Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Visits Small Businesses in the Bronx and Delivers Remarks

May 23, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: No, no – the cannoli, this is a very serious issue in my life. For the record – for the record, at my wedding we had 250 full-sized cannoli from the Borough Bakery, which then was on LaGuardia Place in the village, now has one on Highland boulevard in Staten Island. And we had a giant cannoli which was like two feet from what was then Maganaro’s Grosseria on 9th avenue in Manhattan. No wedding cake, just cannoli – very popular and all freshly filled, none of those pretender cannoli.

Alright, so we’re going to do a few different things today. We’re going to start by talking about as part of Bronx Week how important it is to support our small businesses, and then we’re going to spend a couple of minutes, and I want to take any question about that. We’re going to then spend a couple of minutes on this very big problem that is created for New York City and cities all over the country by the new Trump budget proposal. We’ll talk about that, and then we’ll be able to take a few more questions on other topics. We’ll also be taking questions tomorrow on other topics as well.

So, let me say at the beginning. This is – Arthur Avenue is legendary in this city. It’s not just a legend in the Bronx. It’s a legend in all of New York City. What this incredible community means to New York City – some of the very best food in all New York City is right here. I can attest to it because I’ve eaten a lot of it, and it’s an incredible source of pride for [music starts playing nearby] alright, who’s got the music on?

[Laughter]

There we go. Incredible source of pride for the Bronx, but also these businesses are booming. This is a major tourist draw for New York City and for the Bronx. A lot of people employed here, businesses are doing really, really well. When I came here as Public Advocate – and Frank will attest to this – I got an earful. I sat down with Frank and a number of other business leaders, and what they told me – this was going back to say 2007-2008. I’m sorry 2009, in there. They told me that it was really hard to run a business around here because every time they turned around they were getting fined even for the smallest things, and that they felt it was very arbitrary, very unfair, and that what it could mean for a small business was easily thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year that was coming off their bottom line and making it very hard to make ends meet. It was discouraging small businesses, and it was certainly affecting employment. And this got my full attention that if a small business was fined in the thousands of dollars or especially tens of thousands of dollars, it discouraged them from hiring more people because it became a cost of doing business that was really getting in the way of the desire of the business to employ more people from the community.

So when I was Public Advocate we did a report on what was happening with enforcement on small businesses by city agencies, and we found a very troubling pattern. We found that there was a clear disparity between how businesses in the outer boroughs were treated and businesses in Manhattan. City government agencies were much tougher on the outer borough small businesses than they were on the Manhattan small businesses.  We found there was even a worse disparity when it came to immigrant small businesses, so literally a Manhattan business got fewer fines proportionally than a Bronx or Brooklyn business, and an immigrant business more than someone who was born here. This was fundamentally unfair. It was wrong, and it was also very bad for our economy.

And why? Because bluntly after the recession the previous administration used small business fines for revenue purposes, and it was not something that was concealed. You could see it in the budget proposals. Each year the budgets – when I was Public Advocate we watched year after year the City budget – the lines for revenue from the Sanitation Department, Health Department, Consumer Affairs, they kept projecting more revenue with each passing budget. The message was clear to the enforcement agents – their job was to go get more revenue whether there were problems or not. And they had to go produce revenue and give fines regardless of whether the problem was particularly real or not or serious or not, or even if it was a problem that could be fixed or not. The message being sent to the people who work for our city agencies was bring back the bucks, go give the fines and bring back money.

That was absolutely unfair to small businesses, so we endeavored to do something very different in this administration, and I want to talk to you about the report – this quick summary report we put out today as part of Bronx Week to talk about what these changes have meant for small businesses in the community. I want to say up front a thanks to our wonderful Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop who has been the number one advocate in our administration for small business. I want to thank, of course, a great partner in all we do Councilmember Ritchie Torres. Frank Frantz, as I mentioned, was the chair of the business improvement district in this community, leading figure in this community continually, and one of the strongest voices. He’s one of the – Frank, you’re one of the people in all of New York City that educated me the most about the burdens small businesses were facing and the things we had to change, so you get a share of the country.

Frank Frantz: Well, I always kind of have a big mouth, right?

