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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Queens Officials and the Arker Companies Break Ground on 154 New Affordable Homes for Low-Income Seniors

August 21, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, Dan, thank you. And thank you to everyone at the Arker Companies. You guys have been fantastic in this project and so many others. You’re long-time partners with the city of New York in the creation of affordable housing in all five boroughs. So, I thank you. You know, we depend on companies in the real estate community to get the job done and there are so many that are devoted – truly devoted, personally and humanly devoted to the work of affordable housing. And the Arker Companies are one of the great examples of that.

Two years from this very day, right here, the lives of more than 150 senior citizens will change and change for the better. That will be when they move into the Beach Channel Senior Residences. It’s going to be a wonderful development. And for over 150 people, it means security, it means affordability. It means a good, safe place to live. And they deserve that. Our seniors deserve that, considering all they’ve done for us.

What they’ll be leaving behind, in many cases, is a lot of worries, a lot of challenges, the struggle to make ends meet, which too many seniors in this city face every single day. I’ve heard from seniors all over New York City – they want to stay in the city they love. They just want to be able to afford it. Beach Channel Senior Residences are going to give that opportunity to 150 of our fellow New Yorkers.

Now, any groundbreaking where we’re creating affordable housing is a good groundbreaking. This is a special one because this will be the first apartments created under one of our new initiatives – the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program, with the helpful acronym SARA.

[Laughter]

I love a program that says exactly what it is – Senior Affordable Rental Apartments. There’s no mystery in that, and we are thrilled that we are going to be doing this on a very big scale. This is the first ever program created by the city of New York for low-income seniors in which we will build affordable housing for them.

This is created with a city investment of $350 million dollars. And I want to thank our colleagues in the City Council, who we depend on as we make these decisions about where to invest. The support and agreement of the City Council is crucial. I want to thank them for their belief in this program.

You know – I’ll say this as someone who used to work for HUD long ago – the assumption in terms of senior affordable housing, for decades, was that the federal government saw that as a primary responsibility. That has now diminished to almost nothing. Now, it’s up to the city of New York to defend the interests of our seniors, and we’re doing with a major investment. I should state the obvious – it should be a federal obligation, like many other things. But in the age we’re living in now, it’s up to New York City to stand up to our seniors, and we’re doing it.

Of these units being created – first of all, very important – the folks who will live in Beach Channel Senior Residences will have income levels of $36,000 or less. So, when we talk about affordable housing, when we talk about low-income seniors, I want everyone to be able to visualize – no one in this development will be making more than $36,000. A lot of people will be making a lot less. And 46 of the units – which is about 30 percent of the total – will house either seniors coming off the NYCHA waiting lists – the public housing waiting lists – or seniors coming out of our shelter system.

There will be an opportunity for folks who have been waiting a long time for affordable housing to finally get it. It’ll be safe. It’ll be affordable. It’ll be a place where seniors could live with dignity and security, and that’s needed more than ever. Look, 20 percent of the seniors in this city right now are living below the poverty level – 20 percent seniors citywide. But when you talk in terms of the Rockaways, that jumps to 30 percent, very sadly – 30 percent of all seniors in this peninsula living below the poverty level. It is absolutely necessary for us to create this kind of option for them. And if you talk about seniors, again, citywide, at least half of seniors in our city right now are rent burdened. That means they are paying 30 percent or more of their income toward housing costs. So this is an imperative.

The federal support has gone down, but we are stepping up. As part of our housing plan, which I happen to have with me – I remind you this part of this plan, there are 10,000 affordable units for seniors that will be created over the next 10 years – 10,000 affordable units over the next 10 years. And this groundbreaking today is a step on that wonderful journey. Now, I want to just take a moment, because success has many fathers and mothers, and I want to thank the folks who have been a part of this. From my administration, of course, our tremendous housing commissioner – HPD – Commissioner Vicki Been.

[Applause]

And also, the very popular Gary Rodney couldn’t be here, but he is being represented by Paula Roy Carethers, the HPD executive vice president. We thank you.

[Applause]

And the Arkers, who deserve so much praise for what they’ve done, again, for years – Allan Arker, Sol Arker, Alex Arker – I want to thank them all for what they’re doing today. Let’s give them a good round of applause.

[Applause]

I also want to say we’re always working closely with community leaders and community residents as we create these developers. I want to particularly single out and thank Elaine Short, the president of the Rockaway NAACP. Thank you, Elaine.

