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Monday, January 22, 2018 - 11:35am
AnnMarie Santiago appointed new Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services at HPD NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Vito Mustaciuolo as acting General Manager of the New York City Public Housing Authority. Mustaciuolo brings decades of experience securing repairs for tenants and holding landlords accountable at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Division of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services, including as its Deputy Commissioner since 2009. At HPD, Mustaciuolo launched and managed the City’s Alternative Enforcement and Emergency Repair programs, initiatives that have rehabilitated hundreds of apartment buildings and protected affordable homes for tens of thousands of New Yorkers. As NYCHA’s principal administrator, the General Manager oversees the maintenance of all developments. Mustaciuolo will succeed NYCHA’s current General Manager, Michael Kelly. Since Kelly's appointment is 2015, NYCHA has reduced average repair wait times by 8 days, begun a massive resiliency program to modernize buildings, and launched NextGen Operations to improve customer service and resident engagement. "This Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to strengthening public housing, and we are bringing in one of the City's best to further our progress. Vito Mustaciuolo has a proven track record of fighting for tenants across the five boroughs, and I know he will hit the ground running at NYCHA,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I also know we are in good hands with AnnMarie Santiago as HPD’s enforcement boss. A tireless and talented public servant, she’s been a behind-the-scenes driver of some of the City’s most creative and efficient tools for getting property owners to live up to their obligations.” “Vito Mustaciuolo has a long and successful history of advocating for tenants,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “His more than 30 years of experience at HPD will be invaluable as we implement broader reforms to strengthen public housing. I’m excited about the operational expertise he brings to the role. I would also like to thank Michael Kelly for his years of public service, especially his two stints at NYCHA. I and the executive team are grateful for Michael’s deep industry knowledge and connections and his commitment to improving the lives of the 1 in 14 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home." "I am humbled by Mayor de Blasio's appointment. I want to thank Chair Shola Olatoye for her confidence and support and I look forward to working with the entire NYCHA team," said Vito Mustaciuolo, acting NYCHA General Manager. "My top priorities are advancing the level of service to NYCHA tenants, increased portfolio wide capital improvements, and timely restoration of essential services. There is nothing more important than improving the quality of life of the thousands of families and individuals that call NYCHA 'home'." AnnMarie Santiago will be promoted to acting Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services at HPD, a division for which she has worked for 20 years. She is the first Hispanic-American woman to hold the leadership post. Currently Assistant Deputy Commissioner, she has served as Vito Mustaciuolo’s second in command for two years. “Serving more than 400,000 residents, NYCHA is one of the most critical sources of affordable housing in New York City. Protecting the quality and safety of that housing stock is paramount, which is why I’m so grateful to HPD Deputy Commissioner Vito Mustaciuolo for stepping in and lending his decades of expertise and experience in housing enforcement. During this transition, AnnMarie Santiago, Vito’s second in command, will serve as Acting Deputy Commissioner at HPD. I am confident that HPD’s enforcement work will carry on seamlessly under AnnMarie’s capable and experienced leadership. The City of New York is fortunate to have tireless, talented public servants like Vito and AnnMarie who are so deeply committed to the safety and well-being of their fellow New Yorkers,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “At HPD’s Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services, we work day in and day out to safeguard the city’s housing stock so that New Yorkers have a safe, decent place to call home. I am absolutely honored to be called on to fill the shoes of my long-time mentor, Vito Mustaciuolo. As we move forward, my team and I won’t miss a beat and we will continue to push the envelope, build on our experience with new enforcement tools, and hold landlords accountable to their tenants and the law,” said AnnMarie Santiago, acting HPD Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services. About Vito Mustaciulo: Vito Mustaciuolo has served as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services (ENS) since 2011. Mustaciuolo oversaw a staff of approximately 1,000 employees responsible for assuring owner compliance with the New York City Housing Maintenance Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law throughout the city to promote quality housing for New Yorkers. Mustaciuolo joined HPD in 1984 and held a variety of operational positions in the Divisions of Maintenance, Relocation Services, and Demolition until being appointed as the Assistant Commissioner for Code Enforcement in 1990. In 2001, he was promoted to Associate Commissioner for Enforcement Services. Mustaciuolo played a critical role in drafting and implementing the 2004 Local Law 1, the City’s chief ordinance for lead testing and remediation. In 2008, he received the prestigious Sloan Public Service award for service to the City of New York. Mustaciuolo, 57, was born and raised on Staten Island, and still lives there with his wife. He has two daughters and three grandchildren. About AnnMarie Santiago: AnnMarie Santiago has served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for ENS since 2015. She started her career in City government in 1994 as an Urban Fellow working for the Mayor’s office of SRO Housing, the unit charged with monitoring and inspecting Single Room Occupancy dwellings that was later absorbed into HPD. She joined HPD in 1996 and has served in a variety of capacities. She was promoted to Associate Commissioner in 2012 and to Assistant Deputy Commissioner in 2015, and received the Sloan Public Service Award in 2017. She helped create HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program and Proactive Preservation Initiative to comprehensively address problems in distressed buildings. Her broad portfolio includes managing and analyzing agency data to further the agency’s mission of ensuring the quality and safety of the housing stock and protecting the rights of tenants; monitoring internal performance indicators, staffing, budget, technology; and overseeing EEO, Disciplinary and Labor Management issues. Over the past two years, ENS’ workload expanded significantly as the agency was called upon to assist the Department of Homeless Services’ efforts to monitor and improve conditions of DHS shelters and cluster shelter units. AnnMarie was instrumental in meeting these challenges, developing and implementing internal systems to support HPD’s inspections program and Shelter Repair Squad 2.0. Born in Manhattan, Santiago, 45, was raised in Long Island City and currently lives in Jamaica, with her husband and two children.
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 7:35am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: An impressive display of multitasking Alison. Very graceful down there. So, everybody it’s a joy to be with you today. This is really a good news day for this community and for Brooklyn and for all of the city. It is so nice to be in what I call the one true borough. [Applause] I love them all, I love them all, it’s just good to remember where you come from right? Everyone is gathered here to celebrate the wisdom of this community in making this decision. And I could not be more impressed at the choice that this community made. I want to say at the outset, because I have had the joy of working with him for over 20 years, that Justin, you know it, you have – I’m not going to say big shoes to fill, I’m sure everyone’s made that joke already. You have very accomplished shoes to fill. And I want to say from the bottom of my heart to my friend and ally in so many good fights, thank you Vinnie Gentile for all you’ve done for this community. [Applause] I want to say thank you to all the community leaders, all of the elected officials who are here to celebrate. I want to thank Scott Stringer for all that we’re doing together for this city. Everyone who is here, thank you, but a special thank you to the Brannan family. Some of you may have encountered Justin’s mother. If you’ve talked to Mary or if you’ve, in my case, also emailed with Mary, everything she does has a certain strong personality and colorful nature to it. And it’s not hard to see where some of his good influences come from. So I want to congratulate Mary, I want to congratulate his wife Leigh, and I want to congratulate the whole family, this is your victory too. Congratulations to all. [Applause] Yes, Justin Brannan has a lot of personality. So I have this vivid memory of – we were campaigning in the 2013 mayoral race and we were down in the subway on the R train, do you remember which station that was? 86th Street. So we’re down in the platform campaigning and someone comes over and says ‘I want to take a picture’ so I’m like sure, cool and they had, you know, their tablet out and Justin’s standing there, he’s taking the picture and he’s, you know, doing all the things to get the picture right and making it – it seems like it’s going on a while and I said ‘hey, Justin what’s going on?’ and he says I’m on eBay. [Laughter] And I was like – I was like I like that kid. So if you know his irreverent sense of humor and you know his passion for this work, then you know he’s someone who doesn’t take no for an answer and he’s never afraid of a tough fight. This is someone who, from the beginning, you could tell what kind of leader he was going to be. And I had the joy of working with Justin in our administration and before when he worked for Vinnie. And you could just tell he had that spirit that we need more of in public service. And something that really energizes me. When you see the next generation coming up and you see someone of this character, this energy, this passion, it gives you a lot of hope. So I want to say as we celebrate today, Justin I’m glad you made this decision because it’s not just about the people you will serve in this community it’s also a message to everyone else, you know what a lot of really good people choose to go into public life and that’s sending such a powerful, positive message. Let’s thank Justin for having made that choice. [Applause] It’s also important to recognize we need people in public life who have done things that maybe are a little bit out of the ordinary. Not just the standard path. So yes, he played guitar in a punk band for a while, that gives you perspective doesn’t it? Right? It gives him a little edge. And – and he understands what it means to connect with people of the grassroots. Because this is his neighborhood, this has been his neighborhood throughout his life. He understands that really change comes from grassroots. You serve people of the grassroots, but it’s not just about that, it’s not just about you get elected, you solve constituent problems – he knows a whole lot about that – you pass good legislation – he knows a whole lot about that – you hold hearings to keep government accountable – Justin knows all about that. It is also that changing our communities and changing our city means people at the grassroots demanding change and organizing for change. This is the time we’re living in. By the way, what a day to be talking about it. I’ll tell you I was out yesterday marching with over 200,000 New Yorkers. [Applause] Over 200,000 in this city, millions around the country sending a very clear statement that the people will take matters into our own hands. You know it’s so powerful, the same day the government was shut down in Washington people were out in the streets demanding change here and all over the country. What a juxtaposition. And what a reminder of the fact that the power ultimately resides in the people. That becomes more and more real when you have leaders who understand that, and who act with that understanding, and that’s who Justin is. He has been someone who believed change could happen. And he’s been willing to roll up his sleeves and knock on the doors and talk to everyday people on the street corner, in the subway, wherever it was to help make things better for the community. That’s the kind of person we need in government. And look, it’s a good time for this city, but people worked hard to get this city to the point we are. And we now need to go farther. What a beautiful time to be a New Yorker and let’s take a moment to thank, we have folks here from the NYPD, we are the safest big city in America, let’s thank them. [Applause] Safest big city in America, police and community working together like never before. When it comes to our schools, and Justin has been a part in helping us achieve this success, we have pre-K for all our kids and soon we’re going to have 3-K too. [Applause] We have more jobs than we’ve ever had in our history, and we’re building more affordable housing then we’ve ever had in our history, and we need it right? [Applause] It’s a great time to be a New Yorker, it’s a great time to be in public service, but the only way we can fill our promises to go farther, we have to become an even fairer city. We have to become a city where there’s more and more opportunity. We have to become a city where people can actually afford to live in their own neighborhood, who right now are worried about it falling away from them. We have to get even safer. Our schools have to get better. There’s a lot to do to address both the great progress we’ve made but to build on it we need really dynamic, energetic leaders. And I’ll tell you something, and this is what I’ll conclude on, I’ve met a lot of promising, up-and-coming young leaders over the years I’ve been in public service, I can say from the bottom of my heart when it comes to passion, and focus, and energy no one can beat Justin Brannan. Congratulations, Justin. [Applause]
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 7:35am
Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman: Show me what democracy looks like! Audience: This is what democracy looks like! Lieberman: Show me what democracy looks like! Audience: This is what democracy looks like! Lieberman: That’s right! And now to tell us a little bit more about what democracy looks like in a democracy, I’m proud to introduce the Mayor of the City of New York and the First Lady, Mayor Bill de Blasio [inaudible] Thank you, so glad you guys are here. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you Donna, everyone in the Civil Liberties Union, everyone at Planned Parenthood, all the organizations, all the activists who are here. We celebrate the anniversary of the single greatest protest in the history of the United States of America. [Cheering] And that protest was only a beginning. Remember that. January 21st 2017 was the beginning of a bigger movement for change. A bigger movement to protect the rights of women and to create a fair and just society, that’s what began, today we continue it. And what a painful and powerful backdrop to have this march which represents everything good in this country occurring on the same day that our government is shut down because of everything wrong in this country. Just a quick message for the President – President Trump, as you sow so shall you reap. [Cheering] This shut down is a result of division and hatred that you created, of racism and sexism that you fomented. You cannot lead a nation forward by dividing it. But luckily, the people have a different idea. The people will take matters into our own hands. When the government fails, you do it yourself brothers and sisters. And sisters and brothers. I now have the wonderful honor of representing someone I’ve walked through life for many years and who provides in this City a voice of powerful conscious and who has never, ever stepped down in the face of a fight. Her life has been devoted to taking on division and stigma, and everything that stands in the way of peoples’ rights. And she has proven as our First Lady that she can change minds and open hearts. And that’s what we are here to do in this life. Ladies and gentlemen, the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. [Cheering] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Hello, everybody! It is so good to have a feminist husband. New York City’s leaders are coming out strong today because we value women. We respect women. And every single day, we fight like hell for women. [Cheering] Now I need a little help from you today, when I say who we are marching for – can you say we march? Can you do that? Audience: Yes! First Lady McCray: Alright, for the women who are tired of being told to do with their bodies. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: For women of color who face indignity and injustice beyond sexism. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: For transgender and non-conforming New Yorkers. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: For the women who said “me too” and all those who can’t. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: For Dreamers, Haitians, Salvadorians, Africans, Muslims, everyone this President wants to keep out or send away. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: For Planned Parenthood and health care women need. Audience: We march! First Lady McCray: Now Republicans are sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, are we going to let them do that? Audience: No! First Lady McCray: No, that’s right. No one gets to mess with our healthcare. We march. We vote. And we are going to make sure that every New Yorker has the healthcare they need. Now, that’s right, we are, right? There are folks out here in Get Covered NYC jackets, and we want you to know that you can sign up for healthcare insurance with them today. And you can call 3-1-1 or text 8-7-7-8-7-7 to get free help in signing up. So who can you call? 3-1-1. The New York deadline is January 31st, so we need you all to help us get people covered by January 31st, in the next 11 days. [First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish] Alright, what do you say? Can we count on you to get people covered? Audience: Yeah! First Lady McCray: That’s right, because who counts? Women count! Alright, thank you, let’s get out there and do it.
Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 7:35am
Legal papers defend union rights to collect essential fees from all public employees benefiting from collective bargaining NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter today announced that the City of New York has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al., to defend a legal right that labor unions view as crucial to their success and survival. The City's amicus brief, along with the briefs of labor leaders, states from across the country, dozens of cities and counties large and small, public schools and hospitals, economists – including three Nobel laureates, constitutional law and labor law professors, members of the clergy across all faiths and faith-based organizations, private and public sector employers, governors, and a large number of nonprofits and foundations whose mission it is to ensure human dignity, equality and fairness to our economy, and others, was filed Friday. At issue in Janus is the ability of unions to collect fees (known as "agency shop fees") from public employees who elect not to join a union but nonetheless benefit from union collective bargaining activities. For over forty years, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of agency shop fees, but plaintiffs in Janus now seek to change the law and limit union rights. "New York City is the city it is today because of the hardworking unionized men and women who built it and run it. Our city is stronger because of unions' ability to organize and fight for all of our rights. Especially in the face of our current political climate, we should be bolstering tools for empowering and protecting workers not making them more difficult to come by," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The City's brief explains how New York City pioneered collective bargaining for public employees and how the City adopted agency shop fees to protect workers and the public through a fair and effective collective bargaining system. The fees are modeled after successful private-sector labor relations strategies. "Prohibiting agency shop fees would strip jurisdictions like New York City of a tool that has for years helped foster productive relationships between governments and their public workforces. Agency shop fees have strengthened a collective bargaining process that has worked for us for nearly half a century," said Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter. Collective bargaining activities in New York City are time- and resource-intensive and require extensive expertise from both the government and union sides. Agency shop fees finance the provision of tools for negotiation and mediation that help resolve disputes for the benefit of public workers and city residents. The entire amicus brief can be found here . "I'm very happy that Mayor de Blasio and his administration stand with Labor in this battle to protect a system which has been working very well for so many years," said Harry Nespoli, Chairperson of the Municiple Labor Committee and President of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, Local 831, I.B.T. "We want to thank Mayor de Blasio, who understands the critical role unions play in creating, supporting and growing the middle class in New York City," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers . "We are pleased that New York City recognizes the vital role of unions in sustaining its working class and middle class. The Supreme Court case threatens to significantly undermine these protections at a watershed moment when the American middle class is eroding and wealth is concentrating increasingly in the hands of the very few," said Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. "Janus v AFSCME is nothing but a political attempt to strip unions of the ability to support our members in the public sector and destroy the protections that allow hardworking people to live with dignity," said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "New York City is indeed a union town, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for supporting workers, and the right to collectively bargain for the wages, benefits, and working conditions they deserve." "We applaud Mayor de Blasio for standing up for public sector union members and their right to have a strong union so they can bargain good contracts. This case is an effort by right-wing billionaires to destroy public-sector unions, silence the voice of working people and drive down their pay and benefits. Our union and many others are fighting back and we thank the mayor for joining this fight with us," said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa . "Big business is going after union fees in order to weaken unions and weaken worker power. It's thanks to unions that we have an eight hour day, minimum wage, and basic safety protections. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for standing up for the rights of workers to have strong organizations advocating on their behalf," said Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. "For decades the collective bargaining process has helped workers secure decent wages and benefits that have allowed them and their families to achieve the American Dream," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "A ruling for the plaintiff in the Janus case would undermine the collective bargaining process and put the futures of millions of American workers and their families at risk. Mayor de Blasio and Corporation Counsel Carter deserve to be commended for filing an amicus relief that clearly argues why the Supreme Court should not issue a ruling that would hurt so many hard-working people." "As a longtime union activist and former labor organizer, I understand how important collective bargaining is to the workers who rely on it. As the Chair of the New York State Senate Labor Committee, I am strongly supportive of the right of collective bargaining, which past generations of activists fought and died for. I fully support the City of New York's decision to issue an amicus brief for AFSCME in this case. I urge the Supreme Court to affirm the principles of workplace democracy by ruling in AFSCME's favor in this case. In addition, I will take action to blunt the effect of any adverse ruling with my 'New York State Card Check' bill, S5778, which passed the Civil Service and Pensions Committee on Tuesday and which I will assiduously work to bring to the State Senate floor," said State Senator Marisol Alcantara, Chair of New York State Senate Labor Committee. "In 2008, the NYS Legislature enacted the Agency Shop law in recognition that it was in the State's interest to guarantee a strong, viable Labor Movement in the Public Sector. Any attempts to undermine the representatives of Working Men and Women is a direct assault on the values that New York has long held that the Labor Movement is and must continue to be the vehicle that moves workers from poverty to the middle class," said New York State Senator Diane Savino. “Thriving public sector unions helped build stability and security for generations of New Yorkers. In a time of growing inequality, eliminating agency shop fees would not just hamper unions' ability to bargain effectively on behalf of employees, but undermine the economic security of all New Yorkers. I'm grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his efforts to protect workers' rights and stand with him in calling on the Supreme Court to safeguard agency fees,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said.