Mayor: Frank, I thank you. I thank you for your interpretation.

[Laughter]

And finally I want to thank the community board manager for District 6, John Sanchez. Thank you for your leadership.

Now look, what we said we had to do is literally go right at the heart of the problem, and this report that you’ll see today is just a quick summation of some of the things that are happening, but it points out – you know,  just like the fines shot up when the order given to the agents was ‘go find something to give a fine for’, when the order was reversed and the message was ‘don’t fine unless you have to’ – in other words if you can educated and solve the problem that’s better than giving a fine. If someone is trying to address the problem, we’re not trying to take their money from them. If it’s an arcane regulation that has no bearing on day-to-day life, we’re not trying to look for every opportunity to fine a small business for it. Now, say at the outset something serious, something is about health and safety, we’re going to be very tough. If a small business owner refuses to comply and make the correction, we’re going to be very tough. But what we found all over the five boroughs was plenty of small business owners, the minute they were alerted to a problem they fixed it immediately, and they were trying to understand often very complex regulations. And it wasn’t fair to them – I said back then, I’ll say it again now – fine first, ask questions later. That was the city policy. We wanted it to be the other way around. We wanted it to be only issue a fine when there’s a reason to issue a fine.

What has happened during this administration, and it’s part of this small business progress report. Forty percent reduction on fines on small businesses – a 40 percent reduction over the last three years, which is more than $6 million in savings for small businesses, so that’s right back in the pockets of small businesses. Also so important we want to get opportunity for small businesses including the huge number of businesses in this city that are minority and women owned businesses. We obviously are increasing our commitment to city contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses, so we’ve nearly doubled – nearly doubled – the number of contract dollars for the M/WBEs. It’s now 14.3 percent of the contract dollars in the last fiscal years. Specifically in the Bronx we have focused on M/WBEs. So many women- and minority-owned businesses in this borough looking for an opportunity to grow. There’s been a 27 percent increases in the number of businesses that are formally certified as M/WBEs by the city in this borough, so very fast work has been done by Gregg and his team to certify more businesses over the last two years. A 27 percent increase, that’s going to get them more opportunity, more dollars in their pockets. More opportunity then means they will hire more people from the community.

And finally, there’s obviously always new businesses opening, there’s a huge demand, a huge need, and a lot of people who want to become entrepreneurs. It used to be, particularly if you are opening a restaurant which is what so many families want to do; it used to be it took an extraordinary amount of time in this city. We’ve made a series of changes to simplify what it takes to open a restaurant in this city. Now, the process takes typically, three months where it used to take six months. So there’s always going to be exceptions, but the basic process to open a restaurant, the time has now been cut in half, and we all know time is money. So we want to make it simpler on entrepreneurs at the neighborhood level who are trying to realize their dream and open a business.

So, look, I’ll finish this section by saying, the goal when we set out was to have a five borough economy, and a five borough government. We did not have that back in 2013, we just didn’t. We had a government too focused on one borough, Manhattan, and we had an economy dominated by one borough, Manhattan. Now we have a government that is made up of people from all boroughs, I’m proud to say I’m a Brooklynite, Greg’s a Brooklynite, we have an outer borough perspective because we know that’s where the vast majority of people live and the vast majority of business are. We see economic growth happening as much or more in the Bronx, in Brooklyn, in Queens and Staten Island even compared to Manhattan. And that’s the vision we wanted because that also means more opportunity and more inclusion for everybody. So, so far we’re seeing really great success in achieving a truly five borough economy.

So I want to stop there for a moment, we’re going to the other items right after, but I just want to see if there’s any questions from the media related to small business first.

Yes?

Question: How are small businesses going to compete with the large businesses around them [inaudible]

Mayor: There’s a couple of different things I’d say. We believe that – again taking away the negative was a crucial part of helping small business to survive and become stronger. Look, we have a pretty good economy in the city right now, the number of people in the city’s growing, the number of tourists has grown for years, so there’s lots of business. But small businesses had one hand tied behind their back because of too much unfair regulations and onerous fines, so we’re trying to constantly improve that situation. Also, one thing that Greg’s department is doing is providing legal assistance if a small business is having a lease dispute with a landlord or something else that’s actually hindering their ability to survive, small businesses services will step in and provide direct legal assistance to help a small business through that. And there’s other grant programs we’ve started for local small businesses that’ve been around a long time to get them some specific grant opportunities so they can keep going. Look, we know it’s a completive dynamic, obviously, but we’re trying to make sure we’re doing the things that give small business a leg up and we’re going to keep looking for more ways to do that.

