December 14, 2018
Brian Lehrer: It's the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, good morning everyone and we begin as we usually do on Friday mornings with our weekly Ask The Mayor segment, my questions and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio, our phones are open at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Welcome back to WNYC.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian.
Lehrer: And let's begin on today's deadline and court date for you and the federal government on public housing in New York City. You have to convince a judge by today that NYCHA, the New York City Housing Authority buildings that are home to 400,000 New Yorkers should remain under the City's control and not go into the control of the federal government or the court itself despite the chronic health and safety and infrastructure problems. You and I have talked about NYCHA a lot this year. Do you have a new case to make to the judge today?
Mayor: Well, Brian, first of all, the fact is it's not just me going in. It's HUD, it's the US Attorney's Office, NYCHA, and the City, all of us saying that we are deep in discussion, trying to find a constructive solution and that we are asking the judge for an opportunity to continue that. Obviously that's the judge's choice but that fact is as I've said publically over the last week or two there have been a series of very intense discussions, I've been in regular discussion with the HUD Secretary Ben Carson including meeting in Washington as his office. I've been in regular discussion with the US Attorney Jeff Berman and what I think is true is everyone is trying to find a long term, fair, effective solution. And I believe the only way to have that is with the accountability that exists at the local level but obviously with resources. Let's be clear the problem did not occur, not only did not occur over night, it occurred largely because of greatly reduced federal resources over the years compared to what it should have been, almost no state resources and honestly the city over many years not doing its job either.
The bottom line – I made this announcement at Hope Gardens, a NYCHA complex in Bushwick, Brooklyn, we have a plan now that will invest billions more in NYCHA. It's a very simple title, NYCHA 2.0. We are going to bring money in through the federal Section 8 and RAD program and private investment through that program. We are going to bring money in through development on certain NYCHA sites. We are going to bring money in through selling air rights. All of that money goes to the immediate NYCHA buildings. The people who live public housing, and I've talked to a lot of them about this – they want their apartments fixed, they want their buildings fixed, they deserve that. They understand that we are $32 billion in the hole and that we need tangible practical solutions, and what we put on the table this week is a series of things that will change the reality, also improve repairs, improve accountability, and beyond that showing that we can get more out of the workforce. Now I think there is a lot of folks who work for NYCHA who do good work but they had the wrong work rules when it came to schedule for 50 years and we just struck a new labor deal that will allow for seven day a week maintenance work at NYCHA developments which is something literally for a half century that NYCHA chairs and mayors have wanted to achieve. We achieved that this week.
Lehrer: I should clarify for the listeners, I think that the judge could order NYCHA to come under control of the federal government, that's the Department of Housing and Urban Development, currently run by Ben Carson and Donald Trump, maybe enough said. Or the judge could put it under the control of the court itself. So for example, David Jones who you know well, head of the Community Service Society which advocates for low income New Yorkers, says Trump control? No, no, no. But yes to the court. Any thought about the –
Mayor: No, no, no – Brian, respectfully I read his piece this morning. It does not say that. He says first and foremost a solution involving local control that will actually fix the problems of NYCHA and help the people who live, 400,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing – local control is the best option, that's what his piece says this morning. Then he says if that for any reason wasn't attainable, he prefers judicial to oversight by HUD. But let's be clear anyone who thinks that oversight by anybody but local officials is going to make things better, I urge people to look at the history. These receiverships at minimum are a mixed bag, some of them turned out very poorly, some of them involved privatization, some of them involved tearing down public housing in different cities. A lot of them involved displacing their residents who never got to come back. You've seen what we've done for five years, keeping people in their homes, keeping NYCHA public, investing – right now we have $5 billion this city had invested in public housing since I got here, new money, to protect the people who live in public housing who are the backbone of this city, working people are the backbone of this city. You would let control go someplace else? All bets are off.
Lehrer: The new plan that you mentioned from your office billed as NYCHA 2.0 – as Politico New York boils it down this morning, would entail a combination of private management, air rights sales, and luxury housing leases on NYCHA property to help raise revenue for the housing stock's much needed repairs. Obviously those kinds of private developer programs are highly controversial as well in progressive New York. Do you go there kind of grudgingly?