Friday, January 19, 2018 - 5:10pm
Brian Lehrer: The big story in New York this morning, new details coming out this morning about Governor Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan for driving in Manhattan below 60th Street. If you haven’t heard this yet in these last few hours that they’ve been out, by the year 2020 driving into the congestion zone would cost $11.52, trucks would pay $25.34, and there could be $2–$5 surcharges to enter the zone in a taxi or an Uber or other for-hire vehicle. Again the pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street all the way down to the Battery. The East River Bridges would not be tolled per se, if you’re coming in from crossings that are already tolled – we are told – you would be exempt, and you could come in on the Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge and bypass the toll if you stay on the FDR Drive and get off north of 60th Street. If you live in the zone, you would not be exempt from what we’re seeing. In other words if you drive out when you come back home with your car you’d pay the toll. The point of course is to ease congestion in one of the most gridlocked cities in America. They do this in some non-US cities, London and others, but nowhere else in this country. And the other goal is to create a reliable revenue stream to fund improvements to mass transit. So those are some details new this morning and they bring us to our first guest, as he is generally on Fridays at 10:00 o’clock, Mayor Bill de Blasio, for our Ask the Mayor segment. And our phones are open for the Mayor at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2. You can also tweet a question, just use the hashtag #askthemayor. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. Lehrer: Your reaction to the details of the Governor’s plan? Mayor: Well, the first thing I’ll say is that we need to know a lot more. We have not gotten all the details. We haven’t gotten the formal plan. We’ve gotten pieces that have come out publically. But, look, there’s one thing I can say at the start, this plan certainly shows improvement over previous plans we’ve seen over the years, and that’s a good thing. Definitely a step in the right direction. It does not achieve, in my view, some of the things we need the most which is a guaranteed, reliable form of funding for the MTA. I believe the millionaires tax is still the best, most reliable, most verifiable way to get that permanent funding for the MTA, especially because our vision for the millionaires tax includes the Fair Fares concept, meaning half price Metrocards for low-income New Yorkers as a matter of equity and fairness and creating opportunity. So I think, although I see some good elements in this new plan, I still think the millionaires tax should be the leading edge of how we solve the larger MTA problem. Lehrer: What – what – can I ask what are the improvements that you see compared to past congestion pricing plans? Mayor: Absolutely. I think it addresses some of the particular concerns – at least partially addresses – and again we need to see all the details, but we see improvement on the question of fairness to Brooklyn and Queens by taking the bridges out of the equation. You know, five million people live in Brooklyn and Queens combined, a clear majority of residents of this city. I thought the previous plans put an undue burden on them without giving them back specific guarantees. So that’s a good example of some improvement. Now, what we still don’t see is the money that would be generated being put into a lockbox that would only fund mass transit in New York City. I am concerned. I don’t see wording so far that guarantees that any proceeds would only be used for buses and subways in New York City to address our crisis here. The MTA has a long history of taking New York City money and sending it out to the suburbs. We need to know that’s not going to happen here. But, definitely taking the bridges out of the equation is progress. I think the focus on for-hire vehicles and trucks is a step in the right direction because it focuses on the commercial sector. And thinking about helping – this is consistent with our congestion plan from several months ago – pushing trucks away from rush hour is a very good thing, and that’s a promising thing. But we need to see the details before I can give you a fuller assessment. Lehrer: If the millionaires tax turns out to be DOA in the State Legislature as many people say it is and will be, could you find your way to yes on the congestion pricing plan with some particular additional tweaks? Mayor: Well these are more than tweaks, what I’m talking about. A lockbox guarantee that the money will go to our subways and buses in New York City is a major fundamental matter. Obviously I want to see the Fair Fare question addressed which my millionaires tax proposal addresses, and I have not seen in this new plan. And there’s still equity issues that have to be addressed here too. Again, I think I see some real improvement here, but making sure when there’s hardship cases – people having to get to medical care and other needs – that those are addressed. Look, I think Brian, it is a misunderstanding of Albany to say ‘oh millionaires tax for New York City millionaires and billionaires is quote-unquote “off the table”’ while congestion pricing is singularly on the table. The State Senate has been queasy about both. I think we should proceed with the assumption that we need to fundamentally address the long-term needs of the MTA. We may need elements of both these ideas to get to that ultimate solution. But I don’t traffic in this notion of what’s on the table, what’s off the table in Albany. I find that really – in many ways a very simplistic read of Albany. There were many years when minimum wage increases were supposed to be impossible, and all sorts of other things were supposed to be quote-unquote ‘impossible’ in Albany with enough public pressure they got done. I think we should take the millionaires tax put it on the table, take these new ideas – some which I think are quite productive – put them on the table. Get the most done we can get done to ensure the long-term health of the MTA but with a guarantee that that money stays in New York City. Lehrer: Let’s take one call that’s coming in on this and then we’ll go onto some other things. Phillip in the Bronx, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Phillip. Question: Hi, Brian. Hi, Mr. Mayor. I’m a lifelong resident of the Bronx and like many New Yorkers I take the subway five days a week into work, into Manhattan. However I feel this congestion pricing plan unfairly affects us outer borough residents for a number of reasons. First, like Mr. Mayor, I appreciate you trying to guarantee that the funding will be used to fix our subway system, which in the Bronx there are needs – some major needs. However, I feel that the Bruce Schaller report that came out last couple weeks ago indicated that Uber and Lyft are the primary cause of congestion, yet that should be the primary focus in reducing congestion. Manhattan has always been congested, it comes with being – with living there, probably since the invention of the car. Yet, this plan just affects the four outer boroughs really and not Manhattan residents. So I think there’s an unfairness to it, and I appreciate you, Mr. Mayor, you fighting to alleviate this. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do believe this unfairly affects the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and I guess some in State Island. Lehrer: Thank you very much. Mayor: So if I – first of all I appreciate your sense of history, I think you’re right that Manhattan has had a congestion issue for generations. We still need to address it though. I am very, very sensitive as a Brooklynite, I’m very sensitive to fairness to the outer boroughs. That’s why the previous congestion pricing missions I thought did not address those fairness issues. Again, I want to see all the details here before I decide whether this is fair. I do see progress here however. But, if the money is not guaranteed for New York City, if it’s not guaranteed to improve mass transit in all five boroughs, then I think it’s a plan that will backfire. This is why I think the millionaires tax needs to lead the equation. The millionaire’s tax is straight up revenue from New York City millionaires and billionaires that goes to New York City mass transit needs. It’s a progressive tax if ever you saw one, and it includes the Fair Fare for the folks who are most disadvantaged. I think that should be in this discussion not matter what else you talk about. But, if we’re going to do something around zones in the city then we really have to be sensitive to the fact that there – one, there needs to be guarantees. Two, we need to address the hardship cases. And on terms of Uber and Lyft, anything that’s applied needs to be applied fairly across the entire for-hire vehicle industry. I am very concerned that I’ve seen at different times at the State level, more sensitivity to Uber in particular with all of their wealth and power than other forms of transit. I want to make sure whatever happens here is applied consistently and fairly across the for-hire vehicle sector. Lehrer: What’s your level of concern about Uber generally at this point, and is it growing with the recent statistics that seem to show it’s an even larger share of the cars of the road in the city then was previously thought? Mayor: Absolutely. Look, I had a fight with Uber a couple of years ago. And I’m the first to say I think we could have done a better job preparing for that fight and preparing to explain to people why it was important to change our policies. We still have a lot more to do to address the needs of the for-hire vehicle sector across the board and of New Yorkers who use the for-hire vehicle sector. But what’s been abundantly clear in the last few years is one – Uber is a corporation that has been very exploitative in many, many ways and very unfair in its dealings and has its wealth and power to very negative effect in terms of swaying policy makers with its wealth and power. But second, it clearly has contributed to the congestion problem in New York City. We thought that was the case. There was an initial study we did that showed less than we expected, but the new study confirms the original expectation – or the original assumptions. Look, when you have vehicles that are not filled all the time, but still spend a lot of time on our streets that exacerbates the problem. The difference with the yellow cab that tends to be, as we know as New Yorkers the yellow cab drops someone off and another person gets in almost instantaneously. It’s more efficient. It doesn’t create so many cars on the street. So the sharing economy has positive and negatives, but I think one of the increasing negatives we’ve seen is more and more empty Uber and other car sharing – Lehrer: So is there – Mayor: — out there on our streets. Lehrer: Is there new policy under consideration? Mayor: We have to come with a total plan. I mean this – depending on what Albany does, and again I caution Brian, we don’t know how the legislature is going to handle any of these proposals, but depending on what Albany does I think we have to come up with a more consistent approach to the for-hire vehicle sector that creates fairness. I think our policies, and I would say this about the City too, are still not consistent enough. I think there is an overhaul we need to do. But as part of it, we’ve got to figure out how to inhibit empty cars, empty commercial vehicles traveling our streets and figure out how to do that better. Lehrer: Here’s another public transportation question of a very different sort. Barbara in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi Barbara. Question: Thank you. This is a problem that de Blasio’s administration has not been able to handle for some reason or another. I’ve missed three mega trips to Virginia because of the Access-A-Ride. The driver was rude when he finally did get there. I had to stop two ladies in the street to ask her if she could call Access-A-Ride to find out why he wasn’t there at 11:46 am and he didn’t get there until like 12:30 and I missed by bus going to Virginia. The other thing is when they get ready – when I have to use my walker and the snow is there, there’s no way when they clear the area for a person to get up and off the bus because it is very narrow and this guy had to kick some snow so far away so that the other lady could get up on the bus. We don’t get the number one service bus coming Uptown. You talk about down Lower Manhattan – the number one is disgraceful coming Uptown. There’s no one to see why these buses aren’t servicing the poor people – Mayor: Okay. Lehrer: Let me get a response. And you know Mr. Mayor, if we wanted to we could take calls day from elderly New Yorkers dissatisfied with Access-A-Ride not fulfilling its promise. Mayor: Well Brian, they are right to be dissatisfied but let’s get back to brass tacks here. I had a town hall meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday night and hundreds of people there – and I asked the audience a survey, I said who controls the MTA – when MTA runs Access-A-Ride, I said who controls the MTA, City or State? A handful of people raised their hands for the City, the vast, vast majority understand now it is the State of New York. So we have got to address this more fundamentally. This has been a game for decades in the City. The MTA was literally created to try and evade responsibility for elected officials. Let’s get real – the State, the Governor – name the head of the MTA, control the budget of the MTA, control the majority of the MTA board, let’s get real. This is how this works. Access-A-Ride is part of the MTA. Barbara is right. Access-A-Ride is a mess, it should be fundamentally overhauled. We have tried to work cooperatively with the MTA on the notion of converting Access-A-Ride to using the for-hire vehicle sector more productively including more and more for-hire vehicles that are disabled accessible. That’s something we have done with our yellow cabs more and more. We need to do it again more consistently across the entire for-hire vehicle sector. We took a major step at the TLC recently to do that with the other types of for hire vehicles. But it’s the modern era. We do have these for- hire vehicle sector that’s bigger than ever. We need to use that and reduce the reliance on the old school approach to Access-A-Ride which has been a failure. But again the State controls that. And people need to get this. We’ve been talking about it for a year. People need to get it. If you are upset about Access-A-Ride call the State, call your state Assembly member, your state senator, call the Governor’s Office to force action. We would love to help reform Access-A-Ride but let’s be clear about where the power lies. Lehrer: Another issue of state funding – money for public housing with $25 billion now the number for infrastructure improvements said to be needed. You’ve complained on this show previously that the State wasn’t coming forward with its expected share funding for NYCHA but Politico New York reports that in turns out much of the money you were waiting from Albany couldn’t be spent until your Administration submitted a formal proposal earmarking the funds – something your Administration waited more than seven months to do for the current fiscal year they say, just submitting in November, rather than up to seven months earlier. What was the delay and what will that cost the City in the long run? Mayor: First of all there is money going back now three budgets that was allocated by the State to NYCHA that we still haven’t seen so again let’s get our facts straight. The State of New York has not produced money for NYCHA that it pledged a long time ago. On the money that was pledged back in April – it did take the City a while to put forward that proposal in part because there was a whole public engagement effort around it. Obviously I would have liked to have seen that put forward more quickly. That being said, it’s a very thorough, careful proposal that’s specifically about fixing the boilers at NYCHA for the heat problem and the elevators that have had a substantial problems. What will affect this proposal – it will affect 42,000 residents. We took all of the State rules, all of the State stipulations, we address them in the proposal. We submitted it two months ago. So I’m happy to say I’d like to see our NYCHA leadership move things like this more quickly, but now the State’s had it for two months and they haven’t approved it. It’s been in the budget since April. They need to approve it and get the money over to us. Lehrer: Who’s that up to? Is that a legislative issue or a Cuomo issue? Mayor: No, now it’s in the hands of the State Budget Office. Lehrer: Anita in Hamilton Heights, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Anita. Anita are you there? Question: Hello Mr. Mayor. Yes I’m here. Hello. Lehrer: Hi, we got you. Mayor: Hi. Question: Yes I’m here. Lehrer: Go ahead. Question: Alright, I live in a low income co-op in West Harlem that the City has put into the foreclosure process but we have been working for years to turn around our building and do everything right. I’m asking the Mayor because the problem is that we are not alone. The City is foreclosing on almost 100 low income co-ops. That’s over 2,000 dwelling units all over the City in four boroughs. The human and finical cost of foreclosure is horrible. It’s really serious. Many owners are working to save their buildings. Can the Mayor halt this and offer alternatives? Mayor: Anita, I know about this issue and I can tell it’s heartfelt for you and I appreciate that. But I don’t think the way you’ve described it gives us the whole picture. First all these are buildings that the City has been providing finical support to for many, many years and in some cases decades. There are a number of buildings where there are big, outstanding finical issues. The City has been trying to work with the residents to address those issues building by building. When you use a word like foreclose and a lot of people use it, I don’t blame you but I think it is the wrong word in this case. It suggests that somehow that things are going to be taken away from people. I disagree with that. We have said to the residents of these buildings – work with us on a payment plan, work with us on a way to address the finical problems of the buildings, if we can work that out we are happy to and continue what’s going on in the co-op. But if we can’t, if there is no viable finical way forward the City will step in but it will also guarantee that the people who are living there continue to live in affordable housing as long as they are there. And then we would make sure that it remains affordable housing thereafter. What we don’t want to see is these buildings collapse financially and we don’t want to see them privatized and become market housing. So we’ve invested a lot over the years. But Anita, to be clear, the folks who live there now, in affordable housing will get to keep that affordable housing under our vision. And any co-op that says we have a new plan, we have a new idea on how we can address our finical problems – we will invite them in immediately and see if we can make that plan work. Lehrer: Anita, thank you for your call. Criminal justice question, Mr. Mayor. WYNC’s Beth Fertig reports that the number of marijuana arrests in the city in 2017 was virtually unchanged from the year before, about 17,000 arrests both years – despite your promises to keep reducing them. And the Legal Aid Society is reporting data in Beth’s story showing these are arrests are overwhelming, still in communities of color, way disproportional to marijuana use. Why has that stalled? Mayor: I don’t think again, Brian respectively that is a value judgement question. I don’t think that is has stalled. I think it’s reached a normal level in the sense of what we were trying to achieve. We said we would end arrests for possession for small amounts of marijuana – 25 grams or less. We proceeded to do that. The only way you get arrested if you have 25 grams or less of marijuana is if there’s something else going on. If you’re doing some other illegal act the same time or you have an outstanding warrant for an example. We saw immediately, a huge reduction that has continued, so now arrests for marijuana offenses are down 38 percent since I took office. Summons have gone up simultaneously because the solution we came up with is not an arrest but a summons for something that is under our state law, illegal. But that didn’t mean it was going to incessantly decline. At a certain point if our officers confront people with marijuana on them, the law requires an action, the action is now summons now rather than arrest. Over all in the city, for all types of offenses arrests have gone down a huge amount while we have been able to reduce crime and make this the safest big city in America. So as a general rule we are continuing to do fewer and fewer arrests, more use of summons, or in appropriate instances things like warnings by an officer. But there never was the notion here that there would no longer be enforcement. At a certain point, you’re going to have a level off because there will still be enforcement. Lehrer: So you are saying that you’re comfortable with the number around 17,000 marijuana related arrests a year if those cases are actually where the possession or whatever it is of marijuana triggers the knowledge that this person is wanted on other things? Is that essential – Mayor: Or if they are committing another offense at the same time which is perfectly possible. Look, our goal is to reduce crime while reducing arrests. And we have been doing that constantly. If you look at the overall figures I think the number is compared to four years ago over all arrests in 2017 where down 100,000 but crime has been pushed down constantly at the same time. You know, working with the city council we have more and more put into play the option of summonses as an alternative. That’s all working. It doesn’t mean the underlying offenses go away. So would I like to see the number go down? Sure, I’d like to see the number go down, but that would involve people not committing the original offense to begin with. The big question, Brian, the big question is looking at our overall trajectory – are we reducing arrests for all offenses consistently while being effective at fighting crime? Yes. Are we moving away from arrests and to summonses consistently? Yes. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t still situations where you don’t need an arrest or obviously where you don’t give a summons. Lehrer: Are you becoming more open to legal recreational as governor Cuomo who’s been a very big skeptic of that now seems to be exploring? Mayor: I remain skeptical but willing to study. I think the – and it’s something I want to see us do in the course of this term – we have a number of states now that have several years of experience, and including some states that have larger cities, which is what we’d really want to study. I don’t think we’re going to find that it’s an ideal situation, but at the same time we need to see what’s working and what’s not so we can make an honest assessment. So skeptical but willing to study. Lehrer: David in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC. Hi, David. Question: Hi, good morning. Good morning, Brian. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Good morning. Question: I’m calling about something that’s very near and dear to your heart and mine as I know which the homeless crisis is. You know, there’s a tremendous amount of money, and you’ve allocated a lot of money to fighting this issue, but in the past 10 years those numbers have more than doubled. And I don’t know – it seems to me traditionally the focus is on trying to meet short term needs rather than transitioning people out of being homeless in homeowners or renters. And you know I’m volunteering with an organization that’s really focusing on that. I’m wondering why the City with all its resources isn’t really focused on to transition these people out of homelessness permanently. Mayor: I really appreciate the question, which again I can tell is really heartfelt, but again – I’d like to offer some facts that I don’t think get enough attention. We’ve gotten – I think it’s over 50,000 now people who were in shelter during the last four years to affordable housing and out of shelter. I don’t know why that doesn’t get paid attention to, but it’s a huge number of people that we’ve successfully helped out of homelessness and to long term affordable housing. We’re going to continue to do that. We also have the biggest, most aggressive affordable housing plan in the history of the city. It’s 300,000 apartments being built or subsidized and preserved. It’s going to reach over 750,000 people. That’s also going to address the underlying root cause of so much of the homelessness, which is the affordability crisis in housing. And, you know, already over 160,000 New Yorkers have gotten those new affordable apartments and preserved apartments that we created. So these are big, major initiatives, huge amount of resources going to get to the root cause. Somehow I think people think when they see this tragedy of homelessness and the resources going to it that that’s all that’s happening when in fact, you know, it’s well reported we have this vast affordable housing program. In fact, in 2017 our affordable housing program financed 25,000 apartments in one year, which is enough for at least 75,000 people. That’s one year – it’s the all-time record for production in a single year in the history of this city. So we’re aggressively going at the root accuse. I think the homelessness crisis is incredibly frustrating for all of us because it is so much linked to our economic reality – the price of housing constantly going up, wages and benefits not going up as much, more and more homeless people, working people who can’t make ends meet. But we’re trying to drive up wages and benefits in a lot of ways. We’re trying to create more and more affordable housing. We’re stopping evictions with legal services. We’re fighting on many fronts. The honest truth is since this is a structural and economic reality now – not just for example a mental health or substance abuse reality as it was in the past – this will be a very long battle then because we’re trying to get to things that are unfortunately foundational to our economy and bluntly unjust in our economy. Lehrer: I read that you’re going to put in a homeless shelter on one of the priciest blocks in the city, West 58th street near Carnegie Hall and near that West 57th super-tall luxury tower true? Mayor: Well, yes. The plan has come out. It’s going to be formally presented to the community, and then there will be a very substantial engagement process with the community to do everything we can to make it work as successfully as possible, but I said well before the election – I told new Yorkers the truth that we were going to create 90 new shelter facilities that would be specifically built for shelter. We would get out of the pay-by-the-day hotels. We would get out of the inappropriate cluster sites. We’d have an actual, functioning shelter system that would be safer and cleaner and more effective. And then when the day comes that we can really turn the tide and reduce the homeless population, those buildings can be converted to affordable housing or to supportive housing for folks who needs special services. That’s the vision. We said we were going to do it everywhere. We should be doing it in places that are the privileged parts of town as well as every other kind of community. Lehrer: We’ll take one more caller before we run out of time, and Vivian in the congestion pricing zone as proposed by the Governor this morning, I think is going to return us to our kick off topic. Vivian, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi. Question: Hi, good morning. I am a resident of the congestion pricing zone, and I read in the Times yesterday that residents would not be exempt from this toll, and I was wondering why that would be. We would have to, you know, come home. It’s not something that we could, you know, time or take a train or a bus necessarily every – well, you wouldn’t need it every day, but just to come and go from our homes, doesn’t it seem that we should have some sort of exemption or at the very least a reduced fare? Mayor: Well, Vivian, I think it’s a really fair question, so I want to again set the predicate here, and this is something that I think we need to all work on as we talk about issues. The proposal that’s being put forward is being put forward by the State of New York, by the governor and a commission that he put together. We have not seen the full proposal yet. There’s going to be a lot of important questions about what’s fair and how to make sure this plan is functional, and again that the proceeds go directly to New York City. So I can’t comment on that issue because I have not been shown the full plan by the governor and by the commission. Lehrer: But on that as a break-out, individual issues – the people who live in the zone being charged the toll when they come back or the toll at full price, she says maybe a reduced toll for residents – does that ring with you? Mayor: Brian, I’m hearing for the first time. I’m just not going to comment until I see how it’s structured. I do think a fundamental issue in this entire plan that the State is putting forward is how do we create fairness? So you know making sure that people in each part of the city are treated fairly, making sure that the money that comes from it stays in New York City, making sure that the Fair Fare is addressed so low income New Yorkers can have accessible Metrocards and Metrocards they can afford. All of these fairness questions have to be addressed. In the past, I felt that the previous plans from a decade ago and from five years ago were not sufficiently fair. We need to see if this one is. There are some better elements in this plan than in the past, but I still need to see if it’s fair. And of course the devil will be in the details. We need to see it. It needs to have extensive hearings. People like Vivian have to have an opportunity to make their case. And we have to decide as a city whether we think it’s fair or not or what adjustments are needed. But this is going to be a long debate over the next couple of month. Lehrer: And by the way, for our caller earlier – Barbara in Manhattan who is concerned about Access-a-Ride – next Thursday on the show one of our guests will be the new New York City Transit chief within the MTA, Andy Byford. And he’s made improving Access-a-Ride one of his stated goals, so we will definitely bring that up, Barbara and everyone else concerned about Access-a-Ride next Thursday with the new NYC Transit Chief Andy Byford. Mr. Mayor, last thing, a Trump thing. With the president hitting his one year mark tomorrow, are you planning to be at the big Women’s March here in the city, and do you give him any credit for Dow 26,000 with benefits to the city? Mayor: Look, on the Dow – I mean, one, I don’t think we should judge the health of our society by how the Dow is doing. It is one measure and often a misleading measure in my view because it is the measure most pertinent to those already privileged, and I think yes, they’re thrilled by a tax bill in Washington that gave a huge, massive federal giveaway to corporations and the wealthy. It doesn’t surprise me the Dow would go up with something like that. That’s not healthy for our larger society. But of course, look, we want businesses to thrive. We want there to be more employment, higher wagers. I’m not saying there’s nothing to it, but I do think it should not be overrated. As to everything that’s going to happen in the coming days, I’m still working on the schedule but fully support what people are doing to organize against the Trump administration. I think it is making a huge difference. I think it’s going to make a huge difference in the 2018 elections, and I think the folks who organized the original Women’s March and have built since then have done one of the most important things we’ve seen in many years in this country – it was the single biggest protest in the history of the United States last January 21st. And I think it set the stage for more and more women running for office, for what we saw particularly in Virginia with a huge turning of the tide in that state. I think something powerful is happening that’s going to have lasting consequences. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thanks as always. Talk to you next week. Mayor: Thank you very much. Take care.
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 5:05pm
D.L. Hughley: Alright, ladies and gentlemen, joining us on the show – one of my favorite political figures right now – I’ve got to say that. I can say that honestly. Jasmine Sanders: I agree. Hughley: Mayor Bill de Blasio – New York’s mayor. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: You know, that’s the sweetest thing you ever said to me. [Laughter] Sanders: That’s the sweetest thing? Hughley: So, you’re married to a black woman, so you feel my pain sometimes. So, that’s why we have to be – [Laughter] I’ve been one with the – you know, he seems scared to laugh. [Inaudible] man, he’s horrified to laugh. Sanders: Sisters, are you listening? Mayor: Only bad things are coming from me commenting on that. [Laughter] Sanders: Amen, brother. Amen. Hughley: Indeed. You won re-election when people were certain – were not so sure that you would. How were you able to accomplish that? Mayor: I think there’s something very big going on and changing in this city, but I think it’s starting to change in the country too. I think people want boldness, and they do not want half-measures any more. So, for example, when I ran, I said we had something broken in the way we were policing in this city – massive use of stop and frisk, super-aggressive policing that was driving a wedge between police and community. I said we would end the broken policy of stop and frisk, and I told people it would actually make us safer. Not only is crime down to the lowest levels since 1950’s, we did it with 100,000 fewer arrests last year than the number of arrests four years ago. Think about that for a moment – 100,000 fewer arrests in a single year, and a lot less crime. Hughley: Are you going to run for Mayor – I mean, are you going to run for President? Mayor: I’m Mayor. I’m just doing Mayor. Hughley: C’mon man – [Laughter] Mayor: If I change my mind, you’ll be the first to know. Hughley: You know what I think will resonate – I’m a progressive, and I’m a liberal, but when people pretend like they’re not for the purposes of fitting in – that bother me because the other side doesn’t have to pretend like they’re anything else. They get to say exactly what they are, and I think there’s a bit of truth in advertising, and I think you’ve managed to do that, definitely. I remember when the unions were – police unions were mad, and would turn their back. It’s a hell of a thing to watch somebody fight through that, and I think that’s the kind of stick-to-itiveness and dexterity – political dexterity – that could be valuable on the national stage. Mayor: I appreciate that. And look, I think it’s the age of authenticity. I mean, this connects with your point. I think it’s the age of authenticity, meaning, I think a lot of falsehoods got uncovered, you know? We’ve traveled this journey as a country where a whole lot of institutions have been questioned for good reason, and whole lot of facts turned out to be false. I mean, everything has been jumbled and opened up. And, at this point, especially given the digital age, if you’re not real and consistent, it shows pretty damn quickly. Hughley: It does. Mayor: But a lot of people in conventional politics cannot get that into their mind because they were miseducated for the longest time to think, you know, be all things to all men. So, I think there’s something here that is about – hey, just be one thing consistently. You’re right, that was a very tough time when challenged by the police union, but I never had to wonder who I was or what I believe, and I thought that’s what sees you through in the end. If people know you’re for real, that’s what gets you to the next level. It makes you able to actually achieve the changes. Hughley: Alright, now, we’ve talked seriously enough. Now, you’re married to a black woman, as am I. Have you ever been to a black family reunion? Mayor: Of course. [Laughter] Hughley: What was the first thing you noticed that was different at the black family reunion – the first thing you noticed. Mayor: I’m going to gently observe the situation here. [Laughter] Sanders: I like it, smart answer. Hughley: Was it different – Mayor: The first thing that always comes to mind when you say that is, the willingness, despite 400 years of American history – the willingness of people to even have me at the reunion and give me a chance was the thing that blew me away. Hughley: Did you hear of anybody with crazy names? Who had crazy names? Did you – Mayor: There were a lot of such names. [Laughter] Simon: I bet there were. Mayor: There seemed to be a preponderance of – [Laughter] Hughley: And I have an Uncle Perponderance. [Laughter] Simon: Did you have to do the cupid shuffle? Hughley: Yeah, he did. He had to dance Simon: You have to. Hughley: And one more thing – what was the first hair product you saw that you had never seen before? Mayor: Lusters. [Laughter] Simon: What? Hughley: Let me tell you something – you know what you did? Any dude that can get police unions, and teachers unions, and all these different factions together, and go to a black family reunion, and know what kind of hair products a sister uses – you’re ready for the national scene. I’m telling you, dude. I’m telling you. [Laughter] Mayor: You warm my heart, my friend. Hughley: Here he is – Mayor Bill de Blasio. Simon: Thank you so much Mayor: Thank you Hughley: Thank you man, thank you for coming by. Thank you so much. Mayor: I’ll talk to you soon. I look forward it. Hughley: Likewise Mayor: Take care.
