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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show

June 16, 2016

Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. And Mayor Bill de Blasio joins us to begin the program today. He’s usually here at 10:00 am on Fridays but has a conflict this week. So, here he is today. Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. I’m – at least I’m in New York City and not San Jose this time.

Lehrer: That’s right. And anything up tomorrow that you want to mention on the air?

Mayor Bill de Blasio: We’re having a very somber moment – a funeral for an FDNY chief who died on 9/11, whose remains were never found. The family has finally come to the vision that it is time for a funeral and we’re going to be honoring that chief. So, that is what tomorrow morning will be.

Brian Lehrer: Well, I’m glad for that honor, but obviously sad for the occasion.

Mayor: Yes.

Lehrer: And today listeners we will take calls for the Mayor from the Bronx – any topic, anyone from the Bronx as we continue to expand access through this program by rotating it around geographically; and on different topics some weeks, so your calls for the Mayor if you live – or we can say if you work in the Bronx and have a Bronx-related question – 212-433-WNYC, 433-9692 or tweet us a question, just use the hashtag #AsktheMayor. Let me start, while calls are coming in, on the developing story this morning and ask about the latest you’re hearing from Albany on the renewal of mayoral control of public schools. They are supposed to adjourn for the year later today. What’s the latest?

Mayor: Well, we’re still waiting, Brian. The bottom-line on mayoral control is it’s what has allowed us to finally get a graduation rate over 70 percent in the city. That is what we have achieved in the last year. And a very important fact, when Mayor Bloomberg achieved mayoral control – to his credit – the graduation rate was around 50 percent, in the time of mayoral control it is now over 70 percent, test scores are going up, we’ve been able to do big things quickly like full-day pre-K for all our kids and afterschool for all our middle school kids. So we need it, but I am sure you will not be shocked to hear it’s still unresolved in Albany. And to the credit of the Assembly they passed a three-year extension straight up, clean extension. The Governor is also supporting that, and I commend him for that but the Senate still has not determined what they are going to do and there is only about 24 hours left as you said.

Lehrer: The Senate, controlled by Republicans, reportedly wants a deal on extending mayoral control in exchange for a tax credit for parents who send kids to private school. Is that a deal you would encourage our delegation to make?

Mayor: I think the whole concept in Albany of that kind of horse-trading makes no sense. These are totally separate issues. Mayoral control of education is as close to a consensus issue as we’re going to find. Down here in the City, Democrats, Republicans, and folks in the business community – who often don’t agree with me on other things but do agree on this. There has been a huge outpouring of support for continuing mayoral control because the previous system – and I said this very bluntly yesterday and I hope the folks in Albany are remembering this – the previous system of school governance was typified by chaos and corruption, and those are the exact words that need to be used – chaos and corruption. So, Albany has to decide if they want to be connected to that history or they want to be connected to the success that has happened since mayoral control come into play. I don’t agree with the education tax credit as a policy matter, but beyond that different items like that shouldn’t be linked. Mayoral control should be judged on its own merit.

Lehrer: I also gathered that a mayoral control extension bill might include more parental involvement and more budget transparency. Do you understand what kind of additional parental involvement and is there any version of that that you would object to?

Mayor: I believe the current governing structure works, and under our administration has been applied the way, bluntly, I think it should have been all along; with a high level of engagement with parents at the school level through our new community schools – that’s 130 schools that really focus on a deep involvement of parents through our Community Education Council, and that’s all going to go further under the current system. So, I think we have the right governing structure. I would not be in favor of tinkering with it, but I want all parents to know, as a public school parent myself until last June, that I am devoted to deepening our ability of parents to get real input into their schools, into the school system and help us to make it better. So, that one I would say should not be – and then on the transparency, we’re always open to transparency. Of course, so long as it’s fair; so long as we’re being asked for the same kind of obligations as all of the school systems in the State are being asked – of course, transparency is a good thing.

Lehrer: Listeners, if you’re in the Bronx ask Mayor de Blasio a question on anything. We’re rotating access around to callers in the Bronx today. The topic can be anything pertaining to New York City, but we want you to be from the Bronx or to work in the Bronx – 212-4333-WNYC, 433-9692. And as your calls continue to come in and get screened, another public school issue. WNYC’s education team at our SchoolBook.org education website and on the air has been doing a lot of reporting on how to better integrate our very segregated public schools as you know. I had Bronx City Councilman Richie Torres on the program about this last week and I asked him what he would like me to ask you since there is mayoral control – and he has a bill – and he said this:

Councilmember Richie Torres: He is boldly progressive on every issue except school diversity. He needs to stand up.