[Applause] 

Now, the challenge that we face in terms of housing, I’ll tell you, wherever I go – I said this during the campaign year, 2013 – I continue to say it – the number one topic brought up to me by the people of this city on the subway, on the street, wherever I go, is the need for affordable housing. I suspect my colleagues may be able to testify to similar experiences. To address a housing challenge of this magnitude, we have to do something absolutely unprecedented. That’s why 200,000 units [inaudible] half-a-million people is by far the largest, most ambitious, fastest affordable housing in the history of this city. 

We expanded our capital investment to $7.5 billion dollars to achieve this program, again, with the support and help of the City Council. $20 million dollars being spent here to create the Beach Channel Senior Residences. Now, that investment we’re making, and this plan – you know, we all are used to plans that are noble but don’t work the way they were planned. This plan is actually on target. Credit goes to Vicki, and Gary, and Alicia Glenn, and so many others. This plan is on target. At the end of the fiscal year, June 30th, we told you that we had 20,326 units financed. Well, we can all do the math – you’re trying to do 200,000 units over 10 years – that is a good number. And 154 affordable apartments here are among that number. That 20,000-plus units financed is the most that had been done in any year in 25 years in this city, and will ultimately – you can clap for that.

[Applause]

And will ultimately house more than 50,000 New Yorkers. That’s one year’s work – a lot more to come. And the idea of housing New York is to be ever mindful we’re not just creating buildings. We’re creating homes. We’re creating neighborhoods and communities. And so, each building has a bigger reality. And some buildings in some of our communities have a particular need. Here in the case of this development, it means services on-site for residents, and for the broader neighborhood, including healthcare referral services, free meals for seniors, supplemental food for folks who need it, counseling services. So, this building is going to come with a lot of special attributes that will help the seniors in the building, and their surrounding community.

Now, I bet some of you are asking a question because of where we are – how in this process did everyone take into account what we learned from Sandy and the experience that this peninsula had. And I saw it firsthand [inaudible] those days right after Sandy hit. What have we learned and how are we applying it here? Well, we know we need a more resilient city, a more resilient Rockaways. So this will be a seven-story building, and the apartments will be on the second through the seventh floor. The ground-level space, and any building systems on the ground level have flood protections in place. So, no habitation on the first floor, no apartments on the first floor, and all of the mechanicals that are on the first floor come with flood protections. 

Also, why did Sandy happen? Because of the ever great challenge of climate change. And we’re going to fight climate change through this building too because it has green elements throughout the building. Solar panels, LED lighting, and a number of the other practices that we called for in Our One City, Built to Last Plan for Resiliency and Sustainability. A lot of those very same principles are here in this building. So, we’re committed to this building being a success and being resilient. We’re committed to the Rockaways being a success and being resilient, not just in terms of climate, in terms of the weather, but also economically. We know when we build everything that we have an opportunity to create jobs and to make sure local residents have opportunities, and that’s something that’s something that is always on our mind in these efforts, and something that allows us another great outcome from these efforts. 

So, 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2025 – on track – enough for half-a-million people. And here you can see it with your own eyes. 

Very quickly in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I want to turn to someone we have worked with as an administration very closely in a number of areas. Someone I had, again, the honor of working with in the days after Sandy, and we have never stopped working together since. I truly appreciate his leadership – Councilman Donovan Richards. 

[…]

Mayor: Okay. So, here goes your choreography. We’re going to take questions on the topic of this announcement on our affordable housing plan. We’re then going to do the groundbreaking. We’re then going to come back and talk about other topics and take questions on other topics. So, first, questions on affordable housing and this project. Yes?

Question: What percentage of the units are going to be certified for [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, I’m going to start, and Vicki you can add. This is consistent with our entire approach to affordable housing in this city where there is a set of units – 50 percent of those community preference, meaning the community board district, and 50 percent are part of a city-wide lottery. We believe that’s a very fair approach because folks who have built up communities deserve a special opportunity to get affordable housing that’s created. But we also think it’s important that there be a substantial portion available to anyone and everyone. So, the 50-50 model strikes that balance. You want to add, or –

Unknown: [inaudible]

Mayor: Yes?

