February 22, 2019
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning everyone and we begin as usual on Friday mornings with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment, my questions and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio. And our phone number is 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, if you want to ask something of the Mayor, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2. Or you can tweet a question, just use the hashtag #AskTheMayor. Good morning Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian.
Lehrer: So I think many people are still in shock about Amazon with whatever their opinions may be. The fear of some who supported the Amazon deal is that our local politics scared the company away in a way that will resonate with other big tech companies, or companies of any kind with lots of jobs, to not risk getting tarred and feathered in New York, you know. So how worried are you about that and is your administration taking any steps to prevent that outcome?
Mayor: You know, Brian for five years we’ve been helping to build up the technology community in this city and the life sciences community. It’s very strong right now. Last estimate said over 350,000 jobs in the tech ecosystem in our city, growing rapidly, Google just announced doubling its workforce in New York City. A lot of other firms are following suit. Great article in the Times today about how strong New York City has become as an international tech capital. That is going to be true either way. And by the way for our larger economic reality – 4.5 million jobs, the most we have ever had, growing, you know we are a place that companies feel they have to be because we have the best workforce in the country. So I think what Amazon did was arbitrary and unfair and really inappropriate given that there was an agreement and there was a series of things that they were supposed to do for this city and for Queens and Long Island City and they just walked away. I think they apparently wanted a situation where there was no dissent, no disagreement. If you want total unanimity, don’t come to New York City would be my advice to anyone. But, no, the rest of our business community works with the city by and large and understands why this is a great city and why it’s a great place to be. I don’t think there are larger ramifications. I think it’s a lost opportunity but I don’t think there are larger ramifications.
Lehrer: When we have, when we say 25,000 jobs were lost, it sounds like so many. But the official New York State Labor Department stat, you just cited it. There are 4 million jobs in New York City.
Mayor: 4.5, I have an absolute, iron clad stat for you, 4.5 million jobs over a half million have been added during my administration. And that’s look – and but, 25,000 to 40,000 jobs should never be belittled. But the truth is we have, you know again, most jobs we’ve had in our history and we are getting stronger so that’s why I am confident in our future either way.
Lehrer: Does this present an opportunity though to reform New York’s corporate tax break laws or create a multi-state compact in our region or even something broader that’s an agreement not to have a tax break bidding war to attract companies with jobs, you know companies that don’t need the breaks to profitably create the jobs?
Mayor: Absolutely. This is a debate that has been growing over years and years. You know, I know this has been a high profile situation but the question of incentives have been on the mid of the public and policy makers for decades. And we said at the beginning of my administration we would not provide tailor made incentive packages to any company, either for retention or for attraction. By the way my predecessors did that kind of thing. And maybe you could argue you know the economy was tougher back then but I believe its bad policy as a general question to ever make a tailor made incentive package. What Amazon took advantage was essentially, with some exceptions, but essentially state programs that were available to any companies that create jobs or located in the outer boroughs. They wanted tailor made incentives from the City of New York, we refused. And I do agree with you that this really needs a national solution, there should be federal legislation banning this effort to pit city against city and state against state and putting real caps on whatever kind of incentives can be provided. I talked to my fellow mayors, they are very frustrated by the reality that companies try and pit us against each other. On the other hand as long as those are rules of the game, of course every city has to try and get the jobs and the new revenue. I mean for the City and State this would have been $27 billion in revenue.
Lehrer: What could a law say to prevent it?
Mayor: I think it could literally, like any other law, remember, very important point to preface this, I talk about how advantaged the one percent are in this country because of laws, tax laws and other laws that favor them. You could also have laws that favor working people and say companies are not allowed to solicit or receive more than some limited amount of incentives. And I think when you look at our state programs, it is time to reevaluate them. Some of them I think are very worthy, some are questionable. I’ll give one that we went after a few years ago –421-a, the housing incentive program totally outdated at the time. It was rewarding developers for building housing that they were going to build anyway, or that was going to be very profitable anyway, the City of New York went to Albany and said this is ridiculous, we have to demand much more in return for any of these incentives, much more affordable housing, we have to make this a much more narrow incentive program, we actually won that battle. And we got a much improved structure. I think all incentive programs should be looked at in that light, practically as our economy has strengthened.
Lehrer: Let’s take a phone call. And, looks like we are getting a phone call from somebody who is in Rikers Island. And it’s Winston on Rikers, Winston you are on WNYC with the Mayor, thank you for calling.
