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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live On WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show

May 13, 2016

Brian Lehrer: We begin today with the second edition of our new weekly feature Ask The Mayor. Mayor de Blasio is joining us weekly, now, Friday mornings at 10:00 am to take your calls on New York City affairs that you’d like to tell him about or ask him about. It can be from your block or you can [inaudible] out on policy with the Mayor. He’ll say some things on his agenda, and he’ll answer some questions from me as well. Our phone number is 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC – 4-3-3-9-6-9-2 – or ask a question via Twitter @BrianLehrer. Use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. Use the hashtag #AsktheMayor.

Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good to be here, Brian.

Lehrer: And I’d like to start with the topic of crime. I think you have some good numbers you want tout. But I see the NYPD is also promising 20 gang takedowns between now and the Fourth of July. I don’t remember ever hearing a numerical announcement like that before.

Mayor: Neither have I.

Lehrer: What can you tell us about what’s in the works.

Mayor: Yes, Brian, I don’t either, and I think it’s because something fundamental has changed. There’s a quick framing here. As the NYPD has succeeded more and more driving down violent crime, they’re able to focus more and more on the several thousands of individuals who literally account for most of the true intense violence in this city. And that is leading to evermore efficiency in getting these gangs. And that’s why they actually can predict now their success rate of what they’re going have going forward.

So, let’s just look at the last 30 days. There’s been seven major gang takedowns, particularly narcotics related arrests – 219 suspects arrested. This is just in the last 30 days. So – and the backdrop overall of crime – overall crime down 4.2 percent compared to a year ago this April. The month of April – the fewest shootings of any April since CompStat began. And the first quarter of this year – the fewest shootings and homicides of any first quarter in New York City history.

So, I think what’s happening is with more and more success, NYPD can get more and more done. And on top of that, 2,000 more officers will be on patrol by the end of the year. So, this is really a tremendous momentum that’s built up at the NYPD.

Lehrer: The Police Department says these will be takedowns not raids. What’s the difference?

Mayor: Takedown means that you put the gang out of business. You disrupt the fundamental dynamic – a lot of people arrested – and the gang can no longer function as a criminal enterprise.

Lehrer: Commissioner Bratton also announced ways to make it harder to get a gun permit. That stems partly from a scandal that got revealed, right?

Mayor: Yes. And I think Commissioner Bratton has shown time and time again that if he sees anything he finds inappropriate, he acts very, very aggressively. And so, he’s obviously disciplined a number of people in the NYPD, and he’s changed some of the rules to make sure there can be no abuse in the issuing of gun permits. Lord knows – an extraordinarily sensitive matter – we want it done the right way. We want it done carefully. So, I commend him for taking the actions he’s taken.

Lehrer: And if we have that big a violent gang problem in the city, what’s your best understanding of what’s driving it?

Mayor: Well, that’s a great question. Look – and I think it’s one of the biggest questions, actually, we can ask when it comes to public safety. We have seen incredible progress over 25 years. That’s a statement of fact. NYPD – and I always emphasize – working with community leaders, working with community patrols, and so many other stakeholders – have driven down crime very, very consistently, so that, you know, new records are being set all the time for reduced crime.

I’m confident, by the way, that our new neighborhood policing program is going to add to that substantially because we’re really going to bond police and community.

But, if you ask the question about the gangs and crews – why this particular challenge? Look, I think it does have something to do with the fact that there’s still too many young people who don’t feel that there’s a positive option for them in life. We’re adamant about trying to change that reality which means fixing our schools. That’s why we’re doing things like afterschool and pre-K, and a lot of the things that hopefully will get kids on the right track and keep them there. But the gang and crew dynamics, they have – they haven’t replaced what we used to know, for example, the mafia. It’s a different reality. But a lot of traditional organized crime, thank God, was disrupted and in many ways destroyed by law enforcement. This is a new version today, but the difference here, I think, gives us some real opportunity to act – is we can reach a lot of young people before they end up in the gang and crew, where there’s a tremendous history of positive intervention to pull young people back away from gangs and crews – again better education, better opportunity has a lot to do with it too.

So, I think it is a combination of the aggressive enforcement – that’s why these seven major takedowns in the last 30 days are crucial to the strategy. But also a lot of the things we have to do on the front end – the mental health services, the pre-K, the afterschool, the things that really can turn lives in the right direction.

