January 9, 2017
Video available at: http://youtu.be/9zBg9h8DtOE
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everybody.
Welcome to Engine 9-Ladder 6. We are so proud to be here with our firefighters – our fire officers who have a lot to be proud of every year, but turns out that 2016 was a banner year; an historic year for our fire department, and a year of exceptional achievement. And we wanted to celebrate hear in this house what the Fire Department has achieved this year, and this is literally – we’re going to give you a 100 years of perspective on this; it is absolutely amazing. 2016 saw the fewest fire deaths in New York City in any year since statistics were first kept going all the way back to 1916. So, literally, a full century – this was the fewest fire deaths of any year in the last hundred years in New York City; and all the credit goes to the men and women of the FDNY. There is a lot to be proud of, give yourselves a round of applause everybody.
This is amazing by any measure. And I want to say at the outset, we strive to stop every fatality. The men and women of this department have put their lives on the line regularly and they never give up. We strive to save every life. When you look at this year – 2016 – just in comparison to previous, it is amazing unto itself the progress that has been made in the last year. We saw 19 percent fewer deaths than just the year before. And there are many reasons for that. First and foremost, the bravery and the ability of our firefighters and fire officers, but also we continue to improve response time. Every – every improvement matters when it comes to response time. We have a five second improvement across the board in New York City, in 2016 compared to 2015. Now, we celebrate this extraordinary good news. We celebrate the lives that were saved, but it is impossible at the same time to not stop for a moment and think about the life we lost – who was one of the most distinguished members of this department; who was destined for greatness – had already done so much for this city and this department. In 2016, we only lost one man in the course of duty, but we lost a great man, Chief Michael Fahy. And we will keep his memory alive and he will inspire all those who serve in this department going forward.
I want to thank Commissioner Nigro – you’ll hear from him in a moment. Of course, I want to also thank all the leadership of the FDNY present including First Deputy Commissioner Bob Turner and Chief of Department Jim Leonard – thank you for your excellent leadership. And I want to thank a man who represents our fire officers and the leadership they provide every single day in fire houses all over the City – Jake Lemonda, the president of the UFOA, thank you for being here and joining us in this celebration. ‘
Now, in addition to the remarkable efforts of the FDNY once the alarm goes off, the bell rings and the trucks roll; there is something else that happened in the last year that has been one of the reasons for this extraordinary decline in fatalities. And that is an intense focus on educating the public; reaching out, making sure the public understood better how to protect themselves, how to protect their families – particularly how to make sure they had smoke alarms present. What happened in the last year is extraordinary, 700,000-plus New Yorkers were reached by the FDNY public education efforts; an amazing commitment by this agency. 700,000 people – that is almost one in ten New Yorkers – were reached directly and given the information they needed, and a reminder of the things they needed to do to keep their families safe. And the Get Alarmed initiative led to smoke alarms being given to 113,000 New Yorkers, more than was the original goal.
I want to thank the City Council, you’ll hear from our Council colleagues in a moment. I want to thank the Council, the Red Cross, and all our other partners who played such a crucial role in this effort. And it really made a difference.
I also at to say – finally – that we made another important investment in terms of saving lives, and that was the investment in additional ambulance tours. $40 million over the last two years, again, thanks to the City Council for their strong belief in making this investment and agreeing to it in the budget. We added 134 ambulance tours from January 15 to now. That’s also had a very positive impact on response times. Response times for medical emergencies down 21 seconds; meaning our ambulances are getting to the scene 21 seconds faster and that can make a huge, huge difference. So, that investment in more ambulance tours is already helping to make New Yorkers safe. At the same time, this department answered a record number of calls for medical assistance. So, that is a crucial combination; answering more calls, but making the response time faster at the same time.
I want to offer my congratulations on behalf of all eight-and-a-half million New Yorkers, Commissioner to you, to all the leaders, to all the men and women of this department this is a record to be very, very proud of and it means that people are alive today because you continue to do your work better and better each year. I want to offer my congratulations to you, well done.
Now, just a couple words in Spanish, before I turn to Commissioner Nigro.
[Mayor speaks in Spanish]
With that – again, with the greatest congratulations – our Commissioner Dan Nigro.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro: Thank you Mayor. And, I’d like to join the Mayor in remembering Chief Michael Fahy as we celebrate today a great year for the Fire Department. A very sad day in a great year was the day we lost Chief Fahy, so we remember him and his family today.
Our job, our department has a great history – 151 year history and it’s nice that we are here on Canal Street. This is the first firehouse I ever set foot in as a young boy. My father was assigned here right here on Canal Street and Ladder 6 – 70 years ago. Not the same firehouse, but exactly the same location, so it’s nice to be here.