Question: Good morning, thank you for having me. I have a quick question because I have a little bit of a time limit here. So much my question has to do with the minimum standards which I think is Title 40 for the rules of New York. There is a bit of a laundry list but I’m give just three quick examples. First here on the island, a lot of the clothes are not available, there are some guys who are walking around in you know, size 13 shoes, looking like a clown because they don’t have the right size. People don’t have towels the first few weeks that they are here so they can’t shower. Even though mail is supposed to take 48 hours to reach us, sometimes it takes three weeks. And my housing unit right now is 12 percent overcrowded. So my question is you know I have been putting in grievances to find administrative solutions for this but why aren’t our minimum standards being met? And I guess more specifically how much oversight does the City maintain at the facilities over Rikers, especially with you know, what was happening at the federal facility at Brooklyn which I know isn’t under City jurisdiction. But whose responsibility is it to make sure that the DOC is you know, keeping those minimum standards?
Mayor: Ok, Winston, first of all please, we will find a way to connect with you or give your information to the folks from WNYC so I can have people follow up directly and thank you for raising the concerns. There are multiple forms of oversight. There is the Board of Corrections, which is an independent board, named by a variety of different stake holders that does close oversight. City Hall of course does oversight over the Department, the City Council, the Comptroller, there’s lots of different places that look at the standards being kept. I’m very concerned about what you raise and I’m glad you raised it. We obviously want to make sure that all inmates get the services they are supposed to. The bottom line here is look, we just have to reduce mass incarceration. I mean I think this is the center of this, the jail population of New York City has gone down over 30 percent since I took office because of a number of initiatives like alternative sentencing, like reducing the number of arrests. We had almost a 150,000 fewer arrests in 2018 than five years earlier. So you know, let’s get to the root cause, let’s stop unnecessary arrests, let’s reduce mass incarceration and we can then be in a position to do a better job with those who are incarcerated including helping them back on their feet. That’s why anyone who leaves Rikers after a sentence gets a 90 transitional job now as part of our policies. People get education training five days a week while they are in Rikers. That was only one day a week in the past. So we have to change the entire culture of how we approach corrections. But these particular issues you raised, they are serious and we will follow up to make sure they are addressed.
Question: Thank you so much and thank you for signing the legislation to make these calls free.
Mayor: Well this is a good example why it is a worthy thing because we want to hear what’s going on from folks who may need these services and we want to treat people fairly because we are trying to help people get back on their feet.
Lehrer: Winston, thank you for your call. Jason in Brooklyn, you are on WNYC with the Mayor, hello Jason.
Question: Hi Brian, thank you for taking my call. Mr. Mayor, thank you once again for taking the time, I saw your press conference yesterday about tackling parking placard corruption. And first of all I want to applaud you for taking on that tricky situation but I have some concerns and questions about what we can do today. It seems like you can put pretty much whatever you want on your dashboard, be it an old photocopied NYPD manual, something that says [inaudible] something like a day glow vest that says you can work for the MTA and you pretty much get free parking wherever you want and you’ll never get a ticket. So basically what are we doing today to stem, not even parking placard corruption but stuff that just clearly isn’t even placards, whatever we want is in the dashboards basically and why isn’t parking being enforced today with this basically we just see, parking agents see whatever is on the dashboard, whatever it might be and walk right past it. What are we doing to make sure that things that aren’t even placards aren’t being recognized as basically a free parking pass wherever we want them to be?
Mayor: Well I appreciate the question Jason. It frustrates me just like it frustrates you. It frustrates all New Yorkers, I mean clearly parking is a huge quality of life issue for those who have vehicles but even for those who don’t. I talked yesterday about you know disabled folks trying to go to a curb cut for example and having it blocked by a parked car or cars parking in front of hydrants illegally. It’s just very, very dangerous. I mean small business owners are really hurt when people abuse their placards and take up spaces that should be for the customers. It’s a real issue. Here’s the thing, there are a lot of things happening now. They have already been happening. We doubled the number of summonses in the last year so it’s 54,000 summonses last year for parking, you know placard related offenses. 54,000 is not a small number. And those summonses come with real penalty. And what we are making clear is that is going to keep going up on the way to this new technological solution. So just to summarize, more and more enforcement in the meantime and that kind of thing that you described is not tolerable. So I want to say a lot of our traffic enforcement agents go out there and do what they are supposed to do. I agree sometimes we’ve had examples where they didn’t. That’s not acceptable to me and we have to do a stronger job of supervising them and training them. But if they see those kinds of non-placards, they are supposed to go and enforce. If they see a placard being misused they are supposed to go in and enforce. And it is happening because we have doubled the number of summons.