Other questions on this update? Small business? Yes?

Question: The Comptroller put out a report a week or two ago, I think, I’m not sure the exact timeline, but basically saying that overall fines have up. Do you plan to reduce – try to reduce the collecting of fines and other areas, and I mean it seems a little inconsistent with what you’re saying today on this specific –

Mayor: I don’t know everything that was considered in that report, but I can tell you this much. There are definitely areas where fines have gone up, for example related to Vision Zero. That’s a totally different issue. If I – I suspect because I’ve seen him do this before, he grouped together a lot of different things. We’re talking about the fines that specifically effect small business the most, so we know where those are from, they are from the Sanitation Department, they’re from the Health Department, they’re from Consumer Affairs, there’s a small group of agencies that particularly have an impact on small business. There’s other areas like the fines that are part of Vision Zero that we think are wholly justified as part of achieving safety, that’s an area where we think it’s acceptable. I don’t – I’ve said many times I’d love to see those fines go away if people will more and more abide by the laws, but it’s totally – it’s two very different fields of endeavor.

Media question? Media?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: My friend, are you from the media?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Okay, we’re just taking media questions. We’ll get you after. Media questions? Anymore on the small business before we go to other matters? Okay.

So look, I want to talk to you about what the Trump administration put forward now as their budget proposal. So I want to give you the same information I’ve gotten from the New York City Washington Office. We have a very impressive office in DC that defends the interests of New York City. They’re constantly working with Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand and our Congressional delegation, and so I want to explain the difference that was explained clearly to me earlier today. Trump administration is a new administration so their approach to the budget was a little big lag compared to an administration that’s been around before. They put out the skinny budget back in February, we had a conversation at that point about some of the dangers it could present to New York City and how we were going to fight to stop those cuts in particular. This is now the remainder of the budget proposal that’s been put forward, so now we have the entire Trump budget proposal. And now this will be the subject of debate, and I think a big fight all over this country leading up to the vote for the new federal budget that takes effect in October.

So now we have in front of us the whole picture. I’ll say to you what I said at the time of the first budget proposal and what I said when the initial tax proposal was put out, it’s the same pattern. A plan written by billionaires and millionaires for billionaires and millionaires, that’s what this is. This is a constant effort to cut support for working people, and use those resources to give tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations. The pattern is absolutely consistent.  I think that’s going to be part of the reason so many of these proposals fail. It’s transparent; the money is going to come off the backs of working people, and in many cases children.

A lot of these cuts are going to affect children in particular, and I’ve got to tell you, I think you’re going to see real anger from both sides of the aisle when it comes to budget proposals that hurt children. Most notably, the Trump budget proposal will take away $600 billion dollars in Medicaid funding nationally, $600 billion nationally from Medicaid, and one of the worst parts of that would be a major cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Our projection for New York City is that 125,000 kids in New York City would either lose their health insurance or have their coverage cut back severely.  Think about that for a moment, 125,000 children who will be less healthy because of Trump’s budget. It is not an overstatement to say that some children will die because of this. I want to be very clear: children who don’t have health insurance, who can’t get the care they need, we’re going to lose some of those children if this happens. And that’s going to be unacceptable not only to New Yorkers but to people all over the country. And I have to tell you, I’m a Democrat but I can guarantee you a lot of Republicans are going to be disgusted by a cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and will fight against it too.

So that’s to me one of the worst elements of the Trump budget plan. Also, a major cut to food stamps nationally, $193 billion dollars, this is money for food for families that don’t have enough food. It’s as simple as that. $193 billion dollars will be taken away. The facts about New York City – we have 1.7 million New Yorkers who rely on food stamps, about 500,000 of them are children. So, again, this is why I think President Trump is going to find himself in a lot of trouble. 500,000 kids in his hometown will have less food to eat because of this proposal. And this is one also where I believe you will see Republicans step forward and say that this is an unacceptable cut. 