And we are talking about a history of 100 years of statistics and 48 fire deaths being the all-time low. Behind me there is a chart. It’s very personal to me, not intentionally, but it starts in 1970. I was a young firefighter in 1970. In 1970, we lost 310 people to fire. We were losing almost a person every day. And through the progression as you can see in that chart as the bars go down from left to right, we’ve been doing better and better. And this year – an all-time low of 48. So while we were losing almost one person everyday here in New York, now we are losing fewer than one person every week. And that’s a tremendous accomplishment.
And 30 of these deaths –we talk about smoke alarms. We’re doing the best we can. In 30 of these deaths, there were still no working smoke alarms and a working smoke alarm is critically important because it increases your chance to escape and survive a fire and our department cannot over emphasize this fact. So last year through our GetAlarmedNYC program, we were supported by the Mayor, the City Council, the FDNY Foundation, the Red Cross and Kidde – 113,000 smoke alarms were given out.
Now, how did this program come about? I can tell you exactly – it was because of a horrific tragedy in Midwood, Brooklyn in March 2015. Seven children in the same family were killed in a fire with no working smoke alarms. And the Mayor and I stood in the kitchen of that home and said to each other, “What do we have to do? What can we do?” And that program was born that morning. So, it not only put those smoke alarms in homes. It raised awareness in every community about the critical need for smoke alarms. And it’s not over. This year we expect to install another 20,000 smoke alarms where needed in our city.
As the Mayor mentioned, we’ve educated over 700,000 in fire safety education this year. It’s so important, critically important – the results show 48 fire deaths this year that continue to go down. People in New York City are better educated than ever about fire safety. It is working.
A quarter of these fatal fires took the lives of New Yorkers over age 70, so it’s important for us as we look at our statistics to reach out to the senior population and that’s what we intend to do this year to continue to reach out to our seniors. They are a vulnerable part of our population.
Fires overall have decreased including a 9 percent decrease in serious fires. And that’s great news. It means that education, fire prevention inspections are keeping our city safer. And we are getting to calls faster as the Mayor said. It’s an improvement in response time. Overall for fires five seconds, 21 seconds for EMS, thanks to the investment the City has made in our department. We’re getting to fires faster, critical patients faster providing the treatment they need. All of these improvements are helping to save lives and our success – it’s a joint effort. It’s an effort of brave firefighters, skilled medical professionals, diligent inspectors and professional fire safety educators.
So I thank every member of this department. I am very proud to lead this department. They have showed themselves to be better than ever this year and we celebrate. And next year we will do an even better job to reach out to New Yorkers about fire safety, to install smoke alarms and keep our city growing safe and secure.
So thank you.
Mayor: Thank you very, very much Commissioner. And I also want to turn to our colleagues in the City Council. City Council has been very, very invested in making these public education efforts work. We could not do it without our colleagues in the council and two of the members who have made it a personal priority and a priority for the districts and beyond are here with us.
First, I’d like to call upon Councilmember Andy Cohen of the Bronx.
Mayor: Thank you, Councilman. Now, I want to turn to Councilman Chaim Deutsch who has been a key ally and also understood and felt deeply the tragedy in Midwood and understood the impact it had on the community; and was one of the leaders in going out to educate people so we would never have a tragedy like that again – Councilman Deutsch.
Mayor: Thank you very much.
We’re going to take questions about the achievements of the Fire Department in 2016, about EMS, Fire, anything related to that, and then we’ll go on to other topics. I just want to see if we have anything on this first.
Go ahead, Anna.
Question: What was the response – the average response time – to Staten Island last year?
Commissioner Nigro: Staten Island – to fires or EMS? Or both?
Commissioner Nigro: To both.
Mayor: While you’re looking that up, let me jump ahead to the next one to give you a moment.
Question: The NYPD often talks about CompStat for example, how they analyze numbers. Just wondering what specific system the FDNY uses to look at these numbers and analyze them throughout the year.
Mayor: So either Commissioner or Chief, you want to speak to the question of how you look at your numbers and what kind of adjustments you make based on it? Use the microphone there.
Chief: Sure. We have a unit called the Management – our MAPS unit – Management Analysis Planning System. And we analyze all these numbers and determine do we need more resources, less resources, what can we do, where are our fires occurring, what community boards? We try to match up the fire safety education and inspectional activity to drive down both. Our fire marshals also do cause and origin, so we have a total approach to what caused the fire, how do we react to the fire, was our response time good, do we need to change procedures, what inspectional activity is needed, and also what education should we do for the public.
