November 7, 2018
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being here. I want to thank our host here at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. It’s humbling to be in this living memorial to humanity and history. You’ll hear from Michael Glickman, he’s the President and CEO of this museum, in a moment or two. Then you’ll hear from Mayor de Blasio, then Chief Lori Pollock will go over the October crime figures for you.
First, I want to congratulate everyone who participated in and who worked in the New York City Marathon on Sunday. It’s an enormous task and an amazing feat for all involved. I want to thank all the men and women in uniform who stood out there on foot posts or who walked amid the crowds in regular street clothes, who sat in [inaudible] vehicles pouring over the constant stream of intelligence coming in, the type of information that has become commonplace and necessary not just for large events like the marathon but for the hard work of everyday policing in New York City these days. Truly, it’s an impressive undertaking and my hat is off to every member of the NYPD.
Second, Michael, I want to thank you and your staff for allowing us [inaudible] to visit you here and to talk publicly about New York City’s ongoing reductions in crime and to describe what we’re currently seeing in terms of an increase in bias incidents against different groups particularly against members of New York’s Jewish community.
At the NYPD we have, quite frankly, the best hate crime task force in the nation. The investigators who work under Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari are seasoned professionals who know what they’re looking for when it comes to such acts and the motivations behind those acts.
The increased reports of swastikas and other criminal mischief here in the five boroughs absolutely concern us, and none of it will ever be tolerated in New York City. But let me be clear, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter, is an anti-Semite fueled by unadulterated hate. He’s not just a nut and it’s important for people to make that distinction. Everybody in New York City and in our nation should pay attention to what happened in Pittsburgh and understand it should never, ever happen in the United States of America.
Bowers operated under the radar and espoused deep-seeded hate against the Jewish community so I want to repeat the NYPD’s constant appeal to the people that we serve – if you know of anyone harboring similar thoughts or someone who talks about carrying out anything remotely connected to violence against a specific group of people, the NYPD wants to know about it, we need to know about it. Give us a chance to fully investigate by contacting 9-1-1 or by calling our toll free hotline, 1-888-NYC-SAFE or by flagging down a patrol cop in your neighborhood to let him or her know what you know.
This is how we can all share responsibility for our public safety. Only in close partnerships with all the New Yorkers we serve can we continue to prove our unrivaled ability to combat acts of hate in all its various forms. As we near the end of 2018, I am very optimistic about where we find ourselves.
Cops and the people we serve are working together better than we ever have. The NYPD and our law enforcement partners at the local, state, and federal levels are working in tandem more effectively than any other time in our history – that’s the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, the U.S. Marshal Service, the State Police, our six District Attorneys, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District and Eastern Districts, the Violence Interrupters, and so many more organizations and groups.
Citywide year-to-date homicides this year compared to last year are flat. As of this morning they’re actually down – we’re down by one. And shootings are down. All of which is realized by our precise targeting of the real drivers of crime. And we’ll never stop pursuing our primary goal and that’s to fight crime and to keep people safe.
And we, as we’re sitting here this morning in this museum – we know that’s not enough because all New Yorkers in every neighborhood always need to feel safe too and that’s our ultimate goal. Thanks for your attention. I’m now going to turn it over to Michael Glickman, the museum’s President and CEO. Michael –
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, Michael. And Michael, I want to thank you and all your colleagues here at the museum for the extraordinary work you do because this is a place that teaches us history but history that we must learn from, and I think in this moment where there’s a lot of hatred out there – there’s way too much hatred out there, and it’s being given too much license.
It is very, very pertinent to look back on history and reflect on what went wrong in the past and how we can make sure it does not go wrong here. So, Michael, I just want to affirm to you and your colleagues how important your work is and how much it’s appreciated.
I want to thank everyone who is here, all the leadership of the NYPD. I will talk in a moment about what has been achieved during the last month, and I think it’s very impressive and congratulations to you, Commissioner, and to all of the senior leadership – First Deputy Commissioner Tucker and Chief Monahan, all the leadership here, present.
But it’s also important to recognize that what we have seen lately, the uptick in hate crimes, has affected many communities and I want to acknowledge and thank for being here Shirley McKinney who is the Superintendent for Manhattan Sites of the National Park Service. Thank you for your important service to this city and this nation.
We know that there was an attack on the African Burial Ground National Monument and there was hate speech scrawled on the monument. It was an act of vandalism but also clearly a hate crime. And the NYPD is working diligently to bring to justice the individual or individuals who did this.
One thing that I always note about the NYPD is when it comes to hate crimes, they have a very aggressive, consistent approach. It does not matter what community is affronted. Tragically we are seeing many communities affronted. We’re seeing hate crimes towards the African American community, towards the Jewish community, towards the Muslim community, towards the LGBT community. It all has to stop.
One of the most powerful tools to ensure that people understand that hate crimes are unacceptable is when they see there are real tangible consequences and the NYPD has done and outstanding job of ensuring that those individuals who act out of hate are brought to justice.
This is the exact opposite of what happened those many years ago on Kristallnacht [inaudible] years ago. And a poignant, poignant moment that I had with Chief Monahan when we were at Park East Synagogue in the immediate aftermath of the Pittsburgh attack in solidarity with the Jewish community – and Rabbi Schneier talked to us all, talked to the media as well, about being outside his own synagogue in Vienna on Kristallnacht, watching his synagogue burn, and watching the authorities including even the firefighters do nothing and just let it burn.