The next point – we’ve got a cut for New York City specifically on public housing of approximately $300 million in capital funding. Everyone who’s been watching the situation on public housing knows how tough the situation is right now. We have buildings housing 400,000 New Yorkers. Our estimate is about $18 billion needed in repairs for those buildings. In the budget we’re working on with the City Council, we’ve dedicated $1.3 billion of city funds, but, look, this used to be a federal responsibility. We’re already putting $1.3 billion of city funds in to try to stop so much of the degradation of the buildings in the Housing Authority. This proposed cut would take away $300 million from our current efforts. What would it be taken away from? Safety and security measures for our buildings, doors that lock, cameras that protect residents, roofs that are leaking that we were planning to repair – we will now be losing money that we would use to stop those leaking roofs. So, there’s a huge impact. This is another one we’re going to fight and in cities big and small around the country there will be people joining us to fight this cut. And, again, a lot of those cities are represented by Republican Senators or Republican Congress members. 

Finally, the cut the Homeland Security – the national cut is $767 million. And again, I don’t understand how the Trump administration says they’re trying to protect American, and then they ant to cut $767 million from Homeland Security. These cuts will take away from counter-terror efforts, from port security, and from transit security. This is something we’ve talked about previously, the impact on New York City is projected to be $190 million – specific cuts for New York City. And it would hurt our training of our counter-terrorism officers and the technology they are provided. A lot of the money that we use to provide training and upgrade technology comes from the federal funds. We now would not have that money if these cuts go through. I think everyone here assembled can agree – there’s one area where you will have sharp bipartisan opposition to the Trump budget – it will be in the area of Homeland Security. There will be plenty of Republicans who stand side-by-side with Democrats to turn back these cuts. 

Now, what we learned in the vote taken a few weeks back on the continuing resolution [inaudible] the omnibus – that vote was very telling. Even though there are Republican majorities on both Houses, very few cuts went through on that vote. Some actual additional spending was added because the appropriate process is controlled by the Congress and they don’t see eye-to-eye with the President on many things. So, once again, the action’s going to be in the Congress from this point on, and we think a lot of these cuts are going to be unacceptable to members of the Congress in both parties. 

So, I think it’s quite clear, a national fight is about the begin. I feel very good about the efforts of our Senators and our members of Congress to defend our interests, but, even more so, I believe we’re going to have a lot of allies around the country who will find this budget proposal unacceptable. 

I want to take questions about that, before we go to a few other topics. Questions on the Trump budget proposal? 

Question: Mayor, with regard to the last [inaudible] do you think the events last night might change [inaudible]?

Mayor: I think it’s a tragic irony that the President proposed massive cuts to Homeland Security literally the same day as a horrendous terrorist attacking England. We understand what environment we’re living in. And, by the way, I met with General Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary, last week. I’ve said very scrupulously, I’m not going to quote him from the meeting, but I made very clear that we regard ourselves as the number-one terror target in America, and he certainly didn’t dispute that. You know, what happened in Manchester is just a reminder of how vigilant we have to be and how much our defenses matter. In this city, we have very strong defenses. We need to keep them strong. And you can’t just spend the money once and walk away. Technology is constantly changing. You’ve seen there’s been attempts at cyber attacks. The City of New York has been able to repulse those because we constantly upgrade our technology. Our officers have been able to both fight crime and terror with constant improvements in technology. The training – we have to retrain our officers after every incident. You saw what happened in Berlin and in Nice, with the trucks. We retrained a number of officers in how to respond to situations differently. We changed our protocol for major events like parades. You can’t sit still in an environment where our enemies are changing their approaches all the time. So, if New York City loses almost $200 million that’s allowing us to fight terror, it’s going to make us less safe – it’s as simple as that. 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: It’s not fair to our officers. Everyone knows that NYPD officers have to do two jobs at the same time – protect us from crime and protect us from terror, and they do a brilliant job. But also, in the last years, they’ve had every assurance that there’d be additional training, additions technology, better gear in terms of the vest to protect them, the windows and doors on the cars – the police cars being better protected. Our officers need to know that we’re going to continually give them more so they can do their job better in terms of fighting terror. And we set up the whole Critical Response Command with the help of the City Council when we agreed to put 2,000 more officers on patrol. But that was based on consistent federal funding. And this will be the first time – and I have to – there’s been a Republican Congress before, but, to the credit of the Republican Congress, they never took away Homeland Security money from New York City. The first time we’ve seen that threatened is when a New Yorker, Donald Trump, became President. That makes no sense. 