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. What an honor to be with you on this day of celebration and progress for the NYPD. This is a day where we recognize those who have achieved so much and we take this department forward. So I am honored to be here with you. I want to thank of course our Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill, our First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker for their great leadership. [Applause] I have to offer a special thanks to a man who helped us in so many ways not only in the last four years but over the last quarter century to achieve the progress we’ve made as a city, Commissioner Bill Bratton. Thank you so much for being here. [Applause] I am so happy that Councilmember Vanessa Gibson is here with us. She was for four great years, the chair of the public safety committee in the City Council and did an outstanding job. But I want to thank her for that while also noting, we’re honored to have the new chair of the public safety committee in the City Council, Donovan Richards with us. Thank you for your leadership councilmember. [Applause] And finally a thank you to the President of the Detectives Endowment Association, Michael Palladino. Thanks for all you do. [Applause] Of course we are here to witness and support the promotion of these great leaders. And we’re here to honor them and thank them. But it is also important to recognize everyone who supported them and helped them along the way, all the mentors, all the colleagues and most especially their family who stood by them every step of the way. Let’s applaud the family and also those who helped them to this day. [Applause] It’s an important day for all of them, but I want to single out our new Chief of Department, Terry Monahan. [Applause] I like that Terry has the chair separate from everyone else. It looks like you’re in trouble for some reason Terry. The last few years I’ve gotten to know Chief Monahan, and if you work with him every day, you recognize his passion for this work. And it’s really a beautiful thing. We talked a couple of weeks back. And some of why he loves this department so much, and this city so much comes from the family tradition of membership in the NYPD and that beautiful, beautiful tradition being passed from generation to generation is something that can make the experience so deep. And I could see that that was part of it. But that wasn’t all of it. Terry Monahan, it’s clear, loves the people of this city and served them in good times and bad for almost 35 years now. He has come to understand every nook and cranny of this city, all the things that make it great and all the challenges that we have. And I’ve been so impressed as we’ve talked about neighborhood policing and what it means. How personal it is for Chief Monahan, because he understands that our officers have for so long deserved to feel that they had a partnership with communities. Deserved to feel that they had real allies in every neighborhood, real friendships, real support. And community members deserve to feel that the police were shoulder to shoulder with them, understood them. As commissioner Bratton often invoked a phrase “saw them” saw them for who they were for all the good in their community. Neighborhood policing has allowed us as a strategy to achieve things that might have been inconceivable not so many years ago. To create a bond a mutual respect in every kind of neighborhood. It’s an extraordinarily powerful thing. And Chief Monahan is one of the people who brought this idea to life. You know wherever I go when I visit precincts, when I am in communities I talk to officers; I ask them about their experience. And those who are in the front lines in neighborhood policing consistently say the same thing to me. It is absolutely random every borough, every neighborhood officers of every background know preparation just asked them what they are experiencing what they are feeling and I get almost exactly the same answer and it’s very heartfelt how powerful it is to have community members truly on your side and knowing you’re on their side. And the information that flows because of that, the help, the assistance that flows to our officers. The thank you’s that are so much more frequent, that our officers deserve but didn’t always hear in the past are finally coming out the way they should more frequently to thank our officers for their hard work. This philosophy took a long time to bring to bear. It took hard work, it took creativity, it took persistence. Clearly we owe a debt of gratitude to Commissioner O’Neill who was the architect of neighborhood policing in this city. We a owe a debt of gratitude – [Applause] We owe a debt of gratitude to Commissioner Bratton who started thinking these thoughts long a go on the beat in Boston decades ago. [Applause] But the guy who had to actually had to make it work every single day in his own special style – for those of you who know Terry Monahan, you know what I am talking about. It’s good you have a fan club of one back there, Terry. [Laughter] His special style always believing in the mission, passionate, powerful, and someone you know where he leads, people want to follow. So this is a day to celebrate, congratulations Chief Terry Monahan. [Applause] And I’ll be very quick, but I got to talk about just what it means to everyone here. Because all of these good people started in neighborhood, started working with everyday people and rose to the top because of their hard work, because of their vision, because they did things the right way. They are the finest of the finest. And that is a very high standard to reach, but they’re going to take us forward. One of the things I remind people about, this is a department that not only does not rest on its laurels. This is a department that doesn’t know how to rest on its laurels and that is an incredibly positive thing. I’ve been in so many meetings with the leadership of this department over years now and I’ve never heard a moment of complaisance, I’ve never heard a moment where people said we’ve done good enough, we’ve gone far enough let’s stop trying. You saw what happened in 2017. The unimaginable was achieved by the NYPD. I want you to just take this in for a quick second. The last time crime was this low in New York City was in the 1950’s, the 1950’s. The example I give and it always captures the breath of people when I talk to them around the country about what the NYPD has achieved here in this city working with partners in every neighborhood. I said the last time we had this few murders in New York City was 1951. And the Dodgers were still playing at Ebbets Field. So that kind of achievement a phrase we use. “The safest big city in America” that is an earned achievement. And it’s not static. No one says, hey we we’re the safest big city in America at 2017, we’re done here. People understand at this department, we’re going to go and set the next record. And that’s what these leaders are going to be in the vanguard of achieving. It’s exciting and it’s particularly exciting as we build a new model of policing that will supercharge the efforts of our men and women in uniform. Because now they’re going to have the greatest force multiplier possible. 8.5 million New Yorkers were on their side and have their back. That’s’ what we’re creating here today in New York City. And I congratulate all of these leaders for the role they will play going forward. And I thank them, for all they have given so far. And I look forward to many great years together. Thank you, and congratulations. God bless you all. […] Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Let’s keep it down in the upper row there please. [Laughter] Terry, they were clapping because I told them to clap for you. [Laughter] So to the families and friends of Rodney, Tracie, Eddie, Nilda, Theresa Shortell, Harry, Jack, Billy, Steve, Fausto, Maria, thank you for being here because I know Monahan doesn’t have any friends. [Laughter] Actually, I actually had to cut him down to size a little bit. I was outside his office with Rodney the other day and he asked me, -- he goes so how long are going to speak for Thursday? I said about five minutes. And he said could you cut it down a little bit? I got a lot to say on Thursday. [Laughter] Morning everyone, thank you Mayor de Blasio for joining us today. This is truly an important day for our NYPD family and an important time for the people of our great city. NYPD’s neighborhood policing philosophy which puts cops and people we serve on equal footing in our fight against crime and disorder is revolutionizing the way the NYPD keeps all New Yorkers safe. So we have to make sure we have the right people in the right places at the right time. And that time is now. And to complete this change we require the talent, the vision, and the leadership of the people we are promoting today. At the department in 2017, we achieved what many thought was unachievable – the City hasn’t been this safe for nearly 70 years. And it’s impossible to overstate how remarkable that is. No matter how extraordinary it is, it’s now in the past. As soon as that clock went past midnight on January 1st – we’re all standing in Times Square, a little cold, and we said to ourselves okay it’s 2018, now what are we going to do? We do have so much to be proud of and New Yorkers do appreciate how hard the men and women of the NYPD work every day but we can’t ever stop moving forward and we won’t stop. Now is the time to redouble our sense of urgency to make every neighborhood in New York City safe at all times. Part of this push ahead is completing the NYPD’s transformation. To see this through, we absolutely need the full partnership of the people who live in, work in, and play in New York every day. Today’s promotions are a major step towards that goal. Our neighborhood policing model is already working 56 of our 77 patrol precincts and in all nine of our housing commands. As we keep expanding neighborhood policing we must advance the modifications of our most basic organizational systems, like training, technology, human resources, community outreach, and more. We made a promise to our cops and to the communities we serve that we would always support them, that we would never stop trying to improve. With the team assembled here today, we’re making good on that promise. I truly believe, and I know our Chief of Department Terry Monahan, believes it too – Terry began his career in his home borough the Bronx, out of patrol in the 41 Precinct. He’s risen through the ranks during his 36 year career so far – yes, that’s right – he’s got a year more than me. And he continues to prove himself as a highly skilled crime fighter. I would say one of the best in country along with Dermot Shea. From the Bronx – [Applause] Thank you, Deidre. [Laughter] From the Bronx to Manhattan North, to Narcotics, and elsewhere he say what I saw – that the old model of policing just wasn’t working in the most efficient way possible. But to his immense credit, Terry didn’t just realize there was a problem, he got to work fixing it. Like all great leaders, Terry identified the problem and saw an opportunity. He’s been involved in each careful step in the department’s restructuring ever since including the precise roll out of the new neighborhood policing commands. He’s been there from the very beginning of our effort to fundamentally reshape this department. And now, as the NYPD’s highest ranking uniformed officer, Terry is uniquely qualified to see this through. New Yorkers are fortunate to have you on their side and I’m looking forward to everything NYPD and our city will keep accomplishing together. Congratulations Terry. [Applause] The man replacing Terry as Chief of Patrol is also an integral part of our transformation. As the ex-o of Patrol Services, at least for the next few minutes, Rodney Harrison is the operation leader of the Bureau’s [Applause] So, the right side is for you Rodney? [Laughter] And upstairs is for Terry? [Laughter] Okay. Rodney Harrison is the Operational Leader of the Bureau’s neighborhood policing roll out. In his nearly 27 year career, Rodney has worked in every borough of this city. This wide experience helped him understand and truly connect with the communities all across our city. And he uses that comprehensive knowledge of what works and why to help make neighborhood policing successful everywhere it’s implemented. Make no mistake, neighborhood policing is not a one size fits all solution. And if we tried to do it that way it would never work. Luckily we have leaders like Rodney to ensure that it is tailored correctly and that it works well everywhere. Congratulations Chief Harrison. [Applause] Today we also gained new leadership in our Transit Bureau with Chief Ed Delatorre, thank you Ed for all the work – [Applause] Thank you for all the work, the terrific work you’ve done out on Staten Island. We have a new Head of Personal in Chief Bill Morris. [Applause] Bill, thank you for everything that you have done in Manhattan South – just a hard job and you did it tremendously for five years. We have a new Chief of Training, Theresa Shortell. [Applause] A new Community Affairs leader in Chief Nilda [inaudible] Hofmann. [Applause] Chief Jack Donohue becomes head of Strategic Initiatives, Jack. [Applause] And Chief Harry Wedin will spear head all of our Special Operations, Harry thank you. [Applause] In my four years working with this administration, I don’t think there is a scene I’ve been to where Harry hasn’t been so thank you for your leadership at Special Operation. [Applause] Your men and women do a terrific job each and every day. We have a new Chief of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, Chief Steve Hughes. [Applause] He comes from a very large family so, that’s why this auditorium is so packed. [Laughter] And then Assistant Chief Fausto Pichardo. [Applause] Monahan, I think Fausto wins. [Laughter] We are also very fortunate to be able to promote Assistant Commissioner Maria Otero. [Applause] Thank you, thank you so much for what you do for this police department and what you do for the families of our fallen heroes. Your worth is immeasurable, thank you Maria, thank you very much. [Applause] And we are putting Deputy Commissioner Tracie Keesee’s extensive talents to even better use now as head of our new Office of Equity and Inclusion. She and her staff will greatly enhance the progress we are already making to development strong woman and minority candidates for leadership roles throughout the NYPD. Thank you all for playing such important roles and congratulations to each of you. [Applause] Almost done, almost done. All these men and women before you today bring fresh perspectives and unique visions to their perspective offices. But all the hard work and growing pains are necessary because this is how we make out way forward. I’m confident our best days lie ahead. It’s up to all of us now to live up to that promise we made to our cops and to all the people of New York – to not only keep them safe, but to make them feel safe too. Congratulations again to the newest members of our executive team and to their families. Enjoy today with your loved one because you are never going to see them again. [Laughter] You think I’m kidding right? [Laughter] Tomorrow we are getting right back to what the NYPD does better – actually not tomorrow, probably this afternoon. And we are doing it hand with every New Yorker, in every neighborhood all the time, thank you very much and congratulations once again. [Applause] ###
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 11:35am
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $13 million investment to help NYCHA rapidly respond to heating emergencies and replace failing equipment. This funding will replace several boiler systems experiencing chronic outages, secure mobile boilers for emergencies, hire temporary repair staff and seal windows to reduce heat loss. This winter brought the longest stretch of below-freezing days since 1961, straining many NYCHA buildings’ aging heating systems to the breaking point. The new funding will immediately enable the agency to repair equipment faster, and maintain heat under emergency conditions. “All New Yorkers deserve heat and hot water. While NYCHA has been working around the clock to keep our boilers working, these record cold temperatures are hard on our aging heating systems,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new investment will help us continue to respond to outages immediately, replace boilers in hardest hit buildings and keep tenants warm.” “This investment will address some of our most problematic infrastructure through this recent cold spell and also increase staffing so we can respond to outages faster,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye.“This support from Mayor de Blasio will literally keep the heat on in thousands of NYCHA homes and is critical in our efforts to improve service for residents.” This winter, NYCHA will: * Hire 57 Repair Staff to help respond to boiler outages. This will boost total staff and contracted personnel maintaining boilers from 389 to 446. * Rent 3 Mobile Boilers to have on-hand for heating emergencies. Having this equipment stored on site and ready for immediate deployment will reduce the time needed to restore emergency heat resulting from catastrophic outages from weeks to approximately 24-48 hours. * Seal and Repair 9,600 Windows at NYCHA senior apartments to ensure these windows are properly sealed, keeping heat inside the unit. To prepare for next winter, NYCHA will: * Replace 8 boiler plants at Union Avenue and Claremont Houses, two developments with chronic outages. * Install 7 gas-fired, winterized boilers at Patterson, Independence and Pelham Parkway Houses, three developments with recent heating problems. These cleaner, more efficient and more reliable boilers will replace the oil-fired boilers that are experiencing outages. * Buy 5 New Mobile Boilers to have on-hand to provide emergency heat rapidly following major outages. Since 2014, NYCHA has invested nearly $300 million in heating and plumbing, and has received a $109 million grant from FEMA to replace or repair 67 boilers at 17 developments. The de Blasio Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to preserve and strengthen public housing. Since 2014, the City has invested $1.3 billion to fix nearly 1,000 roofs and $555 million to repair deteriorating exterior brickwork at more 400 buildings. The Mayor also waived both NYCHA’s annual PILOT payment and NYPD payment, relieving NYCHA of nearly $300 million in operating expenses since 2014.
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 11:35am
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed legislation into law, authored by Council Member Ben Kallos in collaboration with DEP, aimed at reducing overnight and weekend construction noise and making New York City more livable. Intro. 1653-B allows inspectors to take noise readings from the roadway or sidewalk, rather than requiring that the reading be taken from inside of a complainant’s apartment, empowers inspectors to shut down equipment that is too loud, and calls for new rules for responding when the noise is most likely to happen again. In addition, construction companies will be required to electronically file noise mitigation plans, which will make it easier for inspectors and the public to review online. “Noise pollution has gotten out of control when your alarm clock has been replaced by a jackhammer. But the incessant din of construction doesn’t have to be the reality of living in a big city. We can do something about it,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This legislation is giving city inspectors the tools they need to damp down the racket, protecting New Yorkers’ health and offering some peace and quiet in the city that never sleeps.” “Working with the City Council, this legislation will empower our noise inspectors with new tools to more effectively enforce the City’s Noise Code,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “By lowering the allowable after hours noise limit in residential areas, allowing inspectors to take noise readings from the street, rather than from inside an apartment, and empowering inspectors with the ability to issue a stop work order for noisy equipment, this legislation should help bring some much needed relief to New Yorkers.” “New York City may be the city that never sleeps but that shouldn’t be because of after hours construction noise waking you up. Our new law will turn down the volume on after hours construction noise in residential neighborhoods,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for signing this bill into law and to Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza for his agencies expertise and collaboration on this legislation, as well as to the countless residents who have complained regularly about after-hours noise, which led to this legislation to keep our city a little bit quieter.”
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:10pm
Outreach teams increase monthly placements by 31% in Fiscal Year 2017, averaging 248 placements per month NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration today announced that nearly 1,500 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. From the spring of 2016 through November 2017, 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 1,480 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. “It can take dozens or more contacts to convince homeless New Yorkers to come in off the streets and into permanent housing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new milestone proves that our strategy is working and that the growing partnership between the NYPD and our homeless outreach workers is producing more contacts and more transitions from streets and subways into shelter for homeless New Yorkers. The problem wasn’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight, but we’re headed in the right direction.” “Through persistence, compassion, and this Administration’s unprecedented commitment of resources to street and subway outreach efforts, the City has helped nearly 1,500 homeless New Yorkers come in from the streets and into transitional programs or permanent housing,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Since launching HOME-STAT, the most comprehensive outreach program in the country, we have dramatically increased our investment in dedicated street homeless programs, doubling the number of outreach staff working around the clock in all five boroughs, tripling the number of specialized beds supporting street homeless New Yorkers, and enhancing our partnerships with the NYPD, other City Agencies and not-for-profit service providers to reach more New Yorkers more frequently. We continue to use every tool at our disposal to build the trust and individual relationships that will encourage ‎homeless New Yorkers to come off the streets and out of the subways.” In December 2015, the City initiated HOME-STAT (Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams), a citywide multiagency initiative to combat 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. 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, 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 who may be difficult to engage, in many cases due to significant mental health 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. 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, and the Department of Transportation. Earlier this month, 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 FY14 to more than $97.6M in FY18. * 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 nearly 1,500 individuals off the streets who’ve remained off the streets. In the roughly year-and-a-half since the launch of HOME-STAT in Spring 2016, the City has helped 1,480 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. "New Yorkers know that we face a crisis of homelessness in our city, one caused by a shortage of affordable housing, a lack of living wages, and inadequate services for those with severe mental and physical health needs,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “Addressing this crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck, broad-based approach including outreach, housing, and support. The HOME-STAT program has become an integral part of this work, and I am pleased to see that it is becoming increasingly effective at getting our homeless neighbors in off the streets. I thank Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless services for continuing to do the hard work of finding solutions to the problem of homelessness." “Homeless New Yorkers living on the street face immense challenges and it’s up to us to lead them on the path towards permanent housing,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “Meeting individuals one-on-one, getting to know them, and treating them with dignity is critical. Without trust, there can be no progress. The City’s outreach teams, collaborating with community partners and law enforcement, have worked hard to get results and I expect more milestones to be reached in the future.” “As a partner of the HOME-STAT initiative, our BRC outreach teams are working every day of the year and around the clock to offer a hand up and a way home to New York City’s homeless,” said Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) Chief Executive Officer Muzzy Rosenblatt. “In 2017, our caring and effective outreach teams placed over 2,000 men and women from New York City subways into shelter and further treatment. The City’s investment in BRC, and work we do and the people we serve, helps us to make the biggest impact possible.” “With the additional investments in Safe Haven programs, which are an invaluable tool for bringing homeless individuals in out of the cold, the BronxWorks Outreach Team now has access to more of these beds than ever before,” said BronxWorks Assistant Executive Director Scott Auwarter. “The additional funding for more outreach staff has allowed us to identify and serve more homeless individuals on the street. Beyond that, the continued investment in technology for our Outreach Team has enabled us to more effectively respond to 311 calls and other community concerns.” “The City’s investment and our collective work city wide has paid off significantly,” said CUCS President and CEO Tony Hannigan. “CUCS and its partners helped hundreds of people living on the streets of Manhattan to move into housing during fiscal year 2017.” "Breaking Ground is proud to partner with the City on HOME-STAT, which has helped us significantly grow our outreach team to reach and serve even more homeless New Yorkers throughout Brooklyn and Queens, and as part of the Manhattan Outreach Consortium,” said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground. “Our outreach workers are on the streets every single day, 24/7, in the extreme cold and sweltering heat because we believe everyone deserves a home. The teams build trust with the homeless, connect them with critical services, and work with them to find a permanent housing solution, giving them a second chance at life.” “An unprecedented amount of resources, including new stabilization beds on Staten Island coupled with a deep level of passionate partnership and creative collaboration has allowed Staten Island to join the rest of the city in moving a significant number of homeless people off the streets and into life-saving beds with wraparound services this winter,” said Project Hospitality Executive Director Reverend Terry Troia. “I applaud the work of Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Homeless Services, the NYC Police Department, and my colleagues in government and the non-profit sector for their work this past year in helping transition roughly 1,500 of New York’s street homeless to lives of stability through the consistent efforts of the Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams (HOME-STAT) initiative. I look forward to our continued work together to develop and implement unique and sustainable solutions to stem the tide of homelessness in New York.” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28). "A New Yorker becoming street homeless does not happen in a vacuum. It is encouraging that HOME-STAT has brought together so many partners to make significant strides in helping New Yorkers to access critical services and shelter," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "In the midst of our City's homelessness crisis, I thank Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services for implementing an empathetic and comprehensive plan to address the needs of these individuals as a way to make progress on the broader homelessness and housing challenges in our City."
