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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Rally to Extend Mayoral Control

March 7, 2019

Video available at: https://youtu.be/CW6hQFWyyZs


Mayor Bill de Blasio: I want to go to a PTA meeting at P. S. 307 because – just to hear Rashida's oratory. I am impressed and I appreciate your passion. I appreciate how much you see change happening and how much you believe more change can and will happen. And that is what this is all about – the ability to make big changes for our children. Let's thank Rashida for all she does.

[Applause]

Okay, I want to thank everyone who is here, everyone from the clergy community, the business community, the labor community, people who care deeply about the future of our schools, the future of our kids, the future of our city. So I want to thank you all but now we're going to – we're going to go to the classroom together and we're going to do a quick quiz. Are you ready? All right, three questions.

Are our students succeeding like never before?

Audience: Yes!

Mayor: Are our schools getting better and fairer?

Audience: Yes!

Mayor: Can we afford to stop the progress we're making?

Audience: No!

Mayor: You have passed the exam.

[Laughter]

To everyone here, I want to thank you for standing up for our children and standing up for the changes we are making and the greater changes ahead. I want to thank all of the leaders and the parent leaders as well who make a difference every day in our schools.

The empowerment of parents, as Rashida said, is about speeding the changes we need, the Chancellor and I believe in this fundamentally. We need to deepen the role of parents because it will be the number one way that we make sure accountability reaches all the way down to the grassroots and that things keep moving forward. The way you know if something's working is to talk to the people who are at the front line. They are the best allies and the best change-agents and the best agents of accountability. And by the way PTAs do that at the school level. We need parents all over the city to help us make these changes. So, thank you. Give your neighbor a round of applause, everybody.

[Applause]

Thank you to everyone who's here from my administration. A special thank you to my Senior Advisor for Minority and Women Business Enterprises, Jonnel Doris. Thank you for your leadership. And a special thank you – a dear, dear friend is here and he is one of the real experts on this topic because once upon a time he was President of New York City Board of Education under the previous structure, and he saw how desperately we needed change. Now he's one of the strongest voices for mayoral control. Let’s thank Steve Aiello. Thank you so much, Steve.

[Applause]

So I want to remind people, when I ran for Mayor, I had a distinction as being the first Mayor certainly in memory to serve as Mayor while having a child in the public schools, and I ran for Mayor as someone who had been a school board member, ran for Mayor as someone who had been active in the PTA, and I understood that we needed to change things and we needed to change them fast. I saw firsthand what the old system was like. I saw all the ways it let down children. I saw all the chaos. I saw, in too many cases, the corruption as well.

We could never go back to those days and I have said many times, it doesn't matter if Mayor Bloomberg and I agreed on everything or not. When it comes to mayoral control, it was one of his greatest achievements to get that passed in Albany, and we have all been benefiting since then.

The graduation rate the day that mayoral control passed in Albany originally, now over 15 years ago – graduation rate at that point hovered around 50 percent, an absolutely unacceptable figure for the largest school system in the country. Today, we have a graduation rate of 76 percent and growing every year.

[Applause]

And mark my words, the national average is 84 percent now. We will, in the coming years, surpass the national average for graduation rate in the biggest, greatest school system in the country.

[Applause]

Mayoral control has allowed for big changes to happen fast. Pre-K for All – we went from 20,000 kids in full-day pre-K to 70,000 kids in two years’ time because of mayoral control.

[Applause]

This coming September, there will be 20,000 children in 3-K, something that did not exist a few years ago. There will be 20,000 three-year-olds getting a full-day quality education this coming September because of mayoral control.

[Applause]

We announced – and for Richard and I, this was a moment of great pride – we announced that 55,000 of our students took AP courses this last year because of mayoral control.

[Applause]

We're focused on universal literacy and getting kids on grade level – reading on grade level by third grade. We're focused on getting computer science to every child – every child.

