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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appoints Julie Menin As Commissioner Of Department Of Consumer Affairs

April 24, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: First I’d like to begin by thanking all of the leaders of our administration who worked so hard to bring us to this day - the appointment of a new consumer affairs commissioner. I want to thank our first deputy mayor, Tony Shorris; Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; and our chief of staff, Laura Santucci. 

I also want to thank the great team at the Department of Consumer Affairs, who have done so much over the last few months - not only to continue to run the agency well but to take the first important steps in the implementation of our paid sick leave program. I want to thank First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico for being such a great steward of the agency over these last months. I want to thank Deputy Commissioner George Pape and General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner Marla Tepper. Thank you to you all for your leadership.

We are honored today to be joined by the chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, Council member Rafael Espinal. Thank you so much for being with us. 

And we have some small business owners standing with us who we are appreciative that have joined us. I’m going to talk about them in a little bit but really they are here to represent the fact that we know the Department of Consumer Affairs is on the side of consumers and also here to work positively and productively with small business owners to make sure that the laws are followed but that we work in collaboration to help small business to do the work they do and to be the job-creation engine that they are for this city. We believe those goals can be achieved in tandem. And obviously that we can do extraordinary things for the people of this city with our new paid sick leave law and do it in such a way that works constructively and positively with the business community. 

So New York City has an extraordinary tradition, an incredibly proud tradition when it comes to consumer affairs. Literally, this city pioneered the notion of a municipal consumer affairs agency. When the Department of Consumer Affairs was created in the late 1960s, it was the first such agency in the entire nation. As you’ll remember, the consumer movement really flourished in the 1960s. But it could’ve been just a movement outside the gates of government trying to get government to listen to the voices of citizens and consumers. It might’ve remained just that had New York City not stepped up and said no - you know what, this set of ideas is crucially important - let’s make it a part of government to stand up for consumers, to create laws and regulations that project consumers’ interests, that protect the little guy, to make sure that we are enforcing them but all the while, of course, working with our businesses to do it fairly.

So New York City innovated the notion of educating consumers via the government, making sure that when consumers were wronged there was real recourse - there was a place to turn. And there have been extraordinary people who have played the role of consumer affairs commissioner - people who had real conscience, who had real energy and a sense of activism from within government to protect every day New Yorkers. It’s a very very proud tradition at this agency. And now, the person who will continue that tradition - and I know she will do it with that same energy, that same sense of activism and engagement with the community - will be Julie Menin. And we’re so proud of you, Julie - I’m so happy that you’re joining our administration today. 

Julie does nothing lightly. When she engages, she does it 110 percent - and we’ve all seen it throughout her career. She has the right work ethic, the right energy, the right attitude, the right optimism, the right way of engaging people and getting ideas across that will allow her to be a highly effective consumer affairs commissioner. And she has a deep sense of the communities we serve and the businesses that we work with. 

Let me stop at this moment to work on my Spanish lessons. 

Me enór-gullése nombrár a Julie Menin cómo la próxima comísionada del Depártamento de Asúntos al Consumidór. Yo sé que élla trabajará dúro por los deréchos de los consúmidores, y por asegurár que la ciudád no im-pónga múltas innecesarias a nuéstros pequéños negócios.

Julie has an extraordinary background. She had a very accomplished career as an attorney, with a particular emphasis on consumer law. She understands the mission of the Department of Consumer Affairs through that legal perspective - very purely - what it means to enforce laws that are meant to protect everyday citizens. But she’s added to that with an extraordinary body of work at the civic level as well. 

In the aftermath of September 11 - the moment we all remember where people were searching for answers, searching for answers, searching a way forward - and to take us back to those days and weeks after the attack, there were a lot of question marks in this city. And there was a desperate need for people to step forward and innovate and come up with solutions. Julie was one of the people who did that - and won tremendous acclaim for her ingenuity, her energy, her sense of optimism when she created Wall Street Rising, a non-profit organization that focused so effectively on the revitalization of Lower Manhattan.