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:10pm
Willie Geist: Now, the Mayor of New York City – Mr. Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, good to see you. Mika Brzezinski: Important question – important question. Geist: You can have the first question. Brzezinski: Mr. Mayor, how tall are you? Mayor Bill de Blasio: Almost 6’6. Brzezinski: Let me just check. Mayor: Almost. Brzezinski: Really? Tall. Tall guy. Nicholas Confessore: How much do you weigh? Mayor: 210. Brzezinski: 210. Confessore: 6’6. 210. Mayor: Full disclosure. Confessore: That’s interesting. Geist: Compared to the president. Brzezinski: It’s weird. Okay. Thank you. Willie, carry on. Geist: It’s a svelte 210. Mayor: Svelte?! Geist: 210 – I wish I had those numbers myself. Mayor: Today’s adjective – svelte. Brzezinski: I really don’t mind his numbers. Geist: We’ve got a million questions for you. Brzezinski: The president just – okay, anyhow. Geist: We’re all New Yorkers, but there are national issues at play here. I want to just talk about something that’s happening in the city – something extraordinary – a combination of City Hall and the New York Police Department and the record low crime numbers that came in at the end of 2017. How in a city of 8.5 million people you have that few murders, that little violent crime? What is happening with the New York City police that has allowed for those historically low numbers? Mayor: So, to put it in context, our overall crime levels – you have to go back to the 1950s to see crime this low. Specifically with murder, the last time we had this few murders was 1951 when the Dodgers were still playing in Brooklyn. And when you think about how we got there, it is one part evolution and improvement of strategies – COMP STAT that Bill Bratton innovated. It’s one part precision policing – actually sending the police where the most violent crime is happening – pinpointing, surging in those areas, and knocking out gangs in particular that were causing so much of the violence. But the other big piece is neighborhood policing, which is a systematic effort to create new relationships between police and community and heal some of the problems, some of the pain that occurred in the past. It’s very much a matter of training our police to build those community relationships, to deescalate tensions, and the payoff is not only a human or moral one – it’s also a practical one. The more that community feels close to their police, the more they share information and help police to stop crimes or to find people who committed crimes. It’s amazing. When I talk to our officers who are involved in this neighborhood policing initiative they go chapter and verse about all the community residents who now have their cell phone number, their email address – personally they know first-name basis people in the community who will give them the information without even asking. Telling them where someone has a gun, when there’s about to be a gang problem, and the police get there first. Geist: The NYPD obviously has cracked the code on something here, so why do you think it’s been so difficult for other cities – Chicago, Baltimore both jump to mind – to figure out what you all have figured out in New York? Mayor: I think you have to be honest about the interplay of crime and other issue. Baltimore has a horrible income inequality gap and lack of opportunity in poor communities. Chicago has had legendary segregation and a sense of unfairness affecting communities of color for decades. These are underlying problems that I think New York was able to move past more – not perfectly. But I think at the same time it was what we learned about both strategic policing and neighborhood policing. I think you have to create that trust again. It doesn’t happen by itself. You have to actually train the officers in having a deep sense of building the community relationship, and you have to give communities a sense to air their concerns and grievances and show that you’re actually responding. We had a horrible and broken policy of stop and frisk for years in this city where parents and grandparents felt their good, law-abiding children were being treated like suspects even if they hadn’t done anything. It created a real riff with police. We ended that broken policy, and it helped to regenerate trust. And again the irony is when police and community get closer together, crime goes down. I think there was an assumption – Brzezinski: Right, you’ve proven it. Mayor: Yes, I think there was a stereotype somehow it was a liberal affectation to think police and community relationship was a nice thing. No, it’s also a very practical, high impact thing because that communication – when the police know the community is on their side, it’s better for the police in every way. When the community thinks that my police officer – he or she is here to protect me – it changes the whole dynamic. Brzezinski: Right. Steven Rattner: Mr. Mayor, so that’s all good news. Nobody can disagree. And there’s lots of good news in the city, but probably the thing may be most upsetting the city residents right now is the state of the MTA, the subways and the buses. How did we get in this mess on the subway? There’s estimates now it would cost over $100 billion to really bring the subways to something that approximates state of the art. Is there any real prospect of getting out of this mess within a reasonable time frame? What’s going on with the subways? Mayor: Look, I think we can move forward. The State of New York controls the MTA, but we are going to all work together to try and address this. I think in the end we need a reliable revenue source that bluntly politically there has not been a commitment to achieving in past years. I believe the tax on millionaires and billionaires is the best way to do it. I think that gives us a renewable, reliable source that we can put into those core needs. Look, here is something that Chicago did better than New York. Chicago invested in the most unsexy, fundamental elements of running their subways in ways that New York did not and for decades where we did not make the kind of investments we should have. Ok, we are going to recoup that now, but there is revenue out there if we could only agree to have the political will to go get it and make that change. Mika Brzezinski: Nick? Confessore: So Mr. Mayor, the pension fund for New York is going divest from fossil fuels. It’s a big move of yours. But obviously fossil fuel stocks are doing quite well, and will probably, you know, go further with this tax bill and the job of the pension bill is to provide pensions. So at what point are you taking away from the ability over the pension bill to actually do well for the pensioners by making it a tool of political activism for values that you support and many New Yorkers support, obviously. Mayor: Nick, it’s a fundamental question, whenever you look at pensions, you have to think about the people we are here to protect, our retirees, and our fiduciary responsibility comes up front. But you know what? If you’re playing the long game in investments, fossil fuels don’t make a lot of sense. You’re talking about an industry whose reserves, whose resources, a lot of us believe will never be tapped, will never be utilized in large measure. It’s not a great long term investment because the world, rightfully, is more and more moving away from fossil fuels. Now look, our national government unfortunately is moving in the wrong direction. Donald Trump took us out of the Paris Agreement and is obviously encouraging further oil exploration at the very time when so much of the world is saying, no we have to go the other way. That’s why New York City acted too, we need to show that the local level – we’re going to go and address the challenge of climate change even if our national government isn’t. And this is what you’re seeing around the country more and more, New York is trying to provide real leadership in this. We were definitive in a way, bluntly, few other jurisdictions had been. We said, we will be out of fossil fuels. We will divest fully in the next five years. We don’t think it’s a good investment. We think it’s bad for the earth. We think it’s causing the climate change that afflicts coastal cities like New York. There is no question there are other quality investments we can make. But if we are going to jolt this dependence we have on fossil fuel, we have to do something differently. And that’s also why we are suing five of the biggest petroleum companies, because like the tobacco companies some years ago, they understood this crisis, they tried very intently to cover up the information about climate change, and project a whole different, you know, a propaganda campaign suggesting climate change wasn’t real and go ahead and keep using your fossil fuels. They damaged our society, they – City like New York, that’s meant billions and billions of dollars of damage, for example, from Hurricane Sandy. So the local level, we have to act now, especially because our national government is not. In New York – look, we decided to be bold. We decided to double down on addressing climate change and on doing things like neighborhood policing because our federal government is not leading in these areas, so we have to take the lead. Brzezinski: Just want to ask you about President Trump, I think we share some concerns and he had the exam with the doctor who’ve – New York Times here, “after exam President is found to be sound mind and body”. I’m not sure the exam included a neuro-psych, I don’t know, but they say cognitively he is in order. Is that good news or bad news to you? Mayor: Of course it’s good news – Brzezinski: – No, I just wonder because it then takes the behavior that concerns us and puts it in a different realm. So I wasn’t trying to be funny, at all – Mayor: Right, I know you weren’t, I know you weren’t. It’s the same question – Brzezinski: Yeah. Mayor: Do you want, even if you disagree with a party or leader, do you want them to succeed for the good of the country? Obviously, I hope he is sane. Brzezinski: Of course, I mean everyone hopes one is well – Mayor: Right. I hope he is sane. His actions don’t suggest it. Brzezinski: I know. Mayor: But I don’t know, I’m not a psychiatrist, I don’t know where to separate a clinical issue from a judgement issue or an ego issue. Brzezinski: Right. Mayor: I do know that he’s divisive in a way we have no previous model for – Brzezinski: I know. Mayor: And it is increasingly repellent to the American people, when I was – we were just talking, Willie and I, about – I was in Iowa a few weeks back, 60 percent of the voters in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register poll a few weeks back, disapproved of Donald Trump. This is a state he won – Brzezinski: I know. Mayor: – 60 percent disapprove and I think if you know the political culture of Iowa, which is one that really values civility – Brzezinski: Yeah. Mayor: – people look at this and they say, “This is not the American way. This is not an acceptable thing for a leader and a role model. And it’s not going to help the society move forward.” so I think it is – let’s put aside whether there is a clinical problem or not – Brzezinski: Right. Mayor: – there is a leadership problem, a judgement problem, an ego problem, and it is inconsistent with American values – Brzezinski: Right, an illness can be treated, I just – really can’t. Mayor: And Mika, by the way, thank you for the point you made. It can’t ever be accepted as normal. We can’t get numb to it – Brzezinski: It’s not. Mayor: – and it reminds me of the Army-McCarthy hearings, if you certainly know your history, there is a certain point when the outrage consolidates. And we have to work toward that, but we can never become comfortable with the unacceptable. Brzezinski: Totally agree. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – thank you very much for being on this morning.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:10pm
Errol Louis: Welcome back to Inside City Hall, my first guest this evening is usually here on Monday’s but yesterday was a holiday. And he started the work week with a big housing announcement this morning. And so Mayor de Blasio joins us now live here in our studio to talk about that and much more. Welcome, very good to see you. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Louis: Let’s start with the good news. A record, you beat Ed Koch. I think in his final year he sort of came up with almost as many units as you did in the last year. Mayor: Yeah, look, Ed Koch did something amazing when it came to affordable housing. And it’s taken all this time since 1989 to break that record. But we did in 2017 – almost 25,000 affordable housing units that were financed and are soon going to be in the hands of New Yorkers. Look, Errol, this is a big deal. And it fits with a series of things we’re doing to try and transform this city. I’ve said my goal in the second term is to make us the safest big city in America. And that means making it a place that everyday people can live in. If you look at what’s happening already, 88,000 apartments have been financed since day one of this administration. If you look at the number people already in the affordable housing that we have either created or preserved, it’s over 163,000 New Yorkers in the last four years who have affordable housing. This is a big change in how we approach affordable housing. We’re taking it to this new scale and we’re going to keep it that way for years to come. And when you add together with some other very big initiatives; Pre-K for All, 3-K. Obviously the efforts to make this the safest big city in America, Vision Zero. These big stretch goals are working. And I think part of the lesson here is, New York City aimed too low in some ways in the past. We are supposed to be the place that does big bold things. When we actually organize around the principle of these kind of really grand but crucially important goals, it gets the government and the whole city to come along and join in and help us go farther. Louis: Forgive the oversimplification, but the fact that we’re following the path that prior mayors have set us on. Where you used the capital budget in order to finance some of these things. In effect, we’re putting some of the subsidy on the city’s permanent tab. Again, sort of simplifying this but, do you have any worries that there is a limit to how much of that we can do? Mayor: Well, I am not sure I agree with your characterization entirely. But I would say of course, there is a limit to capital spending. And we are very cognizant of the lessons of the physical crisis in the 70’s and we keep a limit on how far we will expand. But I also think it’s fair to say there are opportunities for more capital spending in recent years that were under reached. There was more that we could have done. I think it’s good we’re doing it now. Because, look, it’s the number one issue in the city is affordability. And we found by aggressively spending on the capital side but always recognizing those limits we were able to create the biggest affordable housing plan in the history of the city and people kept saying you know, these numbers are unrealistically high, except now we’re meeting them. There is 25,000 units a year, this is going to be our standard from now on. That’s really good for the people of the city who want to live here and stay here. Who for so many thousands of New Yorkers, millions of New Yorkers have worried about displacement. Now we found a model that means – I mean think about it, every year if you can reliability produce 25,000 affordable apartments you’re reaching 75,000 or more people every year securing their future for decades ahead. That’s a seat change in this – Louis: I think of it as 500 units a week, that’s very impressive. I know people are tweeting even as we’re speaking. Saying that, well they are not really affordable. And so I just want to put up the numbers. This is from your release, 48 percent of these, 25,000 odd units are serving people earning under $33,000 a year for an individual or $43,000 for a family of four. Mayor: Yep. Louis: So, nearly half are at a level that is working poor? Is that a fair characterization? Mayor: Look, it’s always hard to use the phrases. I think of middle class people, working class people, lower income people, however you want to cut it. We need all of the people in those categories to have an opportunity for affordable housing. Think of it this way, I want to make sure low income New Yorkers have a chance to stay here. There is a lot of working class people struggling to make ends meet who are the backbone of this city. But there is also people who we might call today the middle class. For example, if you have a couple and one is a teacher, and one is a bus driver, or a firefighter. Today we would say those are solid professions. But even with those two salaries people are having trouble staying in this city. I want the economically diverse neighborhoods that have been a part of this city’s history. I want to make sure that police and teachers, and firefighters, and nurses, and janitors and bus drivers could still live in New York City. I want to make sure that lower income folks have an opportunity to be a part of the city they helped to build. What I don’t want is for us to turn into a gated community or an exclusive place which we’ve seen bluntly in places like San Francisco. Louis: Well, you mentioned diversity and housing. One of the issues that I’ve written about and talked about before is that your administration is being sued by a civil rights organization over the conduct of the housing lottery. It’s not particularity your administration, it’s been the practice in past years. But they pointed out that if you get preference in the housing lottery, if you happen to live in the community board, maybe you moved in 90 days before the unit was announced, before the lottery was announced. You get preference, compared to somebody on the other side of town, who might be just as poor or in the same economic streets. Mayor: Look, that’s a pretty rarefied example. The vast majority of people who are applying have been in their neighborhood a long time. And it’s a 50-50 split, 50 percent go to anyone and everyone in the whole city, reflecting the total diversity of the city and that certainly has integrative impact. But we’re also a city of neighborhoods, and if people have helped to build up their neighborhood, they’ve been a part of it for so long, and they want to stay in it and they’re being priced out. I don’t think it’s a great solution to say we have no way to give you a chance to stay in your own neighborhood. I mean you know, your love of Crown Heights is quite evident and your history there. Louis: I can’t afford to leave. Mayor: Well, that’s, that’s, God bless you, you that opportunity to stay. But I think the point is that folks who come from a neighborhood and want to stay in it have some rights in the equation too because they help to make these neighborhoods for what they are today. I think we can do both at once. And I really – look, I think you have to talk to the folks involved at the neighborhood level. The consent is that the government really matters here. When I talk to everyday New Yorkers they are so worried about being displaced entirely out of the city. And they certainly feel a particular passion for the neighborhood, which in many cases is generations long. And if I say to them, look, your neighborhood is no longer for you anymore, you’ve been priced out, sorry that’s the way the world is, that makes no sense. It’s my job to help give them an opportunity to stay in the place that they have been a part of. At the same time, of course we want a more intergraded society in every way. I think that 50-50 split speaks to both parts of the reality. Louis: Okay, let’s take a short break here. We’re got more to talk about, including the governor’s budget address today which has a lot of implications for the city. We’ll be right back to talk about that and much more with Mayor de Blasio. Louis: We are back Inside City Hall and I’m speaking with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, any initial reaction to Governor Cuomo’s budget address today? Mayor: Look, there’s a lot that we have to go through. It’s a classic the devil is in the details. But as I said at the time of the Governor’s State of the State Address, I think the broad thrust of some of what he is saying – particularly on addressing the problems of the federal tax bill, I agreed with in terms of some of what he put into the budget address, I want to see exactly what he means. I disagree on its face with some of the assumptions in his budget address when it comes to the MTA. The State of New York took $456 million out of the MTA’s budget. They need to put that money back. I still think the millionaires’ tax is the best way to solve the long term problem of the MTA and the most just way to do it. So there is some evident disagreements up front. But we’ll have more to say as we analyze it. Louis: Those two things though, if you lay them side by side – millionaires are going to have a harder time because of what is coming out of Washington right? Mayor: Well a mixed bag, unquestionably some may because of the absence of state and local deductibility but when you look at all the actions taken in the federal tax bill – the action on the estate tax, the cut for the highest bracket, income bracket in terms of taxes on the wealthy. You know, there’s certainly going to be well off people including in states like New York who do better because of the Trump tax bill. Others may do less well. But let’s say for a moment that it composites out that a millionaires and billionaires do about the same or a little worse even. I still think they are paying so much less than they should in terms of their fair share of taxes. So much less than they did pre Ronald Reagan. Remember when was the high water mark of taxing millionaires and billionaires in this country during the Dwight Eisenhower Administration – by the way that was one of the times when the economy was most inclusive and functional. So any way you slice it the millionaires and billionaires of this state can afford to pay more. It’s the best and most reliable way to fund the MTA going forward. Louis: Okay. One of the other ways and it’s discussed as a funding mechanism but as we know it is also a means of improving quality of life and managing the streets which is your responsibility – which is a pricing plan. The Governor referred to it today, creating pricing zones. Frankly it sounds a lot like your proposal where you said you create some pricing zones and using any one of half a dozen different mechanisms try to for an example discourage trucks from coming in the middle of the day or discourage commuters from coming at, all at the same time in a way that clogs up the streets. Mayor: And you said my proposal, do you mean our anti-congestion proposal? Louis: Yes, exactly, so I’m wondering if you have some common ground there. Mayor: Well I want to see the details. This one, if there ever were devils in the details it’s in this case because you know for months and months there has been discussion of a congestion plan from Albany and we have not seen a single detail and now we are beginning to see something so I want to analyze the whole thing. What I’ve said is look, I’ll look at any plan and certainly want to reduce congestion in the city. But I want to make sure it’s fair. Some of the proposals we’ve seen in the past I think were not fair were not honest in terms of the economic impact they’d have on different people, in particularly on people from Brooklyn and Queens. I’ll look at anything. But you know what, I don’t think it takes away from the validity of the discussion on the millionaires’ tax because we are going to need a substantial amount of reliable resources to fix the MTA. I think that conversation needs to continue. I think the ways we address congestion take many forms including some of the things that we are talking about. For example, banning truck deliveries and certain routes during rush hour so you don’t have a ton of double parked trucks right where people are trying to go at the most sensitive time of the day. So we are going to look at different pieces of what the Governor has put forward but we are going to keep working to reduce with our own tools as well. Louis: Do you expect to endorse Governor Cuomo for reelection again? Mayor: I’ve been asked this in some many different ways, at some point I will talk about the 2014 races in this state, I’m not ready to do that now. The only thing I’ve said and I’ll say it again here, I believe fundamentally we should have a democratic lead state senate in Albany for the good of the State, for the good of the City. I believe fundamentally that the members of the IDC need to come back to the Democratic Party right now – not someday, right now. That’s the most central issue at hand. But at some point I’ll talk about all the races. Louis: In fact that raises your former colleague Jumaane Williams who is now floating the idea of running for Lieutenant Governor, sort of independently. That’s an, it’s an odd kind of thing we have in New York, at least at the primary level, you don’t necessarily run as running mates – Mayor: Right, right. Louis: How do you asses his chances? Mayor: It’s too early to say. I’ve worked with Jumaane for a long time. I respect him. Again I’m not going to be a pundit and I’m not going to talk about my beliefs in this situation yet. But look, it’s as, you know about the political dynamics, it’s an open market place, anyone can participate. And we’ve certainly seen a lot of independence from Jumaane so it doesn’t surprise me. Louis: And Kathy Hochul was at you inauguration, I spotted her there – Mayor: She was yes. Louis: shivering with the rest of us. Mayor: With the rest us. Louis: She didn’t have a speaking role, I was wondering why? Mayor: Well we striped down that program quite a bit. A number of notable people were there and we decided to do a less is more approach. Louis: Yes, not complaining mind you. We didn’t need – Mayor: You don’t want a redo, you were perfectly happy the way it was. [Laughter] Louis: Speaking of Councilman Williams, he and Councilman Rodriguez were both arrested outside ICE headquarters and some critics say that the police overreacted. I was wondering if you have spoken with them, if you’ve kind of looked at that situation and if you any take on that? Mayor: I have looked at the video extensively. I’ve talked to Commissioner O’Neill. There is an investigation of the whole incident under way. Look, I think we can only say a few things definitively at this point – one is this was a provocative action by ICE. As I understand it, the individual in question was a well-known activist, was told he was coming in for a routine interview and then they suddenly turned it into a deportation. As cynical a move as you can imagine, not shocking from the Trump Administration. But that set off a series of events that none of which was expected. I think there is a lot of confusion all around – everyone trying to make sense of a very complex situation. We are going to look at all the actions, including of our officers and determine what needs to happen as a result. Look, I didn’t love what I saw but I also understood it was happening in an atmosphere of very chaotic and unpredictable moment. But we have to look at this, you know, very carefully and clinically before passing judgement. Louis: What did you make of the Speaker was out there, Corey Johnson, was out there as well. You know, with his security detail who travels with him everywhere. I know you have gotten arrested, even after you became an elected official. It struck me as sort of jarring that this is like kind of like government demonstrating against itself on some level right, when elected officials are challenging the police department of the city that they also lead? Mayor: I think this is part of why this has to be looked at more carefully. It was not a challenge to our police department or our fire department which had the ambulance in question. Again, this was the action of the federal government that set all of this off. The City of New York – I have to be very [inaudible] the City of New York will not participate. The fire department, the police department will not participate in deportations. The only exception to that – well known – is a, based on a bill passed four years ago that delineates 177 serious and violent offenses where if someone is convicted of those offenses and is undocumented those are the circumstances in which we corporate. We do not corporate with the deportation of someone who has done no offense at all or only minor offenses. In this circumstance there was no grounds to assume that our police or our fire personal would in any way, shape or form corporate with ICE and that’s part of what confused the whole matter. I thought we had made that very, very clear. Louis: No, see I’m confused about this. I started to look into it. I mean Ravi Ragbir was convicted and spent a couple of years in prison and that was around finical fraud, when he worked at a finance company. Mayor: Yes but the conditions as I understand the conditions of his particular situation did not meet the criteria of our law specifically. And, but I want to get back to the central point, somehow a misunderstanding occurred – believing that somehow the ambulance would be involved in deportation. That is never going to happen. We are not going to take an ambulance which is there to protect human life and use it in a deportation. NYPD is not going to participate in a deportation under those circumstances that did not conform with our law. So I think in the heat of the moment, which was sparked by a very precipitous and provocative federal actions – everyone at the city level got put in a very confusing situation. I think you’re point about if elected officials were protesting their own government – well, that’s not on heard of. I, as a city councilmember got arrested to try and stop the Bloomberg Administration from closing one of our local firehouses. I don’t think that is discordant per say. I think the difference in this case was the federal government – instead of being respectful, or collegial or honest about their intention, or working with us to somehow figure out how to deal with this complex situation, they did it abruptly and I think bluntly on purpose to provoke a crisis. Louis: Okay, interesting. We shall see. Many more things to talk about, we are going to have to save a lot of this for next week. Thank you so much for coming by, always good to see you. We are going to take a short break here. When we come back we will get instant analysis of this interview and much more from our NY1 Wise Guys.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
All-time high: 24,536 affordable homes financed in 2017, nearly half for families living on less than $43,000; number of homes in the City’s affordable housing lottery doubles Apply for affordable housing, fight eviction or freeze your rent with 311 or at nyc.gov/LongLiveNY NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced that his administration financed more than 24,536 affordable homes last year, breaking an all-time record previously set by former Mayor Ed Koch in 1989. Nearly half of those homes – 48 percent – serve people making less than $33,400 per year, or $43,000 for a family of three. The Mayor marked the milestone by joining 79 year-old Jasper Hurst as he signed a lease for his affordable apartment at the brand new Cypress Hills Senior Residences, where more than 50 tenants are moving in this month. The building was part of a major wave of construction financed early in the de Blasio administration that is now renting up. The City’s housing lottery posted a record 5,300 affordable apartments in 2017, more than double the 2,500 posted in 2014. To help New Yorkers access these new opportunities, the City is increasing outreach, launching a new housing web portal today at nyc.gov/LongLiveNY , as well as new ads to direct tenants to resources to help apply for affordable housing, fight eviction, and freeze their rent. “Housing is the number one expense in New Yorkers’ lives. We’re bringing that expense down by putting shovels in the ground, and putting keys in tenants’ hands. There is more help than ever to fight eviction, freeze your rent or find an affordable home – and we want New Yorkers to reach it,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Released in October, the City’s updated Housing New York 2.0 plan offers a suite of new programs, partnerships, and strategies to help finance 300,000 affordable homes – 100,000 more than initially planned – so that more families and seniors can afford their rent or buy their first home. The City has financed 87,557 affordable apartments in the past four years. The total direct City investment under the Mayor’s housing plan so far is $3.3 billion, and the total bond financing issued by the Housing Development Corporation is over $6.2 billion. In 2017 alone, New York preserved 17,359 affordable apartments and financed 7,177 new homes. This represents a direct City investment of $1.1 billion, leveraging more than $1.4 billion in bonds. Affordable housing numbers are available here . “We have pushed this affordable housing engine to a new record, and that is a testament to the City agencies, the non-profits and private partners working together. These aren’t just numbers; they’re families. Today’s announcement means thousands more families will be able to live in the greatest city in the world, with real peace of mind,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “As Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee, I’ve been proud to work in partnership with the de Blasio administration in preserving and creating affordable housing at a rate that’s been never before seen in New York City,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. “The programs we have implemented have given hope and security to so many families, individuals and seniors, and I look forward to working with the city to continue this momentum in the coming year." “The importance of creating and securing more affordable housing in New York City cannot be overstated. Today’s announcement makes clear this administration’s commitment to doing just that. Continuing to advance the comprehensive approach needed to effectively address the affordability crisis here in New York City will require a sustained effort over many years. As Chair of the City Council’s Housing & Buildings Committee, I look forward to working with the administration, my colleagues in the Council, and various other stakeholders over the course of the next four years to help make New York City a more affordable place to call home,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee. “Our progress last year represents a high-water mark for affordable housing production in New York City,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “Not only did we generate the most affordable housing in a single calendar year – a full half of those homes will serve extremely and very low-income New Yorkers. The City's unprecedented investment created opportunities for seniors, homeless residents, and first-time homeowners, as well as M/WBE firms across the five boroughs. We thank the Mayor and all our partners as we pick up the pace even further through Housing New York 2.0 and work to ensure that all our neighborhoods are thriving, inclusive places of opportunity.” “As we accelerate the pace of our affordable housing production, this progress demonstrates the City’s willingness and ability to deliver on its promises. I am proud that the $1.4 billion in bonds that HDC contributed last year resulted in greater affordability for New Yorkers,” said Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “As we build on this momentum through Housing New York 2.0, we are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and all our partners for their shared commitment to creating a more equitable and affordable city for all.” “Affordable housing for seniors in New York City is the number one priority. As the need grows, the Administration’s aggressive and compelling response of increasing the number of planned units of affordable apartments is exactly the response that is needed,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado. “We have made unprecedented investments in tenant protection in New York. These protections work when New Yorkers know about them and use them,” said Regina Schwartz, Director of the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit. "The Mayor created the Tenant Support Unit to do proactive outreach through door knocks and phone calls to make sure New Yorkers at risk of eviction have individualized assistance to connect to a variety of city services with ease in their community and in their own language.” “Technology has the power to make information and service accessible to New Yorkers who need it most,” said Miguel Gamiño Jr., New York City Chief Technology Officer. “New York City’s new Housing Portal is an example of important work that is accomplished when the community voice leads and our talented digital team partners with agencies to respond. This is how we use digital tools to help make our City the fairest in America.” “Access to affordable housing is a fundamental human right and we can never afford to rest in New York City where so many of our neighbors face challenges securing safe, livable housing that meets their budget. The Mayor has made significant strides in this area and, while we must do more, I’m pleased by the progress announced today. This needs to be a priority at all levels of government and I’ll continue working in Washington for more federal funding for affordable housing, as well as promoting legislation to protect tenants from landlord abuses,” said U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez. "I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration on staying committed to building affordable housing for New York City families. I look forward to the housing that will be built throughout the city, including in my neighborhood of East New York where we worked together to secure 3,000 units of affordable housing through the East New York Neighborhood Plan,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. More Help Reaching New Yorkers: 148,000 New Yorkers live in apartments that have had long-term affordable rents protected through the City’s preservation programs since 2014. 180,000 New Yorkers have benefited from free legal services provided through City programs to stop eviction, harassment or displacement since 2014. Evictions are down 24 percent. 60,000 seniors are now enrolled in the SCRIE rent freeze program, up from 50,800 in 2015, and more than 13,300 New Yorkers with disabilities are enrolled in the DRIE rent freeze program, compared to 9,100 two years ago. The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit has proactively made over 280,000 door knocks and phone calls to New Yorkers to make sure they know their rights and are helped through repairs, legal services and rental assistance enrollment. 5,300 affordable apartments hit the City’s Housing Connect lottery in 2017 , double the number four years ago. The City has made it easier to apply for an affordable apartment by letting users search Housing Connect lotteries by borough, income level, and household size. The City’s Housing Connect guides offer guidance throughout the application process and are available in up to 17 languages. The City launched the Ready to Rent program that pairs free financial counseling with application assistance for New Yorker’s seeking affordable housing. HPD’s M/WBE Build Up Program spurred 42 projects with 6,890 affordable homes in 2017. They are expected to generate over $177 million in spending. In addition, HPD financed 52 projects, with 8,774 affordable homes, that require developers to participation in City’s HireNYC . 139 City-owned sites have been put to use in projects that will generate 9,500 affordable homes. “At a time when the federal government is clearly pulling back and threatening to cut resources, we need to think creatively about finding new programs and solutions for creating and preserving affordable housing. The Administration’s housing plan is putting that into practice and engaging both the public and private sectors to address an affordability crisis that affects households at nearly every income level. We look forward to continuing our work with HPD to make New York more affordable,” said Rafael E. Cestero, President and CEO of the Community Preservation Corporation. “The monumental achievements of Mayor de Blasio and his administration have proven that when New Yorkers work together, we can turn the tide against a housing crisis that some had thought to be insurmountable,” said Jolie Milstein, President and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH). “As our city continues to build and preserve affordable housing at a faster rate than ever before, each family’s success story is a reminder that this work must not end until every New Yorker has a safe and affordable home.” “The pace at which the Administration has worked on affordable housing over the past 12 months is truly impressive. And just as important is the commitment they have shown to building with the details that create the greatest benefit for the local community; working with community-controlled mission-driven developers, pushing for deeper levels of affordability, and the new policy that ensures permanent affordability on city-owned land. These new affordable unit numbers are also a moment to note the equally impressive steps the Administration has taken over the past year to create new anti-displacement protections for private tenants. The new laws creating a Right to Council, a Certificate of No Harassment Program, and protections for tenants facing construction as harassment are all farsighted steps to help tenants protect themselves against displacement. This will all make a big difference for our neighborhoods, now and in the long-run,” said Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. To get help finding an affordable home, freezing your rent or fighting eviction, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/LongLiveNY.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
