July 17, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well let me just say before we get into the personnel announcements which we are very excited about today. We want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and the MTA and all of the unions representing the LIRR’s workforce for reaching an agreement today. I know all New Yorkers are breathing a sigh of relief. This is good news for hundreds of thousands of riders who will continue to have the transit service that they rely on. And it’s also an agreement that respects a workforce that does some very difficult and often dangerous work. So we’re all gratified that the situation’s been resolved. Special credit to Governor Cuomo, who I know worked very, very hard to get to this resolution. I congratulate him for a job well done.
Let me talk about these really wonderful individuals who are joining this administration and are going to be central to all of our efforts going forward. Four extraordinarily talented individuals, who bring an immense amount of experience to the work ahead. And they’re going to help us to build a stronger and safer and more inclusive city. And before I talk about each of them in turn and have them speak, I just want to thank everyone who was a part of this process who helped us to get to this day – Tony Shorris, my first deputy mayor; Laura Santucci, my chief of staff; Maya Wiley, my counsel; and Henry Berger, who has also played a very helpful role in these appointments. I want to thank them all. And other leaders of the administration with us, Joe Esposito is going to have a calmer weekend now. Our OEM commissioner was ready for all sorts of eventualities. Let’s hope it’s a calm weekend on all other fronts, Joe. And Bill Goldstein, my senior advisor for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure. Thank you so much for being here. And a very special guest with us, and we’re all gratified and honored to have Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman here with us, gracing us at City Hall. Thank you judge, we welcome you.
And I want to talk first about the buildings department. And I think Tom Fariello is here and I want to thank Tom. Tom, thank you so much for the fine work you’ve done as acting commissioner of DOB. We want to thank you.
We worked together up in East Harlem and all sorts of other situations that have come up. And thank you for your professionalism and your service to this city. We’re going to talk today about the buildings department, we’re going to talk about the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and the Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. All central roles that have a very big impact on the people of this city. Let’s start with buildings and our new commissioner, Rick Chandler. Now Rick has a number of characteristics that make him distinctive. One that few New Yorkers can point to in their background, Rick was a linebacker for the University of Nebraska. That’s real football, people. A walk-on player on the University of Nebraska team, that’s something to be proud of, and an avid marathon runner as well, which means he clearly has the stamina for the job.
Rick brings extensive history and knowledge at the buildings department and of building policy in the city. A 15-year veteran of the buildings department, served as the borough commissioner in turn in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Deeply involved in compliance and safety efforts in those boroughs. He spent six years as assistant commissioner of homeless services, oversaw one of the city’s largest housing programs, including efforts to house 25,000 homeless families over four years.
His most recent role has been at CUNY at Hunter College, managing Hunter’s seven campuses and many facilities. And in all of his work, he’s seen very tough situations and crises and risen to the occasion. After 9/11, part of the leadership team that inspected buildings around Ground Zero to determine their safety and what we had to learn from that incident going forward. After Hurricane Sandy in his position at Hunter, oversaw the emergency response and recovery efforts at the Brookdale campus, which had extensive flooding. The entire campus had to be evacuated and renovated. And Rick played a crucial role in getting that campus up and running.
As buildings commissioner, Rick will be responsible for ensuring that nearly 1 million buildings are safe and up to code. It’s a critical job for the health and safety of all New Yorkers. And we’ll rely as well on his ability to be part of a team that Bill Goldstein leads in terms of our efforts to create a more resilient city. And this is on our mind every single day, it was on our mind earlier today in Canarsie. We understand what climate change means for the city. The buildings department is in the front line of our efforts to change our approach as a coastal city and become more resilient.
Also, absolutely crucial and something Rick and I have talked about in great detail – we have to change the culture of the buildings department. It has to become more consumer friendly, more customer friendly. It has to become immensely more efficient. There has to be a whole different sense of time and efficiency at the buildings department, especially for the average, everyday New Yorkers who come in, who want to do a renovation on their home, or the small business person that’s trying to get their business to be more effective. They deserve a different and better kind of treatment. There’s a lot of good people at the buildings department, but the work culture needs to be updated and reformed. This is not just because it’s right to treat our customers, our citizens better, it’s also because when the buildings department works, everything else works. Our economy works better, job creation works better, business works better, the lives of homeowners, the quality of life works better when buildings works. So we have to continue to update it and bring it into the 21st century.