Lehrer: In these expeditors, with respect to the gun permits – is it too hard to get a gun permit in New York City? And so people have to use professionals who know how to do it? That’s what some people will say. Or on the hand, is there, kind of, this underground gun permit economy with professionals – whether they’ve donated or not to anyone’s campaign – too involved in trying to get gun permits for people who maybe shouldn’t have them and need to be showing themselves personally at City Hall?

Mayor: Well, look, I’m not an expert on the process. I can say it should be a very rigorous process. The bar should be set high to get a gun permit. Now, broadly on the question of expeditors – I don’t think any part of City government should require an expeditor. And it’s not the only area where you’ve seen it. Classically we’ve seen it with the Buildings Department, for example. Our goal is to update government – make it more modern and user-friendly. We’re doing a lot of that using technology so that people can actually access the things they need without having to have a professional help them. But, again, when it comes to gun permits, that should be a very careful high-bar process. We got to fight any black market activity at the same time, but I want that to be a very, very careful process.

Lehrer: Debbie in Bay Ridge. You’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi, Debbie.

Question: Hi. Hi, Brian. First, I want to say, Mayor de Blasio is doing a fabulous job. I had the honor of meeting him in Bay Ridge a few weeks ago, and his goal is to prevent homelessness. And Mayor de Blasio, I’ve been getting the run around from Steven Banks, from [inaudible], from all the people that you trust. We are not able to get an attorney. You’re putting money in for landlord-tenant court to prevent eviction. I have a son, high-functioning autistic. I have a lung condition, never smoked. And we got turned down from Legal Aid. We got turned down from South Brooklyn Legal Services. UJC is not guaranteeing it, nor CAMBA. Now, I told your staff and nobody is getting back to me. We finally had to hire – an hour before trial – my own lawyer out of money I didn’t have. And so, you know, this might be part of the problem – whoever is listening out there – sometimes people don’t inform the Mayor of what’s going on.

Lehrer: Let me – let me get a response, Mr. Mayor, about lawyers for tenants in housing court.

Mayor: Yes, and Debbie – I’ve met Debbie and I’ve met her son. And Debbie I know you’re fighting very hard to make sure you’re treated fairly. I’m going to – you’re right. Sometimes I don’t get all the information I should get up and down the big government we run here. But I will make sure that all folks act immediately to get you legal help. You know, Brian, I think the bigger point here is, we found a lot of success through our new initiative – that legal aid and legal services, particularly in stopping evictions and stopping harassment against tenants – 24 percent decrease in evictions since we started this initiative. It is actually growing rapidly.

In East New York, we literally knocked on thousands and thousands of doors to see if tenants needed a lawyer provided for free by the City to stop an eviction. So, we’re doing that kind of direct outreach to tenants to stop evictions. And it’s having a real big impact. So, we’re going to keep perfecting the system. We’re going to keep putting resources into it. We’ll certainly – I know Debbie well. We’ll follow up on her case.

Lehrer: [Inaudible] individuals who are embroiled in landlord-tenant court – housing court – because I know the lawyers, I mean the landlords are so frequently represented by lawyers and the tenants are so infrequently. How can they get a subsidized lawyer?

Mayor: Well, it’s a matter of illegal harassment, illegal eviction, illegal withholding of heat or hot water or repairs, or an illegal attempt to charge a price that is not appropriate to the tenant. All of those are areas where we will provide a lawyer for free. Any New Yorker who feels that they are a victim of that kind of illegal activity, all they have to do is call 3-1-1, and we will go over the case with them, and if we find that there is a legal case to be made, they will get a lawyer for free. It’s as simple as 3-1-1.

Lehrer: Lisa in Manhattan, you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hello.

Question: Hello. Thank you, Brian, for taking my call, and good morning, Mr. Mayor.

My question is about the plastic bag fee, or the plastic and paper bag fee. Why do the stores get to keep the money – given all of the political contributions from grocery store magnets and the other stuff that goes on? Why shouldn’t New Yorkers be very suspicious of that? Because [inaudible] the fact that it gives the stores every incentive to triple-bag every individual can of peas.

