Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Press Conference to Announce Participation in St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 3, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio: This is a beautiful day for New York City; and a day that represents the best of us. Now, there are many good people who have worked long and hard towards this day of unity, and this coming together. But what Barbara just described that happened here on Irish soil or Irish flooring at least –

[Laughter]

Unknown: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Alright.

[Laughter]

Mayor: What Barbara described was essential to this unity. And I want to thank the Irish government for their leadership and their foresight; and all they’ve done to help us here in New York City to come together. And the person of Barbara Jones has been such a crucial part of this. This Council General deserves our praise [inaudible].

[Applause]

And Barbara I have to say this, from when we first started talking when I became mayor, you have had warmth, a kindness, an embrace of all people. And sometimes it does take that very human quality to help shepherd a positive outcome. So, really I hope you’re feeling that you have very proudly represented your nation today.

Thank you.

[Applause]

Who are we as New Yorkers? We are a place that believes everyone has the potential for greatness; everyone matters; everyone should be included. This is who we’ve been for centuries. We believe in all of humanity. We’re a beacon for immigrants; a beacon for tolerance. That’s who we’ve been. We’re the ultimate city of immigrants. And we’re proud of it. Even when we hear voices around our country that somehow question the value of embracing others and welcoming others – we know every day, as New Yorkers, that we are a city of immigrants. We are great. And by the way, that was – that tradition, that idea was most solidified by the great and powerful waves of Irish immigration that contributed so much to this nation over 150 years ago and since. And so, it is our nature to embrace and support all peoples. And it’s not our nature to be divided. We understand so essentially that if there’s disunity we aren’t living up to all of our values. And for the last two decades, there’s been a blemish on this city because we couldn’t be all we were meant to be. We – every single day – must recognize the extraordinary contributions of the Irish community of this city. But now we have an opportunity for everyone from that community to join together in celebrating their heritage, their pride in what the Irish have done for New York and America. For the first time in decades, the whole Irish community will come together to celebrate.

[Applause]

I’ve heard and in fact, known so personally, so well so many members of the LGBT community who are Irish; who simply wanted to express their pride. They simply wanted to talk about what that heritage had given them. And they wanted to know that they could do that like any other person. There are people in this room for literally a quarter-century have been fighting this fight for inclusion. And it’s fitting that that good fight was waged in the place that is the birthplace of the fight for equality; the birthplace of the movement for LGBT rights, this city. And so, to all of you who work so hard for this nation I want to offer my profound thanks because to you are right to work for what we are achieving here today. You were right to believe it could be done. And it didn’t feel easy, I know. But I can safely say there is no community, no nationality that knows more about fighting for freedom and justice than the Irish – deep, deep tradition.

[Applause]

And so, for the first time proud LGBT New Yorkers will march proudly in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, celebrating the contributions of the Irish to this city. This March 17th we will all march together.

[Applause]

So many people felt so much about this moment and they wanted to be here. I want to thank members of my administration who are here including the Chair of our Human Rights Commission Carmelyn Malalis; our Chief of Department of the NYPD, Jimmy O’Neill; the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events, Michael Paul Carey; First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation Denis Diggins. I want to thank the elected officials who are here including some you will hear from in a moment, but also including Senator Brad Hoylman and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. I want to thank the organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And so many other wonderful Irish-American organizations that are here today for all the work we’ve done together, and for all they do on behalf of the community. I want to thank Lavender and Green and all the advocacy organizations for their 25 years of fighting for inclusion for all. It’s an amazing gathering of so many good people today who we’ve all worked toward this day. You know, it’s funny when change occurs – when unity is achieved in that moment, when you’re suddenly there, the past starts to fade away. And it was a long, long road but it’s something we can now put behind us because unity has been achieved.

[Applause]

And I want to thank Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh who has joined us as well. You know, I mentioned the extraordinary tradition of fighting for justice.

A hundred years ago, the Easter Rising – the fight of the Irish people for freedom to end centuries of oppression. It was a [inaudible] call around the world – one of the great liberation movements. And people were inspired in this country and all over the world by the willingness of the Irish people to fight against all the odds for their basic rights. And that character, I can say as someone who grew up in a very largely Irish community in the Boston area and have gotten to know so many of the leaders and organizations of the Irish community here, that current runs so strong to this day. And that understanding that it’s so important to stand up for your own rights, but also for the rights of others. That is such a deep impulse in the Irish community. We celebrate those 100 years now. But we remember that Ireland continues to lead the way. Nine months ago when the people of Ireland voted for marriage equality it was a message to the whole world – the first nation to do that.

[Applause]

And I can safely say that the United Sates Supreme Court followed the people of Ireland in their decision.

[Laughter]

They took the right inspiration from the Irish people. So, it’s a day to celebrate a century of extraordinary achievement by Ireland, and Ireland’s leadership in the world.