Mayor: Want to go back to the first one about Staten Island?
Commissioner Nigro: Yes. 2016, Staten Island response time to serious calls on Staten Island was 7:39 and to structural fires was 5:10.
Question: [Inaudible] two years ago you announced some additional money to decrease response times in certain areas of the city including Staten Island, and I was told that that budget  that the average response time on Staten Island was 6:51 – why is it different?
Mayor: Well, we got two different figures here. So why don’t we – let’s make sure, fair enough – let’s go back and compare these against the information at the time of that budget address and show you how they –
Commissioner Nigro: And was that response time for fire calls or for medical calls?
Question: I believe it was medical.
Commissioner Nigro Medical calls.
Mayor: We’ll come back to it.
Commissioner Nigro: We can come back to that. Right now we’re measuring our calls with the call end-to-end and this is something new. This is from the time the call is accepted to the time we get there. Three years ago we were only measuring the time from the time the Fire Department received the call to the time we got there, so it’s a little difficult to compare the response times from that. So I’d have to go back to another chart that showed the method of the measurement three years ago to today’s method.
Question: We’ll get back to that?
Commissioner Nigro: Sure.
Mayor: I’ll make sure these guys will follow up with you.
Go ahead, Laura.
Question: Fires and fighting fires, responding to them is increasingly not the bulk of the work that the Fire Department does. It’s mostly responding to medical and non-medical emergencies at this point, right?
Commissioner Nigro: Not exactly. Well, firefighters respond to approximately 800 medical calls a day. They might respond to more medical calls than structural fires, but they also respond to many other types of emergencies, so amongst the thousands of calls that the fire apparatus responds to on any given day it’s a mix of structural fires, emergencies such as gas leaks, auto accidents, you name it – subway issues, and medical calls. So they – it is a combination. Medical calls have become a significant part of the role of our firefighters, but they still do not occupy the bulk of their responses.
Question: The Citizen’s Budget Commission in December 2015 said that 75 percent of the departments  was going to medical emergencies.
Mayor: 75 percent – go louder?
Question: 75 percent
Question: Of the workload of the department was responding to medical emergencies and incidents and just five percent was devoted to fire.
Commissioner Nigro: Well, they’re taking into account all the ambulance runs also, so if you factor in – we have 1.4 million medical calls a year. Many of those are not responded to by fire apparatus. They’re responded to only by ambulances, so you have to look at what exactly they were speaking to.
Question: The question is – the Citizen’s Budget Commission and other budget watchdogs have said more firefighters should be certified as EMTs, so that they can respond to emergencies that don’t necessarily require someone to be taken to a hospital. Do you think that that would be more fiscally prudent? What do you think of that?
Commissioner Nigro: Well, I think we’d have to have a change in the state regulations in order for anyone – ambulances or firefighters – to respond to calls and not transport people that call. That’s a little bit of a difficult procedure. I think what they’re saying is much of the workload of the Fire Department is switching to medical – much of the workload, not all of the workload. Nor should the Fire Department ignore the principle mission of a fire department which is to protect the public from fire. But the Fire Department is looking at ways to enhance our training and include more of our resources to medical calls absolutely, but we cannot overlook the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of other calls that are not medically related that need a different skill set that are acquired by firefighters.
Question: Just to follow up on that currently this very good number of people have died in fires actually supports kind of the argument that some would want to make that, you know, the Department should sort of start to transition into a different kind of department and maybe close down some of the fire houses.
Commissioner Nigro: Well, I think the Department already has and has for 20 years transitioned into a different department following the merger of EMS and the New York City Fire Department. So we have taken that into account, but I think I said before there are many types of calls that cannot be replaced simply by sending medical resources and the Department carefully measures that and send sufficient medical resources and fire fighting forces to the calls as they’re required, and we continue to adjust each year to how things are changing in our growing city.
Mayor: Two things, David. First, Dan Nigro was actually one of the leaders of the transformation of the FDNY. Important reform was needed to bring the firefighting approach and EMS approach together and I think it’s been a tremendous success. And he, you know, over the last 15, 20 years was in the center of that.
But second, I – this is something, I know, personally a lot about because I was deeply involved in the effort to save firehouses going back to the first time that Mayor Bloomberg proposed cuts in firehouses. I think if we’re celebrating today – improvements in response time – if we’re celebrating fewer deaths, it’s exactly the wrong time to talk about cutting firehouses. Part of why we’ve succeeded is because we have personnel close to where people are. And our job, in fact, is going to be to continue to reduce response time. We’re very, very proud of this progress but I want to go farther. Having an incredibly densely populated city and a growing city, as you know, where we have real traffic issues all the time, having the firehouses near to the people is absolutely crucial.