Later, she continued this work in a new role, as chair of Community Board 1. I can tell you from long, rich experience, it is not easy to be a community board chair in New York City. Everyone has a strong opinion at the community board. You have to know how to listen and work with everyone. You have to know how to provide leadership while being a consensus builder. Julie did that very very successfully. And by the way - against the backdrop of a community working so intensely to recover, a community that was changing rapidly with very complicated issues - in the middle of her tenure, the Occupy Wall Street movement occurred. In the middle of her tenure, the issue of the Islamic cultural center came up. I watched with real admiration how Julie handled these extraordinarily complicated and difficult issues with grace, with focus, with clear, strong, progressive opinions, but with a real ability to work with everyone. I think she won the respect of people on all sides of those debates for the way she handled herself. 

She has yet another attribute that allows her to understand the constituency of consumer affairs that is our small business owners. She herself created and ran a small business - a restaurant and catering firm that had about 100 employees. So she went through the same thing every other small business owner goes through in this city. And she certainly has tales to tell about the things that work well in the way the city of New York responds to small business and the problems and the things that we have to fix to create a better environment for small business. 

All of this gives her the range of skills and talents and understanding to be a tremendous consumer affairs commissioner. And that last qualification - having run a small business - gives her also the sensitivity to understand that even when we want to make sure every single consumer is protected, we have to also respect our small businesses. 

And I know - and I’ve said this many times - that that didn’t happen all the time in the previous administration. Some real boundaries were overstepped in the name of revenue production. Many small businesses were treated unfairly. Many rules were applied very arbitrarily. And it undercut the ability of some small businesses to survive - it certainly undercut the ability of some of them to grow and employ more people. We want to move away from that approach. We want to create an approach where we work with small business, we educate, we explain, we answer questions. When we fine it’s because we know we’ve tried everything else short of fining. And then we will fine to make the point that the law must be respected. But we want to strike a lot more balance in our approach to small business. And, again, I know Julie is just the person to do it. 

And, again, to symbolize our appreciation and our sense of understanding of how crucial the role of small business is in the city, I want to welcome Olive Lewin, who is the owner of the Cariba Beauty Salon. Welcome. Which borough?

Olive Lewin, owner of Cariba Beauty Salon: In the Bronx.

Mayor: In the Bronx, thank you. And Shiv Puri, who is the owner of the Bombay Sandwich Company in Manhattan. In Manhattan. Special honorable mention to Shiv - I’m going to talk about paid sick leave in a moment - he - there was a great article about him a few weeks. Shiv, you’ll tell me if I get it wrong - he had legitimate concerns and doubts about the paid sick leave law, but the more he learned the more he came to realize what a benefit it could be for all his employees and for his company. And he turned into someone who went out of his way to explain to his own employees how they could benefit from the law, and to make sure that they understood it and took advantage of it. I want to thank you. I think that’s been a great example to business owners all over the city. 

So, with the understanding that Julie - that community understanding, that neighborhood understanding, that sense of our small businesses, the sense of what they mean in terms of neighborhood strength and character - Julie is the perfect person to strike that balance, to make sure we’re defending the consumer while working constructively with small business.

And I want to talk, for one more moment, about the paid sick leave issue, because Julie is going to be someone who is a trailblazer in another sense. Coming into an agency with a very rich and positive tradition, helping it to improve and strike that balance better with small business, but also the leader, now, of our effort to implement the paid sick leave law. 

You know, at the beginning of this administration we said we wanted to make substantial change, we wanted to reach people in need, we wanted to give people a shot at a better life, we wanted to do everything we could to raise the floor on wages and benefits in this city, because we knew so many people were struggling just to get by and weren’t able to enjoy even the most fundamental standard of living that had been something that so many New Yorkers considered a given in the past - now it’s something that so many people have to struggle for. Our effort to reach a half million more New Yorkers with paid sick leave was a crucial piece of that agenda, one I’m very, very proud that we were able to achieve to quickly with the help of our friends in the city council. 