Mayor: It's not the right solution if you had the kind of federal and state support we deserve but it is the right solution in the reality we face today. I've been in conversations with the federal government now on this topic for many, many months, there is no new money being put on the table by the federal government, we have the $32 billion need. And you know what? When I talk to people who live in public housing, they say simply to me, find the money to fix the problems. And they understand if the only practical way to do it is with a certain amount of private development and with a private, public partnership through things like Section 8 and RAD, if that's what's going to fix their apartments and their buildings then they understand that's acceptable so long as there are rights for the residents. And what I said this week, we have a bill of rights, it's very clear, continuing public ownership of the land, public control of the decision making, rent levels stay at 30 percent of income, succession rights continue, resident associations continue. This is public control, it is anything but privatization which I would never allow and it preserves every building and every resident in their own apartment. Go look at the Ocean Bay complex in the Rockaways or the Campos Complex in the Lower Eastside. They went through this RAD, Section 8 program, they were, the apartments literally were rehabbed while residents were in other parts of the complex, then they came back to their original apartment, brand new, everything is working, heat's working, elevators working, that's what the people of public housing deserve in this city.
Lehrer: Let's take a call from a public housing resident. [Inaudible] in Brooklyn, you are on WNYC with the Mayor, thank you for calling in.
Question: Yes, hi. Good morning, Mayor, it's an honor to speak to you. Do you hear me?
Mayor: Yes, I do. Good morning.
Question: Okay good morning. 130 Climber Street, Brooklyn, New York. Okay, my in-laws have been living there before me, we've lived here 40 years. I mean the family – Lieberman. We have beautiful memories, beautiful housing. What's happening in the last couple of years and right now is just inhuman. I have two little kids with no hot water since yesterday, no bathing. This goes on up and down every day, it's like you won a prize if you manage to get a hot bath. I know we're talking about plain basic rights and humanity. Now I know – we did a little research. My husband is Aaron and he did a little research. And we know that 130 Climber, the tenants have some temporary boilers put in for whatever reason, I guess they can't afford right to put the five million [inaudible] water boilers. So maybe for now, maybe we just need another temporary boiler to keep enough hot water in the system. I am not sure, this is the problem, but since yesterday I know my friends and half the building – we've been calling and calling. There's no one to talk to, no one picks up the phone as if we don't exist. We do all our duties, we pay our rents, we do everything right.
Lehrer: And do you have a specific question or are you letting the Mayor know how bad things are in general?
Question: No, I have a specific question. Can we get hot water please?
Mayor: I figured that question out at the beginning, Brian. Yes you need to get hot water, and we need to make sure that NYCHA gets it for you. I am going to contact the General Manager of all of NYCHA, Vito Mustaciuolo, to tell him that we need to immediately address this issue, and I want to say, it's not acceptable that people don't have heat and hot water. Our mission working with NYCHA is to solve this problem for the long term. It's not acceptable that if someone calls, they don't get a clear response as to what is happening. One of the things in the – what we put forward this week, the plan we put forward this week is to say very clearly – we're going to create the kind of customer service reality that is true in any effective agency, any effective company. You call with a concern, your concern has to be addressed, you need to get an update. If there's a problem causing a delay. You need to be told what's going on. Those are the kinds of things that have to happen in NYCHA. I am going to hold NYCHA accountable to do those things. So in terms of your case, I am going to make sure that someone follows up with you today. Please give your information to WNYC. One other thing on heat and hot water – you know a year ago, which was one of the coldest winters [inaudible] was one of the coldest we ever had on record. The typical time it took NYCHA to fix a heating problem was between one and two days, in many cases more than two days. This year because of a series of reforms, new mobile boilers, a lot more personnel that were brought in, a lot more mechanics that were brought in – this year, the average so far this heat season has been 11 hours to fix problems and get the problem resolved and the heat and hot water flowing again. That's a much, much better situation. Same day service is what we want to see. And we're going to make sure that we address the problem at your home.