We make a very happy and positive announcement today, but against a backdrop around our nation that should cause us some pause because while we’re celebrating inclusion and tolerance and understanding and peace, there are so many voices around our country right this minute talking about how we can exclude people and separate people. It’s happening right now, and it doesn’t represent the views of New Yorkers. And it doesn’t represent the views of most Americans. But isn’t it painful to watch this explicit message of exclusion – this anti-immigrant xenophobic message starting to gain traction again?

Well, that’s why today is even more important because it’s not just what it means to all of us. This is New York City once again sending a message that New York values are American values – tolerance and dignity and understanding. That’s what we all need more of. So everyone here today should be so clear about the fact that every one – every one of you is contributing – contributing to a more whole society; contributing toward that march to a more perfect union envisioned by our founding fathers. At this moment, though, I also have to give credit to two people who are not in the room. But I can safely say we would not be here today without them. And, you know, for those of you who are of my generation, you will remember a famous Hebrew National Ad where the character – the narrator says he answers to a higher authority.

[Laughter]

Well, two people I will invoke certainly fit that category. In September, we were visited by his Holiness, Pope Francis. Since the beginning of his papacy, he has sent a message of inclusion and respect for all. And he’s done it in a way no previous Pope ever did. And his message has resonated deeply in the hearts of people across the spectrum. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe or what party you’re in, people have felt his message. And that’s one of the reason we’re here today. I also have to say I had a wonderful phone call this morning with Cardinal Dolan who is in his home state of Missouri. And, we talked about what this moment meant. And I told him from the bottom of my heart how appreciative I had been for the tone he set in this city – for the welcome and openness that he has created to say to everyone we can find a way forward. And I thanked for that. And I told him what an honor it would be to stand with him on St. Patrick’s Day. So, I want to thank those two extraordinary leaders for everything they’ve done to help us to this moment. So, it is a moment to be proud. It’s a moment to be proud in every sense – proud to be Irish; proud to be a member of the LGBT community; proud to be a New Yorker. All those pieces are coming together. And we get to express our proud New York values on March 17th together – together. And that’s what we’ve been waiting for.

Now, brothers and sisters because this is New York City I will now speak about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Spanish.

[Laughter]

This is definitely in the ‘Only in New York’ category, okay.

[Laughter]

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] 

[…]

Mayor: We are now going to take questions on this announcement, then I’m going to do a quick update on the weather, and then we’ll take questions about the weather, and then we’ll take questions about everything else.

[Laughter]

So on this announcement?

Question: I’m curious to know what kind of was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Mayor: That can be a bad thing. I think there can be a good – a good analogy – what was the moment when everyone came together?

Question: Was there something that you put on the table saying ‘I’ll march if you do this’ – or you know, what happened? Why after 25 years are you guys are all of a sudden all standing there saying we’re all going to March 5th avenue?

Mayor: I’m going to characterize it broadly, and then I would welcome Barbara and Danny to comment if they want to. I think from the beginning the idea was that we had to reach the point of inclusion that would really heal the wounds of the past. And – I think some of the personal testimony you’ve heard here says it all. People who felt excluded need to believe that this was a part of their lives, and something that they could now celebrate fully. That’s what we had to reach, that kind of fullness. And I think there was an extraordinary good will that pervaded the discussions in recent weeks – to define that together and get there together. So that was – that was the message I sent that we should seek that kind of common ground so people could feel very much in their hearts represented inclusion. Again, the detailed conversations were held here by a lot of the people present, so I’d welcome them and anyone who’d like to, of course – Frank – anyone who would like to speak too.

Frank: I don’t know if there was any one issue here, but it was time to move forward. What else can we say?

Question: If I understand correctly – everyone who is openly LGBT will be marching under Lavender and Green Alliance? If I have a small organization in Brooklyn that I started, can I fly my own banner, or I’m just marching with Lavender and Green?

Frank: We should just get past this year.

[Laughter]

Frank: We have a really good day looking forward to a great day. We welcome Brendan and his organization. We welcome also [inaudible] can’t forget about them, they’re the first. So let us get past the 17th. We’re not going anywhere. Right?

Mayor: I think you’ve proven that.

[Laughter]

What year of the parade is this?

Frank: 255th.

Mayor: Yeah, I think you’re not going anywhere. I think you’ve got a pretty strong tradition.

Frank: So I think what really brought everyone together was the fact that we started to get to know each other – and we started to talk to each other. And when that happened – that’s when the breakthrough came because we saw each other as human beings, you know. And I think one of the biggest things for LGBT people is our invisibility sometimes. We’re there. We’re already in the committee, we’re already in the parade, we just weren’t visible in the parade. So I think once that message got through that was the breakthrough that’s what made this happen. And then to your question about the groups that are going to be marching. All of the groups that have been involved in the struggle have agreed to march under the banner of Lavender and Green this year. Other questions about the future will be taken up by the parade committee. And there is a set order of things that they do in terms of having people march in the parade. That’s why this offer for us to march this year is so extremely generous for us all.