[Applause]

This is what mayoral control allows. Now, some people have said to me, and I think it's a fair point, [inaudible] phrase that gets across to the same point, one of my good friends, former colleagues, Robert Jackson, former Council member now State Senator, a great hero of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity – he says he likes to phrase mayoral accountability. I like that phrase too. I like that phrase too because when a New Yorker comes up to me – and I was just on the subway and you may know New Yorkers have strong opinions – when a New Yorker comes up to me and they want to talk about P. S.307 or whatever school it is, I'm accountable. It’s literally my job to make sure they get an answer and their issues are heard. The Chancellor gets 250 emails a day and makes sure that people get answers.

We had a town hall meeting with parent leaders in Staten Island just two nights ago and they raised the biggest concerns and they raised the most specific concerns. And we are acting on those concerns because someone's actually in charge, someone's held accountable.

So, we're proud of how far we have gone, but we know there's so much more we can achieve. You know, last year, 59 percent of the kids who left our high schools went on immediately to higher education, the all-time, highest number. But that number needs to go up a lot more and we know it can. We have proven there can be progress. And to me there is nothing more humbling than being responsible for 1.1 million children and their future. But it is, to me, a call to arms every day to get it right, to make sure we continue to make this school system better, to make sure we serve these kids and their parents better.

If we're going to achieve our goal of being the fairest big city in America, nothing's more important than making our schools the best they can be. And with mayoral control that can be a reality.

Want I say quick few words in Spanish before I turn to some of our other wonderful guests here.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, a man who – I don't know how he does it, I have never seen a day when he wasn't energetic. I have never seen a day when he wasn't positive. He seems to me to be someone who really believes that change can come and he's making it happen every day for our students. Our Chancellor, Richard Carranza.

[Applause]

 

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, good morning everybody.

Audience: Good morning.

Chancellor Carranza: I want to thank everyone who is here today, everyone sitting up front. You will all be introduced in a minute but, Mr. Mayor, with your permission, I do want to recognize someone who you always – I was brought up to say you always recognize those who came before you and we're building on the legacy of his great work and I want to thank Chancellor Walcott for being here. Thank you for your leadership, sir.

[Applause]

This is a great morning for us and I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for pointing out some of the many wonderful things that have happened under mayoral accountability, mayoral control, mayoral influence, mayoral vision.

A couple of more phrases.

Mayor: [Inaudible]

[Laughter]

Chancellor Carranza: It's what we do. That progress that you shared, all of the [inaudible] the AP for All, the grad rates, the attendance is getting better, our academic press is better, all of the things that you talked about, including very, very, very aggressively pursuing that national average and surpassing the national average on graduation rates – all of those things are pretty remarkable, but I want to remind everyone here today that behind all of those numbers are real people. They are students, they are young people from the South Bronx to the South Shore and everywhere in between who in arguably have a brighter path ahead of them because of the steps the city has taken to get them there..

Now I want to be very clear about that. It's not the Chancellor, it's not the Department of Education, it is the City of New York that has taken those steps to get them there. And when the citizens of New York City come together every four years to elect a leader, it is without question that they are also electing a leader who has a vision for the education of the 1.1 million children in our city. The very future of New York City is sitting in our classrooms right now. So when you think about mayoral accountability or mayoral control or mayoral vision, what you're talking about is the very future of New York City. So the question is very simple but not simplistic – how can we afford not to have mayoral control in the largest, most diverse city in America, I would argue in the world, to have that kind of leadership?

Now look before I came to New York City almost a year ago – 11 months, but who's counting – I taught in schools and led school systems in four different school systems, all of them urban school districts, and in four states. This is now the fifth school system and the fifth state that I've lived in worked in. In each of those school systems, all of them much smaller than New York City – nobody's bigger or better than New York City, let's just be clear – we did everything that we could to advance equity and excellence.

We thought we left it on the field, but you see, we could only do so much because too often we lacked a clear accountability to produce results. Too often there was a clear – there wasn't a clear political consensus to produce results. The vision and the systems and structures to produce results just weren't there and they were clouded by, oftentimes, the politics of those who wanted certain things and not always wanted the things that were the most effective for students.

So, one of the main reasons I was excited about coming to New York City is when I had the opportunity to sit with Mayor de Blasio – and one of the main reasons I came to New York City after that conversation and getting the opportunity to talk shop with the Mayor of New York City around education and education policy and education vision, and one of the reasons I came to New York City, and I'm so excited about New York City, is mayoral control. The understanding that the decision-maker in our city, the visionary for our city, the person that has been democratically elected to lead our city into the future has not as a priority but as a fundamental plank of the city's platform education and equity for all, Equity and Excellence for All is extremely provocative and it's one of the reasons I came. It's become one of the pillars of our administration.