Lehrer: And do what?

Councilmember Torres: And implement school control choice in every district that can be integrated through school control choice.

Lehrer: So, control choice, for people who don’t know, would allow parents to have school choice mostly like they do now in the current system, but with limits to avoid some of the worst kinds of segregation that we have now. Would you sign a controlled choice bill?

Mayor: Well, I have not seen the specific proposal, Brian. It is something that we certainly would look at. We believe there is a lot more to be done in terms of fully integrating our schools, but I do want to say, right now we are seeing some real success with models that are being used right now in our school system that are starting to be very, very effective in terms of bringing in a better mix of kids into some of our schools. I think the pre-K program has also been an example of an initiative that has had a really good impact in terms of diversity. So, we’re looking at a lot of options. I’m committed to it. I was working on this when I was a PTA member back at my son and daughter’s school. But it has to be done very carefully and the laws create a number of challenges that we have to navigate properly, but we’ll certainly look at the Councilman’s proposal.

Lehrer: What would be – I know you can’t do things explicitly based on race under the interpretations of the Constitution. So, there’d have to be other kinds of measures like income, and things like that, that tend to stand in for race. So, the Constitutional concerns, potential court challenges aside – is there anything that you think would limit parents’ choices too much that would make you veto such a bill?

Mayor: Again, I haven’t seen the bill and I haven’t seen the specifics. I would say to your broader point – yes, there are some real legal limitations. We do have some areas that we could work with more flexibly around income, as you said, around geography. There’s different models that we some real hope in. But let’s be clear – we talked about this in our previous show – this is also the result of decades, in fact hundreds of years, of segregation in our nation. And a lot of that goes back to economics and housing. Our affordable housing plan, also, we believe, creates more diversity in neighborhoods, and that’s really, obviously, the root of the situation. If we can create more diversity through housing and development, that is another way to get at the schools issue. But we’re certainly going to look at the Councilman’s proposal but we have not assessed it yet.

Lehrer: Let’s take a call – Andrew in Morris Park. You’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Andrew, are you there?

Andrew. Okay. We’ll get back to Andrew. Andrew, listen through your phone not through your radio. Oh, maybe you’re there now. Andrew, are you there?

Question: Yes. Hey. I have a question for Mayor de Blasio. And I was actually on your show like several months ago asking him the same question. I really don’t feel like I’ve seen any results yet. But I understand your administration is all about affordable housing, and I’m trying to maintain my inventory of affordable housing for my borough – at least for my building and my neighborhood. We’ve got these like really bad landlords at Goldfarb Properties. They like to buy buildings and just bring people to housing court for no reason. They brought me and my husband to housing court for squatting. And I walked in with a lease and four years of [inaudible] checks. I then involved Senator Jeffrey Klein, who has also helped a lot with the problems we have had here. But the issues are with Goldfarb Properties still continuing to bring people to court just for no reason. So, they buy these buildings, they try and kick us out of our rent-stabilized apartment. I’ve been basically a tenant advocate for my low-income senior citizen and disabled tenants. I’m just wondering, like, what can they currently get away with doing because we’re still dealing with going to court for no reason –

Lehrer: What – what do you think they’re up to? And obviously we can’t, you know, sit here and say we know that a company is doing something or doing it for no reason. But when you say no reason, what’s the real reason as you perceive it?

Question: Greed.

I don’t see how I pay $310 a month for my rent stabilized apartment – and that they don’t like that so they decide to bring me to court. And then they say if I want to stay, I can pay $2,600.

Lehrer: Mayor, we get this call all the time, as you know, on people feeling like they’re getting harassed out of their rent stabilized apartments.

Mayor: Well, a couple things – Andrew, I appreciate the call, and I’m now going to direct my team to look very carefully at Goldfarb Properties. That’s a company I haven’t heard about for. And we’re going to take a very close look at them.

To the point about landlords harassing tenants – let’s wrap it all together. Harassment for the purpose of forcing a tenant out is illegal. Rent-gouging is illegal. Evictions without appropriate cause is illegal. Not providing heat or hot water is illegal. I say all that to say any New Yorker, now, because we’ve put $62 million into legal services for tenants – any New Yorker can pick up the phone, call 3-1-1, describe their situation as Andrew just did, and if we see an opportunity to get at it legally, we’re going to provide a lawyer for free to that tenant or to that building to stop the illegal activity. And ultimately the landlord can suffer consequences everywhere from penalties and fines up to having the building seized or even criminal charges.