Part of what we have to do in New York City is show what it means to have an aggressive consistent approach to hate crimes and we’ve done that and I’m very, very proud of the work of the NYPD. But it’s a message to this entire country and to authorities all around the world that if you do not act aggressively in response to a hate crime, you are inadvertently or purposefully giving it license and that’s something we do not accept here in New York City.
With that, I want to talk about the last month. It’s been extraordinary. But I want to first thank all of the men and women of the NYPD for the exceptional efforts that the Commissioner referred related to the marathon. A beautifully organized event and the NYPD did an extraordinary job keeping it secure. So, kudos to everyone involved.
In terms of the last month, you’ll be hearing more in a moment from Chief Pollock but we are very proud of what’s been achieved by the NYPD and all of its community allies and partners – total crime down 1.4 percent year-to-date, and shootings down 4.7 percent – almost five percent reduction in shootings year-to-date. That’s extraordinary.
What’s also so noteworthy is that all this is being achieved with fewer arrestas. So at this point arrests are down 13 percent year-to-date – extraordinary combination of factors. When I talk to people who are trying to understand how this progress is being made in New York City and who want to emulate it, when I get to the point about the reduction in arrests consistent with a reduction in crime, eyes open wide.
The NYPD has done something extraordinary here that bears real study. It is about keeping us safe and making us safer. It’s also about making sure we’re the fairest big city in America, and people all over this city are experiencing it and feeling it and appreciating it. The NYPD is doing its job better than ever.
Just a couple of words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that I want to turn to Chief Pollock who will go over the details of the crime update.
Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock, NYPD: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good morning. We had an overall crime reduction of 7.5 percent this month. This translates to 664 fewer crimes than last October, and we remain on pace for a new record low this year fewer than 96,000 index crimes. We talk about murder, as always every murder number on this page represents a person and we saw a 41 percent reduction in murder this October – 17 versus 29 last year. This is the lowest murder number for any October.
Manhattan saw a dramatic decrease of two versus 13 as the West Side Highway attack claimed eight victims last year just once mile from where we sit today. Brooklyn saw a decrease of five versus nine, the Bronx was even with last with five murders, Staten Island was even with one and Queens saw an increase of two – four versus two. Year-to-date at the end of October we were plus four murder victims – 248 versus 244 and through last night we’re at 252 murders which is even with last year. Our shootings in October were down by five, a seven percent decrease. This is the lower shooting number for any October improving our last year’s previous record low. In October 12 through 14 was the first time in 25 years that we had a weekend without any shootings.
Rape – we’re up slightly. Rape reports were up slightly by eight this month – 160 versus 152. 26 reports are 16 percent of the total number were from a previous year. This is a slightly lower out of year report percentage than we saw in August which was 21 percent, and September which was 24 percent. The 16 percent is on par with last Octobers 14 percent out of year reporting. Robbery, robbery is down 121 crimes or 10 percent. This also is the lowest October – this is the lowest October [inaudible] number in the CompStat era. Felony assaults – they’re down 202 crimes or 11 percent. It’s the lowest October felony assault number since 2012. Burglary – it’s the lowest October number in the CompStat era down 173 burglaries, a decrease of 15 percent. Grand larceny is also down 1.5 percent a total of 61 grand larcenies. And auto theft is at a new low for October – 486 versus 587, a decrease of 101 thefts which is down 17 percent. So thank you very much.
Commissioner O’Neill: We’re going to do some on topic on crime. Any questions about crime? Yep, first row.
Question: I’m hoping the NYPD can speak on the crackdown on private carters.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, we’re going to get to that when we go to off-topic. Miles?
Commissioner O’Neill: Okay.
Question: [Inaudible] in terms of hate-crimes because you started with that. What is the NYPD doing to stop hate-crimes? And can you honestly stop them from occurring?
Commissioner O’Neill: Dean, we can’t get into people’s minds or hearts, but we can certainly do our best to try to stop them and we do that by actively investigating them with our hate-crimes task force and by working in conjunction with everybody in the community. I think everybody in the city has got a responsibly to help make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Mayor: Yeah, Dean I want to add to that. There’s two ways I think the NYPD fundamentally inhibits hate-crime and the first is by building a stronger relationship with the community so we get information. As the Commissioner said, in any instance, any tragedy we’ve seen. If someone had known something, and had gotten it to the police in time we might have been able to avert those tragedies. Well, I think there’s an everyday reality in New York City where as the relationship between police and community grows closer. Information is flowing. That often stops crimes or allows the NYPD to take actions that inhibit crime, including hate-crime. The second piece is consequences. Let’s face it, human beings respond to consequences. If the propagators of a hate-crime see that there are consequences for others. If they see that justice is swift, it’s another important factor in inhibiting other hate crimes.
Question: Given an uptick in the largest [inaudible] in the Jewish community, just that – is there any different strategies or tweaking strategies that you’re using going forward that you could share with us?
Commissioner O’Neill: I think it’s – what I said about working, making sure that we work closely with the communities that we’re sworn to protect and serve. And anybody – the biggest thing especially if it’s criminal mischief which is a little bit more difficult to investigate is if anybody is a witness, if anybody has got any video to come forward. I know we video we do extensive video canvasses but if you have anything out there that can help us, I think that would really make the difference. As the Mayor said when we catch people, make sure there is consequences for that and we do that with the prosecutors also. In the back row.
Question: Any thoughts on why there is an uptick?
Commissioner O’Neill: I think you have to take a look at current atmosphere I guess. We had this – I think it was about a year and a half ago we had an uptick also. And then – because actually going through – Dermot, let me know if I am going down the wrong road here. In the beginning of the year we actually saw a decrease in hate-crimes and then just recently over the last two or three months we saw rise. Yep, in the – Carol.