And because with mayoral control comes accountability, innovation, and results. We are positioned to continue to move the system forward the ability to think big and put policies in place that turn ideas, many times very good ideas, but turn those ideas into action and results, very humbly, I can say only comes from the ability to have mayoral accountability, mayoral control. Parents like Rashida – by the way, you're a great speaker – who with her fellow P. S. 307 families, knew what was needed, knew who to go to in order to get it, and knew who to hold accountable to see it through.

Mayoral control means our systems and structures are aligned so that we are working all towards the same vision, and it means that everyone in the Department of Education, from myself to our educators, our students, our families, all of our support staff, everyone that touches the life of a child are working together from the same playbook – from the same playbook to execute on that vision.

That was only – and the only way to add a whole new grade, pre-K, that the Mayor has spoken about. And because I've lived from the West Coast now to the East Coast and in between, I can tell you there is no other large, urban city in America that has universal pre-K – quality universal pre-K like we have in New York City. And where people would have said that's not possible, we've proven that it is not only possible, it is actually doable and doable in a timeframe that many would have said could not be done. That's why we're on track to do it again with 3-K right now and it's the only way to bring 70,000 seventh graders on a college visit, to bring algebra to every middle school citywide, to implement Advanced Placement courses, and raise expectations for every high school student in our city.

It's the only way to provide anti-bias training to every single New York City public school teacher and educator. It is a structure that we need to fully deliver on our vision of Equity and Excellence for All. Not for some, not for those that have had it, not for those that could have had it – for all. So, please don't underestimate the power of that vision. As a student, an educator, and now as a Chancellor, I've seen and experienced at every juncture how public education can be transformative and change lies.

That is why Equity and Excellence is about building a future for each of our children. It's not bound by history, but it's not bound by demographics, it's not bound by income, but it's really fundamentally about who we believe we are in New York City. We believe we can unleash our students’ innate brilliance and unlock their creativity and put them on a path to their dreams, no matter their ZIP code, and the proof is there. Look at the results.

Together we're delivering the results, and mayoral control is working. So we owe it to our students, our families, to continue to work as hard as we can every day with a clear agenda driven by our belief that every student deserves the opportunity to live up to their full potential. And mayoral control is how we get that done. Are you with us?

Audience: Yes.

Chancellor Carranza: Are you with us?

Audience: Yes.

Chancellor Carranza: Let me just say that in Spanish –

[Chancellor Carranza speaks in Spanish]

With that, I say thank you. Let's get mayoral control done now. We need it. We appreciate it, but more importantly, our children are depending on it. Thank you so much.

[Applause]

Mayor: You're going to hear from some leaders who represent so much of this city. And you know I want to tell you 8.6 million of us – strong opinions, often divergent opinions, but when you look at the list here of all the business leaders who signed this letter in favor of mayoral control – leaders of some of the most important businesses in New York City – when you look at the list of labor leaders who signed this letter, and we're going to make sure you all get these, and a lot of them were up in Albany talking to legislators about how important it was. These are labor leaders who represent millions of New Yorkers, speaking up, talking about how important it was to continue mayoral control for the good of our city. When you look at the list of clergy leaders, people who are looked to as a great consciences of our city, who signed a letter in favor of mayoral control.

This is one of those situations where you see extraordinary consensus among the people who lead the city in so many ways. And that's why we know this is the right path and this is something we need to get done now. And I want to bring forward now one of the great voices of our business community, and I've worked with her for many, many years and she not only speaks up for the interests of our local economy and the concerns of business, she's been a leader in the creation of affordable housing. She's been a leader in the effort to constantly improve our schools. She's been a leader in the fight to achieve and sustain mayoral control because she understands, I think, as one of the great voices in this town, she understands what accountability means for our kids. My pleasure to introduce the President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, Kathy Wylde.

[Applause]

[…]

Mayor: Thank you very much.

