Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Comptroller Dinapoli's Press Conference

April 28, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: First of all, I’d like to hold it up with you for a second. [inaudible] Tom DiNapoli has done something we don’t see every day in New York City. He’s provided us with a report that’s just plain good news – progress. It represents a strategy that worked, and I want to give Tom DiNapoli immense credit for making smart investments in this city and this state, helping to build this sector. And here are – is the evidence to prove it.

Thank you Tom for all you’re doing for us.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli: Thank you mayor.

[Applause]

Mayor: And Ryan Urban, first of all I want to strongly suggest you get your own radio show.

[Laughter]

It’s the Urban Beat with Ryan Urban.

[Laughter]

Urban Sounds with Ryan Urban.

[Laughter]

It just sounds [inaudible]. See? See, you’re going with it. To all the folks here at Bounce Exchange, just a congratulations on what you’ve achieved. Let us give Ryan and all of you a round of applause [inaudible].

[Applause]

There are good news stories in the world and this is one of them. The numbers here, what you heard from the comptroller is really impressive, a smart investment strategy that’s working for us. I want to also note, the comptroller has been a fantastic partner. We worked together closely when I was public advocate and when I was on the board of NYCERS, the city’s biggest pension fund. And I appreciate that Comptroller DiNapoli is really a national leader in understanding that you can do smart investment, prudent investment, and maximize the impact on our economy, maximize the impact on job creation. He has been one of the pension leaders in the country, who I think has been most creative on that front.

I would also note that thank god his creativity aligns to being the pension officer of the United States of America with the single largest state public pension fund at his sole discretion. [inaudible] With a lot of good input from a lot of good people. But’s it’s an example of how you’ve applied, I think, really intelligent and progressive values to maximize what we do with our pension funds. And this report is evidence of that.

The tech community, the tech sector is such an important part of New York City right now. And the numbers are amazing. Just taking from the third quarter of 2013, 7,000 high-tech companies in this city, providing over 100,000 jobs, a huge indirect impact on our economy as well. This is a sector that is growing. This is a sector that has tremendous growth potential ahead. We, as a city, fit this sector and it fits us so well because we are a global capital of creativity, innovation, communications – all the things that support this important sector. So the core reality is so important for the city, so promising, but it gets better when smart public investments are made. And this is not new for Tom DiNapoli. Between 2007 and 2013, the fund that he runs – New York State Common Retirement Fund – invested in 133 tech-related companies in this city. A hundred and thirty-three companies have benefitted from this smart state investment, and it’s one of the reasons this sector is thriving here.

Now, companies like Bounce Exchange really epitomize what’s going on in this city and where we are going. Bounce Exchange did something that all great entrepreneurs have done down through the ages. They understood there was a need that wasn’t being filled, they recognized that there was a way to better respond to the behavior of website visitors and help companies sell their products better and inform their consumers better. They created the technology to do that.

And this kind of idea is exactly what is making this sector work so strongly in this city. The talent is here, the sense of creativity is a historic feature in New York City. The energy and the synergy that happens here – one of the things I hear constantly from folks in the tech community is that with every step forward, this community becomes a better and better place to work. There’s so much talent amassing here. Anyone with a great idea immediately finds a conducive environment, finds people who want to work with them on it.

This is what we’ve dreamed about for a long time and it’s happening more and more over this city. And I have to tell you, it’s important to always remember that the best outcomes we see – we see it in this city and this country, around the world – are when the public sector understands some of these trends and is smart about getting ahead of it and supporting it. And that’s what you’re seeing an example of here.

The knowledge economy is so fundamental to the future of New York City. It creates quality jobs, and this is something I’m going to be very, very focused on. Not only job creation, but the creation of quality jobs, middle class jobs, jobs a family could actually afford to live on. And making sure that those jobs reach a lot of people, including folks who haven’t had opportunity for them before.

The idea that this sector is also so naturally a five borough industry is crucially important. Here in Silicon Alley we have an incredible focal point of success and growth. We have it in parts of Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, other parts of Brooklyn now. You’re going to see it more and more in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. This is a five borough industry and because of the very nature of the industry, it lends itself to spreading far across our city and engaging talents of all kinds.  And the investment, such as the kind the state is making, is going to help in that growth and making it something that pervades our city.