So, I understand what the budget watchdogs are always looking for but I would say when you’re celebrating good news that we’ve saved a lot more lives that’s not a time to say well let’s start cutting the budgets and moving away from a strategy that worked. I would say that’s a time to stick with a strategy that’s working and see if we can take it even farther.
Question: I see the number one cause is electrical fire. Is that something that – people could be doing something differently in their homes or is it more just wiring and you’re kind of out of luck?
Commissioner Nigro: No, it absolutely is. I think only three of those fires occurred in the hardwiring systems inside the homes. The majority are a misuse of extension cords and power strips, and many of the power strips that folks use out there are not UL approved and are very dangerous devices. So, we urge folks in our fire safety education to only use UL approved power strips and to be very careful with the use of extension cords. So, that’s the principal cause of electrical fires – it’s not home wiring but it’s the cords that we use.
Question: [Inaudible] on the package UL approved?
Commissioner Nigro: It should say it right on the back of the device or on the package and it’s –
Question: [Inaudible] connect two together. I can put this is the paper but I feel –
Commissioner Nigro: What do you think?
Question: I mean –
Mayor: We’re quizzing you, Jen. What do you think?
Commissioner Nigro: If it sounds like a bad idea it most likely is. They’re not made to be piggybacked, no.
Mayor: And Jen, it would be very helpful to put it in the paper –
Commissioner Nigro: Yes, it would.
Mayor: Because not only do we want to tell people about the dangers of using the wrong equipment, but this is also, as we’ve talked about other times, when it’s cold out too many people are tempted to open up their stove and use that to heat the apartment or do all sorts of other things that could be dangerous. In fact, let’s just take one moment before the next question. Will you delineate the different dangers because it would be great if people could include this to the maximum extent in your coverage – the different dangers when people try to heat their home that could cause a fire.
Commissioner Nigro: The most common things people do when it it’s very cold and they don’t think their home or apartment is warm enough is to use the stove which creates carbon monoxide in the apartment. It’s not properly vented. They’re made for cooking not for heating. And the use of electric heaters which are not banned but they should be turned off before you go to sleep. They need to be kept at least two feet from anything combustible. They end up – the fires we’ve had, they’re right next to the bed. They’re right next to blankets. Eventually they heat up and they cause fires. So, I know the tendency, we want to all stay warm but we also more importantly need to stay alive –
Mayor: Stay alive.
Question: [Inaudible] homes as opposed to businesses or [inaudible].
Commissioner Nigro: Thank you for asking that. Our inspections – we do hundreds of thousands of inspections most of which are in commercial buildings. We had no fire deaths this year outside of residential buildings. We had a few in cars. We had one on a boat. But those that took place in buildings were in private homes and multiple dwellings. As always – and that’s nothing new – that the majority of fires take place inside residences. But this year, all of them – all of the fire deaths took place there.
Question: [Inaudible] what’s driving this. I saw that serious [inaudible] the numbers went down. But does that mean that smaller fires are being cut off before they escalate [inaudible] prevention factor that’s keeping the number of small fires [inaudible]?
Commissioner Nigro: Well, one thing, additional smoke alarms means that we get the call earlier and the faster we can arrive, the smaller the fire tends to be. We try very, very hard to keep fires as small as possible. So, I would say much of it is due to the diligence of our work force and the skills that they apply in fighting fires. So, I think people are doing a better job in keeping safe and our firefighters are doing a better job in keeping them safe.
Question: [Inaudible] all fires are being prevented or big fires are being prevented –
Commissioner Nigro: Well, all fires are down and big, large fires are down even more – the higher percentage.
Mayor: Okay, Michael.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you said there was a 21 second drop in response times for medical emergencies on average. What’s the drop – and I’m assuming there was a drop because of the average you guys mentioned before – for fires? What’s the average drop –
Mayor: Again, what I’m giving you are broad statistics and the Commissioner can interpret and also get you more backup. But it’s five seconds reduction for fires – five second improvement in response time – 21 second improvement in response time for medical emergencies.
Any other questions on this? Going once, going twice –
I’m going to just take a moment, as people transition, I want us to pull this chart over. Give you guys another visual here.
Mayor: Okay, everybody ready? Okay – hold on, hold on let’s let them clear out. And hold on, Dave. Okay, Dave.