[Applause]

Okay, let’s take questions on the mayoral control issue? Go ahead.

Question: Mr. Mayor. So there’s – state lawmakers have talked about – it doesn’t seem like there’s an appetite to get rid of mayoral control but there has been a lot of conversation about changing some of the government structure, so maybe giving some of your appointments on the PEP to somebody else and sort of increasing that accountability factor, and I know Senator Jackson actually has gone on the record to suggest that he would support something like that, and so has Senator John Liu. So I just want to get your thoughts on that—

Mayor: Sure.

Question: —what do you think about that?

Mayor: So I’ve been speaking regularly to the two legislative leaders, Speaker Heastie and Leader Stewart-Cousins. I’ve been speaking to Robert Jackson – I’ve been speaking to John Liu and a number of members. I think your first statement is right. There’s a broad view that mayoral control is working and should be extended. There’s also concern to make sure that the voices of parents are heard more consistently, more effectively, and we are working with our legislators in Albany to determine who we could address that. But I’ve also said it has to be done in a way that maintains the integrity of mayoral control. If there’s not a mayoral majority on the PEP, you don’t have mayoral control. There has to be the ability to make the decisions and implement them quickly, while still having real checks and balances which the PEP unquestionably provides right now.

So, I believe the conversation has been very constructive – we’re all looking for a way to continue what’s working and amplify the voices of parents, but we have to do it in a way that protects the core meaning of mayoral control. Yes?

Question: So the letter by the labor leader who is supporting mayoral control – I noticed that the UFT and the 1199 SEIU weren’t among the unions supporting or at least in that letter—

Mayor: Well, the UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, testified in Albany, a week or two ago and very clearly spoke up on behalf of his union for mayoral control of education and he said, specifically, that some of the major changes that you’ve seen: Pre-K, 3-K, the changes in improving professional development for teachers, the changes we’ve made recently to ensure that we could get teachers to some of the harder to staff schools – he said very clearly, publically, that only happened because of mayoral control. We can ask 1199 SEIU, I think they’ve historically been very supportive. The letter is obviously a group of labor leaders – it’s not everyone who supports it. But generally we’ve seen outstanding support from the labor community.

On mayoral control – yes?

Question: So, Andrew Cuomo has proposed a three-year extension. Obviously you’ve been speaking with the legislative leaders, but is there any indication that this might not happen, and is three years enough or are you seeking more than three years?

Mayor: Look, I think three years is fair. I agree that the system has proven itself – I want to pick up on Dennis’s point, this system has proven itself now for over a decade and a half. Every year we see improvement. At a certain point I think we have to say, you know, how much proof do you need before you recognize that something is working and should be made permanent? But for this moment in history we have a new State Senate. I think there’s a growing consensus that three years is fair. And I certainly know that would allow us to do the work that we have to do. On mayoral control, I want to see if there’s anything else and any – or on education while we’re at it. Go ahead.

Question: The president of UFT, Mike Mulgrew, told the Post in an interview, “Our current disciplinary system is broken – it doesn’t work for students or staff.” This comes after a string of stories about teachers losing control of classrooms and not thinking they have sufficient disciplinary tools to deal with problem students. What do you make of Mike’s comments?

Mayor: I haven’t seen those comments, so I want to make sure I take them in context and see the whole picture. Look , we – just look at the statistics, I think they have been very clear and consistent. A lot of the problems we experienced in the past have been reduced greatly in our schools. Crime has gone down, violence has gone down, our schools are safer than ever before. But we had to address the overuse of suspensions, we had to address the discriminatory use of suspensions, we had to address the fact that we had previously lacked restorative justice options that now we’re rapidly involving in many, many schools, including [inaudible] schools. I have no doubt that those kind of reforms were needed and are working. We always want to make sure we have orderly classrooms – so that’s a balanced point that’s absolutely necessary, so our teachers can teach so everyone benefits. But I think the path we’re on now is the best way to achieve that in a way that also makes sure our kids have a bright future, not a future hindered by some of the mistakes of the past. Please.

