Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Joint Press Conference With Public Advocate James, Advocates, And Community Leaders On Long Island College Hospital Agreement

February 22, 2014

Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px8Qs8UZMhU&feature=share


Mayor de Blasio:
There are some days that are claimed to be historic, but aren't. There are other days that are truly historic. This is one of the latter. This is a truly historic moment, a transcendent moment for health care in New York City, and the folks standing with me today have been incredible colleagues and allies and partners in making history, and turning back a really unfortunate, unnecessary, destructive tide in this city. The epidemic of hospital closures that became a normal feature of the landscape in New York City over the previous 12 years.

This is a list of 15 hospitals that closed in New York City from 2003 through 2012. 15 hospitals that were lost in this city. And this is the first time in 12 long years that a hospital has been saved, that we have kept the wolf from the door, that we have prepared for the future, for health care in a community. Because everyone here took responsibility. Everyone here stood up and wouldn't let the unthinkable happen.

For the first time in 12 years, there's actually a plan. For the first time in 12 years there's actually a strategy for protecting health care long term in this community in Brooklyn. This is only the beginning. And you're going to see the same approach applied in neighborhood after neighborhood, borough after borough, as we turn a page and start a new day in which health care is protected for each and every community.

Now, I want to tell you, I want to particularly welcome my colleagues Tish James, our public advocate. I want to welcome her for a variety of reasons, since she actually has the job I used to have. And we have been shoulder to shoulder in a number of struggles. In this one she played a particularly important role. I want to thank her for having continued and deepened so many of the efforts we started in the public advocate's office. I want to thank her for continuing the legal strategies that played such a crucial role here.

And I want to take everyone on a little walk down memory lane. Some of you may have been there, July 19th 2013. A hot summer day, and it was a day that was yet another moment where we thought Long Island College Hospital might be on its last legs. It was a day when we were told that there was no way to turn around, where the conventional wisdom said that the hospital was days away from a full closure. But now in the perspective of history we can say that July 19th, 2013 was the first step towards today. It was the first day that we really started to turn the page on that decade of hospital closures. It was the day - I remind you - that the doors on Long Island College Hospital were supposed to be literally padlocked. And it was a sweltering July day and a number of us were at the Brooklyn Court House, and we left the court house, went over to LICH, went through the doors of LICH, much to the consternation of some of the security personnel, and served its leadership with a temporary restraining order, that allowed the doors of the hospital to stay open. Even after that - so many people thought it was just a very temporary reprieve, that the hospital would still be days away from closure.

Well, the reason LICH didn't close, and the reason that we are now starting on a long term path to protect health care in the community, is because every single one of the people you see here simply wouldn't give up. And there was extraordinary unity and sense of purpose and tremendous sense of fight. Literally no one was willing to give up. And when no one is willing to give up, important things happen, big things happen. The people of Cobble Hill, the people of Red Hook, the people of Carroll Gardens, the people of Brooklyn Heights just wouldn't give up either. They wouldn't accept it. They wouldn't accept loss of healthcare in our community. Neither would the doctors, the nurses, the EMTs, and the patients who relied on this facility.

So, all together every one of us showed that nothing in this town is inevitable if the people are united. We are very proud to announce today an agreement that will settle the lawsuit that has been in place now for almost six months. It will settle the lawsuit and insure healthcare for this community for the long term. The agreement we are now seeing today -along with SUNY and Governor Cuomo - achieves objectives this community has sought since the beginning of this battle. The requests for Requests for Proposals, the RFP, will be reopened and reset on new terms. This community will have a 49 percent stake in the State's RFP evaluation committee. That is a historic first. That has never been done before.

Instead of private sector profitability being the yardstick for measuring the proposals that will come forward, the priorities will be, 1) continuity of care through the transition period,  and 2) the density and amount of medical care provided long term - long term and sustainable. And that set of criteria is a complete turnaround that will incentivize the biggest possible health care footprint on this site.

This represents the community's best chance to keep a hospital at the LICH site. And we knew from the start, that we needed a sustainable, long-term solution. And by the way, a lot of us were around back in 2008, and the years after, we were fighting the first time LICH was embattled. And we were told we had a long-term solution, and we found how flimsy it was. This time we are dedicated and devoted and focused on a solution that will last for decades and decades. And we knew that a long term solution would not be possible unless we could achieve the cooperation of the state of New York and SUNY. And that now has happened.

I want to thank Governor Cuomo. I want to thank Carl McCall, the chair of SUNY, for coming to the table and working in good faith to achieve this outcome. I have to say so many members of my team, for months and months, have worked to try and protect healthcare in this community. And that was true before we walked into this building. So I want to thank Dom Williams and Emma Wolfe and Phil Walzak and Stephen Newmark (sp?) and so many others who worked tirelessly. Since we got to this new job not a day has gone by that members of this team have not been working the phones, led by our First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris. They've been working the phones with our partners in Albany. They've been working the phones with community leaders to help bring people together.