Question: Mayor, The Governor’s speech this morning – the State of the State Address
Question: State of the State address – two things, one on the 100,000 affordable housing units [inaudible]. Is that [inaudible], or is it another example of [inaudible]? The other thing is –
Mayor: I’ll do one at a time. Let me just speak to that. Dave, I think it is a set of things in the speech I would say are promising in terms of helping New York City, but we still don’t have the details. I think the big takeaway, I’d say, from the speech; I liked some things I heard for sure, but I got to see the details. We don’t have the State budget yet, as you know. We haven’t seen how these things are going to play out. So, of course, we would love more support for affordable housing in New York City. As you know, my plan for 200,000 apartments, that is going on no matter what. If the State is going to add additional support, that is fantastic. We especially need those supportive apartments to help reduce homelessness. The City is already committed to 15,000 – and you heard the announcement recently, we’re continuing to put those on line. I have to tell you, I would have like to had seen this stuff all resolved in the June State budget, that is when it was supposed to be resolved. I would have liked to seen some of this money flowing already. But, you know, we certainly would love to see more resources coming from the State.
Mayor: Look, every leader has to make their own decision how to address the Trump situation; and the State of the State address is a particular venue. I will say, I think it is important that we – whenever we see President-elect Trump do anything that is hurting the people of New York City, we have to call it out, we have to act on it. But I think it is fair to say in a State of the State address that’s a sort of a bigger evaluation of what is going on in the State that might be the right occasion for that.
Question: Mr. Mayor, this morning, there were nine subway lines experiencing delays, which is almost half the City’s subway structure. You do not control the subways, obviously.
Mayor: Could you say that again, Laura? I couldn’t hear you.
Mayor: What was that last part?
Question: You don’t control the subways.
Mayor: Thank you.
Question: However, it’s a [inaudible].
Mayor: Of course.
Question: First of all, what should be done? There were tens of thousands of constituents who could not get to work. The Governor has proposed spending billions for JFK and LaGuardia – a lot of people think is important too. But I’m even wondering if there are concerns about fire marshals because people couldn’t even move one way or the other. And then, the second part of that question is when was the last time you rode the subway to work?
Mayor: I – so, let’s be clear – someone at the Second Avenue Subway opening was asking me if I would take that subway line to work and I did not have an opportunity to tell that individual to think about the route to Brooklyn then to City Hall. So, I’m going to continue doing exactly what I’m doing; going to my home neighborhood in the morning and then going to City Hall from there. But I take the subway regularly; there are just opportunities that come up where it makes a lot more sense to take the subway. I like taking the subway. I have throughout my life, so I keep doing that.
On the first point, I think this is a very serious situation. I think you’re raising a very important question. My constituents increasingly talk to me about congestion on the subway. I hear it all over New York City. I think it begs a very important question, where are we going to get the investment we need for better subway rides, less congestion – you know, what is it going to take. Now, the City, as you know, recently invested $2.5 billion in the MTA. That was not something that had been typical in recent years. That was a decision we made to try and help the MTA. But I think it is a very good question to say of all the different priorities to address – real transportation issues – what’s most important? I for one care a lot more about the subways then I do about some of the other things that are being invested in. I would like to see more investment go into subways, compared to almost anything else. But that is a decision, obviously, the State Legislature is going to have to make and the MTA is going to have to make.
Question: Just to be clear, the first part of the question – do you remember the last time that you took the subway to work?
Mayor: When I – from Brooklyn to City Hall, I’m sure I can find out for you. I think it was maybe three weeks ago something like that.
Question: Over the weekend there were a lot of complaints from Staten Islanders about the plowing. It was done during, before, and after the storm and some people were a little confused why that happened given that changes were made to plow system and how you disburse trucks. And one of the changes that were made this year was no more private contractors were dispatched by the City for tertiary streets. So, I was wondering is that something that you were concerned about given the changes that were made.
Mayor: No, I think we had very a strong performance by the Sanitation Department and by our sanitation workers over the weekend. There were some areas we want to see improvement in for sure. We were constantly – City Hall was constantly in touch with local elected official including Staten Island elected officials, looking for trouble spots and getting them addressed quickly. So, there are always improvements and adjustments to make, but I feel very good about where the Sanitation Department is now. I certainly feel fine about the decision to have that tertiary streets covered by our own workers.
Question: What would you say to people who are frustrated that they have had to wait like a day-and-a-half for a plow?
