September 2, 2015
Video available at: https://youtu.be/VxGKHhQFKEU
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Welcome, everyone.
The first bill before us today is Intro 145-A, which requires that animal service facilities install automatic sprinkler systems to protect animals from fires. The sponsor is Councilmember Corey Johnson.
Animal service facilities include animal hospitals, kennels, vet clinics, and pet shops. Sadly, in recent years, there have been fires which have taken the lives of trapped animals. I know people all over the city feel deeply about animals, and want a more humane society. This bill will help us to prevent future tragedies – using every tool to protect animals and ensure they are treated fairly and compassionately.
I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and our Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. And now, I’d like you to hear from our Buildings Commissioner, Rick Chandler.
Mayor: Thank you. And with that, we will now sign the bill.
Mayor: It is now law. Thank you, everyone.
Okay. Now, Intros 287-A and 586-A clarify requirements for price displays at gas stations – sponsored by Councilmember Rafael Espinal and Councilmember Maria Del Carmen-Arroyo. Intro 287-A requires gas station signs advertising prices to include the price per gallon of the lowest grade gasoline with taxes. Intro 586-A requires gas stations with different prices for cash and credit payments to display prices for each. Both bills will protect the city’s consumers from price-gauging at the pump.
I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; our Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin; of course, Council Member Maria Del Carmen-Arroyo. And now, I’d like you to hear from Councilmember Rafael Espinal, Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs.
Mayor: Thank you. Alright, let’s sign it. Or sign them.
Mayor: And now, for those of you who track the talented people who work here at City Hall – the inside joke on the pen for Reggie is today is his last day. Reggie, what has it been? Five years?
First Deputy Director for City Legislative Affairs Reggie Thomas: [Inaudible]
Mayor: Five long good years of public service – we thank you. You’ve been a fantastic First Deputy Director for City Legislative Affairs, and you’ve done a lot to make this place work well. And we congratulate you – we hold you in such high esteem that you will have a lifetime supply of free pens available to you.
We will miss you, and we wish you great luck ahead.
First Deputy Director Thomas: Thank you, sir.
Alright – now, Intros 682-A, 700-A, 757-A amend the housing maintenance code to protect tenants from harassment. The sponsors are Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Jumaane Williams, and Councilmember Daniel Garodnick.
For too long, unscrupulous landlords in this city have pressured tenants in rent-stabilized units to take buyout offers. Cash was given in exchange for moving out so landlords could raise the rents greatly.
And the reality is, in many cases, there were very forceful and intimidating tactics used. Landlords would bang on the doors of tenants, calling them late at night – hire people known as “tenant re-locaters,” who are paid to convince tenants to leave.
This was a very negative, and unacceptable, and unscrupulous activity. And we don’t have any room in this city for tenant harassment. We’re going to fight it with every tool we have.
These new pieces of legislation will strengthen the city’s hand in fighting tenant harassment and fighting unscrupulous landlords. We will not let abusive landlords intimidate tenants so they can make an extra buck.
Intro 682-A makes it illegal for an owner to intimidate or threaten a tenant over a buyout offer.
Intro 700-A makes it illegal for anyone to contact a tenant about a buyout offer without sharing critical information, such as the right to refuse an offer or the right to contact an attorney. Think about that for a moment – a landlord trying to force a tenant to make a decision without an attorney giving that tenant the kind of information they need to make the decision. And the bill prevents residents from being pressured into taking an offer without fully understanding their rights.
Intro 757-A makes it illegal for a landlord to make a buyout offer for 180 days after the tenant has made clear in writing that they are not interested in a buyout.
We have to protect our tenants. We have to protect affordable housing. We particularly have to focus on the tenants in rent-stabilized units, who are under so much pressure right now. Those units have been a lifeline for generations of New Yorkers – the affordable housing that has kept this city an economically diverse place. We must preserve our rent-stabilized units.
These pieces of legislation will help us do it. It’s a key part of our overall effort to preserve, and protect, and build affordable housing. It is protecting the affordable housing we already have.
I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; our Housing Commissioner, Vicki Been; the Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, Councilmember Jumaane Williams. I want to thank Councilmember Dan Garodnik.
And now, I’d like you to hear again from Councilmember Rafael Espinal.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Thank you, Councilmember.
We will be formally signing these pieces of legislation tomorrow, so there won’t be a signing right now.
Let me just say a few words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
I want to turn to questions from the media, but first, just want to give you a quick update on another topic before I do.
I know there’s tremendous, tremendous anticipation in this city regarding the visit of Pope Francis. I can’t tell you how much it means to me personally, and my family – we are so deeply looking forward to this moment. And New York City is going to be so proud to have the Pope come here and share his message and his vision with us.
It’s obviously going to be an historic moment for New York City. And I can safely say, he is one of the most respected and revered leaders in the world today – and I think he is the conscience of this world right now. I think he is the person who’s speaking most clearly on the issues that challenge us – poverty, and income inequality, and climate change. The Pope’s voice is uncompromising and clear, and showing a way forward for this entire Earth. So – so many New Yorkers share my enthusiasm and my passion, and the sense that this will be a tremendously important moment for all of us.
We want to make sure as many people as possible have a chance to see His Holiness. Obviously, it’s a complicated logistical situation, but we have made the decision to do something that I think has not been done before, and we’re very excited about it – a once in a lifetime opportunity to see His Holiness in Central Park, with the procession through Central Park that will give us the maximum opportunity for New Yorkers to have a moment – seeing him as he passes by.