Now. We understand - all New Yorkers understand - that healthcare is changing. It's changing because of new federal laws, it's changing cause of new economic realities, it's changing because of demographic change. We get it. And we're willing to embrace change. But only if it's on terms that leave no New Yorker behind. That has been the essence of this movement.

Today, we have a plan that leaves no one behind. We have a plan that protects  the healthcare needs of our community. And this guarantees the fundamental right to community healthcare for the 80,000 people who rely, first and foremost, on LICH today.

Now, back in those sweltering summer days, those many many rallies and press conferences, the civil disobediences, we used to make sure to shout out all the people who stood in unity on behalf of LICH. And I think we have to do that again, even if we happen to be in a somewhat more elegant setting. So, pretend you're out on Hicks Street, in a rally-like setting. Let's hear some energy as I call out each name and they deserve our praise and applause.
First, Public Advocate Letitia James.

[APPLAUSE]

Exceptional. Exceptional applause group here.

Tish started fighting for LICH before she was public advocate. It was not in her council district but she saw the struggle for healthcare for Brooklyn as a unified struggle. She believed that a threat to healthcare anywhere was a threat to healthcare in all other parts of Brooklyn. And if you know something about Tish, you know that she is not friendly when she sees injustice. And she saw injustice and it made her fight. She has continued that with energy and fire in the public advocate's office. She has continued to be a conscience, which is exactly what we need from our public advocate. And less than two months on the job, she has proven her resolve to fight for the people of this city - thank you, Tish James.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm going to call out the elected officials. I hope we'll have long and sustained applause.
Representative Nydia Velasquez.

[APPLAUSE]

Borough President Eric Adams.

[APPLAUSE]

Senator Dan Squadron.

[APPLAUSE]

Councilman Carlos Menchaca.

[APPLAUSE]

Councilman Brad Lander.

[APPLAUSE]

Assemblywoman Joan Milman.

[APPLAUSE]

And my - my cellmate, Steve Levin. The best damn cellmate an inmate ever had.

[APPLAUSE]

I want to thank someone - I said everyone here had a fighting spirit, everyone here had that unity, that energy - I can say safely the fiercest fighter, in terms of her incredible spirit no matter what we came up against, was Jill Furillo. And the members of NYSNA, thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

Jill and members of the New York State Nurses Association have been the heart and soul of this fight. Their troops were there no matter what the weather, no matter what the situation, no matter what the convention wisdom. They put more on the line than possibly could've been asked and this victory is so much theirs.

I want to thank my dear, dear friends. George Gresham (sp?), Estela Vasquez, and the workers of 1199SEIU.

[APPLAUSE]

A rather feisty group in their own right. And tremendously strong,  not only in fighting for LICH, but in uniting the struggling for LICH with the struggle for Interfaith. And I'll speak about that in a second, cause we're going to continue that fight too.

Concerned physicians at LICH who helped lead this court case from the beginning.

[APPLAUSE]

And how my favorite part of every rally would be when we thanked the lawyers because that's not typically a part of our society. So, Jim Walden and Gibson Dunn, thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

If there is magic in the law, Jim Walden has found it because we sometimes seemed out of options. And Jim Walden would typically burst into the room and come up with a new option. And they had - his options had the extraordinary tendency to work. And the reason we're standing her today is because of Jim's creativity and tenacity and he did it all for free and that will never be forgotten by this community. Thank you, Jim.

[APPLAUSE]

And this is a case where the justice system served the people. And Justice Johnny Lee Baines from day one never wavered. He listened to the community and weighted the views and concerns of the community in a way we can only wish and hope the government would do each and every day. And that is why we are standing her today and why we are making this history today. I want to thank the voices of this community. The incredible organizations that banded together, led this legal action, never failed to organize and mobilize people. Jeff Strabone and the Cobble Hill Association.