Question: Yeah, the attack on the burial ground. There are like a ton of cameras over there in Foley Square area. Have you been able to zero in on a face or anything?
Commissioner O’Neill: Dermot you want to just talk about that for a second?
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, NYPD: So the incident in the 5th Precinct at the African Burial Ground. You’re correct there are a large number of cameras in that area. We have recovered several pieces of video. Unfortunately none that have been put out yet, and the reason for that is they are either from a distance or grainy, nothing really. We want to put something out when we do. I hope that hopefully soon, we will have something probative that we can put out that really will start the information coming in. There’s been a lot of work on that case as I said we’re in the process now of, we have a timeline. We know when it occurred we believe. We have extremely grainy video of that occurring, and we’re beginning to track that person on video. So hopefully soon we will have something that can elicit tips to come in but the work has been behind the scene occurring with that case.
Just if I could, just in the last two to three weeks the hate crimes detectives made an arrest on the Upper West Side of an individual drawing swastikas charged with numerous incidents. In Brooklyn in the 7-7, in the 9-0 Precincts last week that was the incident where property damaged as well as fires – two different precincts – hate crimes detectives in a short period of time made an arrest in that. Also, in Brooklyn in the 8-4 Precinct just last week two individuals drawing on private property swastikas and hate messages. So that’s three just in the last two to three weeks as the Mayor said and the police commissioner very swift and certain. And I have every confidence that not only the 5th Precincts but also we have a video that we will be putting out of three incidents that occurred in the 7-9 Precinct, all within an hour and a half last week where an individual was pushed and had his hat knocked off. Then a young girl was pushed to the ground, thankfully not seriously injured. And then the pipe that went through the window, so that video has been put out. But rest assured that these crimes are treated with utmost importance and our Hate Crime detectives are diligently working to bring all of those responsible to justice.
Commissioner O’Neill: Any more crime questions? Miles?
Question: [Inaudible] in the Daily News the other day of this sort of like group of anti-Semitic folks and white nationalist populating [inaudible] license plate, sort of anti-Semitic. Are you worried about that happening, a rise in hate groups?
Commissioner: Okay, let me get Chief Galati from our Intel Bureau to talk about that. Tom?
Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati, NYPD: Yes, so you know, I won’t comment about that particular case but we have a dedicated squad that just looks after all these type of hate groups, whether it’s white supremacy, ant-Semite, or you know neo-Nazi type of activity – we work very closely not only with the FBI here in New York but we also work very closely with our partners in states that have a larger population of these types of hate groups. So we have a robust program of tracking these individuals.
Question: And are you seeing a lot more now?
Chief Galati: I don’t want say that we are seeing a lot more. I think that we’ve been investigating a lot of these groups for the past several years. I think that when these high profile cases come up, similar to Pittsburgh, it kind of rises a little bit more. But I think that here in New York City, along with our federal partners, you know we know who we need to watch and we are watching them.
Question: And sorry, just to follow up on that – how much did that help in your investigation into the Proud Boys [inaudible] work that you guys do [inaudible]?
Chief Galati: I think I’ll give that to Dermot to talk about. There was really good investigative work. I think a lot of good video helped us with that as well. But it wasn’t our first time dealing with this particular group. There was an incident at NYU a while ago so that assisted us in knowing some of the people.
Commissioner O’Neill: Kimberly?
Question: [Inaudible] that he’s talking about – is that the pipe bomb through the window, is that now being investigated?
Chief Shea: It is, it is being investigated as a potential hate crime. It’s not a pipe bomb, it’s a pipe. But in that incident we have within roughly a 45 minute, 60 minute period, we have a group of kids, at least seven that are seen, they appear to be and the investigation will bear out the actually ages, but they appear to me to be young. And by young I mean somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 14 years of age walking on the sidewalk. We have them within a short period of time, few blocks, within 45 minutes, that we know of, committing three offensives. Again, running up behind and individual, 14-year-old and knocking his hat off and pushing him, pushing a 10-year-old girl to the ground. And then the last one, I think I have it in the correct order – throwing the pipe through the window, so that’s the image that we put out. We are continuing to work that case, we ask for anyone to call Crime Stoppers. Young kids, but we certainly don’t want this to escalate into anything or to see anyone injured. So here’s the incident here on my left, that you see. Anyone that has any knowledge what so ever, of these kids, again my feeling is that they will be residing somewhere near this, to please call Crime Stoppers.
Question: Chief, so are you, so you’re saying that the incidents with the kids, you’re looking at that as a hate crime as well or just kids acting out, being that?
Chief Shea: No, that’s being investigated as a potential hate crime. Again, when you look at the totality of what we have here, there’s a nexus to the Jewish faith in all three, in the first one you have somebody who is commonly dressed, that would be recognized as a Jewish male walking down the street. Same in the middle one, same in the last one – in the location where the pipe was thrown through the window. Yes.
Commissioner O’Neill: Right here.
Question: After that the pipe goes through the window, the boy who lost his hat, was he a Jewish boy, do you know?
Chief Shea: Yes he was.
Question: [Inaudible] incident on Avenue J with a similar kind of, similar [inaudible] guy got punched in the face, the guy was wearing some shirt that said stage crew.
