and members of the City Council today announced an agreement for an on-time and balanced City budget for Fiscal Year 2019. The agreement on the approximately $89.15 billion budget includes $106 million for Fair Fares, a program that cuts the price of MetroCards in half for low-income New Yorkers. The budget agreement also includes the expansion of 3-K for All, serving 14,000 students in 12 districts while also providing Fair Student Funding for New York City schools. Additionally, the budget agreement makes significant new investments to help New Yorkers afford their number one expense: housing. The budget will boost supportive housing production by 40 percent to 700 apartments per year. Coupled with other investments, this budget agreement keeps the city on track to becoming the fairest big city in America. "Today marks an important milestone as we take bold steps to continue creating the fairest big city in America. With our colleagues in the City Council, we have come to a historic agreement to reduce the cost of MetroCards for hardworking New Yorkers struggling to afford their city, reaffirming our commitment to making New York City fair," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We're also addressing the City's most pressing needs by getting every school to at least 90 percent Fair Student Funding, expanding 3-K for All, and making unprecedented investments in NYCHA. All this while adding to our reserves to protect the important investments we've made over the last five years, including in this budget. I would like to thank Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Finance Chair Daniel Dromm and the rest of the City Council for their partnership. We are certain that New Yorkers across the five boroughs will see and feel the benefits of our budget." The Fair Fares program, which will be modeled after the Human Resource Administration's Cash Assistance and SNAP programs, will be administered directly by the City. In its first year, the program will be analyzed to ensure it is receiving the appropriate levels of funding to serve New Yorkers in need. The City is currently working on eligibility requirements for the program. Fair Fares is set to launch in early 2019. The FY19 Adopted Budget also accounts for $1.125 billion in General Reserve, an increase of $125 million; $4.35 billion in Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund, an increase of $100 million; and $250 million in the Capital Stabilization Reserve. Highlights of this year's budget include: * Expansion of 3-K for All, doubling the number of new districts in the next two years from two districts a year to four, bringing the City's total commitment to over 14,000 seats in 12 districts. The total investment in 3-K for All is $201 million by Fiscal Year 2022; * $150 million over three years in capital investments to increase school accessibility; * Acceleration of $100 million for supportive housing within the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's affordable housing budget for the Mayor's Housing New York 2.0 plan, which aims to create and preserve 300,000 affordable homes by 2026; * Increase and baseline funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) to meet projected demand bringing the EFAP budget to $20 million annually; * A baseline of $3 million to expand the Department of Youth and Community Development's Runaway Homeless Youth program; * $200 million in capital to upgrade heating systems at NYCHA developments and $13 million for short-term heating upgrades for next winter; * $3.5 million for additional litter basket pickup; * $10.3 million to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program from 70,000 to 75,000 slots; * A baseline of $8 million for the Comprehensive Afterschool System of New York City and $9 million for adult literacy programs; * $9.6 million to maintain the City's parks and $1.7 million to extend the opening of public beaches and pool season for one week past Labor Day; * $11.4 million for the Crisis Management System, which includes the Cure Violence program; * $12 million to have every patrol officer wear a body camera by the end of the year; * Preservation of $125 million for Fair Student Funding.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 1:25am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Welcome everyone. There are 400,000 people who live in public housing in this city. 400,000 good New Yorkers who every day work hard to make ends meet, 400,000 who are part of the backbone of this City. And I have been in public service for decades and I've spent a lot of time with the people who live in public housing, listening to their concerns and needs, working with them to try to improve their reality. I want to honor those people today with the actions we are taking because we have to take new and bold actions to address the challenges at NYCHA and we do it for them because they deserve safe and livable homes and they have for decades. The problems we'll talk about today have very long and deep origins but I want the entire discussion to focus on the people and what we have to do to make their lives better in the years ahead. This is a pivotal moment for those 400,000 New Yorkers. This is a pivotal moment for the future of public housing in New York City. We have reached a settlement with United States Attorney and this settlement will help to improve the safety and the quality of life for those 400,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing. It was not the easiest action to take, it was certainly not the traditional action to take in government, we did something very different here, and I made this decision because I believed it was the right thing to do. I'll talk about what this entails in a moment, but I think it is important also to talk about how we got here. This story goes back decades, I would mark it back to the election of 1980, and since that time progressively every level of government has failed the people who live in public housing in this city, it's failed men, it's failed women, it's failed children. The federal government disinvested progressively over years but the City and the State government often turned their backs on public housing as well. That status quo was broken at the time I entered this office and in too many ways it's still broken. Even though my colleagues and I here did not create it, it is our job to fix it. And I want to be very clear when I ran for this office, I did not run for this office to continue a broken status quo. It will be my sacred mission to fix the reality in public housing and set the stage additional improvements in the years after I have completed my term in office. I want to say the outset that this will be a long and tough battle. The ideas in the consent decree are the right ones but they also indicate a huge challenge ahead. It will take many years to undo that which has been broken. I want to be honest with my 400,000 fellow New Yorkers, you will see changes each year, you will see improvements each year, but to address the totality of the problems recognizing the consent decree will take a long time and a huge amount of resources. Problems that were created over the course of decades are not solved in mere months or even just a few years in the real world, our job is to fix them more and more each year, and as best we can, and as fast as we can. Now historically and legally NYCHA of course has been its own entity chartered by the federal government, the State government. The City of New York was not obligated to fund NYCHA in any particular manner. When this administration took office we made a very different decision than that of many of our predecessors, we decided it was important to provide additional and new funding to NYCHA from the very beginning, and the first preliminary budget of 2014 we ended the payments that NYCHA had had to make for many years for reasons that I find inexplicable, payment for police service that no similar institution would have had to cover. That money was turned back to NYCHA so to start addressing the repair backlog. A number of other choices were made over the years, previous to anything you see in the news, today's consent decree. Those investments added up to $3.7 billion in new funding for NYCHA that this administration is committed in the last four years, not because we were obligated to do it, but because it was the moral and right thing to do because people needed the help and deserved it. That's why I see the consent decree as an appropriate next step in that progression. Now I want to be clear, I want to be straightforward, we can't hold ourselves blameless either. This administration also has made mistakes. There are too many times that things happen on our watch that we didn't know about, but that is still our responsibility. Inspections, of course, that were supposed to been done in terms of lead paint halted before we got here but I wish to the depths of my soul we had learned that immediately and we would've acted on it the moment we found out. We did not achieve that mission, when we did find out, we acted decisively, but I don't want to hold any element of government blameless. This administration, previous city administrations, state governments, or federal government, I think the honest reality is that everyone has been a part of this, and everyone has to now be part of the solution. And we can spend a whole lot of time talking about what went wrong in the past, we can revisit the past, and that's important to do, but more important is to fix what's broken. People live in public housing need action and they need it as quickly as possible and that's where our focus will be. We are very clear-eyed about the scale of the problem and I don't want anyone to think that because I understand this will take years and years that that is indication of any lack of urgency. We feel tremendous urgency to address these problems but I never want to in any way suggest to the people who live in NYCHA something that is not true and is not going to happen. I want them to know that the work will happen every day, improvement will be real and constant, but again it will take years. People deserve the truth, it will take years to fix these underlying problems. That said, there are reasons for some optimism because some things are working better and it's important to note that as well. Repair times have come down in NYCHA over the last few years because the investment was there and that has affected real people's lives. Crime has come down at NYCHA and again, I said I spent years talking to and working with NYCHA residents, crime was often the number one concern. Thank God, between there good efforts, the efforts of NYCHA, and of course the efforts of the NYPD, there has been a steady reduction in crime at NYCHA and I want to emphasize the NYPD deserves tremendous praise, but NYCHA was a big part of that work as well. Fixing the physical realities that so often made it harder to start crime, providing more lighting, getting scaffolding down, a number of things that really made a difference, and the people of NYCHA, the resident patrols and the leaders and the activists who did so much. And I want to thank the NYCHA residents who are here, some many of whom have been part of the solution, who fought for safer developments, that is a success story that can give us some real heart as we move forward on these other challenges. NYCHA, the first day I took on this job, was near bankruptcy. The team at City Hall and the team at NYCHA turned that around, it is a financially solvent organization today that is the basis for all the other changes we need to make. These things happened, they signify the potential for real change in NYCHA, we've seen some change, a lot more has to come. Even in the area of lead where there have been so many mistakes, as of today every apartment that was mandated to inspected under Local Law 1 of this city, every apartment that was mandated for 2017 was inspected, remediation efforts have occurred in 90 percent of those apartments. I want to make very clear the remainder are in situations where residents have not granted access or it's been for some reason or another difficult to schedule access. I want to be clear with everyone that any resident who has an apartment that requires remediation must give access to NYCHA for that work to be done, if they do not grant access we will use other means to gain access. I'm not going to have an apartment that has any lead present that is not remediated. We will use whatever means we need to address that situation. Another very important development, and a very positive development, is the new leadership at NYCHA sitting beside me today. Stan Brezenoff has taken on the job as Chair, Stan has seen this city through some of its toughest times in the aftermath of the fiscal crisis, he is one of the people who helped lead New York City back, and as recently as last year, he helped to turn around a Health and Hospitals Corporation that was also teetering on bankruptcy and ensured the continuity of our public hospitals and clinics. A herculean effort that has brought stability to Health + Hospitals – that turn around skill, that ability to make the tough choices, to right a complex organization is what Stan Brezenoff brings to the table and is proven over and over again. NYCHA is a city within a city, I want to emphasize this, 400,000 people. It is an extraordinary complex organization. The areas addressed in the consent decree are crucial but there are many, many other aspects of NYCHA, all of NYCHA must keep operating, it must keep improving. I mention public safety, the consent decree does not address public safety but every single day Stan and Vito and all of the people who work at NYCHA have to focus on public safety in addition to so many other areas who are depending on Stan's leadership and it's been proven time and time again. Vito Mustaciuolo is a legend in city government for those who have seen his work up close, I've known him for a decade. He's one of the most hands on managers I've ever met in all of my years in public service. He is legendary for challenging landlords all over New York City who are not providing their tenants with proper heat and hot water and repairs and making them fix those problems. He is strong and he is resolute and a man of extraordinary integrity. These leaders, I am convinced are the right people for this moment to take this situation and turn it around. The consent decree gives us a mutual framework for action with the federal government. I'm sure there will be questions about why I decided to sign the city on to this. And again it was not the traditional act. But I felt that being in accord with the federal government was important, being on the same page – the City, NYCHA, HUD, U.S. Attorney, will a common vision of how we move forward was important to the future. We agreed to create a common game plan. We agreed to address serious issues that had to be addressed. We agreed for all that we had to do in the short term but we also agreed because it was the best path way to the future. The City commits $1 billion in capital funds over the next four years in addition to $200 million per year thereafter for as long as the consent decree continues. I think you all know by now there's a five year minimum term to the consent decree. Our hope of course is that given this extraordinary commitment by the City, that now the State of New York will come forward with the half billion dollars previously committed to NYCHA and provide that money so we can do additional good work to protect our residents. Also crucial is that the State authorize design-build authority for all the work at NYCHA to ensure that every effort undertaken whether it be on lead, or elevators, or heat, or any other matter be done as quickly as possible. I remind everyone that design-build in many cases, shaves a year off a major construction project. That should be made available for all NYCHA efforts. This agreement fosters a culture of compliance which clearly was not sufficient at NYCHA previously, formalizes a compliance office and a Chief Compliance Officer. This is about ensuring that everyone does their job and rooting out any misconduct which we will not tolerate. We know that there have been elements of the institutional culture at NYCHA that were simply broken. We have to systematically root them out. Now I mentioned why it was important to come to a common understanding with the federal government. We believe that the City's history with federal monitors had been a positives one. It's important to say this. We have currently a federal monitor at the NYPD. The NYPD is acknowledged all over the country, all over the world as the greatest police organization there is and yet it has a federal monitor this very moment. That monitor has been a very constructive, positive force working with the NYPD. We have a federal monitor at the Department of Correction, also an example of a constructive, positive relationship that has yielded positive outcomes for all. I have seen with my own eyes that federal monitorships can work for everyone and we have faith that that will be the case here. Crucial to the equation is the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. And important commitments are made in the consent decree. We can talk about some other things that aren't in the consent decree but there are important commitments that are there. It's clear in the consent decree that HUD will work with the City and NYCHA to review and expedite a number of waivers and elements of regulatory reform that could also help to speed up the work that NYCHA does to address underlying problems and support the residents. It's clear in the consent decree that HUD will immediately lift any restrictions on funding to NYCHA so the flow on money can continue. It's clear in the consent decree that HUD cannot reduce funding because of any new commitments made by the City. These are important steps. We want an atmosphere of collegiality with HUD and mutual purpose and I think this helps us to get there. I also think it paves the way for a future which I can begin to see the outlines of in which the federal government once again gets back to the important work of supporting affordable housing and public housing in this city and in this country. None of us can predict what's going to happen in the upcoming election or the one after that but I do believe there are substantial signs of change coming. And I believe this consent decree creates a corporative environment that will help pave the way to that day when we look forward to receiving the kind of federal support we need to complete the missions outlined in the consent decree. I want to be very clear that this process has been a really challenging one for everyone involved. We've had to review a lot of information that was downright painful. When I saw the federal complaint it made me angry as all hell to know that there were some people in NYCHA who withheld information, tried to deceive the federal government and NYCHA's own leadership. It disgusted me. It's unacceptable. We are going to review our leadership, Stan Brezenoff and Vito Mustaciuolo are going to review the complaint very carefully. I emphasize the complaint is a series of allegations and we will independently review them and if we find that any individuals who work for NYCHA did anything inappropriate there will be very serious consequences for them. They way forward involves recognizing the extent of the problems and being resolute in acting on them. In the end I believe this was the best way to achieve that goal. I believe in my heart this was the right thing to do and it sets us on a path forward for the 400,000 people who live in our public housing. It's very important to be able to say exactly what someone commits to you in life and our conversations with the U.S. Attorney there was a clear request and an unprecedented request – to provide funding for the long term, in two forms, one to continue our existing funding streams that we committed to before any discussion of the consent decree, we committed to in our own budget process. I believe that was the right thing to do for the people who live in public housing. When we took away that requirement for NYCHA to pay for police services, I never intended that to be temporary, I believe that needed to be a permanent change. We codified this in this legal agreement. That is binding on my successors and I think that is the right thing to do. I think it should be binding on my successors. We codify long term, additional capital spending commitments, also binding on whoever holds this seat after me and I think that is the right thing to do. I think there should have been binding commitments to the 400,000 people who live in NYCHA a long time ago. So I can certainly look all of them in the eye and say we have skin in the game, we've made our commitments, we are perfectly comfortable that they are legally binding because they deserve nothing less. A few words in Spanish. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish:] With that I will turn to questions. Question: Mayor, just a few months ago you said, thank God there has not been harm done to any child because [inaudible] wasn't accurate. Do you acknowledge that that statement wasn't accurate? And can you explain how you came to say that? Were you aware of the facts [inaudible] in the consent decree when you said that? And can you explain what information you were given and what lead you to make that statement? Mayor: First, to put things in perspective. The entire administration has been focused on children form the beginning. The number-one initiatives of this administration have been about children and their welfare. Clearly, the health of children in NYCHA is paramount. I felt that from day-one, and I feel that today. I mentioned earlier there's a difference between the consent decree, where there are facts that we all agree to versus the complaint where there's a series of allegations that we will now review, but we have not passed judgement on. Based on the information I had at the time, what I said I absolutely believed to be accurate. I'm not changing that statement until I have facts otherwise. But the bottom line is, we must support these children and these families. So, every inspection that is required will be made, and remediation will be achieved. It will take time in some cases, but where we're focused, first and foremost, is on the apartments that are applicable under Local Law 1, which have all now been inspected. As I said, the remediation is 90 percent done, the remainder will be done quickly. We are also going to review any apartments that previously, under previous administrations, were indicated to not have lead present, but may have. You know of the reporting about the decisions made in the Giuliani era, that some buildings did not have lead present that have now been called into question. We're going to go back and review any building where we believe lead would be present, and do those inspections in those apartments. Any child who there's any reason to believe may have been exposed, either because of lead paint at NYCHA or any other lead source – and there are many others, sadly, and we have to be very aware of this outside of NYCHA. Any child that may have been exposed to lead should seek – and their family should seek treatment immediately. They can get free treatment from public hospitals and clinics. Any child who needs lead testing can get it. We need to focus on making sure that every child gets the help they need. So, that's where our emphasis is right now. Question: Would you agree with the statement in the complaint that at least 19 cases of lead poisoning were tied to exposure of deteriorated – Mayor: Again, all that matters is serving any child who's in need. Anything in the complaint, we're going to look at very carefully. But my focus right now is continuing to fix the problem. Question: City Councilman Ritchie Torres was – expressed concerns about this consent decree, basically saying, you know, aren't you giving up some powers to the federal government here? And also, by entering this deal, isn't it a tacit admission of guilt by the City? What's your response to that? Are you giving up power? Mayor: No, I disagree with his analysis essentially on every level. This agreement is going to allow us to get things done, that's what it's about. I don't understand the analysis that he put forward. Federal monitorships are part of government. When they are done productively, they can help solve longstanding problems. I've seen very productive, positive examples in my time as Mayor in this City, and certainly seen them elsewhere as well. I think the process here, working with the US Attorney and his team was fair. I think everyone had a common goal, the same with HUD, the same with NYCHA. Everyone had a common goal of solving the problem. I think when you can get everyone into agreement on a plan to solve a problem with real commitments, that is in everyone's interests, rather than continuing to fight over something when agreement is available. It's also very important to read the consent decree carefully. I have read it many times. It makes abundantly clear that the work of NYCHA – again, a city within a city. Go check your list of American cities and see how many have a population of over 400,000 – NYCHA would be its own major American city. These two gentlemen are running the day-to-day affairs of NYCHA. It's abundantly clear in the consent decree, and their work must continue. By the way, it will be months before the time comes that the consent decree is confirmed by the court, the monitor is confirmed by the court, the action plans are confirmed by the court, but these guys and their team are at work right now immediately solving these problems. And we're going to have a series of announcements in the coming weeks and months addressing other important changes and new plans for NYCHA in the meantime. So, to me, if you look carefully at the document, it makes very clear that NYCHA's chair, its board, its general manager, its leadership have to continue their work for the good of all the residents. They will work in cooperation with the monitor to get a specific series of very important things done. And then the day will come with that consent decree ends and NYCHA will still have that important work to do, going forward. And I think that's fair. Question: Much of this, Mayor, doesn't seem entirely new. The untrue representations at least when it comes to lead, that's something we've talked about in recent months. So, why only now the announcement that you're going to review and hold accountable those who may have, frankly, lied, or, put charitably, not followed policy? Mayor: I think other people have been held accountable previously, in a variety of ways, and we needed to focus on fixing the problem first. So, look, I wish I could describe to all of you what it takes to govern, because it's exceedingly complex and I don't blame anyone who looks at it and says, well, why can't this stuff just be done? But it's very complex to put together the right leadership, put together the right plan, fix problems from the past, get information that wasn't always available or wasn't always accurate and actually go back over things and figure out exactly what happened and what needs to be done differently – that was our focus. When I said to you that every apartment mandated under Local Law 1 had been inspected for 2017, well that had not happened for years, as you know. It started in the previous City administration, that's where everything broke down. I wish to hell we had caught it earlier. When it came to our attention, we immediately went to work fixing it. But even fixing it took time because things were so out of whack. But what these guys and everyone else has been focused on is getting us into compliance with the law as quickly as possible, while we were trying to sort out these bigger issues. So, clearly, some people have been held accountable, some people are not there anymore. But now, we have some specific examples based on an investigation, which you know was ongoing by the US Attorney for two years. They've yielded a lot of new information that we are going to review now and act on. We will do the work of weeding out anyone who should not be here or anyone who's done something wrong. But even more important is fixing the problem, and that work is sacred and has to happen every single day. Question: Was there ever a possibility that there were going to be criminal charges brought against anyone at NYCHA or in City Hall? Mayor: The conversations that I was part of were all about fixing the underlying problems. The US Attorney of course reserves their rights, and I understand that. But all we talked about was fixing the structural problems. I can't conjecture on anything else. Question: Mr. Mayor, the talks about a problem that's been going on for a decade [inaudible] predates you being Mayor of the City of New York, but what it says is that NYCHA actually trained the staff on how to [inaudible] internal guidelines expressly encouraged staff to use [inaudible]. And it includes all kinds of things, from using painted cardboard to hide ceiling tiles, to turning off the water so the inspectors won't see the leaks, building false walls – Mayor: Yes, I have read it all. Question: So, my question to you is, if this is ingrained in the culture at NYCHA, which the complaint makes abundantly clear – how do you un-ingrain it? How do you get it out of the culture? Because it seems to be a pattern of [inaudible] when you read this? Mayor: I was sick to my stomach. Look, this has been – talk about un-peeling an onion – with every passing month I've gotten more and more information and it's more and more distressing, and it's not the first time this has happened, I want to be very clear, just in case anyone thinks that NYCHA is the only agency anything like this has ever happened to. In the first months of this administration, I was shocked to find out what I did about our Corrections system, for example. I came in the door, knowing that a lot of professional people had been in charge, to find out a huge number of things had been done wrong, and there were a lot of profound problems that went unaddressed. Someday, I'd like to believe in New York City we'll get to a point where we can't say that about any agency, but we're not there yet. But with NYCHA, I've learned more with every passing month, and some of these situations shock me. It's unacceptable in any way, shape, or form, we're not going to tolerate it. That said, to your very important question – how do you change a culture? I ask people to really dwell on the history here, it's so important. Once upon a time, public housing in the City was the envy of the nation, it really was. You can talk to any number of New Yorkers from decades ago who grew up in public housing, of all different backgrounds, became great successes, talk fondly about what it was like to live in public housing. A lot of things went wrong thereafter, some bigger things in our society, but obviously, also, consistent reductions in funding that just shot the legs out from under NYCHA. I mean, we have to be honest about this. We wouldn't be talking about roofs that were broken, or mold, and elevators if there had been maintenance year after year, and investment year after year. We're talking about buildings that, on average, are 50, 60 years old, and regular investment stopped 30 years ago. It was, you know – there was a book once called Chronicle of a Death Foretold. This was a problem that was growing before our very eyes for decades. It's not a shock when you actually break it down. But if you want cause for hope, I remind people that even some of our most sacred institutions in this city once were very troubled. The NYPD is the greatest police force in the world. If you go back and read the book Serpico, you wouldn't have felt it in the 1970's. There were problems and scandals that were profound for years after. But some very good people, and I want to give particulars appreciation to Bill Bratton, obviously, as an example, took an institution that had a lot of challenges and problems, with a lot of other great people – a whole generation of reformers – and turned it around. That was a very, very tough job. School Construction Authority – a lot of people here know – used to be a basket case. Under a succession of leaders, it is now considered exemplary in terms of how it does its work. These leaders are the kind of people, the caliber of people who can start that process of profound culture change. It will not happen overnight, but we're not going to tolerate lying, we're not going to tolerate people who don't do their job, or don't support the residents of NYCHA. We have a really clear game plan, and we have to make that culture change. Question: This is a question for Deputy Mayor Glen [inaudible] not sure about you personally, but she informed you [inaudible] the decision was made not to make that public until all of this came out later. And [inaudible] certified not once, but twice to HUD that the Housing Authority was in compliance with all of its lead paint federal, State, and local requirements, but those were false certifications. What was your role in crafting that? Mayor: Greg, look, I'm going to step in for a second. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Greg, I'm sorry, I'm running this press conference. We are not here to rehash each and every step of the past. We've spoken to it before. The bottom line is, the Chair made very clear when she learned of the information, she did the most important thing, which was she altered HUD, and that has been documented. Clearly, we're not satisfied with anything that happened. It should not have happened. We're fixing it now. So, I just don't want to go into a rehash of a number of things we talked about. Today is announcing a step forward, and what people at NYCHA need to know and care about is how are we going to fix their problems. Yoav? Question: [Inaudible] to ensure that people do their jobs, I'm wondering what responsibility you and Deputy Mayor Glen take for not having done that? I mean essentially your role should have been making sure those people are doing their jobs. Mayor: Yoav, we can only act on the information we have. This is a huge government, my responsibility is for all of it and NYCHA is a free standing entity, we have to be really clear about this – everyone understands it, the law recognizes it as a federally and State chartered entity but the City plays an important role obviously. Had I known on January 1st 2014 that the previous administration stopped doing lead inspections, I assure you I would have acted on it that day. It's no brainer, whatever people can think politically or otherwise, I would never allow children or NYCHA residents to be in harm's way, I would have been sick to my stomach that day that inspections weren't happening instead of many years later when I finally heard. Every leadership group depends on people to provide them with information. And when you are at the beginning of a new administration you have to depend on your predecessors and you have to depend on the career employees to give you information and bluntly in a way that was worse than many other agencies we were not told the truth. Once we found the truth we acted on it. But it wasn't just flick a switch, we had to literally recreate what happened and figure out how to address it. It's been a painful process. All of us take responsibility for what we learned when we learned it. Once we learned it we had to swing into action and we have tried constantly to make changes. And also Yoav, crucially, sadly against a back drop where other administrations did not make major new investments, we were constantly making major new investments in NYCHA trying to fix the underlying problems. But I'm not satisfied. We have to change the whole thing which is why I don't fear this consent decree. I embrace it because it is a path forward. David? Question: I wanted to ask you something on that note – I mean you are having a separate press conference from the U.S. Attorney – Mayor: Yes. Question: It's almost as if these press conferences are happening in different worlds. He's talking about the culture at NYCHA of dysfunction, that it was fundamentally flawed and that even if you had as much money as you might have needed to make the repairs that were necessary there, it wasn't about that, it was about the flawed culture. Yet you are presenting this as if you