Second we are going to be using stickers soon as an interim measure, just like a registration sticker, it’s fixed inside the windshield, you cannot move it around and transfer it. It’s got a barcode, that’s going to greatly increase the ability to make sure placards are only used for what they are supposed to be used for. And then ultimately within two years, we will have a fully digital system where by an agent can go by down a street, never get out of their own vehicle and with the technology provided to them, read a license plate, the license plate is already in the database along with whatever placard is given to that car and what the standards are for that placard. If in a good situation license plate aligns to placard, aligns to the specific parking spot and it is a legal and appropriate spot for that placard, the agent moves on by. If in the case they get a hit and it says that person is not supposed to be parking there or that placard is not appropriate, it’s in the database. Summons is going to be issued, it’s not an arbitrary thing, you know the technology provides us with continuity and consistency. I think a lot of people in this town are going to get the message very quickly that what you used to be able to do and by the way the problem was identified first in a big way back in the Koch administration, so it’s been five administrations without a solution. We are going to use technology to solve this problem.
Last point, our first responders have been put in a bind all along. They have to show up at police precincts and firehouses at any hour day or night, do overtime, whatever, many of them, most of them need to use a car – they have never been given in many spaces enough parking spaces to accommodate that reality. It is reality, we have got to deal with it. So we are going to lease parking lots, parking garages, whatever it takes, delineate more spaces in the neighborhoods specifically for first responders who are stationed there. We have got to rationalize this so that as we are saying to people, we are going to crack down on the misuse of placards, we are also making sure that folks who have valid need related to their crucial work for us have places to park.
Lehrer: I read before your announcement yesterday that the reform was not expected to actually reduce the number of placards by much which reportedly has soared during your administration. Did you?
Mayor: Brian, you know we talked about this yesterday and I really want to make sure people are hearing the whole truth. The reason that placards went up, number one reason was a legal issue where it was quite clear to the City of New York that we were going to lose a court case and we came to agreement with the teachers union around teacher placards. That was one where just in our view there was no choice in the matter given how other placards had been distributed. The other reason is there’s more people, there’s consistently more people in New York City including more people who need parking for example, people with disabilities and they deserve a placard. I’ve never heard a New Yorker say don’t give a placard to someone who has a disability. But it’s simply more people who need them so I want to be careful there is not a misunderstanding of why we have the number we have. The problem in my view is not the legal and appropriate use of placards. The problem is the misuse and the illegal abuse and the fact that public employees who are supposed to put our trust unfortunately are breaking that trust when they misuse a placard, use a fake placard – parks some place that creates a problem or danger for other people. That’s not acceptable and it’s become – it’s been part of the culture of the city for decades and decades, let’s be really honest about it. It has to change, especially as we are growing, there’s more and more pressure on parking spaces and more and more concern in communities. I hear it in town hall meetings all the time. The good news is aggressive enforcement and technology is going to allow us to do something that never has been done before and break the back of this problem.
Lehrer: Deborah on Staten Island you are WNYC with the Mayor. Hi Deborah.
Question: Hello, good morning. I’m calling for a group that we started called OTPT for a Fair Contract. And I know we just ratified a new contract for occupational physical therapists so that we can join the rest of the teachers’ union members. However we felt that we were really forced into signing this contract because we as OTs and PTs service the most fragile of our students in the New York City public school system. Many of them have physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and we are working at roughly $20,000 less than teachers. We have a Masters. Now we’re forced to get doctorates. We owe school – tuition bills. Most of us have two and three jobs after school and we’re not able to really spend the time that we’d like to after school hanging out, talking to the parents the way teachers would. We have to go to other jobs to pay down our tuition.
So, I would like to ask you to please educate yourself as well as the Schools Chancellor because we – the work that we do gets reimbursed by Medicaid. We are a cash cow for the New York City Department of Education and we are not respected in any capacity because there are roughly 2,700 of us, that’s it. So, we’re like the [inaudible] of the DOE and that’s really how I feel.
Lehrer: Thank you and let’s get a response from the Mayor on this pay disparity.