Chief Shea: Yes so within the confines of the 70th Precinct, there’s an incident – I’ve watched that video, I don’t think we have that video to show, so you see an individual walking, I’ll say towards me if you will. You have an individual coming from my back walking towards that person. It looks like both individuals possibly, at least one definitely are on their phone with their heads down, not paying attention to their walking and they bump into each other. The one individual with the stage crew on the back of his shirt immediately starts swinging widely at the other individual. The individual that is not the stage crew shirt, was of the Jewish faith. Right now that’s leaning towards they might not be a hate crime. That’s based on what we see on the video as well as statements of the victim in that case where he believes it’s nothing more than a bump. But that will have to be ironed out. That’s all preliminary.
Commissioner O’Neill: Ashley?
Question: Can someone talked about [inaudible] and the other officers on [inaudible] indicate that you cannot breath [inaudible].
Commissioner O’Neill: Which case is that Ashley?
Question: It is in the 6-3, the family that was having what seems like argument in the morning [inaudible] was carried out in handcuffs and then slipped into unconscious and –
Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, Chief Monahan will speak about it.
Chief of Patrol Terrance Monahan, NYPD: Yes, that was an incident where our officers responded over there and EMS had made a decision that they wanted to wait for a paramedic to show up prior to removal, and at a point he stopped – he was having difficulty breathing, he was carried out to the ambulance and from the ambulance, taken to the hospital and that’s where he died. So the investigation into that is still continuing.
Question: Was EMS there right away or did the officers arrive and he had [inaudible].
Chief Monahan: EMS was there right away.
Commissioner O’Neill: Anything else crime related? Rich?
Question: Just to back to your statement about the perp in the Pittsburgh case. You are saying he’s not totally a nut. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, so this a number of conversations I had after, you know we had the pipe bombs going through the mail then we had this terrible incident in Pittsburgh and a few people have said to me, you know there is a lot of nutty people in this world. And I just had to correct and say this guy is not a nut, he’s anti-Semite, there’s a difference. He went into a synagogue and shot 11 people. That’s not a nut, that’s a guy who hates Jewish people and he’s got a history of it. Yes. Tom?
Question: Just an overall NYPD question –
Commissioner O’Neill: No, got to wait. Anybody – so my real question is does anybody have any more questions for Chief Pollock?
Question: Can you guys provide any more details about the apparent suicide of Dorothy Bruns? Do you know –
Commissioner O’Neill: Hold on, we’ll get to that, Chief Pollock wants some more questions. She worked very hard last night. Alight off topic. Hold on, in the back right now.
Question: Can you provide any more details about the apparent suicide of Dorothy Bruns? Do you know what kind of pills where found or what the suicide note –
Commissioner O’Neill: Derm, you have an update on that?
Chief Shea: Yes, what I will say here, our officers responded as well as EMS and the ME to that case. There was suicide note recovered at the scene as well as evidence of prescription pills and beyond that I will defer to the ME to conclude the investigation. At this point it is being treated as an apparent suicide.
Commissioner O’Neill: Tom.
Question: Overall NYPD question – there was a report last week about the coin that is being used by the Gang Squad, with the characters, the Punisher, who is a vigilante that murders people. Do you think the CO made the right decision to include that?
Commissioner O’Neill: So the Punisher is a fictional character and I am going to let Chief Monahan speak about that.
Chief Monahan: Yes there are challenge coins all over. It started with the military with challenge coins, every unit has it. It’s a moral thing, it’s something that creates comradery between the officers. It’s not just the PD, military, every business has it. They used a cartoon character. They put out a cartoon character that you could go into any store right now and probably buy a shirt with that cartoon character on it. We leave these decisions up to the COs, let them make a determination whether it’s appropriate or not.
Question: Well, with all deference, it’s a cartoon character that murders people.
Commissioner O’Neill: Well, so Tom. There’s a fine line here and these are the members of the Gang Squad who are one of the groups primarily responsible for pushing homicides and shootings down. They are not out there murdering people. So it’s something that we need to constantly talk to the COs about, make sure that it is appropriate but we also – Terry and I are in complete agreement that we also have to leave some decisions, we have to push them down to lower levels. So we don’t want to micromanage. Okay.
Question: Yes, I’m hoping we get some update on the crack down on private carters? Next steps on that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Now’s the time for that question.
Question: One follow up for the Mayor on that – should I say it now or later?
Mayor: Why don’t you do this first and then we will go right to you.
Chief Monahan: Alright, obviously we did the one week crack down and we had no problem finding violations. In total we gave out 1,070 summons, we inspected 142 carting trucks, we put 132 of those trucks out of service and we towed away 17 different trucks. So we are continuing to work with the Business Integrity Commission and just because the initiative is over doesn’t mean the enforcement is over. Our cops around the city are going to be looking for violations and we will be stopping them, we will be inspecting trucks as we go forward. Hopefully that we sent a message out to these companies that we will be out there and we will be conducting enforcements and we won’t tolerate any of their actions.
Question: My question for the Mayor, was you know the City holds hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for some of these companies. I’m wondering if the City and NYPD are tracking which companies it’s giving these tickets out to and whether there could be more severe penalties like severance of these contracts?
Mayor: Yes and yes.
Commissioner O’Neill: Miles?
Question: The Business Integrities Commission has 11 investigators and they have been around for 16 years and this is sort of [inaudible] enforcement effort and we’ve seen 43 deaths. Is it a little too late? Why is BIC still not in power to do more? It’s the agency that is directly responsible for the industry.
Mayor: Well BIC needs more power and this is one of things we’ve talked about and I think we are going to get to resolution on that very soon with the City Council and we are going to keep adding the resources needed. I think this is an issue that has grown and I said this a week or two ago – has grown in everyone’s understanding really intensely in recent months. And we are going to respond accordingly so –
Question: Where does the blame fall?