Question: Yesterday, I spoke to the Senator John Liu who said that – that they’re holding a hearing in the New York City Education Committee over the SHSAT vote, at least on the senate side, is not an immediate priority. That [inaudible] in December he said that it’s definitely something they’ll talk about. Do you, I mean, it sounds like – he’s making it sound like [inaudible] don’t really have the appetite to now talk about the SHSAT because they have other things to deal with. Do you know – has your office been talking to lawmakers about this? What’s your sense about this issue coming up this session, even a bill being considered?

Mayor: So, right now the entire focus is on achieving the extension of mayoral control of education by the time of the budget. That’s what we’re focused on right now. There will be other opportunities in the legislative session thereafter up through the end of June to talk about other issues. Look, when I presented, with a number of leaders in Albany, the idea of reforming our approach to the specialized high schools, we knew it would go through a very thorough legislative process. And ultimately it is the decision of legislators. So, they get to decide how and when it gets entertained. But from my point of view, it’s not something we’re going to be focusing on until we get through this immediate issue. Yes?

Question: [Inaudible] what are you hearing from the legislative leaders when you speak to them? Is there any reason to think that you won’t get an extension of mayoral control?

Mayor: First of all, I don’t take lightly such an important issue, really. We don’t take anything for granted. I think it is part of respecting the Legislature that we go there and make the case, hear the concerns, try to address the concerns. I am encouraged by the conversations I’ve had and we’ve been constantly – I’ve been, but also the Chancellor and lots of members of our team are talking to members every single day in the Assembly and Senate. I am encouraged by what I am hearing. I do think there is a gathering consensus round the idea of a three-year extension. But there’s still details to work out. There’s still real concerns about making sure parent voices are heard and we are going to take that very seriously until the day the vote is done.

Anything else on – please?

Question: With this issue of mayoral control and also the issue you spoke about earlier of congestion pricing and funding for the subway, you talked about the urgency in how we – this all has to get done in the next few weeks and yet this weekend you’re going to South Carolina, you were recently in Iowa. Doesn’t – what I mean to ask you is why aren’t you committing to stay in New York to focus on these issues intensely over the next three weeks until that’s all resolved?

Mayor: So, I appreciate the question and it’s important for you to know that tomorrow I will be in Albany having these conversations again but I want you to know, Willy, these are conversations that have been going on intensely for weeks and weeks not just with the legislative leaders but with a number of members of both the Senate and the Assembly. I’m having the conversations constantly, the Chancellor, the Deputy Chancellors, all of our team at our Albany office – this is a non-stop dialogue so I believe all of the conversations that need to happen are happening. It is a supreme priority to get this done. We’re applying all of the time and energy and resources we need.

Okay, last call, education or mayoral control – going once, twice. Okay, let’s take a little break so these good people can go and do other good things. Thank you, everyone. Well done.

[Applause]

[...]

Mayor: Okay, alright, other topics – yes?

Question: [Inaudible] 25 percent of New Yorkers say they’d be satisfied with you as the Democratic presidential nominee and a whopping 65 percent said they would be unhappy [inaudible] nominee. [Inaudible] you’re trying to run for president, people who know you best don’t want you to be the nominee of the party [inaudible] –

Mayor: Again, I have not ruled anything out and I will tell you what I believe about polling because I have experienced so many times – I have perennially been an underdog in any race I’ve been in. It does not matter where you start, it matters where you end. That’s the bottom line.

Question: [Inaudible] not so much, you know, do they know you, do they not know you, it’s were they happy with you as the [inaudible] –

Mayor: Again, that’s all I have to say about it. I have been through so many instances where the polling at the beginning of the process is very different from what you see at the end.

Question: [Inaudible] Patch.com, last week one of my colleagues was kicked out of a meeting of the neighborhood advisory committee for the jail – the new jail in Queens even though members of the committee, people who attended said that they wanted her to be there, they wanted the press at these meetings. I’m wondering why [inaudible] reporters who were covering [inaudible] and who made that decision to [inaudible].

Mayor: I don’t know who made that decision. I want to be clear – one, we respect open meeting laws and we want to always ensure those laws are followed and the media is invited in in any circumstance where it’s appropriate. Look, there is still a place in this world for private conversation when people are trying to work through sensitive matters. But we should always err on the side of inclusion particularly when the law indicates, obviously. So, we’re going to fix that situation and make sure there are meetings in communities where media have the access to hear how the dialogue goes.