Mayor: We always have to do better. We have – look, the Sanitation Department has proven itself over and over again including in the biggest snowstorm in the history of New York City last year. But we continue to improve, as you know, we are getting more equipment in that will allow us to get at smaller streets better. Not all of that was here; it was approved in the budget in June, so that new equipment is going to help. I think our own Sanitation workers will do a better job than the private contractors on the smaller streets, but it is a big city and we’re going to constantly do better at reaching people as quickly as possible. I think overall performance was strong over the weekend.
Question: Two questions on this State of the State; but we heard the Governor talking about – suggesting that there are going to be reforms at Randall’s Island [inaudible]. Secondly, last year I think there was a media concern at the State of the State speech about the City being asked to shoulder the larger financial burden as we have had historically. Any budget bombshells in this speech that you’re worried about or you have your staff trying to get to the bottom of at this point?
Mayor: Because – it’s a very good question – and because this speech for the first time was not accompanied by the budget, we don’t know yet the ramifications of everything that was being talked about in the speech, which is why I’ll express my praise for some of the things I heard, but until we see the details and particularly the budgetary details we can’t pass a final judgement. It was different, I agree with you, then what we heard at the State of the State last year. But – you know – we just have to be very sober about the fact that budget documents are really where the rubber hits the road and we’ve got to see that. My understanding is that has to be out in the next week or ten days and that will be our chance to see. And that’s when I will be able to comment in detail.
In terms of –
[Announcement made over loud speaker]
That’s the news as it happens.
The Governor made a glancing reference to Rikers Island. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. We feel very good about the reforms that are in place. We have been working very closely with a federal monitor, as you know. And I think the pace of reform at Rikers is strong. My reminders to everyone, beyond Rikers are the other jails in our correction system. All of them are going through a process of culture change; different ways of recruiting officers, training them, a lot more checks and balances, a lot more of the reforms that Commissioner Ponte has put in place to reduce violence; reduce the flow of weapons and contraband. All of this is happening, and I think it is happening very well. So, again – no, I didn’t hear anything specific in this speech. We’re going to continue working on the plan that we have right now.
Question: There was some chatter about Hillary Clinton running for Mayor against you in a primary. I was just wondering what you thought of that, and also – you know – one of your comments was [inaudible] you were comfortable running your record against anyone. Would you be comfortable running your record against –
Mayor: Look, let me start by saying, one of her top lieutenants – who I know very well – Neera Tanden made very clear on Sunday that Secretary Clinton does not intend to run for anything else again. So, to me that puts the whole thing to bed. So, I don’t deal in any speculation. I think that is a pretty clear statement. My general statement about what we have achieved in the last three years; I’m very comfortable going out to the people of New York City and talking to them about it, especially what we talked about just last week with the reduction in crime at the same time as we reduced stop-and-frisk. That is the kind of thing I’m going to go all over the City talking about. I’m very comfortable with it.
Question: This was all late last week – I mean, did you have a couple of stressful days thinking Hillary Clinton might run? Did you reach out to her?
Mayor: I did not reach out to her. What Neera said is exactly what I assumed. You know, it just made total sense that that was her last campaign – and by the way, she won three million more votes than Donald trump. And you know, by any normal scenario should have prevailed, but I’m sure she is going to find a lot of other important things to do.
In the back.
Mayor: Louder, I’m sorry.
Question: On Friday, [inaudible] was gunned down while was she was going to get dinner for her [inaudible] sons. I spoke with the father of the children; he said the reason why it happened [inaudible].
Mayor: First of all, my heart goes out to that family. My understanding is that woman was caught in the crossfire, had nothing to do with her. It’s unacceptable to begin with, but even worse as she was just going out getting food for her family; and her life was tragically lost. Look, this is part of our mission everywhere. If there is any place that needs more police presence, we’re going to get it there. That is what precision policing is all about. That’s why it achieved – you know, the Police Department achieved what they achieved in 2016 through precision policing; having more resources since now we have 2,000 more cops on the street then two years ago. But also, there are places where we need more lighting. I don’t know that specific site, and we’ll get you an answer about if there are other changes we have to make there. For example, in public housing we found some places that really needed more lighting. We put in light towers – temporary and then eventually permanent. So, I’ll get back to you on what we think we need in that location. But the number one point is if we think there is something that is not being addressed sufficiently we will add additional police presence.
Question: [Inaudible] not working. Streets that were marked down as having [inaudible] weren’t. Councilman Lancman described this as a systemic problem [inaudible]. Could you tell us what is going on with this? And you mentioned before places you wanted to improve during plowing, can you give us some more specifics?