Jasper Hurst: Good morning, everyone. I want to introduce you to the Mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio. [Applause] Mayor Bill de Blasio: Do you want to do any of that, or not? Hurst: No, that’s alright. Mayor: Okay. Alright. I’ll say some of it for him. Jasper – Jasper Hurst. And just for spelling that’s H-U-R-S-T everyone, 79 almost 80 years old – Hurst: Yes, 80 in October. Mayor: And doing great. And Jasper and I have been talking about his life here in this city. Came up here at the age of 17 from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Lived on a farm as a child, came to New York City seeking opportunity and knew that his prospects would be very limited if he stayed home. So, he came here like so many people have over the generations at the age of 17 in 1956, and made his way, became a truck driver, did really well here in this city. And like so many other seniors the challenge for Jasper was how would he be able to afford this city that he’s been a part of now for over 60 years, how would he be able to stay in the city that was his home? And it was such an honor to be upstairs Jasper when he signed the lease on that beautiful apartment, and I had the honor of giving him the keys. And now a new chapter in his life is beginning, and he’s going to have an affordable place to live for many years ahead. Let’s applaud Jasper. [Applause] Hurst: Can I read – Mayor: You can, sure. Feel free. Hurst: Good morning, again. My name is Jasper Hurst, 79 years old. I moved to New York more than 60 years ago from North Carolina. I am a retired truck driver [inaudible]. In my time I have seen lots of changes in this city including now – excuse me – afford this rent. Today I am here to welcome and introduce you to the Mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio. And I can tell you a little bit about my affordable housing. It’s so important for me. For 42 years I lived just about 15 blocks away. I lived there with my common law wife who died three years ago and her child and they rent the apartment. My granddaughter is working to take over the lease which my name was never on and which I don’t have a right to. More than that [inaudible] granddaughter to have her own life and apartment for her own self. And for me to have a safe and comfortable place to live. Today I am thankful. I have heart troubles. I had never – I had two operations and I am not supposed to lift anything. This is the place for me that is brand new. It is a special building for seniors and is a God send for me. I am so grateful for affordable housing about a year ago. I wanted it a long ago and partly because I wanted to stay in my neighborhood. I wanted to stay where I’m known. [Inaudible] process of affordable apartment more than one year ago. I was never – but then I got a call that I had a place to call home and today as you know I signed my lease. It was worth the wait. Now Mr. Mayor, I thank you for your focusing on seniors and affordable housing, and I welcome you and – Mayor: [Inaudible] [Laughter] Hurst: [Inaudible] to you. Mayor: Alright, thank you so much. Hurst: Alright. Mayor: Congratulations. Well, Jasper, as I said upstairs, welcome home. I am so happy for you and it’s good to see a hard working New Yorker who has contributed to life in this city get the housing he needs and the housing he deserves. That is what today is all about. It’s focusing on how more and more New Yorkers get the affordable housing they need. We came here four years ago, we understood there was an affordability crisis that had to be confronted and would take a very big and ambitious plan to address it. We knew that the people of this city demanded more action on affordability and we intended from the very beginning to give it to them. The mandate was clear. So many people in this city feared displacement. I heard it wherever I went and they were looking for solutions. They were looking for something that changed the status quo we were living. We understood we had to do something very different or else New York City would slip away from too many people and it wouldn’t be the same place anymore. So, the plan we put together was audacious. It was meant to be stretch goal from the beginning and we intended to meet that goal. I will tell you there were many naysayers. There were many people who said the goal was too ambitious. There were some who said the goal was this close to insane but we persevered because the times demanded it. I want to say to those naysayers and those who said it could be done, they were wrong. The goals that we set have been achieved. In 2017 – I am very happy to report that in the year 2017 we financed the most affordable apartments in the history of New York City in any one year. Congratulations to all who are part of that great effort. [Applause] And I want to say at the outset the folks here who led this effort deserve tremendous praise – our Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, our Housing Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, and our HDC President Eric Enderlin. But their teams also, a lot of people who you may not get to meet but have worked so hard at this, these are real unsung heroes of New York City, to put together this much housing this quickly for people who needed it is an example of public servants doing something extraordinary and that changes people’s lives fundamentally. Think about what Jasper just told you. After years and years of working hard, he now has security. He knows he is in a place he will be able to afford for decades to come. He also knows that now his granddaughter will have a chance for affordable housing, and as he said, to live a life of her own. This is amazing when you can change people’s lives like this and a lot of great people at HPD and HDC and other agencies participated in getting us to this day. So, I just want – I know some of them are here, others couldn’t be but let’s have everyone applaud them and applaud each other for this incredible effort. [Applause] I also want to thank our host Michelle Neugebauer of the Cypress Hills Development Corporation that put together this beautiful building. Congratulations to Michelle and everyone at Cypress Hills. [Applause] And we’ve had a lot of support from our elected officials and I know here representing Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is Evelyn Cruz. Thank you so much for joining us. [Applause] So this number – almost 25,000, almost 25,000 apartments financed in one year is really extraordinary. That means for tens of thousands of people the number one expense in their life is finally addressed and they’ll be able to live in peace and security in this city. We’ve done now four years of this work and the four-year total of apartments financed – 88,000 at this point, almost 88,000 have been reached in the last four years. It’s extraordinary and it continues to keep us ahead of schedule on our goal of creating and preserving 300,000 affordable apartments by 2026. This means over 750,000 New Yorkers will have affordable housing who did not have it four years ago will have it more and more with every passing month. And I like to give you those examples to help make it vivid. The number of New Yorkers who will get affordable housing who did not have it before under this plan, over 750,000 people, is more than the entire population of Boston, Massachusetts. Quite impressive what this team has done. Now, an important point is how many people have already benefited over the last four years. It’s important to talk in terms of the numbers for financing apartments of starting construction or finishing construction. All those things matter but the thing that I think we need to talk about right away is how many people are already in the affordable housing since we started. Well, that number is 163,905 New Yorkers who four years ago did not have affordable housing, now have it. 163,905 people. And that has been achieved with a very aggressive effort to preserve affordable housing in place and to make sure it will stay affordable for decades in addition to building new. Now, New Yorkers who are watching this press conference or reading about it will say to themselves, “Okay how does this work? How do I get a chance at affordable housing? How do I get to experience what Jasper just experienced and sign that lease and get those keys?” That’s what we’re here to talk about today. There’s a lottery process and we are making it simpler and simpler for people to apply. And the application process has been in many ways made easier. That’s what we want people to understand so those who need affordable housing know that it’s there and they can apply. It’s as simple as calling 3-1-1 or going to our new Housing portal, nyc.gov/LongLiveNY. And I think that name says it all. It means both that people can have long lives here in New York with the security of knowing they have affordable housing but it also means long live the New York we love, a place for everyone, a place for people of all backgrounds, of people of different economic statuses all living together in one city. We’re doing a lot more than just putting shovels in the ground. We are putting keys in the hands of New Yorkers who need affordable housing. We’re making sure they can keep that affordable housing for the long term. This is how you change people’s lives. And that commitment to ensuring that people can stay long term well, it’s the new affordable housing, it’s the apartments we preserve but it’s also making sure that people don’t get evicted who shouldn’t be evicted. It’s making sure people are not harassed. It’s making sure they have the protections they deserve. You can get that legal help by calling 3-1-1. It’s making sure that our seniors who qualify for a rent increase exemption, disabled folks who qualify, or homeowners who are senior disabled for qualify for a property tax increase exemption that they can take advantage of what’s there for them now. But we know tens of thousands of people still don’t know about it. We want to make it easier for them to get the information they need and to sign up for these benefits. It all ends with the same idea – whatever it takes to keep people in affordable housing or get them to affordable housing. All of these pieces come together for the same goal, again, on any of those needs. If you’re fighting an eviction, if you’re trying to find out if you can get a rent increase exemption or a property tax increase exemption, new affordable housing, or preserving the affordable housing you have already call 3-1-1 or go to the new portal – nyc.gov/LongLiveNY. So, this is about human beings in the final analysis. The numbers are very powerful but I have always said to the team and I know this is the spirit that they work in – every new apartment means a family that is now secure and we need to think about this apartment by apartment, family by family. We gave you that exact number of how many people have been served so far. In the coming days that number will grow again and then grow again and grow again and that means yet another family got the help they needed. That’s what our mission is and that is how we keep New York, New York. I want to just finish on this point before I give you a couple words in Spanish. We love this place. We have to protect it. There is a magic to New York that comes from being a place for everyone. It will not stay a place for everyone unless we continue to deepen these aggressive efforts to create affordable housing and protect the affordable housing that we have. That is what we celebrate today. In Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that I want to turn to a man who’s been a crucial ally in this effort both in the neighborhoods that he represents and also in the City Council as a whole. And he will be even more central to our efforts now as the new Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee in the City Council, Council member Robert Cornegy. [Applause] [...] Thank you very much, Robert. [Applause] Okay, let’s take questions about affordable housing and then we will move to other topics. Any questions about affordable housing? Yes. Question: The numbers when you said that almost 88,000 financed in the last four years. Do you know how many have actually opened that you – in those last four years who are living in them? Mayor: I’ll turn to Maria. So, again, emphasizing that 163,000 number was people, just first of all. Just want to make sure we’re all speaking the same language. That was how many New Yorkers have been served who are actually in the apartments either because they have been preserved or they have been built and now occupied. So, that’s the overall number of human beings. Now, let’s talk about – Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer: [Inaudible] what we call completion numbers and so since the start of the administration the total is 65,000 that breaks up to about 16,000 for new construction about 49,000 for preservation. Mayor: Apartments. Commissioner Torres-Springer: Correct. Mayor: Yes, Mara. Question: Do we have any breakdown in terms of that 65,000, how many were for seniors versus veterans versus families or single people? Commissioner Torres-Springer: So, we do have demographics on that and we’d be happy to follow up specifically for those units that were marketed through our lottery system. Mayor: And as you know, Mara, in the last budget we added additional focus on seniors, on veterans, and obviously worked to reduce some of the income levels as will with the $2 billion we put into the last budget. Commissioner Torres-Springer: And to just give a couple of highlights if that’s helpful because we do certainly take the work to help vulnerable populations very, very seriously. Of the total 87,000 that have been financed to date, the number of senior homes is 5,500 and for formerly homeless households, that number is 7,200. Those are both numbers that are – we’re financing at a faster clip than we ever have before. Mayor: Okay, David? Question: Two questions. It appears that in the numbers [inaudible] the City spent $1.1 billion last year that’s out of $3.3 billion total of City dollars that are going this program. So, that looks like at least from these numbers that the spending has increased [inaudible] deals that the City is putting forward or [inaudible] more affordability or some combination of the two? Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen: It’s a combination of several things. One is we’re doing more, right. So the more units you do the more total number of dollars you’re spending. And then also recently we have made some programmatic changes which increase some of the amount of subsidy level particularly to compensate for the fact that we are serving more lower income people. So the change in the unit mix plus the fact that we’re doing more units will give you a broader number. And so the projected spend going forward is, you know, inches up a little bit more each year but last year it was $1.1 billion and I think on a go-forward basis we’re projecting somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion over the next eight years of the plan. Commissioner Torres-Springer: That’s right. What continues to be true however which has been the history of affordable housing but is important to make sure we’re stretching every dollar is the leverage that for each City dollar that is invested in affordable housing more than five dollars in State, federal, private is leveraged. And so that continues to be a model that works and we’ll certainly continue to rely on to make sure that we can make the best use of every tax dollar. Question: Second – different question. The IBO put out a report a few weeks ago really looking at the deal that was done at Stuy-Town Cooper – Mayor: Peter Cooper – Question: Thank you. And what they found were that essentially a third of the preserved units there could be attributed to the plan but that essentially that the 5,000 units that are claimed by the City, not all of those could be realistically said to have benefitted from longer [inaudible] – Mayor: Let me let the experts speak in a second but first let me say, God bless the IBO. I don’t understand how they’re doing their math but I also don’t understand their misinterpretation of history. Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper not so many years ago was on the verge of being entirely privatized in the previous administration. It was in great danger. It took an aggressive effort to ensure long term affordability. I don’t understand why they could possibly think if it weren’t for intervention that it would – that we would not have lost those units. Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin: Yeah, I can add to that. We found that report to be very, very frustrated and I in particular found it to be frustrated. I had worked on Stuy Town for over ten years going back into the prior administration. I can tell you that we missed some opportunities to do what we got to do this time. And you know we went over that report beginning in the summer with IBO a few times and had a lot of conversations. I understand some of what they did which is very kind of academic. They talk about apartment years and people don’t live in apartment years, people live in apartments. And what we said at the end of the day – we got 5,000 units under a regulatory agreement. We got them to add a piece that talks about the difference about rent-stab and apartments that are regulated under a new regulatory agreement which we did. So, our position is that regulated 5,000 apartments and that we should count those. And the second step that we asked them to do which they didn’t do is to look at the economics of that and again we got over two-to-one value on that. When you look at what we spent to preserve those apartments versus the value of the affordability that’s preserved long term there, it’s over two-to-one, two-and-a-half-to-one. Question: Just to follow up – why is it wrong to look at the apartment years? It seems [inaudible] you’re looking at not only [inaudible] but how long will it stay affordable? President Enderlin: It’s not wrong and we have a lot of expertise with that. It’s almost like what you would do with hotel nights or that kind of an economic impact study. We understand that but the problem is we did protect 5,000 apartments. You don’t know which of those apartments are going to go vacant or for what reason at any point. If you look at the history all of those were coming out of regulation very, very quickly and what we did was we stopped that. And so, that is a deal that you would any time you had the opportunity to do that deal both on the economic side and on he regulatory side. The second thing and I would encourage people and we ask them to do that, give us a better proposal and you get answers back like well, what if you dealt with each apartment as it came up. You can’t. You have to put a block of apartments under a regulatory agreement. You protect all of them. It’s true that some might not roll off during that term, that is true. But you get the ones that do roll off and you have absolute protection on the others. And once you address that regulatory question that you look at the economics and we win on both of those counts. So, we would defend that all day. Mayor: And I also think, David, the consent of the governed is important here. If you ask people in Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper if they feel this preserved their affordability, I can guarantee you they’ll say yes. They were deathly afraid of privatization and again they looked right down the barrel of that back in 2005. This was very important to maintaining what would have been a great example of a working class and middle class community in a kind of affordable housing that worked. It was not going to work in the future if we didn’t step in. Let’s see if there’s any other questions of affordable housing. Yoav? Question: Just wanted to see if we can get an update [inaudible] the total cost of the plan given the increase numbers and has it changed since the time that the expansion to 300,000 units was announced, or not? Commissioner Torres-Springer: No it has not so the total projected city capital subsidy for the total plan or the new plan stands at about $13.5 billion and we have as was mentioned before – expended about $3.3 billion. So that piece of the total cost remains the same. Mayor: Yes Grace. Question: Jasper made the point that one of the things he likes about this neighborhood is the fact that he lives not far from here for many years and I know the City and the affordable housing lottery sets aside certain, in many developments, a number of apartments for locals to get them priority. But some people have argued that that priority for locals actually perpetuates segregation in certain city neighborhoods and then perpetuates segregation in the school system at large. And I’m wondering if there has been any internal discussions about getting rid of that or if you view the preference for locals to be problematic in any way? Mayor: Remember that it splits 50/50, where 50 percent of the units are available to people from all over the City and obviously people come in from all over the City and take advantage of these opportunities. But there is also a recognition that – a very human reality that people want to live in their own neighborhoods and close to their loved ones, their friends, their houses of worship, their kids’ schools. I think we can do both at the same time in a fair way. And I also think if you think about a lot of our community boards, which is the basis, you know, for the mechanics of this, a lot of them are very diverse. So, I think we can achieve more than one goal but if you ask the people who want to live in their own neighborhood, they obviously need some right to do that. Anyone want to add? Okay. Yes Juliet? Question: The affordable apartments that are new – how are they eligible for the lottery? Are all of them eligible for lottery and who can apply to the lottery? Commissioner Torres-Springer: So not every unit goes through a lottery system because some in particular for supportive housing and for formerly homeless households there’s a referral system that we use together with other agencies, DSS ectera. But certainly a very significant portion go through the lottery. There is a portal, Housing Connect, which right now has about 900,000 profiles on it. So New Yorkers seeking affordable housing – we have really sought in the last several years to make the process of applying as easy as possible. That includes not just technology upgrades but also working with community based organizations. We call them housing ambassadors so they can really in many ways hold people’s hands as they navigate the process. Mayor: Yes but to be clear the vast majority of the units go through the lottery because as you know the supportive housing plan is building up now but that has not been yet a big piece of what we’ve done. Maria is absolutely right. There are some, certainly exceptions but I want to make sure that New Yorkers know that the vast majority of those units are going through the lottery and they should apply. And I have got to tell you I understand anyone who applies – there’s a lot of competition for the units as with so many other good things in life. But people win all the time. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me on the street and say I won the housing lottery, I’m moving in or I moved in already, my life has changed. Jasper, a real live example of someone who’s life has changed because of it. So you know, you can’t win it if you’re not in it, you know, we want to encourage people to apply. Go ahead Rich. Question: Mr. Mayor, what are the odds of winning? Mayor: The odds are – these guys can give you the math. Look, there’s a lot of competition. But it’s also growing – the number of units is growing all the time. I mean this is what I want people to keep in mind. This is a plan, so you heard – 163,000 people have been reached but the projection we have is there is another 600,000 people who will be reached or more – who will be reached by 2026. So it’s just going to keeping growing and growing and growing. And there’s lots of other ways that thank god, people have affordable housing in this city – whether they are in public housing or they are in rent stabilized housing. Our goal is to try and address the whole picture but on the plus side – think of it this way, there’s 600,000 more people who will benefit over these next years. That’s a really good reason to get in it. I would say the odds are a lot better than winning the lottery. Go ahead. Question: Do you guys narrow off hand what percentage of the preserved units have been lotteried? In other words, how many people have moved out of preserved units, presumably there are people that live in them currently [inaudible]. Commissioner Torres-Springer: Right as they, for our typical preservation projects there are vacant units when we do that project and then as the units turn over they are subject to lottery. I don’t have them right now but we can come back on the specific number of units. Question: What percentage of the lottery is preserved versus new construction? Commissioner Torres-Springer: Right, we will get back to you on that. Mayor: Just one other point and we are doing – just so everyone knows we are doing media questions now. The, so I don’t know everyone who is and is not media but just want to make sure everyone gets that. The preservation, just want to emphasize because it is really important in the context of the discussion of gentrification and how to address it – when you preserve a family that’s already in the neighborhood in place – that’s obviously a direct response to the challenge of gentrification. As you heard, when you fix a whole building there’s always going to be units that are vacant and there’s going to be units that turn over. So we are achieving more than one goal at the same time. But the power of the preservation when it is the family who is already in the apartment is it’s one of the purest, clearest responses to the challenges of gentrification because you are keeping the family already in the community in their community on an affordable level. Let’s see are there other media questions on this? Affordable housing? Going once, going twice – I know Jasper has something he wants to add the end but wait one more question before we turn over. Question: So wait did you answer on the requirements – I know it’s a lottery based system but are there any, you know, requirements that people should know of before they try to apply? Commissioner Torres-Springer: Right so, there are eligibility requirements. It depends on the unit. There are income eligibility requirements, and other rules as it relates to say assets and ownership. And so really what we recommend is people create a register under Housing Connect and they will be able to work with them very closely depending on their situation so they apply for the right types of units. And also the new portal, Long Live New York, is a great opportunity not just to connect to the lottery system but to make sure that New Yorkers know about the really wide range of other services that will help them in terms of housing stability. Mayor: Let’s just play that one more second. Maria you said we help them, just give our colleagues a sense of if someone seeking clarity or needs answers to questions what we do. Commissioner Torres-Springer: So we work with them one on one so that they know for example how to calculate their income and that they can share that with us in a very clear way. That they have a good understanding of all the documents that are required in the process that they know what to expect after they get the call but before they are interviewed for that unit. And for those who are in the system the other significant piece of our service to them is that we also connect people to financial counseling. And so it is credit repair and other issues. And so we really try to make sure they are applying to those units for which they are eligible but we are also connecting them to other services that are beneficial to them. Mayor: Can you just help us one more time with who does that – who does that assistance? Who actually between HPD or non-profits or whatever, who actually does the talking to the applicant? Commissioner Torres-Springer: Our housing ambassadors. So a lot of not-for-profit organizations are working with us and those are the ones who work with New Yorkers one on one on their application – on navigating the housing connect. Mayor: And how do you find those people Maria? Commissioner Torres-Springer: You can call 3-1-1. You can call 3-1-1 and you’ll be connected to all of those services. Mayor: Now Maria are you saying you will be connected to an actual human being if you need help? Commissioner Torres-Springer: That’s correct Sir. Question: Alright so [inaudible] requested? Commissioner Torres-Springer: So if you call – if you call 3-1-1 you say I’m looking for affordable housing, then they will – and help filing out the form, I have a question about eligibility, then the 3-1-1 system with connect you to one of our housing ambassadors who will be able to provide, in real time, advice on how to navigate the process. Mayor: Now I want to invite some crowdsourcing here, that I’d love all of you to go check out the website. There’s been a conscientious effort to make it simpler and more user friendly, but when you’re talking about a plan for affordable housing, you know, there is – you do need to have documentation there are obviously really sensitive financial issues that have to be considered excreta. Would love to hear back from you all in print, on air, or at one of these gatherings what you see working and what you see not working in terms of the ability of any average New Yorker to navigate it because we’re continuing to perfect it. But one of the things that I’m excited about it is as we find with so many other things where you try and get customer assistance in the case of what we’re doing on affordable housing, you can actually get to a human being who can help you. Which I find is often the breakthrough moment for a lot of people, when they can talk to someone on the phone or sit down with them and work through. So, we would love – we would love a critique of the website. Well maybe they wouldn’t love it, but I’d love it. It’s democracy Alicia, it’s good for you. So, Jasper, again we’re so happy that your journey has led you to this day and to knowing you’ll have an affordable apartment. I know you wanted to say one more thing. You have the last word. […] Thank you. I like – good way to start the New Year. Thank you Jasper. Okay we’re going to move to other topics. Media question? Question: Yes. Mayor: Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t see the credential before. Go ahead. Question: Congratulations on your apartment, it’s wonderful, but I’m here with a longtime NYCHA resident Ms. Jeter, and this weekend her ceiling collapsed and she is displaced now. She has no place that has a bed for her family and I mean these programs are great but what – who can help these residents in a quicker manner to get back – Mayor: Yes we have to and we’ll do that today. We have to get her and her family the help they deserve. There’s no question about it. Question: She wanted to ask you a question. Mayor: I’m sorry, we’re going to stick to media questions. I’m happy to see her after, but we’re happy to get her the help right away. She deserves that help. We’re going to get it for her and get her a new apartment in the process. Question: New apartment, not her apartment? Mayor: We’re – again I’m speaking broadly because we have to look at all the details but we’re going to make sure she gets help right away and we’re going to make sure she ends up in an apartment that’s appropriate. Okay, yes? Question: I do have a follow up question – Mayor: Please. Question: – on that case. Ms. Jeter is not the only tenant in that particular public housing development that has complained about NYCHA’s response to many complains. If they’ve complained about shoddy repairs – not saying that they’re not actually repairing, but actually just patching up problems. But I’m wondering what your response is to that considering that they aren’t the only ones that this is happening to. And also the fact that they pay $1,400 a month to live in this apartment. They’ve had three collapses within 11 months. When they were – Mayor: Okay, don’t – the – one thing at a time because I just want to be able to answer each of your questions. So, so – and again I’m going to ask everyone as we start a new four years together, please I will happily take your follow up question but just let me hear one thing at a time so I can properly follow and answer it. First of all, if the repairs are not made properly obviously I don’t tolerate that. There’s a difference between our employees doing their best in an imperfect situation to keep boilers going or to make the best repairs they can make given that there’s been billions of dollars that wasn’t invested that should have been over the years. That sometimes what people find is they’re up against a really tough situation, they do the best they can with the resources that they have and they make a good repair. That’s what we’re looking for. Any repair that’s not made properly is not acceptable and we need to fix and we need to hold people responsible. On the bigger question, look if I find – and we’ve done this, we’ve found some developments where management did a great job with imperfect resources, employees did a great job keeping things going while we’ve tried to increasingly put more and more investment into NYCHA, remember in the last budget $1.3 billion that’s – there’s I don’t think been a City budget in decades that put $1.3 billion into the capital needs of NYCHA. But we’ve also found developments where the managers are not doing a good enough job and we have replaced those managers. So I can’t comment on this one because I don’t know the details. But I want to give you my ground rule, if we ever have a situation where a manager is not properly supervising and making sure their employees are doing quality repairs that manager is probably got going to be there much longer. Do you have a follow up? Question: My follow up is they pay $1,400 a month to live there, they’ve been placed in temporary housing in another public housing development with no furniture. Now they’re displaced and are living on the floor while the homeless are being put up in hotels. Some may argue that that certainly doesn’t sound fair for hardworking families. Mayor: We certainly want people to be in a decent situation. Do you want to talk to this Alicia because obviously we will follow up on this case and make sure they’re put someplace that’s appropriate or given the help they need. Deputy Mayor Glen: I mean generally speaking when a NYCHA resident is displaced from their unit because of the terrible situation that happened in the Jeter apartment our protocol is to identify another unit in the Housing Authority that is the appropriate size and we will immediately make sure that that apartment is more habitable. We understand there are some issues there and I also understand that ACS and some other agencies are in the process, as we speak, of providing them with additional furniture. It’s certainly not a perfect situation but we are responding to it. It is not our policy, generally, to take families and put them into hotels. We have a methodology in place at the Housing Authority to keep families as close as we can to their developments so their children can continue to go to school etcetera. So, the City policy is not to put those families into hotels. We think it’s a better solution to keep them in their developments and their neighborhoods rather than increase the number of families who are living in hotels as we’re trying to take more and more families out of hotels. Mayor: Okay other questions? Mara? Question: There’s a 1010WINS report over the weekend that the City is planning to use a building on East 58th Street in Manhattan, it’s a hotel, to house homeless men, I believe. How does this further the goal of transitioning the city out of hotels and why wasn’t the neighborhood notified – community notified? Mayor: Again my understanding is the neighborhood has been notified. This is the beginning of a process, moving to using that building. And my understanding is that will be a long-term facility not short-term pay by the day hotel. But again, the notification process that we laid out about a year ago is what we’re following now. Question: Follow up to that, how many other similar facilities are in the works? In other words, this was an actual hotel that is now being transitioned to full-time use as a facility to shelter homeless individuals. How many other similar facilities are in the works? Can we get a list of that? Mayor: Look, the plan is 90 shelter facilities. Some will be purpose built, some will be conversion of existing buildings. But what they will have in common is a couple things: they will be permanent shelter facilities, not pay by the day hotels, not cluster sites, they also will be constructed or rehabbed with the intention of converting them down the line to something else as we continue to compress our homeless shelter system. So ideally the day comes in the future when those buildings start to be turned into either permanent affordable housing or permanent supportive housing. But for now they will be long-term shelter facilities so we’re not dealing with all the problems that we had with clusters and hotels. Question: But can we get a list? Mayor: Well we’re going – we’ve made very clear, the goal is 90. A number of them have already been announced, are in the works, or in some cases opened. As we are ready to announce each one we will have that community notification process according to the rules we set up. We don’t have – bless you – we don’t have the perfect – to the best of my knowledge the perfect list of where all 90 will be because we’re working, in some cases, years ahead to keep building them out. But as we get locked down on any location we will then announce it publically according to that timeline. Juliette? Question: Yes, in researching this shelter in calls to the Community Board 5 and calls to the local Council member and calls to the police precinct, nobody was notified of this. So what notification are you referring to – Mayor: If – if – Question: – who knew what because they did not know anything. Mayor: If an enterprising radio station figured it out ahead of the normal notification process, kudos. But the notification process was going to begin on the timeline that we announced previously. So the point is, we provide formal public notice and then we proceed with the steps to actually creating and opening the shelter. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I’ll get folks to give you the details on that. Question: [Inaudible] DHS told me June – January 9th of this year. But when I made calls after that to the Council member, to CB 5, to the precinct, nobody was aware of this. Mayor: I will have my folks follow up with you on exactly what happened. But I want to say that’s about a week ago. If there was any lag in the process it’s still well, well in advance of when anything was going to be open. So, I appreciate the question but I want to just emphasize, I think the answer is pretty straightforward. We have committed to a certain timeline, that’s what the timeline is going to be on each of these. We’ve committed, we told you upfront and I told you well before the elections there would be 90 new shelters, they’ll be in every kind of neighborhood. In that part of the East Side of Manhattan is a neighborhood that has done very well but they also – I’m sorry West Side, they also have to participate in this effort to ensure that we have enough shelter. We’re going to keep doing that with that notification, we’re going to keep building out that structure. Question: So why are seven other facilities in the Midtown area being shutdown? Mayor: Well it’s the – Question: [Inaudible] DHS Mayor: Again, I’ll let DHS go over specifics with you but I want to give you the broad picture. We will, over the years to come, continue to open new facilities while shutting down old facilities for the very reason we laid out, and go back if you haven’t looked at it in a while, go back and look at the Turning the Tide Plan from about a year ago. The goal is to be out of all pay by the day hotels. The goal is to be out of all cluster sites. To establish a coherent and appropriate shelter system where the conditions are right, where we’re getting the best impact for the taxpayer dollar, and to continue to maintain that system looking for every opportunity as we do better overtime to start to compress it and convert those buildings to other needs. But we’ve made explicitly clear we expect to be getting out of the kinds of facilities that we think are either not appropriate like the clusters, or too costly like the hotels. That’s going to be a constant movement as we open new facilities. Question: And what about input from the community itself? I was getting calls to say we didn’t not only know about this but we didn’t have any input into what would be at that location? Mayor: So what we’ve said very clearly – look I think you can safely say Juliette if you go all over New York City and just the simple question to people ‘would you like to see a homeless shelter here in the neighborhood?’ the answer will be pretty much no across the board. We have the authority to open these facilities where we deem appropriate. We do give the notification. That’s an opportunity for community concerns to be raised so that we can address them. I’ve also said to elected officials and some have taken us up on this, we need to do this on a substantial scale – 90 facilities all over the city. If you have locations that you believe are the right kind in your neighborhood, come forward, and we’ll work with you. And there’s been some instances where that’s been very productive. Question: But if people didn’t know about it [inaudible] – Mayor: Look, again, but listen to what I’m saying. We’ve made that clear to everyone that it’s quite clear there’s a lot of communities where we have to open more shelter. I’m going to turn to other people after this because we’ve done debate club here. The elected officials who want to help us figure out locations, there’s plenty of opportunity to do that but we have to keep moving on our plan. When it’s publicly announced we have an opportunity to figure what will be done to make it work best for the community. If someone has an alternative location at that point, we’re going to look at that too. But we have to keep moving forward a plan and we cannot afford to keep waiting. Yoav – Question: Mr. Mayor, I just want to get back to the Jeter family’s case just to see kind of what went wrong in two instances. One – how did the family – NYCHA [inaudible] another apartment? How does it happen that they’re put into an apartment with no furniture? Mayor: Yeah, I don’t understand that, Yoav. I really don’t and it’s not acceptable to me. I agree obviously with the Deputy Mayor. We want to keep people who are in public housing in public housing rather than going to a whole different facility. But we have to do it the right way. Look this was a crisis situation obviously and we need to know more to understand why it happened to begin with. But I don’t like the way it was handled and I want to do better by this family, and God forbid other families in a situation like this, we want to better by them. Question: The same question just about – they said they complained since January about the leaking ceiling and that it was never properly – Mayor: I need to look into that. Obviously, I want to get all the facts and if something was reported and not acted on that would be very troubling to me but let me get more facts on that before formally responding. Way back – Question: Hi, great. We have [inaudible] bunch of stories in the last few weeks about NYCHA residents having no heat. I want to know how the City is responding to this and what is the City going to do to help correct this. Mayor: Yeah, again, I’ll keep saying it to give you guys perspective. We have 400,000 people in public housing and tens of billions of dollars of investment that was not made for decades. We have a physically unacceptable situation but none of us can make that situation change overnight. It’s going to be a long tough battle putting the funding into NYCHA over years and years and years as much as we can, trying to get resources from elsewhere as well. Someday we may be able to get the federal government back in the affordable housing business but as you know they have been moving away from that for decades. We have asked the State for more help. We haven’t seen a whole lot of help. There’s – you know, hope springs eternal. We got a request, for example, for $100 million to the State of New York from the last budget process to help us with the boilers. We’re still waiting for an answer from the State on that. We’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing boilers and creating new boilers. We intend to do more. But I’ve also been honest with people that the reality in a lot of buildings in that our employees who do a really good job at this have to keep outmoded equipment going and we don’t have an easy solution to that. Most of the time the repairs are made in a matter of hours. There’s a few developments today in Manhattan that are having a problem right now. We do expect them to be resolved in the course of the next few hours. That’s what I’ve been seeing. Even though we had one of the coldest streaks in many decades. Generally when the problem occurred the folks who work at each development were able to get them up and running within hours. I don’t like that there’s the problem but I do want to give them credit for that quick turnaround in most cases. We’re going to be doing other things as we go forward to try and support our residents and make sure that we have as few of these problems as possible but it is against the backdrop of a physical plant that’s outmoded in a lot of these developments. Question: But a lot of times it gets fixed within hours but then again they have no heat [inaudible] – Mayor: I want to clarify that because I actually asked the Director of Heating in great detail – some of you may know I was out at Woodside Houses a couple weeks back and had a very long dialogue on these topics. The Director of Heating for the whole system. No, when the buildings retain heat for a certain amount of time. God forbid the heat goes out, the buildings retain heat for a certain amount of time. When the heat goes back on, obviously it takes a while to get up to full speed. It’s not good. I don’t wish this for anyone but I do want to say if as is true in most cases they can fix it the same day, thankfully there will be time while the building still remains relatively warm. But guys I got to be honest with you, we have an imperfect situation here. I too would love a perfect solution. It would cost billions of dollars that we don’t have right now but we’re going to try to consistently improve the situation. We’d like that money from the State. We’re going to keep putting money in but I do want to give NYCHA credit for handling a really tough situation well in the vast majority of cases. Yes. Grace. Question: There was a video of a confrontation that took place last week in Far Rockaway, Queens with a number of police officers and a driver, in which the driver was Tased but the video seems to make it seem as though the police control of him but nevertheless continued to Tase him while he was on the ground. I’m wondering if you’ve seen the video, if you are investigating, or have questions or concerns about [inaudible] – Mayor: There’s clearly an investigation of anything like that. I have not seen the video. I will look at it but anything like that deserves a very careful investigation. No question about that. Question: And one follow up. Is there anything further that you have discovered of the last few days about the police’s reaction to the immigration protest near City Hall last week? I think you said on Friday – Mayor: Look, yeah, no, I’ve been talking to the Commissioner about it. There is an investigation that we still a little more time on there too. As I think, indicated to you guys that that was a very unusual series of events there including I think very provocative actions by ICE and a medical problem in the middle of all this for the individual involved. So, I think we had a really challenging reality there and the police did the best they could to deal with it. That being said, we’re obviously going to look at the actions of each officer and decide what we think and what the relevant response will be. Question: Just a follow up on that question. Have you looked at any of the footage? There’s a lot of footage of the arrests from the Ravi Ragbir protest last week – Mayor: Yes, Question: Are you troubled by what you saw? I mean, you know, Councilman Williams being sort of pushed over the hood of a car and wincing in pain. There were a lot of videos of Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez sort of being carried into a paddy wagon. And there’s some photos of officers putting him in what looks like a headlock or something like that. Are you concerned about the level of force that was used to arrest them and other people? Mayor: Look, everyone knows what we’re trying to achieve in the way the NYPD relates to all New Yorkers and all communities. That being said, this was a very challenging situation with a lot of unexpected factors and I think it deserves a full investigation. So, I’m always concerned when I see a situation that people feel uncomfortable with. That being said I don’t want to comment in any definitive manner until the investigation is over because there’s a lot of moving parts to this one. Question: Who’s conducting the investigation [inaudible] – Mayor: It’s NYPD – has a protocol whenever there’s an incident that raise questions and they’re applying that protocol. Rich? Question: Mr. Mayor, the Governor appears on the cusp of revealing his congestion pricing program – Mayor: The cusp of revealing. Very dramatic. [Laughter] Question: Some details of which apparently have somehow leaked out – [Laughter] And I’m just wondering whether or not – Mayor: I’m shocked to find there’s gambling happening in this establishment. [Laughter] Question: I’m just wondering whether you’ve heard any of those details, how you would react. And also the name if the committee is, as I understand it, Fix NYC which has an implication [inaudible]. Just wondering how you react to that particular name of the committee as well. Mayor: It’s great to be in the safest big city in America with the most jobs we’ve ever had in our history, the biggest population we’ve ever had. I think there’s a lot of great things happening in New York City. There’s a lot we need to improve in terms of our infrastructure and the best way to do that is with a millionaire’s tax. That would give you immediate revenue. You know they used to say, “Oh the millionaire's tax is so far away.” They are in session now. They could approve it and the money is there and that would give us reliable long term revenue to address the problems of the MTA. That being said, I’ve always said, show us a plan on congestion planning and we’ll look at it and give an honest answer. I have not seen the formal plan. I don’t know what the leaks are. I haven’t seen them. But if there’s actually for the first time in many months a real plan, bring it on and let’s look at it and I’ll be happy to respond to it. David? Question: Just want to follow up on the protest question. Have any of the officers involved [inaudible] desk duty or anything like that to your knowledge? Mayor: I don’t know that. Happy to get back to you but I don’t know that. Question: And then what was your reaction when Councilman Jumaane Williams said yesterday that he was planning on challenging the Lieutenant Governor. What’s [inaudible]? Mayor: You know at some point I’ll talk about this election year in this state. I’m not ready to do that yet. I’ve worked with Jumaane Williams, obviously, well and respect him but I’m not ready to do that yet expect to say we need a Democratic Senate and it’s time for the IDC to come home right now. But on other matters, I’ll reserve judgement. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Again, I’ll reserve judgement. Unknown: Last two questions. Question: So, speaking of IDC, Jeff Klein has recently been accused of sexual misconduct. Do you think there should an investigation or that he should step down either as IDC leader or from the Senate all together? Mayor: There should absolutely be an investigation immediately. Look, we’re in a very powerful moment in history and a lot of truth is coming out and thank God for it. And I really admire all the people who have come forward and primarily obviously women who have come forward and you know in many cases at real risk and have changed the assumptions of our society literally in the course of months. I think it’s an extraordinary movement. So, any allegation needs to be fully investigated and then the results – and by the way the President of the United States needs to be investigated too and I don’t understand where that formal investigation – why that doesn’t exist. I mean everyone’s looking at the Russia probe. That’s great. Where is the probe into many allegations of sexual harassment? I think if a charge is leveled at any public official there needs to be a full investigation. Question: [Inaudible] step down – Mayor: There needs to be – same thing I said about the President. The decision on that should come at the result of the full investigation. Question: Can I just share one of the suggestions of congestion pricing that the Governor leaked himself? [Laughter] Mayor: You’re a voice of honesty. Question: He had mentioned something about having tolled zones within the city instead of having them at the bridges and tunnels. What do you think about that? Mayor: I want to look at the whole thing. I appreciate – I mean that is something that we were getting some gleaning of but I want to look at the whole plan first of all. I’m sorry I can’t see you right now. There you are. Here, I’ll move my microphone so I can actually talk to you. I want to see the whole plan because I think it’s important to understand how it all works together. But I also want to remind you of the ground rules I’ve set. First of all, I believe the millionaire’s tax makes sense under scenario if you’re talking about a long term verifiable source of revenue for the MTA. Second – the questions I have about congestion pricing. How do you make sure it’s not a regressive tax where folks who have lots of resources are all too happy to pay to come into Manhattan and other people who don’t have so many resources can’t? How do you make sure it’s fair – if it particularly affects Brooklyn and Queens – how do you make sure it’s fair to Brooklyn and Queens? What is Brooklyn and Queens get back in the equation? And lastly, how do you deal with hardship situations most notably, there are a lot of medical facilities in Manhattan? Here’s the most obvious example, there are lot of medical facilities in Manhattan that literally there’s no alternative to them in New York City, that they are the specialists in certain areas. If you’re a person of limited means and you need to go to those appointments on a regular basis, what does that mean for you? Is there going to be some kind of hardship accommodation, for example, for that kind of situation? So, I look forward to seeing the whole plan. Are those questions that, you know, there may be real answers for? I want to see if the plan addresses those questions. Question: Mr. Mayor, what are the next steps for the monuments commission’s plan to erect a new statue to honor indigenous Americans? Is there a timeline on that? Mayor: You know, they’ve just done the report. I think it was a very good report. I want to see a plan as quickly as possible. I think the additive approach – I mean here’s the contribution I think this commission is making to the bigger discussion here in the city and elsewhere, and I really want to thank Darren Walker from the Ford Foundation and Tom Finkelpearl for their efforts and everyone else on the commission. As we address our history, one of the things we have to do is recognize all the people who weren’t recognized and have an honest reassessment of who actually built American and who contributed and who suffered in the process. To have an appropriate commemoration of the Native American experience in this city is very important. I want to see it move as fast as possible. In terms of the next practical steps, we can get back to you on that but I think that was a really powerful recommendation. Question: And just as a follow up, I spoke to a historian [inaudible] well known, he said and has been telling me for some time that he hoped the City would also propose other new monuments. He mentioned honoring someone like David Ruggles who was a black abolitionist or [inaudible] who is a women’s suffrage and labor leader. I mean are you interested and planning to open that process up to maybe include other actual figures? Mayor: Yeah. I think, look, this is a beginning to address some of those particular concerns that were brought up previous to the commission and during the commission’s hearings and research. But the additive concept is an ongoing one. I think the world of Eric Foner. I think those are great ideas. Now, we have to figure how many and where and who’s paying for all this but if you say should the city – the most diverse city in the world in all we do reflect our people and our history accurately? Of course and that’s going to take years to do properly. We’ve tried to do it in some small ways to begin. We’ve had art exhibits at Gracie Mansion where we tried to portray the whole population of New York City throughout its history, the art exhibits at City Hall. There’s things that we’re trying to do to start this process and I know a lot of other cultural institutions have been doing the same. But if you say as people walk around the city, should they see a clearer and better and more honest reflection of all of our people in many ways, of course. So, the commission gave a road map for some of the first steps but I think there’s other logical ones that follow if you’re really going to be additive. Question: Mr. Mayor what do you make of Governor Cuomo’s plastic – Mayor: By the way I love your hat. I’d like everyone to look at that hat. [Laughter] If I ever wear something like that, please make fun of me. [Laughter] Question: I wanted to ask you about Governor Cuomo’s plastic bag task force. What do you make of [inaudible]? Mayor: I have not seen that report. I have made clear that I think a ban is the right way forward. We’ve tried a previous approach and it didn’t find favor in Albany but the question at hand is we can’t keep putting plastic bags into our environment, so what are we going to do. I think a ban makes a lot of sense. Question: [Inaudible] to the new MTA boss and any advice you can give him? Mayor: Sure I can give him advice. [Laughter] First of all I look forward to working with him. My door is open. Want to work closely together. Look, despite disagreements with Albany we work every day with the MTA. We work with them to create Select Bus Service and in so many other ways that have been productive. So, in terms of the new leadership, my door is open. I still think the best way to fix the MTA long term is with a millionaire’s tax. Jillian, final one. Go ahead. Question: Just a follow up on Mara’s question. Are there any people that you would like to see a statue or a monument to in New York City? Mayor: That is a great question. Let me give that one some thought. You will be the first to know. [Laughter] Thank you, everyone.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
$1.5 million public-private partnership to help formerly out-of-work and out-of-school young adults improve job retention NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, announced a $1.5 million new initiative, “CareerLift,” driven by the NYC Center for Youth Employment (CYE). Spearheaded by an $850,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, the pilot aims to grow targeted opportunities for formerly out-of-school and out-of-work young adults to help them stay employed and advance in their careers. Through this investment, CYE, a project of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, and its non-profit partners JobsFirstNYC and Social Finance will support vulnerable youth by working with private-sector employers to help reduce employee turnover rates and improve productivity. This project will also evaluate the feasibility of a “Pay for Success” model, in which employers assume the cost of job retention services only if proven successful — a first-of-its-kind funding model in the U.S. for employment retention services. “Investing in the success of our emerging workforce is essential to a thriving local economy,” said Mayor de Blasio. “CareerLift will help our young people succeed in the private sector. It’s a win for them, it’s a win for employers and it’s a win for New York City.” “This generous investment of $1.5 million, will open a pathway of possibilities for more young adults from some of the City’s most vulnerable communities. These young New Yorkers are the future of our city, and with this program they will have the tools they need to be successful in the workplace, develop healthy professional relationships and secure networking opportunities,” said First Lady McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund. “Today we are thrilled to announce CareerLift, an innovative public-private partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Pinkerton Foundation. CareerLift helps advance Mayor de Blasio’s goal to ensure that every New Yorker can achieve steady work at a living wage,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “This partnership will help newly employed young adults stay on the job and advance toward a career. Most exciting, it utilizes a first-of-its-kind funding model through which employers help themselves by financing retention services that will cut their turnover costs and boost workers’ performance.” “The support services offered by CareerLift will help to ensure that vulnerable youth are not only better equipped to connect to and stay in work, but to grow and thrive in their careers as well,” said Abigail Carlton, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are proud to support this project, which sits at the intersection of The Rockefeller Foundation’s work to improve employment outcomes for vulnerable Americans and our long history of supporting pay-for-success financing models.” The program will be implemented by two nonprofit workforce development organizations: Seedco—supported in part through a $150,000 grant from The Pinkerton Foundation—and Madison Strategies Group, as well Q Services, the employer partnering with Madison Strategies to place young adults in office service jobs. Seedco will work with a number of food service employers to place young adults in jobs. In addition to testing the feasibility of the model, funding will support staff from the provider organizations to help workers and employers address challenges, from housing and transportation to healthcare and workplace conflicts that might otherwise lead to losing their jobs. New York City’s job growth under Mayor Bill de Blasio has spurred new work opportunities for thousands of young adults. However, a major issue facing many businesses hiring entry-level workers is the cost associated with employee turnover. Similarly, for workers with relatively low educational attainment and limited work history, finding a job can prove easier than keeping one. By improving retention and advancement outcomes, the CareerLift model has the potential to make a crucial difference in the lives of this new workforce, while also yielding savings for employers and the public programs that support this emerging workforce. CareerLift draws from and builds upon proven local and national models, including Seedco’s Youth Advancing in the Workplace and WorkLife Partnership in Colorado. Such an approach has the potential to assist employers of young adults entering the workforce by reducing employer costs related to turnover and helping to establish policies and procedures that support employee retention. The program will place staff from workforce development organizations on-site at employers to provide retention supports to employees. These staff members will connect employees to needed services at local service providers (e.g. housing, child care, benefits enrollment, up-skilling) on an individualized basis, and the support will help entry-level employees stay in their jobs and advance in their careers. “Far too many young adults in New York City work hard to land a job, and then struggle to keep it,’” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the NYC Center for Youth Employment. “CareerLift steps in where most workforce programs leave off: it delivers ongoing support for both young workers and their employers to resolve challenges to retention and advancement as they arise. We see great potential in this model to advance the Center’s mission of helping every young New Yorker achieve economic stability and get on a career path.” “Finding and developing new approaches to critical local issues is work we take great pride in, which is why we are thrilled to see the Center for Youth Employment partner with this great group of social innovators to launch this new, and first-of-its kind, “pay for success” effort,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “Programs that support new entrants into the workforce provide well-established benefits to both businesses and employees alike. And the promise of delivering a new model for funding and supporting these important interventions will provide a valuable and lasting benefit for businesses, the local talent they hire, and our city as a whole.” “I applaud this program which will play an enormous role in helping many young adults ensure their financial independence and security. Keeping a job and developing a career are some of the biggest hurdles facing young adults and by targeting these issues, Careerlift is poised to be very successful,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “The success of young adults in their jobs will further help employers’ bottom line and ultimately help drive growth in our city.” “Securing a job in today’s workforce is often a challenge, especially for young people who have been out of work or out of school for a period of time. Without targeted support for child care, transportation, building job skills and other services, retaining a job can sometimes be a greater challenge for these New Yorkers. By working to place young people in jobs and reduce employee turnover, this $1.5 million investment from Mayor de Blasio and the Rockefeller Foundation will employ innovative models to give a needed boost not only to our city’s young adults, but also to our businesses,” said Council Member Debi Rose, Chair of the Committee on Youth Services. “For young adults who face a myriad of structural challenges in accessing the economy and climbing the economic and social mobility ladders of opportunity, greater support to stay in a job is critical to ensuring their financial independence and security. CareerLift is an innovative partnership model signaling a timely shift that just getting a job often isn’t enough. A little support can be the difference in their success and ultimately the success of employers,” said Sherazade Langlade, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at JobsFirstNYC. “Madison Strategies Group is excited to be part of this innovative initiative to support workers in sustaining employment and increasing opportunities for career advancement,” said Debbie Beeber, Executive Director of Madison Strategies Group. “When a young adult gets a job, it is the next steps – keeping the job, advancing in the job, and developing a career – that can feel insurmountable,” said Tara Colton, Executive Director of Seedco. “Seedco’s career case management model works with young adults and employers at every step along the pathway, which has resulted in better jobs for young people and an increase in employers’ bottom line due to higher retention rates and improved productivity. Seedco is proud that our model will help guide the development and expansion of CareerLift, and thrilled to be on the forefront of finding innovative solutions to both solve and pay for the success of our future workforce.” “The CareerLift pilot will help us learn whether social supports – targeted toward life outside of work – can help unleash the untapped potential of youth employees, resulting in a better trajectory for them and a stronger business for employers,” said Jake Segal, Vice President of Advisory Services at Social Finance. “Following a successful pilot, a unique financing mechanism called Pay for Success would allow employers to pay only for better outcomes, for their business and their employees.” “Seedco helped me to recognize what I could accomplish at work, and then supported me as I achieved my goals. In 10 months I got my food handler’s certificate, a job, and a promotion to manager! I also increased my credit score by 70 points! Seedco helped me find goals that I didn’t even know that I had, both at work and with my personal finances. I had goals, but no idea how to go about achieving those. Seedco made me feel professional in my approach to work, people and difficult subjects. Before Seedco, I didn’t even feel comfortable wearing work clothes!,” said Tierra, a participant in Seedco’s ‘Youth Advancing in the Workplace’ program, whose model is helping guide the development of CareerLift. “If the workforce programs are producing successful employees like Tierra, then it should be up to the employers to pay the freight,” said Rick Smith, President of The Pinkerton Foundation About The Center for Youth Employment The Center for Youth Employment (CYE) was launched in May 2015 by Mayor de Blasio to expand, improve and coordinate publicly funded programs that help prepare New York City’s young adults for steady work and career success. A public-private initiative, the Center was conceived and launched by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in collaboration with City agencies and private partners. About JobsFirstNYC JobsFirstNYC is a youth workforce intermediary working to reduce the number of out of school, out of work young adults in New York City. Its model is to design, test, and scale innovative partnership models responding to the unique needs of communities they are invited in to. As a neutral intermediary, JobsFirstNYC raises consciousness about the challenges young adults face, coordinates and leverages community assets, builds institutional and field capacity, and convenes stakeholders like employers, philanthropy, workforce development agencies, and policymakers. About Madison Strategies Group Madison Strategies Group leverages deep strategic partnerships with employers to prepare people for employment and advancement. Working in partnership with other community organizations, Madison Strategies Group specializes in providing support to a diverse population. This includes low income individuals such as young people, immigrants, justice involved and the homeless with the tools to overcome barriers and regardless of background, to distinguish themselves as job candidates and workers. Madison Strategies currently operates programs in New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. More information can be found at . About Seedco Founded in 1987, Seedco is a national nonprofit organization that advances economic opportunity for people, businesses, and communities in need. Using a long-term career case management model, Seedco’s workforce development programs help individuals with barriers to employment obtain, retain and advance in jobs. Seedco’s work and family supports programs help low-income families successfully enroll in benefits and assistance programs and move towards self-sufficiency. Seedco currently operates programs in five states: New York, Tennessee, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut. Learn more at About Social Finance Social Finance is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. Social Finance is committed to using Pay for Success to tackle complex social challenges, facilitate greater access to services for vulnerable populations, and direct capital to evidence-based social programs—all with the goal of measurably improving the lives of people most in need. Social Finance has deep experience in the design and implementation of Pay for Success projects, from early-stage feasibility assessment, to project development and capital formation, to post-launch performance management and investment support. Our sister organization, Social Finance UK, launched the world’s first Social Impact Bond in 2010. For more information and to learn how to support our work, visit .