Now it’s going to be Julie Menin charged with making that a reality on the ground in every neighborhood - making sure the law is explained to small business owners - as Julie will tell you - in many languages in many ways, making sure that the answers are there, that we work constructively to get this done right, and that people who deserve to benefit. And this is going to mean a little more economic stability in the lives of our people, a little more ability to make ends meet, an ability to get well when you’re sick, the ability to take care of a child when your child is sick. It’s going to be something that’s small but crucially important to hundreds of thousands of people in this city. And I know Julie will be the right person to implement that law effectively, compassionately, and to make it something that will really make a fundamental change in the lives of our people. 

With that, I welcome our new Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Julie Menin. 

[Applause]

Incoming Commissioner Julie Menin, Department of Consumer Affairs: Thank you so much. I first of all want to thank the mayor for this incredible honor he has afforded me to serve in his administration and to implement the vision that he had for the Department of Consumer Affairs. And I also want to thank and acknowledge the leadership of Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who is here with us today, and Council Member Espinal, who I very much look forward to working with.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is not only responsible for consumer protection and ensuring a vibrant and fair marketplace, but also through its Office of Financial Empowerment, it is charged with creating economic opportunity for those that are financially disenfranchised. New York has always attracted people from all across the world because we represent the very best of what is possible and what is achievable. Like many New Yorkers, I am the child of an immigrant. My mother, who I’m so happy is here today, grew up in Hungary and is a Holocaust survivor. And she came to America  to build a better life, as so many countless others have as well.

I have worked, as the mayor said, as a regulatory attorney, as a small business owner, and for many decades as a community activist in Lower Manhattan. My commitment to public service, however, was truly galvanized by the tragic events of 9/11. As a small business owner near Ground Zero, we suffered along with so many countless others in the aftermath of an event that shook our great city, our great country, and the world.

After 9/11, I helped to build a not-for-profit that – as the mayor said, which really focused on small businesses to help them rebuild and provide them with technical assistance. In that capacity, I heard time and time again on countless occasions from small businesses who did not understand why they were receiving punitive fines and, quite honestly, did not know how to even fix the problem. And I always vowed that I would help those small businesses. And that is why to be standing here today as your DCA commissioner is something that is truly so personal to me.

One of the biggest responsibilities that the agency faces is to ensure that as the mayor has so often and so correctly stated, the fines cannot be punitive. And they cannot be inequitable. And that we must work to help lift up small businesses. We will do more to educate and communicate and make sure that we are using native languages. So whether it is the consumer or a small business, we vow to make sure that we get it right.

We want to make sure that enforcement is conducted in a fair and truly equitable manner. In particular, we have a duty to reach out to immigrant communities throughout the city and make sure that we’re protecting their consumer rights and ensure that immigrant small businesses know the rules and regulations and that we’re offering them technical assistance, not just arbitrary and capricious fines.

One of the most important responsibilities of this agency is, as the mayor said, to implement and to enforce paid sick leave. And which, because of the mayor and the speaker’s great leadership, will now expand to an additional 500,000 New Yorkers. And which will, of course, ensure that no worker will ever have to choose between caring for a sick child or a sick parent and work.

I commit that at DCA we will literally work night and day to ensure that employees and employers throughout the city know and are able to fully exercise this important right. I’m so proud to be leading a department under this mayor that is so connected to New Yorkers in every borough and that will truly honor his mandate of a progressive vision for our great city. From engaging in vigorous consumer protection agendas to ensuring that fines are not punitively being doled out to helping the [inaudible] New Yorkers, as well as the approximately 25 percent of New Yorkers that are eligible for but are not currently applying for the Earned Income Tax Credit, to of course implementing and enforcing paid sick leave.

We will create real financial stability and economic opportunity for our city’s most vulnerable residents. Or, whether it is through everyday vigilance, this department must [inaudible] on the simplest items of weights and measures. We cannot and will not stand for anything less than the highest standards.

This department must protect New Yorkers from scams and deceptions designed to take advantage of the innocent. And this department will also remain committed to finding new and innovative ways to promote the financial health of indigent New Yorkers.