[APPLAUSE]
Gary Reilly and the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association.
[APPLAUSE]
Judy Stanton and the Brooklyn Heights Association.
[APPLAUSE]
Charlene Nimmons and the Wyckoff Gardens Tenants Association
[APPLAUSE]
William Ringer and the Riverside Tenants' Association
[APPLAUSE]
And all of our friends at the Boerum Hill Association.
[APPLAUSE]
And, again, I want to give my tremendous appreciation, deep appreciation to Governor Cuomo and to Carl McCall and everyone at SUNY. It's a long and complicated voyage we went on but they came to the table in good faith and we got something done and it's absolutely unprecedented what's been achieved.
I mentioned Interfaith. I want to be clear - we see this as a history-making moment and when you  make history, when you set a precedent, you have to then apply that precedent. We're going to apply that precedent with Interfaith. We are going to now get to work - all of us - to make sure there is a long term sustainable plan for healthcare in the Interfaith community. And then continue to use this model wherever a hospital may be in danger. And now, because of this fight, because people here sustained this fight, we have linked up with an extraordinarily powerful new development - the $8 billion Medicaid waiver. Again, credit to everyone here who helped to achieve that.
[APPLAUSE]
And our congressional delegation, and Senator Schumer, and Governor Cuomo - everyone who fought for that waiver. That waiver, which is to transform healthcare - the whole purpose is to transform and update healthcare - will facilitate all of the steps we need to take to protect community healthcare going forward. It's - you see this as one phase of history -  the 15 hospitals in 12 years - the combination of this settlement and the Medicaid waiver occurring just within weeks of each other, resets the entire dynamic in Brooklyn and beyond. It also facilitates a coordination and a collegiality between the city and the state that are going to allow us to strategically work to save community healthcare in a way that's never been done before.
A moment of Spanish:
Estamos increiblemente orgullosos de anunciar hoy un acuerdo legal para asegurar la permanencia de servicios de salud en esta comunidad.
Estamos dispuestos a aceptar cambios necesarios, pero solo si esos cambios no afectan a los neoyorquinos.
Este cambio garantiza el derecho fundamental a servicios de salud comunitarios para las ochenta mil personas que dependen de este hospital en Brooklyn.
I'm going to call up now some of the heroes of this fight, starting with Public Advocate Tish James.
Public Advocate Letitia James: Thank you. First. let me thank the Mayors team for all their calls and negotiations starting with Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris and of course the mayors secret weapon Emma Wolf. I want to thank the governor for entertaining me this weekend during Caucus weekend, as he scheduled a meeting with me in the mansion. As we discuss this issue, I want to thank him for that. I also want to thank my fabulous attorney who negotiated a wonderful settlement. [inaudible] for doing an excellent work and for their professionalism. Of course for Jim Walden for all that he has done and his entire staff and all of the attorneys who worked on this settlement. I also want to thank Carl McCall for all of his meetings and all of the calls that were made regarding these negotiations. And I want to thank all of my colleagues who are here today Congress member Velazquez, for President Adams, Senator Squadron, Senator Montgomery in her absence, Council Member Levin, Council Member Menchaca, and council member Brad Lander and his absence as well. I also want to thank Judge Johnny Lee Baines, for overseeing this case for the past year, from its inception to its closure. I just want to thank him for all he has done and of course I want to thank my co-petitioners 1199 Vice President Estela Vasquez, 1199 SEIU, their lead lawyers, as well as Jill Parillo and their attorneys, as well as the concerned citizens and all of the different associations. The Brooklyn Heights Association, Patients for LICH, Roy Sloane, Wyckoff Garden, Howard Colons, the Cobble Hill Association. Riverside Tenants Association and Maria Pagano and Gary Reilly. For the past year our community has banded together to preserve healthcare in Long Island College Hospital. After a long hard battle particularly over the last week, we have finally reached an agreement. We will have ongoing healthcare delivery from Brooklyn patients and a fair deal for all New Yorkers. SUNY will not shut down LICH.
[APPLAUSE]
Instead it will continue to operate LICH for 90 days as a new operator takes over. And SUNY will issue a new RFP and entertain bids based on healthcare needs, not just finances or luxury real estate. And this represents a real victory for all of us. The community will have a seat at the table, and a say in selecting the next hospital operator. We are making sure that the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill have a say in their access to quality healthcare. SUNY will issue a new RFP for operations of the hospital stakeholders, including the office of the Public Advocate, community groups, and others will have a seat at the table in deciding which operator can best deliver the health care solution needed.
This agreement could not be possible without the determination, the steadfast determination of community activists, elected officials, and our partners in labor. Make no mistake- this is a big win for our community, a big win for Brooklyn. Our work, however, is hardly done. Hospitals across New York continue to be under duress. We have lost more than a dozen hospitals in the last 10 years as the Mayor has indicated. And we have to fight for Interfaith in Brooklyn, Saint John's in Far Rockaway, and North Central in the Bronx. Every single New Yorker must have access to quality affordable health care, regardless of which zip code they live in, and that is what we are fighting for. Let me also thank the elected officials from central Brooklyn lead by Congresswoman Clark, Congress member Jefferies, and Congress member Velazquez for all that they have done in getting Medicaid waiver, and in addition to that Senator Gillibrand. And I thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor de Blasio: Thank you
[APPLAUSE]
Mayer de Blasio: Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez.
Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez: Gracias Mr. Mayor. [laughter]. Thank you so very much, what a great day, it is incredible. We found ourselves here today because of the tenacity and the commitment and the acknowledgement that in this country and in this State and in this city. We value and cherish the right of our community and New Yorkers to have access to quality healthcare. And the diffusions that are made regarding medical institution in our community must be driven by the healthcare needs of our community and not special interest. So I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and to thank Cobble Hill Association, Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Riverside tenants Association, Wyckoff Gardens Association, Red Hook, Gowanus, and all of Brooklyn. I don't need to say anymore. We fought hard, and when we were asking to keep this institution open, what we heard was "get the waiver approved by the feds." We went in, we met with Secretary Cervilio, we met with CMS, and we got the money. And it is to restructure how we believe in healthcare. But I got to say that if the next step is to file a civil rights suit, we will do it in federal court because amongst all this community there is a community of Red Hook. That is the most isolated and neglected. Blacks and Latinos, minorities, they too have a right to access healthcare. So Mr. Mayer, Leticia James, Jim Walden, the lawyer, how could we forget about your name? Eric Adams, and all my college and government and the elected officials thank you so much. We show strength in unity. And we are demonstrating that today. Gracias. En espanol. Bueno tremenda victoria  gracias a nesutro alcalde Bill de Blasio y a nuestro representante, nuestro colegas en el govierno Letica James que es la persona de  sensora publica. Estamos hoy anunciando  que vamos a tener al hospital LICH abierto. Que hay un settelement y un acuerdo en corte que obliga las partas a tener una resolucion  ques sea que de comor resultado final en que se mantenga un hospital abierto para las residents de Brooklyn. Esto demuesrtra la fuerz que las communidades tenemos si nos mantenmos juntos y por otro lado tambien tener fe en la justicia y la systema official. Cuando nuestro official electos fallan tenemos otro recurso. Ir a la corte para garanticar los derechos de nuestro cuidadanos. Es una gran victoria gracias.
[APPLAUSE]
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Borough President Eric Adams.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams: I want to be tall like Bill. First, the reason that this I believe is an important moment is because, our public advocate, as well as Mayor, Congresswoman, the entire delegation, we have come together to figure out how not to be exclusive, but inclusive. And you can't displace- I learned from my law enforcement days- you can't displace problems into other communities. And if we would have lost LICH, that problem would have been displaced in other parts of Brooklyn. The days of displacement of the lack of services are over. We have sunsetted  those days in 2014, and moved away from isolation to collaboration. During these past few months, LICH stakeholders have gone from the ER to the ICU. With today's actions, the community has gone and received a good prognosis. We can now faithfully discharge LICH and move the body of our healthcare system towards a full recovery. But through the victory lap, let's enjoy it, but then let's move to a full sprint to save our healthcare crisis in every corner of this city. The mayoral administration has shown their willingness to do so with full community involvement and I commend them for that. And I think that Emma Wolfe has done such a great job that I hired a staffer with the last name Wolfe also.
[Applause]