And we’ve seen more and more – and I give a lot of credit to Attorney General Schneiderman – we’ve seen more and more criminal charges against landlords who do this kind of thing. So, Andrew we will follow-up on Goldfarb Properties. Please give your contact information to the folks at WNYC, and our team will directly find you. And if you or your colleague tenants need a lawyer for free, and there’s a legal case we can fight, we’ll give you that lawyer for free.

Finally, one of the other things we try to do for rent-stabilized tenants is actually get fairness in the process of determining rent levels which is why there’s been a rent freeze this last year because landlord costs went down, actually, and we were able to freeze tenant rents and give some relief. And that’s another way we help avoid people being priced out.

Lehrer: Andrew, it sounds like you’ve put your landlord’s company on the Mayor’s radar for the first time by name. And hang on, we’re going to take your contact off the air as the Mayor suggested and make sure you get a follow-up.

Elaine in Norwood, you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi, Elaine.

Question: Hi, how are you?

Lehrer: Okay, thank you.

Question: I am calling because one of my big concerns living in the Bronx is schools. Right now I have an elementary school child, and he’s currently in the GT School – Gifted and Talented. And a big fear that we all have, not just Gifted and Talented students but in general, is middle school. A lot of us feel really lost about middle school. There’s no Gifted and Talented school in the Bronx for middle school, and also the schools in the Bronx for middle school are just not very good. A lot of – send their kids to Manhattan, and only the first year is bussed, after that we have to send out little kids on the train.

Our – we can send them to private school – a lot of us can’t afford it, or we leave the city all together. I mean, I really don’t want to leave the city but right now, that’s looking like a choice for us because just can’t find a good middle school. What are the thoughts for bringing better schools to the Bronx?

Mayor: Elaine, I appreciate the question very much because middle school has been a challenge for years across the city. And there’s a couple things going on. Actually, when I was a school board member in District 15 starting in 1999, one of the issues I ran on was middle school because this is an area the city simply has not done a good enough job at. Some of it is the – the structure of middle school and the time of life in kids, which is a challenge unto itself. I think, historically, middle school got a lot less attention and a lot less support than elementary school or high school. Chancellor Fariña is very, very focused on middle school in terms of improving curriculums, improving schools, putting stronger leadership into some schools. So, I think you will see improvement in the coming years.

In terms of your immediate situation – a couple of things. Since we do have a robust middle school choice system in the city, there are some really great options. We need to create more and we need to create them across all five boroughs more consistently which is something we’re doing. We have been opening up some good new middle schools in the last few years. But there’s more to be done. I would urge anyone feels they’re at that point of concern that they may have to leave the city – we don’t want people to feel that obviously – to look very carefully at the choices that are available. Go see them because sometimes seeing them does open up some good options. There’s some great material out there reviewing different schools. I think there are more and more good ones.

And I also think it’s important to remember with free afterschool now guaranteed to all middle school kids – and that’s all kids, all neighborhoods, you know, all income levels – guaranteed free afterschool seat either at the same middle school or nearby. It also means that if you find a choice that’s not in your immediate area, you do have the option for your child to go to an afterschool program that’s safe and secure and high-quality and free. So, hopefully that adds to the options. But, point – to say the least [inaudible] we’ll take in an area, we’re going to be putting a lot more investment in in the coming years.

Lehrer: Elaine, thank you very much.

On the aftermath of the horror in Orlando, Mr. Mayor, did you hear about Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy’s filibuster until two o’clock this morning that apparently did succeed to get Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on two gun bills – one to stop people on the terror watch list from getting guns legally, another to close some of the background checks loopholes?

Mayor: I did and I give tremendous credit to Senator Murphy and his colleagues, who, I think, had a real breakthrough here. This is really important, Brian, because I have heard so many people – and I really don’t like when I hear this, and I always contest it – so many people who feel the NRA’s lock on the Congress is total and complete. And I’ve said to people that’s just ahistorical. That’s not the way the world works. The NRA built up that very tragic power over many years and decades, and it can be torn down, and it has to be torn down.

Senator Murphy, to his credit, used an act of outrage to force the hand of the Senate, and I think it’s absolutely the kind of thing that – we know a majority of Americans believe that folks on the terror watch list should not be able to get access to weapons. We know a majority of Americans believe in a fair background check system that has real teeth. So, I think the tables are slowly turning on the NRA, and I think the way to turn them more would be very, very aggressive in these kinds of legislative actions.