Lehrer: Alright, [inaudible] hang on, we're going to take your contact information and hopefully that a follow up will get your heat restored today. Just as an aside on this Mr. Mayor. I know you met with Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I guess he's been at that job a couple of years now. People had a lot questions when he came in about his competence to do that. His background is in medicine, zero in housing. And he got a political appointment and was kind of a critic of public housing, and thought it just leads to dependence. When you met with him, did you find him serious minded, and knowledgeable and problem solver?
Mayor: Yes I did. I didn't know what to expect, because obviously I see the same news that you see. Clearly I have big ideological differences with the Trump administration, but in a series of conversations that I've had with Secretary Carson, he has been very focused on the issue. He's been willing to discuss positive solutions, he's been practical, he's been very responsive, and I want to give him credit for that. You know, when I have called to say I needed to talk to the HUD Secretary who covers the whole country, and we have an urgent situation here at NYCHA, every single time, he's made himself available. So I am hopeful. That's one of the reasons I am hopeful that we can figure out a good solution here continuing a local control and accountability. And I can't say that strongly enough. Without local control and accountability all bets are off as to what happens in public housing. With local control and accountability we can continue making some progress. And I've talked about the $5 billion we put in, and the plan we put forward this week which will revolutionize our ability to improve people's lives who live in public housing, changing the work rules for the workers so they'll work seven days a week. First time in a half century that's been achieved. That happened because I am responsive and a new leadership of NYCHA, Stan Brezenoff and Vito Mustaciuolo are responsive to all the concerns we're hearing from residents. I always say to people that is not necessarily the case if the leadership is far away in Washington D.C. that's managing the specific developments.
Lehrer: New topic. Last week there was a question about equity for kids who attend largely black and Latino high schools in New York City regarding school sports and access to teams. And you said you'd look into and get back to us this week. Well we have a caller on the line who wants to launch the follow up. And it's Matt Diaz, a student at the Bronx Academy of Letters who is on the phone with us now, I think. Matt, are you there?
Question: Yes, I am right here.
Question: Hello, Mayor.
Mayor: Hey, good morning.
Lehrer: Go ahead, Matt.
Question: My name is Matt Diaz, and I am a senior at the Bronx Academy of Letters. I am a Latino student at a segregated high school with very few sports teams. 83 New York City public high schools have zero sports teams. And black and Latino students are expected to likely go to one of these schools. There's 17,000 students that are black and Latino that go to a high school that has zero sports teams at all. Last week the Chancellor said this was unacceptable. What is your plan to fix this? And when will black and Latino students finally have equal access to the Public Schools Athletic League?
Mayor: Well, Matt, thank you very much for the question. And I want to commend you because a high school student that can get on the radio live with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people listening and present his case so eloquently. That says a lot of good about you and about your school. I agree with the Chancellor, I am not satisfied with the status quo at all. We are going to move forward because I want to make sure that students from every zip code,
every kind of student has access to athletics. We are going to figure out ways to move forward. I will only say Brian there is a lawsuit as you know so I'm going to keep it broad at this point given that there's litigation going on. But in terms of my values, I want to see every kind of students have access to athletics period.
Lehrer: And you can't get any more specific than that?
Mayor: That's all I'll say now and more to come.
Question: Do you have a plan?
Mayor: You know again, Matt, I think – the Chancellor and I both are being very clear about our values and our vision. But again when there is litigation, you'll understand when there's a lawsuit going on it's not the time for me to go into a lot of detail. We will let our actions speak for ourselves and more to come soon.
Lehrer: Matt, what's your sport?
Question: My sport is volleyball. I go to Bronx Academy of Letters. We applied for volleyball and unfortunately we got denied. That's probably why I really started this work because we never had the chance to play the sports that we wanted. We've applied so many times and we've qualified. We've had enough people that wanted to play volleyball and we still got denied and that's probably why I'm here today because we've been always fighting, and we've always asked questions and we never get the answers to these questions like when is anything going to happen for sports?
Lehrer: Do you know what the official reason your school was given for the denial of creating an official team?
Question: They gave a broad answer, unfortunately. They did not really say anything specifically, they never said there wasn't enough students because we knew that we had enough students, we knew that were many people that were funding, like, we had everything and they did not give us a specific answer.