Mayor: Yeah, I could not hear the last part of what Deborah said but I did hear the earlier part –
Lehrer: She said they were like the Uyghurs of the Education Department.
Mayor: Okay, I’m not sure –
Lehrer: But anyway [inaudible] –
Mayor: I’m not sure I fully get that but I’m going to [inaudible]. The – look, first of all I appreciate the concern because this is really, really important work that these folks do and as Deborah said folks that who work with some of our kids with greatest needs and I really appreciate that and that’s why we wanted them to have a contract. I mean the worst of all worlds is when you know have a situation where there is not dialogue and not an effort to get to a contract – we got to a contract. It was ratified by the membership and we thought it was fair and the ratification is some evidence of that.
But that doesn’t end the discussion of how we continue and try and help people do their job, appreciate them as professionals. And I hear what she’s saying. I do need to get educated on some of the nuances and how this city approaches this versus other cities. So, I accept Deborah’s point about having an opportunity to learn more about it. But I do want to say the important thing here is we have a contract, we’re moving forward, but that does not stop us from continuing a dialogue about how we can improve the work environment for these folks who do really important work.
Lehrer: Also, on education, your school desegregation task force issued its report last week. I was going to ask you about that last Friday but then the Amazon deal broke down and that kind of took over from everything else for a few days. And your task force recommended among other things every school see if its population represents the district-wide and borough-wide population, and it recommended you name a Chief Integration Officer for the school system. Will you or Chancellor Carranza order that all schools take that inventory and will you appoint a Chief Integration Officer?
Mayor: We’re going to – Chancellor Carranza and I are going to meet with the task force. I’m looking forward to carefully reviewing what they’ve come up with. Obviously, you know, I named them. I wanted to see them do this work. I’m not ready to say yet what specific actions we’ll take until we have that meeting to have a chance to really to think about. I do think what’s important here is to recognize we are in a much stronger place today than fine years ago because we have found a variety of ways to encourage diversity, to integrate our schools better, that many of which are grassroots based and therefore I think the ones that will work the best.
Look at what happened in School District 1 in Manhattan, District 3 in the West Side of Manhattan – 1 is Lower Manhattan – District 15 Brownsville, Brooklyn, where the solutions came from the grassroots. And this is what we want to replicate. We’re working with a number of other districts to do that.
While we’re working on the big citywide issues, obviously I put forward the idea to Albany of changing admissions for the specialized high schools which I think are one of our worst examples of segregation that can be fixed straight away by better policies. And I think the proposal we put forward would do that and would end the overreliance on a single standardized test.
We’re going to be re-evaluating the whole approach to screened schools. There’s a lot going on but in terms of what the next steps will be I want to really sit down with the task force and talk it through with them.
Lehrer: Dan in Ridgewood, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor – hi, Dan. Dan are you there – Dan in Ridgewood, once –
Lehrer: Hi, Dan, you’re on the air.
Question: Hi, Brian. This is Dan. Mayor, thank you for taking this time. I have a question because [inaudible] vacancy tax that’s been instituted where if a property is vacant for six months the tenant has to pay one percent of the percent of the property value each year. And I think –
Lehrer: You mean the landlord?
Mayor: The landlord, the landlord.
Question: The landlord, sorry.
Mayor: We don’t want the tenant paying –
Question: Yeah, no, no, no –
Lehrer: Certainly not in a vacant apartment.
Question: [Inaudible] seems like a valuable thing especially in a city with so many [inaudible] properties where people are having a difficult time [inaudible].
Mayor: Yes. Dan, I think it’s a great idea. I actually testified up in Albany earlier in the month that we need a vacancy tax for commercial properties. The fact is and we’re seeing it in a lot of parts of the city where – I don’t get it, I think it’s bluntly greed – takes a property off the market often times because they jack up the rent and the existing commercial tenant can’t afford it anymore – take the property off the market, they demand a higher rent than they can get and it sits there for a year or two years or three years. I think it’s crazy.
We are going to strongly encourage the Legislature – and I want all New Yorkers to join in this because you need to let your Senators and Assembly Members know this matters – to put in place a tax that says if a landlord does not rent out their property and perhaps it would be after a year, we’re trying to figure out the exact timing. But if they don’t rent out their property after a reasonable period of time they have to pay a tax on it because it becomes a blight on the neighborhood and it’s unfair to small businesses that those spaces are not available.