Mayor: Lisa, I appreciate the question because no this is – this is motivated by what was the way we could get this done most quickly to address the problem of our environment. Look, this is happening all over the country. We’ve seen localities all over the country act on plastic bags. There is a fundamental problem. They are costing the taxpayer a huge amount of money because we have to put them in our waste stream and haul them to landfills all over. They are un – they are literally not biodegradable. They’re made out of petroleum. They, in fact, make global warming worse because they’re made out of petroleum, and we have to get away from using petroleum products in every way. So, plastic bags are a fundamental problem. Here’s why – I absolutely understand your concern – but here’s why this was a smart way to do it. This is the way we could do it most quickly. And we believe very rapidly, as we’ve seen in other localities, that people – individual shoppers – are going to change their behavior quickly. We’re going to be providing free, reusable bags, and that’s going to be an ongoing effort. We’re just going to keep reloading and providing them whenever people need them. You and I know our, you know, forebears didn’t have plastic bags – had reusable bags they used all the time. We can do it too. And quickly, people’s habits will change. We’ve seen it over and over again in many parts of our lives. When people see that both the environmental impact is there, and they want to avoid paying that five cents, they’re going to bring a bag with them – behavioral change. Just like they did with recycling and so many other areas, and it’s going to end the problem for all intents and purposes. And then there’s not going to be money going into the hands of anybody. Once we get people to reuse reusable bags, it’s a whole different reality.

Lehrer: But why would that fee when people do pay it go to the store rather than in – you know as a tax into a fund for environmental purposes as I think some other places do it.

Mayor: Yes, it’s the nature of the laws governing New York City and what we are able to do in our own jurisdiction. We can get you a thorough legal analysis. But the fact is for our City Council to act – and you know this idea was initiated by the City Council, and I commend them for it. For us to act and be able to do this on a municipal level, this was the construct that was legally allowable. But again, what we think will happen rapidly is people will simply convert to reusable bags, and we are going to constantly be making those reusable bags available, and the store owners are contributing a lot of resources to make those reusable, permanent bags available.

Lehrer: Chadney in Queens – you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi.

Question: Hi, good morning. I’m the president of the Northwest Bayside Civic Association, and we met with Senator Tony Avella, and the rest of the civic leaders, and also the DOT, and principal of PS 159, and also the Community Affairs Officer of precinct 111 to raise concerns and also bring solutions to the table – actually do a map of the school PS 159. We are trying to solve a problem of the chaos that is caused by the concoction of – I’m a parent, I’m running late to work, I need to drop my kid off, I think the best idea is to open up the left door on the double-yellow line, and drop my kid off, and let them run across the, against the traffic lane, against the other side. And this is happening on two different streets around this school, and I’ve learned this is happening around many schools inside New York City. And I really applaud you bringing in traffic cameras to the area around schools. I just saw that in the Queens Chronicle this morning. And I want to raise concerns of why are human police officers, human police officers not doing greater work to issue out tickets where there’s an opportunity to whether it’s meet a quota for a month or whatever they need to do to issue tickets. And that could be also seen as fundraising for the City – however the City, or the Mayor, or the precincts look at tickets in their values aside from stopping crime. Why is it not traffic or police [inaudible] by humans?

Mayor: Okay well first of all, we do not believe in quotas. It’s not part of what we do in terms of how we manage the Police Department. I want to dispel that immediately. I, for many years, dropped off my kids at PS 372 in Brooklyn. I would drive them over. There was always that rush of activity right around the beginning of school. And the challenge always is we first and foremost – safety. We obviously care about the convenience of parents who are, you know, trying to juggle getting their kids to school, and getting to work, and everything else. And where I think we have to – the note we have to hit – and this is the instruction I’ve certainly given is NYPD, and traffic enforcement, and everyone associated should not be writing tickets for the sake of writing tickets, obviously. If someone is endangering others and will not listen to instruction, that might be a context for a ticket being written.

But what we’re trying to do is get the kids in safely and move people along. You know, I’m a parent, so I can say we all know the parents who linger too long when other parents are trying to get in, and park their car, and get their kid into school. That’s appropriate for, for example, a traffic enforcement agent or a police officer to say you got to keep moving, you got to keep moving. But no, it’s not about trying to give tickets for tickets sake. It’s first and foremost safety. And I’ll have my team follow up with you and see what we can do to improve the situation at that school.