Question: Can you talk about what the proposed cuts at the CDC will mean for a city like New York where we’ve had to deal with Ebola, Legionnaires, Zika [inaudible]?

Mayor: I appreciate the question. Although I can’t give you the chapter and verse, I can give you what we’ve experienced. We rely heavily on the Centers for Disease Control to protect New Yorkers from global health threats. Look, the Ebola crisis was a prime example. There is no city that has the expertise of the CDC. For us to handle the Ebola crises, we have to constantly get support and guidance from the CDC, and that was an ever-changing situation, as you remember. They needed to have the personnel and the resources to be up-to-date. And now, we have Zika, which, although thank God we don’t see transmission happening locally, we all know that’s a real fear that that could start to happen in different pats of this country. So, no, taking away CDC funding, again, it lowers our defenses. It’s just like we have to fight terror, we have to fight disease, and it is more and more of a global phenomenon, and the CDC has been absolutely necessary. So, you take away resources, more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die. 

Question: [Inaudible] how do you see it playing out? What role are you playing [inaudible]?

Mayor: Well, I’m going to play a very active role. It’s going to be necessary for not only for me, but for other mayors to be in the forefront of this, because we have the ability to move a lot of our federal representatives. And look, in this city, we are blessed to have representatives in Congress who are already fighting these fights. And even though Dan Donovan and I are in different parties, he has fully understood the dangers of some of these proposals, particularly on Homeland Security, and previously on the healthcare proposal, and I give him credit for standing up and fighting. There’s a lot of people like Dan Donovan in other states who have to be reached by their mayors, and by other leaders – business leaders, faith leaders. That’s the coalition we have to build. Absolutely, it will be bipartisan. And we’ve got now, you know, three or four months to put this together and have an impact. So, I’m going to do whatever it takes to defend New York City’s interest, but I actually think we have to recognize, in terms of defending New York City, the votes that will matter to New York City are not here in New York City. Some of them are in New York State – we have a few Republican members of the Congress from the State we could move. But really, the swing votes are in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in California – they’re in a bunch of places where if those Congress members are moved, or the Senators, and we could all – a lot of us here gathered could list them – you know, Rob Portman, and Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski. You know, there’s a clear group of Senators that will make all the difference here. If we’re going to reach them, we have to reach them from the grassroots in their states, working with those mayors. So, it’s going to be a battle royal, I guarantee it. And what we saw on healthcare was just a prelude. I think it surprised people to see Senator Cotton in Arkansas having very angry town hall meetings, or Utah – I mean, go around, think of the places where we saw those images. This is much, much more. This is things that people have depended on being taken away from them right now, immediately, and a lot of Americans of both parties are gong to react very negatively. 

Question: Are you – how are you communicating [inaudible] are you going to actually meet with him? 

Mayor: It’s a variety. So, yeah, the Conference of Mayors has regular meetings and sometimes conference calls to organize. But that’s only one piece of the equation. Our Washington office, working with City Hall, has identified mayors around the country who want to work hard on this issue and we are literally determining targets of Congress members or Senators that need to be reached. We did some of that work around the healthcare vote in the House, and a lot of mayors adamantly want to get involved. And it’s striking – you know, the Conference of Mayors – an opportunity – you get to meet your colleagues and hear them. I’ve been very struck by how many Republican mayors talked about how the healthcare proposal would hurt their cities. I know on this proposal, there’ll be a huge number of Republican mayors who will step forward. There’s no doubt in my mind this is something we haven’t seen before. We’ve never seen an effort to take away so much from cities and towns all over the country, and mayors are not going to take it lying down. So, sometimes it’ll mean going to Washington, sometimes it’ll mean conference calls, sometimes it’ll mean our Washington office is working with mayors and their staffs – whatever it takes. But it’s going to be a big investment of time and energy, but it’s going to be worth it because you can hear the sheer magnitude of impact this could mean for New York City. We have to stop this from happening and we have a chance to do it. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, you’re in the final [inaudible] of budget negotiations with the City Council. What if anything changes in those discussions based on what you’re seeing being proposed by the Trump administration? Are you going to move any money around in light of these proposals? 