Lehrer: Matt good luck, we will follow – go ahead, please.
Mayor: Yes, and sorry, I just want to add, Matt. First of all again, thanks for making the case powerfully and standing up for your fellow students and I just want to say as a matter of democracy – you know we have mayoral control of education. That means that when you are talking to me you are talking to the ultimate decision maker about our public schools and you are talking directly to me and everyone is hearing the conversation. And this is an example of what democracy should be like in my view that you know, here you are bringing forward a case very powerfully. I not only hear you, I see your point strongly. I want to do something about it. So I just want you to know, don't worry. Don't feel that your voice isn't being heard. It is and we are going to have more to say on it quite soon.
Lehrer: Matt –
Question: Can we meet with you Mayor?
Mayor: I'll make sure – I'm going to be straight forward with you Matt, because I am covering a whole lot of stuff every single day. I am going to make sure that senior folks, the Chancellor, and senior folks, whoever makes sense at the DOE, meets with you. Again we got a lawsuit going on so there's certain things we can and cannot say. But I definitely want you to come in with some of your fellow students, meet with top people at the DOE and we'll be showing you that we hearing your voice.
Lehrer: Thank you Matt.
Question: Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you.
Lehrer: Thank you very much. Alright it's our Ask the Mayor segment, every Friday 10 to 10:30 with Mayor Bill de Blasio, here on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Our lines are full at the moment, at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC. You can also tweet a question. Use the hashtag #AskTheMayor. Mr. Mayor on Amazon there was the contentious City Council hearing this week with Amazon executives and the head of the city's Economic Development Corporation. One compliant of City Council was that your Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen declined a request to appear. Can you tell the public why?
Mayor: The person who appeared is the guy who negotiated the deal, the guy who went through start to finish, all the negotiations with Amazon, the President of the Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett. Here was the person who can speak to all the concerns the Councilmembers had. That's why he was the person who gave the testimony.
Lehrer: You've said here before that negotiations are continuing with Amazon on specific details. Can you update us on what those are and specifically if they include any guarantees of hiring New Yorkers? Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said on yesterday's show that 80 percent of the tech workforce for Amazon Seattle came from out of town. I don't know if that's an accurate stat but that's what he said so any negotiations along those lines or what else specific can you update us on?
Mayor: First of all I don't know if that's an accurate statistic either. But I will also tell you we aren't Seattle with all due respect to Seattle. We have, we are a city right now with not only 8.6 million people, but 4.5 million jobs. This is a place where there is a huge talented workforce, there's a huge number of young people coming up. By the way, 50 percent of all tech jobs do not require a four year college degree. They can be achieved, they can be reached with either a high school degree or a two year community college degree. And we have bene funding more and more STEM programs at CUNY so younger New Yorkers can get that qualification and go right into the tech sector and into a career track with good paying jobs which is what we want in this city. We are trying to reach more equality and fairness in New York City. That doesn't mean just getting people minimum wage jobs, it means getting them the quality jobs which is what the tech community offers. So this is our focus, I am pushing Amazon hard to come forward with specifics on several fronts. I'm not going to get into a whole lot of detail because we are in those discussions but what I've said and I'm comfortable saying it is we came to a basic understanding and it's a public document, you can see it, on things like training programs, recruitment from public housing, providing public space, providing a public school site, a number of things we wanted immediately. But that does not end what I want to see from Amazon. I am going to hold Amazon accountable to do as much as possible for New York City and the people of Queens in particular. I want to see a huge number of people hired from Queens, I wanted to see a lot of people hired from Queensbridge Houses which is right nearby the Amazon site. It's the biggest public housing in America. And we are going to keep working with them constructively but also forcefully to get more and more back for New York City. Once you come here you are now on our playing field with our rules and our values and we are going to push them hard to do good things and produce for New York City.
Lehrer: On our values. Councilman Van Bramer brought up the issue of Amazon providing facial recognition technology being used by ICE and that's one of the deal breakers for him. Why not for you?