We will put tickets online starting – excuse me – starting tomorrow through Monday, September 7th. So starting tomorrow, tickets will be available online for His Holiness’ procession through Central Park. And tickets will be available through Monday, September 7th. They’ll be available for New York State residents, and any individual can request two tickets. You can sign up at nyc.gov/papalvisit, or call 3-1-1 to request tickets. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by September 10th.
That is an update for you on this visit. I’m now happy to take questions, first on either the visit or anything we’ve covered here today with the bills, and then we’ll go to other topics.
Any questions either on the legislation today or the Papal visit – Jonathan?
Mayor: We don’t have that yet, but we will have that. Obviously, we’re working very closely with the Secret Service because, you know, given the Pope’s status the Secret Service is leading the security efforts. So, there will be a substantial effort by the federal government as well, but we’ll be able to give you more of a picture of that as we get closer.
Mayor: I suspect several times, and we’re still working on the details. But I look forward to spending as much time as possible with him, and hearing his message. I had the tremendous honor of being in Rome at the Vatican with mayors from around the world a few weeks back, particularly focused – hearing him talk about the climate change issue. It was inspiring top all of us. So I look forward to spending time with him.
Mayor: I think because it’s the end of summer.
Would you agree, Councilman? That might be a factor in this. Other questions on either the bills or the papal visit then we will go – yes?
Question: How are you going to verify the authenticity of New York state residents online?
Mayor: I think there’s lots of technological ability to guarantee what we’re doing. And I’m sure the folks who are putting it together have a way of doing that, but I don’t know the specific approach. We’ll get that to you.
On-topic? Okay, anything off-topic?
Question: Yesterday, Commissioner Bratton was asked on Morning Joe whether he thought that the disintegration of values was in part responsible for crime in cities across the country, and the commissioner said – citing a 1965 report – the Moynihan Report – said that – called it prescient about what’s going to happen in black society in terms of the disintegration of family. Do you agree with that?
Mayor: Everyone in this room knows I have immense respect for the commissioner and we have a very strong shared vision for what we’re doing here. I happen to disagree on this matter.
Question: Do you plan on making an endorsement in the City Council race for Mark Weprin?
Mayor: Say it again, please.
Question: Do you plan making an endorsement in the race for Mark Weprin’s seat?
Mayor: I haven’t really looked at it. I don’t have a plan at this moment.
Question: Melissa Mark-Viverito announced today that she’s going to be endorsing Hilary Clinton. Did you discuss that with her before she made the announcement? And if so, could you tell us a bit about how that went?
Mayor: No, I did not speak to her about it. And look, my view of the situation, as I’ve said – I think Secretary Clinton is offering a more and more powerful vision for addressing the issues that I’m particularly focused on, and I give her a lot of credit for that. I still think there’s some issues that we have to hear a little more on, but I think with each passing day she’s put forward a stronger and clearer vision. And I think it’s something that a lot of people find very compelling.
Question: I just want to follow up on the question on Commissioner Bratton. Could you explain exactly what you disagree with and what your own view is on the matter?
Mayor: Well, that report is literally half a century old. And I think society has changed a lot. I think there are some assumptions in that report that just don’t hold today. So, you know, from my point of view, we need to look at what’s happening now and address how to strengthen our society. Obviously, I believe one of the ways to do that is to address income inequality. So, I just think it’s a report from another time.
Question: Can you [inaudible] any details on that?
Mayor: It’s being put together – very excited about it – because look, what we’re seeing more and more all over this country is a deepening discussion of what’s wrong. And you see that actually more and more across the spectrum. Even Republican candidates now are starting to talk about the minimum wage – are starting to talk about the need to close the carried-interest loophole. Something very big is happening this year in America. And we need to focus this discussion further. We’ve all gotten a little too used to Washington being deadlocked and paralyzed. And so when we look at the fact that over the last quarter-century, most Americans have not moved forward economically – in fact, their real wages and benefits have declined over the last quarter-century. That’s the kind of thing that should be a core national concern, and must be addressed. So, I’m excited about this forum because it’s going to be an opportunity for any and all candidates who want to talk about real solutions to income equality to come forward and put their ideas on the table, and talk about the thing that actually is on the mind of more and more Americans. Part of why the candidates are talking about it – it’s a little “chicken and egg.” I’ve refered many times to the CBS-New York Times poll two months ago that showed this was an overwhelming concern across the country, and that people were desperately concerned about growing inequality. So, I’m excited at the notion of actually getting candidates to talk about solutions from both sides of the aisle.
Mayor: We have to nail down the final logistical details. And certainly, you know, they’ll be an effort to reach out to, again, a bi-partisan group of candidates.
Not Jonathan, I’m sorry. Matthew?
Question: Are you willing to definitively say whether or not Lilliam Barrios-Paoli was pushed out?
Mayor: I’ve said it on the radio yesterday. She and I talked; she made a decision. She has devoted literally a lifetime to public service, and she made a decision to go in a different direction – but I’m thrilled to say she’s continuing to serve this administration, upcoming as Chair of the HHC Board. This is someone who has been exemplary in public service – who’s given her all. And as I said yesterday, a lot of the credit for some of the changes we’ve been able to make – the 15,000 people who were in shelter and got to apartments – and got out of shelter – a lot of that credit goes to Lilliam.
Question: Had she spoken to you about wanting to leave the administration?
Mayor: We’ve spoken over months about what her vision is – was for the future. And we talked again and this was the decision she made, and I respect it.
Question: But was it a surprise to you?
Mayor: Again, I just said it very clearly. We’ve spoken over months and she made a decision. I respect it.