Mayor: Grace, it doesn’t change the basic game plan, which I’ve spoken to you guys about before. Look, nothing has happened yet, and this is crucial. The vote on the continuing resolution and the omnibus pleasantly surprised us. It was a much better outcome than anyone could have predicted. The vote on healthcare – even though I don’t like the House bill one bit – the fact that it took so long for them to achieve it and the fact that it’s widely recognized the Senate will not accept the House bill as-is is important, and we know there’s going to be a huge fight there. And the sheer extreme nature of the Trump proposal I think is going to hurt his chances, because I think it’s going to rally so many constituencies to get involved to stop it. So, we’re still making our budget decisions based on the facts as we have them. But, that being said, because this proposal is worse than it might have been, for sure, it certainly [inaudible] keeping our strong reserves in place, and I know the Council has been very, very supportive on this point, in fact, pushing often on this point to have those reserves ready. But it does not change the basic strategy because we think there’s ample opportunity to fight the vast majority of these cuts. 

Let’s see if there’s anything more on the budget. Anything more on the budget? The Trump budget?

Okay, we’ll take a few questions. Again, we’re going to be back with you tomorrow as well to take a few questions on other matters. 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Mayor: Look, I think this is all about – first of all, let me say at the beginning, it’s horrible what happened in Manchester. It’s painful, especially that it was directed at children, and my heart goes out to those families. I saw some of the interviews of the family members – it was just horrible. And any parent would feel this immediately, including family members who don’t even know where their child is and if they’re going to make it. So, it’s a horrible, disgusting situation. But let me talk about what we have that so few other cities have. We have 36,000 police officers – there’s no city in America that even comes close to that. We have the best equipped, best trained police force anywhere. Again, with the help of the City Council, having the Critical Response Command in place – 500-plus officers, full-time, anti-terror, highly armed, well trained. This changes the entire environment. At the major venues – and you know this was a very, very important venue – we already had in place a number of measures to protect against this scenario. We will continue to refine our approach, but you’ll see plenty of presence at the major venues. In terms of smaller venues, we still have such a big police force that we believe we can do a good job of keeping an eye on those venues and working with the security in each venue, which is something that NYPD does already extensively, making sure that each venue puts maximum security measures in place on its own. There’s no perfect guarantee. I’m never, nor has the Police Commissioner, ever said there’s a perfect guarantee. We believe our defenses are very, very strong, and we are already assessing this attack, and determining different approaches we might want to take as a result of this attack. 

Question: Are you putting more police officers in concert venues and [inaudible]?

Mayor: There already has been a strong presence at major venues, but where we need to beef that up, we will, or whether we need to deploy it somewhat differently, we will. But I think it’s safe to say, if you think about major venues, typically we have a very strong police presence there already. Every attack teaches us different tactical lessons. I’m not going to delineate them, I’m just going to say that, and that work is happening immediately. 

Willie? 

Question: [inaudible] one of the key elements here is that the [inaudible] in between the [inaudible] and the train station [inaudible]

Mayor: Yes that’s an example of a kind of situation we evaluate and act on. This is not the first time – I think you’re absolutely right that was particular to this attack. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that kind of approach. We saw that in France as well. But, the point is, NYPD, again I’ll be careful to speak broadly, because I want to reassure people without going into a lot of detail that I don’t think would be appropriate. The reassurance I can give since I spend a lot of time with the NYPD understanding their tactical approach, is that every attack is evaluated thoroughly including by NYPD detectives who go to the scene anywhere in the world. This has been a constant, and this was started under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly and I think it was a very smart move to have NYPD detectives stationed in key points in the world to go and evaluated attacks directly. So, we’ve learned a lot from each attack and we’ve changed our approach after each attack. Literally almost every time there is something to learn and to make an adjustment on. So we’re keenly aware that the attackers sometimes focus not inside but outside, and we make our tactical plans accordingly.