And when our job is done and weighed and measured, I hope that this administration is counted as having brought a new level of consumer protection innovation, along with the highest standards of integrity, fairness and financial empowerment to our city. So Mr. Mayor, once again, I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to serve. And lastly to my family, who I simply cannot thank enough. To my mother who I thank for all of her love and support, to my father who really instilled in me a great passion for government and politics. And to my children, Max and Mason and Lucas, who are the three best sons a mother could ever have. And I have to tell you, Mr. Mayor, that my son Max could not be here today because he is on a history field trip to Plymouth Rock. And so while this is a great civic moment with our family, I guess we could not compete with the Pilgrims.

Mayor: Yeah, the Pilgrims won that one.

Incoming Commissioner Menin: And last but not least, to my wonderful husband Bruce for all of his enduring love and support over the very many years. I commit today to serve this mayor and this office with all of my energy, dedication and passion. Thank you.

[Applause]

Mayor: Well done. Before we go to Q&A I do want to say that as a parent myself, there’s nothing in this world that makes us prouder than the accomplishments of our children. So I commend your children, but to your parents especially, I want to say on behalf of the people of New York City, you’ve done good.

[Laughter]

You brought her up well. And she’s going to do a lot for this city. Let’s take questions on this topic first. Yes?

Question: Mayor, I was wondering if you or the commissioner could talk about some of the specific plans you have for reducing either the overall amount of revenue your taking in from fines or [inaudible] work with small businesses?

Mayor: There’s three areas. And I’ll lay it out and then feel free to jump in. First it was going to be the question of how we project revenue in terms of the different agencies. That we’ll have more to say on May 8 when we present the executive budget. The second is how we conduct the day-to-day work of the agency, the instructions that we give people about what the goals are. I know our new commissioner had some strong views on this, as do I. We want to make sure that people are fined when it is – only when necessary and worthy, not because there’s a de facto quota system or some other imperative around revenue.  So that’s going to be very much about the leadership and the message sent from the top about how to comport themselves.

And then third I think is a bigger question that goes across a number of agencies that we’re going to be addressing in the coming weeks and months, which is what kind of regulatory reform might be necessary in this city. I don’t think anyone has mistaken me. I am a progressive. I believe fundamentally in the role of government – the constructive, positive role of government. But I also know that some of our regulations are outdated. I know some of them contradict. And we want to look at how we can simplify and lighten that burden. Want to add?

Incoming Commissioner Menin: Well I couldn’t agree more with what the mayor said, that we have to make sure we have equitable enforcement of any fines, and also that DCA does the best job possible to make sure that we are reaching immigrant communities who may have consumer complaints who currently are not exercising them. So I think we will be able to go down new roads and new paths with resolute enforcement in that area, but always make sure for small businesses that any kind of enforcement is equitable and is fair.

Mayor: On this topic. On this topic. Way back?

Question: So consumer affairs [inaudible]

Mayor: I’ll start by saying, look, as we’ve said very consistently, we’re moving forward on this change. It’s something we’re going to work with the City Council on. Obviously we’ll work with the industry and other stakeholders on this. So just to emphasize in the meantime, of course the day-to-day enforcement, the day-to-day regulation continues as it is until those changes are made. On this topic, yes?

Question: [inaudible] enforcement [inaudible]

Mayor: Do you care to say it louder?

Question: paid sick enforcement? How that’s going to be rolled out [inaudible]

Mayor: Great. I’ll start and then Julie will take over. We’ve already had a vigorous outreach effort to businesses all over the city in multiple languages. Again, Julie is very committed to having that happen in more and more languages. And we’re going to engage with community leaders of all kinds in that process. So a lot of information is already out. Part of how Shiv was able to start signing people up is through the website and the other tools that we have that small business owners who want to start working with their employees have a lot of information now. But that’s going to be a continuous process.

So just, before I turn to Julie, two facts to understand. For the folks who can start accruing days now, the process works. Those are the folks in the larger set of businesses – the businesses with a larger set of employees. The accrual process goes on for several months. So people cannot actually utilize those paid sick days until August. For the smaller companies – the ones five employees up to , I think it’s 15 – the bill – there’s a six month phase-in to get the smaller businesses acclimated. So there’s time to really deepen the outreach. I know this is something that the chairman cared about deeply, making sure there was a phase-in time for the smallest businesses. And we feel very good about the fact that it’s time to get the information out and do it effectively. Do you want to add or – ?