But one of the things we’re going to do more work on is the funding of gun companies through public pension funds which has to stop, and we need to divest the purchasing power of local governments. There’s so many local governments, there’s so many vehicles we have to put pressure on the gun industry. And the gun industry is what funds the NRA and member contributions too but the real power of the NRA is the seamless connection to the gun industry and very cynical, and that is an area where there is real vulnerability that we can attack.

Lehrer: Some intelligence officials, I understand have expressed concern about the terror watch list fail because if the person trying to buy a gun is told their background check turned them up as on the terror watch list, it could tip off an actual terrorist that law enforcement is on to them that they might not have known before. Do you know if Commissioner Bratton is concerned about that?

Mayor: I have not had that conversation with him and I think it is a valuable issue and I would say bluntly that’s something that would be addressed at the front end of the process. There are particular exceptional cases where law enforcement does not want a suspect to know and the list can be modified appropriately. But I think, bluntly, we’ve seen in too many cases someone was known to law enforcement and still got their hands on a weapon or didn’t go through the proper background checks. The was the case with Charleston for example. And that’s just one example – we are not going to lose lives while we are trying to deal with those subtleties. I think the straightforward notion that the vast majority of those on the terror watch list they simply must be banned from getting a weapon, just like they are banned from going on a plane. I think it’s quite straightforward.

Lehrer: Brian Lehrer on WNYC with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment usually on Fridays but the Mayor has a conflict that he described earlier for tomorrow morning, so we are doing it Thursday this week. We are taking calls from the Bronx 2-1-2 4-3-3- W-N-Y-C as we continue to rotate access to the Mayor week by week through different boroughs and on different topic areas – as well as some call ins just for anybody on anything like we did last week. But, this week on anything from you, if you are in the Bronx like Steve in the Gun Hill Road area. Hi Steve, you are on WNYC with the Mayor.

Question: Thank you. I was assaulted in the homeless shelter and I had to negotiate with the staff in order to call the EMT and the police. The police tried to find the guy, they issued an arrest warrant for this guy. But the staff at the shelter allowed this guy to remain in the shelter for three additional days without calling the police – that he was there.  When I finally got in to speak to the director at the facility about this, this was 10 and a half days after the assault occurred. His first words were ‘This is the first I’ve heard of it.’ So it seems to me there is no accountability of the staff that all of your good policy recommendations for decreasing violence in the shelter system is not getting to the front lines. When I asked the director, you know, ‘I was told coming into the shelter system there was zero tolerance for violence in the shelter.’ And, I asked him about that and I’m like, ‘How is this guy allowed to be in the shelter in this facility? Isn’t there a zero tolerance against violence?’ And all he could say was, ‘Well it’s more complicated than that.’

Mayor: Let me speak to this. And, Steve thank you for the call and I do want you to please stay on the line at the end and give your information to the WNYC folks so we can follow up. Look any – first of all, I don’t know the details obviously but I find what you’re saying to be very troubling and I am glad you are reporting it. And any employee who doesn’t follow up aggressively when a shelter resident, is assaulted is doing something wrong. It’s as simple as that. Now what we have instituted in the last couple of months is NYPD has taken over supervision of shelter security and are retraining all security staff in our shelters. And I think you are going to see both a very different approach to security because of that but second, a much more seamless coordination with NYPD. So any assault, any illegality at a shelter needs to be recorded immediately to NYPD and NYPD needs to come in and act on it. And that is one of the ways that we will finally change the nature of the shelter system that has been way too violent for decades. And we have to – we have to change that.

So I am very sorry that you had that experience but please give us the details so we can follow up and if any employee didn’t do what they were supposed to do, there will be consequences for them.

Lehrer: Also on the NYPD, WNYC’s criminal justice reporter, Robert Lewis has an investigative report out today that finds more than 15 high-ranking NYPD officers in recent years have moonlighted for or had ownership stakes in a company that has charged rank and file police officers for test prep for the promotion test. Did you know about this and is this a conflict of interest that should be disallowed for the future setting yourself with someone who can help people you supervise get qualified for a promotion for a fee.

Mayor: I did not know about it. I appreciate WNYC bringing it up. I am going to speak to Commissioner Bratton, I mean obviously it raises a concern but I need to know more about it before I can pass judgement.

Lehrer: The report says to put the top cops’ side gigs in context. The Conflict of Interest Board advises supervisors that they cannot sell their daughters Girl Scouts Cookies to their employees, because that’s considered a conflict of interest.

