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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability

November 11, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: …so I think it’s very appropriate that the president was here. This is not a day for partisanship, it’s a day to honor veterans. And, you know, it’s a major, major anniversary, so I think that was good.

Question: Were you surprised by his sort-of friendly or diplomatic acknowledgement of you earlier?

Mayor: Well, I think that’s the way things are supposed to be. You know, this is – again, this is not a political day, this is a day to honor veterans. And that should be a really nonpartisan thing. And I’ll tell you, for anyone who’s grown up in a household with a veteran – and for me this was like the formative reality of my childhood, my dad and his service – you know, he couldn’t even dream of making a day like this political. This is about everyone.

So, I’m glad the President kept it non-political, I’m glad he treated it the way I think we’d all like to see things be again, just a little more normal, a little more respectful of everyone – you know that’s what I think everyone would like to see.

Question: Mr. Mayor, there’s been criticism of what people, some people see as over-policing of the subways recently. A lot of incidents that people think could have been handled a little less abruptly, I’m just wondering what you make – I mean, Cuomo is going to send 500 more cops down there, you have cameras looking for homeless people. Are you worried about the direction things are headed in?

Mayor: Look, I don’t think you could put all those pieces together. They’re talking about a couple of incidents, not a huge number. I think, first and foremost, our job is to keep the subways safe and having additional officers is good for safety, but the State officers need to be highly coordinated with the NYPD, the NYPD is the lead. So, I’ve said from the beginning, we welcome additional help, it’s a massive subway system, we’ve put a lot of officers there, but it’s still a huge amount to cover. So, we welcome help, but it has to be coordinated with NYPD.

On the question of how we police – look, each situation is different. I think one of the things we’re trying to figure out is how to work as closely as possible with communities, not arresting when we don’t need to arrest, not giving a summons when we don’t need to give summons, much more dialogue with communities, but sometimes – that’s the ideal, but sometimes we’re going to have a situation that’s an emergency or a situation where officers have to respond as best they can under tough circumstances. The point to me is to continue to evolve policing in a direction that we are closer and closer to communities, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Question: Mr. Mayor, what do you make of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg considering an entrance into the Democratic primary? And what do you think of the timing, so late in the race?

Mayor: Well, let me say a couple of things. Just first, sort-of a score card on what I saw from Mike Bloomberg and then what I think it means for now. You know, I’m objective about the fact that there were somethings he did well. I believe that he did very good work and does good work on climate change, on immigration, on gun safety. I mean, these are areas where I agree with him and I appreciate what he’s done – and public health. I think when he was Mayor, he had no understanding of the inequality crisis. I think he was absolutely tone-deaf to what working people are going through in this city, and there’s a number of other areas where he had a chance to do something and he just did not make it a priority. And obviously, I think when I got elected it was in large measure because people wanted a very, very different approach. But in terms of today, look, would he be better than Donald Trump? Of course. Should he be the Democratic nominee? No. I mean, I just want to be really clear. This is a Democratic party today that’s getting more progressive, that wants to address the concerns of working people, that does not accept the status quo. There’s no way in the world we should nominate a billionaire who epitomizes the status quo. So, I – again, I can be objective about some of his strengths and weaknesses, and I can certainly prefer him over Donald Trump, but does he represent today’s Democratic Party? Of course not, not even close.

Question: [Inaudible] the New York City gun laws that you can change. [Inaudible] as well as one about a local question about the New York towing facility on the West Side. Is that going to get moved?

Mayor: Well, okay that’s three very different things. Let me do the first two and then I’ll answer the third.

The – if you want to hear why strong gun safety legislation really matters, talk to the NYPD. I’ve never heard more adamant voices in favor of gun safety than the NYPD leadership. And they are and we all work together to maximize the chance that the Supreme Court would protect the laws that keep New Yorkers safe and keep our officers safe. Every time our officers are able to keep guns off the streets because they have laws that help them keep guns off the streets, it’s safer for the community and safer for our officers.

On DACA, I think we’re in a very strong position. I think for all us who believe that the DREAMers should have a right to stay I here. I think there’s a lot to be said for the legal position, I am hopeful on that one. I think it’s also very important to recognize the Supreme Court is more attuned to what the American people are thinking than maybe we all admit. And a very clear majority of Americans think that DREAMers should stay.

On the tow pound, what’s your question there?