Mayor: I understand to some extent there is an almost constitutional desire on the part of the media to assign blame. Right now I want to fix the problem so –
Question: [Inaudible] responsible.
Mayor: Sure, sure but I’m saying and again I always try and remind you guys of this central concept, when did we all understand there is was a problem? From my point of view, hearing the public discourse constantly, you know talking to you guys, town hall meetings, radio call ins, listening to advocates, listening to elected officials, this issue, I certainly did not hear as one of such profound importance, even just a couple of years ago. I’m very glad it has been surfaced. I think it needed to be surfaced. It’s now going to be treated with extreme focus because we need to go after all of these companies that are causing any kind of health and safety problems. There has to be real, severe consequences. I got no problem if a company is harming the people of New York City, doing everything we can to put them out of business. So you know we need to strengthen the laws around this, the penalties, the ability of BIC to enforce. Again I think that is coming very soon in the Council. There’s more personnel needed, we are ready to do that. But there’s going to be very serious consequences for the companies that have done this.
Question: [Inaudible] was suspended but eventually was reinstated.
Mayor: Well, that’s not over yet.
Commissioner O’Neill: In the second row.
Question: Yes, a question about e-bikes, So with this crack down there’s this idea that the businesses would be fined right instead of the delivery workers who are riding e-bikes. You know [inaudible] there are cases where the workers are still getting the ticket and the cops are not making any effort to actually fine the businesses instead. And in some cases OATH is actually dismissing the tickets because they were given to the wrong person. I’m wondering kind of, how you all are addressing that in terms of training officers on the policy and how to enforce it, kind of what you make of this pattern?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, Chief Chen will talk about our enforcement efforts. Tom.
Chief of Transportation Thomas Chen, NYPD: We’ve met with some of the advocates on the e-bikes and things of that nature. Ultimately we have trained our officers and we have an opportunity to also issue summons to the private business themselves. We do have entrepreneurs out there, now we have e-bike delivery person that may not necessarily work for a specific restaurant but they work for a group and they respond to the restaurant, pick up the food, and make the delivery. There for we cannot issue a summons to a specific business itself because they may be covering ten different restaurants at any given time. Ultimately our officers are trained and they are issuing summons and again the OATH court will make their determinations out there. The people do have an opportunity to get those bicycles or e bikes back, but but ultimately the peddle assist bikes are legal out there on the street. We certainly encourage people to utilize them and again these bikes – e-bikes that have throttles, those are illegal and that’s the responsibility of the people and we certainly encourage them to transition over to the peddle assist bikes which are legal and certainly operated safely.
Question: Just a follow up, how frequently are patrol officers trained on this? Because there are cases where it was clear that the delivery workers were employed by a restaurant, they were wearing a vest that had the name and sensibly the address of the restaurant, and they made no effort to kind of track down [inaudible].
Mayor: Well let me – let me just jump in, I’m not familiar with the details but I want to be crystal clear, we announced this, it couldn’t be clearer, and I’m going to say to my very valued colleagues if we need to retrain folks at the precinct level, we should. It’s abundantly clear if someone works for a specific restaurant and is making those deliveries, the restaurant should be penalized. Now, Chief’s point is very important, some people don’t just work for one restaurant, work for an intermediary company if you will, in which case we should go after that company, but if there is any gray about the fact that we’re not trying to go after the little guy, we’re trying to go after the employer, we’ll do a better job trying to get that message across.
Commissioner O’Neill: Dean?
Question: When it comes to the apparent suicide of Dorothy Bruns, did the note suggest that the suicide wasn’t because of this horrible accident and your reaction to this Mayor, I know you were very upset about this case.
Chief Shea: Yeah, Dean, I’m not going to speak to the contents of the note.
Mayor: Look I want to say, you know, anytime someone takes their own life, it is profoundly sad, and obviously, you know, all we have focused on in terms of mental health is getting people the help they need and getting people to come forward with their problems so that we can avert tragedies like this. You know, that’s the reality across the board. This is just an extremely painful case from moment one and I wish none of this had come to pass, but what’s abundantly clear at the same time is that we have to change our laws so we don’t have any more tragedies like the one she was originally involved in with those who lost their lives.
Commissioner O’Neill: Last one for police items? Rich?
Question: So the private carting industry used to have a reputation of being involved with the mob, is it? Do you know that that’s true in the past and is it still true now? [Inaudible].
Chief Monahan: That was something that BIC was originally established for, to work with us with our OCID Unit to try to get the mob out of it and as we look at it now, we don’t see the mob connections that were in the past, a lot of that had been removed.
Mayor: I wanted to say a couple of things upfront about Election Day, take questions on anything related to the election here or around the country, and then we’ll go to other topics thereafter.
You’d like to be celebrating this morning the turnout we had in this city because it was extraordinary. You know everything we’ve talked about these last weeks is about increasing participation in our democracy and people did that in New York City. They came out in droves because they wanted to participate. That is very good news.
The really bad news is that the Board of Elections simply can’t function. It cannot do its job. And look, weeks and weeks of notice that this was going to be a higher turnout election than typical. The size of the ballot was not a shock. The Board of Elections was planning on that for a long time. The fact that it might rain – you know, it rains sometimes on Election Day. This is not a news flash.
So what did people experience? They experienced broken scanners in dozens and dozens of polling places. In some cases, all the scanners were broken. Many New Yorkers couldn’t vote in privacy. Many New Yorkers stood in lines at least an hour, in some cases two or three hours. It’s as if there was a purposeful plan to make voting as unappealing as possible.