Mayor: Wait, wait – please, of course sir.

Christopher Highland, St. Patrick’s Day Foundation Committee: I just wanted to add – Christopher Highland, I’m on the Foundation Committee – the St. Patrick’s Day Foundation Committee. I want to give a shout out and a real tribute to John Lahey, to Hilary Beirne, to Sean Lain, who on the St. Patrick’s committee stepped forward and said ‘this is the time to change.’ They understood that acrimony and prejudice is like a hand grenade being launched into civilization. It disrupts our equilibrium. It disrupts our essential Judeo-Christian beliefs. The West is about inclusion, and we need to thank these men who stood up in particular to say we must move forward.

Question: I just wanted to ask a follow up to Courtney’s question which is – did you all reach this decision after some kind of a beer summit or – I don’t know, I mean what are we talking about here? Conversations over tea that were had? Were there meetings in person? Or was it not so personal?

Unknown: You know, I often used to say – first item on the agenda, put on the kettle, let’s have some tea. That was way back whether we were protesting in – and I would say let’s put on the kettle and have some tea. It’s amazing what happens – what a spurt of hospitality can do. We needed to sit down at a table together. To listen to each other, to hear each other, to speak of our pain, to speak of our longing to belong, to speak of our longing to be included – and that’s what we did.  Here, I have to tell you how amazing it is to be in this space because a lot of those cups of teas and meetings happened here in the Irish Consulate hosted by our Irish Consul General, Barbara Jones, who is a key figure as well. It all depends on who the political leaders – who are the players, who steps up, who cares? And that’s so important in the city as well. So I have to say - cups of tea, generous leadership, political leadership. And I also want to acknowledge the spirit of determination and hope of fellow activists for over 25 years who never gave up on the cause – it’s not easy – and who did not know that the road would take so long, but we hung in there.  So cups of tea – and then of course, I want to say St. Pat’s For All was a little creative thing that grew out where we began after being excluded everywhere – I said wow – and Danny helped here. I said ‘can we create a parade where everybody is welcome?’ and the Irish people in Sunnyside and Woodside were so good. They came out in droves, so many of them – elderly, with their children, the GAA groups, they came out from the neighborhood, and they’ve sustained this beautiful, inclusive celebration for 17 years.  You’re all welcome on Sunday, so thanks very much.

Question: Mr. Mayor, it’s a related subject, but I think it’s important to ask while we have –

Mayor: I’m going to see if this is related enough. Let’s hear.

Question: – so many Irish leaders in the room, what is your view of the City Department of Education's refusal to reschedule parent teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day? They’ve been set for that afternoon some people feel they can’t attend the end of the parade. And separately, why should some other holidays become official school holidays and not St. Patrick’s Day, for those who want to see that happen?

Mayor: The holidays have been primarily the religious holidays, as you know, and the nationally recognized holidays. But we always try to make accommodation for every kind of celebration that’s important to people. There now are four parent teacher conferences in a year, there used to be two. We also have added a lot of time – and Michael’s the expert, he can speak to you if you’d like – but we’ve added a lot more time each week for teachers to be in touch with parents. So in fact, it’s a very good thing to say – although we certainly encourage all parents to go to as many parent teacher conferences as they can – it’s certainly not the only way nowadays to have an ongoing relationship between parent and teacher. So for those who feel they can’t get to this conference, they certainly can compensate in other ways that will be equivalent. But these conferences do need to be scheduled. We have to keep that schedule going because obviously it matters to the parents of 1.1 million kids of all backgrounds. So anyone who can’t make it, there’s certainly a good alternative available.

Mayor: Hold on, hold on, we’re getting around. Hold on. Mr. Mulgrew would you like to respond or would you like to not respond?

President, United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew: Look the Irish-American teachers are upset about this. I have – conversations with the city. I’ve spoken to the Mayor and the Chancellor, and the Chancellor has told me that if people would like to make other arrangements to meet the parents, if they want to go celebrate with their family for that day if they’re Irish-Americans that she is open to allowing that to happen. But, as long as we make sure we make other arrangements to meet with the parents. We’re trying to finalize that all right now. Ok?

Mayor: Yes, and I think Barbara’s reaction is proof that whenever there’s any disagreement in New York City we’re going to call Barbara Jones from now on. Okay, we’re going to get to everyone.

Question: Mr. Mayor you referenced Ireland’s historic same sex marriage vote last year. How much was this opposition– decades long opposition – in your view damned to a group of this community being out of step with the changing views back in Ireland as well as here – or was it a smaller group within the parade committee that was responsible for being out of step?

Mayor: The technicalities, if you will, or the details to me are honestly unimportant at this point. What the people of Ireland did sent a message to the whole world and clearly moved us all forward. So again, if you want to look at the basis of the achievement today – all these good people surrounding me, but the voice of the Irish people played a pivotal role, the voice of Pope Francis played a pivotal role – there were many contributing factors, and they all lead us in the same positive direction.