Question: Is it being moved? What’s the process?

Mayor: We don’t have a specific plan yet. Clearly, if we could find another location, there’d be a lot to be said for that, but the problem is in Manhattan to have a location that could really work and be central enough is a giant challenge. So, are there other ways that that space could be used better, I am sure. But until we have a real solution, we can’t do anything differently.

Question: A man, a shelter resident was stabbed to death in [inaudible] shelter [inaudible] the DOI is now investigating. The City is not aware of its relationship with the [inaudible]. How closely does the city look at these contracts that are doling out millions [inaudible]?

Mayor: There’s a huge amount of scrutiny on contracts in New York City. I don’t think there’s any place that does more in terms of checks and balances. Sometimes though, people don’t disclose what they should disclose or for whatever reason it’s not as clear as it should be. This matter is absolutely under investigation. We want to get to the bottom of it. We do not accept double dealing. We don’t accept people withholding information they should have given us. But at the same time on the security issue – remember in the last few years something really important happened which is the NYPD took over the supervision and the training of shelter security staff. And that should have been done decades ago bluntly. I’m very proud we got that done. We still have more work to do. Because remember, the folks who are in the shelter, they’re not PD officers but they’re trained by PD. I want to know what happened there. I never want to see it like this happen again. So, there’s a full investigation also of how that incident could have occurred.

Question: [Inaudible] NYCHA hearings?

Mayor: Say it again?

Question: What’s your comment on the [inaudible] of the pay to play in the [inaudible] of the NYCHA air rights to developers?

Mayor: I think the story – I don’t – I can’t remember were you the writer of the story?

Question: Yeah.

Mayor: I think you should really think twice before writing this story that that’s misleading and that un-factual. Just absolutely no effort there to try and figure out what was actually going on. Because it would have been real easy to understand that the air rights policy we put out two years ago as a way to fund NYCHA and then since then the decisions on how to implement it had been done by the people who do this work, I have never been in any way, shape or form.

Question: Do you think New Yorkers –

Mayor: So, I just don’t buy – this is really a simplistic way of saying “oh appearance” when there’s absolutely no evidence of any action whatsoever that’s inappropriate. It’s really easy, cheap journalism if that’s what you want to do but it’s not—

Question: What should New Yorkers take –

Mayor: New Yorkers should –

Question: Contributors –

Mayor: It has nothing to do with it. And if you care to do some actual research you would know that it had nothing to do with it. I didn’t even know that that had been done. So, I’m just not going to stand for you guys misrepresenting things and actually telling people falsehoods.

Question: [Inaudible] Lerner said

Mayor: I don’t care what Susan Lerner said. I respect Susan Lerner, it is just not true. And if you’re actually interested in the truth, ask the question did I have anything to do with it or any knowledge of it? No. Was the policy a policy to fund NYCHA which desperately needs the money? Yes. Look, it’s just cheap. I’m looking you into the eye. If it was done to you, you would think it’s cheap. I – the first time I heard who got the contract was in the paper. Did you bother to ask that question? No, because you’re not trying to find the truth.

Question: Mr. Mayor, [inaudible] incidents in the subway this weekend. A woman with a churro cart who was escorted who was escorted out, the gentleman who put his bag on the seat. There’s been some concern about whether the city is returning back to the some of the old stop-and-frisk tactics—

Mayor: No, that’s not even close to stop-and-frisk. Look, I respect anyone who says we need to constantly ask the question of how we’re policing, and we should be constantly changing and improving how we police and certainly if anyone’s looked at work of Dermot Shea, you’ll know that this has been a guy who has been constantly looking for ways to improve both the quality of policing in terms of safety and the relationship between police and community. So I looked at that video with the churro saleswoman. I want us to get to a day where that kind of action is not necessary. I understand the facts. The facts are she was there multiple times and was told multiple times that’s not a place you can be, and it’s against the law and it’s creating congestion. And she shouldn’t have been there. But what we’ve got to work towards the day we really engage the community and in general to also be clear – to members of the community that that’s not an acceptable behavior so it never comes down to a situation like that. The officers comported themselves properly from what I could see. But I don’t want it to get to that point. And as you see the evolution of neighborhood policing, we’re trying to go farther and farther and so I’m hopeful we can. But no, I don’t want to take a few specific situations and miss the fact we moved away from stop-and-frisk – we’re never going back.

Thanks, everyone.

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