Mayor: First of all I haven't seen any detail about what Amazon is doing with ICE or not doing. I think I'd be happy to look into that. And of course, look I have a huge critique of ICE, I think ICE should be abolished in its current form. I think ICE isn't working. I think we need a new border and customs agency, an immigration agency that does not act punitively towards innocent people who are part of our communities. So I would argue right away let's start at the beginning which is there should not be ICE in its current form. There should be an entirely different agency that's meant to help us have security without punishing innocent people and tearing families apart.
Lehrer: And you didn't look into because this compliant has been out there for a while, Amazon enabling –
Mayor: No, it may have been out there but I am literally saying to you, I am not familiar with what they are doing on this. I think there is a bigger question, not just about Amazon but about the entire tech community, what they are doing in terms of working with governments and what kind of technology they are providing for what purpose. And I think that is something that needs to be aired very publically and I think that goes beyond the question of a specific economic development deal. Of course we want 25,000 for New York City, going up as 40,000 jobs, but on the question of the entire tech community and how they should be held accountable for what they do in the security in the world and what it means for our privacy and what it means for our data being protected and what it means for the kind of society we are going to have. That's a much bigger issue that I care about deeply. That's going to require a lot more information and bluntly federal legislation and federal oversight to change how things are done because we know right now across the tech community there's too much happening that's been kept from public view and they need to be treated in many ways like we treat utilities and understand they play a crucial public role and we need a lot more visibility on what they are doing.
Lehrer: David in the Bronx, you are on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi, David.
Question: Hello Mr. Mayor and I thank you very much for taking this call. Mr. Mayor, in 2005 Hollywood released a film called derailed. It starred Jennifer Anniston and Clive Owen. The film was about a woman who gets together with her husband and New York City police detective and they draw married men into an affair and then stage a situation where the woman than claimed she was raped at various hotels and other the men [inaudible] had gone along with her. Therefore after that they would sue the hotels after someone was arrested and convicted for a sexual assault. The only thing that the film does not show that at the time this took place this story was a true story from the headline news in New York City on April 6, 1983. And that a black man went to prison for 30 years behind that case. I am now that man, Mr. Mayor. And this is a case where the District Attorney had admitted on the record that he provided the woman with my name so she can go to grand jury, and say he was right here, and committed this crime before she had ever physically identified me. She also admitted that she never told any police officer, any law enforcement agency that it was me that did this. This was on the record during the trial.
Lehrer: And David, forgive me. What's your question for the Mayor?
Question: My question is in regard to dealing with issues that never were presented in the newspapers. So what I've done is I put those issues together, and presented them to the Conviction Integrity Unit. It's the unit in the District Attorney's office where they review cases of where they have prosecuted misconduct. So I fight these issues to find out how is it that there are no guidelines set up for how long the District Attorney can handle a case or sit down – sit on I should say on applications.
Lehrer: David, let me get an answer to the extent that the Mayor is familiar with the Conviction Integrity unit or maybe even your case. Mr. Mayor?
Mayor: Well, David, I want to first say I am very, very sorry for everything you've been through. I am not familiar with your case, nor am I familiar with the specific workings of that unit. But I can guarantee you if you give your information to WNYC, my team will talk to you today. And we'll make sure the District Attorney's office talks to you immediately to review the case. And to address any injustices have been done. I do think one thing that is happening more and more around this country. And there's been a wave of progressive new District Attorneys who have really led the chart all over the nation is going back and addressing unfair convictions and making them right knowing that we could never give people back the time they lost, but we can at least clear their record and help them in other ways. So I am certainly sympathetic to everything you've told us. But I don't know the facts. Let's get you to the people who can immediately evaluate your case and see what we can do.
Lehrer: David, thank you for your call. Hold on, we will take your contact information. Let me segue from there to a couple of NYPD related questions. Last week, we had the incident at the Child Care Benefits office as you know where cops took the baby from a mother, apparently for sitting on the floor with the baby when there were no chairs and refusing to get up when asked. The city came to a $2 million settlement this week with the family of Deborah Danner, a mentally ill woman shot dead by police in the Bronx. The departmental trial of Officer Pantaleo and the death of Eric Garner is under way. Where are these days on a question of a few bad apples versus systemic problems that cause these incidents and tragedies that keep hitting the news?