Mayor: Estella Vasquez of 1199.

[Applause]:

Vasquez: Buenos tardes. Good afternoon. We are so proud of our patients, our workers, our 1199 members, nurses, doctors, the community groups and the elected officials who stood strong against the closure of LICH. Without their perseverance, the hospital will have closed 13, 10, 9 months ago. But now, with this newly-requested proposal that will be open, we have the transparency that all along, all of us, have collectively been demanding. This voice will lead the community voice and the community voices in this decision that will affect care. We want to thank you - especially you, Mr. Mayor - and Ms. Public Advocate. [Remarks in Spanish]. And each and every one of the elected officials that are standing here with us. And all of the community groups it could not have happened without them. And let me say this. There will be a mess if I don't mention the lawyers from NYSNA - the New York State Nurses Association - [inaudible] and 1199 lawyer Susan Cameron.

[Applause]

But, most important, 400 NYSNA members and 975 members of 1199 never gave up. They labored day in and day out [inaudible] every night and day. With the stress of not knowing where we're going to be, if they're going to have a job or not. But these members were not only thinking of themselves, they were thinking about the quality of care for these people for the neighborhoods that they serve. For Red Hook, for the community Red Hook, and the elected officials who are here, Mr. Menchaca, is one of the most underserved communities in Brooklyn, and thanks to all of our collective efforts, LICH is alive. LICH remains open. This new agreement is the best possible choice for care. However, it has come with hard work and painful sacrifices. But we are confident, we are confident, that this closes an era of hospital closings in New York. St. Vincent's Hospital - 150 year history - a hospital that provided care for veterans of the Civil War in the 18th century, was closed and today luxury condominiums are there. But thanks to our collective efforts, LICH remains a [inaudible] in Brooklyn.