Lehrer: Chadney, thank you. Also on traffic safety in Queens – you’re in the news this week for ordering a bike lane to continue to be constructed along Queens Boulevard, trying to turn the Boulevard of Death into the Boulevard of Life, even though residents in the area don’t want the bike lane. They say this is one of the hazards. People are as afraid of the bicycles sometimes as they are of the cars because the bikes are more unpredictable.

Mayor: Well I want to really be clear on this one. First of all, it was called the Boulevard of Death for years, and there’s a reason – because it was absolutely handled the wrong way. It was constructed the wrong way. We didn’t take the actions as a City that we should have taken for years and years. It goes all the way to 1990 – the first time statistics were kept on the fatalities on Queens Boulevard. In 1990, there were 18 people killed trying to cross Queens Boulevard. For the first time since 1990, last year we had no fatalities at all on Queens Boulevard. For the very first time in that entire time – a quarter century – no fatalities at all, and why? Because we’re fundamentally changing Queens Boulevard. We lowered the speed limit. There’s a lot more enforcement by NYPD, and we’re changing the design of Queens Boulevard.

Now look, I again was a local official before I became Mayor. I was a School Board member, I was a City Council member – I do care deeply about what community boards think, and we listen. I’m concerned about how that meeting was handled. I’m not sure that the members of the board were given fair opportunity to way the issues at hand. But more importantly, community boards have an advisory role to play. They get their input. We try and listen to it carefully. But when it comes to safety, the most important thing is the safety of our people. This is a protected bike lane – the most sophisticated type of bike lane. We have lost people. We have lost bicyclists on Queens Boulevard. We’re not going to allow it to happen anymore. And everyone’s got to slow down. And I think part of the conflict here is that it’s again – this is a culture change. This is drivers understanding that things are changing in the city. They have got to change their ways and their habits. By the way, most New Yorkers and most drivers have embraced Vision Zero with a lot of enthusiasm and understand that it’s about protecting seniors and children. But some folks keep resisting. A protected bike lane along Queens Boulevard is a no-brainer. We have to make it the Boulevard of Life. We are not going to go backwards.

Lehrer: Also in the news today, I see you’ve held a fundraiser at the Brooklyn Bowl with Louis C.K., the headline draw. With your fundraising from the last campaign being looked at by prosecutors, will you do anything different than the last time?

Mayor: Well first let me say, it was an extraordinary event. I mean Louis C.K. is I think incredibly admired for the truth he tells and you know the way he talks about human life in the way that we can all recognize on – I consider him a real friend. It was an incredible event. The place was filled. We are still counting the contributions. They’re still coming in. Right now, why we focused on low-dollar contributions, everyday New Yorkers – and we think now with the matching funds we’re going to get from this event, and we have this great, progressive matching funds system here in New York City, one of the strongest in the country – we think this event could easily yield over $750,000 for our campaign. And that‘s going to be because everyday people participated and their donations were matched. So the simple answer to your question, Brian, is we’re going to be doing a lot of these kinds of things. A lot of neighborhood events, a lot of events, house parties, block parties – all sorts of things to build support. And not just the financial support – to get the volunteers and people to be active in the campaign. And this was a great kick-off to that effort.

Lehrer: Will you go for the Bernie standard this time and refuse to set up a super PAC?

Mayor: It’s – obviously the campaign’s not until next year, so I’m not going to get into a whole lot of details yet. What I can say is the focus we’re going to have is on donations from everyday New Yorkers and building a grassroots campaign.

Lehrer: But you won’t rule out a 501(c)(4) super PAC?

Mayor: It’s just too early to say. We have to – and I’ll tell you in very simple terms. I’ve said clearly if other people choose to run for this office, God bless them. I’m convinced that at least one candidate will come forward who is heavily, heavily financed by the hedge funds or other powerful interests. We’re going to have make decisions at that point – how to handle things. But the campaign I want to run is a grassroots campaign based on donations of everyday New Yorkers, and that’s what I envision. But we are obviously ready for the kind of challenger who might come along with extraordinary amounts of money.

Lehrer: About hedge funds spending heavily to fight your progressive agenda – I see you said that last night as well. Can you name any of those people and what detail of your progressive agenda they’ve spent most heavily against?