Question: Speaking of inclusivity today, we had a reference made today to the illegal Irish living here in New York. In a recent interview with Ted Cruz –

Mayor: We say undocumented here in New York.

Question: It was made reference by a Republican candidate in the presidential election, Ted Cruz. There was a mention made about hypothetical undocumented immigrant, Tommy O’Malley, and how Mr. Cruz would plan to round up undocumented immigrants and deport them. Can I just ask you for your response to that?

Mayor: Sure.

[Laughter]

Another example of Mr. Cruz not understanding New York values. We don’t believe in rounding people up.

[Applause]

When I talk about the negative atmosphere that’s been fostered people think I’m only talking about Donald Trump, I certainly want to hold up the example of Ted Cruz, too, as someone who is making sport of the idea that we should deprive people of the blessings of the United States of America and separate families and tear them apart. And, they’re literally peddling xenophobia in the ultimate nation of immigrants, so that’s un-American. We are a nation of immigrants. Everything about us, going back to our founding moment is about immigrants, and we have leaders. Mayor: We have leaders speaking against immigrants trying to tear us apart – trying to deport people [Inaudible]. We have the leading candidate of one party talking about mass deportation. That’s un-American and the American people – I honestly believe – will not accept it. We’re going to come around to everyone, yeah?

Question: I get the impression that you plan on marching in the parade.

Mayor: I did say – I said I would be there. But again, let me clarify my friend – when I say something already and people say you didn’t say it I like to say no. Earlier on, I said I looked forward to being there on March 17th. I will be marching in the parade for sure. And I plan to march with members of our uniformed services. And then, to also spend time marching with Lavender and Green. So, I’m going to be with everyone.

[Applause]

Question: Was there a representative of the Catholic Church at the table? Second, is there a representative of the Catholic Church here today? I realized you spoke to Cardinal on the phone, but not here.

Mayor: I’ll let the folks who are part of the detailed discussions talk about that. But again, I’ve been, over the last two years, in regular touch with the Cardinal on this issue. The formal entity, of course, is the parade committee. They make decisions about the parade and they work with all of us. So, the Cardinal has been a great voice throughout this process, but would you like to speak to the specifics of whether there was a Catholic Church representative.

Unknown: I don’t think that’s my place to be honest with you. I mean, in terms of leadership – which I think on the [inaudible] of leadership – I think Cardinal Dolan’s leadership last year when I was with NBC; joined the parade was very, very decisive in relating all of the current theology of the Catholic Church to the dilemma that the parade committee faced onto the laws of the land. So, I think it was – Frank, you may want to add.

Mayor: Please, come on up.

Frank: Let’s be clear, last year the Cardinal accepted to be our Grand Marshal. So, I don’t think that there’s any stronger – putting a stamp of approval on anything by other than him accepting that responsibility. So, we had another event the other night [Inaudible] and the foundation. The Cardinal has been a supporter – has always been a strong supporter. And we look to him to be a role model going forward. [Inaudible] has provided a very firm role in guiding us through this – and the staff here everybody. We’re going to move forward. I think we need to remember that it’s kind of hard [Inaudible] you touched on a few things here. It’s a hard day moving forward. I mean, that’s the word of the day. I think we should – to really look at that as moving forward and that’s it.

I’m sorry?

Question: Why is it hard day?

Frank: It’s not that – it’s just that it’s a very emotional day here. A lot of people here today – I mean, have been through a very tough time. I just thought I’d like to share – it’s not hard negatively. It’s a really – It’s a day that we’re moving and embracing everybody. There’s no negative edge to this.

Question: You mean it’s a lot of work.

Frank: It’s a lot of work.

Unknown: Did the Cardinal [inaudible] by saying welcome to my house – welcome to this house; specifically he said [inaudible].

Frank: And this [inaudible] of hospitality the Cardinal welcomed us to his residents. And that to me was a very significantly move o his part. And so, as the mayor has referenced this is a time of change. The Pope has spoken beautifully on this. He has said who am I to judge. And I believe that our Cardinal believes in our Pope and follows in the same line of thinking.

Mayor: Amen.

[Applause]

Question: Can you tell us exactly what was negotiated here. You’re admitting one group or two groups? Did you already determine where they’re going to be in the parade? What time they will step on? And you’ve got no agreement about any future years, is that true?

Mayor: Again, I want to make sure when we’ve said something before it’s accurately portrayed in the question – that all groups will, who want to participate have been part of the discussion, will march under the Lavender and Green banner. So, there’s been a coalition of organizations that have made that decision and will be proudly marching together under that banner.

Question: So, no [Inaudible] of NBC Universe.

Mayor: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying the organizations that have wanted to participate have agreed to participate under the Lavender and Green banner. So [Inaudible] NBC – who would like to speak to that?

Question: The two groups – determine where they will step off and what time they will step on. And no agreement about any future years?

Mayor: As I said before [Inaudible]

Yes, please, please.