Council Member Rafael Espinal, Chair, Committee on Consumer Affairs: Yeah, I just want to say, DCA has been doing a great job. Alba Pico and the rest of the staff has been going out to communities and giving great presentations to small businesses and also associations. So, you know, I’m not concerned with how DCA is going to roll out paid sick leave.

Mayor: Do you want to?

Incoming Commissioner Menin: Sure. Absolutely. Well on June 2 DCA will be implementing an additional advertising campaign. And as the mayor said, starting on July 30, people will be able to start to utilize the paid sick days. In addition, we’re going to ensure that we go beyond the bill and the required six languages and we’re going to be translating into many, many languages to ensure that we’re reaching communities all across the city. And in terms of enforcement, as the mayor said, there is a six month period. The goal of DCA will be, of course, to provide technical assistance and make sure that we are educating employers and employees before there’s any kind of enforcement period.

Mayor: Yes, Rich?

Question: I’m just wondering whether you’ve discovered that there are, within the agency, any [inaudible] productivity goal, otherwise known as quotas? And whether those will be, if they exist, disestablished?

Mayor: Look, I talked about this as public advocate. I think everything that we were able to bring out publically, it was quite clear. I think when those quotas have existed in city government, it’s not like people take out a billboard in Times Square to announce there’s a quota. Obviously they are careful about it. But we had a lot of evidence that it was the reality. And I think the simplest way of saying it is that employees who are out doing their inspections, doing the enforcement and didn’t bring back enough fines were treated as if they’d done something wrong instead of the notion being if they’d gotten the problem fixed, they were doing their job. So we said throughout the last few years, we did the reports on the impact on small business of the previous administration’s approach.  Which, first of all, it was biased according to borough. Much higher impact in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan, particularly in the Bronx a particularly negative impact. Bias against immigrant small businesses. Many more fines, many more inspections of immigrant small businesses than others.

But clearly the regime – the concept was not here’s the problem, let’s make sure you fix it quickly. If you fix it everything’s good. It was, here’s a problem, we’re fining you now. And many times when people attempted a fix, they were fined again. And that was about revenue. And that was a de facto quota system and we’re certainly not going to allow that.  Yes?

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Louder?

Question: [inaudible] fine to small business [inaudible]

Mayor: yeah. Well we’re going to obviously have a buildings commissioner quite soon, and we’re going to be talking about the building side of the equation. And, you know, our health commissioner is already working on trying to make some of those reforms at the health department. Julie will quickly – starting a week from Monday, I believe – will quickly be getting to work on the changes in consumer affairs.

But I think there’s – an important point off one of the previous questions. There are the problems that need to be fixed in a single agency, and then I think you’re pointing out some of the things that go across various agencies. You’re starting a business, you’re building a building, a lot of different agencies get involved. And that is not just about the question of fines, that’s about the timelines involved, which I find and have found for a long time unacceptable. The buildings department timelines are inhibiting small business development. They’re inhibiting the creation of housing. They’re holding back our economy. And there’s some very tangible ways to address that, which we’ll be doing with First Deputy Mayor Shorris and Deputy Mayor Glen and all of the commissioners.

So right now we’re doing this in stages. First we want to try to address the immediate question of how to reform the approach to enforcement. As I said, we’re going to be looking at a bigger regulatory reform. But there’s also a question of getting here – here’s a shocker – getting all the agencies to talk together when it comes to the specific project – small business or a specific development – getting them to coordinate so we move things as quickly as possible. Because time is money for all of use. And because if a job could be created today rather than wait six months, I want the job today. If a tax revenue for the people of this city could be coming in today rather than waiting six months, I want the revenue today so we could do good things for the people of this city. And the history of delays is absolutely unacceptable. So in stages, we’re going to work on a way of coordinating the agencies and speeding up the timelines across the board.  Anything else on topic? Going once, going twice. Okay, off topic. Yes?