Mayor: Well I could – I’d love to outline for you what I can, and what I can’t outline for you is because they don’t disclose. And we’ve talked about this before. I think even after Citizens United – the Supreme Court decision that everyone who donates should disclose. At the State level, at the federal level – that has not happened consistently. Even at the City level – you’ll remember when I first took office that spring – a very major advertising campaign. I think it was almost $4 million directed against me – quite clear that hedge fund managers funded it. We have a strong suspicion as to who some of the individuals are, but there’s no obligation for them to disclose. We can certainly see of their names on boards of different charter school organizations. But since I took office, by our estimate, there’s been $11 million in advertising directed against me – largely by the hedge fund world – to some extent by a major, multinational corporation. And –

Lehrer: Around charter schools and Uber as the issues?

Mayor: No, no. The hedge fund – the hedge fund – the hedge fund advertising was around charter schools in particular and obviously in opposition to my education agenda. The multinational corporation question obviously is in the for-hire vehicle category. And then, we had the landlord lobby – the Rent Stabilization Association – spend major advertising campaign against me as well. Landlords, multi-national corporations, hedge funds – grand total $11 million in issue advertising directed against me in just over two years. So we keep count. We understand that very powerful forces are going to challenge our progressive agenda, and we’re going to be able to fight back from the grassroots.

Lehrer: When you were on previously talking about the investigations, you emphasized you were fully cooperating. Since your last appearance, though, you announced a refusal to cooperate with the probe by JCOPE, the New York State Joint Committee on Ethics. What are you withholding from JCOPE?

Mayor: It’s quite clear the difference between the many legitimate approaches that we’ve seen where there are investigations going on that we have said we’re happy to work with, and we want to resolve as quickly as possible. We said we’re happy to participate and provide information in any way that’s helpful versus what we’ve seen with JCOPE. It’s laid out in very great detail in a letter by Lawrence Laufer, who was the lawyer for one of the organizations involved. JCOPE has far exceeded its authority – its legal authority, its mandate. And what’s clear is – it’s one thing to participate with an investigation that’s appropriate and within appropriate boundaries, but when an investigation may be motivated by politics, when an investigation may be going beyond its legal mandate – and obviously be in a sense a partisan act – that’s a whole different matter. In fact, the committee involved did cooperate for a year with JCOPE on the areas that were appropriate to JCOPE’s mandate, but when we saw JCOPE starting to act suspiciously as a partisan entity, that was a different discussion.

Lehrer: We had Susan Lerner on the show yesterday from Common Cause New York who’s been a little on your side in your claim of a double standard. She says these investigations should look more closely at similar fundraising by Governor Cuomo, for example. But I want to play you a clip of Susan Lerner from yesterday on this question of not cooperating with JCOPE.

Susan Lerner: The whole process of regulating our elected officials and lobbyists is to be sure that elected officials, people in the government, are making choices that are based on objective fact and what is best for the majority of people not what large donors want to see from government. So JCOPE has an important mission – there’s a lot of debate on how well it may satisfy that mission – but certainly any entity and particularly one associated with an elected official who says, ‘Oh, I’ve decided I’ll respond to this request but not that request,’ is very troublesome.

Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, your response?

Mayor: I think the world of Susan Lerner, and I agree with most of what she said. I think what she – I differ with her on the last sentence or two in this way. We have a variety of entities that provide oversight in this City and State, and I actually think we have one of the best systems of, you know, enforcing ethics and creating checks and balances in this city of any place in the country. That’s why, for example, I went to the Conflict of Interest Board at the beginning of any initiative I was involved in to get guidance, and we followed that guidance very scrupulously. The difference is here is when we see an entity that – again suspiciously seems to only look at us and not other people doing the exact same thing – and then there’s the personnel question, Brian. This is true at the State Board of Elections. This is true at JCOPE. The personnel involved are all hired from the same place in Albany.

Lehrer: The Governor?

Mayor: You can follow the personnel trail, and a lot of it does go to the executive branch. When you look over and over again at a trail of people who clearly have some kind of mandate to pursue us and not others, you know, there’s a point at which you say this is not appropriate, this is not what they’re here to do. And more importantly, JCOPE has a statutory – the statutory set of goals. It has exceeded those goals in a way that’s very different from any of the other organizations. Look – I would say to anyone who’s concerned about this issue – read Lawrence Laufer’s letter. It goes into great detail about what’s happening here is a clear, clear double standard.