Question: What do you – I know you’ve talked about the Cardinal but I assume that there continue to be some people who would oppose this action. What do you say to those people about permitting Lavender and Green to the parade?

Unknown: [Inaudible]

Mayor: They’re moving forward. There’s your answer.

Unknown: Everybody is being [inaudible] out to be included [inaudible]. And at all the events there’s this process – groups from all the different factions have been at every single event.

Mayor: Thank you.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned to us speaking with Cardinal Dolan earlier today. What did he have to say about it? And was he invited? Why couldn’t he come? You said he was in Missouri today.

Mayor: Yes, he’s in Missouri today. And, obviously, this had gotten to the point where it was time to announce it. There was an agreement. It was very important to tell the people of this city an agreement had been reached. And again, I had a very good conversation with the Cardinal. Feel free to ask his team what they want to say. But I think it was a great conversation consistent with the conversations we’ve had over two years on this topic. And I can say he was very happy that there was unity and that people were moving forward.

Question: Was he invited?

Mayor: Again, we knew he was out of town. So, we had to go forward because this was something that was so important to get out.

Yes, sir? Media question, sir?

Question:  Yes.

Mayor: Okay.

Question: A double question.

Mayor: Alright then – the best kind. At least you acknowledge it upfront, I admire that.

[Laughter]

Question: Given the year, would you consider inviting Secretary Clinton to March with you up 5th Avenue, given her role and the years on with George Mitchell in East Ireland. And the second part of the question is would you consider extending the parade route by a few yards so that this year alone they can take in the American-Irish Historical Society. That starts at 79th street, starting site to the block North and it is for the moment home to an Irish Triangular Flag, that actually flew in Dublin, in 1916. So – “A” – would you consider inviting Secretary Clinton? –

Mayor: I heard them both. I do follow carefully.

[Laughter]

I think if you remember the calendar going on in this country that will be a very busy time for her. But, we will certainly let her know of the positive moment that’s happening here in New York City. But, I don’t want to speak for her or her schedule, obviously. On the second point, I’m hearing that for the first time. I am happy to look into it. I’ll be talking with our community affairs unit –

[Laughter]

I like to pass them all to someone else once in a while so, Chief O’Neill and I will have that conversation along with our community affairs unit.  Yes?

Question: It looks like you’ve made a lot of new Irish-American friends in the room today. Any plans on traveling to Ireland. I was invited by the Taoiseach. I want to make sure I say it right – Taoiseach. I don’t have any specific plan but, I would love to. So, that’s something that hopefully there will be an opportunity to do. And, I have admired the Irish people for a long time and I have admired their role in history, as I said. And Barbara said it so powerfully, the battles and the bias they overcame in this country but, also their role in the entire world. They are literally one of the beacons of human rights in the world. And it would be a great honor [inaudible].

Last call on this. Yup?

Question: [Inaudible] Columbus Day parade.

Mayor: You are stretching it to the topic of parades and I would be happy to discuss that but this is about this parade, so I will take that at another time.

Question: [Inaudible] making a holiday without any discussion whatsoever.  [Inaudible]

Mayor: Well I disagree with him. I think again, we have a rich combination of religious holidays and national holidays that we recognize in our school system and we have added some recently that were religious holidays. I think we struck a very good balance, so I just disagree with the senator.

 [Laughter]

You can get more details later but in recent days.

Question: How long was the gestation?

[Laughter]

Mayor: We are going to finish now, last one?

Question: Where will you be stepping off, at what point and –

Mayor: Which are you referring to?

Unknown: West 48th street [inaudible] our marching time is 3:10. [Inaudible]

Mayor: Okay we are going to do an update on the weather first. Okay, all media – anyone who is in this row – get low enough for the cameras. My friend in the green sweater, we need you to get low. There you go. Alright.  I want to share information about a winter storm headed our way. Again this is the information as of this point. As we have talked about before, these situations change frequently, so we’ll keep you updated as things emerge. National Weather Service has issued a snow alert for New York City. Snow is expected to start around midnight with the heaviest snowfall coming between 6:00 AM and 11:00 AM tomorrow morning – Friday morning. We’re expecting one to three inches of snow, but I should also note strong wind gusts of about 32 miles an hour. So it will be windy. It will be snowy. And people should certainly take precautions. It is clearly not a major blizzard, but it will be enough to slow things down. And we want people to leave extra time to get to work, get to school. Take precautions. We’re suspending alternate side parking tomorrow in advance of this storm. I want to remind people, as the day progresses, and we get into the evening – there is a very good likelihood in these conditions of black ice. And so people really need to be careful when they’re driving and when they’re walking around. Likelihood we’ll be activating COLD BLUE if this forecast comes to be what it is at this moment projected to be. Again, we will have therefore additional outreach workers all over the city bringing in folks who are homeless. Right now we do not expect any major coastal flooding. Residents in coastal areas should keep close track of the weather news, but at this moment, we do not expect coastal flooding. And another reminder – as always – if you have any problem with heat or hot water, please call 3-1-1 so we can do something about it.