Mayor: I find that one a very interesting one unto itself, maybe a little on the strong side, but in terms of the issue you are raising on the police task, I think it’s a very valid issue and I will certainly compare notes with Commissioner Bratton and we will see what we have to say soon on that.       

Lehrer: And I understand you’re just learning about this issue but given what’s been revealed recently on alleged NYPD corruption plus maybe now this as a standard allowed practice, how much would you say there is a pay to play culture problem inside the NYPD?

Mayor: I don’t think there is in general at all. Now this practice, what little I do know about, hearing about it today, is obviously it has been going on for decades. I don’t think it necessarily implies something bigger. But, I think we have to decide if we think it’s an appropriate thing to allow to continue. I think in general, NYPD, first of all is doing an extraordinary job in driving down crime. Second of all, it has progressed over many years notwithstanding the mistakes of a very few people recently. It has progressed over many years to become much more modern, professional, and corruption free entity. And that’s part of why they do such a great job, so I think the NYPD is in a very strong place overall but we will certainly look at this issue.

Lehrer: Raif in Pelham Gardens you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi Raif.   

Question: Hi, how are you? Thanks for taking my call. I bought a house two and a half years ago in Pelham Gardens and there was an overgrown tree in the planter in front of the house. It had pushed up a flag on the sidewalk, which created a violation. It was actually delayed – the purchase of my house because of this violation. I come to find out that two years previous to that the owner had to pay like $2,000 to have that flag replaced before that, so this overgrown tree is going to cost me thousands of dollars. Now I have contacted all of the different city agencies about having the tree replaced so the tree is not so huge. And I am told there’s nothing I can do about it. What are my options here? I am at a loss.  

Lehrer: Is your understanding [inaudible] that this is a city function?

Question: Well, I was informed that it’s my responsibility to take care of the sidewalk in front of my house [inaudible] I have to replace it.

Mayor: Yeah, thank you for the question Raif. And I can relate as a homeowner in Brooklyn, and folks on my block have experienced these issues. It’s a challenge. Look, the core point – you’re right – New York City law requires homeowners to be responsible for the sidewalk in front of their house including whatever is caused by a tree. That being said, there are situations where either for safety reasons or other reasons there are sometimes when the Parks Department does step in and we do tree pruning for example on a regular basis for blocks all over the city. I’d like to have the Parks Department look at this specific case and see if there is something we think we can do here. I think the overall policy of this is one we’ve been thinking about and I need to look at some more because I do think it’s valid that homeowners have to take responsibility for their immediate surroundings, but it also creates some real challenges and hardships that we have to think about how we can address better.

Lehrer: So, Raif we’ll take your contact information too. The Mayor’s being everyone’s personal 3-1-1 service today.

Mayor: You know, Brian I was a City Councilman. I did a lot of this, so I am quite familiar with it.

Lehrer: And you were the public advocate. And it’s instructive really because we think in the news business that people are going to call in on big policy issues and some weeks all our calls are on big policy issues, and some weeks – like this week – everybody’s got the thing about the tree in front of their house or what their landlord is doing to them as an individual or these other things that we’re hearing about. And I think it puts into perspective a lot of what people’s concerns are.

Mayor: And I appreciate that point, and I can tell you from a long experience in public life the political phrase, all politics is local, well I can say from the public service point of view people’s concerns are first and foremost local. People think about the city through the perspective of their neighborhood and their block. And that’s here their view of the world begins rightfully so. So, we ‘ve said very clearly we want to be a government that serves at the neighborhood level very effectively and these are the kinds of areas that people care about and we’re devoted to doing more, particularly in terms of quality-of-life.

Lehrer: Here’s another one, I think, affecting one particular neighborhood in the Bronx, City Island where Barbara is calling from. Barbara, you are on WNYC with the Mayor.

Question: Hi, thanks for taking my call. It isn’t just City Island, actually. It’s the whole area on Eastchester Bay, which is across the water from Rodman’s Neck. Now, we have been told by mayors and commissioners including Commissioner Bratton several years ago that we would have sound abatement. It’s getting nosier and nosier.

Lehrer: What it – is it an outdoor firing range there?

Mayor: Yes, it’s an NYPD firing range.

Question: Firing range.

Lehrer: Oh, it’s an NYPD firing range.