Now, I don’t think that’s the case but I think the fact that it had that result is why the status quo is broken and must be changed. The Board of Elections can’t do its job. It is making it harder for people to vote, not easier. It is part of the problem. It must change.
So, a host of things need to happen that need to happen urgently. In terms of the board itself, at minimum, there must be a law passed in Albany to professionalize the board’s operation, modernize them, give the executive director the power to actually run the agency like any other agency.
I said yesterday if kids showed up to school and schools didn’t open or if folks went to their police precincts and the police precinct wasn’t open, New Yorkers would be outraged. Well, we had poll sites that didn’t open on time. How is that possible in 2018? There is no redundancy. There is no follow-up. It’s just not run like a professional organization.
So, there has to be a change in the structure. That’s one version that can be done. There are others as well but whatever it is, the current Board of Elections approach must be ended and it must be ended before 2020 which I predict, not a news flash, will be arguably the highest turnout election that any of us have seen in decades.
Further, we could relieve a lot of the pressure on the Election Day operations if we would do the things that states all over the country do – red states and blue states – early voting, vote by mail, no-fault absentee ballots, same-day registration – take all of the road blocks out of the process.
Finally, look, it’s gotten to a point where it’s quite clear the board does not want to change. There are times when you look at a problem in an agency and you hear a lot of penitence, you hear a lot of willingness to reform. This ain’t that. I offered $20 million repeatedly to the Board of Elections to make a series of managerial reforms.
I have never encountered an organization that said no to $20 million because it required some improvements in their operations. In all of government – and Dean can attest to this both in his current role and formerly as budget director – if you say to an agency, we’re going to give you a substantial amount of money but we expect performance improvements folks say, let’s do it, let’s go right now, ‘I accept’. Not the Board of Elections. This is an arcane institution. It must be changed once and for all.
The other thing I want to say is – you know, in terms of the results yesterday, I am overall very, very pleased and I want to start with a phrase that I learned early in life because, as some of you know, I grew up in the Congressional district of one of our greatest leaders in American history, Tip O’Neill. And he said all politics is local. So I want to start local.
I am so proud of the people of New York City for deciding decisively that we needed a stronger democracy, that we needed more civic participation, that we needed to get big money out of politics – overwhelming vote for the yes position on all three ballot questions.
I think – a powerful message sent by the people of this city that we need to change, that we need to keep improving our democracy. And I think it’s going to help efforts in the state, starting with the state which must have campaign finance reform but also around the country to see that the biggest city in America just took a big step toward getting big money out of politics and rewarding low-dollar community donations. I think that’s a really important step forward.
On the – also in the city, and I’ll speak as a Democrat, powerful results that suggest real movement in terms of the values that Democrats hold in this city. Looks like the State Senate seat in southern Brooklyn with flip to the Democrat. Obviously the House seat in Brooklyn and Staten Island has flipped to the – the U.S. House seat has flipped. Those are very, very good developments.
In terms of the State, the fact that we not only have a Democratic majority in the State Senate but a resounding Democratic majority is going to allow for a host of progress for this state and going to allow some really important initiatives to finally be acted on that we’ve been waiting for, for years and in some cases decades. Most especially reform to our election process, campaign finance reform, finally getting a solution for the MTA. Huge changes could come from the fact that we now have a strong, clear Democratic majority in the State Senate.
Great progress in terms of representation. First African-American woman as Attorney General. First African-American woman to lead a legislative body in this state. Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Majority Leader of the State Senate is going to do an outstanding job, and is someone that I think everyone agrees we all can work with productively.
So, really happy with those results. And then, look, the big picture on the country – the number one agenda items for Democrats and progressives was to win back the House – strong result there, very happy about that, very happy about the governorships that flipped. I think it’s seven at this point in some crucial states, most notable Michigan and Wisconsin.
Some of the ballot measures that passed were extraordinary in terms for example the re-enfranchisement of voters in Florida, the ballot measures that passed to expand Medicaid coverage, all speak to some real bigger changes coming in this country.
It would have been fantastic to win back the U.S. Senate. I think people knew that was a very, very tall order. There were also some real tough losses in terms of some of the most impressive candidates – Andrew Gillum is a great example in Florida. But I also think even in defeat, some of the candidates showed that real change is starting to happen in their states and that type of candidate, a clear progressive with a strong message, is going to – you’re going to see more and more of them coming forward.
So, on balance, I think it was a very good night, still a huge amount of work to do but I felt in my heart that the real question in terms of last night would be how it set a pathway to the future especially the 2020 election. I feel very good about what I saw and I feel very good about the turnout levels around the country.
So, that’s just a quick overview on the election. Obviously, the Board of Elections situation – I want to see if there’s any questions on anything related to elections and then we’ll go to other topics as well. Go ahead, Gloria –
Question: Mr. Mayor [inaudible] solid majority in the Senate. Can you just [inaudible] what is going to be your top priority [inaudible] first, second, thing that you want to get Albany done? And what is your priority [inaudible] next couple of weeks [inaudible] –
Mayor: One – strengthen rent regulations, protect affordable housing.
Two – fix the MTA, provide a permanent funding source for our subways and buses.
Three – continue our progress on education funding and on having the power to keep fixing our schools.
Question: [Inaudible] problems last night, do you think Mike Ryan should [inaudible]?