 

Quickly in Spanish.

 

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish.]

 

That is the update. I want to see if there is anything about the weather before we go to other topics. Any questions on the weather? Yes?

 

Question: What about cranes and crane inspections and warnings?

 

Mayor: Anytime we now go into the high wind dynamic, the alert goes out to the cranes. So since we know tomorrow will be a windy day, that alert will go out and cranes will be ordered into a secure position at the end of their work today.

 

Question: And the Buildings Department?

 

Mayor: Buildings Department is monitoring each of them. And we’re making sure if any of them in the process of going into the secure position need assistance with securing the area from FDNY or NYPD, they will be available to do that.

 

Any other questions on the winter alert? Going once, going twice. Okay, we are on to all other topics. Melissa?

 

Question: Mr. Mayor, what do you say to the five Brooklyn teens who were accused of gang rape? Those teens had their charges dismissed today.

 

Mayor: I want to say that this was a very complicated situation. The NYPD and Chief O’Neill can speak to this – acted on the information they had. And the whole situation was very sad and unfortunate all around. And I think – you know – everyone I hope can now move forward with their lives. Anything you want to add? Okay. Marcia?

 

Question: Mr. Mayor, in the last 24 hours, a cabbie was stabbed for no reason. A Dunkin’ Donuts was slashed for moving a homeless woman. And a 91-year-old woman was mugged in Park Slope, your old neighborhood. I’m wondering what are you going to do to protect people aboveground?

 

Mayor: Marcia, I’ve said it to you before and you ask the same question over and over. I believe in the NYPD. They are continuing to drive down crime. Anytime they see a pattern, they address it with a very great precision and very great impact. So the bottom line is the NYPD is on the job – getting the job done. That’s what I can say to you.

 

Question: [Inaudible] follow-up?

 

Mayor: Please.

 

Question: Yesterday when you talked about the increase in police in the subways, Chief O’Neill talked about the fact that it’s important psychologically as well as to have more people there – but psychologically it makes people feel better. What can you do psychologically to make people in New York City feel safer?


Mayor: Marcia, I think we’re just going to have a disagreement on this with all due respect. I believe in the NYPD. We have the finest police force in the United States of America. They have continually drive down crime. That is a fact. When they see any pattern of crime or violence, they address it very effectively. And we’re adding additional police officers. That is the bottom line. People of this city are very well served by the NYPD. And they never neglect any pattern they can act on. Would you like to add?

 

Chief O’Neill: So, Marcia, just to follow-up on that and what I spoke about yesterday about keeping people not only – people become afraid at certain points and we have to keep people safe, and we have to actually make people feel safe. And with the slashings and the stabbings, it’s important for everybody in New York to understand that anytime there’s a report of a crime, especially a serious crime like that, that – it’s an all press. We have the best detectives in the world. At most of these incidents there is eventually an arrest and most of them are not random. Most of the times people are known to each other. So, the NYPD takes these crimes very seriously, and as we go forward you should see a reduction in these incidents.

 

Question: [Inaudible] there’s a lot of people who were confused by the term random and not random. Some people, when you know – I know that the NYPD describes something as not random if you, you know, like you hit somebody’s book bag and they get into an argument with you. They say that’s not random. But most people think that the crimes you think are not random are random, and they worry about them.

 

Mayor: I don’t think we should speak for most people, but continue chief.

 

Chief O’Neill: Yes, if you just look at the rate of crime and we spoke about this at the press conference yesterday. If you look at February, if you look at January, if you look at homicides and shootings, we’re doing our best to push crime down and we have the obligation – that’s our duty and that’s our job to do that. So, as I said before Marcia, when these incidents happen, whether they’re random or whether people know each other, they are fully investigated. We have the Strategic Response Group that we’ve set up over the last year, and one of their primary missions is to help fight crime also. So, any precinct, or any sector in any precinct that’s experiencing any problems, we do put additional resources in there.

 

Mayor: Go ahead.

 

Question: Chief, [inaudible] seems like so many people walk around with razor blades in their pockets, or knives in their pockets, and they’re so ready to use them and just literally lashing out and slash somebody?

 

Chief O’Neill: The slashings and the stabbings – this is something that we do track on a daily basis, and of course I’m concerned about any crime that happens in New York City. We do have an increase in C Summonses for knives and we do have an increase in arrests for knives too. So, if somebody is carrying it illegally, and we come upon them, there’ll be some action taken.