Yes?

Question: [inaudible] plans to develop [inaudible] I was wondering what you think of that [inaudible] looks like the plan might be headed for [inaudible] in the City Council [inaudible]

Mayor: I think it’s too early to determine the trajectory. We have a proposal that is under discussion with the community and with the council member. We’re always looking to improve upon it, we’re listen to concerns of the council member. You know, I know there’s real concern at the community level, it’s the same kind of things I care about. We want maximum affordability, we want to respond to community needs, but I would say this ball game isn’t over. There’s time to address those issues.

Let me get someone that hasn’t had a chance, we’ll come back. Go ahead.

Question: What’s your thoughts on [inaudible] how long does it take to get to the scene [inaudible] what has to happen to get information [inaudible] 

Mayor: It’s very fast. Our officers are stationed with an understanding of where the attacks have been historically, and they develop close relationships with national and local law enforcement in those countries. So it’s not like they just show up out of nowhere. We have officers in the Middle East. We have officers in Western Europe. They have relationships; they’re on the scene typically within 24 hours or so. They gather information quickly, it is transmitted back constantly as more information emerges. The – our counterterrorism operation is evaluating it literally from the moment something happens as all the reports come in our own officers – our own detectives’ reports but also other reports as well. And adjustments can be made literally in a matter of hours in some cases or days in other cases. But it’s very, very fast.

Yes?

Question: [inaudible] taking over Penn Station but [inaudible] Port Authority [inaudible]

Mayor: No I haven’t seen the proposal. I think the central question is what’s going to fix the problem, and where’s there going to be real responsibly? Again I’ve talked to a lot of you guys about the clearness of the responsibility that we take in this city, I take as Mayor, you never have to wonder on a police issue whether it’s my responsibility, on a schools issue, on affordable housing, you go down the list, you know the buck stops here. Anything that’s going to be different about Penn Station has to come with clear accountability and real resources. So I have not seen the plan, I can’t judge it yet, but, you know, I’m very, very concerned that there is any change, that it be 100 percent clear who is in charge.

All right, let me take one or two more and then we’ll get you tomorrow on others.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Yes.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Yes absolutely.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’ve spoken to it a number of times. I believe this parade is a very, very important part of the life of our city. The parade committee made a choice this year on someone to honor, that does not change the basic nature of the parade. Whether you agree with that choice or not, it is still the Puerto Rican parade, and my point is that I will be there to honor the Puerto Rican people. I indent on marching, it’s as simple as that.

One more. Go ahead.

Question: In his letter to Trump, Cuomo mentioned a cash infusion from the City for capital spending at Penn Station. What are your thoughts on this, is this something you’d be willing to help out with –

Mayor: It’s not about being willing to help out or not, it’s about actual real dollars. Again, division of labor, I’m going to keep saying it until I’m blue in the face. The City of New York is not responsible for Penn Station, and we’re not going to become responsible for Penn Station financially. That’s crazy. I just delineated a series of potential federal budget cuts that will have a huge negative impact on New York City that we have to be ready to respond to. Again, we’re keeping very substantial reserves in place exactly for this kind of situation. But no, we’re responsible for a host of things, we deal with those things, the State of New York is responsible for the MTA, right now Amtrak has responsibility. But no, this constant effort to try to put New York City on the hook, that’s a nonstarter because it’s just unfair. The State of New York has plenty of resources, and if they want more resources they have the ability to change their budget cap and increase the amount of revenue that they can put in to these kind of problems. The MTA has very substantial resources, almost a $16 billion dollar operating budget, they can make different choices within it if they’re having a crisis. But this game of trying to suck money away from New York City, we’re not going to stand for it.

Thanks everyone.

Question:  Are you going to the Yankee’s game tonight Mayor?

Mayor: No, I’m not.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958