It’s also important to think of every one of our agencies as changing their relationship to the consumers in terms of the question of fines. I give a lot of credit to Mary Bassett at the health department, Julie Menin at consumer affairs, who are in the lead of our efforts to reduce unnecessary fines, to make sure that when we fine someone, it’s only after we’ve tried to correct the problem and there’s a resistance to making the changes and the corrections needed. The buildings department also has work to do to make sure that we use fines when necessary, but avoid fining people artificially or unnecessarily. Because as I’ve often said, New Yorkers have enough burdens without arbitrary fines. Fines should be reserved for situations where they’re really deserved. And when they are deserved, we will be vigilant and adamant about applying those fines.
So with that, we’re thrilled to say that based on his experience and his knowledge, his history and his mindset of making those crucial reforms, Rick Chandler is going to be a great buildings commissioner. I’d like to welcome him to speak.
Rick Chandler, Incoming Commissioner, Department of Buildings: Thank you everyone. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for honoring me and for honoring my return to the Department of Buildings as commissioner, the department where I served for 15 years. I’d also like to thank Tom Fariello for the diligent leadership at DOB. I know it’s been a challenge. And I look forward to discussing the current situation and the current operations so that we can hit the ground running as soon as possible. I also want to thank my daughters Claire and Allison, who are with me today, as they are always a source of pride and motivation to give them the best that I can give. Also, my family that’s not here today are excited for me from afar, and I’m very pleased about that.
I was fortunate, shortly after moving here from Nebraska as a young engineer, to be exposed to the myriad issues related to the biggest city in the country. I was attracted by the opportunities that this city provides to all newcomers, and was particularly attracted to large buildings and simply the challenge of building in such a dense environment. I worked in four of the five boroughs, and know the cultures of the industry that are somewhat unique to each borough as they’ve evolved over the last century.
I recall having to learn about beach bungalow communities that had been converted to permanent housing. I had no idea what that was until I visited these communities. And I’m glad to revisit those as they’re trying to rebuild. I also recall sitting around a conference table with two neighbors that were fighting over a common driveway and the quality of their life was diminished by their continued arguing over how to share a driveway, which is a common situation in the Bronx. And I also recall being thrilled to have the opportunity to review plans and walk through such iconic structures around the city such as Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium.
I’ve had the unfortunate experience of responding to building collapses and the personal tragedies that follow. I spent around two weeks walking around Ground Zero after 9/11, like many, hoping to contribute to the city’s response. I was part of a team that assessed the structural integrity, as the mayor mentioned, and I spent weeks after Hurricane Sandy working to recover buildings. So I think I’m prepared to represent buildings at future incidents.
New York is a world city with neighborhood issues. I remember, as I said before about the neighbors and their issues with driving, also neighbors talking about the caliber of their trees, which believe it or not is a zoning issue that has be addressed in some areas of the Bronx and Staten Island. These aren’t major development issues, but they’re very significant to two families or one single family in neighborhoods that have to live together. The department is challenged to improve its operations, to keep the city safe, and allow all citizens – from single family homeowners in Queens to developers of skyscrapers in Midtown – to access the system to demonstrate that their construction projects are treated equitably and fairly, no matter the size. My plan is to be part of the administration team to forward the mayor’s agenda on universal pre-K by making sure that every single classroom is safe and structurally sound, supporting his plan to preserve and build 200,000 affordable housing units by making sure we’re doing our job effectively and efficiently to get good projects in the ground, and helping to address the city’s homelessness crisis by helping to streamline the process to get families into homes.
There’s a different paradigm in how homelessness is addressed today, and I think that with my past experience at DHS and now with the Department of Buildings, I can contribute to the numerous other agencies that are advancing these important policies.
Lastly, buildings has made tremendous gains these past years, especially in modernizing its codes and technology base. There are many dedicated professionals at the agency. I look forward to working with them to continue the momentum and to improve operation efficiencies for all New Yorkers. Thank you.
Mayor: Just on time. I’d like to welcome John Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism at the NYPD. Where are you, John? Hiding there. Welcome. You’re very shy, John. I know – I know you don’t like public attention. In the shadows. Welcome.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board is next and an agency that is so important to creating a better relationship between police and community in this city, to adding to the idea that every interaction that people have with their city government – including with their police force – is positive, respectful, that we are working together to always improve communication, and to make sure when something doesn’t work that there’s a process to address it and fix it. That’s a crucially important role and as chair of the CCRB I could think of no one more qualified, more fit for the role than Richard Emery – someone I’ve had the honor of working with for many years. And I think Richard Emery is someone who for so many people involved in public life in this city over decades – Richard has been a part of the firmament. You name the important issue, he’s been there – someone respected for his legal mind, for his deep commitment to this city. It’s played out in many, many forms and I’ll delineate some of them.