guys are inlock step and this is sort of a common cause that you are all working towards so how do we square those different versions of what's being agreed upon today? Mayor: Look I think you square it by the fact that there are legal documents that stipulate a way forward that is very clear. Question: [Inaudible] forced into signing. Mayor: It was not forced, it was a decision my friends. So, seriously my friend? You represent a rather prestigious journalistic entity. Do not put words in someone's mouth. That's really not cool. I was not forced for a minute. I had the choice if I wanted to do something different to do something different. So really try and respect the truth. This was the right thing to do for the city. I told you in the beginning it was not traditional, plenty of people would say don't do something like this, don't commitment to long term funding. I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought it was a way to make up for some of the wrongs of the past. We have a much more important than any analysis or tonality is the document which stipulates a common path forward. Now I believe that you can have two things happening at once, a problem in institutional culture and a lack of funding. I think it is self-evident that those are both profound problems. I think if you had proper funding it would have supported a much better institutional culture. If you have had a better institutional culture it would have led to the funding being used better. We need to fix both so I respect Mr. Berman a lot, we've had a very good working relationship with him. I think he led a very productive, respectful, serous process. Disagree with that one point, I think it goes beyond the culture to the funding as well. But I think this is the way to address that. Rich? Question: [Inaudible] my ability to ask a question that was truthful. The federal monitor for the NYPD came about after a trial that the City didn't agree to sign a consent decree in that case and went to trial and then had a monitor imposed. So that was the other option here, not that you would – Mayor: A trial is an option. We made a choice. You could ask the question rather than editorializing in your question. Did we have a choice? Yes. Did we consider the options? Yes. We thought this was the right thing to do. Rich? Question: Mr. Mayor, Governor Cuomo about two hours ago said it was never about the money when it came to NYCHA, always about the mismanagement. And he also said that he hopes that the federal monitor will quote on quote run the place. Mayor: Wrong and wrong. Just couldn't be more wrong. I'm not going to get into a lot of detail. The Governor has spent very little time looking at the details of NYCHA. This could not be clearer, this consent decree. Stan Brezenoff is Chair, Vito Mustaciuolo as General Manager are running NYCHA. They work, you could look at passage by passage, they will work with the federal monitor to develop plans, have to be approved by a judge, they will work together to implement those plans. Is the monitor there to make sure those plans are implemented? 100 percent. Just like Mr. Zimroth is there at the Police Department right now to make sure that the remediation dictated by the federal government in terms of stop and frisk is acted on. So do you want to know if Jimmy O'Neill is Commissioner of the Police Department, is that something you wanted to know next? No disrespect to you, I'm saying just play it out – federal monitors work with the existing leadership of an agency. The agency has to keep doing its job every single day on a thousand other fronts. But we expect a positive, cooperative situation. We want to solve the problems in common. We really share a goal. As to the money argument – that is almost a neoconservative argument. It really is and I'm stunned to hear any Democrat say that decades of disinvestment by the federal government and state government is not part of the problem. Could we be honest here please? The fact is you cannot have a city of 400,000 people that lost a lot of its source of funding with buildings that average 50 and 60 years old and what was Exxon Mobile going to manage it better? I mean where were these magical managers who with no resources were going to fix a problem when there was nothing to invest with? This deification, what it is, of private management and putting down public management is outrageous and inappropriate. Of course money matters in solving big, challenging problems. Money matters in education. Money matters in public housing, affordable housing, and everywhere. It's a cop out to say otherwise. Yes? Question: Mr., Mayor, it doesn't appear, look no one can predict the future, but you're not going to get from the federal government the type of money that NYCHA says it needs to improve the entire system. $2 billion later, there is still going to be issues, some of these buildings date back to the Great Depression so, are you acknowledging that there needs to be, whether you want to call it a privatization or more private capital, that there needs to be some new paradigm out there in order to pump money into the system? Mayor: Okay, it's a great question. The – first I want to start with your first assumption, which is a very important one. Has history ended when it comes to NYCHA? No. We're talking about a United States Senate that is 51 – 49 today, could change in any direction in November, we don't know. We're talking about a House that belongs to one party today, it could be in another party's hands in November, we're talking about a Presidency that I can't even make sense of, I can tell you there is going to be a very contested election in 2020. You can see government all in the hands of one party as it is today, you can see it in the hands of a different party by 2021. We don't know. We do know, as changes occur though, that there is more likelihood of the federal government investing in affordable housing, in public housing again. We do know for a fact that there is a scenario where the Senate majority leader will be a New Yorker, Chuck Schumer, who cares deeply about public housing. So no, we are not at the end of the line, there is the potential for serious new federal funding. I'm not counting on it, I'm not waiting by the phone, but I not ruling it out, and that is really important to the people who live in public housing that we not rule it out, and we continue to fight for it. So that's part one. I think the changes that we're making are to ensure that we're setting up the best possible path for renewed federal funding. I argued that being in – another reason why we did not choose to go to court, we chose to settle – was to be in some kind of working relationship with the federal government. And look, I believe that will result in some real regulatory relief. It has not been confirmed yet, there is a process, there's an agreement to work together and review in an expeditious fashion, but I believe there will be a regulatory relief and that's going to mean a lot to NYCHA. I believe the federal government issues being settled helps to encourage the movement of state resources and that design build authority. We see all these pieces fitting together. But no I don't want to close the door on a different future, you're right if you say, you know, it is the money talked about here enough to solve every problem in NYCHA, no it's not. It is enough to do a whole lot to address the health and safety areas that are in the consent decree, undoubtedly. I also think it paves the way, potentially, for something much bigger. That's what we have to work toward. Question: [Inaudible] what about that new [inaudible] – Mayor: Not be? Question: [Inaudible] I mean there is NextGen NYCHA but nothing - nothing substantial as – Mayor: Well – as I – I only will put down a marker that in the months ahead you are going to hear a lot from these two leaders about additional changes because we need to put additional bold plans in place. NextGen NYCHA is a very powerful plan and made some real progress, part of why NYCHA is solvent is because of it. But there's got to be a lot more, and you're going to be hearing more, even before we get to the point of the full impact of the consent decree. Gloria? Question: Mr. Mayor, I wonder if - with the information you know now, you stood by NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye for a long time and I would like to ask you if you continue to feel that way and if you can tell us whether or not she was fired when she – Mayor: You know exactly what happened with her, she made a decision to leave. I thought she was doing important and good work. She was as frustrated as I was that she was not given accurate information by other people in the organization. She achieved a lot, the things I mentioned, the reduction in crime, the speeding up repairs, getting the organization of fiscal solvency. Look, I wish we had known the full truth on day one, I'm sure she wishes it as well. Okay, Jillian? Question: Mayor, you said earlier in this press conference that you would not tolerate lying within NYCHA and I'm just curious how you swear that with your sort of insistence that we not go back over when your administration – you and other members your administration – were made aware that Miss Olatoye had lied to the federal government three times about the issue of lead according to what the press release said – Mayor: Again, she told them openly - it is documented- she told them openly what she had learned. So I just don't agree with your characterization. We're going to keep reviewing the history, that's fair, and everything in the complaint, which again, is allegation by its nature, everything in the complaint – has to be very carefully reviewed, we take it very, very seriously. But at the same time, when you enter into consent decree, you're stating a commitment to address issues, and boy, talk about skin in the game, this is a lot of commitment, this is a lot resources, this is ongoing resources. I don't think any of us have ever seen a scenario where the City agreed to an open-ended commitment of resources. I'll take on the critics any day who think that was wrong, I think it was the right thing to do, so there's no question about the intensity of the commitment and taking these issues very, very seriously. We will keep looking for anything from the past that we need to learn from, but I feel job one is to fix the problems right now. Monica? Question: Thank you, live on Facebook as usual, and we've done 20 shows, we've done this for six months every day telling the stories of the families of NYCHA. They're watching, do you want to offer them an apology for what has happened? And they want to see someone to blame, they want to see someone accountable, are you accountable? And will you – Mayor: I don't think they want to see someone to blame. I've talked to residents of NYCHA for decades, I don't think they want to see someone to blame, I think they want to see people who are going to fix the problem. Stan Brezenoff is going to fix the problem. Vito Mustaciuolo is going to fix the problem. We're all going to fix the problem. As to the question of an apology, I want to offer a joint apology and you can find out if the other people involved want to be part of it. I think the federal government owes them an apology, recent administrations going back 30 years owe them an apology. I think the State government also owes them an apology also going back decades. I think the City government owes the apology. My Administration and I will offer an apology, but the administrations before me should offer an apology too. I think if anyone wants to say there's one person to blame, you're kidding yourself. Anyone who wants to break it down to one person is not respecting the intelligence of the people who live in public housing. They've lived it. They know it's been going on for decades. So you want an apology, I apologize and I want to hear everyone else apologize, but more importantly I want to fix the problem. This is the first time the City has taken it seriously in the way it needs to. Thank you, everyone.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 7:21am
“Decades of divestment by the federal and state governments and decades of neglect by New York City government have pushed our public housing system to the brink. I didn’t run for mayor to continue that history. I ran to help turn it around. “This morning I entered our City government into a contract with the United States Attorney that will aggressively address the infrastructure and accountability failures outlined in the Consent Decree. Our work with the federal government ensures not only the continuation of record-level investments by my administration, but also requires the next mayor to invest in NYCHA with that same dedication. “By further acknowledging and providing solutions to a decades-old pattern of mismanagement, divestment and neglect, I am confident this settlement will be a turning point for our public housing system. By enshrining in City government my administration’s absolute commitment to never turning a blind eye to those in need, this agreement takes a dramatic step to fulfilling our obligation to more than 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.” The Mayor will be outlining the terms of these historic public housing investments at a press conference at 2:00 PM in City Hall’s Blue Room.
Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 8:01am
Goal set in 2015 upon launch of the Center for Youth Employment, a public-private partnership that works with employers and city agencies to grow job opportunities for young people NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio announced that the City achieved its goal to provide over 100,000 summer jobs, internships and mentorships per year to youth ages 12-24, helping to put more young New Yorkers on a path to successfully enter and compete in the local workforce. Studies show that access to early and meaningful work-based learning and employment opportunities significantly improves future employment prospects and earning power. “To live up to the promise of being the fairest city in America, we must ensure young people from all backgrounds have opportunities for career exploration. We made the unprecedented commitment to provide 100,000 internships, mentorships, and summer jobs per year by 2020 so that social status, neighborhood and family income don’t act as barriers to long-term career success,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Delivering on this goal two years ahead of schedule marks an important milestone in the City’s youth workforce efforts and deepens the pool of local talent in New York City.” “All young people possess talent and promise, yet most lack the networks and resources to gain meaningful work experience that prepares them for careers. We created the Center for Youth Employment to help more young New Yorkers unlock their full potential and to give employers a local pool of qualified workers,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, chair of the Mayor’s Fund. “I’m so proud that the CYE and its partners in City government and the private sector have achieved our initial goal two years early. The CYE will build on this early success and continue its efforts to help create a youth workforce system that is fair and accessible for young New Yorkers.” Through unprecedented investments from the Administration and City Council, the City reached the Mayor’s goal two years before the original target of 2020. The efforts of City agencies that service youth – including the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services – and increased employer engagement advanced by the NYC Center for Youth Employment were integral to this effort. To announce this milestone achievement, the Center for Youth Employment today gathered its initial founding partners and other stakeholders to release an independent case study by Public Works Partners analyzing the Center’s last three years of work. The case study can be viewed and downloaded here . An estimated total of 109,137 youth and young adults accessed career exploration opportunities during the current Fiscal Year — a 75 percent increase over the 2015 baseline. “Today we celebrate an achievement not only for New York City, providing 100,000 work experiences for our City’s youth, but also a win for young people who are now on a career path through early work exposure and for NYC’s employers who are building their future talent pool. We know that early work exposure can change the trajectory of a life; creating experiences and networks that are vital for future success, but we cannot do this work alone. Partnership with employers are a key to success and I thank the Center For Youth Employment, our City agencies and our City’s employers for coming to the table to build our future workforce,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. "The de Blasio administration is committed to helping every young New Yorker achieve career success and economic security by connecting classroom learning with real-world work experience," said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. "This effort must leverage the strengths of the Department of Youth and Community Development, Department of Education and other partners within and beyond City government. The Center for Youth Employment is playing a vital role in aligning these partners and building a holistic and effective system that prepares our youth to thrive in the world of work." Mayor de Blasio launched the Center for Youth Employment – a project of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC – in May 2015 with funding from 60 philanthropic partners and private sector employers representing a diverse cross-section of industries. The Center was tasked to deliver “more and better” opportunities for young people to gain work experience and build skills through collaboration with four key stakeholder groups: employers, funders, government, and service providers. The Center for Youth Employment has helped drive dramatic growth and quality improvements in New York City’s youth workforce system by: * Supporting programming and growth of the Summer Youth Employment Program, managed by the Department of Youth and Community Development, which has seen overall growth from 47,126 participants in 2014 to 69,716 last year * Creating new program models with the Department of Education, including CareerCLUE and CTE Industry Scholars, to more closely link classroom learning with school-year and summer work experience * Working to recruit almost 1,000 new employers to hire interns, including through creation of seven “Industry Funds” in high-priority sectors of the City economy (professional services, fashion, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, media and entertainment, and real estate) to build pipelines of rising talent through career awareness and internship opportunities * Creating an Employer Best Practices Playbook to share effective tools and strategies in working with interns * Expanding and improving program options for high-need youth, including those in the shelter, foster care or juvenile justice systems and current and former Opportunity Youth (neither in school nor working) including launching Career Lift, a program to improve employee retention for low wage workers, piloting a first in the nation pay for success model. Having reached the goal ahead of schedule, the Center and its partners are continuing to focus on program quality and system cohesion. Priorities over the next several years including more closely connecting classroom learning to work experiences; supporting seamless transitions from high school into postsecondary education and training programs; and more effectively informing City programs with the perspectives and experiences of employers and service providers. “The Center for Youth Employment was developed with the goal of bringing better coordination and rigor to youth workforce investments being made throughout the City. In announcing the project, the Mayor set a number of ambitious goals, and we are thrilled to see one on those big goals reached this year, ahead of schedule.” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. “We know that early work experiences can be transformational for youth and young adults. And creating over 100,000 work opportunities for our city's youth, in one year, is a great achievement for our whole city – and we thank the many partners across public and private sectors who helped support the work." "On behalf of the Center for Youth Employment team, we're very proud to have surpassed the Mayor's goal of supporting 100,000 internships, summer jobs, mentorships and related work experiences per year, two years before the original target," said David Fischer, Executive Director of the Center for Youth Employment. "With deep appreciation for our partners who made this success possible, we look forward to continuing our work to help every young New Yorker achieve career success and economic security." “100,000 of our City’s young people – and counting –can depend on internships, mentorships, and summer jobs every single year. This milestone means more students are able to explore careers and graduate with experiences that help them make informed choices about their future. And, it is the result of a collaboration between City agencies and employers that is focused on ensuring our young people can take full advantage of the life of the City, shape it, and become the leaders our entire country needs,” said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. “I am thrilled with the milestones reached in such a short period of time and I could not be more grateful for the public and private partners that have come together around the shared goal of supporting youth workforce pipelines,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “Through the Summer Youth Employment Program, Ladders for Leaders and other City-funded initiatives, teens and young adults have been exposed to everything from crime scene forensics to computer coding to advertising. DYCD looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the Center for Youth Employment to ensure all young New Yorkers have equal access to internships, jobs and career training opportunities that are crucial to their success.” "The Administration for Children’s Services is proud to partner with The Center for Youth Employment to create quality work experiences for youth in foster care,” said David A. Hansell, Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services. “Our work together resulted in more than 750 young people participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program last year and a new partnership with the Pinkerton Foundation to provide mentored internships to youth in care. This work is critical to ensuring that youth leave foster care with strong skills and connections to mentors, professionals and employers, positioning them for success in the New York City economy." “New York City has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for professional growth. At the Human Resources Administration we have expanded opportunities to obtain college degrees and developed a new set of employment contracts to better assess and prepare our clients for long-term employment helping them on their path towards sustainable career opportunities with greater earning potential and transitioning off public assistance,” said Human Resources Administration Administrator Grace Bonilla. “Congratulations to the Center for Youth Employment for your great work preparing youth to become valuable members of our workforce.” “Summer jobs not only provide young people with financial resources, but also can give them valuable real-world experience that will help them make informed career choices and understand what it takes to succeed in the job market,” said Senator Liz Krueger. “I applaud Mayor De Blasio and the Council for their investments in expanding both the number and the variety of employment opportunities for New York City's youth.” “Our youth are an important resource because they are the leaders of tomorrow. Setting them on the right path early is very important,” Senator James Sanders Jr. said. “I commend the City for helping so many young New Yorkers get jobs and internships that will grow their experience and advance their talent. This will help our community cultivate a diverse workforce that will benefit all residents.” “Providing summer jobs, internships and mentorships to our youth is vital. They are our future, and we must ensure we pave the road so they have opportunities for success,” said Senator Jose Peralta. “Work experience not only improves chances and opens career doors for young adults but allows them to earn some cash while on vacation. I applaud the private-public partnership and Mayor de Blasio for reaching the objective to offer more than 100,000 summer jobs and internships.” “This is excellent news! Investing in high quality opportunities for our youth to develop their skills should be a top priority. This is one more way to increase equality, social stability and employability of young people.” Senator Roxanne Persaud said. "I am proud of the city's achievement of bringing professional opportunities, in the form of mentoring opportunities and internships to over 100,000 of our city's youth. In today's competitive economy, finding a job can be a serious struggle,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara. “It is imperative that we begin giving our children the tools and training needed to ensure economic and professional success for the next generation." “Having worked with at-risk students for much of my career, I know how important it is for young people to receive real-world experience as they chart paths to their own careers. I applaud the public-private partnerships that have brought us to this significant milestone, as these internships and mentorships are investments in our young people and the future of our city’s workforce,” said Council Member Debi Rose, Chair of the Committee on Youth Services. “The need for quality internships and mentorship programs is clear as studies prove that youngsters who receive early hands on work experiences do well in school, summer youth jobs, and other endeavors because they are well prepared. It's great we have reached the mayor's goal two years ahead of schedule but we can't rest on our laurels . It is imperative that we continue to invest in and strengthen our summer jobs, internships and mentorship programs for the benefit of our New York City youngsters and the future of New York City,” said Council Member Andy King. “I want to commend Mayor de Blasio for his advocacy on behalf of our young people, as exemplified by the success of the Center for Youth Employment. Since 2015, the City Council has worked with the Mayor and numerous City agencies to create job opportunities for young people who are eager to join the workforce. These opportunities are a gateway for our children to realize their full potential and make positive contributions to our community,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “By providing over 100,000 publicly supported internships and mentorships to our city’s youth, we are making an important investment in the next generation of leaders.” CYE was launched with seed funding of $3.2 million from the city’s business and philanthropic community, including founding partners Citi Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, The James Family Charitable Foundation, Macy’s Inc., Tishman Speyer, and the Partnership for New York City. For more information about the Center for Youth Employment or how to get involved at an internship site, please visit nyc.gov/cye.
Friday, June 8, 2018 - 3:54am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everyone today is a day we express our pride in the FDNY and our pride in these extraordinary recipients, these individuals who have done such amazing things and it’s a day to really celebrate the valor, the heroism, the extraordinary acts, but also to celebrate all that makes the FDNY great. And to thank the family members too, this is your day also, to celebrate your loved ones who have done extraordinary things. I want to thank the leadership of the FDNY, Commissioner Nigro and First Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh and Chief of Department Leonard. I want to thank the union leaders who represent the men and women of the FDNY. And it’s a day to really reflect on over 150 years of extraordinary service. It’s kind of amazing to think about – an unbroken chain, a 150 years of good people who came forward to serve this city and protect our people, one after one making that choice. And no matter what the crisis they confronted, being there when others needed them. When we use the term the Bravest, it wasn’t something that someone just bestowed lightly one day, it was earned. It was earned and it was forged in countless fires and crisis. And people today live up to that term, those is this department earn it every single day. So we honor the history but we build on it. This department today is doing things that those in the past would have thought unimaginable but they would look with such pride at the men and women who make up the FDNY today. And as we celebrate the valor, the achievement of these recipients, we remember those that we lost, especially those we lost most recently, Lieutenant Michael Davidson, and Lieutenant Christopher Raguso, and Lieutenant Chris “Tripp” Zanetis – all extraordinary men, exemplary. This city will always remember them as I know all of you will. 67 good men and women being honored today and all of them have an extraordinary story to tell. When you hear the stories you realize that not everyone could do this work, it takes a very special person, it takes a certain strength, fortitude, resolve, commitment. Only the best of the best do this work. And the very best receive these awards, these medals. One story I want to highlight because it speaks volumes occurred just this last Halloween. It’s situation when you think about, on day we look forward to a celebration, a day we look forward of families being together – just blocks away from here we had to confront one of our deepest fears. There was an act of terror in the middle of what would have seemed like a normal day. Eight live lost, 11 people injured and of course there was confusion and of course for all the people at that site on the West Side, there was fear. But in the midst of all that the bravery and the ability of the members of Squad 18 were on full display. And once again the members of the FDNY responded to an act of terrorism with acts of heroism. Led by Lieutenant Adrienne Walsh, the team quickly and expertly treated the wounded, undoubtedly saving lives. Today we say a long overdue thanks to Squad 18. And I want to offer a special congratulations to Lieutenant Walsh for her achievement and her team’s achievement but it’s also worth noting she is the first female firefighter in FDNY history to receive a medal, congratulations Lieutenant. [Applause] So I will finish by noting that all of you we honor today, you make everyone here very proud, you make everyone who has ever been a part of the FDNY proud, those who went before you, generations ago, they would be honored to know you. It’s a day that we are very grateful for all of you and on behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers I say a profound thanks and a hearty congratulations and God bless you all. Thank you. [Applause] Captain Mark Guerra, FDNY: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Next we will hear from our Fire Commissioner, Dan Nigro. [Applause] Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro: Thank you. Good morning and congratulations to all the men and women whose brave actions we celebrate today. And a very special welcome to the families here with us, two families in fact, first the parents, the husbands, wives, children, and many more loved ones of our honorees. Your unwavering love and support make their difficult work possible and a big thank you and welcome to our FDNY family, the firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, fire marshals, and officers who have trained and mentored our medal recipients. So often you’ve been right by their side as they perform the outstanding heroic work we honor today. Standing up here, surrounded by a sea of blue uniforms all here in support and admiration with banners everywhere celebrating our honorees, it is an incredible sight. And it reminds all of us that there is really no day quite like Medal Day. On this first Wednesday in June, each year we pause to honor the most remarkable acts of bravery of our department. Every single day FDNY members risk their lives to protect our city, responding thousands of times a day to fires, medical emergencies, hazardous incidents, and all manner of incidents that test their training and test their resolve. Being a member of the FDNY is a great job, one we love, but it is by no means an easy job which is why we honor our members who went above and beyond, or more accurately, above, below, and past intense heat and smoke from raging fires to save lives. We honor our members who went to great heights and lengths to save their patients, acts of valor that put them directly in harm’s way, and stressful situations that challenge their every skill. These moments of courage and bravery define our department and show our city that the FDNY will always be there to respond when called, and we will always do everything in our power to save lives and property. Moments like when Lieutenant Mickey Conboy of Rescue Company 3 crawled to the second floor of a home fully engulfed in flames to rescue an unconscious young boy whose clothes had caught fire and after saving him returned to rescue a trapped man as well. Or when EMT Taylor Perez of Station 8 subdued a knife wielding individual before he could harm or kill himself or others, and then once the situation was under control he administered urgent medical care to his would-be attacker. The commitment of our members is extraordinary. These moments, when off-duty EMTs rush into gunfire to care for a police officer shot in the line of duty or when firefighters in Harlem rescued an entire family trapped by fire just before Christmas. These were moments of truth, times when the lives of other were in peril and you acted. These incidents are why you all raised your right hands and swore oaths to protect life and property in our great city. They are why you continually train so hard to be ready when you are called upon to act. To our medal recipients, be proud of everything you’ve done to reach this moment. Not only the heroic act that brought you here this morning, but every moment of your career, every call, when you have made a positive impact on the lives of New Yorkers. And to every FDNY member here, be proud of your fellow members, know that we celebrate dozens of remarkable achievements today but it can never tell the full story of how much all of you mean to our city. Thank you all for your dedication, your preparedness and commitment to this department and to our life saving mission. And thank you all for ensuring that the FDNY continues to be the best that it can be the greatest fire department in the world.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 6:47am