 

Mayor: And let me add to that. There’s something bigger going on here and I think this is really worthy of examination by the media. NYPD has driven down violent crime now for almost a quarter-century and increasingly they are getting at the supply of guns with, by the way ­– a very adverse situation because there are so many guns available in this country, and all the guns that come up from other states. But there’s been a major increase in gun seizures. There’s been a reduction in shootings. NYPD is doing extraordinary work. We now have the Gun Violence Suppression Unit – 200 officers focused specifically on getting at guns. We have the new gun courts we’re instituting. So, I’m not a criminologist, but I can safely say that guns are being taken off the street in an unprecedented way. Some people, unfortunately, are turning to a different weapon – thank God, typically, a less deadly weapon but they’re turning to a different weapon. Well, guess what that means? The NYPD will now go get those weapons. And that’s why I believe in quality-of-life policing, or Broken Windows Policing because what we so over and over again – I get the reports every day. Someone’s jumping a turnstile. Someone had some other kind of infraction and when they are addressed by the NYPD it turns out they have a weapon, or the amazing situation we talked about when we were talking about ShotSpotter and CompStat 2.0. That story about how ShotSpotter alerted officers, they went to the roof, they checked for a warrant, they went to the apartment to the building, and they saw bullets on the table, and they pulled in three criminals and weapons. So, NYPD today is going very aggressively at weapons in an amazing way with much better technology now – better training. And with less violent crime, that means that anything that happens they have more ability to go at and go at aggressively So, this is a virtuous cycle here      

 

Mayor: But there’s no question. We don’t take knives lightly. We don’t take razors lightly, but the NYPD is doing a better and better job of getting them off the streets.

 

Jonathan.

 

Question: Mr. Mayor, two questions about Super Tuesdays and your preferred candidate, Secretary Clinton, with her wrapping up several wins on Tuesday do you - are you at the point where you think Senator Sanders should consider dropping out? And secondly, you appeared at her rally yesterday while – when you were on stage there were a smattering of boos - do you have any response to that, do you have any sense about why that might’ve happened?

 

Mayor: I never worry about some individuals booing. It goes with the office, and it's fine.  On the question of Secretary Clinton – I believe I’ve said for months and months she will be the Democratic nominee, and she will be the next president of the United States. Any candidate has to make their own choice. I've expressed my respect for what Senator Sanders has talked about and I think the very good impact he’s had on the debate in this country, but each candidate has to decide when their time has come. But either way you slice it Hillary Clinton is going to win.

 

Question: Since you took office the amount of money spent on lobbyists has gone up 37% - something like $62 million a year spent which it stated flat at for several years to $86 million in 29016. What’s your understanding of why that is happening?

 

Mayor: I have no analysis of that. We are moving a lot of items. We’re moving a lot in this city in terms of a very, very aggressive agenda, so a lot’s happening. But I have no clue how people make their decisions on lobbying I really don’t.

 

Question: What did – Governor Cuomo took the same stage at the rally and with [inaudible] the same people booing him, why do you think that might be?

 

Mayor: Again, I don’t get into that analysis. You all can analyze who the crowd was, which organizations they were with. It’s not pertinent to me.

 

Question: CCRB report the other day showing that the NYPD has inappropriately used warrants, violated the 4th amendment according to them. What are your thoughts on it and the Chief’s thoughts on it?

 

Mayor: I think the NYPD is doing a very good job of training officers on how to appropriately handle each situation. I value that report because I think the CCRB plays an important role in our government, but they did look at a very limited number of incidents. The Chief can put that into perspective, but the bottom line is we’re very focused our officers know exactly how to go about things legally and appropriately, and how to treat residents of this city appropriately. That’s why complaints against the police are down 25 percent.  And I really want to credit the NYPD. The mission from the beginning that Commissioner Bratton and I talked about was drive down crime and improve the bond between police and community, they’ve done on both simultaneously, but the training does get at constantly helping officers to being very exacting in how they do their work – and bluntly, there wasn’t that training in the past. So some of what we have seen is the residue of the lack of support officers support in terms of training them to do their job to the best of their ability.

 

Chief O’Neill: If you just look at the number of entries that NYPD makes into people’s houses and of course that is probably one of the most sensitive things that we do, and if you look at that – I think there were 16,000 search warrants last year, but that’s not – that doesn’t include all of the warrants that were enforced by people from the Fugitive Division. You have bench warrants, arrest warrants, probation warrants, parole warrants, so there’s all in all there’s got to be over 100,000 entries each year. And if you look at the small number of complaints and the small number of cases where there is actually discipline against the police officers it’s a very small percentage.

 

Question: [Inaudible]

 

Chief O’Neill: The NYPD takes lessons all the time. That’s how we evolve.

 

Mayor: And I want to emphasize that. It’s a very good question. Everything that comes out of the CCRB is evaluated to look for any kind of structural or systemic issues that need to be addressed. I have to tell you – as I think  I’ve said to a lot of you, I didn’t know Bill Bratton well – I’d had a number of conversations with him before the election, but I never knew him well. I didn’t get to know this big lug here until I became Mayor of the City. You’re just not going to find better leaders anywhere. You’re just not. They take everything seriously, and since we have all been together shoulder to shoulder, all hours, all days – I can tell you the nature of leaders. They constantly are talking – including in the meetings I’m in with them - about trying to perfect their craft, about trying to learn from their mistakes, about trying to learn from data. It never stops, and Commissioner Bratton’s been at this a long time, and I’ve never seen him sit still in the sense of saying ‘okay guys we’ve got it here’ it’s like no, it’s like – what can we do better? what can we do better? what can we learn from this? That is the – that is the ethic of the NYPD. Yes, sir.