[Same remarks in Spanish]

Mayor: From NYSNA - Jill Furrillo

Furillo: Good afternoon. When NYSNA nurses took our first bus ride to SUNY'S Manhattan campus with 1199 SEIU caregivers, New York Communities for Change, and Tish James, over a year ago, we went there to protest the planned closure of LICH and we felt that we were along in the fight. Many people told us in the beginning that stopping the closure of LICH was only a pipe dream and that we had absolutely no chance of succeeding. Many people told us that. But our movement grew. It grew from one bus full of activists to a whole hospital that was mobilized and ready to fight for care for the entire community and to involve our local and state elected leaders - and that happened. We have all built this movement together - and together we can say that LICH is open today for care. I am so proud to stand with our mayor, Bill de Blasio, with our Public Advocate Leticia James, and with a strong coalition of patients, doctors, NYSNA nurses, 1199 caregivers, community organizations and elected leaders. It is because of the unity and tenacity of our coalition that we have gotten to where we are today. Unity - make no mistake - if we had not fought so hard, had not risked arrest, had not held rallies in the snow and in the heat wave, had not brought our battle into the courtroom, LICH would be closed. But LICH is still here and it's open for care. And we are still here - our coalition is stronger and more united than ever. Our nurses have continued to go to work every single day - bravely facing fear and uncertainy, receiving countless closure and layoff notices, but continuing to provide the very best care for our patients, come hell or high water. Our NYSNA nurses, our 1199 caregivers, and our LICH doctors have shown incredible bravery and commitment to the patients served by LICH. They have made countless sacrifices and will continue to do so. Because, in the end, from every housekeeper, transporter, caregiver, nurse, and doctor at Long Island College Hospital, our goal is and always will be to protect care for all of our patients. Thank you

[Applause]

Mayor: I can safely say today, New York City's favorite lawyer, Jim Walden.

Jim Walden: Hi everyone. Two things: you don't have to clap for the lawyers, and you can call me "Jimmy." It's been a long fight. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for bringing me into this. It's been a real professional highlight of my career to be able to represent him and Public Advocate Letitia James, who, the day after the election, called and said "I want to know what's going on with LICH," and has been fighting ever since. So, thank you very much.

And I also want to thank my other clients in the room, Judy Stanton back there, [Gary Reilly, Jeff Strobone, Charlene Nimmons, Bill Wrangler, and Howard Colons,] who's not here. If you think about it for a second, community groups from Red Hook - because Red Hook, while they're not standing here, has been front and center in our minds and in many of our meetings- from Red Hook all the way to DUMBO, united to save this hospital, behind this incredible group of elected officials. And I've never seen community groups- that are normally, not these community groups, but many community groups, are fighting with each other, and fighting over things- come together the way these groups did, and do something truly historic. And so it's been an honor to represent you guys, and thank you very much for the honor. But when we started the legal action, we stood on the shoulders of giants, because NYSNA, and 1199, and the doctors- yes, Dr. Navarro, I see you sitting there-

Unknown: Romanelli!

Walden: Romanelli, I'm sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Now we both got a name wrong. I feel your pain. We started an action and they were already on third base. Their lawyers, [Richard Selzer, from Cohen Weiss, Susan Cameron, from Levi Ratner, and Hanna Fox from Arnold & Porter,] did amazing, amazing legal work, and honestly, they deserve to be here more than I do, but I'm grateful to be here.

Let me tell you a little bit about the details of the settlement, because I think that when you hear the comprehensive nature of the relief that SUNY offered as a result of this settlement, it really was something that I've never seen before in my legal career. First of all, obviously, despite the controversy over whether the RFP would get modified, or whether they'd make an award now, there will be a new RFP that's offered to the entire world-

[APPLAUSE]

-for all bidders, existing and new. The stated, make no mistake about this, the stated objective of this RFP is to find an operator of a full-service hospital. That is the objective.

[APPLAUSE]

And we enforce that objective through technical criteria, that I'm not going to bore you with, but the bottom line is, hospitals get a technical increase in their score; anything less than a hospital gets a technical decrease in score. Now, that is the way that the scoring measures up, but if you remember in the current RFP, 50 percent of the ultimate score was based on the money, and only 40 percent of the score was based on the medical needs. And as a result of this settlement, it is the reverse and then some. In this settlement agreement, there will be an RFP that has the medical criteria accounting for 70 percent of the ultimate score, and the financial only 30.

[APPLAUSE]

And moreover, for the first time that I've ever seen, guess who wrote the RFP? We did, with SUNY! We sat in a room with them for the first time and negotiated over the terms of the RFP, clarifying many problems with the old RFP that we think kept bidders away and kept prices down. Also, we will also be in the room when they make the decision, because these clients will get to choose votes representing 49 percent of the technical committee. And again, that's the first time I've ever seen that happen.