Richard is known, of course, as a staunch defender of Civil Rights. He has never been afraid to take on the city of New York – may I say? – including on some very tough and sensitive issues. He has had a willingness to stand up for those who needed a voice the most, including those who were unjustly imprisoned, wrongfully arrested, juveniles facing particular challenges, the mentally ill. He has made his life’s work helping those who often don’t have the support they need. He won a landmark lawsuit on behalf of 100,000 non-violent prisoners who had been strip searched at Rikers Island over many years. He has argued and won cases before the United States Supreme Court, most notably the landmark case that fundamentally changed the nature of New York City’s own government. 1989 – the 1989 case that challenged what was then the governing structure of New York City, the Board of Estimate, challenged it as a violation of the one person-one vote doctrine. That case, that victory by Richard at the Supreme Court led to a charter commission that brought us to a more democratic approach to government that we have today. He’s also been called upon by the state of New York for his legal expertise, serving on multiple commissions including the Commission on Public Integrity and the Commission on Judicial Conduct. And once again the city is calling upon Richard to bring his expertise to bear for all of us.
As chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, he’ll ensure that our police department is fair and respectful of the people we serve. And he will enforce the notion that no one is above the law. But he’ll also work to make sure that the CCRB is a more effective and efficient entity – everyone involved in the process. Police officers and citizens alike deserve speedier justice, deserve a more streamlined and effective process. And Richard is someone who understands that justice that is not done in a timely manner is not full justice. And it will be his job to create a more effective CCRB. He’ll be a key partner with City Hall, with Commissioner Bratton, with everyone involved to make sure that we strengthen – we ever-constantly-strengthen – the relationship between police and community, and the trust between police and community for the good of this whole city. And I’m thrilled that he is coming back into – or into another form – of public service as CCRB chair. I welcome Richard Emery.
Richard Emery, Incoming Chair, Civilian Complaint Review Board: Thank you very much, Mayor de Blasio. And thank you so much for the confidence you’ve shown in me by making this appointment. I mean, it’s daunting and flattering at the same time and it’s – and I can say with all sincerity that I pledge to you that I will do my best to meet the challenges of chairing the CCRB, which are not going to be small.
Thanks also to my dear wife, Melania, and my two children, Nikhita Lev Emery and Jacques Emery are here today, who support me in this undertaking and probably will suffer more of the consequences than I will because of the time and complexity of what we’re now challenged with.
I guess also it’s worth noting that my dear friends – Don Lieberman and Art Eisenberg from the Civil Liberties Union – are here on the one hand and my son’s godfather and dear friend, John Miller, is here on the other. And I think–
Mayor: You’re bringing people together.
Incoming Chair Emery: Yeah. I mean I think in some sense that shows – I hope – Mayor de Blasio’s wisdom in this choice, I hope.
Effective policing is by definition constitutional and respectful policing. A police officer’s job is daunting – it’s a daunting undertaking. Police men and women are constantly walking a fine line between abusing their legal authority and using necessary and legal policing methods. To be successful and to be respected by the people of our city, every cop has to maintain a strong sense of internal security for him or herself and professional [inaudible] pride. The security and pride gives him or her the confidence to take action in difficult situations, and the confidence and personal security to exercise restraint and respect under severe stress in intense and often highly complex situations. We, the public, need to be able to call for help and have confidence that we will get it from officers who care and will take action to protect us.
The CCRB as I see it – and I think in its history – is that it has attempted to be the arbiter of this delicate balance, maintaining self-control on the part of police officers in situations that by definition require an assertion of control. Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio’s NYPD is committed to keeping crime under control by employing respectful, constitutional policing. And courtesy, respect, and professionalism is not just on the back of cars, it’s the ethos, as I understand it – and I believe and I have trust in this department that that is the ethos of this department. And I’m grateful to the commissioner and the mayor for making this commitment in this period of the city’s history.
There is no other way to succeed at policing. New Yorkers must have confidence and trust in the police. To earn that trust and control crime, there are at least three steps that I can think of that need to take place.
The first is rigorous training and oversight that requires police officers to maintain courtesy, professionalism, and respect, while they use their legally-granted, enormous and awesome powers.
The second is supporting and backing officers who do the job well. They’re heroes when they do the job well because it’s very hard. There is nothing more demoralizing to a police department and officers than punishing individual officers – men and women – that do their duty and protect New Yorkers.
The third thing is responding fairly and justly and quickly to complaints from people who claim they are mistreated by police officers. By responding to and adjudicating complaints quickly and fairly, concentrating on the serious complaints, and focusing on the serious aspects when allegations against police officers are serious, is what the CCRB now has an opportunity to do to help build the confidence of the community, on the one hand, and – just as importantly – police officers, the professionals that our city cannot live without.