Outreach teams increase average monthly placements by 51%, achieving 276 placements per month NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration today announced that more than 1,800 street homeless New Yorkers have successfully transitioned off the streets and into safer, more stable environments, including transitional programs and permanent housing, as a result of the persistent, dedicated efforts of HOME-STAT outreach teams across the five boroughs. In the two years since HOME-STAT initiative was launched in 2016, through strong collaboration between the Department of Homeless Services, the New York City Police Department, Agency partners, and not-for-profit social service providers, the City has placed a total of 1,815 New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness into permanent housing or transitional settings, all of whom remain off the streets—thanks to new investments in outreach programs and providers, a dramatic increase in dedicated shelter capacity, and a doubling in the number of outreach staff deployed around the clock in all five boroughs. “Thanks to the persistence of our outreach teams, we’ve been able to convince more than 1,800 homeless New Yorkers to come off the streets and subways and into shelter and housing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Homelessness wasn’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight, but this new milestone shows were making progress on our citywide effort to turn the tide on this decades-old challenge.” “Helping every person living on our streets find a safe place to live and keeping them stably housed remains a top priority for our Administration,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “The data released today show that our approach to reducing the city’s street homeless population is working. As we enter the warmer season, we will continue our aggressive efforts to engage unsheltered New Yorkers, help them find an appropriate place to live and access services to get back on their feet.” “Thanks to the day-in and day-out dedication and compassion of our outreach teams, we’re proud to announce that our HOME-STAT outreach program has helped 1,815 homeless New Yorkers come off the streets and subways into safe, stable housing and transitional programs,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Individuals experiencing homelessness on the streets have fallen through every social safety net available and building the trust that encourages them to accept services can take hundreds of contacts over many months, which is why each and every individual helped off the streets and back onto the path to permanency is a hard-fought victory. We remain persistent in our efforts to engage New Yorkers in need 24/7/365 in all five boroughs, helping them get back on their feet one person at a time.” Rolled out in 2016, HOME-STAT (Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams) is a citywide multiagency initiative to address street homelessness in which hundreds of highly-trained not-for-profit outreach staff, including licensed social workers, canvass the streets 24/7/365, proactively engaging homeless New Yorkers, offering services and assistance, and working to gain their trust with the goal of addressing the underlying issues that may have caused or contributed to their street homelessness in order to ultimately help these individuals transition off the streets. HOME-STAT encapsulates all of New York City’s street homeless outreach efforts across the board, including: * our commitment to continually redoubling those efforts by investing further in our not-for-profit partners who coordinate outreach across the five boroughs * adding new staff, including canvassers and analysts, to expand the scope, reach, and focus of those efforts * opening new high-quality capacity dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ending homelessness. With a dedicated not-for-profit provider for each borough (the Manhattan Outreach Consortium, led by CUCS in partnership with Goddard-Riverside and Breaking Ground in Manhattan; Breaking Ground in Brooklyn and Queens; BronxWorks in the Bronx; Project Hospitality on Staten Island; and BRC in the subways), HOME-STAT outreach teams working around the clock across the five boroughs, building relationships by making regular—often daily—contact with street homeless New Yorkers: getting to know them, developing trust, and sharing information about the resources available to them. Not-for-profit outreach provider partners and outreach teams also have psychiatrists who perform psychiatric evaluations on the streets and thereby help outreach teams understand and better meet the individual needs of each street homeless New Yorker. These clinicians and psychiatrists help outreach teams make more effective connections with clients, many of whom have fallen through every social safety net, and who may be difficult to engage, in many cases due to potential mental health or substance use challenges. HOME-STAT also provides aftercare services, continuing to work with individuals who receive placements to ensure that they get the supports they need to remain in housing and off of the street. EQUIPPING HOME-STAT OUTREACH TEAMS WITH NEW TOOLS AND RESOURCES In addition to redoubling and enhancing proactive round-the-clock street outreach efforts, DHS operates facilities dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers—and is in the process of opening more. Drop-In Centers and Safe Havens are low-barrier programs specifically targeted toward homeless individuals who may be resistant to accepting other services, including traditional shelters. Both Drop-In Centers and Safe Havens are equipped with on-site services and staff who work closely with the clients to deepen those relationships, stabilize their lives, and encourage them to transition further off the streets, and ultimately into permanent housing. These facilities are often the first step towards bringing street homeless New Yorkers indoors. * Drop-in Centers provide baseline services with the goal of meeting immediate needs for individuals, such as showers, meals, and clothing. They also have on-site case management services and provide an immediate option for individuals who want to transition off the streets * Safe Havens are transitional housing options geared toward chronic street homeless individuals. Safe Havens only take referrals from street outreach teams, offer overnight beds, and have physical and program characteristics more suitable for engaging street homeless New Yorkers, who may be more resistant to accepting services, including case management services to stabilize chronically homeless individuals in an effort to move them into permanent housing We are nearly tripling the number of beds dedicated to supporting street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, hundreds more coming online this year, and an additional commitment to another 250 beds, increasing the operating total from roughly 600 beds to nearly 1,800 beds. UNPRECEDENTED INVESTMENTS TO CONTINUALLY ENHANCE OUTREACH EFFORTS Since 2014, the de Blasio Administration has committed unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers: * Increasing joint outreach operations with City Agency partners to utilize each Agency’s expertise, engage more New Yorkers, and offer more supports. As part of our HOME-STAT efforts, DHS regularly performs joint operations with community stakeholders and Agency partners, including the NYPD, the Parks Department, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Sanitation, and the Department of Transportation. Earlier this year, DHS and NYPD expanded joint outreach operations in Midtown, Manhattan to seven days per week, further increasing the number of individuals with whom the City is constantly engaged as well as the number of contacts made in the effort to encourage homeless New Yorkers to accept services and transition indoors. * More than doubling the City’s investment in street homeless programs, increasing by more than $53M (119%) from $44.6M in 2013 to more than $97.7M today. * Nearly tripling the number of beds dedicated to supporting street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, hundreds more coming online this year, and an additional commitment to another 250 beds, increasing the operating total from roughly 600 beds to nearly 1,800 beds. * More than doubling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from 191 to nearly 400. Those outreach staff spend months building relationships by making regular—often daily—contact with street homeless New Yorkers: getting to know them, building trust, and sharing information about the resources available to them. It can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement to successfully connect street homeless individuals with City services (5 months on average). * Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve delivery of services. Central to the HOME-STAT effort, these outreach teams continue to build the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets, more effectively enabling the teams to directly and repeatedly engage New Yorkers in need where they are, continually offering supports and case management resources while developing the trust and relationships that will ultimately encourage these individuals to accept services and transition off of the streets. As part of that by-name list, outreach teams now know more than 2,000 individuals by name who are confirmed to be homeless and living on the streets and are actively engaging more than 1,500 individuals encountered on the streets to evaluate their living situations and determine whether they are homeless as well as what specific supports they may need. * Helping more than 1,800 individuals off the streets who’ve remained off the streets. In the two years since the launch of HOME-STAT in Spring 2016, the City has helped 1,815 people transition off the streets into transitional programs or permanent housing, due in part to a doubling in the number of street homeless outreach workers dedicated to cultivating relationships with our street homeless neighbors and connecting them with the services they need. Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets, is voluntary. It can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement and hundreds of contacts to successfully connect street homeless individuals with City services. Together, the City and not-for-profit outreach service provider partners remain undeterred in the ongoing effort to engage unsheltered New Yorkers proactively, offering services and support, until making the connection that will help them transition off the streets and out of the subways. HOME-STAT outreach teams continue to reach-out to these New Yorkers to offer services and help them come indoors. “We know intense outreach is most successful when linked to quality transitional and permanent housing," said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. "That's why this milestone is so important -- it shows a commitment to deepening one-on-one relationships with New Yorkers living on the streets and connecting them to the services and programs right for them. Citywide investments in permanent and supportive housing, community-based shelters, and transitional programs like Safe Havens are critical to helping New Yorkers get back on their feet and I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to ensure HOME-STAT has the resources it needs to help every New Yorker find their home.” “I applaud DHS for recognizing the importance of expanding homeless outreach programs. HOME-STAT connects street homeless to needed services and that connection critical to moving people toward stable permanent housing,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “We also must continue to work to create more housing to meet the needs once people are connected through this vital program.” “CUCS is a proud partner with DHS on HOME-STAT,” said Tony Hannigan, President and CEO, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). “Our outreach teams are at work around the clock, 365 days a year, helping people living on the streets of Manhattan to access care and housing. The city’s investment and our collective work has led to an unprecedented number of individuals who have been helped to move off the streets and into housing.” “At Breaking Ground, we believe everyone deserves a home. With increased support and resources from the City through HOME-STAT, our dedicated outreach teams have been able to reach and serve more vulnerable New Yorkers than ever before, bringing them inside and giving them a chance to rebuild and restore their lives,” said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO, Breaking Ground. “We are proud to partner with the city and our fellow Manhattan Outreach Consortium members to help people secure permanent supportive housing,” said Roberta Solomon, Deputy Executive Director for Adult and Community Development, Goddard Riverside. “Time and time again we've seen that supportive housing is a powerful tool to help people recover from their time on the streets, reconnect with family and community, and start a new chapter in their lives.” “Our outreach team works 24 hours day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help New York's most vulnerable on their path from homelessness to home,” said Muzzy Rosenblatt, President and CEO, Bowery Resident’s Committee (BRC) . “As a dedicated partner of the HOME-STAT initiative, we've made more than 3,000 outreach placements from the streets, subway and transit facilities in 2017, alone. The City's investment and partnership has helped us make the biggest impact possible in the work we do and the people we serve.” “BronxWorks has continued to see HOMESTAT’s positive effects on our work serving street homeless individuals in the Bronx, particularly with the focus on coordinated assessment, which has helped to prioritize our most vulnerable clients for permanent housing,” said Juan Rivera LMSW, Homeless Outreach Program Director, BronxWorks.“BronxWorks has also seen the success of HOMESTAT’s investment in expanding the available menu of service options for our clients by funding new drop-in centers and by opening more Safe Haven programs. With the increased focus on individual service planning for all street homeless people and access to more Safe Haven beds, BronxWorks has seen an uptick in the number of people coming off the street into both transitional and permanent housing.” “We are incredibly grateful to the Department of Homeless Services for increased funding for enhancements to our outreach programs,” said Reverend Dr. Terry Troia, President and CEO, Project Hospitality. “As the affordable housing crisis grows wider in our borough, the Project Hospitality Outreach team continues to need access to additional resources to get homeless Staten Islanders off the streets of our borough and into safe shelter. The HOME-STAT program has helped us connect vulnerable individuals to comprehensive wrap around services as part of our wider continuum of care, with the ultimate goal of securing safe affordable housing for all homeless Staten Islanders.” For the most immediate response, New Yorkers who see individuals they believe to be homeless and in need should contact 3-1-1 via phone or mobile app and request outreach assistance.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 6:47am
Errol Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. As you heard before the break, Mayor de Blasio has unveiled a plan that would eliminate the admissions tests for the eight specialized high schools in our city claiming that the exam perpetuates segregation in the school system. Mayor de Blasio joins us now from the Blue Room inside City Hall to talk about that and more. Welcome Mr. Mayor, good to see you. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Errol. Louis: The plan you unveiled – I’m certainly in the camp of those who think, long overdue, a great start, but bringing it to the attention of Albany at the very end of their session almost guarantees that they’re going to punt on it, doesn’t it? Mayor: Well, Errol, look, the stars are really aligned here for action on this issue. It’s not just that there’s clearly an unfair reality with these schools. I mean let’s be really clear, only nine percent of the students in all eight specialized high schools are black or Latino. Nine percent in a city that’s majority black and Latino, Stuyvesant the most vivid example, only one percent of admitted students last time were African-American, three percent Latino. That just doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age, it’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s also the question of the test itself, a single standardized test determining a child’s entire future makes no sense in this day and age. So there’s a couple really crucial fairness points going on here and the stars are aligned because this issue has gotten more and more attention in recent years, and certainly even in recent months. I’m in – I’m beginning second term, we have a new Chancellor, we, I think, we’re going to have a new State Senate. There is a lot of reasons why it makes sense now to put this forward. The Assembly was very enthusiastic about this idea, the State Commissioner of Education, the State Chancellor of Education came out strongly in support, we sort of have a critical mass moment now. Now look, if we can get everything to work in this legislative session, I’d love nothing more, but it’s also a good way to start what has to be a very important discussion in this city and this state, looking forward to next year – Louis: Okay – Mayor: If it doesn’t get acted on now, it’s going to be front of the agenda next year and I think with a different Senate and a great opportunity for action. Louis: If I could ask, when your son, Dante de Blasio, was preparing for the SHSAT was there additional prep for him? How much time in – how much time was devoted to getting him ready to take that single high-stakes test? Mayor: You know both my son and my daughter took the test, and as I said at the press conference my daughter Chiara got into Brooklyn Tech also but chose in fact to go to Beacon High School, and every kid has to make a choice between what is more and more a lot of good options and we want to provide more strong high school options for our kids. I don’t remember vividly an elaborate prep process honestly and I don’t want to misquote, I don’t remember him taking separate tests – I mean separate courses for example, but it was a while ago. But the fact is for a lot of kids, obviously, those separate courses that exceptional preparation really is crucial and a lot of families just can’t afford it, and why should they have to afford it? It gets back to, in my mind, the insanity of a single test determining one’s destiny. You know, I made a very simple point yesterday, the finest colleges in America, the finest graduate schools in America, they don’t admit based on a test, they never think of admitting based on a single test, they look at a whole host of things starting of course with grades. And that’s crucial to our proposal, put grades which are a much more universal measure of how someone has done over years in the front of the process, but the best educational institutions in the country, no way, no how, would they choose their admitees based on a single test. Louis: You know, it’s interesting you raise that because I was looking – there is a group of black and Latino alumni organizations from these