Question: [Inaudible] criticizing your zoning proposal in East New York - your zoning, I’m wondering if there’s any efforts to address their issues such as [inaudible]

 

Mayor: Yes. I don’t want to speak about predictions, but I will say in terms of their ongoing dialogue with the Council about their concerns, absolutely. I’ve spoken numerous times to Speaker Mark-Viverito about her concerns and what she’s relaying from the Council. We’ve said we’re open to seeing if we can make some tweaks, make some adjustments that – to address the council’s concerns.  I think most of what I’ve heard is certainly consistent with my philosophy. They want to make sure that we can reach as many people as possible with affordable housing. On East New York re-zoning, I’ve had a number of meetings with community leaders – talked many times to Councilman Espinal, and I think we're making a lot of progress on addressing community concerns, and I think there's a real understanding among a lot of people I’ve talked to about the amount of affordable housing that would be created and all the other benefits that will be brought to the community. So constant dialogue on all of the above, but I feel confident that we’re moving in the right direction.

 

Question: The community groups that met with you earlier said you were interested in hearing about the affordability concern, but your concern was you wouldn’t be able to supervise a sane level of affordability in all 15 neighborhoods that are being re-zoned, and they [inaudible] East New York. Can you speak to that?

 

Mayor: Well, I think there's two issues.  One the nature of our plan is to try and reach affordability for different folks. Someone who makes very low income needs affordable housing, but cops and teachers and nurses need affordable housing too, so we’re trying to reach different parts of our community. And then I think it’s safe to say that in some communities there’s need for one particular income band more than others.  So we’re trying to make those adjustments accordingly. At the same time the other part of our Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning of course is the effort to require affordable housing from developers, but the Zoning for Quality and Affordability is particularly going to help us build senior housing and some of you may have been on the call the other day – the call sponsored by AARP when we had 14,000 or more seniors on the line. That one call is an example of the level of deep concern that seniors have about affordability, and their desire to get something done. We’ve had tremendous support from seniors and obviously from AARP.

 

Question: This is a Vision Zero question. On 7th avenue every single day –

 

Mayor: 7th avenue which borough?

 

Question: Manhattan.

 

Mayor: You were being borough-ist.

 

Question: Yes, I was and I apologize for that but –

 

Mayor: I don’t know if I’m going to stay after that.

 

[laughter]

 

Question: We’re talking about a parade today, but this looks like a parade. Every single rush hour evening people are rushing to get to their trains and the sidewalks are so packed that they’re jumping into the street by the thousands literally mobbing their streets. Is there a Vision Zero solution? One proposal has been to give an extra lane of traffic, coned off with some enforcement for the 3 hours from maybe 5 to 8.

 

Mayor: To that specific proposal – I haven't heard it before, but I think it's certainly worth looking at. I would tell you one of the things we’re working on now – we put in the budget already additional traffic enforcement agents I think it’s 220 or 230. That is part of what we need. We need more human presence to help make sure people don’t go out in the streets, to help avoid dangerous situation. The chief might want to speak to this as well.  But in terms of you know what we might want to block off. I agree with you – part of the byproduct of having 4.2 million jobs in New York is we have the most jobs we’ve ever had – 4.2 million, that’s a blessing, means a hell of a lot of people are in certain key parts of Manhattan during rush hour – literally more than ever before. So it does present those challenges, but I think the first thing we want to do is add the uniform presence to help manage that process. Chief do you want to speak?

 

Chief O’Neill: [Inaudible] We don’t want to get into jaywalking tickets, it’s not something that we want to do. Bill Morris is the three star chief in charge of Manhattan South and that’s – that’s a person who is more well versed with crowd management than anybody else in the Police Department. So if there needs to be a solution on 7th avenue, and I think you’re probably thinking of 34th street, you have the Garden there, Penn station there – but it does speak to the vibrancy of this city that there are that many people there.

 

So it is an issue for us, and we’ll talk to Tommy Chan and see if we can come up with a viable solution.

 

Mayor: I'm going to thank you for that very specific question. We will do a little work on it, and feel free to ask it again in a couple of weeks.

 

Last call.

 

Question: It’s sort of on topic.

 

Mayor: We’re not on topic anymore, you can ask anything.

 

Question: One thing on – next Thursday. Are you marching in the Rockaways this weekend?

 

Mayor: Yes.

 

Question: Marching in the St. Patrick’s for All.

 

Mayor: Yes – trifecta. It’s a lot of marching. It’s the marching season.

 

Thank you, everyone.

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