Question: [Inaudible] advisory committees [inaudible] –

Mayor: I don’t know the nuances of each process but the point is I know it’s a really – an issue of tremendous concern. There need to be such forums where the media can watch the interaction between the members of the administration and community members talking through this issue. We’re going to fix that.

Question: [Inaudible] special election for Jumaane Williams’ seat?

Mayor: Last I heard, which is about an hour ago, he had still not formally resigned which is the trigger. When he formally resigns the City Council, then the clock starts for us to announce a date. But we’re not going to do that until the legal starting point is achieved.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Hold on a second.

Question: For your trip to South Carolina, what do you think the Democrats there want to hear from you right now?

Mayor: Look, I think Democrats everywhere want to hear a response to what people are going through. The lives of people in every state have gotten harder and harder in so many ways. People are struggling to make ends meet. Families are struggling. People don’t have enough time with their family and they see the growing wealth and power in the hands of the one percent, and it doesn’t make sense to them.

And they want to hear how we can change that. And I also can say – and this was true in Iowa for sure – people want to hear about solutions. I get that a lot of the dialogue is focused on conflict but actually everyday people want to hear about solutions and I want to thank about the things we’re doing here that work because I think they can work in a lot of other places.

Question: You mentioned you’re going to Albany tomorrow. What is your agenda there? Who are you meeting with? And what do you [inaudible]?

Mayor: I don’t have the list of everyone we’re meeting with. We’re putting it together as we speak. I certainly look forward to meeting with the legislative leaders, the Governor if he’s available – it’s just typically what we do every time, is to see some combination of the legislative leaders and the Governor depending on people’s schedules. But I’ll also be talking to a number of individual members and I’m going to be focused on two things in particular – mayoral control of education and passing the plan to fix the MTA. Those are the two most urgent matters.

There’s a whole bunch of other matters that are important. Obviously, we want to get some of those cuts in the budget directed to the city restored. I think there’s a lot of support in the Legislature for stopping some of those cuts. I also think what we’re trying to discern is which matter are going to be acted on in the budget versus the things that will go over into the rest of the legislative session. But right now I think it’s crucial to get mayoral control done in the budget, get the MTA plan done in the budget, and get some of those cuts – hopefully a lot of those cuts – rolled back.

Question: [Inaudible] follow-up – any thoughts on debris that’s been falling on the 7 train [inaudible] images –

Mayor: It’s totally unacceptable. It’s totally unacceptable and we’ve communicated – my team’s communicated with the MTA. We expect to see a solution immediately. But this is, I think, another example of why a clearer accountability structure to the MTA – we just spent a good time talking about the power of accountability, it still doesn’t exist in the murkiness of the MTA structure. The people will know more and more that the State and the Governor run the MTA but I think that should be formalized further. I think that line of authority should be much clearer. I think the Governor can make a lot of changes in that context of a clearer governance system and the MTA needs to the resources to not be living hand to mouth but to actually fix the underlying problems.

Yes?

Question: Mayor, I’m sorry I missed your comments earlier about congestion pricing so –

Mayor: Sure.

Question: [Inaudible] subway rides [inaudible] the MTA –

Mayor: Yeah.

Question: Where are you as far as that goes and the new text campaign that Riders Alliance [inaudible] urging State Lawmakers to act on [inaudible] –

Mayor: Well I am hundred percent in favor of what Riders Alliance is doing to create urgency and focus and to get this vote done by April 1st. I have said repeatedly this is our last best chance. We have got to get this done. There is tremendous urgency among the people. I have taken several rides with the media present to hear what people are saying and I’m going to be doing more of it and it’s really clear, the urgency is overwhelming. New Yorkers want a solution and they want it now and as I’ve talked to people about the plan the Governor and I have put forward, there is a strong agreement with it and I’m confident that this is the right plan and I think there is growing momentum to get it passed in Albany.

Question: That’s what you are hearing from writers?

Mayor: That’s absolutely what I’m hearing from riders but it’s also what I’m hearing my constituents in general.