elite schools, not the official groups that claim that they are stakeholders and they step forward and try to speak for all the alumns, but you talk to the black and Latino alumns and they say that the test includes topics that are not even taught in the standard middle school curriculum. If that’s the case, I mean you know, the test has got to be looked at itself, right? Mayor: Absolutely. Look, this test makes no sense because it’s a single test and it also doesn’t make sense because of its content. You’re right. It’s not connected to the curriculum. By the way you have to go out of your way to take it, which means a lot of kids don’t even take it. The idea we put forward is, of course, phase one with the Discovery Program to increase right away the number of kids who are disadvantaged who get in even with the current test system. But the real goal, and the thing we need legislation for, would be to change the entire system. Junk the test. Get rid of it. Go with a system based on grades and based on performance on something much more universal which are the State exams that all kids take, every single kid takes, in math and in English, combine those results to get a real composite of how a child has done. That’s a much more fair approach and obviously the focus, as you said, on ensuring that every middle school is represented. This is based on a system you may have heard about. University of Texas made a very bold decision some years ago to admit the top, I think it’s ten percent of all high school students. Each high school class in Texas, the top ten percent of each school, gets automatic admission to the University of Texas system to guarantee kids of all backgrounds are able to get in, regardless of economics, regardless of race. We have so many talented kids who are black and Latino who will never, under the current system, see the inside of a specialized high school, but actually bring a ton of talent that if it was measured properly, they would be amongst the first to be admitted. Louis: Well I mean – look, I love everything you are saying, and that University of Texas model I am familiar with it, but it was explicitly implemented as a way to sort of break down segregation in the University of Texas system, and I don’t want to sort of hung up on nomenclature, but it really is important to say that that’s what the goal is, right? I mean because when the debate starts – I’ve already seen some of this on social media – people default to this mushy kind of, well let’s all make the schools great or, you know, as we said in our news report, some of the Asian families are saying, well why are we being penalized if we figured out a way to sort of dominate the outcomes, why should we have to take less? Where it becomes like sort of a political spoils system. Mayor: Well, you are raising big, powerful points. So I always talk about my own personal history, when I was growing up, I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that went through an effort to diversify its schools but at the same time as I was in high school, there was a horrible fight over desegregation in Boston and very, very negative dynamic. And what got lost in the whole discussion was making schools better for all kids, so it ended up with tons of conflict and actually very little improvement in educational opportunities for kids. Our vision here is Equity and Excellence, it’s the guiding principal of our school system under this administration, we’ve got to do a lot more to improve schools across the board and provide many more great options at the high school level. We talked yesterday about, we’re going to look to expand the number of seats in the specialized schools and also to improve a lot of other high schools and improve the options there. The Chancellor is going to come back with a plan to do that, so we want to lift the whole boat. But I will tell you what we don’t want to do, we don’t want a situation where in the name of a crucial social and fairness goal, we forget the question of improving schools. You got to literally do both at once. You got to walk and chew gum here. You have to address the need to diversify while simultaneously improving the schools across the board. I think this model will do that, I think the specialized schools are the jewels in the crown of the New York City public education system. They need to look like New York City, it’s just not fair if they don’t. This is the breeding ground for the leaders of tomorrow, we want leaders of all backgrounds who actually represent the city, if we don’t fix this that’s not going to be possible. Louis: Okay, very good. We’re going to leave that there for now. Right now we’re going to take a short break. I have more with Mayor de Blasio when we come back. Stay with us. […] Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. I’m once again joined by Mayor de Blasio. Mr. Mayor the recent suicide of yet another driver, we’ve now seen livery drivers as well as sort of commercial drivers, for in one case an elite service, and yellow taxi drivers – all under very severe stress. The City Council is considering a number of bills. I wanted to get, I guess, your take on what the City, your side of City Hall is prepared to do and what steps you might be taking to deal with the severe financial stress a lot of the medallion holders in particular are dealing with. Mayor: Yes, and my heart goes out to these families and this is a horrible situation Errol. But I also have to say and I’ve said it before if anyone is in financial distress they need to seek help. If anyone is feeling suicidal because of their finances it is crucial to seek help, 8-8-8-NYC-WELL is the place to turn because this is not a typical situation. Obviously a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet in New York City. We got to get these folks help personally in addition to on a bigger level. And in terms of the bigger change.? We tried to already bring more parity to all of the different for hire vehicles, the yellow cabs and the green cabs and all the other types by trying to create more even and consistent rules for example around disability access. We want to do a lot more in terms of ensuring the rights of drivers, the rights of customers, you know, make sure there is fairness across the whole sector. There hasn’t been up until now. Obviously the City Council looking very seriously at the question of putting caps on some of the for hire vehicle categories – I think there is more and more reason for that now given the congestion problem and more linkage to congestion with the services like Uber for example. So the Council is putting together legislation together on that, I’m certainly supportive of that idea. We have got to do everything we can to address these issues and by the way there’s also a serious issue of what the real wages are for a lot of the for hire vehicle drivers because I think what some of these companies like Uber have done is encourage more and more people to drive their own cars but there is less and less business to go around. A lot of these folks are making very little money and that’s a real concern too we have to address so – Louis: Well I mean in some respects this is analogous, I’m talking now just about the yellow medallion owners to what happened in the housing crisis ten years ago. Right? Where people buy the medallion at say $700,00, $800,00, $900,000 – the market has crashed for a lot of different reasons and those same medallions are now worth $200,000, they are underwater. One of the solutions ten years ago was at the federal level at least was buying up a lot of those underwater credits just to make sure that people are not running in place and constantly falling behind. Is that a possibility for New York City? Mayor: It’s a different reality. The federal government obviously literally prints money. This is a very different reality here what that economic impact would be, would be a very big deal for taxpayers and I don’t think it’s the right way to solve the problem. Look the underlying problem as you said there is a lot of reasons, some of them are technological change and changes in consumer choice, the industry also needed to deal with that, needs to still deal with that. I think they made some strides to reaching a better way of addressing the current condition but there was a lag there. So there’s a lot of moving parts. What the City has done obviously in addition to the items I’ve talked about is we are no longer selling medallions we are trying to help strengthen the value by not putting any new ones into the market. And we do believe the value will start to go up over time. It’s a finite resource, there still is a real demand for yellow cabs, I mean you see it all over the city. They still provide a service that is different than some of the other for hire vehicles and we are going to work with them to strengthen their hand and raise the value of those medallions. Louis: New topic, the NYCHA settlement with the federal government that a lot of folks are waiting on. We’ve heard estimates that it could cost the City as much as a billion dollars. Would there also be a continuing obligation that we would expect to see in the settlement that the City would have to put in a certain amount per year going forward? Mayor: Well it’s a settlement – it’s a legal settlement discussion that’s obviously a very sensitive matter. I’ve said publicly I think the conversations have been very productive and I respect the way the U.S. Attorney’s Office has handled this but it’s not appropriate to go into the details of the discussions. The conversations are ongoing and I’m hopeful we can come to a positive resolution. Louis: And can we expect that any time soon? Mayor: Look there has been a lot of good productive conversation that could result in a resolution soon but you know it’s also a very complex subject matter – trying to basically address decades of disinvestment, you know bluntly by the federal government and the State government, both of which stepped back from obligations to the Housing Authority and even the City over decades didn’t pay as much attention as I think it should of. I’m very proud in our administration we have invested over $3.5 billion, new money into NYCHA to fix roofs, to fix the heat situation, a whole a lot of over things, provide more repairs. But this is complex stuff, it will be ready as soon as it is ready but we’re certainly hopeful of a good result. Louis: On a different topic, it was reported today that with all of your City-paid legal bills aside following the various encounters you had with the federal prosecutors, there is still something like a quarter-of-a-million dollars for which you are personally liable. You or some campaign entity is you can create one, where does that leave you and how do you expect to get out of that? Mayor: Well there has to be some kind of new law to clarify how to go about putting together that kind of legal defense fund entity. There is not really an operative law in this city so that’s something that would require legislation. Louis: You’ve asked the City Council for this in the past, is this something you have talked about with the new Speaker? He’s only been there for a few weeks but the issue remains. Mayor: Yes, they are looking at it. I don’t know the exact state of play but there are certainly looking at the issue. Louis: When we talk about what’s going to happen with the taxi medallions, one thing that pops up is that Michael Cohen, the top aide to the President is an owner and dealer and trafficked and has trafficked and frankly got rich dealing in some of this stuff – he had some nice things to say about you just in recent days. I was wondering if you were aware of that, he said he was thinking about running for mayor at one point but then decided Mayor de Blasio is doing a fine job. Mayor: Well, I think Errol, this really proves I’m a coalition builder. I mean if I’ve got Michael Cohen supporting me, imagine that. I was surprised. I don’t really know him. Obviously I disagree with his mentor but it was pretty funny to see. I’m very surprised he ever thought about running for mayor but hey, anything is possible in New York City right? Louis: Okay no plans for a beer or a drink or anything like that? Mayor: God bless him, I think he has better things to do right now. Louis: Indeed, okay we will see you next week, thank you for spending some time with us Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Thank you, Errol.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 4:40am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Now, there is a leader of the future everybody. [Applause] Mariama, I want to really thank you. You spoke very powerfully, and I think that says it all. You can tell immediately with her strong voice and her intellect what immense potential Mariama has and what if that day she didn’t get that book for test prep, and how many people like you never get that book. Just like you said, how many wonderful kids never get to experience the opportunity they deserve because of a system that’s broken. So I want to see a lot more Mariama’s going to our specialized high schools, thank you. [Applause] This is an issue that really brings out strong feelings in all of us, because we want the best for our children. We have such hope for our children. We love them, we cherish them, I talk to parents all over the city, I talk to grandparents all over the city. Number one thing they think about is helping their children get the best education possible. It’s our job to make sure that’s a reality. Can’t do it with the status quo this status quo is broken. We have to make a major change, we have to make sure the very best high schools are open to every New Yorker, every kind of New Yorker, they need to look like New York City. [Applause] I want to thank all the elected officials who are here with us, because I know this is something they’re passionate about. You’re going to hear from some of them in a moment, but I want to thank some of the others including some who are going to have a vote on this, and be able to help determine the destiny of children going forward with their leadership. I want to thank Senator Kevin Parker. [Applause] Assemblyman Michael Blake – [Applause] Assemblyman Walter Mosely– [Applause] And Councilmembers Rafael Espinal – [Applause] Laurie Cumbo – [Applause] Robert Cornegy – [Applause] Brad Lander and Ydanis Rodriguez, and you’re going to hear from some of the others in just a moment. Now, I want to thank everyone also at this school for hosting us. Let’s thank the principal, assistant principal here, let’s thank everyone at this school. [Applause] Special thank you and shout out to a trailblazer hiding behind me, Dr. Una Clarke. She’s hiding behind me because she’s so shy. Let me ask everyone. Do we believe in the status quo? Audience: No. Mayor: Do we believe that children should be kept from the best education possible? Audience: No. Mayor: Do we believe opportunity should be only for some, not for others? Audience: No. Mayor: Time for change? Audience: Yes. Mayor: Time for change? Audience: Yes. Mayor: Time for change? Audience: Yes. Mayor: I believe you. I also see I did not get him before, Assembly member Felix Ortiz, thank you so much for joining us as well. [Applause] Here’s what’s been happening, it’s what Mariama is talking about. Basically for thousands and thousands of students and neighborhoods all over New York City, the message has been these specialized schools aren’t for you. That’s really what they’ve been receiving. In lots of neighborhoods all over the city they’ve been told in effect, this is not your thing. And the amount of talent that has gone missing because of that is unbelievable, because talent takes many forms. The people are going to be great leaders, great thinkers, great creative presences. It take many, many forms. But you know what doesn’t allow us to capture all of that, and understand all of that? A single standardized test could never, ever capture all that talent. [Applause] So, the solution is simple, the test has to go. [Applause] I am going to say it again. The test has to go. [Applause] I want to give you a few – I’m sorry I heard echo. Audience: The test has to go. Mayor: The test has to go? Audience: The test has to go, the test has to go, the test has to go, the test has to go, the test has to go. Mayor: Alright, I agree the test has to go. Let me give you a couple of examples about how ZIP code is limiting destiny right now in New York City. Bronx Science, it’s called Bronx Science – only 14 percent of the students come from the Bronx. Brooklyn Tech, here we are in Central Brooklyn – this a shameful statistic, Brooklyn Tech one of the jewels in the crown of public education in this city, 3.4 percent of the students at Brooklyn Tech come from Central Brooklyn. I mentioned the one that drives me the craziest – Stuyvesant admitted almost 1,000 students last time, 10 were African Americans – one percent, one percent. Under 30 were Latino, three percent in a city that is majority African American, and Latino. It just doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make sense because of what these schools mean. They are the proving ground for our future leaders. Unless we believe our leaders should only come from certain communities, we cannot have our most prestigious schools available only to some and not to others. So, we have to fix this, we have a plan to do it, and I am going to speak, and the Chancellor is going to speak. And then we’re going to hear from the sponsor of the legislation that will make all this possible, Assemblyman Barron. But let me tell you, we’re going to act right now, with the way that we can act with the tools we have right now, with the discovery program. We are going to use that program in a new and aggressive way to make sure that 20 percent of the seats in our specialized schools immediately go to kids from disadvantaged communities. [Applause] But that is only the first step. We need Albany to act, we need Albany to act and pass the legislation that will actually create fairness and get away from this one broken test, and actually look at something a lot of us up here really, really believe in, we call it multiple measures. Looking at the child through the prism of their on-going accomplishment not just how they did on one three hour test. I want to emphasize this everyone, one time only, three hour test, you walk in you take it, you walk out. It doesn’t’ matter if you’re having a good day, a bad day, if you’re sick, if you’re not sick. You get one shot only for three hours that determines your future. Nothing could be more insane than that. And we don’t want to make decisions that way. Our new plan, this legalization when it is fully implemented and when it brings us a fair way of admitting students. We’ll result in specialized schools in which 45 percent of all students will be black and Latino. [Applause] Now, I am just going to jump ahead, because I know what I am going to hear. I can already write the script. Somehow these wonderful prestigious schools won’t be the same; they won’t be just as good if they look different. By the way anyone who is thinking that, that’s an un-American thought, that’s an unfair thought that thought does not conform to the values of New York City. Because beauty, and intelligence, and strength comes in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all genders. So, I want to actually present to you that not only is that a false accusation, and we will hear it momentarily I guarantee it. It is actually patently incorrect. These schools will get better when they reflect all of New York City. [Applause] Because so much talent is being locked out right now. So much talent is being missed because of a broken system we will actually get a student body that not only looks like New York City but brings a much richer talent base that actually has proven their talent, not just in one room, in one test, in one day, but over years, and years. And brings that creatively, and brings that drive, and brings that ability, and that’s going to lift all boats. So we could not be more excited. And some will say today, and they are right. Justice has been delayed, but that does not mean justice has to be denied. We can fix this, and we intend to in New York City. [Applause] A few words in Spanish. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] It’s time to get rid of this test and create a brighter future for our children. [Applause] With that I am going to now introduce someone who has devoted his entire life to making sure every child had educational opportunity, every child gets equity and excellence, our Chancellor Richard Carranza. [Applause] Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: So, good afternoon. Audience: Good afternoon. Chancellor Carranza: That’s my Mayor! [Applause] Thank you for your courageous leadership, Mr. Mayor. I want to also thank everyone that is here today, all of our elected officials, our parents, our students, my fellow educators. Thank you for being here. I also want to thank the staff here at J.H.S. 292 for opening their building this Sunday. And I want to particularly thank Principal Edwards – [Applause] Who had an engagement with his family and made arrangements to be here. And our AP Mitchell, thank you for being here as well. [Applause] And Mr. Mayor, I want to point out one student from this school who is a sixth grader, Alexa, who is sitting right in the front, who is on her way to becoming a doctor. [Applause] And I understand is excited about these changes because that will allow her to actually realize her dream. So, for everyone that is here – I want to thank you for being here. A couple of words – from my experience as an educator, I’ve spent over a decade – almost a decade in the classroom as an educator in a school that was very similar to the school that we’re standing in now. And what I found that was incontrovertible over those ten years was that very often the students with the grit, the students with the tenacity, the students with leadership skills weren’t always my best test-takers yet when given the opportunity to demonstrate those skills, when given the opportunity to actually act and be the leaders that they could be, they blossomed. And they didn’t need a test, they didn’t need three hours, they didn’t need four hours. What they needed was support. What they needed was an opportunity. They never asked to get rid of the bootstraps, they only asked to have the bootstraps so that they can build themselves up. [Applause] So what we are proposing today is not to eliminate bootstraps. What we’re proposing today is not to eliminate the boots. What we’re saying is that there are ways to have multiple pathways to show their brilliance, to show their excellence. And as I’ve travelled across this incredible city, I’m probably the newest New Yorker in the room – [Laughter] But I will tell you every corner of our city, whether it’s Brooklyn or the Bronx or Staten Island or Manhattan or Queens – [Laughter] I had to give it that dramatic pause, for Queens. [Laughter] But everywhere I’ve been whether they’re proud of their borough, everyone has told me they’re proud to be New Yorkers. So, how can it be in the most diverse city, not in America in the world, the world-class city that is New York City, the city which on my way here I looked across and saw the Statue of Liberty – how could it be, and I’ve asked lots of questions, how it could be that we have a system that denies the full array of the beautiful students in our system an opportunity to avail themselves of these kinds of educational experiences. Because I’m a firm believer, Sir, that either students are biologically, physiologically, or genealogically incapable of accessing these programs or it’s the system that is an obstacle to these students. And, do you join me in saying it’s the system not the student? Audience: It’s the system not the students. Chancellor Carranza: Is it the system, not the student? Audience: It’s the system not the students. Chancellor Carranza: So we must change that today and that’s why we’re gathered together. [Applause] So, to all of our students, to all of those that may be concerned about moving the status quo to a place that is a new status quo, where it is truly open to all of our students, I say to you this – work with us, join the movement, be on the right side of history where you open the doors, where you create more bootstraps not eliminate bootstraps, where you help our communities actually access and become part of the full-array of the beautiful opportunities that we have in the City of New York. I ask you to work with us and our commitment is to work with you but rest assured the time has come. We are an enlightened people in New York City and our time has come. And I’m very honored to be here as the Chancellor, Mr. Mayor, that will work with you and our elected officials, our union presidents to make this happen. Audience: And the community. Chancellor Carranza: And the community. [Applause] Based and grounded in the community. [Chancellor Carranza speaks in Spanish] [Applause] Mayor: First, to the voice of wisdom about the importance of the community being involved – let me make it even sharper. This legislation won’t pass in Albany unless the community is involved. So, if you believe in it, you’re going to have to fight for it. Are you ready to fight for it? [Applause] Audience: Yes! Mayor: We’re going to need all of you. It’s going to be a team effort and I want to introduce the sponsor of the legislation, before I do just a special thank you and shout out because someone is here who is another great example of what happens when you actually provide opportunity. He is a proud son of East New York. He ended up going to some institutions – Harvard, Yale, all those kinds of places. And for four years, he was our Deputy Mayor and helped to make pre-K a reality in this city. Richard Buery, where are you? Thank you so much. There he is. [Applause] So, that’s what happens when you give someone opportunity. Great things happen for all of us. Now, I got to tell you, someone has to lead the way and blaze the trail and this can only happen, these changes can only happen with legislation through the State legislature. And I want to give Assemblyman Charles Barron credit. He saw this as the priority it needs to be. He put forward a vision of how to right what is wrong. [Applause] And he knew that this would take a lot of work that change always takes a lot of work but he believed it would happen and it must happen. And I want to thank him for his leadership. Assemblyman Charles Barron. [Applause] [...] Mayor: As we turn to media questions on this topic, I just want to echo that last sentence from David how widespread brilliance is. We all see it every day in this community and so many others. We see the brilliance of our young people. Let’s give them all opportunity. That’s what this is about. [Applause] Okay media. Yes? Question: One way to push Albany that has been successful on some issues in the past is for the City to do it itself basically. So, we know there were five of the eight schools, the newer schools are under State control. You had said on Brian Lehrer a few months ago that you were going to sort of look into what the options would be like. Why not essentially force Albany’s hand in what will be an uphill political battle by changing admissions of five of eight, showing that it can work, and saying okay now you guys can do the other three? Mayor: I appreciate the question and I appreciate the logic of the question but it goes back to the fact that we think the law right now isn’t clear on this issue and the best way to win is to go change the law. It’s as simple as that. When we’re confronted with a situation like this, we recognize that the best way to get the result we want for our kids and make sure it sticks is to get the law changed and I think now we have a moment in history where that could happen. I think this is the other part of the equation – you know, even a few years ago there were strong voices talking about the lack of diversity in some our schools. But that has now become a crescendo. It’s become so intense in this city, this demand for fairness. We have a new Chancellor. I’m starting a new term as Mayor. We have a lot of changes happening in Albany. I think the stars have aligned for us to get the optimum outcome which is a change in the law. [Applause] Question: A few alumni associations, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech in particular, put out statements saying that they oppose the plan and on Facebook groups, there are a lot of people commenting – alumni Facebook groups from those schools – saying that this policy or proposal strikes them as anti-Asian since the overwhelming majority of students at some of those schools are Asian. Mayor: I mean nothing could be further from the truth. And look, I think if people want to argue on the merits, argue it on the merits. But don’t try and divide us because this is not anti-anyone. This is pro-opportunity. And by the way, I mentioned and Helen Rosenthal made the point too that we want to see kids from Helen’s community, that she comes from, from my community who are not great test-takers because a lot of us aren’t great test-takers. We want to see every kind of child have opportunity and that that opportunity is based on the totality of their work. We’re talking about looking at years of academic work rather than one three-hour test. And that’s good for people across the spectrum. So, I think that that critique is wrong and unfair. We want to have opportunity for everyone but the current reality – it’s clearly exclusionary. You can see it on its face. How can Stuyvesant have almost 1,000 kids come in each year and only ten are African-American. We wouldn’t accept that in any other institution. That has to change. Question: Mr. Mayor, one of the other issues that some of the alumni organizations raised is this – the things that you will be, the students who go to public schools if you phase out the test will have an opportunity to get into schools but there are other students who go to private schools, yeshivas, Catholic schools [inaudible] other private schools – what accommodations will be made for them to get into the specialized schools under your [inaudible] – Mayor: It’s a great question. Now, I always will start and there’s the Chancellor, the Deputy Chancellor can help me but let me just phrase because I think Marcia is asking a very important question. I don’t know the percentage of kids overall in the specialize schools who come from non-public schools. So, I will get educated with this answer too. But obviously we want to create fairness for everyone. We don’t believe in a single test for anyone. It doesn’t matter what kind of school you come from, we don’t think a single test is a good way to make a decision that will determine the rest of your life. So in terms of – Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor? Who’s got it? Deputy Chancellor. Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack. [Applause] Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack, Department of Education: Thanks. The way the plan works is that when it’s fully implemented, we’ll admit roughly the top seven percent of middle school students from across the city from each middle school and that will leave some space in the specialized high schools – about seven percent of the incoming class – for other qualified students coming from independent and non-public schools. And the law accommodates that and ensures that they have very high academic performance and then they’ll be selected from that pool based on a lottery. So, a fair way of selecting high-performing students from those schools so there are opportunities for students from all over the city to participate in the specialized high schools. Mayor: Thank you. Question: [Inaudible] high-performing – Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Yes those – Question: Or could you be in the bottom percentage of your class and still be in the lottery? Deputy Chancellor Wallack: No, those students would have a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 so that’s an A-minus average. And then those students would be put into a pool and we would do a lottery out of that pool. Question: So, the same criteria would be for public school students too. They would have to a 3.7 grade-point average to get in to the schools as well? Deputy Chancellor Wallack: Public schools students operate according to the plan that we laid out and that was laid out in the legislation which is that we’re going to essentially put together a combined ranking of students based on their rank within middle school on their core course grades and the State exam results. We will do the ranking and then we will admit based on that rank in the first year, the top three percent; second year, top five percent; third year, top seven percent. Thanks. Mayor: [Inaudible] Question: Thanks for explaining. There are also a lot of parents and alumni and others that are concerned that unfortunately there’s a very wide gap in the preparation of students in some city middle schools versus other city middle schools and you’ll be doing a disservice to the students who could be coming very unprepared, doing a disservice to the school and doing a disservice to the students if they struggle – Mayor: Yes. Question: Can you talk about that? Mayor: Absolutely. And I disagree with the assumption – not your assumption but I know people are saying that. That’s what I referenced in my remarks. So, I’ll start and if Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor wants to jump in? That’s a red herring if ever there was one. If you talk about the top kids in each middle school, you’re talking about kids who are talented and have proven it over years. As the Deputy Chancellor said, there is a second factor which is a universal one. Every student takes the State exams in math and in English. It’s not a – right now it’s specialized high school – it’s a few, it’s a small number of students in the scheme of things that take that test and it’s one test and it’s a separate reality. But everyone takes the State exams so that give you a universal measure. So you’re combining the two. It’s two standards that have to be met but I want to tell you having visited middle schools all over the city, there are brilliant kids in every one of our middle schools ready for this opportunity. [Applause] Question: [Inaudible] about the Asian students who have been really successful under the current system, numbers wise. The issue is also that a lot of them are eligible for school lunch and so it’s also a question about is there any chance under this 20 percent with Discovery that there’s going to be less seats for lower income Asian students? Mayor: Lower income Asian students will also benefit from the Discovery Program being expanded, there’s no question about that. Other questions on this. Media questions. I just want to make sure we’re doing media, media, media. I think I’ve met you before. Question: As you said, ten kids from this school have been accepted for next year. If the three percent rule was in place next year, it would have only been seven and three kids from this school who are now getting their tickets punched would be excluded. So, there will be winners and losers in this. In a school like Mark Twain which has a lot of smart kids with a cap at seven percent, isn’t the concept as the young lady said, get a Barron’s book. Obviously your son prepared somehow, he did well, he got into Brooklyn Tech, he got into Yale – isn’t it preparing every kid, getting every kid a Barron’s book and not excluding kids who are otherwise qualified. The kids who are in the top eight percent at Mark Twain would be shut out. Mayor: I’ll start and then others can join in. First of all, I don’t want to assume how the formula plays out because as you heard it’s a combination of grades and the State exams and it phases in over several years. So, the real question is when it’s all phased in, what will it look like in a variety of schools? And that’s some of the modelling that has been done by the Department of Education and we believe it will be much more representative. But the fact is we need to ensure that there is not an artificial barrier to admission which is what exists now. The Chancellor put it very sharply, unless we argue that somehow these kids are inherently not qualified, there’s something else wrong and we all know up here there is something else wrong. The test has created a de facto barrier