Mayor: Yes. I would say a couple of different things. First of all – every single thing – I’ve been in government a long time and I can tell you there is no area that has been perfected. I don’t mean that as a platitude. I mean that as a very practical observation. Look at what the NYPD is doing. They started CompStat almost 25 years ago. They are still improving upon it all the time. There are still things we’re figuring out that we didn’t figure out previously. Look what the Fire Department did that was just announced today. But we have to do better. The same is true of Sanitation. Compared to just a few years ago Sanitation has clearly improved and the response to the blizzard is the best evidence in the world and that was extraordinary what they were able to do in less than 48 hours to get the city back on its feet. But, at the same time during the blizzard we found specific pockets that were not handled properly. We came up with an analysis of why. And part of it was not having the right size equipment, which we put in the budget. Some of it were some weaknesses in some particular garages that we had to address. This war never ends.
My sense on the GPS situation, first of all GPS is imperfect by its nature so there’s always going to be a little variation. We’ve got to figure out – I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s systemic. I think the examples where it was awful were fairly rare. And I think the overall response to the storm this weekend was very strong. But, something is still not perfect. We got to figure out what that is and the Commissioner is very clear and she is going to look at any place where the information is off and make the adjustments.
Mayor: So a couple of things; our response so far has been to add inspectors, increase penalties and require more supervision on sites. I mean adding building inspectors, but also requiring supervision by the private sector companies themselves. We think all of those measures are going to have a positive impact. I certainly – everyone knows I prefer union labor and I am a big fan of apprenticeship programs. I don’t think requirement works practically speaking. I think the more we can do the better. I encourage it. I want to support the maximum use of it, but it’s not going to solve the problem anytime soon because there are always going to be some non-union sites. And that’s where our stricter regulation I think is going to make a real impact.
Mayor: I think it’s a volume question. At this point, we have a very big non-union construction sector. I prefer union construction workers to be doing all the work, but the reality is we have a big non-union construction sector. Apprenticeship programs help to make steady progress towards more and more people being unionized, but we have a right now problem that we have to address and that’s where I think more inspections, more requirements for site supervision and higher penalties are the ways to address that problem.
Mayor: I would say – I would go a step before that to begin. We have so many people concentrated in subways, in big buildings, in transportation hubs. I think we have a more essential concern even in that. That we have to prevent crime and prevent terror in all those places simultaneously, which we do first and foremost through intelligence gathering, particularly working with our federal partners and by a strong show of police presence and preventative measures. Of course if we had a problem in the subway that only adds to it, but I don’t think it changes the fundamental philosophy that governs what we do. I think it kind of stands to reason that having 36,000 police officers having strong dedicated anti-terror apparatus, having strong intelligence gathering apparatus, that’s going to be true in any scenario. It’s always sobering to see what happens when there is a disruption of subways. The same thing if a highway is shut down. We obviously are so densely packed. All of that is sobering, but it doesn’t change our strategic assumptions.
On the question of how do we address this long-term – look, the subway system is going to need not only billions, tens of billions of dollars in investment overtime. I had hoped that we were going to have a different federal administration and a different U.S. Senate that would be ready to make major investments in mass transit.
Now, what is President Trump going to do? We don’t know. We haven’t heard of defying infrastructure plan. Maybe there will be an opportunity for those investments now as was true up through the 60s and 70s. Maybe there won’t, but I think in this city we have to come to some kind of larger vision of what kind of investment it’s going to take to really make the MTA work for the long-term and where we are going to get those resources. The City is going to be stressed financially going forward – and particularly because of some of the dangers in the Trump administration and what it could mean for our budget, but the State, the MTA, and ultimately the federal government – working with them we have to come up with a long-term plan.
It was fine; I mean it was kind of cool to see a party in the subway. So I thought it was a special night for New York City and a night you know, something everyone could agree on. It was good to have a Second Avenue subway after a hundred years. And it was fun to have a party so that was cool.
Mayor: On the first one, no and I don’t know what it looks like because we haven’t been given anything. So again, as I said to you last time it doesn’t shock me. You know at the last moment we will be told what the budget looks like and then we will be able to analyze what it means and I will be very straight forward with the people in New York City what it means for all of us. But we haven’t been given any inkling yet.
Mayor: Well that’s just not true. Look, I will always beware of people with political agendas. We’ve tried to get this done for years. Remember it was initiated in the Bloomberg administration, but they didn’t get it done, we’ve been trying to get it done. We would be happy to get it done, but the partners we’ve been working with have not been able to put it all together. We will do everything we can to get that project done. And the state wants to put more money into it, we welcome it. That’s great.
Question: [Inaudible] understand the political agenda comment.
Mayor: Again, I think it’s quite clear – I won’t go into detail but the fact is the Borough President has his own views. He knows we’ve been trying to get this done and I’ll stay at that.