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Oh, I think it’s a top priority of New Yorkers – again, you know, I think for Donovan, and Jumaane, and I, we do not need the services of a professional public opinion research firm. We get it everyday and we always have. And I was a council member and public advocate for 12 years before I was mayor – or as Bob Dylan once said, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. So, it’s quite clear it’s a number one issue on the minds of New Yorkers I’ve talked to over the last decade-plus. And with the price of housing today, I think even more so. I think this issue deserves a lot more attention because it’s so crucial to people’s lives. It’s the ultimate bread and butter issue. It’s the number one expense. It’s the thing that people struggle with the most, especially a very substantial number of New Yorkers who are having trouble making ends meet. So, we’re going to be talking about it a lot. I said in the state of the city address this year, the number one focus is affordable housing. I think we proved that we meant it with the 20,000-plus number, again – the fiscal year. Again, tremendous credit to Vicki and her team for that. But there’s a lot more where that came from. We’re going to be focused a lot on it, and I think people want to hear more about it. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: [inaudible] this idea of – we believe in all of our affordable housing efforts, the same in our Built It Back efforts – anything that we sponsor, the work we do in public housing, we want to maximize jobs for community residents in every possible way, every appropriate way. So, that’s something we try and bake into everything we do.

Commissioner Vicki Been, Department of Housing Preservation and Development: So, this construction project will bring a great may construction jobs to this neighborhood. The Arkers have been an amazing company in terms of hiring local and really making efforts to bringing local residents onto their programs. We are doing a lot around City Hall and city agencies to provide workforce assistance to help them find local residents, to help them find qualified residents across the city to build those jobs. But the Arkers have been a terrific company in terms of doing local hiring and bringing jobs to the community. 

Question: [inaudible]

Unknown: So, we worked out, once again, with Urban Updown who is a nonprofit [inaudible]

Mayor: [inaudible] 

Unknown: Urban Upbound, sorry. 

Mayor: [inaudible]

Unknown: Okay, got it. Urban Upbound – sorry, I had a senior moment. It must be the groundbreaking. 

[Laughter]

Unknown: So, they will be the facilitator. And they’re based here in the Rockaways and will be working directly with the Arbor company and through the entire process there are not going to be 1,000 jobs created for a [inaudible] project. Obviously, they’ll need help with piling, and other things, and they will be the organization that we filter the job through. And then also, if you want an example of that [inaudible] 

Mayor: Okay. Other question on topic? Yes?

Question: Can someone talk a little bit about the [inaudible] that has to be done here and how long that process [inaudible] 

Alex Arker, The Arker Company: Alex Arker from the Arker Company – we recently started escalation of the site, digging out about four feet of escalated fill. This is a brownfield site under the New York State brownfield program, and all that fill is being quartered off under New York State regulations to licensed landfills. And once the escalation is complete, there will be other factors, other measures taken t ensure that any of the pollutants that came onto the site won’t flow anywhere else as well.

Question: How long is that whole process –

Alex Arker: Throughout the entire construction – so, 18 to 24 months.

Mayor: Last call on this topic – on this topic, and then we’re going to go to groundbreaking. Going once – going twice – let’s do a groundbreaking.

[Mayor de Blasio partakes in groundbreaking]

Mayor: Okay, so what I’d like to do first – I believe there’s going to be a little bit of interest in Times Square, so I would like to speak to this issue upfront, take questions on that, and then we can talk about anything else. So, over the last weeks, I’ve made my views known that I am unhappy with some of what’s happening in Times Square related to the costumed characters and the painted women. And said very clearly, I don’t like it. I don’t think it helps the environment there and that we’re going to do something about it. You now know there’s a task force that’s been created, which will move very quickly. I expect a report back, with a lot of great tangible actions, no later than October 1st – hopefully sooner.

The goal of the task force is to give me more tools to work on this issue with. Right now, the laws in place don’t give us all the enforcement capacity that I think we deserve. I think what’s happening with those individuals – there’s clearly a business dynamic and it should be regulated like a business. But for that to be done, we need to identify the appropriate legislation that needs to be passed by the City Council, the appropriate city regulations that need to be promulgated.

We’re going to do this right because we want it to stick. But there will be new types of enforcement in Times Square based on the work of this task force. We also have heard, and I think there have some very helpful suggestions – I credited the Daily News editorial board with the point about thinking about how we designate the areas in Times Square. I think that’s a helpful suggestion. There’s some other ideas like that. That will be examined by the task force. We’ll come up with a very specific list of options, and we’ll act on them quickly.

The task force will be chaired by Commissioner Bratton and by City Planning Chair Carl Weisbrod. I think we can say with assurance, there are probably no two people in all of New York City today who know more about the history of Times Square and all that was done effectively to change a bad history into a good one. Carl Weisbrod is literally the father of all the redevelopment of Times Square. It’s one of the great stories of recent New York City history.