Mayor: Look, here’s the bottom line. Mike Ryan has to make very clear he’s ready to make major changes. He is a capable person and he has made some improvements. But he has to be ready to accept that $20 million and the specific reforms required. He has to be ready to take on a role that is more professional, more aggressive if we can get the State legislation passed. If he has any hesitation about doing those things, he should leave. If he’s ready to do those things I will give him a chance.
Question: You mentioned that you’re optimistic about the State Senate [inaudible] MTA. Neither the State Senate nor the Assembly have held an oversight hearings on the MTA in years. So what exactly is your vision for the State Legislature and how they hold [inaudible] –
Mayor: I think you’re sort of apples-and-oranges on that one. Oversight hearings and how they go about that, I’m not familiar with it and that’s not my concern in this instance. My concern is that we need a funding source. I think the Fast Forward Plan that Mr. Byford put forward is by-and-large the right approach. So, there’s a lot that needs to be improved at the MTA, obviously, and our board members are working on that. And I think the Legislature should push on that.
The most essential problem is a funding problem – $30 or $40 billion dollars. We need that to be voted on in this coming legislative session in Albany. And I believe the State Senate is ready to take that on now that it has new leadership.
Question: [Inaudible] what would it take to get early voting in [inaudible]?
Mayor: It’s a vote in the legislature. I mean, look, I believe it is 37 states in this country that either have early voting, vote by mail, same-day registration, or some combination of those three. So, 37 states, including some of the reddest, some of the smallest have the fundamental reforms that somehow the Empire State doesn’t have. And we should be ashamed of ourselves.
And everyone in Albany needs to be held accountable for this. It must change. You know – we’ve seen 38 million Americans early voted. 38 million people is stunning. It’s something that we should be proud of. If we gave that right to New Yorkers, they would use it, and then that would take a huge amount of pressure off Election Day. It is simply a majority vote of the Assembly and the Senate and the signature of the Governor. That’s all it takes. And they should get it done by April 1st.
Question: On Albany and the Senate, what is your approach going to be to [inaudible] when it comes to funding for the MTA? Are you going to [inaudible] –
Mayor: On the second question, my position remains. I still believe the millionaire’s tax is the single best solution. It’s the most reliable. It’s the most consistent. It’s the most progressive. I also think it’s the most politically viable solution. I know there is real interest in it in the State Senate. In fact the Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris is the sponsor of the – now-to-be Deputy Leader – is the sponsor of the millionaire’s tax proposal.
So, I think that’s the best option. You could say, well it might take more than one thing. I think that really could be the case. On congestion pricing, I have said, I think the Governor’s commission actually improved upon any previous proposal. I have talked to the Governor about it. It is something that I am certainly going to keep an open mind on.
There are issues I have raised that I think need to be addressed in terms of fairness vis-à-vis congestion pricing. But I guess what I would say to wrap it together is something’s got to give. It’s got to be one of these two things or something else or some combination. But I think everyone who cares about this issue, and I would say it to everyone in the media, all the editorial boards – focus all your attention between now and April 1st on a long term funding source for the MTA because this is our best chance to get it done and the best chance we’re going to have for a long time.
On your second question of approach, look, it’s a whole new ballgame. First of all, it’s not three men in a room anymore and at one point it was kind of four men in a room, and one of them was a Republican and one of them was a Republican sympathizer – meaning Jeff Klein.
So, the difference now is you’ve got in the two leaders of the Legislature two people who are devoted to making real change and who work well together. And from my point of view, we’re going to be able to have a kind of dialogue we never had before.
And of course these are still complex issues and everything will take time but you know I think unquestionably there is going to be a possibility now around election reform we didn’t have, campaign finance reform we didn’t have, MTA that we didn’t have.
Obviously, on strengthening rent regulations – REBNY had a particular influence over the State Senate Republicans. That’s gone now. RSA, as well, that’s gone now. So, the door is wide open for strengthening rent regulations. So, I think it’s a very powerful moment and I look forward to working well with them.
Mayor: Well, it’s a different reality now. I mean, look, one, obviously, the Governor and I have had difference and we’ve also had times that we’ve worked well together. And one of the most recent was on the speed cameras issue. We remain in dialogue regularly. And we’ve both said publicly and privately we want to try, in his new term, to do better at finding common ground and I’m going to work on that consistently.
There will still be disagreements, philosophically and in terms of the interest of New York City, but I think the atmosphere, the center of gravity has shifted by definition. It’s now a Democratic government and that’s going to change the entire dialogue, I think, for the better. Yes, Yoav?
Question: Mr. Mayor, are you planning to kind of revive the push for the mansion tax as well? And now that the midterms are over, do you expect – and with the changes in Albany – do you expect, perhaps, to take more trips to Albany [inaudible]?
Mayor: On the mansion tax, I still think it’s the right idea. I will caution the obvious – there is a lot on the docket immediately. So, I’m not going to tell you whether that’s going to be one of the first items because we have to talk to the Senate leadership and the Assembly leadership and see what their focus is. When I was asked earlier the one, two, three – that’s the one, two, three. That’s the bread and butter that we’re going to focus on first.
On the question of Albany – look, I don’t think it’s about trips, I think it’s about what gets the job done. There’s this extraordinary new technology, the telephone, that has really been very effective as well. Whatever is going to get the job done. If going up there more is part of what helps us get things done for New York City, of course I’ll go up there. If there’s another way to do it, that’s great. The more important thing than how many trips is what’s the nature of the dialogue, and I feel very, very comfortable that with Andrea Stewart-Cousins, with Carl Heastie there’s a constant positive constructive dialogue. And I think that’s going to be very good for the whole state and very good for New York City.