So that will then say to landlords – why not rent it out at a reasonable rent, keep your spaces filled up. That’s good for everyone. If the – they still have a right. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to but they have to pay the tax in that case. So, I’m very hopeful this is the kind of thing we can get passed in Albany between now and June.
Lehrer: Lou on Staten Island, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor – hello, Lou. Lou are you there?
Mayor: Lou, where are you?
Question: Yes, I am here. Good morning, Brian. Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Lehrer: Hi, Lou. Go ahead.
Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor. I just want to say, I want to encourage you to not take any additional flack about this Amazon business. They weren’t really serious about coming to New York. They just wanted to take advantage of our tax dollars just like the other companies did in Wisconsin where they make that big deal breaking ground [inaudible] something different. They took the money [inaudible] and they left. And I can’t understand why people are missing something they never had. Amazon never intended to come here. So, Mr. Mayor, let’s just move forward [inaudible] find a business that can revive the neighborhood [inaudible] supporter of yours but he had to go back to Liberia to revive the family business. He wanted me to let you know that you shouldn’t run for president this time around.
Lehrer: Should or should – wait, Lou, you said your brother had to go back for –
Question: My brother who is a huge supporter of the Mayor [inaudible] –
Lehrer: And he said he should or shouldn’t run for president?
Question: He shouldn’t run for president this time around. He thinks you are too progressive. The ideas you are projecting should really, really take hold in the city.
Lehrer: Lou, thank you very much.
Mayor: Well, Lou, thank you and thank your brother his kind comments and his advice. I think being accused today of being too progressive is a badge of honor and I accept it gratefully. I feel like I’m progressive in a way that’s actually work on the ground in New York City and that’s part of why I wanted to show people around the country that those real progressive policies that are working here and can work everyone around the country and for the whole country. But Lou, to your point, look, unquestionably we should move on after Amazon.
This was a competition. There was a good chance we weren’t even going to win to begin with. If we hadn’t won we would have moved on with our lives anyways. So, let’s just move on with our lives. We have 4.5 million jobs. We’re in a very strong state as a city right now. But I think one thing we need to remember going forward different than some of these other horrible examples around the country – Amazon was not going to get a dime of incentives until they produced the jobs and produced the tax revenue that would have allowed us to do things like affordable housing and fixing mass transit and fixing schools.
That’s where I really hope people understand the aftermath of this. Not a dollar flowed to Amazon and it was not going to flow until they produced the things that were good for the City of New York. But look, they’re in the past now. I have no idea what they were thinking the way they handled this. I think a lot of people are very frustrated with them but we’re moving forward. I agree with Lou 100 percent, let’s move forward because there’s so much good going on in New York City right now.
Lehrer: On being accused of being too progressive – I imagine you saw the stories today about anti-Ocasio-Cortez billboards taken out in Times Square apparently by an organization connected to the right-wing billionaire Mercer family. One billboard said, “Thanks for nothing, AOC.” Another said, “This billboard cost $4,000. You cost New York $4 billion in lost wages. Ouch.” Would this have gone south in the same way, in your opinion, if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t elected to Congress last November?
Mayor: Look, I’m not a pundit and I also have to say what really was going on here was in the minds of a small group of a members of the one percent in the boardroom in Seattle and it just boggles the imagination that they made an agreement and just walked away in the dead of night with any sign of dialogue. So, I don’t know what is going through their minds and what statements, what actions, what protests – I think, here’s the strangest thing, Brian. This is a city known as a progressive capital for a long time, known as a place with strong opinions, vibrant democracy – I mean, come on. They must have done some research in advanced before coming to the biggest city in the United States of America with such a rich tradition. So, if they got spooked by the fact that there was democracy and progressive thinking, well then, it was never meant to be –
Lehrer: But do you think –
Mayor: I can’t analyze what was going through their heads.
Lehrer: But do you think there wasn’t an AOC effect on Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer or State Senator Michael Gianaris from the neighborhood –
Mayor: You’d have to ask them. You’d have to ask them.
Lehrer: – who were for it before they were against it.
Mayor: But the difference – here’s the issue. First of all, ask them. Second of all, a clear majority of the people of New York City were in favor of it. So, that’s really what we should care about in the end that it would have brought us a lot of jobs and a lot of revenue and a clear majority of people including a majority of people of color and a majority of working class people, really wanted these jobs and this revenue.