Question: Speaking of the subway and of mayoral control, Speaker Johnson put out this plan a couple days ago for the city to take control of the city’s transit system. We’ve talked a lot of about the urgency of getting a funding plan done before April 1 but looking at the long term is that something do you think you would support? Do you think that’s a good solution?

Mayor: I first of all I respect Speaker Johnson a lot and I think he’s putting forward a heartfelt plan, a serious plan, I think it’s a very thoughtful approach. But I’ve said that we’ve got to solve the problem right now and our best chance of solving the problem is to deal with the structure that we have right this moment. A new structure inevitably would mean years of transition. We’ve got to get things fixed right now. So within the current MTA structure, let’s fix what we have, let’s reform it, let’s clarify the leadership of the Governor and the State. Let’s provide the resources. That’s where my focus is, and I want that plan to be passed, and I want it to work, but I’ve also said, look, if for some reason it’s passed and we find it doesn’t work, that makes an even stronger case for the option of looking at city control. But right now the best option is to fix it with what we have.

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor: Hold on, hold on, getting around.

Question: Just going beyond fixing what we have and getting the funding situation sorted out, is it something that you support? Do you think it’s a good idea?

Mayor: I support the plan Governor Cuomo and I put forward. That’s the best way to solve the problem. I want that plan to work. If that plan works, then we’ve solved the problem. I think the option put forward by the Speaker, again, it’s a thoughtful, commendable plan, but my focus is on fixing it with the plan we have now.

Question: Senator Liz Krueger is quoted today offering skepticism about the deal you struck with the Governor. She said, there are still many unanswered questions and the numbers don’t necessarily add right up, what do you make of that? That there’s still this giant hole –

Mayor: It’s a proposal that covered a lot of important ground but also recognized that the Legislators get to make the final decision and get to work out the details. So there’s never been a moment where the Governor and I said every specific – every final detail was in the proposal that we put forward. We gave a framework, the legislatures are raising a lot of important issues, but there is the time, wherewithal, and the focus to address those issues. Yes?

Question: Also on the national scene, Congresswoman Omar’s comments, did you find them to be anti-Semitic?

Mayor: I did. I did. Let me be really clear, suggesting that support for Israel means that you are beholden to a foreign power is absolutely unacceptable. And it’s illogical too. I believe strongly in the state of Israel. I don’t feel beholden one bit to a foreign power. I am a proud American who believes in the state of Israel and believes it must exist. I happen to be Italian-American, I’ve never heard any one suggest that because of my pride in my ancestral homeland, I am beholden to a foreign government. It’s really inappropriate comment and unfortunately it aligns with a history for centuries of that kind of negative comment being thrown at the Jewish community specifically. There’s a long anti-Semitic tradition associated with that kind of comment.

I will remind you, just a quick history lesson, when John F. Kennedy was candidate for president of the United States, the first Catholic actually on the verge of becoming president, there was a rampant discussion in this country whether he would be beholden to the Pope. It was anti-Catholic, it was inappropriate, it was offensive, and our country learned from that episode. We have to learn from this episode. But what I hope is – because Representative Omar that she doesn’t mean to offend - well if she doesn’t mean to offend, she should sit down with Jewish communities and hear the pain that they experience, hear what has been done to them over not just decades, but centuries, and recognize we need fight anti-Semitism with the same energy we fight sexism, racism, or Islamophobia, or anti-LGBT bias. It all goes together. Anything else, last call going, Rich?

Question: Your apparent satisfaction with the three year renewal, at least that’s what I’m taking from what you’re saying, do you think that it’s -  that would help the Legislature hold a future mayor’s feet to the fire? In other words something else to hold over his head or do you think, like, a permanent renewal would just simply take away another toy they have to kind of fool around and be [inaudible].

Mayor: Look, again, I want to believe at some point there will be a consensus in this State that this system works so well we should make it permanent. By the way, I think it should be the norm all over the State, all over the country. I think it’s proof – you know, we’re the biggest school system in the country and we’re proving this is a better model. But for now, I am satisfied with three years. It will allow us to get done the work that we need to get done and I think it’s true that people are in the legislature are looking ahead wondering who the next mayor is going to be, a fair consideration and the three years alliance to that concern as well.

Okay, last call, going once, twice – thank you, everyone.

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