Mayor: I think there is a fundamental change going on. I really appreciate the question, Brian. And there is individual incidents that pain us deeply and Deborah Danner's case is one of those. I want to say Commissioner O'Neill and I came out and said that what happened there did not conform with the way officers are trained, and how they're supposed to handle a situation like that should not have happened. She should still be alive today. And obviously the settlement has happened with the city but the trial continues within the NYPD for the officer involved.
But I'll tell you something. Here's why I believe fundamental systemic change has been happening over these five years. And I think it is not getting enough attention honestly. We retrained the entire police force in de-escalation. We're putting body cameras on all officers. I hope it would be done by early next year. This is all connected to a vision of neighborhood policing that says we have to change entirely the relationship between police and community and create a human bond but also create a lot more accountability. So retraining all officers in de-escalation, all new officers as well – body cameras, implicit bias training is now starting on a broad level within the NYPD. 10,000 officers have been trained on how to deal with folks with mental health challenges. Eventually the entire force is going to be trained on that.
Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of New York City. And this is how you make change. And meanwhile as we've announced over several stages, no more arrests for folks who have a low-level of marijuana possession, now no more arrests for people who are smoking marijuana –summonses instead. Overall summonses reform. Here's another example; 100,000 fewer arrests in 2017 than 2013. Here is the essence of how we change relationships between police and community; stopping unnecessary arrests, stopping mass incarceration because we're arresting people to begin with. 100,000 fewer arrests compared to four years earlier. Obviously we're getting off Rikers Island. We're driving down the jail population; we're supporting the Cure Violence movement that violent the gang interrupters, the folks who are doing grass roots work to stop crime.
There's so many things happening that are fundamentally changing the criminal justice in this city. But a lot of them are not getting the attention they deserve. And I do understand why these horrible tragedies and these controversial incidents get a lot of attention. But we have to pay attention to what's happening in every neighborhood around he city to everyday New Yorkers and the way these changes are improving their lives. I've got a lot of people coming up to me and say my children are not stopped anymore. I've had young men of color come up to me and say I am not stopped anymore, I used to get stopped all the time, I am not stopped anymore. These are fundamental changes and we're going to be doing a lot more.
Lehrer: You got criticized this week for being late to apologize to the woman Jasmine Headley who was in the Child Benefits office while some other elected officials came right out and said there was a simple solution, just get that woman a chair and Politico NY writes this week remembering how you ran for office. There remains a rhetorical chasm between the old de Blasio and the new one when it comes to discipline and accountability for officers involved in violent and abusive behavior. A key part of the reform equation many civic leaders say is necessary to ensure public confidence in the system. What would you say?
Mayor: Well I want to say I could not disagree more with that Politico story. And there was a Times editorial earlier in the week – wildly inaccurate and I think people should be a little bit more responsible when they're writing to actually look at the whole – the whole body of facts – everything I just told you. You know, we've got to be really clear about how we fundamentally change a police force and relationship between police and community, and every single thing I just told you, retrain the entire police force, body cameras, implicit bias training, training for dealing with mental health issues, all of these things are changing the fundamental equation. How is no one talking about 100,000 fewer arrests in 2017 than 2013? I don't see front page stories about that, Brian, and, you know – how is the fact that we're getting off Rikers Island and ending mass incarceration not front page news? So let's be clear – there have been some inappropriate incidents. But I just used the example of Deborah Danner. Does that not count? That the Police Commissioner of New York City and the Mayor of New York City said immediately that was not what was supposed to happen, we do not believe that's what we should have happening in New York City.