Question: We have it in writing from numerous politicians since 1993 that this would all be – the sound abatement will be put in within a year, and it has never happened. Now, this is not against the police; for example, the place is in shambles and it needs to be cleaned up and fixed up and that hasn’t happened. I don’t know how the police have put up with this because it is a very difficult situation. We don’t mind having the police near us, trust me on that one. However, we do mind the fact that noise has been penetrating our houses from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night – very, very noisy, nosier than it was when I moved here 40 years ago, which is when the sound abatement cries started up.

Lehrer: So, Barbara we’re going to run out of time soon, so let me leave it there. But it sounds like you’re familiar with this issue.

Mayor: Yes I am. And there is work being done on the larger improvements we need to do at Rodman’s Neck. It is a crucial facility in terms of making sure our officers are prepared and well-trained in terms of the use of their firearm. Look, this is another great example, Brian. I’ve been at this a long time; this is the first time I’ve heard of the sound problem for the surrounding community from Rodman’s Neck. So, Barbara thank you for doing a public service and putting that on my radar. And we – let’s get Barbara’s information too, so we can follow up with her directly, but this will cause me to discuss this at high levels to see what has been promised and what we need to do to achieve it.

Lehrer: Before you go talk to me about ferries. I see you’re planning an extensive new citywide ferry system, some of it to go online next year with a fare the same as a MetroCard swipe. So, it is not a luxury item. What’s your vision?

Mayor: The vision is to create a truly fair and available transportation system that affects all five boroughs and reaches people who need it. Right now, there are so many trains, for example, in this city that are totally overcrowded, but our waterways are underutilized. You look at the juxtaposition it’s unbelievable. People in the morning – L trains are a great example in Brooklyn. You have to wait for three or four trains to go by just to get on a train, but right nearby are places where we could do waterborne transportation. So, we’ve committed to a citywide ferry service starting next year – all five boroughs will be reached between next year and the year after, and it is going to be the price of a MetroCard. It’s going to really a give a great option for a lot of folks, particularly along that booming Brooklyn-Queens waterfront, which is the home to almost half-a-million people. And I think – we believe this will open up a whole new vain of possibilities in terms of how people can get around the City. It’s going to be, I think, a very attractive way to get around; and it is going to create a lot of jobs in the process including the fact that the ferries will be home ported ultimately at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and that is going to create a number of jobs in Brooklyn in the maritime industry again.

Lehrer: Will it take a dedicated tax of some kind to fund the ongoing subsidy?

Mayor: No, this is a commitment we have made through the City budget because we think it’s really important. We think it will, not only relieve some of the pressure on transportation system, but it’s also going to help with good job development in many parts of the city. Let me give you a great example, the Rockaways – this will be the first regular ferry service for the Rockaways in decades, and that’s an area that has been very unfairly isolated. This is going to open up a host of opportunities for folks in the Rockaways to get to jobs more easily and to encourage job creation there; when you combine this with CitiBike, with bus rapid transit, with the new Brooklyn-Queens Connector that we look forward to putting along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront – light rail. This is the future of New York City. We’re going to be 9 million people plus soon, Brian and we need more and better and more diverse transportation and we need to get people out of their cars and this is how we do it.

Lehrer: Anybody who has been riding the subway in rush hour the last few years is certainly going to agree with that. So, one final question on this and then we’re out of time. I see this would be a city-run system, why not have the MTA do it and integrate it that way with the rest of mass transit, or pay a private contractor to do it like some of the ferry services we have now that some would say might be more efficient?

Mayor: Look, we’re confident that we have a city-run system with standards we need to hold – that we can put up very quickly. Look, the MTA was not going to prioritize something like this – I don’t blame them they have a lot of things they have to worry about, but this was never going to be a priority for them. We think it is a great tool for us to run it ourselves, put it up very quickly. Obviously, we have other examples like pre-K of how quickly this city can move. This is going to be a great example – a lot of it up and running next year. It’s going to – it certainly can be connected with the MTA ultimately. I’d love to see if we can eventually create a sort of cross-connection of all the MetroCards and fares between Brooklyn-Queens Connector, ferries etcetera, but that’s going to take some work. I think the simple answer, Brian, is this gives us control over the situation; this gives us the ability to work quickly. We’re going to ultimately own the boats. And look, the Staten Island Ferry is a great example; it’s a city-run service that works really, really well – one of the very busiest, if not the busiest ferry service in the entire country. We think a city-run service comes with a lot of advantages.

Lehrer: Mr. Mayor thanks a lot. Talk to you next week.

Mayor: Thank you, Brian.

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