Bill Bratton – the man who helped turn around the crime situation in all of this city, starting in the early 90s, in which Times Square – and I remember vividly – was a deeply troubled area. So they will be the chairs. Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen will serve on the task force. Obviously, the agencies involved – NYPD, transportation, city planning, consumer affairs, the law department. There are very serious subtle legal issues here that will be treated by the law department. Zach Carter is going to play a crucial role as our corporation counsel. 

We will certainly work closely with stakeholders in the Times Square community, and with local elected officials. So, the task force will bring me a set of tools, we’ll then turn to the City Council and I think there will be a lot of support in the Council for the actions we need to take. And as soon as those new laws are in place, we will have additional tools to enforce and then well enforce very aggressively. Let me just finish up and then I’ll take questions.

Now, in the meantime, the NYPD is in a position to do some additional enforcement. And as you saw last night, that has already begun. NYPD already has a very substantial presence in Times Square. They will use that presence to enforce on any infractions of the law by any of these individuals. So they will be watching very, very carefully for any situation where a tourist is harassed, where there’s aggressive approaches that are illegal, or any other types of illegal activity that can be acted upon.

So, I assure you the NYPD presence will be felt deeply. We’re resolute about changing the situation. I am confident we will succeed in changing the situation. I know it will take several months because we do have to go through a legislative process, but I know some of the changes will start immediately because of the presence of the NYPD alone.

Now, I have to address the larger dynamic because I don’t think it’s been treated fully enough. Again, I – I have seen Times Square in all of its incarnations – 1979 to present. And I remember what the old Times Square was like. It was dirty. It was dangerous. It was an unacceptable place. It was a horrible symbol of this city. And a huge effort went into redeveloping it into what it is today – a thriving center. The theater industry is doing better than ever. There are world-class hotels ringing in Times Square. There are hundreds of thousands of tourists going through Times Square daily – part of the 56 million tourists who visited last year – all-time record for New York City. Let’s not believe the hype here. The fact is Times Square today is a safe place. As Commissioner Bratton has said, approximately one crime – and a minor crime on any given day anywhere around Times Square – compared to what it used to be in the past, a place that was crime-ridden every hour of every day.

It’s a safe place that people are flocking to because they like it, because it’s safe, because it’s filled with all sorts of important attributes to the city, like our theaters. There is a nuisance problem. There is a quality of life problem. We take it very seriously. I’ve spoken out very clearly. I don’t accept it. I understand there are legal challenges and I’m happy to take those questions too. And we take very, very seriously constitutional rights. We’re not going to minimize that problem. We’re not going to [inaudible] away. I am resolute about making the changes we have to make within the construct of constitutional rights, respecting civil liberties. But let’s be clear, Times Square has a nuisance problem, a quality of life problem. Times Square, overall, was a tremendous success story based on the work Carl Weisbrod and so many others did and remains a tremendous success story. With that, I’ll take questions on this topic and then we’ll talk about any other topics you like. Go ahead.     

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Commissioner Bratton and I talked about that option. That will be considered by the task force. Now, that’s a very big endeavor, and, like every other option, comes with pros and cons. So, we’re going to look at what those pros and cons would be. You could argue that those plazas have some very positive impacts. You could also argue they come with a lot of problems, and a lot of the surrounding business community has certainly cited those problems. So, we’ll give that a fresh look. I think that’s consistent with the mandate for this task force to also look at the potential for physically demarcating certain areas of the square for certain types of activity, and having other areas of the square being off limits. All of that will be considered by the task force.

Question: The governor yesterday said that he thinks what’s happening to Times Square is illegal. It sounds like you have a difference of opinion on that.

Mayor: Sure. The governor and I share a goal here. Certainly, the state and city share a goal of addressing this quality of life problem. And again, we intend to succeed. I’m convinced we will succeed. I think there is a difference of interpretation on the law. I have the greatest respect for our Corporation Council Zack Carter, a former U.S. attorney. And he and our lawyers believe squarely that constitutional rights demand that we address this situation in a careful and deliberate manner, and that we have to make sure that the right legal structures are in place because there are real first amendment issues here. So, the current activity is not per se against the law. But if we add additional laws addressing the business nature – the obvious business nature that is going on simultaneously – you might say there’s a freedom of expression element, according to our constitutional law, but there’s also a business being applied here. And there’s where we add additional laws, it will allow us the possibility of, and the ability to very aggressively then enforce those laws. 