We have a lot more to say in the coming weeks. During Internet Week we will be unveiling a series of new proposals related to the tech community and its future growth in this city and how it could be an employment engine and affords for greater economic inclusion. A lot that we’ll be working on and we’re very excited about it.

Finally, a word in Español.

[Delivers remarks in Spanish]

One quick sentence today.

[Laughter]

[BREAK]

Question: How much does the city’s five pension funds invest in the tech sector? Do you have that comparable number for –

Comptroller DiNapoli: I don’t have the number for the city funds, for obvious reasons. We’re [inaudible]. I’d suggest you call [inaudible] I’d guess Scott’s office may have [inaudible]

Question: So I see it says on one of the releases here you guys are looking to invest more money in tech [inaudible]. So what’s the process for that and how many more firms do you anticipate – tech firms do you anticipate investing in in the coming year?

Comptroller DiNapoli: We don’t necessarily have a goal in terms of the number. But we have 18 fund managers that invest all across the state. Some of them have a focus on the tech sector, and some of them are more focused on [inaudible] broadly be defined as venture. What we do is allocate money to these 18 investment managers. They have their process of seeking out investments. We also have a contact in our office, Frank McEvoy is the coordinator for our in-state private equity investment program. So as a follow-up to this event, if someone calls us because they’ve got an opportunity they’d like us to consider, Frank will then get the details on that opportunity. He will then look at our roster of investment managers, see where that particular opportunity may fit in, and then the investment manager [inaudible] would make the evaluation as to whether or not it would be an appropriate investment for us. But we haven’t [inaudible] We’ve gotten out the door about $680 million and we’ve allocated a little over a billion dollars to the program. So we still have roughly $380 million that we have available for investment. Obviously not [inaudible], but that obviously has been a key area of investment priority for us. I’m hoping we can get more out the door. Certainly here in New York City, but this program is not limited to the five boroughs of New York City. So certainly we’re looking for opportunities all across New York State to invest in technology companies.

Question: I have a question for Mr. Urban. I guess my question is, how many people do you employ here, what percentage would you say are minority people – I have several questions I guess. Do you have difficulty finding minority candidates for jobs. And what can the city do to perhaps increase the number of minority applicants that are qualified to work for you?

Ryan Urban, Bounce Exchange: Sure. Yeah, I don’t think there’s a better place to find minority candidates than New York City. So as the mayor said, we have people coming from all the different boroughs. We have people commuting in from Queens. We have people from Brooklyn. We have people from the Bronx. There’s some people even coming here from New Jersey. So I don’t think we found it very difficult to find different minority candidates. We – there’s just a lot of talent here and lot of high-quality talent, I think, which is with everybody, regardless. Everyone works really hard here. There’s no one watching the clock. It’s – this company is what it is because of other people in this area – people who come to this area want to bust their butts.

Question: So what percentage of your employees would you say are minority –

Urban: I would say it’s a growing percentage. I could – we could follow up with our HR team.

Question: On a similar note, do you have – you know, a lot of tech companies are known for employing a lot of Harvard and Princeton type kids. Do you also have people working here who might have come from CUNY, Queens College, St. Johns, any of our local schools? Could you talk about that?

Urban: Yeah. A little over a year ago we were partnered with NYU, NYU-Poly. So we had some candidates come in from some local schools. And now we’re only a little over 40 people, but we’re planning on growing a lot more. So we welcome all those candidates. We actively post to those job boards. We’re in touch with the people – our talent people are in touch with their talent people, so we welcome all of those people to apply.

Mayor: Just to add on that, I’m really excited with the conversations I’ve had with leaders of the tech community on how much they need people from New York City to be available to work in this industry. There’s obviously been areas where there’s been [inaudible] and a talent shortage means there’s a great opportunity area for us – even better preparation at the high school level. There are some jobs that you can do from right out of high school to get [inaudible] the City University and the STEM programs there. One of the big goals – again, we’ll be saying a lot more about that during Internet Week – is to, in fact, as you’re asking, make sure there’s an increasing, ready supply of talent here in New York City, from New York City, born and raised in New York City, ready to take these quality jobs. And we think we’ll be able to facilitate that.

Urban: As the company grows, maybe we’ll even hire somebody over age 40. Who knows?