to admission. It has been the x-factor, it’s been the reason why so many good kids didn’t get in and we want to right that wrong. We’re also going to keep expanding high-quality options and I have in our conversations I have directed the Chancellor to come back with a plan to allow for more high-quality high school seats going forward whether it be in specialized schools or other types of highly effective high schools because we want to keep expanding all of the options. These eight are not the only great schools in this city. By the way, my daughter also got into Brooklyn Tech and rejected it and went to Beacon because she thought it was the better school for her and it turned out to be great for her. There’s a lot of other great high schools. We want to make sure there are as many specialized seats as possible. We also want to strengthen a lot of those other great programs and that’s what the Chancellor will be working on. Question: [Inaudible] a stat. You said that in the case of Bronx Science, 14 percent of the students are from the Bronx and in the case of Brooklyn Tech 3.4 percent from Central Brooklyn. Mayor: Central Brooklyn. Question: Do we have the number for all of Brooklyn – Mayor: We can get you that. I don’t have that handy. But we’ll get you that for sure. If you just follow up with the Deputy Chancellor afterwards. And I just want to say to everyone, in addition to the fine work of the Assemblymember, Assemblyman Barron and his team – he does a great job of giving to all his teammates. I’ve noticed that. I appreciate you for that. I want to say that Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack has done a lot of the important work here to bring this proposal forward. [Applause] So, I’m starting to – if you’re media, I want, but let’s do media questions. Anyone media who hasn’t gone? Question: Christina with Chalkbeat. You’ve had four years to propose or to push more strongly for these changes. And you mentioned in your comments some people say is this just delayed and they’re right. Can you talk about – you also talked about the stars aligning a little bit. So why now and what’s different? Mayor: Because a lot of things have changed. If you go back to my platform in 2013, I called for this change and it does not shock you, I’m sure, that in the different dynamics we’ve had with Albany it did not look particularly possible. Also, we had some other big fights we had to fight and win. We had to fight for pre-K, we had to fight for mayoral control of education, among others. But the stars have now aligned. I got a new mandate from the voters. I got a new Chancellor who is focused on social justice, to his credit, and this is one of his number one priorities. The movement calling for greater diversity in our schools has grown intensely in the last few years. This is now a front-page issue and that helps. So that is all changing and then I would say Senator Parker might agree with me that we project certain changes in Albany in the next few months that could really change the whole debate and when Senator Parker is in the majority, this is going to get a whole different kind of hearing. So, those are the reasons. The moment is right for it. Marcia? Question: Mr. Mayor, I just wondered if the weirdness that’s going on in Albany right now in the Senate given the fact that there’s this 31-31 split may delay the change until after November. Mayor: Look, we – we’re hoping against hope for an opening right now because there’s a lot of support in the Assembly and again the time is right in terms of the public debate. But we’re also aware of the fact that by putting this bill front and center so intensely right now, it’s going to start a big discussion in this city and in Albany. If we can’t get it done now, it sets us up very well to go get it done in the next session. Question: [Inaudible] will you start like considering hardships? Or how holistically look at students when they’re applying – Mayor: How? Question: How holistically will you look at students, look at hardships [inaudible] gone through besides their 3.7 GPA? Mayor: Well again I’ll start and Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor – I mean we think this is a much more universal and fair approach. So in terms of recognizing hardship I think inherently this does that. If you say we’ve got 600 middle schools, and right now only about half of them are represented in our specialized schools, by definition – it gets back to the point that Michael was making, if you give the very best kids in each of those middle schools that are left out right now, you’re going to bring in a ton of talent, real world talent, but also a lot of kids who by definition are not coming from families that are advantaged. But again you also have the state exams, a universal measure, as a balance factor. So, I think that’s a way of addressing economic reality, demographic reality, hardship, the whole – the whole set of questions with one unified approach. And it is the polar opposite from a one-time only test that only a few people even take to begin with. Mayor: Yes? Question: I think this is probably one of the more politically controversial education – Mayor: You would be correct. Question: – you’ve had, having being along for the ride. I guess I’m wondering is this sort of like – we’ve been talking a lot around the semantics around segregation – Mayor: Yes. Question: I mean is this going to be sort of a tip of the iceberg moment? Obviously I know your Chancellor is highly interested in having this conversation taking action. How much are the next few months figuring out if we’re – if you’re going to get this through Albany and if it’s going to work? How much is that going to show you about how far basically you can push the city on segregation? Mayor: I appreciate the question. It’s a very insightful question, but I want to say it’s – I don’t think this is the measure of how far this city can go. This city is ready to go very far. This city has been moving without Albany. Look at what Helen and so many other good people did in District 3. Look at what’s happening in District 1. Those models are going to go city-wide sooner rather than later. And I’ve said that publically. Now we have the proof. But, we cannot ignore the jewels in the crown. How can you have fairness and diversity if your very best schools are not in the equation? So I see this as a leading edge, not something that means if we get stalled at any point in Albany we’re all going to sit around waiting. No, we’re going to fight on a lot of fronts. But this is – if you can fix this problem you can fix anything. This – these are the most respected, most prestigious schools in the city. We will not allow them to be agents of unfairness. Changing them sends a message that everything is going to change. Grace? Question: Back to the middle school questions. Right now there are – there is competitive admissions to middle school, so you have certain middle schools around the city that are considered academic powerhouses. I can only imagine the reaction in some of those to this policy, because you’re essentially saying a school that has a lot of high performing academic students is only going to have seven percent of their student body go to these schools. What’s your message to those parents who say I have a high achiever and now my child is going to be shutout if they’re not the top of the top of the top? Mayor: I would tell them don’t believe the hype about how these schools work. And it’s – there are extraordinary kids in so many of our high schools too who are on their way to great things. And a lot of our high schools are rapidly getting stronger. This is a passion for all of us. We never saw it – and I want to be fair, no one in this row here every said oh, you know, there’s eight great high schools and everything else is just lagging behind. No. I used the example of my daughter. She turned down a specialized school because she thought Beacon was a better school for her. There’s a lot of other schools that perform wonderfully and suit what kids need, and turnout a ton of high quality, well-educated kids. We want to keep lifting them up. So, as I said, we’re going to look at the option of expanding some of these specialized schools, but we’re also going to look to improve and expand a lot of the other high quality programs. Most – let’s be really clear, and we can get you the facts, most kids never take the test. And then the ones that take the test, most don’t get in. It’s only 5,000 seats a year. But we have like 80,000 high school students a year. But a lot of the other 75,000 are doing great things. So it’s not like there’s only one way to succeed. We need – but we do need to keep improving all the other great options, and telling parents about them. I have never accused the DOE of communicating well with parents. Can I get an amen? Audience: Amen. Mayor: Thank you. This is something this Chancellor and I talked about from the very first conversation. Part of his mandate is to change entirely how we have a dialogue with parents, including to tell them about a lot of options that the status quo assumptions miss. There’s a lot of great schools, and a lot that are getting greater. Okay last call on questions on this topic? Let’s go here. Question: According to your own projections even with these changes the schools will still be underrepresenting black and Hispanic students. They would be at 45 percent where as they comprise about 68 percent of the overall student population. Is that acceptable? Mayor: I think to go from nine percent kids in our specialized schools who represent the majority of this city to 45 percent in the course of about three years, you know what, that is serious fundamental social change. I’m quite clear about that. So yes, that’s a huge step forward. Question: Just because we’re not sure that this bill will pass, but in the meantime there’s this discovery program – Mayor: Yes. Question: -- expansion. I want to ask you about that. So if you’re going to have 1,000 seats set aside for students who were just under the cutoff – Mayor: Right. Question: You’re going to be, presumably, reducing the number of students by about 1,000 who were above the cutoff. So what do you say to the parents and the students who feel like they were just kind of skipped over, and they made a good score? Mayor: I’m going to get the Deputy Chancellor to come up and talk about some of the specific thinking, but I’ll tell you what I think. The test is arbitrary and capricious to begin with. Let’s go to the root cause. It doesn’t make sense. It’s something we will have for a little bit longer, but if the Assemblyman’s legislation passes, and we do the same in the Senate, it will be a thing of the past. And by the way, in the op-ed – I want to really remind you this line, there is no great college in America that choses it’s students based on a single standardized test. Harvard doesn’t do it. Yale doesn’t do it. You go down the whole list. There is no graduate school in America that chooses their students based on a single standardized test. The best schools in America would laugh at you if you told them why don’t you just choose your students with a single test. They would be the first to say that would miss a huge swath of talent. So it’s broken. So saying, well if some people feel that something wasn’t what they wanted, but the whole system is broken to begin with, I think we have to go to the root cause. I also think it’s not fair to anyone that so many kids are left out. And the kids who then are going to those schools do not have the benefit of learning with other people who don’t look like them, and learning from this whole city. So, what discovery is going to do is it’s going to give us a chance to take kids who just missed, give them a little more support, and get them in. And I think that’s good for everyone. Say again? Hold on one second. Did I cover it or do you need to add anything? You’re good? Okay. Hold on I think there was one in the back too. Did you – was that media question in the back. No? Okay, and what was that – where? Where? Are you a member of the media? No. We need members of the media though. Let’s see – you are a member of the media? You look so young I thought you were a student here. Question: [Inaudible] sure that the thousand students who are above the cutoff aren’t say black of Hispanic low-income students now being – you know not getting in – Mayor: I’m going to try this. I’m going – let me answer that first. I’m going to try, and you’ll watch me Josh and correct me if I’m wrong. The odds that you’re going to exclude a black or Latino student in that equation are nine out of 100. So that’s not – I’m not saying it doesn’t matter to the people. I’m a parent, I feel for every parent. Every parent wants the best for their kids. But that’s not going to happen very often is the blunt answer. And the inequity is not acceptable. And what we have to do, and this is on us, all of us. And I know, you know, Michael is going to join us in this, we’ve talked a lot about the whole concept of we need parents to have confidence in a whole range of high schools. We’ve got to do the work to not only show them, but to provide the proof that more and more great high schools exist of every kind. But no, I don’t fear what you’re raising. Yes? Question: [Inaudible] question or just in general, are you going to expand the [inaudible] in middle schools in general? Mayor: Are we going to what? Question: Expand kids [inaudible] programs in general because [inaudible] me as an example, I went to [inaudible] program and that was a funnel to go to Brooklyn [inaudible] Mayor: I’ll only start and the Chancellor can correct me or add. We believe that we’re continuing, of course, the programs we have now. But we believe there is a higher calling and a higher ideal which is to make all schools schools that can provide an excellent education for talented kids. And to give more and more kids a chance to fulfill their potential across the school system. That’s what the Equity and Excellence model is. And so, I think you’re going to see as that is implemented more that without – without having to create new kinds of seats we can reach a lot more kids. Chancellor Carranza: So to add to what our Mayor has said, we have to fundamentally shift our mindset from the mindset that says there is a small portfolio of schools that everyone should go to. And if you don’t go to those schools then you’re not receiving a great education. Let me tell you, I’ve been to over 72 schools in the time I’ve been here. I’ve been to high schools, I’ve been to middle schools, I’ve been to elementary schools. I’ve seen some incredible teaching. Not one of those schools has been one of these specialized high schools – not that I’m not going to go and visit. But there’s some incredible things happening in our schools. Right here in Brooklyn, incredible schools that people would say oh you may not want to think about that school. Yet when I’ve gone to those schools, incredible teaching, incredible passion, incredible opportunities. So our goal, and remember we are not the sum total of eight specialized schools in the New York City public school system, our goal is to make sure that you can go to any middle school and have an incredible opportunity to go to a specialized school if that’s what you want to do. But more than that, if you’re a middle school student you have a wide array of opportunities in this incredible school system to do lots of great things. And it doesn’t have to be in a specialized school. But if you avail yourself of that opportunity, we want to make sure that we’re making it fair. We want to make sure that we’re making it robust. We want to make sure that we’re removing systemic barriers to you being able to do that. But again the message is there are schools across this city that are great schools and we want a great school in every neighborhood because New Yorkers deserve that in our school system. [Applause] Mayor: Alright we are going to – thank you Chancellor. We are going to see if media have any other topics you want to cover for a couple of minutes, we have a few more minutes. Anything else you want to go over? Question: [Inaudible] topic – Mayor: You can stay on this topic if you prefer. Question: Have you consulted any of the principals at the specialized high schools? Have they been able to weigh in on this at all? Mayor: Deputy Chancellor, I think you have been in conversation – we don’t need to go into detail. The answer is yes. Yes. And the Deputy Chancellor can talk to you more about that. Okay, last call going – media question? Okay coming to you after him. Question: Another stars aligning question. We talked about stars aligning on the bill. With carving out the 20 percent of seats, how did the stars align for that to happen? And how does the City have the authority to do that without going to Albany? Mayor: So, part of how the stars aligned is we kept looking at the equation trying to figure what we could do on our own. And recognize that this was actually we could do a lot more with. And one of the things that is real in government is you can stare at a problem or an equation for a while and not have that creative thought of wait a minute, here’s another way we can do things. We realized there was more we could do with discovery. And we’re absolutely convinced, and our Law Department is absolutely convinced, that it is fully within our power. And that 20 percent number is what we think is the number we can reach. Question: [Inaudible] new plan will bring to Asian students? Both advantages and disadvantages? Mayor: It – look this plan is going to create fairness and I would say there are students who are Asian, there are students who are white, there are students who are black, there are students who are Latino who don’t take tests well or don’t have the opportunity to have their family pay for test prep. A lot of good Asian students are being left out right now because of that single test system. When we create fairness, looking at the whole body of academic work of a student, there’s going to be many, many opportunities, not only in the specialized schools, but in other great high schools. So we think it’s fairer for everyone ultimately. Okay last call, if there’s any other questions. Going once, twice. Thank you everyone.