You know, I have lived in New York virtually all my life. I grew up a bit of an urchin on the streets of the Village and I have watched throughout my life New York City police. And I have studied them. I studied their behavior first when I used to buy firecrackers on West 4th Street. I knew well how to avoid them. That’s why I’m speaking so openly.
I’ll talk to you about that later. And later, I studied them with art and with many of my colleagues in various iterations as a litigator, in litigating police abuse cases. When my sister was raped, I saw cops do a lousy job and I saw them do a masterful job – all in that one case. You could call me a child of the sixties. I was always a New Yorker focused on justice and the humane assertion of government authority, whether it was with the draft or the ravages of unjust wars or the rights of students, voters, racial minorities, and also the rights of police officers. I’ve proudly represented many police officers who have shown me – and in the cases – immense integrity and courage. And I have many friends who are police officers. I deeply admire the savvy and wisdom of officers who do the job well – make no mistake about it. Jack Maple was my friend through John Miller. And I admired him to no end after I laughed with him and laughed at him on multiple occasions. But I also do know – and have experienced – that cops can sometimes lose their cool and control and abuse those who look to them for help. That is intolerable behavior when it happens.
As CCRB chair, Mr. Mayor, I pledge that I will do my best to be fair to officers and those who complain about them. I assure you that every case will be judged on its individual merits, on the facts of that case. And I also pledge to oversee an agency that must have the confidence of those who’ve trusted it, those who complain, and the officers whose conduct is judged. I will seek to infuse this agency with the highest standards of conduct, efficiency, and integrity, by finding the best ways for it to contribute to elevating policing, so that we who love New York can be protected by and proud of those who serve us. Thanks a lot.
Mayor: Except for the firecracker incident, I think that went very nicely. Stunning revelations.
Finally we’re going to talk about the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. This is an incredibly important group that advises me on judicial appointments – criminal court, family court, civil court – that really will have a lasting impact on this city. Judges who will spend years and years making decisions that will affect the lives of thousands and thousands of New Yorkers. So the individuals I’m going to talk about now are doing such important work as they will really frame the future of a lot of the justice system in this city. And I could not be more pleased with the willingness of these two leaders to step forward.
Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick will join our team as chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. Carmen is one of our state’s most brilliant legal minds. In an extremely distinguished career, she has served for 34 years in the judiciary, including 19 years on New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. She wrote the majority opinion for the Court of Appeals in 322 cases, as well as writing the dissent in 62 cases, and wrote seven concurring opinions, including many of the court’s most significant rulings. She’s a pioneer for women and Latinas in the law, breaking many barriers – one of only eight women in her law school class at St. Johns.
As a Puerto Rican, she achieved a series of firsts. At 30 years old, she became the first woman to head the City Criminal Court’s Law Department; at 36, the first Puerto Rican woman in the history to serve as judge on the city’s criminal court. She then went on to be the first Latino or Latina and only the second woman to sit on the state’s highest court. As chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, Carmen will provide valuable guidance in recruiting, screening, and nominating judges to the city’s family and criminal court. And I want to emphasize – recruiting, screening, and nominating – these are all crucial pieces of the process.
Getting the best judges for the long-term is not just screening and checking the quality and integrity, it’s going out and reaching out across the whole legal profession in this town to find people ready to serve, to make sure there are people of all backgrounds representing this city – and I know Carmen is deeply committed to that task. We’ll count on her wisdom, we’ll count on her experience to ensure that we have the right people in these crucial positions. It’s my honor to introduce our new chair, Carmen Ciparick.
Carmen Ciparick, Incoming Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary: Well, good afternoon. Thank you so much, Mayor de Blasio, for your lovely comments. And thank you, Judge Lippman, for being here. You honor us.
It’s so wonderful to be here and I am so very grateful for this appointment. It was just 36 years ago – and it feels like only yesterday – I was sworn in as a judge of the criminal court in the city of New York in this very building in what then known as the Board of Estimate room.
Mayor: Before Richard messed around with it.
Incoming Chair Ciparick: Before he messed around with it, right. My daughter was just three. My grandson is now five. My parents who had come to New York from Puerto Rico in search of a better life were over the moon. And the rest is history, which the mayor has provided you with.
So, having come through the mayor’s committee and being a product of the merit selection system gave me an opportunity that I would not have otherwise had. I had not come through the political ranks. I had not pledged allegiance to party leaders. I had worked hard – first as a legal aid staff attorney and then for the courts, ultimately as chief court attorney or chief law assistant, as it was then called, of the criminal court. So where would I go next? The judiciary seemed like a logical choice, but how does one do that if one is not politically connected?