Question: Following on Grace’s question – the governor [inaudible] 

Mayor: The two offices have talked a lot about this. Again, we share a goal and we’ll look for any and all ways to collaborate on this for sure. We’re going to work in the construct [inaudible] things make sense. We’re going to look at those legal rights and find the appropriate way to address this problem while respecting constitutional rights. Look, it’s not going to do any good if we go in and do an enforcement action that’s found illegal by a court. We intend to come up with an enforcement scheme that will pass constitutional muster, and therefore be sustainable. 

Question: [inaudible] women have a right to be topless [inaudible]

Mayor: You’re [inaudible] yourself. 

Question: I am. So, why is it a problem that women are going topless but the Naked Cowboy has been in Times Square for years?

Mayor: It’s quite evident this is turning into a business. It’s not one individual. We’ve certainly heard enough reports of how aggressively this business is being pursued. Clearly, a lot of people are very uncomfortable with it, and I understand why, and I agree. On a common sense level, this is not appropriate in the middle of a public square. I respect constitutional rights, and therefore what we need is a new element in the equation, which this task force, including the law department will develop that allows us to appropriately enforce on this situation while still respecting constitutional rights.

Question: [inaudible] 

Mayor: Hold on a second, or speak louder. You choose. 

Question [inaudible] 

Mayor: Look, we’re going to look at everything happening around Times Square in this task force. But let me say, we talked about it the other day, I think you’re raising a very powerful point about the problem of women in particular who beg with their young children – with their babies. And again, the first concern we have there is for the health and safety of those children. There is also – you’re correct – there is a constitutional right issue that comes into that as well. What I need to have, which I don’t have right now, is a clearer picture of when, and where, and how this is happening, and if it can be approached in the way that we think this problem in Times Square can be approached. So, I’m open to any and all solution, and I’ll have more to say on that after we’ve done a little more research on the problem as it is.

On this topic, and then any other topics – last call – Times Square, going once. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, are you concerned at all that [inaudible] 

[Laughter]

Mayor: Rich, I have never been accused of sounding like Rudy Giuliani, don’t you worry. Don’t you worry. I think he’s the only national Republican who hasn’t criticized me lately. He needs to catch up.

[Laughter]

Mayor: Jeb’s way ahead of him, Bobby Jindal’s ahead of him – c’mon, where’s Rudy? 

[Laughter]

Mayor: No. Look, I believe fundamentally in addressing quality of life issues. I think Bill Bratton was right on day one in 1994 by focusing on quality of life. I will defend the Broken Windows strategy anytime, anywhere. I think people have raised very fair concerns about changes and updates that we may need in that strategy. I respect that. We’re always going to have that discussion. But the fundamental notion of addressing a quality of life concern at it’s root when you first see it, and not letting it fester – I believe in it fundamentally. I believe in it because Bill Bratton proved it, not Rudy Giuliani. Bill Bratton proved it. And I think this is an [inaudible] I think this is something that should not be left to get worse. I also affirmed to you, again, I’m just not going to participate in this notion that Times Square is not ultimately a very successful example of a change in our city. Because I go there, I see all the tourists from all over the word. I see the booming theaters. A lot of business – legitimate business, you know – very important part of our economy. And then I see a small, but meaningful quality of life problem. We’re going to address that problem forcefully, aggressively, creatively, legally. And, by the way – literally, it’s happening already – you saw the arrest last night the NYPD undertook. There’ll be plenty of that every time they get a opportunity to appropriately enforce the law. But I think it’s important to recognize the good in Times Square and the straightforward problem we have to solve in Times Square. 

Question: One more follow-up on that, Mr. Mayor, just so that New Yorkers can understand your opposition to this situation in Times Square. When you talk about quality of life issues, is this because the women are panhandling? Or is it because they’re acting aggressive? Or is it because they’re bare-topped. 