[Laughter]

Question: What’s the state and city doing to kind of put the tech scene out there? I mean, there’s a report  in the New York Times today that said there’s a lot of problems with getting the New York City tech identity out there and kind of [inaudible]. So what’s been done to kind of make that New York Tech like a known name?

Comptroller DiNapoli: So just from our perspective, that’s really the purpose of this report, to demonstrate, particularly on the high tech end what’s happening on the ground. And we see a lot happening on the ground. And the other piece of it is to get out the message that – from the perspective of a pension fund – we’re seeing this as great investment opportunity. So while a lot of the focus is on job creation and the overall city economy, I think the other part of the message is that they’re a great investment opportunity. What we find with the capital that we deploy – the capital from the pension fund dollars – it’s leveraged many times over. So we’re not even talking as much as we could about how there’s that multiplier effect from the investments that we’re making [inaudible]. So there’s a lot of important news to get out [inaudible]. As the mayor indicated, he’s going to have more to say on this issue in the coming weeks. We’re seeing – whether it’s ABNY or other organizations – really focusing on tremendous resurgence with this part of the economy. As you see in our report, we’re really demonstrating that this [inaudible] very comparable with what happened with the dot com industry. Of course, we’re not anticipating a bubble bursting as happened then, but I think it’s showing that, you know, we’ve gone way, way ahead of those days from when the dot com bubble burst and from certainly the impact of the Great Recession. This is an incredible growth area. And while certainly we always will consider Wall Street and financial services a key part of our city’s economy, this is also part of the diversification of the city’s economy that I know is also very, very important in terms of long time future of economic growth here in New York City. So really, as your question appropriately raises, this report is meant to be part of that, giving a greater identity to what’s happening on the ground in a very, very positive way here in New York City.

[inaudible]

Mayor: I think – you know, I’ve said many times, I can delineate the areas where I agreed with the previous administration, areas where I disagreed. One of the things I think they did well was to focus public strategies on the diversification of our economy. And one of the key areas was really to support the growth of the tech sector. I have not seen the article you referenced this morning. I am certain there are many things we’re going to be doing to both amplify the importance of the industry here and support it, but also, as I said, to build a five borough – develop the talent pool to make sure it’s an inclusive industry. We’ve got a lot of plans ahead. But I would say the one common sense thing is that the industry has arrived in the sense that the industry is so strong in the city now, so identified with the city – I don’t think there’s a lot of mystery out there in the world about that fact. And I had the honor of being over at the Google headquarters in Manhattan on 14th Street a few weeks ago. I was over at AOL a couple months back. I mean when you look at what is happening from the smallest firms, mid-sized firms, the biggest firms on earth, and the incredible concentration that’s occurring here. Obviously we’re thrilled with what’s happening with Cornell-Technion and Roosevelt Island Applied Science Center. But I’ve always said we have to go a lot further than that and really bring CUNY into the game more fully. But I would say right from the jump, the growth of the industry here, the presence of the industry in New York City – the fact that New York City is now one of the great tech capitals and only getting stronger – I think that’s pretty well established out in the world. But that will never stop us from digging deeper.

Comptroller DiNapoli: We’ve been joined, as the Mayor said, by Bill Rudin, who’s the head of the Association for a Better New York. ABNY has certainly been a strong advocate. [inaudible] growth of the tech sector as well. So I’d just like Bill to say a few words as well.

Bill Rudin, Chairman of ABNY: Thank you comptroller and Mr. Mayor. Thank you. And our report along with – it was co-sponsored with Google and Citi – came out a few weeks ago. And I think the comptroller’s report just reaffirms you know, all the things that’ve been said today that what is happening throughout the entire city – not just in this area in Manhattan but all the boroughs, it is just incredible and we applaud all the – your efforts and Mr. Mayor all of your efforts. So I know that this is an important issue in terms of creating jobs. It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs. So we thank you and look forward to be working together. Thanks.

Comptroller DiNapoli: Anything else on topic?

Mayor: I want to ask Bill Rudin why he’s wearing a tie? He came to a tech place [inaudible] but then I’d have to ask myself the same question.

[inaudible]

Question: Mr. Mayor, your predecessor was a tech billionaire who was very comfortable with tech, ran around with an iPad, you know. What do you – how comfortable are you with all of that tech? I mean, do you use iPads? Do you use – do you text? What is it that you do?