But there's been one detail that has not been spoken about yet, and it may be, I think, the greatest signal from SUNY, that at this point, they really do want to find a hospital operator and they're not just concerned about profits. And here's what it is. You all know that there have been at least two bids above $240 million dollars. And with this litigation resolved, I think the prices are going to go up, because the cloud of litigation, I think, kept prices down. SUNY has agreed that if there is an accepted bid with net proceeds more than $240 million dollars, it's not keeping all the money. It's going to give 25 percent of the proceeds to a not-for-profit dedicated to health care in this community. And that should scare away anyone that just thinks they're going to get past the technical criteria and just make this deal about money. So, this is a sweeping settlement. It is a historic settlement. It is not a settlement that's going to guarantee anything, but I echo the words of the mayor in saying, that this settlement represents the best possible chance at a hospital, and that the proposer who offers a hospital and a good price will be selected through this process. Thank you.

Mayor: Ok, let me go over the next step in this proceeding. So what we're going to do here is take on topic questions. On topic questions for me or anyone else here. And at the end of the on topic questions I'm going to make a brief statement regarding the media reports related to my security detail. So. On topic questions.

Q&A -

Question: I would like to ask you, or the lawyer, what's going to happen to the employer [inaudible]?

Mayor: Say again?

Question: The employer. Are they being laid off from there?

Mayor: Well, I'll start by saying we are going through a process. I think Jim just laid out, and feel free Jim or anyone else to add in, but the bottom line is we're beginning a new process with the emphasis on health care. Again, that list I showed you earlier, the emphasis was always on private companies making profits. This time, for the first time in over a decade, the emphasis is on community health care, and the goal is to make sure we maximize community health, and obviously the employees that go with it. But that will be a part of an RFP process. Anything more to say, or does that cover it all? OK. Questions, this topic. This topic, this topic, this topic. Yes.

Question: Can you explain how the community will be involved with the [inaudible] can you just explain how that works?

Mayor: Yes, well let me get to, let the expert- take it away.

Jim Walden: I'll never be tall like Bill. So, in a process like this there's a committee that gets together and it's a committee that has technical expertise. So they're doctors, like Dr. [Romanelli?]. There are people that run hospitals. The community groups, the public advocate, 1199 and NYSNA, and concerned positions, they're going to get together, they're going to choose people that have the right expertise, and then they're going to be in the room. They'll receive all the proposals. They'll have complete information. The meetings will be covered by the open meetings law, so there's no more secrets, no more lack of transparency, and they'll weigh the proposals based on which one has the best hospital, or the greatest health care, and then they will rank them. And another important part of this settlement is that in a normal Request for Proposal, a normal RFP, if the first person wasn't chosen, they could walk away and just sell the property for the real estate value. But in our settlement they have to go through the process with some technical limitations, but they have to go through the process with the top three ranked candidates. And so if the number one doesn't work out, they go to number two and then number three.

Question: What happened to the [inaudible]?

Mayor: Say again?

Question: Is there any process to look into what happened to the [inaudible] money?

Walden: And so, there's another judge I should have mentioned during my remarks before, Carolyn Demerist, who also has part of this litigation. The case currently before Judge Demarest is going to be withdrawn. But when SUNY ultimately wants to make an award, they have to go back before Judge Demarest, or if there's another judge assigned, and then account for what happened to the [inaudible] money, and whether there's an obligation to repay. So that's not going away, that obligation is not going away with the settlement of the litigation, but it will be determined later on.

Question: Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo said that there was, in discussing both the waiver and the situation with Interfaith and LICH, that there was a surplus of hospital beds in Brooklyn. [inaudible] as you go forward, a reduction in the number of beds at LICH?

Mayor: You know, throughout this last year, I've talked about the fact, as I mentioned in my remarks, there are changing economics and changing realities. We want sustainability of health care, and we're open to different formulations, but we want sustainability. And I can only point to the fact that 15 separate hospitals were lost. Obviously, they weren't sustainable. That even LICH five years ago or so, we thought we had a sustainable solution. We did not. So, the one thing we refuse to do is to go through this whole struggle again. We want a solution that we believe really will stick this time. And we want to make sure it's a financially viable one. So we're open to different formulations. What's fundamental is the localness, the sort of, accessibility of the health care. And both this victory, specifically, and the waiver in general, I think are what's going to allow us to lock that in.

Question: Do you really expect any new bidders in addition to the ones already submitted?