So I just reject the simplistic analysis that leaves out the biggest body of criminal justice reform – can someone tell me when more criminal justice reform happened in New York City, and can someone tell me – I challenge people – give us the additional steps you'd like to see and we'll entertain them because we've been moving a very aggressive agenda. So I just think it's absolutely unfair to miss the changes, and by the way, on the case – and I've said it to the public before in the press conference this week: what happened to Jazmine Headley was absolutely unacceptable and I heard about on Sunday night, by early Monday afternoon, after consulting with the agencies I said it was disturbing, we're going to figure out what happened, we're going to fix it. As I got more information – and the difference between me and other elected officials, Brian, bluntly is I'm in charge – it's very easy to critique when you're not in charge. When you're in charge you better get your facts straight. So that's why I don't jump in the first hour all the time to say what might be convenient or populist – I say what is the truth when I know the truth. But it's unacceptable, it cannot happen again. What happened to her is mindboggling to me, should never have happened, cannot happen, will not happen again.
Lehrer: So let me ask you a closing question that kind of takes that idea even broader as you end your fifth year running the city. It can seem sometimes like progressive Bill de Blasio is getting a lot more heat from the left than from the right – not tough enough on the police, some say, too compliant with big business Amazon, some say. You're not on the same page with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, on Amazon. Not enough affordable housing guarantees for the lowest-income New Yorkers in your housing equation, that question keeps coming up. Did you change, did the political landscape change, or is this just what comes with being in charge regardless of your politics?
Mayor: I didn't change. Do I think the political landscape is becoming more progressive? Yes, and I think it's a fantastic thing. Do I think that advocates and activists are never going to be satisfied by definition? Yes, and I understand that, and in many ways I honor that. I want people to have their facts straight. I want them to look at complex realities and not, you know, tell people thing are simpler than they are. But do I always expect – look, I come out of the left, I think the left, by definition, is trying to work for a fundamentally more equitable society and we're working toward an ideal, and until that ideal is satisfied why should people be complacent, they shouldn't.
So I honor the critiques and the protests, but I do want to say, you asked a very interesting question. What's happening on the right? Well the rights having a tough time right now. I was attacked incessantly by the right – you remember in the beginning, the charter schools and the hedge funds did $5 million of advertising against me. Well I think we proved them wrong by consistently improving our public schools, and at least one of the major charter networks was proven to be not all it said it was, and people got wise to the fact that giant hedge funds were attacking me, and they don't love giant hedge funds. You know, the right wing was attacking me on policing issues – we haven't stopped for a moment. You know, one of the things I really disagree with is some people have said oh, you know, the police, certain officers – it was a small number of officers – turned their backs a few years ago and that changed my attitude – it hasn't changed my attitude one bit. Does anyone remember all the other protests that have happened outside my house, City Hall, my gym for years and years – hasn't changed my approach one bit.
So the right, right now, I think has stymied. Crime has gone down consistently, what is the right going to say about that? The economy is booming, what is the right going to say about that? As I said, the hedge fund charter schools have been discredited. I think, at this point, we pushed back the right, although I intend to fight with them on many other issues. We did a rent freeze – the landlords went crazy, they took us to court, we beat them in court. I don't remember that being front page news. So I think we have stymied the right, I think the left is always going to demand a more and more equitable society, but on the specifics – a lot of times I'm saying to my brothers and sisters on the left: look at the specific things. If you get 25,000 to 40,000 jobs for people who need jobs including public housing residents and CUNY students that is progressive, that's progressive. We want to make sure Amazon does the most possible for New York City, but I'm not going to apologize for bringing in 25,000 jobs and tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue that will help us fund, public housing, affordable housing, job training, et cetera. People have to have an honest conversation, that's what I want to push back on. Brothers and sisters on the left, I'm with you on all the larger things we're trying to achieve but when it comes to civic issues, let's be straightforward and honest. Look at everything I just delineated on criminal justice reform. Do you disagree with a 100,000 fewer arrests? Do you disagree with support for the Cure Violence movement which is being done on an unprecedented level? Do you disagree with implicit bias training or body cameras or de-escalation training? So if you don't disagree with those things, I'm happy to listen to what you want us to see next and I'll answer it. But don't take away all the fundamental changes that happened because of an election in 2013 that changed the direction foundationally. I don't resemble Michael Bloomberg or Rudy Giuliani on criminal justice – we've taken the city in an entirely different direction, and it's working, and crime is down.
Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, thank you as always, talk to you next week.
Mayor: Take care, Brian.