Lehrer: We put out the hashtag as you know – and your office put it out too – #AskTheMayor – for people to tweet questions for you today. And there’s one maybe – it’s a coordinated campaign, but I’m going to ask it anyway – a lot of people asking about the Ramarley Graham case. Two of the tweets say – “Why is there no full investigation into NYPD killing of Ramarley Graham when twelve plus NYPD engaged in misconduct?” Another says – “When will we have full accountability for the police killing of Ramarley Graham?” Another says – “Why are only three NYPD facing charges for Ramarley Graham killing twelve plus were involved in misconduct?”

Mayor: Well, look, I’m not going to get into the details of the case because it is under – and I think the questions are heartfelt but miss the fact that that investigation – that review is happening as we speak which we’ve said repeatedly. First, there was the process through the District Attorney. Then, there was a process by the United States Department of Justice. Once that concluded, NYPD began its process. That is how the Department of Justice has consistently asked us to comport ourselves – to wait until they finish all of their actions before starting our internal disciplinary process. That process has begun. NYPD is looking at those that they feel played a role that raised questions, and that are worthy for review. They – any officer charged has a right to due process, and that will now play out. So I’ve said repeatedly – look, a horrible tragedy occurred. I’ve met the Graham family over the years, so I feel horrible for them about what happened, but there is a due process. There is a full review under way and it will yield a result.

Lehrer: We have time for one more question from a caller. Dean on the Upper West Side you’re on WNYC. Dean we’ve got about 30 seconds for you, right to the point.

Question: Oh boy, that’s quick. Thanks for taking my call. This is a follow up on your discussion with the Mayor last week on the JHL Nursing Home on 97th Street proposal. The answer that the Mayor gave at some point was that we need nursing homes. So, well, of course we need nursing homes. Nobody disagrees with that. The issue is whether the nursing home should be on 97th Street or 106th.

Lehrer: What’s your question?

Question: Well, the question is – given the Mayor’s signature commitment to an elementary education and pre-K and his signature commitment to affordable housing – why – doesn’t it makes sense for you, Mr. Mayor, to support Community Board 7 and the local communities, and to encourage the building at 106th Street where there will be none of the –

Lehrer: So rebuilding on that nursing home owner’s current site – the current Jewish home’s current site?

Mayor: Dean, let me tell you this. We want to resolve the issue. The central question is – first, the safety of the kids at the adjoining school. That’s the thing we have to first deal with. I can’t speak to the two sites – I’m just not expert enough. What I’ve instructed my team to do is get with the stakeholders in the community and figure out a resolution that puts the safety of kids first, but does result in a nursing home. This is a city that is rapidly aging, and we must have facilities for seniors going forward – both affordable housing in nursing homes and others. There’s a variety of things we have to do to accommodate growing seniors population. To answer your question – I will instruct my folks to look at both options, to make sure we’re working with the community to figure out what makes sense, but the safety of the kids will be the first thing we have to secure in the equation.

Brian – very quickly – on previous question from last week or a couple weeks ago – on the LED lights.

Lehrer: Yes, streetlights very bright – some people object to how bright they are.

Mayor: Once again, the citizens know best. They were too bright in many cases, initially. Department of Transportation is in charge. They have been toning those lights down in many parts of the city. The complaints have gone down a lot to 3-1-1, but anyone who still feels the lights in their particular block are too bright can call 3-1-1 and register that. We will send out a crew, and if we think it needs and adjustment, you know to make it less intense, we’ll make that adjustment.

Lehrer: So each individual light can be adjusted?

Mayor: I’m not a lightning expert. What I do know is they were able to change the intensity of the lights at least in general or maybe in specific cases. The point is if someone has an individual problem they can call 3-1-1 and a crew will be sent out to look at it.

Lehrer: One quick ask the question – Ask the Mayor question from the hashtag. Patrick wants to know, very important, what do you think of Louis C. K.’s beard? Yay or nay?

Mayor: I support Louis C. K.’s beard, and I think he’s just an extraordinary, extraordinary comedian, extraordinary artist. He directed me in Horace and Pete, so I’ve been one of his actors. And I think his beard’s fine just the way it is.

Lehrer: Louis C. K. supports the Mayor, and Mayor supports Louis C. K.’s beard. Now it can be told. Thank you very much.

Mayor: Thank you, Brian.

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