Mayor: Well, I'll say one thing and then if Jim or Tish or anyone wants to add- I think we've learned one thing when it comes to Long Island College Hospital: expect the unexpected. And so, we don't, we literally don't prejudge it. There's a lot of great reasons why different entities would bid here, and certainly a number of entities have been interested over the last year, so that's certainly a very live possibility. Anything to add on this? Hold on, this side, yes.

Question: Mr. Mayor, this morning you told me, when I asked you -

Mayor: We're on this topic. This topic.

Question: You told me I could come here and ask you -

Mayor: If you're on this topic, you can ask a question. This topic? Long Island College Hospital. Health care.

Question: Mr. Mayor, just to be clear, while the agreement favors hospitals, groups [inaudible] to provide more medical care, there is a possibility that there will be residential units in some of [inaudible]?

Mayor: Look, we don't prejudge the proposals, first of all, and we've seen any number of combinations put together into different proposals. We do want economic sustainability. So we're open to different formulations that get us there. But we are - the whole way that this RFP is written, I think there's a brilliance in what everyone here achieved, and I want to thank Jim again, because it's written to weight towards maximum health care. But we'll see what each proposal combines.

Question: Can you give us a sense of what the Governor's involvement was in this deal, as well as SUNY Chairman Carl McCall, and why aren't there here to share [inaudible]?

Mayor: We, as you saw in the announcements that I made included quotes from everyone, and we certainly let them know that they would be more than welcome to be here today. I think everyone has busy schedules, obviously, but I think the involvement was very constructive. Look, we've had our differences with SUNY, but we never stopped trying to communicate, and keeping a line of communication open, and I think as some new ideas were put on the table, SUNY, to its great credit, responded very openly, and very collegially. I think Governor Cuomo played a crucial role in pushing all the players towards a solution, and the fact that the medicaid waiver process was running parallel was very important, because it pointed out a way to sustain these kind of new visions going forward. And the governor obviously - I want to commend everyone associated with the waiver, including obviously our congressional delegation, but the governor particularly energized that fight to get the waiver. So all the pieces go together, and you're going to see that play out with LICH, with Interfaith, with SUNY Downstate. The presence of the waiver is a game changer. So the combination of this agreement plus the waiver, I think this is literally a new day. But the governor played a very important role in that. Yes.

Question: Just wondering, are you going to take off-topic questions today, or no?

Mayor: I have a statement I'm going to give you in a moment. On topic. Go ahead, Henry, first.

Question: Are you going to, would you expect something different than a full-service hospital, let's say a 24 hour emergency care situation that, you know, is completely high-tech and -

Mayor: Are you putting in an RFP proposal?

[LAUGHTER]

Mayor: I think that's a conflict.

Question: I just want to know [inaudible] that's a dealbreaker if the proposal doesn't include a full-service -

Mayor: Because the community is at the table, so point one, the community is at the table in an unprecedented manner. I can't tell you how many times in this process folks from the community started by saying, first of all, we actually want to make our needs known in this process, and we want an opportunity to see each proposal weigh. And I say, we are working well with SUNY, and we thank them. There were some months where we couldn't get basic information we needed, and that was a real sticking point. So, the fact is that the community presence, baked in now to the decision making process, is crucial. The second fact, that the RFP process weights towards health care. We don't prejudge. It would not be responsible to prejudge the outcome. We want health care for the community, and we want sustainability. That could take more than one form, undoubtedly. But as you heard from Jim, this proposal favors the most intensive health care possible. Yes.

Question: Given that the RFP is only going to be open for three weeks, is it realistic, do you feel its realistic for a new player to get an RFP ready in such a short time?

Mayor: Absolutely. Look, as I've said, there's been extraordinary interest. This is an area of this city that has been booming in every sense, in gaining population, and there was a lot of interest last year. There's been a lot of interest in recent months. There will be a lot of interest again. So the way the RFP is structured- and correct me if I say anything that needs clarification- you know, there's definitely time for new proposals to be put in. And I think a lot of different organizations have looked at this situation, and probably have been considering whether to throw their hats in the ring, and now they have another chance with a clear set of criteria.

Question: [inaudible] said that he took this, LICH, out to several other bidders, and no one was interested beyond the core proposal, to create a full-service hospital, no one was offering anything better than what's on the table now.

Mayor: Again, from our point of view, and you know, we're all publicizing very clearly today that the door is open again. And I think that could absolutely elicit new interest. Again, we've seen a lot of moving developments around LICH, we're not going to be surprised if there's more. On this. Wait. Yes.

Question: You said last summer that you were thinking about putting together a Brooklyn Health Authority, to try to coordinate the whole borough's health [inaudible]. Have you moved forward with that?