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. [Applause] Thank you, everybody. Happy King Day, everyone. [Applause] You know, Rev – Rev was influenced at the height of Dr. King’s movement to join that movement as a young man and to help it grow. And when Dr. King was assassinated it did not end his ideas or his movements. It became all the rest of our responsibility to carry it forward. What Rev did – and he mentioned that silent march to end the unconstitutional use of stop-and-frisk in this city, that march was the beginning of the end for that broken policy. Let’s thank Rev for all of his leadership. [Applause] Thank you to all the elected officials and the leaders who are here. Thank you to everyone who has joined us – so many activists in this room, so many people who are change-agents and make a difference in this city every day. Please applause your neighbor, everyone. [Applause] But let me also offer a thank you on behalf of 8.5 million New Yorkers. If you are a Haitian-American, thank you. Thank you for your contributions to this city and this country. [Applause] If you come from African and you have come here to make us better, thank you. [Applause] If you left violence in El Salvador and now are helping to create a better community here in New York City, thank you. [Applause] That is what we should be saying on a day that celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. And I want to remind you on this day – I’ll be very brief – but I want to remind you, he showed us over and over again that change happens from the grassroots, from the bottom up not the top down. The entire history of the Civil Rights Movement was from everyday people in cities and towns all over the South deciding it was time for a change and breaking the status quo with their very actions. That’s what we witnessed with our own eyes. And I remind people that there was an anthem – there were many but one that particularly has been remembered. And when we hear the singing of “We Shall Overcome” my caution to all of us is not to feel nostalgic, not to believe that that’s a beautiful song from the past that evokes a noble history. “We Shall Overcome” is not just a pleasant melody, it is an instruction to us all. It’s a living, breathing idea. And it’s a reminder that every generation has faced this struggle. By the way what Dr. King and his movement faced makes our situation today look positively easy because he was trying to fundamentally remake a society that rejected him and everyone who looked like him in every way, in laws, in deeds, in language, in culture, in every way there was rejection and it looked impossible to change it. But a people’s movement changed it. No matter what the odds, we saw it with our own eyes. And now we have to remember what that means for our times because Lord knows, my friends, it is easy to be discouraged in these times. Right, let’s have some real talk. It is easy to be discouraged. I don’t know how many tweets I can take. [Laughter] It is easy to be confused. It is easy to be depressed. But if we were to be depressed, if we were to be paralyzed by all the negativity then we would have forgotten the lesson Dr. King. We shall overcome – if that’s an instruction to us, it means whatever hand you’re dealt you’ve got to change the world as you’ve found it. And I’m going to give you three easy examples. If you ever get down I want you just to dwell on these examples. One was the one we just mentioned a moment ago. When the movement against the overuse of stop-and-frisk began, universally you heard voices of the status quo say there would be the chaos and the crime that Rev referred to. I remember vividly – this is only five or six years ago – we were all told constantly, it was like surround-sound, that that change would lead to horrible things. People knew better. People knew that anything that tore a police and community a part couldn’t be the right idea. Anything that denigrated our young men of color was taking us in the wrong direction, and that we had to do something different. And just because we did not know exactly where it would lead us did not mean we shouldn’t have faith that there was a better way. Everyone in this room who participated in that silent march and everything we did after, in our time took the kind of inspiration we saw from Dr. King and put it into action right here in New York City. You saw a broken and oppressive policy, you stood up against it, you used every tool, and you proved the status quo wrong. And yeah, we’re the safest big city in America because of it. [Applause] The second example I want to give you is as great as the protest of the 1960s were, as powerful as they were, as much as they changed things and we honor that, the greatest protests in our history in terms of the number of people who participated simultaneously in the most places in the history of the United States was last January 21st. [Applause] Millions upon millions of people all over the country simultaneously in common cause to stand up for the rights of women and to reject the policies of the new administration. We had never seen anything like it. Wouldn’t Dr. King loved to have live in the Digital Age so he could organize people like that? Well guess what, we do. We live in this time. But we have tools he could only have dreamed of. Let that encourage you. And finally, a place we did not expect to see inspiration, a place that bore the brunt during the Civil Rights struggle and kept fighting, and then in so many ways we kept hearing that no change could ever happen again in the State of Alabama. [Applause] Don’t be taken in by the conventional analysis that says that was just about a reprehensible Republican candidate. That was people organizing on the ground who believed that change could happen. Were they overwhelmed by voter suppression laws? No. No they were afflicted by voter suppression laws but they overcame those laws and voted in record numbers. [Applause] You know the phrase we say about our town, “If you can make here, you can make it anywhere?” If you can do something impossible in Alabama, you can do it anywhere. [Applause] So, I conclude with a simple thought. As tough as these times can be, we have the gift of Dr. King’s legacy. We have the map he left us and he did not believe it was just about one great eloquent leader like himself, he believed it was about us. If you don’t like what’s happening in Washington, live as Dr. King lived. Do it yourself. Change the way things are from the grassroots up. That’s how we honor his legacy. Thank you and God bless you all. [Applause]
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Reverend Forbes has wisely determined the way to instruct elected officials to either not speak or speak quickly. [Laughter] It’s a true contribution to the civic discourse. Reverend Forbes also been one of the great activists and one of the great faith leaders following the tradition of Dr. King. Let’s thank him for all he has done. [Applause] I thank everyone who is here. I thank the faith leaders. I thank a great drum major for justice, who’s served as our Mayor, David Dinkins. Thank you so much. [Applause] And I say with no fear of contradiction that in all of America there are only a few voices of conscious who ring so true and felt so deeply as that of Reverend Barber. What an honor to have him here. [Applause] So here is the brief way to say it and it picks up perfectly on the work of Reverend Barber, and you will hear his words in a moment, but if you watch his work, so consistent with the teachings of Dr. King, is predicated on the assumption, no matter what is thrown at us, no matter how many curves and turns in the road, the idea, that beautiful phrase, that beautiful song, ‘We Shall Overcome’, it was not meant to be theoretical. It wasn’t meant to be something that just heartened us and then we move past it. It was meant to be an instruction. And we’re at a moment in history where it is not illogical to feel set back. To feel confused. Dare I say even to feel depressed. But I would argue that Dr. King’s teachings, and even more so his deeds, don’t allow space for that type of confusion. It’s not wrong to feel it humanly, but we can only give ourselves a limited amount of time for that particular sensibility and then we need to move forward. And I would say it very simply, think about what Dr. King was up against, think about the challenges Dr. King and his movement faced, think about the doors that appear to be closed and un-openable, think about how high the mountain was that they had to climb, but they systematically did it. Faith communities and civil rights activists and labor unions all over this country gathered, a good storm gathered around this country year after year and the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and changed the way people fought. And it was different after one year, and it was different after two years even more, and three years, and four years, and as that movement grew, the entire consciousness of the nation changed. But where we started was a place that today we would find unimaginable, that people were denied their rights so openly, and it was celebrated so freely. We are dealing with immense challenges, certainly, particularly, when we cast our gaze to the nation’s capital. But we are not dealing with challenges as hard as those Dr. King confronted and overcame. So I’ll say it simply, 50 years later, 50 years after we lost him, how do we live in his image? How do we, in our own humble way, replicate his work? It is in that incessant belief that we can create that beloved community. It is not allowing a setback to ever deter us. And I’ll only add one simple vignette. Whenever we feel down in our work, in our activism, in our works of faith and our efforts to create a better and more inclusive world, whenever we are stung by yet another pronouncement from our President or anyone else who sows hate, whenever we ask what possibly could have led to this direction in our nation, we need to stop and look at the good that is happening around us right now. We need to look at all the people who in the best sense of the word are taking their community and their country into their own hands. We need to think about those millions upon millions who marched on January 21st 2017, and what that meant to our nation. We need to think about people who refused to let voter suppression stop them and fight it every day. We need to think about those good men and women in Alabama, who even experiencing suppression, still went to the polls in record numbers and prevailed. [Applause] Brothers and sisters they did not dwell on the difficulty. They did not stop and say, we are laboring for the impossible and therefore we should – we should cease. They imagined that which had not yet been and they made it so. And that was the work of Dr. King and that is the work that we must all continue. Thank you and God bless you all. [Applause]
Monday, January 15, 2018 - 5:05pm
Video available at: https://youtu.be/BeHx7pB1ff0 Mayor Bill de Blasio: [Inaudible] Martha Redbone and her band. [Laughter] Wow, do you feel energized by that? [Applause] Excellent. It is a joy to be here at BAM because every year we get here in fellowship and in solidarity. And I appreciate everything that BAM does for us in Brooklyn and this city, and it’s a place that reminds us of who we are, a place for everyone. And it’s something that makes us very proud as New Yorkers. Now, I am here today to very briefly provide something that we do not get enough of lately. It’s a thing called encouragement. [Applause] If you want to be discouraged, turn on your television – [Laughter] – Watch the news. If you want to be depressed just check your Twitter feed. [Laughter] But if you want to be encouraged, look at what’s happening on the ground in the neighborhoods of this city and all over this country where people are taking matters into their own hands to protect the values that we all cherish. And that’s what Dr. King would have had us do – act as if this is our society not someone else’s to lord over us. It belongs to us. I’ve said about our city, this is your city. It does not belong to the wealthy and the powerful, it belongs to you. [Applause] And we have an obligation in this city to fight against some of the currents of the times that we live in and build something better and make it a beacon. New York City has always been a beacon of hope and an example of what it looks like for people to live in one place and find a way to get along, to live and let live, to build that beautiful community that Dr. King dreamed of. So, we have an obligation here to build something together. We also have, I think, an obligation to remain hopeful no matter what is thrown at us. And I want to remind you, all of us were brought up – when we honored Dr. King, when we honored the Civil Rights Movement, we thought of the song “We Shall Overcome” and it made us feel something very warm and it made us feel a connection. But I don’t want us to think of it as something nostalgic. I don’t want us to think of it as something of the past or something that was just a saying. We need to think of it – we need to think about that phrase, we shall overcome, as an instruction to all of us and we need to remember that even when it feels tough, we have the example of Dr. King and his movement. They did not stop in the face of adversity. Think – put yourself in those times. Put yourself up against those odds. Imagine what it must have felt like especially in the beginning to overcome, to try to overcome that huge barrier of resistance, to overcome a culture that was so unyielding. People didn’t have legal rights, people didn’t have political rights, people didn’t even have the right to free speech for all intents and purposes. Imagine trying to build a movement for change in that atmosphere. That is what Dr. King did with so many others, so many names that are famous, and so many we’ll never know. They did it town by town, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood against odds we can only imagine today. And that should inspire us to recognize we can overcome whatever is thrown at us in this time. Now, I will say we have seen some rather unpredictable things lately. I have personally read some tweets I never thought I’d see in my whole life. [Laughter] And it’s off putting and it’s confusing but it should not be paralyzing. In fact it should be energizing. We’re dealing with the unknown but Dr. King and his movement dealt with things they knew all too well and that seemed impenetrable, intractable and yet they soldiered on with a kind of hope that we need to find in ourselves today. Had they not, had they become discouraged and depressed and confused and tired, there’s so much that we would not be able to do today, there’s so much that we would not be able to achieve today. [Applause] So, let’s celebrate their strength amidst the storm. Let’s celebrate their perseverance. Let’s recognize that we can touch that positive current in history and it can help us right now. Let’s try and live in Dr. King’s image every day because, in fact remember Dr. King did not say elect a great president and the president will take care of you problems. He did not say pass a single law and that law will solve all of your challenges. Dr. King believed in building a movement from the grassroots and letting it grow and grow and grow to change our society to its core. [Applause] So, I have a question for you all. Are we going to be discouraged by mean tweets? Audience: No. Mayor: Are we going to be set back every time something stupid happens in Washington D.C.? Audience: No. Mayor: If they pass an unjust law in the Congress, are we going to give up? Audience: No. Mayor: Our job is to fight back. Our job is to fight back. [Applause] Are you ready to fight back? Audience: Yes. Mayor: Alright, you’re waking up now. I like that. [Laughter] So, I’m now going to give you the encouragement. Were the greatest, largest, demonstrators in the history of this country, were they back in that seemingly back in that seemingly golden age of protests in the 60s? No. The largest, the most pervasive demonstration – millions upon millions of people all over this country – it happened January 21st 2017 all over America. [Applause] It happened in our time and it should happen more often in our time. [Applause] Dr. King and his movement built, when they had so few resources and they were up against so much – what he would have given to be organizing in the Digital Age. But we get to organize in the Digital Age, that’s what we receive as our gift. I’ll give you two more examples to give you encouragement, one right here in this city and one far away. Audience: [Inaudible] Mayor: I’m going to give you an example – NYCHA’s good too. Here in this city there was a movement about five years ago up against what seemed to be impossible odds. And if you listened to the voices of the status quo, there was no room for change, there was no possibility. People in this city said they were sick and tired of a broken and unconstitutional policy of stop-and-frisk, and they stood up and they fought against it. And it started at the grassroots and the grassroots changed the dialogue in this city and that lead to change at the highest levels of our government, and today in New York City we have ended that broken policy, we have instituted a policy of neighborhood policing, and guess what, because we got fairer, we are the safest big city in America. [Applause] We proved with a whole city watching but also the whole country watching that safety and fairness could walk hand-in-hand. We took something that seemed impossible just a few years ago and together proved that an entirely different model worked because people did not get discouraged, did not get thrown off by the voices of the status quo. They kept fighting for change and they achieved that change. One more example I want to give you then I have the honor of introducing a brief video from someone very special. You know if I were to say to you that in this time in our history you could change things in any state no matter how troubled that state was, that no matter how painful the political reality was, no matter how much people were being disenfranchised you could still make change. If I said you could do it anywhere, you’d say, “Wait a minute, Bill, that’s too optimistic.” So I want you to cast your gaze to a place that was in the core of the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago but has now taught us a positive lesson again, the State of Alabama. [Applause] If you want encouragement, look to Alabama. May be a phrase you were not expecting to hear earlier this year, but I’m going to say it to you – or earlier last year – I’m going to say it to you because it was not just that there was a repulsive candidate of one party it was that people organized and believed in something and wanted to make a change in their state, and they did not believe the critics and the doubting Thomases who told him it was not possible. If they were listening to the conventional wisdom, they would not have bothered. Think about it. If you’re living in Alabama and you went through decades of seeing disenfranchisement all over again, it would have been easy to stay home, wouldn’t it? So why did people come out in record numbers – record numbers? Because they believed they could make a change. By the way they were victims of today’s voter suppression laws. They could have said, “Even if I want to, I will never get by that gauntlet.” But they actually laughed in the face of the efforts to suppress their vote and they came out in a way that not only changed the future of their state but shook this whole nation. My friends, that’s not ancient history. That happened a few weeks ago. Does that encourage you just a little? [Applause] So I conclude with a simple point. You’ll hear that song today and I’m sure you’ll hear it many other times – we shall overcome again. It’s not nostalgia. It is a message from those who came before us lighting the way for us in our time. [Applause] I have the blessing of having a partner I walk through life with who believes in change and does something about it every day, our First Lady. And she is off to another state today to spread the word about what we’re doing to help reach those with mental health challenges, to end the stigma and to help people in need. And she wanted to be here but since she couldn’t, this video will express her feelings to all of you. Thank you, everyone. [Applause] First Lady Chirlane McCray: Hello, Brooklyn. Thank you BAM for hosting this event every year – 32 years and it’s still going strong. And thank you all for coming out to honor Dr. King’s legacy and vision. In 1964, Mayor Robert Wagner officially today Dr. King an honorary New Yorker by presenting him with the Medallion of Honor of the City of New York, and he said, “This is not your city of residence, Dr. King, but it is your city nevertheless.” I believe Dr. King’s life and work has touched New Yorkers so deeply because we know we have the potential to realize his vision. New York is a city of dreamers and strivers, of people who come from different parts of the world and all different walks of life. And we live and work, learn and pray, laugh and cry alongside each other. It is not a coincidence that many of the most consequential social justice movements in our country's history have rooted and bloomed right here. And now in the face of appalling decisions by our national leaders to sabotage people’s health care, to intensify inequality, to attack the most vulnerable among us, it is fitting and essential that New York City shows our country a better way forward. That means first leading by example. My husband and I and everyone in the de Blasio administration work hard every day to address the root causes of inequality. We have expanded pre-k for all families, we are bringing mental health services to the communities that need them most, we are standing up for those who are marginalized, and we must go beyond leading by example if we are to truly live up to Dr. King’s legacy. We must organize, organize, organize for tangible results. He showed the nation that when people unite, we can achieve the impossible. So, get involved and be prepared to stand up and speak out for your neighbors, for Salvadorans and Haitians and any one in our immigrant communities, for the Puerto Ricans who have taken shelter here and for those still left without power and support, for our LGBTQ family members and friends, for the formerly incarcerated who are our returning citizens. The list of people targeted by the White House seems endless but so is our city’s capacity to model leadership and fight for justice. I am so proud of what we have achieved together but there is so much more to do, and all of you can help by taking action in your own communities. If you see an act of hatred or intimidation whether on the subway or the street, intervene while keeping yourself safe. If you see an act of violence, report it. We must count on our fellow New Yorkers to have our backs and we must continue to live Dr. King’s vision in our daily lives. Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about. Find a way to serve people less fortunate and always, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, be kind. Thank you all for honoring Dr. King’s legacy today and every day. [Applause]
Monday, January 15, 2018 - 11:35am
NYC Service partners with the GRAMMY Museum and the Recording Academy New York Chapter to mentor 50 students from music programs across the City. The Recording Academy New York Chapter is also donating $2,500 to fund music programs in 10 high schools. NEW YORK— Today, NYC Service is engaging 50 music professionals to mentor 50 New York City high school students as part of the national MLK Day of Service spearheaded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). All of the volunteer mentors are New York City residents with careers in music ranging from GRAMMY winning songwriters and producers to engineers. These individuals all serve on the Recording Academy NY Chapter board and will share their personal stories and careers in music with students in one-on-one mentoring sessions. The students were selected from 10 high schools representing all five boroughs of New York City. In addition to participating in today’s mentoring session, each school will receive a $2,500 grant from the GRAMMY Museum as part of the GRAMMYS Signature Schools Grants program. The grant funding will support music programs in each school. Today’s event is part of a citywide initiative to increase mentoring opportunities for high school youth across the five boroughs. The initiative, launched in January 2017, aims to establish mentoring programs in 400 New York City high schools by 2022, annually engaging 14,000 New Yorkers as volunteer mentors to 40,000 high school students. It also supports the City’s Equity and Excellence plan to achieve 80 percent high school graduation and two-thirds college-readiness rates by 2026. “Opportunities that connect young people to role models and adults that care are vital to achieving our goal of engaging thousands of New Yorkers as mentors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Thank you to the volunteers for sharing your experience and career paths with our students. We know that if students have the opportunity to connect with caring adults from diverse walks of life while learning new career paths, they are more likely to succeed and reach their full potential.” “Mentors can have a very positive impact on the success of high school youth,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “This MLK Day of Service, what better way to honor Rev. Dr. King’s legacy than through mentorship? We are deeply grateful to these volunteers for their service to young New Yorkers interested in music.” “Volunteer mentorship is a strategy aimed at ensuring NYC students have an adult in their life who can expand their vision for the future,” said NYC Chief Service Officer Paula Gavin. “The opportunity to connect young men and women with caring adults is something NYC Service takes great pride in. We are thrilled to partner with the GRAMMY Museum and the Recording Academy New York Chapter to mentor students, inspire more New Yorkers to serve as volunteer mentors, as well as expose students to careers in the music industry.” In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy of community solidarity and equity, speed mentoring is a way for underserved youth to discover new career and academic opportunities. Through a series of short conversations, professionals share their personal backgrounds and provide students with insights into college and career paths as well as tips for success. NYC Service, with sponsorship from RBC Capital Markets, identified an opportunity for the Recording Academy to celebrate its return to New York City by supporting a critical need in the City. In addition to the impact volunteers are making on students today, the GRAMMY Museum is helping to shed light on this important initiative and inspiring more New Yorkers to serve as volunteer mentors. The match was a natural fit as the GRAMMY Museum has a history of supporting initiatives that provide young people with opportunities to grow and develop. “Mentorship is one of the pillars of our educational outreach, both in Los Angeles and throughout the country,” said Scott Goldman, GRAMMY Museum Executive Director. “Many of our programs are focused on pairing music industry leaders and executives with young people who hope to one day have a career in the industry. This opportunity with NYC Service gives us the extraordinary opportunity to reach youth in New York, and we are thankful to the city for their support in helping us to inspire and educate future generations.” “The Recording Academy™ New York Chapter is thrilled to be involved with such an important initiative,” said Nick Cucci, Recording Academy™ New York Chapter Executive Director. “Keeping music alive and thriving is a vital part of what we do year-round and this program is another way for the Academy to support and help the next generation of music creators.” “New York City’s music community is the most vibrant in the world, and we are so grateful to the industry professionals who devoted time to participate in this meaningful event,” said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “As the GRAMMYS return to New York City for their 60th annual celebration, it’s appropriate to take a moment to reflect on our city’s thriving industry and help the next generation of music professionals get a foot in the door. Thank you to the GRAMMY Museum, the Recording Academy New York Chapter, and NYC Service for making today’s event possible.” “Connecting our young people with mentors and role models who can make a positive impact in their lives is vital to preparing them for success in life,” said NYC Council Member Robert Cornegy. “As one of the greatest role models in our history, it is extremely fitting that NYC Service and the GRAMMY Museum are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King by connecting these music students with professionals in the music industry to help further their dreams. I commend the individuals volunteering their time to make this important contribution to our youth and the GRAMMY Museum for their commitment to making a difference in young people's lives.” 10 Participating NYC High Schools * Brooklyn Preparatory High School (Brooklyn) * Performing Arts and Technology High School (Brooklyn) * Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy International High School (Kappa) (Bronx) * Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology (Bronx) * Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts (Manhattan) * Urban Assembly for the Performing Arts (Manhattan) * Channel View School for Research (Queens) * John Adams High School (Queens) * Curtis High School (Staten Island) * Susan E. Wagner High School (Staten Island) About NYC Service NYC Service, a division of the Office of the Mayor, promotes volunteerism, engages New Yorkers in service, builds volunteer capacity, and mobilizes the power of volunteers and national service members to impact New York City's greatest needs. To learn more about NYC Service and connect to volunteer opportunities across New York City, visit nyc.gov/service . About the GRAMMY MUSEUM The GRAMMY Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music; the creative process; the art and technology of the recording process; and the history of the GRAMMY Awards, the premier recognition of recorded music accomplishment. About the Recording Academy Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education, and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers, and ensuring that music remains an indelible part of our culture. About RBC Capital Markets RBC Capital Markets is a premier global investment bank providing expertise in banking, finance and capital markets to corporations, institutional investors, asset managers and governments around the world. They serve clients from 70 offices in 15 countries across North America, the UK, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Our more than 7,200 professionals deliver the experience and insights required to raise capital, access markets, mitigate risk and acquire or dispose of assets for clients worldwide. We are consistently ranked, by third-party sources, among the 10 largest and most significant investment banks globally.