Question: [inaudible] the broader issue of your appointments so far as mayor, you’ve appointed [inaudible]. The majority of those people are from Brooklyn and from Manhattan, very few from the remaining outer boroughs, particularly Staten Island. And I was wondering if you think that your administration needs to better reflect the outer boroughs in terms of geographic diversity [inaudible]

Mayor: We’ll check our numbers, and I think the number is much more than 50 at this point, when you include all the people that we’ve named in press releases and events. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Right but whatever - we define - just for everyone’s satisfaction - we define our attempt to look at the balances through the people we named formally in a press conference or press release. When you look at that standard it’s a clear majority outer-borough. And one of the things we wanted to make sure was that that understanding of the life of the whole city was evident in the people we chose.

So, first of all, the majority of the people come from where the majority of the people come from, which is the outer-boroughs. The majority of our appointees come from where the majority of all New Yorkers come from, which is the outer boroughs. Second, our appointees - regardless of where they come from - we’ve really put a high bar on the question of do they understand the city from the neighborhood level? Julie is a great example of that - someone who’s served as community board chair. I can’t think of anything better as a way of understanding the neighborhood realities of this city. So I feel very, very good that the people we’ve chosen have that mindset, that understanding, that experience. We are always, in every sense of diversity, working to deepen the diversity of this administration. There will be more senior appointees. There will be a lot ahead in terms of deputy commissioner, assistant commissioners. And it will continue. And the commitment to diversity will continue, but we feel very good about where we are now. Marcia?

Question: Mayor [inaudible] city council asked [inaudible] restore $54 million to the road resurfacing program that was [inaudible]. I wonder how you feel about it and [inaudible] restore those funds?

Mayor: Well, I’ll - first of all, I think the council is - obviously, I have tremendous respect for the council, particularly having been a council member. Their job is to reflect their values and to push for the things they believe in. My job is to come up with an executive budget that I think will do the best work for the people of this city and obviously reflect the values of this administration. So, on - the most formal answer to you is, we will look at what the council’s presented, and on May 8 we’ll have a response. In terms of the question of our roads, let me give you the latest. I’m very proud to say that since January 1, we have filled 311,000 potholes. We continue to set records. 311,000 potholes. Thank you to Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her extraordinary team at DOT. But we will definitely respond on the questions related to the roads in the executive budget.

Question: [inaudible] Dan Garodnick and the other members of the council [inaudible] talking about [inaudible] pothole repairs isn’t enough [inaudible] affect underground water mains and electrical equipment [inaudible] higher possibility of rupture both of gas lines, pipelines, and everything else that’s below [inaudible]?

Mayor: We - look, I think [inaudible] is that the first thing and the fastest thing we have to do to keep this city safe is to get the potholes done. The resurfacing issue is on-going. It happens constantly year in and year out. We’re going to do all that we think we can do while balancing the many, many needs in the budget. But again we’ll have specifics for you on May 8.

Question: [inaudible] story in the New York Post that the city is offering taxi medallions [inaudible] in exchange for giving up [inaudible]?

Mayor: No. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: That was one of my most eloquent statements. 

Question: What do think of the idea of the possibility of compensating these drivers [inaudible]?

Mayor: Oh, I’ve said before that we understand in a change like this we have to be fair to the people who currently have these businesses and do this work. One of the things of course I’ve said is we want to make sure in that which succeeds the horse carriages, for example, the model replica electric cars, that the first opportunities to run those businesses, to be employed, would go to the same folks who are now a part of the horse carriage industry. But we also know there are real issues in terms of the values of those current businesses that have to be resolved. But there’s never been a discussion of thinking of a taxi medallion as an equivalent - it’s not an equivalent.

Question: [inaudible] protest going on in the park about trying to do away with the carriages. It was because of yesterday, there was an incident, there was accident. I just wanted to see - did you see the picture that was circulated of the horse on its side after the accident? And is that what’s motivating you, in part, to do away with these horses?

Mayor: Look, every time we talk about this issue I say I have seen so many of these accidents. The one yesterday was not the first one - it was one in a long line of accidents. And it’s for a very simple reason - horses don’t belong on the streets of New York City. What happened yesterday - a horse was spooked by a bus nearby. A horse is not supposed to be right next to a bus in the middle of the biggest city in the country. Just - it’s common sense. So, that was a very dangerous situation yesterday. There’ve been many others. Sadly, there will continue to be until we make this reform and end the use of horse carriages in the city. 