Question: The DOB penalties and rules that you mentioned obviously [inaudible] doesn’t include health and safety issues. Boston just passed a law that their DOB is going to require permit applicants to submit their OSHA violations and their outstanding OSHA problems in order to kind of integrate some of the jurisdictional gap. And I’m wondering if that’s something that you would consider –
Mayor: Yeah, I would definitely consider that. I have a lot of respect for Mayor Walsh in Boston. He’s one of the colleagues I’m closest to and I think we all are working together. When we’re seeing this level of construction which as you know is the most we’ve seen in a long time, we need to always look for additional solutions. So, that’s something I think could be productive. We’ll look at the for sure.
Question: Is it at all [inaudible] before being progressive was cool –
Mayor: Was en vogue, yes.
Question: Today, we heard the Governor in his speech, was talking about the way forward with the progressive agenda. Is it ever frustrating to you to hear him kind of take credit for ideas he wasn’t always in favor of and now he’s in favor of them [inaudible]? Does that ever get to you a little bit?
Mayor: Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Look, I’m happy when anyone sees the light. So, these ideas I started talking about in 2012, 2011 and the fact that we had to address income inequality, that people were hurting, that they felt that the economy had been unfair, they felt the political class had not addressed their needs. And I’m sitting here because I raised those concerns and talked about the things we need to do to address them. And we’ve proceeded to do those things and we’re going to do a lot more. The more people who come to that realization [inaudible] act on it the better.
That’s part of my sense of mission is I would I like to see my whole party start thinking that way. It’s not a state secret that for decades the Democratic Party ran away from that kind of way of thinking. I think it’s a time of renaissance for the Democratic Party notwithstanding the challenges we face. I think the part is becoming more progressive. It’s moving leftward. It’s more and more people who recognize we have to start with a strong populist economic agenda –and the more the merrier from my point of view.
Mayor: I’ll get to you. I see you there on the wing.
Question: [Inaudible] bill that Cuomo vetoed that would have picked up the tab on the –
Question: Did you or do you support that and are you working [inaudible] on what the new proposal might be?
Mayor: Look, I think that was mistake that the Governor vetoed that. This is an area – he made a very good point today and I think a lot of his criminal justice reform proposals were good today. They made the point about one of the foundational concepts of our judicial system and our democracy – is people should be given a defense whether they can afford it or not.
Mayor: I’m not going to put a word to it. I wish he had supported the legislation because it would have made a clear standard all over the state and it would have helped us in the city to – and other places – to pay for these huge burdens. But it’s not a surprise and we obviously will remain committed to doing all we can do.
Mayor: Way back there.
Question: The President-elect has named his son-in-law his senior advisor. Do you have any reaction [inaudible] New York City? [Inaudible] any conflict of interest there?
Mayor: I’m going to separate the pieces. The conflict of interest I can’t speak to because I don’t know all the details – I don’t think any of us know all the details. But I would say that the Trump administration should be very, very careful about conflicts of interest, and they have not obviously satisfied the American people or all of you in the media about the way they’re addressing that. So, I think they’re going to have to win people’s trust on that matter by showing very clear safeguards. I mean, look at what we do in New York City – look at how much we disclose – any of us in public life – how much disclosure there is – and Conflict of Interest Board, and all the other things we have. They’re going to have to show people that they’re abiding by the highest standards.
About the person of Jared Kushner, I respect him a lot. I’ve known him for years and find him to be a very reasonable person. He’s certainly someone I’ll – I’ve been talking to him over these last weeks. He’s someone I intend to stay in touch with on behalf of the people of New York City. And I think he’s someone who, you know, really cares about New York City and is someone who could be very helpful to us. So, I’m certainly pleased he’ll be in that role and, if I could say, clearly, compared to many other people that have been named to other positions, I find him to be a lot more reasonable and a lot more moderate.
Mayor: I said that, I think, before. It’s not a news flash, don’t worry. No, as I’ve said at different points, including about the reimbursement issue, among other things, I’ve spoken to Jared Kushner on that and other issues several times. I’ve talked to Steve Mnuchin several times. I mean, both of those are examples of New Yorkers who I think care deeply for the City, and I’m going to keep an open line of communication with them. And I’ll call it like I see it – there’s going to be times when obviously we will intensely disagree. But my job is to advocate for the people of New York City and look for the members of the Trump administration who get it and understand how important New York City is to this nation, understand why we should get reimbursed for the police coverage we’re providing, etcetera – and those are two individuals I certainly intend to stay in touch with.