Mayor: I’m pretty minimalist. But I think that the fact is there’s a difference between what you do in your own personal work and the understanding of the sector and what it means for the city. I see very clearly not only what’s happening, but what this could mean for the city. And, you know, there was a great forum last year during the election on tech issues. But one of the things I try [inaudible] is the recognition that we are effectively the perfect place for this industry because of our universities, because we’re a global capital of communications. We are one of the great global capitals of finance. You know, there’s so many pieces that come together here. And – and you hear it more and more from folks in the sector – very human dynamics. I heard it from someone the other day that said if you wanted to have a meeting of people, you want to put together an idea within the valley. You know, if you’re in Mountain View and you go over to Palo Alto and you’ve got to go to – there’s a certain amount of production in getting people together and [inaudible]. Here you walk down the street. You know, you connect with people readily. You want to find talent, you want to find investors, you want to think through an idea, we’re talking about walking distance. And that plus the presence of all of the pieces that support the industry. The industry needs a constant base of talent, and we have that with our universities. The industry needs to connect with advertisers and with the communications world. Where better on earth to do that than here to do that? So what I would say is what’s firm in my consciousness is the understanding that there’s immense growth ahead. And we’re blessed because it’s the kind of industry that by very nature, great opportunities for advancement within it. And a lot of really good paying jobs. And a consciousness. I want to take one other step and say I’ve seen this with Ryan, I’ve seen this with so many people, a consciousness of wanting to be of the city, wanting to be part of making the city better. I’ve gotten no more enthusiastic response to the things we’re doing on education like pre-K and after school – nowhere do I get a more energetic response than with the tech sector. Because the sector clearly understands what kinds of education levels we have to attain for our youth if they’re going to be part of this competitive economy of the future. So that’s my consciousness about it.

[inaudible]

Mayor: Sure. Any other on? On topic, yes?

Question: Do you think there needs to be some sort of rebranding of – I mean the term Silicon Alley, by definition, makes New York City sort of the smaller step-sister of Silicon Valley. I’m wondering if there’s been any discussion or any – from Ryan or you’re a politician.

Mayor: I don’t know if I agree with that premise. I think it makes us the inheritor to what they started and that we’re building upon it and now going further.

[inaudible]

Comptroller DiNapoli: Off topic?

[inaudible]

Mayor: All right media over here, go ahead.

Question: Hi, yeah. Ilya Marritz from WNYC. This is a question actually sort of more broadly pertinent to this room and it has to do with cable and broadband. As you know, Time Warner Cable may be sold to Comcast. Netflix spoke out about that recently opposing the deal, saying it would reduce competition. I’m just wondering from your perspective, how would that effect Time Warner Cable’s millions of consumer – customers here in New York. Is it an area of concern for you? Do you plan on speaking out about it?

Mayor: I am concerned about it. It’s a very big, important deal that will have a lasting impact on this city and the consumers of this city. So we’re looking very carefully at it. We don’t have our exact view of it yet, but we are quite aware of the situation and looking very carefully at it.

Question: Senator Schumer has called for an overhaul of the Port Authority, as has Governor Christie. I was wondering where you stand on that, whether you think it should be split apart into two separate agencies? Do you think that New York is getting its fair share? Do you think there are changes that need to be made and what types?

Mayor: I will be straightforward and say I think we have to do a lot better in terms of the Port Authority. I don’t have a particular reform plan that I’ve yet decided to endorse. I haven’t focused a lot on the Port Authority in the scheme of things compared to other issues. But I think we can all say that we can certainly do a lot better than what’s going on  [inaudible].

Question: Hi, Stacey Delikat from Fox 5. On the topic of the horse carriage ban, obviously the celebrity trainer is making an appearance at city hall today, Jillian Michaels. I’m wondering whether you’ve been in touch with her about her support and whether you’re hoping that will bring more support to your cause?

Mayor: No, I have not been in touch with here, but again I think a lot of people in this city – I hear from people all the time. I think it’s time to end the practice of having horses on the streets of this city. And that’s my fundamental view. So I welcome any and all support for that.

Question: Do you have any comment on the news today about Michael Grimm and have you decided – have you endorsed in that race?

Mayor: Oh absolutely. I’ve endorsed Domenic Recchia. I think – look, I’ve felt for a long time that Domenic Recchia was going to win that race. I feel it even more strongly today.