Mayor: Well, we’ve got that, and we’ve got the costume characters problem. The costume characters problem came to our attention first, and I think it’s important to treat them both together. Per se, why would a costume character be a concern? I don’t think there are parents saying, oh, that’s offensive to my, you know, beliefs, or I don’t want my children seeing that. It was because of the aggressive approach that those characters took to get people to give them money, which, again, transcends any notion of panhandling. And it was obviously organized as a business would be organized to make money. We see the same thing with the painted women. It’s the exact same reality. That’s my core problem. I also would say as a human being and a parent, I don’t think it’s appropriate in the middle of one of the busiest squares in New York City that women should display themselves that way. They have a constitutional right – it’s not my choice. But the real link here is this is a business, let’s not kid ourselves. And I think the media’s done a fine job of documenting who are the individuals who are organizing the business. And I think the lurid pictures of all the cash being exchanged in hands – this is not simply a matter of individuals expressing themselves. There’s something else going on that we can and will enforce on. 

Okay, last call on this topic and going to new topic. Dave?

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Interesting way to be a friend. 

[Laughter]

Look, lots of named being [inaudible] about. Here’s my simple message – I’ve made very clear, I have one ambition, which is running for reelection as mayor of New Yorker City. I’m going to run on the message that we created affordable housing, that we improved test scores in our schools, created pre-k and after school programs on an unprecedented level, reduced crime, reduced stop-and-frisk, created municipal IDs. Now almost half a million people have them. I’m going to run on the issues, and anyone who wants to run against me, God bless them. And I’d like to see what they want to put up in comparison to that in terms of record of achievement on behalf of the people of this city. So, come one, come all. 

Question: Mayor de Blasio, yesterday you said [inaudible] 

Mayor: Well, first of all, I think there was some real misunderstanding of what I said. I can say it more benevolently. I guess I should have said it more clearly so I’ll try and do that right now. I want a ban on horse carriages. I’ve always wanted a ban on horse carriages for two straight years now. It’s time to get it done. It is, I think, incumbent upon everyone who shares that view to speak up and let their local elected officials know what they feel. That’s what I’m trying to say. I don’t think, I think there is a lot of people in this city who think we should ban horse carriages. I want their voices to be heard and I want their local elected officials to hear. I work very, very closely with the council, obviously tremendously positive working relationship. On this issue, I think the more council members hear from their constituents and the more people look at the facts, the more likelihood we’ll get to a ban. 

Question: Just a follow-up to the shoot out on Staten Island last week, how [inaudible].

Mayor: I think [inaudible] he’s an extraordinarily guy, and thank God he came out of that safely. There’s going to be a full review of what happened. There’s going to be an after action-report. I’m not going to conjecture until we get that report. I think we absolutely have to evaluate our protocols. Very complicated situation, but not an unprecedented one. We’ve got to evaluate our protocols and make sure our first responders are safe. And that will be based on the after-action report. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Yeah, that’s why we do reports. We don’t conjecture. We do formal reports.

Question: Mayor what do you figure [inaudible] feelings of [inaudible] have you ever prepared a [inaudible] 

Mayor: I’m sorry, what?

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: The law department worked with the other agencies involved to determine what we thought was a fair course of action. And this is not a plan that we created in this administration. When we look at it in the context of this moment legally, we felt it did not make sense to participate further. Our focus is affordable housing. We want affordable housing quickly. And we think we can do much better on that site, going forward.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I think its part of—yes, you’re historically accurate. People with certain jobs typically look at the job above them and think about it, hardly viewing human history. Watching you, watching you – 

[Laughter]

So that doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m also not saying that’s what they think. You obviously have to ask each of them what their own ambitions are, but it’s part of the woodwork – doesn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t. I don’t think it changes how anyone does anything particularly profoundly. I think if it does start to change people’s behavior, they should be careful because, in the end, the public is very discerning and obviously understands that people are doing things for the right reason should not—so, no one has formally declared anything that I know of for the election two years from now. But again, you know, anyone who wants to, God bless.

Question: Just returning to Mr. Peebles for a second. I just wanted to ask you with what you make of this specific perdition—given that he was a supportive [inaudible]. He called you anti-business and anti-wealth. [inaudible].

Mayor: He’s wrong. Go ahead.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: First of all, I’m not a lawyer and second of all, I’m not going to do hypothetical. There was a legal action, we looked at it, we made a decision. Again, our focus is on more and faster affordable housing. 

Okay, one more question if you got them. Yes?

Question: The softball game that is coming up?

Mayor: Looking forward to it.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: This is really—this is becoming an unpleasant experience, Donovan. Yeah, I think—I often have nightmares about that game against the City Council. Now, we’re doing a lot of preparation and I am preparing a lot more than last year. That’ll be my statement. Regular practices and it’s going to be a whole new day, Donovan. Just you wait and see. 

Thanks, everyone.

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