So, enters Mayor Koch – and the formation of a merit-based Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary, a marvelous reform innovation that has produced wonderful judges over the years. And I promise that under my leadership and the leadership of my esteemed colleague, Judge Barry Cozier, we’ll continue to do so.
There can be no greater calling than being a judge. Of course, I’m biased, but my 34 years plus on the bench gave me so much satisfaction – helping people, doing good, being independent, being reasonable, all while resolving societal disputes. And I compliment Mayor de Blasio for being so very concerned about the future of our judiciary and I look forward to working with him and his counsel, Maya Wiley, and Special Counsel Henry Berger, and, of course, my wonderful vice-chair, friend, and colleague, Barry Cozier. I also thank my law firm, Greenberg Traurig –well-represented here today – for allowing and encouraging me in the pursuit of this most worthwhile government service.
Thank you, mayor, for the faith and confidence you have placed in me. I will not let you down. I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Roseanne, my grandson, Joseph, and my son-in-law, Frankie. This is the mayor.
Mayor: It’s so good to meet you, man. Good to meet you. That’s so cute.
Incoming Chair Ciparick: I should say, Joseph is going to Hunter in September.
Mayor: Very proud of it. Proud grandma. Carmen obviously has a fan club. Thank you, Joseph, for joining the announcement. I think your daughter and son-in-law have figured out I was the mayor, I really do.
But I’m glad you went through the formality, very elegant of you.
Well, Barry Cozier will joining us as Vice-Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. I am so thrilled that he will be doing that. Barry has served on the committee, now will be our vice chair. There are many things to say about him, which I’ll say, but I say one of the things I like the most of him is he is a proud son of Brooklyn. Doesn’t get better than that, does it?
Objectively. Doesn’t. So, a lifelong New Yorker, another brilliant mind with deep deep experience, having served for two decades on the bench – both at a city and state level – covering civil, criminal, and family law, most recently as Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court.
As a lawyer, Barry has argued cases on a wide range of issues, ranging from real estate to immigration. He’s also an established legal scholar with particularly deep knowledge of New York state law and an adjunct professor of juvenile justice at Fordham Law School. Barry’s served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary since 2006 and we are thrilled that he’s not only bringing continuity but he’ll bring a new level of leadership to us as we endeavor again to have a strong high-integrity, high-quality, and diverse judiciary. I’d like to welcome Barry Cozier to speak.
Barry Cozier, Incoming Vice-Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary: I’d like to, of course, thank a couple of guests who are here – my wife, Margaret Morton, and brother, Jimmy Cozier – and, of course, thank the Chief Judge, a long-time friend for joining us this afternoon. I am extremely honored to be appointed by Mayor de Blasio as the Vice Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, a committee charged with the significant responsibility of recruiting, evaluating, and recommending to the mayor only the most highly qualified candidates for possible appointment to the city’s criminal, family, and civil courts.
I have had the honor of serving as a member of this prestigious committee for over the past seven years and look forward to my continued service under the very able stewardship of my esteemed judicial colleague, the Honorable Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, former Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. I am a life-long New York City resident – born in Harlem, raised in Brooklyn, where I attended junior high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and graduated from James Madison High School before attending college and law school.
In my very legal career of almost 40 years, I have been fortunate to have served the people of the city and state of New York for some 20 years as a member of the judiciary, initially as a judge of the family court in the city of New York on the recommendation of this very committee – the Mayor’s Advisory Committee – and appointment by the late Mayor Koch in 1986, followed by service as a justice of the Supreme Court and Associate Justice of the Appellate Division Second Department.
Like Judge Ciparick, I am a beneficiary of the mayoral merit selection process. And I cannot overemphasize both the importance of this committee in continuing a legacy of excellence and identifying and recommending to the mayor candidates of the highest caliber with the legal acumen, respect for the law, character, integrity, temperament, and the passion to serve the diverse citizens of our city and administer justice in the courts in a fair and impartial manner.
I thank Mayor de Blasio for the trust he has placed in me by this appointment. And I look forward to working with him and his counsel and special counsel and the committee in the years ahead to shape a judiciary within the city of New York that adheres to the highest standards. Thank you.
Mayor: So I just want to give you the scorecard here – appointed judge by Mayor Koch, appointed judge by Mayor Koch, sued Mayor Koch.
Okay. There’s your wrap-up for that segment.
Little bit of Spanish and then we will take questions on topic from the media.