Friday, January 12, 2018 - 5:05pm
Brian Lehrer: But we begin as we do every Friday with Mayor Bill de Blasio and our weekly Ask the Mayor segment, we’ll give him a response to the president too. But there is also so much city news this week as well including the report now released by the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Art, Monuments, and Markers. In other words the commission on what should be done about statues and other items celebrating Christopher Columbus and others to, you know, put an un-romantic, un-whitewashed telling of history on things that might have been covering up racism, murder, Nazi collaboration, and other things not to be celebrated in the way they seem to now. And our lines are open for your Ask the Mayor questions on anything at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC. 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or tweet a question using the hashtag “#AsktheMayor”. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you Brian. Lehrer: Many New Yorkers, obviously, come from the countries the president referred to in that way, want to react? Mayor: Of course. It’s – it’s sickening. It’s just sickening that a President of the United States would say in a, essentially public setting in front other leaders, something that denigrates millions of Americans. And what’s amazing is he thought he could get away with it and I think it speaks to something that we still have to fight in our society where somehow racist speech is deemed acceptable by many people in a conversation so long as there isn’t a, you know, camera running. But I want to commend Senator Durbin for coming out and laying out very bluntly what happened, because it has to be stopped, and I think by uncovering it, this is the way to make change. Lehrer: A Republican congressman on Morning Edition today tried to explain it as a very bad choice of the word by the President but that he was getting at real issue. Too many immigrants from places with a lot of problems leaving too many of those immigrants less equipped to contribute to the U.S. rather than be a net-drain on this country, when admitted in large numbers from those countries, how about when it is rationalized that way? Mayor: It’s the same thing with prettier words. The folks who came here from countries that have had a really tough time have contributed a lot to the United States. And I remind, I want to be very straight forward, I want to remind white people of where our ancestors come from and what they were dealing with at the time. When my grandparents came here from Southern Italy, it was a desperately poor place and there was not a lot of freedom, there was not a lot of hope. And if you said, well look where they came from, it’s this horrible, dysfunctional place, they shouldn’t come here. No they came here and they gave it their all and they lived the American dream and they helped contribute to this country. So I find that specious to say if someone comes from a troubled country therefore they are hurting us. We should care about that country too. You know, we should care about helping our neighbors like Haiti for example, but also, and I know countless Haitian-Americans in this city who contribute in so many ways and they’ve made us better and stronger. So I just think it’s a disgusting, negative, racist way of characterizing people that could equally have been applied to our ancestors, and it was applied to our ancestors. It was applied to Italian-Americans, and Jews, and the Irish at different points in history. Lehrer: Alright, let’s get to your monuments commission. We will get back, folks, to that topic of what the president said and the underlying issues in our second half hour today after “Meet the Mayor” and again we will give people from any of the countries that the president was referencing or if those are your ancestral countries a chance to call in and characterize them for yourselves. Would you like that? But with the Mayor, let’s get to your monuments commission which recommended the Columbus statue stays at Columbus Circle but new things are added for a fuller context. Same with the Theodore Roosevelt statue with the Natural History Museum, also one statue will be removed from Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street of a less known figure. And the Canyon of Heroes where ticker tape parades are held in Lower Manhattan will be renamed. Want to start with Columbus? Mayor: Sure. I mean look the idea here is to be additive in the context of the world’s most diverse city. There is no question that we have two parallel realities when it comes to Columbus. One is that very tragically oppressive, what happened to Native Americans as a result of some of his actions, another that Columbus got connected to the larger history of the Italian-American people. And the Italian-American people, including my own relatives and ancestors have contributed a lot to this country and went through a lot of discrimination themselves. So I think the commission looked at this many elements and said look, let’s recognize that which needs to be memorialized here both the historic role and the connection to the larger ethnicity, and in addition to keeping “add the fuller story” and honor Native American people who have so infrequently been honored, that this is a way to try to have a better conversation in our society. And I want to tell you, Darren Walker, who’s the head of the Ford Foundation and Tom Finklepearl, our Cultural Affairs Commissioner, worked with a really extraordinary panel of people to try and strike a balance of some of the most challenging questions in our history and I think they came up with something that makes a lot of sense, helps us move forward, and focuses on adding knowledge and information and perspective, and adding new monuments that reflect who we are and how diverse we are and what we value today. Lehrer: How about the Canyon of Heroes and specifically the promise that you made last year in a tweet to take down the plaque for Henri Philippe Pétain, the Nazi collaborator who had been honored for heroics in World War I. Why aren’t you following through on that? Mayor: Again, I’ve said very publically, and recently as this week that that tweet was one of the rare instances where staff putting my words into a public statement didn’t do it accurately. What was supposed to said it would be one of the first things that we address, that was not supposed to pass judgement, because we didn’t pass judgement on anything until the commission acted. The fact is that Pétain, what he did later in life, was horrendous, and disgusting, and deeply troubling, what he did earlier in life was seen in the Western world as heroic. It’s a complex reality as well. But we need to look at any situation like that and say, what can we add that tells people the fuller history? I’ve seen this done – I’ve said this to folks – I see it done by the National Park Service to great effect and really in a smart, powerful way that helps people think, showing the fuller perspective on our history, not whitewashing and not just showing one element. I think it’s the best chance we have educating people in helping think about the larger history and more importantly taking the history and putting into action. That’s really what this should be about. I hope – I hope people are not just concerned, I don’t think most people are, about debating things that already happened. I hope the context here is we want to take new information and perspectives and help us be better and more unified and more respectful of all people. And I hope what the commission has done will be a good model for that. Lehrer: Well, I assume people in Charlottesville and elsewhere are having this discussion about Robert E. Lee and other Confederate statues and coming to the conclusions that they are coming, which in many cases is taking them down. So are you coming to the conclusion for yourself that Columbus should not be seen as the moral equivalent of Robert E. Lee? Mayor: I think there is an entirely different historical context for a simple reason. You had in the South, really a deification of a racist and segregationist structure and the heroes of the Confederacy, it will put forward as reminders of a worldview that was quite current, that had a lot adherence, that people were celebrating, and was an affront of a huge percentage of the population of those states. And so I think that’s its own very real reality. By no means am I saying the North was perfect, but I’m saying there is a distinct reality, when you take down a Confederate statue, you are negating a worldview that has been current, unfortunately, in a lot of places from the time of the Confederacy until now. The difference with Columbus, I think Columbus did some things that were deeply troubling, as best we understand the history. I am not taking away the fact that there must have been some bravery or innovation in the exploration but obviously a lot of the outcomes were deeply troubling. But Columbus, long ago, a century or more ago, became wrapped up in the larger history of Italian-American people. He has essentially nothing to do with the history of the Italian-American people in terms of what happened over the last 150 years in which Italian-Americans have been here in large numbers. But, his name, his history got wrapped up in it and I don’t think it can be unwrapped. I think we have to be respectful. And this is one of the cities with – a metropolitan area is one of the biggest Italian-American populations in the whole country. And I think that has to be respected and honored too. So, each situation has to be seen for its specifics. But I think what the commission did here that’s powerful is that in many contexts what we can add is what will have the biggest impact on moving us forward. And the notion, for example, of adding a true monument to indigenous peoples and talking about their history in a different way is a very important contribution to moving forward because that still hasn’t happened sufficiently. Lehrer: Just one other thing on this, since you put Robert E. Lee in the context of a worldview, the worldview in which Columbus – you know, the Columbus – the context – the worldview that was the context for Columbus was a worldview of colonialism which arguably was every bit as bad as the racism and the slavery that Robert E. Lee represented because it colonialized – it colonized indigenous peoples all over the world, and came here and thought that, you know, we could settle lands that were already settled and inhabited, and that is one of the biggest things that ever happened in human history. Mayor: Look, there’s no current in this city that’s pro-colonialist in my opinion. We all have understood that colonialism was in so many ways profoundly morally wrong and in so many ways a failure starting right here in America. And we were one of the first places to rebel affectively against colonialism. I think its apples and oranges. I think these issues are all very real which is why we gave them to an extraordinarily diverse and distinguished panel of people to try and work through and at least take us a first few steps on the road. I think again the segregationist worldview in the south was real and immediate and continued in so many ways and I understood and deeply admire the leaders who took down those statues in the last years because they were addressing an immediate and urgent and specific reality in their state that was still quite live. I think in the context of colonialism we’re talking about something that, thank God, has been renounced and moved past in many ways, not entirely, but in many, many ways and certainly in the life of this city. So I do think these situations differ. The central point I would make is the notion of being additive takes us forward. We need to start in each place where there are these real concerns putting the counterview in plain sight and allowing people to come up to anyone of these situations and look at the full picture and think about and reflect on, make the own decisions and decide what it means for how we move forward. The absence of those additional views and that balance I think has been absolutely a mistake. We now want to see what it means to give people the full picture and how that will help have a different – how it will help us have a different dialogue in this city. Lehrer: And tell us about the one statue that apparently – Mayor: Can you hear me? Lehrer: – relocate, the J. Marion Sims statue at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street in Manhattan. Mayor: I missed the beginning of that Brian. Lehrer: I’m asking you to tell us about the one statue that apparently the City will relocate, the J. Marion Sims statue at Fifth Avenue and 103rd street in Manhattan. Mayor: Yes that one – there were many, many factors I think the commission looked at there including obviously the horrible and painful choice of this individual to experiment on slave women without their consent, the deep concern in the surrounding community which is largely a community of color, the fact that it was located at a place where there’s supposed to be a broader celebration of medical science. And this was a very bad example of that. And that there was an alternative site to try and respect the fact that there were also contributions that this individual made to science. So, that one was I think very particular and very specific. But again the additive reality is to come up with something on that site that speaks to a more positive reality and I think that was about the specifics of that site. Lehrer: We’re going to come back to the immigration question with our first caller for the Mayor today. Sam in Brooklyn you’re on WNYC. Hello Sam. Question: Good morning Brian, good morning Mayor. Thanks for taking the call. Mr. Mayor you have been, thankfully, in the forefront of the resistance to the Trump administration and have declared New York City to be sanctuary city, and I applaud you for that. But, yesterday something very troubling happened which was that when the immigration authorities attempted to haul off Ravi Ragbir and there was a protest which included several of our City Council people, what happened – what appeared to be an almost a police riot and Jumaane Williams and another City Councilman I believe were arrested rather brutally. And I guess my question is if we’re really going to be a resistant city as things escalate, which they appear to be doing, how can we have the New York City Police Department working with ICE to enforce these draconian policies? Shouldn’t we – Mayor: Well, no – Question: – instruct the police department to help within the resistance? Mayor: Yes, I want to be really clear. This police department and Commissioner O’Neill have said from day one of the Trump administration that we will not – we will not ask New Yorkers their documentation status, we will not cooperate with ICE except for a very limited number of categories according to a City law that was passed by my administration and the City Council four years ago. This was not what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was troubling on a number of levels starting with the activities of the federal agents who I think in a very provocative way took someone who was a leading advocate, highly respected individual and in a manner I think that might have meant to be provocative acted to suddenly deport him. That was done by federal authorizes, that was not done by New York City officials or New York City police officers in any way, shape, or form. And I think that started a chain of events in the place. We are definitely going to investigate what happened with our police officers because I am concerned to know exactly what happened, why it happened. And if anything happened that was not appropriate in the handling of the protesters that needs to be acted on. But the – if you will the original sin here is ICE took an action in a very abrupt and provocative way. Then I think there was some confusion about an ambulance that came to help the undocumented leader because he was also having a health problem at that moment. And understandably, any first responders knowing someone has a health problem are just trying to get that person and provide help because they don’t know how bad it is, they don’t know what’s going to happen. So I think a lot of things came together in a kind of unexpected and challenging dynamic underlined by a very unjust policy by this federal administration. But we’re going to look at every detail of what happened and if there’s any changes that need to be made or any actions that need to be taken, we’ll take it. I do want to remind all New Yorkers we’ve had lots and lots of protests since President Trump was elected, the NYPD I think has done a really outstanding and respectful job of making sure those protests happen peacefully and that everyone who is trying to get their point of view across had that opportunity to do so. There’s been a lot of them, and this to my mind may be the first one where there was anything like this that did not happen in the way we would want, and that, I think, had to do with the very sudden actions of the federal authorities. Lehrer: There were also two City Council members arrested during that protest. Is it your understanding that they set out to be arrested as an act of civil disobedience to make a statement or – Mayor: Yes. Lehrer: – might we have an NYPD issue? Mayor: No for the best of my – I spoke to Speaker Corey Johnson about this and to hear his account because he was there. It’s absolutely my understanding this was a conscious act of civil disobedience. But again, typically – I’ve been involved in plenty of civil disobedience in my day and typically that is pre-negotiated with the police and everyone understands. I think, again, because this happened very suddenly. At the beginning of the day yesterday no one thought that Ravi Ragbir was going to be deported and suddenly he was being deported and I think people understandably reacted with real passion to what they thought was an unjust situation. And, you know, I think did spontaneous civil disobedience but I think that added to the confusion. But from everything I understand it was a purposeful act of civil disobedience. Lehrer: Let’s take another phone call. Ben in Queens, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Ben. Question: Good morning Brian. Mr. Mayor, good morning. Mayor: Good morning Ben. Lehrer: What’s your question Ben? Question: Okay, I’ve been involved in the Willis Point issue for ten years since the adoption of the 2008 development plan, and nothing’s been accomplished. [Inaudible] happen until you, Mr. Mayor, wake up to reality. Bloomberg gave this deal to a bunch of real estate moguls who were deceitful and liars. They never had any intention of doing the job, they wanted to build a casino. When that failed they came up with an absurd plan that they needed to have a mega-mall and Citi Field parking lot to earn enough money to build it. These are multi-millionaires. They never had intention of doing anything. And you have an opportunity now to get things straightened out. Get rid of these guys. We don’t need them. You go ahead and hire somebody else to do the job. Lehrer: Ben let me ask you. What’s your issue? Is it the building of a mall on public parkland in Flushing Meadows – Question: No, no Lehrer: – Park? Question: That’s dead at the moment. The New York State Court of Appeals said they could not build the mall. We’re talking about Willis Plan, the 2008 plan. Lehrer: Okay. Question: We’re now concerned, there’s a rumor, that this administration may be giving 23 acres of Willis Point land to these builders. We oppose that. That costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. They’re giving it to these guys for one dollar. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, go ahead. Mayor: Okay, I – Brian I know Ben, and Ben I truly admire you, you’ve been at a number of my town hall meetings and you’re a passionate activist and you have been for decades. So I thank you. I think – look, first be careful about rumors. I’ve said to you in public before, I want to reaffirm it to everyone who’s listening. We want affordable housing at Willis Point, that’s our priority. We’re not focused on anything else, we want affordable housing. And anything the City does will come with the guarantee upfront and the actualization of a substantial amount of affordable housing or else we won’t approve anything. So, there’s a lot more that’s going to play out. Ben is exactly right that the Court of Appeals decision I think put us in a position to fix the mistakes of the previous administration. I share a lot of his critique that I think the original concept of Willis was supposed to be focused on community needs including the need for affordable housing, it drifted substantially or was altered substantially in the years before I came into office. We want to go back to that original focus on affordable housing. Lehrer: Speaking of affordable housing we talked here last week, you and me, about the heat problems in some NYCHA buildings during the very cold snap and Politico New York has been reporting on public housing and says the old estimate of NYCHA needing about $17 billion in capital funding to really get back into functional shape is being updated with the number $25 billion. Can you confirm that or say why the increase? Mayor: That’s one non-profit budget group, the Citizens Budget Commission I believe it was that came up with that estimate. We have not confirmed that. We’re certainly going to look at it. It’s certainly stands to reason that the number that we originally put out a few years ago which was $18 billion will go up over time because there’s nothing coming in from the federal government that’s new, there’s no meaningful new investments coming even though public housing was built entirely on the notion of a steady amount of federal investment. And the State of New York, despite our many efforts to get the State to make meaningful contributions, really hasn’t. So what’s happened is the City has put in billions into NYCHA in the last four years trying to turn it around. But unquestionably with every passing year a lot of facilities are aging and ending up in tough shape. The NextGeneration NYCHA plan is our big plan over years to try and right the ship. We have stabilized the finances but there is massive need for capital investment for physical repair. Last year’s budget passed in June was the biggest single investment in NYCHA by the City I think in decades and we want to look for every opportunity to deepen that. So, it’s a tough, tough situation. On the boilers I can only say – because I went out to Woodside Houses in Queens I saw the boiler repair teams in action. I mean here’s the reality, in most instances they’re able to fix those boiler problems the same day which you know, for any resident I understand even an hour without heat is a big problem. But I do want to say that folks who work at NYCHA do a really good job with tough conditions of getting those boilers up and running in the vast majority of cases quite quickly. Lehrer: Allie in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi Allie. Question: Hello. My [inaudible] apartment and while the crew was here there were walking [inaudible] and I told the case worker that was here what was happening and she did nothing about it and when I called the police later that night and I called them back a month later to give them time to investigate they told me that they can’t investigate the problem because the money taken was under a thousand dollars and I get [inaudible] I did not ask them to walk [inaudible] step on my porch to steal money from me and I [inaudible] agency and the [inaudible] worker – Lehrer: Mr. Mayor could you get somebody to personally look into Allie’s situation? Mayor: Absolutely, Brian. And Allie, I’m very, very sorry you went through this and I’m going to have both the NYPD and the agency which runs adult protective services look into this right away and see what we can do to address this. I thank you for reporting it and we will follow up immediately. Lehrer: Allie we’re going to take your contact information off the air and the Mayor will have his people follow up with you. So hang on and we’re going to take that from you off the air and get you a response. Mr. Mayor we have a few minutes left, we had a ProPublica reporter here yesterday on her reporting on private carters in New York City. Seven pedestrian deaths from private trash truck accidents in 2017 alone is the reported number compared to zero in the last three years from the City Sanitation fleet. Not to mention the worst toll on the workers themselves described in the article which pointed to various working conditions including longer hours, more pressure to work too fast compared to City Sanitation workers that causes this. How aware are you of this and how much, including for you as a Vision Zero leader, do you think requires a stepped up policy response? Mayor: We – first of all I thank you for the reporting on this and we are going to come up with new safety guidelines right away. We’ll have them out next month. This is a real problem. We want to address it in the here and now but we also have a bigger vision for changing the entire private waste industry and creating a new structure for it that we’ve announced and will be put in place over the next few years. We think that will also help to address the safety issues and reduce a lot of truck traffic in the bargain. So, we’re definitely going to address this. Lehrer: I didn’t even realize, I guess I should have realized this but I didn’t realize until the ProPublica reporting that the City doesn’t pick up business trash, it just picks up residential trash – Mayor: Correct. Lehrer: Why is one a public function and one not? Mayor: One is based on, you know, peoples’ dwelling place and the other is based on a business and I don’t know all the origins but the notion is, you know, a business – a profit making business or a business with revenue has a different set of dynamics than a personal residence. That’s, I think, the essence of it. Brian, I just want to note before we run out of time, I would expect you to talk about divestment because I know it’s the kind of thing that would interest your listeners. Lehrer: Yes, well we had your Corporation Counsel on yesterday and we had the Comptroller on. Do you want to talk about it for a minute? Mayor: I do. New York City, first major city in America and actually first city or state in America that is going to fully divest from companies that have fossil fuel reserves which means 190 companies that include some of the biggest household name oil companies. We will divest fully, it’s about $5 billion we estimate. We hope this will now change the assumptions about fossil fuel divestment. If the biggest city in the country, in the middle of the finance capital world can do it then other cities, states, counties can do it too. So we really want to spark a bigger movement. And second we’re suing five of the biggest oil companies which have covered up the impact their industry has had on climate change and continued to sell a product that they know is damaging and dangerous. We’re going to sue them using the same theory as the tobacco lawsuits from years ago that were successful. Looking for billions of dollars in damages from them to help us deal with the resiliency challenges we now have because of so much of the work they did to foster global warning. Lehrer: To be a parallel lawsuit victory to what happened with the tobacco companies where it was found that they had evidence of the harmful health effects of their products that they didn’t fully release to the public. What will you have to demonstrate? Mayor: We think we have the exact same kind of information here, that the science was not only broadly available publically to these companies but that their own assessments acknowledged the problem internally and failed to act on it cynically in the name of profit. So, we believe that this one is very sharp and clear and that we have a strong legal basis because quite evidently, once it was clear that global warming was creating billions of dollars in negative impact I believe the estimate for when Sandy hit New York, I believe the estimate alone was $19 billion in damage, let alone all the things you have to do going forward to protect. We have a currently $20 billion resiliency plan and we’re going to need more after that. That’s one city. So, you know, many hundreds of billions of dollars of impact globally based on something they knew was creating this direct harm and in fact they went – just like the tobacco companies, and tried to hook people further on their product trying to drill more, sell more. It’s cynical, it’s provable, and we believe this lawsuit could be a leading edge in forcing change in that industry. Lehrer: Going to sneak in one more quick call – Mayor: Please. Lehrer: - Nick in Astoria, you’re on WNYC, Nick we have about 30 seconds for you. Question: Alright, well thanks for taking my call, thanks for doing this every Friday. Mr. de Blasio, I’m concerned about small businesses. I’ve seen a lot of local mom and pop shops closing down, not to mention Coogan’s up in Washington Heights most recently. I’ve seen a lot of franchises and corporate chains opening up. And I think that’s the problem for our city, we lose our middle class. We lose our status as the cultural capital of the world when that happens. And as a small business owner myself, I do know that we really are on our own when it comes to providing our own essential services. We’ve heard a lot of callers the last couple weeks complain heat, and to the City’s credit, you did bring HPD to fix their heating, but they’re residential tenants. As a commercial tenant, we don’t have those protections, we can call 3-1-1, we can have inspections done, but there is no agency to come in and fix our heating when it breaks down – Lehrer: - And Nick, I’m going to jump in for time. Mr. Mayor, I do want to get into the context of your answer a specific comment on Coogan’s, which is the latest example in Manhattan, in Washington Heights in this case, of the landlord jacking up the rent by tens of thousands of dollars. And the landlord in this case is New York Presbyterian Hospital, as I understand it, but tens of thousands dollars and forcing an iconic New York establishment to close. Mayor: Yeah, I think it’s a huge mistake. I did not know the landlord was a hospital, and that makes me even more upset. I think they should reconsider immediately, that Coogan’s is an extraordinarily important institution in that community and a link to the past and some things are more important than money. Look, the bottom-line to Nick’s question, we do provide legal assistance to small businesses that are having problems with their landlords. And that’s through Small Business Service’s Department. So Nick, please give your information so we can follow up, because that’s the kind of thing that us, helping you get legal support so you can get your landlord to provide the heat or whatever other issue, or renegotiating a lease, there’s all sorts of ways that we can legally help small business. We have reduced fines on small business by over 40 percent. We just took a major action to reduce the commercial rent tax in some of these small businesses in Manhattan. Big opportunity in Albany coming up to see if we can figure out some kind of vacancy tax or vacancy fee to stop landlords from taking storefronts off the market for long periods of time and leaving them empty which is bad for communities. So there is a lot we’re trying to address it. But the last thing I’d say is, first of all, landlords need to be responsible. So in this case, the hospital needs to think about the community they serve and that supports them, and second consumers. One of the most important things we can do as individuals, if we love those neighborhood businesses, patronize them a lot, don’t just go once in a while, go as often as you can, because that is part of what helps them to stay alive. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, as always, thank you very much, talk to you next Friday. Mayor: Thanks, Brian.