Question: And can you comment on the news about Michael Grimm today?

Mayor: I wish I could say it was a surprise. I think it’s something that’s been anticipated for a long time. I think it’s sad every time one of these things happens. And obviously, you know, he deserves a right to due process. But I think very strongly that Domenic Recchia will be the next congressman.

Question: Mayor de Blasio, the News had a story today about the teacher negotiations, contract negotiations. Can you give us an update on what’s going on with the labor contracts?

Mayor: Why no, I can’t.

[Laughter]

You know I – at least I smiled.

[Laughter]

I mean I hope in our always important relationship as you shed light for the people and I try and offer an understanding of what we’re doing that it’s understood that we just don’t talk about the details of labor negotiations. That’s the only way labor negotiations work is if we don’t talk about the details of them. What I can say is what I’ve said before. It’s a productive, respectful environment. There is a real sense of, you know, shared outcomes here. [inaudible] And as I’ve said, the only way this moves forward is we find serious [inaudible]. But, you know, we won’t have anything to say until we get to the point where there’s actually something very specific to say.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I do.

Question: Mr. Mayor, there’s apparently a plan at LICH, or the resuscitation of LICH if you will, to build two fifty-story towers. I’m just wondering what your attitude is about that?

Mayor: Well I think the broader point that needs to be understood about what’s happened with LICH is – first of all, pretty soon we’ll be at the one-year anniversary of the day that LICH was supposed to be padlocked. So the first thing to recognize is through extraordinary efforts at the community level, and a lot of us in elected positions, we were able thank God to stop that. Finally getting a coherent process to protect healthcare in that community, and then determine what was financially viable going forward. The proposals that come in have been ranked. They’re now going through a vetting process to figure what works. Until that process is complete, we don’t know ultimately how it will proceed. The bottom line has always been – and I know the community members that process [inaudible] give the maximum amount of healthcare provision for the community in the ultimate plan. Anything about land use, anything about development would have to conform to the existing zoning, or if it was appropriate, go through a new zoning process. So that doesn’t happen automatically, it only happens in relationship to our existing zoning laws. But I think the bottom line is – and the thing I feel good about – is that we will have healthcare for the community on that site. When this whole process is over, we will have healthcare for the community on that site.

Question: But just if I could follow up, your attitude about two fifty-story towers?

Mayor: Well I don’t talk about things in the hypothetical. I think, you know, there’s some development that’s appropriate and there’s some that’s not. I haven’t seen the exact plan, I don’t know what the exact zoning is for that site. I think it’s clear there will be some type of residential development there, but I can’t speak in theory until we get a sense of is that going to be the actual plan that moves forward.

Phil Walzak: Last one guys.

Mayor: Let’s do two.

Question: Back to horse carriages for a moment. In response to that question you were saying that it’s time, you hear from other people that it’s time to end the practice of having horses on the streets. One thing you could do unilaterally would be to end the practice of the NYPD having the horses on the streets. Is that something that you’ve considered doing or would like to do? And how is that – explain how that’s different.

Mayor: I spoke to this the other day, I said it was apples and oranges because the NYPD protects us and uses a variety of methodologies to protect us. And the last I’ve heard, they believe that the horses on patrol is a part of protecting us and provides an important and necessary function. I know Commissioner Bratton, he constantly evaluates the work of the NYPD. I’m sure he will continue to do that, going forward. But to date, my understanding is that NYPD thinks that plays an important in the street strategic role. That’s totally different than the horses utilized by private sector companies as part of the tourist trade. And in that area, I think it’s time for a change.

Walzak: Last question guys.

Question: Three men are being sentenced today in the CityTime fraud scandal and the U.S. Attorney’s office has asked for very long sentences, I think including up to 100 years for one of the folks. And I’m just curious if you had any thoughts about sort of this final step in that issue?

Mayor: That’s a very sad chapter for the city. It is a reminder of how vigilant we have to be. Carl and I have spoken about this for a long time, you know, we – beware of strangers bearing gifts. You know, beware of deals that are too good to be true. I think this one got missed, and obviously it cost the city a lot. And I think the people who did it really have to experience an outcome that makes clear to others that crime doesn’t pay. That’s my view. Thanks guys. 

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