>Me complace anunciar a cuatro nuevos miembros de mi administración: Rick Chandler será mi comisionado de edifícios; Richard Emery, el presidente de la Junta de Querellas Civiles de la ciudad; y Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick -- quien fue la primera juez latina en llegar el tribunal más alto del estado— y Barry Cozier, la presidenta y vice presidente de mi Comisión Consultiva sobre Asuntos Judiciales. >
With that, we’re back to English, and we will take questions on this topic from the media. Go!
Question: Mr. Emery, are you satisfied with the amount of power that the CCRB has or doesn’t have?
Incoming Chair Emery: I think that the power given to it as an independent agency by the City Council has never been fully explored and implemented. I think that while technically, obviously, it can only do certain things with respect to each investigation, the effect that it can have in creating confidence on the part, as I’ve said in my prepared remarks, on the part of the communities that may have individuals who complain and the police officers is its real power, and that has never, actually, in my view, fulfilled its promise. I think it’s made progress, I think there’s been an up and down in that regard, and my hope is to genuinely have an effect in restoring or creating a sense of real confidence that it is a place where people can go and get justice, and where police officers will get justice as well.
Question: And just a quick follow-up—to fully explore and implement?
Incoming Chair Emery: Well, I’m very early in this process. I’m looking at it. I think there are a number of things that have to be done to assess the current activities of this agency. Like any bureaucracy, like any governmental entity, it can improve, it can become more efficient, it can become more fair. It can have a better morale, and it can have a better product. And the ways I’m going to go about that I can’t tell you yet, it’s much too early to say. But I’m certainly going to be looking at this very carefully, and hopefully with other members of the board, there are a number of holdovers, and I hope that the complexion of the board will change in certain ways. And with a collegial atmosphere, with everybody being on the same side, looking for the same results, we can make some changes that might make a difference.
Question: Are you satisfied with the funding level for the board?
Incoming Chair Emery: Well, so far so good in that regard. I think that it has a lot of resources, it has almost 170 people, I think that I haven’t identified places yet because I haven’t studied it closely enough yet, to see where it may need more, but I have no doubt that this administration and the way it can work with the Council, holds some real potential for targeted, smart, efficient focusing of revenues and funds to increase its productivity.
Mayor: Let me just jump in and say, I agree with that but I would say, right now, the first task is to create an efficient culture, because again, too many people are used to not getting speedy justice. Whether that’s the complainant or whether that’s the police officer who’s had a complaint lodged against them, both deserve fairness, both deserve a speedy process. So one of the things I’ve talked to Richard about is figuring out a way to get in and clear up the backlog, and create a speed and consistency in the process. I think the resources are there to do that, I think it’s going to require new leadership. I think it’s going to require a constant dialogue with the commissioners and other key figures in the department to create that momentum, but I think we can do it.
Question: Also for Mr. Emery. Do you think that the CCRB would benefit from a higher public profile, and would you work toward that end?
Incoming Chair Emery: Well, I don’t want a higher public profile if we’re not inspiring confidence. I do think that it has to be a place where people can go to get justice, and for that it needs a higher profile. I know from my own practice that we often do not recommend that our clients who are alleging abuse go to the CCRB, because we don’t believe that they will get speedy, fair, justice. I know also from my friends who are police officers that they can’t stand the CCRB, that they view the CCRB as a major drag on their ability to do their jobs. That can’t persist. We should eliminate the CCRB if those are the ways that it’s viewed. So yes, I hope that it will have a higher profile, but only if it can achieve the things that we’re committed to make happen.
Mayor: There is a real history here that has to be understood, I think for almost a half century there have been efforts in this city to create a CCRB that actually functions. For decades, there was the fight to have a CCRB. And now, over the last 20 years, the fight to have an effective CCRB—we’ve never seen that work in a consistent manner. So we’re almost starting from scratch in some ways. So I’ll give a positive rendition of what Richard just said—no one’s ever going to accuse Richard of not being blunt—I think this is a chance to get it right. I think this is a chance to look at the history and say, ok, let’s start over, and get it right. Everyone deserves effective, speedy justice. I think Richard’s characterization is right. I don’t know anyone in the process right now who feels the kind of confidence they should in the CCRB, which means we have to do things very very differently. But done right, any police officer would know that they would be treated fairly, quickly, consistently; any complainant would know that their complaint would be taken seriously, looked into; and then they’d get an honest answer. And we want to find a way to have the CCRB that provides those clear outcomes, and hopefully in the process where there’s been a legitimate problem, also is an agent of healing. I’ve often talked about over the last two years the notion of healing. So much good happens every day in this city. So much good happens in terms of keeping us the safest big city in the country. So much good happens in the relationship between police and community, which I can see before my very eyes is getting stronger and closer. And yet there is a history we still have to overcome, and some problems in the past that still linger that we have to address. I look forward to a day when people know CCRB is there when they need it, and that everyone in the process knows they’re being treated fairly. When that day comes, it will be yet another building block in a deeper, more positive relationship between police and community. And to do that, you need someone who has really been there and back in terms of public service, in terms of addressing such sensitive issues and having the respect of all involved, and that’s who Richard is, and that’s why I think for the first time we’ll get to realize the potential of the CCRB.