If a handful of people oppose something, that’s normal in New York City. That should not be the underlying reality that everyone judges by. But again in the end, everyone was doing what they thought was right and there was a vibrant debate and we had a chance to do some good for the city and to push Amazon to do a lot more for the community and then they just took their ball and went home.
Hey, Brian, I just wanted to say before we run out of time – there’s an election on Tuesday. Can we talk about that for a second?
Mayor: There’s an election on Tuesday, everybody. Tuesday, February 26th – polls open 6:00 am to 9:00 pm, the race for Public Advocate. I held the job once. I can tell you with assurance, it’s a really important role in terms of having the voice of the people heard in our City government and a role where there – it’s one of the crucial checks and balances we have on the rest of government to make sure it works. So, please vote. We’ve seen a lot of great candidates, great use of our new public financing system where a lot of grassroots candidates have come up and not have to go to big donors because of the referendum that we passed in November. They’re getting public financing, low dollar donations. That’s how the funding their race. That’s a huge step forward.
But the other thing I want to say, Brian, which is really troubling is the Board of Elections, which still has not learned its lessons about trying to make voting easier in New York City – they are threatening to sue my administration because we want to provide translators on Election Day in a host of languages that communities have been begging us to provide – Russian, and Haitian Creole, an Yiddish, and Polish, and a whole host of languages that will help people vote. What the Board of Elections is saying no, those translators have to stay outside in the cold and the only they can help people is if they’re not allowed inside the doors of the polling place. That is the ultimate catch-22. That means the board is not allowing real translation services. And I need to call it out right not because they’re threatening to sue to try and play a game to stop it from happening. I think this is going to enrage New Yorkers further on the question of why does this Board of Election always stand in the way of progress and the kinds of things that would make it easier for everyday New Yorkers to vote.
Lehrer: In the Public Advocate candidates’ debate Wednesday night, one of the surprises was that all seven were critical of the job you’re doing as Mayor when asked if you could run the city and run for president at the same time. I see you’re going to Iowa this weekend. Even Melissa Mark-Viverito who you worked so closely with when she was City Council Speaker said you only focus on your pet projects. So, what would you say to the former Speaker or to the candidates as a group who seem to have made a judgement that you’re more of a political liability to them to identify with than a plus?
Mayor: I’m not worried about that, Brian. First of all, anyone who is Public Advocate is naturally going to be a critic of anyone who is Mayor. I was a critic of Bloomberg when I was Public Advocate. My predecessors were critics of the mayors they worked with. It’s normal. So, it doesn’t shock me. Also people are running for office and they’re trying to differentiate, and they’re trying to get headlines. It’s all normal.
But on the question of what we’re producing every single day here I’d said, hold on now, folks, let’s look at the facts. Strongest economy we’ve had in a long time. School system that’s improving all the time. Pre-K. 3-K. Safest big city in America.
We, every single day, are getting things done. I’m proud to be very hands-on in the way I manage this City government and I’m going to continue to do that no matter what. I mean the placard announcement yesterday, the Vision Zero announcement earlier in the week – these things were based on years and years of work to actually produce for everyday New Yorkers.
So, I don’t mind critics, I don’t mind naysayers, but I would love to talk about the facts. Let’s look at what this government is producing every single day and showing in the process that progressives can govern effectively and create a fairer society. Let’s have that debate anytime, anywhere.
Lehrer: Before you go, can I get a quick reaction to the Jussie Smollett case – not in terms of him so much but in terms of if he did stage a fake hate crime, what it does to the belief especially among white people, I would say, and the many real hate crimes documented to have increased during the Trump years.
Mayor: There’s no question there is a huge uptick in real hate crime of all types. In this city we’ve seen it in a horrible manner particularly lately anti-Semitic hate crimes. We had a huge spate of anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim – we’ve seen something horrible in the last two years unquestionably connected to the kind of atmosphere that Donald Trump has fostered around this country.
The numbers prove it. And these hate crimes are real. So, I’m not going to speak to something that’s still in many ways very murky. I want to speak to the reality that we know is factual.
On the ground right now in our city and around the country, huge uptick in hate crimes. It must be addressed in this national discussion we’re going to have about our future. There’s no place for hate in this country and leaders have to show that it’s unacceptable. We do that every day in New York City. We prosecute hate crimes. We create consequences for those who propagate such crimes. That has to become the national reality.
Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thanks as always. Talk to you next week.
Mayor: Thanks, Brian.