And you know, I’ve spoken to the national picture more times than I can count, and I’m always happy to repeat. But I’m going to keep doing that work as I see fit to have a bigger impact for this city. And I think what’s happening now around the country is opening the doors to a lot of changes that New York City needs that can only be done on the federal level.
Let’s go back there.
Question: What are your thoughts on Dan Donovan losing to Max Rose last night? As you know, Rose has been critical of you and Democrats and Republicans, the establishment. Do you think it’s going to be hard for Rose as a junior Congressman to go to Washington and work with his colleagues given that he’s been critical of Democrats and Republicans [inaudible]?
Mayor: I don’t know him. I don’t know how he approaches working with people. I think folks in Washington are going to try and work together. I mean that’s my assumption. There’s obviously always differences in such a big body as the House delegation, the Democratic Delegation in Washington from around the country.
Look, it’s a very impressive victory. He should be very proud and I think he did a great job going to the grassroots and telling people it was time for a change, especially what was happening in the country. I assume he’ll be able to work with people.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned already [inaudible] mayoral control. What are you going to do to make sure [inaudible] extensions? How do you get an extension that last longer? Could you just talk about your strategy on that [inaudible]?
Mayor: Look, we’re just starting, obviously, and the most important thing is for the State Senate leadership to have time to talk to its conference and decide how they’re going to approach things. But what I can say at the outset is, we’re talking about leadership that I think is open-minded, communicative, respectful of the needs in New York City. It’s an entirely different reality. And on the substance, look, the Assembly consistently put forward a vision of a three-year extension – that’s something they voted in the [inaudible] House bills regularly. The Governor in his budget address – his State of the State – has put forward a three-year vision - that’s the coin of the realm for Democrats. The State Senate majority will now look at the overall situation but there is something on the table that has previously pervaded in Albany, and I think that’s important. I think that’s how the conversation will begin.
Question: So, Mr. Bloomberg said that after these elections he would contemplate running for president. If he were to call you for advice –
Mayor: This is a colorful question, I like it already. If he were to call me for advice, continue –
Question: What advice would you give him if he were to call you for advice?
Mayor: I’ll start with what I truly feel about him. There were some things he did as Mayor I agreed with very intensely, particularly on the environment, climate, immigration, gun control, public health. There were a host of things I disagreed with intensely on income inequality, on education, on affordable housing, a whole host of issues. I think he’s a very capable guy. I don’t believe he is in the mainstream of the Democratic party. I don’t believe that we need another billionaire in leadership from either the Democratic or Republican party. So, I would just tell him he’s barking up the wrong tree.
Go ahead –
Question: [Inaudible] quickly follow-up on the [inaudible] issue. There was a push that the City Council [inaudible] completely overhaul the [inaudible] system and making zones where one company is responsible for the zone. Do you think that’ll solve these problems and also what’s the timetable on that?
Mayor: Soon is the timetable. Do I think it will solve all of these problems? No, I think it’s a part of it. I think it’s a part of making it an industry that serves the City better, but I think the underlying issues, as we talked about earlier, are deeper and are about regulation and about having tougher consequences for wrongdoers.
Question: Can you talk about Amazon?
Mayor: I have to say, your question sequencing surprises me. Okay.
Sure, what do you want to know?
Question: [Inaudible] talk about concerns with Long Island being overwhelmed, services, transit [inaudible].
Mayor: On the first part – look, I think everyone has watched with, you could say admiration, you could say amazement, whatever word you want, how closely held this process has been at Amazon. And I can say for a fact at this hour, we do not know what the final result will be. We do not know if it’s one location, two locations, and if we’re one of them and how big. We just don’t know. There’s all sorts of discussion going on. We’ve been in dialog with Amazon for months and months and a very intense dialog, but we still at this hour don’t know what the final result will be. And because they have made such a point of keeping their final decision close, it’s just not prudent to guess or surmise. On the – but again, I believe, I felt it from day-one, the moment I heard about the second headquarters concept, I thought we were the single best location, because if it is about talent pool, we have the strongest talent pool in the nation.
On the question of Long Island City – again, one, they still have not confirmed finally that they’re even coming to New York City in any way shape or form, or that it is Long Island City. But if you said, if it were to be what would it mean? Look, I think Long Island City has become an extraordinarily important neighborhood for the future of Queens and the future of New York City, and it has been growing both residentially and in terms of jobs. I think this would consolidate not only Long Island City’s role but for Queens I think it would be a huge boost. And yes, there are real development pressures to be navigated, but they can be navigated. We already were working on a lot of crucial infrastructure investments. But definition, we’re going to have to do more. But it’s an area of extraordinary possibility for the City.
And you know, because we’re New Yorkers we get a little bit – I’m just going to just say jaded. Our perspective’s a little funny – you know, we have almost 4.5 million jobs so someone comes along talking about 25,000 or 50,000 new jobs and we’re like – a lot of New Yorkers are kind of like, that’s nice. Anywhere else that would be front-page for a month, right? It’s just a seismic number of jobs but it’s also about the fact that it will allow us – I believe this in my heart because I’ve really been focused on the tech community and I believe the tech community finally consolidating here for the long-term is mission-critical to the future of New York City, to our economy, jobs, tax base, everything. And I think this is sort of the last piece of the puzzle. So yeah, there will be hassles, there will be challenges, but I think we can accommodate them. We will have to invest in infrastructure. I think it will be worth it.
Mayor: More complex discussion but we have to see if they’re even real about this.