Question: Given the urgent nature of the affordable housing plan, and the role the Department of Buildings will play in that, why did you wait seven months to appoint a buildings commissioner? What were you looking for that you weren't finding?
Mayor: It's – you know, I think everyone has observed our approach, and we're very proud of our approach. We work very diligently to get exactly what we're looking for, and we don't settle. We've been blessed to have a lot of people at the agency level who are very capable, who have kept things working in a variety of agencies. But we will interview people and interview them again, and bring in new people, and seek out references until we hit that moment when we're convinced someone shares the vision, has the ability to move it. And I think what happened here is, we were convinced we needed someone who would be a reformer, and bring a spirit of reform to the agency, but obviously have impeccable credentials at the same time, and that is who Rick Chandler is. And we were satisfied that it was time to make that move. Questions, questions, yes.
Question: I guess this is for Mr. Emery, or for you – while I understand that the CCRB and the new inspector general have different roles and purviews, do you foresee the fact that that position now exists making – having any effect on the CCRB's activity?
Mayor: I'll start, and feel free – I think they're very, very different. And I think that it's important to understand the different concepts, and it's something I've certainly spoke with Commissioner Bratton about quite a bit, and he understands from his own experience in Los Angeles how different levels of oversight play different roles. The inspector general is supposed to look at policies, and the overall operations of the NYPD, and look at any areas where there may be challenges that have to be addressed. Civilian Complaint Review Board looks at the day to day relationship between residents of this city and the NYPD, and that gets expressed through individual cases. And the – both of these pieces are crucially important. They both are part of the solution, if you will, because they both get at both deepening the relationship between police and community, creating consistency and fairness in that relationship, and making sure that anything that needs to be addressed is addressed. IG has the ability to look at any policy or pattern that needs to be addressed on a bigger scale. CCRB has the ability to look at any interaction between police and community where there's a complaint and there may be a problem that has to be addressed. But I know Richard, and I know Richard if he sees a bigger problem will, not only bring it to me, we'll bring it to the commissioner, we'll work with the IG. I think there's a lot of ability for people to work together, but the division of labor in the first instance is quite clear. Want to add?
Incoming Chair Emery: No.
Mayor: I said it all?
Incoming Chair Emery: What else? What else could be said –
Mayor: Okay! Okay, in the back.
Question: Mr. Chandler, I was just wondering if you could talk – if there are any specifics in terms of the reforms you'd like to make to the department to speed the – to speed the permitting process.
Incoming Commissioner Chandler: I can say that we'll be vigorous in looking at the operations in the boroughs. As I said in my remarks, I'm aware of the culture of how things get done, and we will be vigorously looking at the application processing, and how the individuals are treated. We'll look into a number of options to look at the big – the big picture projects, versus some of the smaller projects. So, I really can't say more that right now until after we've spent some time digging through deeper.
Mayor: Let me just frame it just a little more. Look, too many New Yorkers are not having a good experience at the buildings department, and we aim to change that. I think Rick has pointed out in all of our discussions, that the "little guy," if you will, you know, the average homeowner, the average small business owner – often has a very challenging time working with the buildings department getting a fast resolution on their needs. These are folks for whom, you know, time is real challenge – people who are working hard, working long hours, and only have so much time to put into dealing with the city bureaucracy, and often it feels impenetrable and difficult to get any result out of. Again, there's a history in some cases, with a lot of agencies, of fines that's felt punitive and unfair. So, we're trying to get to a truly customer-friendly organization. And I think for residents of a number of outer borough neighborhoods, there's been a particular sense that it's been hard to get the results that they were looking for. And just literally the matter of traveling long distances to get to a buildings department office trying to get an answer, and then often times having to come back time and time again. That's not a way to do business. That's not what we want for our citizens and our customers. It also holds back our economy if that's the commonplace reality. So, I've cast Rick with figuring out, from his long experience – where are those fault lines? What's it going to take? What changes do we have to make to bring this entity into modern approaches that will actually treat our customers fairly.