Question: Mr. Mayor are there any updates from the investigation into the fire in Far Rockaway last weekend?

Mayor: It’s going to be quite soon. I have certainly made clear to all of the agencies involved, we are demanding answers. We want them very, very quickly. We need to know what happened. Again, this is a real tragedy. Two beautiful young children lost and I need to know happened. And if it indicates changes we have to make we will make them very quickly and aggressively. So I think it’s a matter of a few more days.

Question: Do you have concerns that there are systemic problems with the city’s 9-1-1 system? And what is happening so far in your administration to address those?

Mayor: You know, as I said, first of all, the information we have so far is preliminary. I’m not going to judge until the full investigation is complete. We don’t know if it’s something systemic or something more particular. We had real issues over the last year that were brought up. I saw what I believed to be some progress. But I’ve said we’re never going to stop evaluating what’s happening with the 9-1-1 system. It’s too fundamental to this city. It has to continue to work better all the time. We’re going to continue to work on response time all the time. That’s an on-going effort. But I guarantee in a matter of days, we’re going to have very firm answers on what happened in the Rockaways and then we’ll be able to tell you if any policy changes will result from that. 

Question: Before he left office, your predecessor had said May 12 was the day on which school bus routes are supposed to be [inaudible] school year that begins in September of 2015. You said a couple of months ago that you were reviewing the employee protection [inaudible] and the impact that that would have. Do you expect that you’re going to complete that review by that bidding day and, if not, would you postpone the bid?

Mayor: I expect we’re going to complete that review quite soon. I need to get to a progress report to know the exact day, but it will be quite soon. I’ve said that the notion of providing fundamental protections to our employees is something I fundamentally believe in. So we’ll have more to say on that in the coming days. Melissa?

Question: [inaudible] your reaction to the DA in Brooklyn’s decision to stop prosecuting the majority of the small possession of marijuana [inaudible]

Mayor: I haven’t seen the formal document. I haven’t seen the specifics. Again, I think the broad strokes here have been that many, many people – I’ve felt this, Governor Cuomo has felt this, even former Commissioner Kelly felt this, I know Commissioner Bratton feels this – have wanted to see a different approach. Commissioner Bratton talks appropriately about officers having a lot more discretion in how they approach offenses involving marijuana. So I think there’s a lot of movement in the same direction here. But as to the specifics, I haven’t see the DA’s specific policy. I can’t respond to it yet.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: It’s not particularly different that different DAs would approach issues differently. Again, not having seen the policy, I can’t tell you whether I think it’s something that needs to be looked at in citywide perspectives per say. But again, I think the bigger trend here is to give officers more discretion. Focus our attention, our resources, our time, our energy on more serious crime. And that’s certainly where we’re focused. Last question to the left side or the right side, yes Michael?

Question: I know you’re meeting with members of the City Council later today, can you tell us what your agenda is and what you hope to accomplish?

Mayor: Look the – again I’m, I don’t know when the last time a mayor had been a city council member was, do you know?

[inaudible]

Mayor: I just have respect for your historical knowledge, I thought you might know.

[inaudible]

Mayor: Well that’s okay. Phil, we’ve got to get a contest going here. First person to figure out the last mayor of New York City who had been a city council member previously. Something says it was Koch to me, but I’m not sure that’s true.

[Laughter]

Mayor: All right we’re going to look, we’re going to look.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: That’s what I’m thinking, but we will confirm. But the point being, I have a special appreciation for the work that council members do for the legislative process. It was eight years of my life. And so for me, what I want to do is communicate directly some of the core things we’re working on and hear what the council members are feeling. I think there’s a great atmosphere of partnership, and I think it’s important to continue that with a regular dialogue. And so I wanted to do it in this fashion. Thanks everyone.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Ed Koch, okay. Okay we agree, Michael Bloomberg was not a council member.

[Laughter]

Rudy Giuliani was not a council member, David Dinkins was not a council member, so the last one was Ed Koch. All right. We’ve done this together. Thank you very much.

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