Mayor: I think this implicitly moves that agenda forward. We haven't- we don't have a new announcement yet on the structure, but I think in terms of the idea taking life, this is a huge step forward. Because what you have here now is the State and City constantly communicating, I mean daily, hourly, communicating on how to protect local health care. Let's face it, with all due respect to my predecessor, that wasn't true last year. And this is a good and healthy state of affairs, that we are constantly working together on the question of how to protect community health care and what shape it will take, and how it will be sustainable. So, that actually mirrors a lot of what we were trying to do with the Brooklyn Health Authority. We want to take additional steps to formalize it now, because- I showed you the 15 hospitals that were lost in the last 12 years- we know in Brooklyn, once LICH is secured, there's Interfaith, there's SUNY Downstate, there's Brookdale, there's Wyckoff. There's a whole host of challenges. And then, as Tish said, St. John's in the Rockaways, beyond. So, we need to deepen that formal coordination between City and State. The other factor is, that the waiver gives us an incredible opportunity to do it, because now we have new tools and new resources to coordinate with.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you'll be reading a statement [inaudible] instead of answering questions, why won't you take off topic questions -

Mayor: Again, we're talking about this topic first. This is a real straightforward thing. We're talking about a major moment in the history of health care in this city. I think some people are interested in that. Last call on LICH, hospitals. Going once. Yes.

Question: Mr. Mayor. Your press office didn't give us a press release about this topic, but did give us this list of hospital closures. So just to be totally clear, when will the new RFP be issued, how long will it be out there for, and what exactly is the way for community to be involved?

Mayor: Ok, we're going to Jim answer those questions. Do we have a further release coming? Great, we have more information coming in written form. We have Jim Walden here, step or no step, whatever you prefer.

Jim Walden: No step.

Mayor: Stepless!

Jim Walden: I don't mind being short. Ok, so the process is that after there's judicial approval of the settlement agreement, which is probably not going to happen until Monday, because there are two judges that have to approve. SUNY will issue the new RFP in three days. Three business days, I'm sorry. And then after - the proposals are due 15 business days after the release, and then the evaluation committee will have seven business days in order to rank and submit their list of the top three proposals.

Mayor: LICH, health care. Yes.

Question: From what I understand, sometime in the end, towards the end of May, this process does not finalize, or is not finished, or is moving towards being finished, the opportunity for SUNY to sell this property is still there [inaudible]?

Mayor: Let's let the lawyer-

Walden: When you say that there's a theoretical possibility, I doubt it. Because there clearly are proposals. If none of those proposals offer a hospital, which I doubt, given the fact that the current proposals, there already one hospital, and one near-hospital. But if there were three top ranked and they didn't get through, I think that there would be a process to make sure that this wouldn't be sold for real estate. And I don't think that that's SUNY's intention. I think it's very clear from what's happened that whatever the past was, SUNY is as committed to helping us to try to keep a hospital in this spot than anyone else.

Question: Mr. Mayor, if you were a betting man, what do you think the chances are that this is going to work?

Mayor: I like your formulation there, Jim. I feel very confident, and I'll tell you why. First of all, I have to say, about the people behind me- I'm betting in particular, this group, I would never bet against this group. Ever.

[APPLAUSE]

I think we've crossed the Rubicon. I think we've got such a clear set of criteria now, and again, a lot of interest out there already, and potentially more new interest, that I think we're going to get to a final plan that protects health care for this community, and will be economically sustainable. I really feel that. I could never lie about what some of us felt last year. You can ask each individual. There were some days when we felt we were hours away from a closure. That's not an overstatement. Today, I am absolutely tranquil that the pieces are in place, and that this final set of plans is really going to come forward and work. And I think the presence of the community at the table makes me feel that all the more. So, I think this is a decisive moment. I also think - please, as you think about this, don't underestimate that the waiver - you know, we just had $8 billion dollars added to the equation. Now, granted, it's for the state of New York, but it is such a game changer in this discussion, and it's explicitly to help all of us navigate these changes in health, and changes in economics. So I think we in just a tremendous situation today to really achieve a good outcome.

So let me just give you a quick statement. I want to say, I'll offer my view, and I think it's good to talk about security in the presence of someone who actually knows something about it, former NYPD Captain Eric Adams, and thank you again for your service to this city before you ran for office.

And I know people have asked some questions since the media reports related to my security detail. So, very, very simple statement. You probably, many of you probably saw Commissioner Bratton's comments earlier, and Deputy Commissioner Miller's comments. So I'll just respond, or refer to those. So I have great respect for NYPD security training and protocols. I'm committed, obviously, to traffic safety, and safe streets in NYC. That's why we put forward Vision Zero. Commissioner Bratton addressed the topic of my security detail earlier today. I'm very comfortable with what Commissioner Bratton said, and I refer you to his comments. Thank you very much.