Question: I have another question for Mr. Emery. Do you have faith in the police department's Internal Affairs Unit – Bureau, to investigate police officer misconduct?
Incoming Chair Emery: I'm sorry, do – what?
Question: Internal Affairs to investigate police officer misconduct?
Incoming Chair Emery: Do I – what's the second word? Faith? Have faith – well, I certainly do under Commissioner Bratton. They have very different functions. They really, in my view – and there is some overlap, and there is some confusion – I think – about the various roles at some level, but in my view, in the ideal world, Internal Affairs would be primarily focusing on the potential for corruption, and the potential for violations of internal regulations. The CCRB, in my view, should be focusing on the interactions between citizens, or the residents of New York City, not necessarily citizens, but the residents of New York City – and police officers. And making sure that those relations are respectful and not abusive, that legal authority is being used in a proper way. Now there are cases when obviously there's a bit of meld between the two jurisdictions, and I'm sure that there will be some communications that go between – a great deal of communications in some cases, in particular cases. But it seems to me, that issue happens case by case. And I don't expect that – I think that Internal Affairs under Commissioner Bratton, and under this administration, is very vigorous, and very fair, and very decent, and just like the CCRB, really must be concerned with the morale of police officers and its effect on morale. Because that's ultimately what translates to crime control and fair policing.
Mayor: I just want to add that, you know, I think the rank and file of the NYPD have immense respect for Commissioner Bratton. I say every time, I think he is the greatest police leader anywhere in this country, anywhere in this world. And he came up from the grassroots and worked his way up, and I think that so much about his experience engenders the respect of the men and women who serve under his command. I think he's also known for being the classic equation: tough but fair. And I think Internal Affairs reflects that now – vigorous, uncompromising, fair, consistent. We have an Internal Affairs – an entity I think is very, very important to the equation – I have faith Commissioner Bratton's handling well. We have an Inspector General, a brand new entity. I have a lot of respect for Phil Eure, and I think he's going to play an important role, and I think the entity will play an important role. So that's new, and we are yet to know all that it can do, but we have every reason to be hopeful.
But the missing link has been CCRB, and again, historically missing. Missing – the city deserved some kind of role like that for decades, and didn't have it, for political reasons – finally achieved. We didn't get to see it realized for a variety of other political reasons. This is the first time we're actually going to get to see a CCRB function properly. And I think it's going to be a breath of fresh air. I think it's going to add to the equation very favorably. And this could be a profound moment in the history of this city. You know, we are the safest big city in America. We're continuing to make progress on that front. We have extraordinary leadership at the NYPD. We have an incredibly well-trained police force. Now we are addressing, systemically, some of the outstanding issues that weren't addressed for decades. We get this right, and this becomes a sustainable model for the future of this city, and a way of keeping us safe, and having an atmosphere of fairness pervade everything we do in this city, and that's really exciting to me.
Thank you everyone – oh wait, wait, un-thank you. Hold on.
Incoming Chair Emery: If I may. I'm not going to let you have the last word.
Mayor: Okay. Fair enough. That's Richard. You are consistent.
Incoming Chair Emery: No but – I think, I think this point is very important, and it raises the juxtaposition of the two, but it raises another collateral point, which is that the key here, in my view, is to separate the ticky-tacky stuff from the real stuff, the wheat from the chaff. I think the CCRB has been focused too often – not always, but too often – on stuff that is not that important. And it has to – it has very important cases, and a very important function. It's not only the physical abuse, but it's the discourtesy. Now, with video cameras everywhere, there really should be the evidence that should be determinative very quickly. So, I really think that we have an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff, and make a difference quickly and fairly for police officers and for the people who complain.
Question: Can you give us an example of the chaff in your…?
Mayor: That's going to be one of my favorite questions from a Blue Room Presser. What's the chaff? I've got to get bumper stickers that say that.
Incoming Chair Emery: Isn't that stuff that the corn comes in? No. The – the, I mean, I do think that there – a lot of this is second- and third-hand. I'm going to have to discover this for myself firsthand. But I do think that there are opportunists who go to the CCRB and make allegations in order to create leverage in a different – in various contexts, and it's not necessarily correct, and finding those cases, and identifying those, and getting rid of them, is of utmost importance, both for the integrity of the CCRB and its process of what it does say something is sustained, and to get rid of the cloud that hangs over police officers, and inhibits their effective functioning when those kinds of complaints are made. And I do think that happens, too often. If it happens 10 percent, or 15 percent of the time, or 20 percent of the time, that's a lot of complaints. And so those really have to be knocked aside and then you have to focus on the real complaints that are before the board.
Mayor: Thank you everyone.