Transcript: Mayor Bill de Blasio Signs a Series of Bills Into Law, Related to Youth in the Foster Care System, Tenant Protection, the City's Building Code, and Traffic Safety

September 30, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: I would like to welcome everyone here today. I'd like to welcome our Public Advocate Tish James, and Council Members Margaret Chin, Fernando Cabrera, Vanessa Gibson, Ydanis Rodriguez, Danny Dromm, Andy Cohen, Laurie Cumbo, Jumaane Williams, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Steve Levin. We have a quorum.

[Laughter]
[Cheers]

You guys are supposed to be on that side. What's going on here? [Laughs]

We've got a lot we're going to do today. I want to again thank everyone for being here. We'll go through this quickly. And I want to give you, in each case, a chance to hear from folks who did the hard work on each of these issues. So, we're going to group bills together according to subject matter – first, related to young people in foster care, three bills – Intros. 104-A, 137-A, and 187-A, requiring the Administration for Children's Services to report information related to youth in foster care. 

I've worked on this issue for a long time. I used to be in the City Council as chairman of the General Welfare Committee, and continued as public advocate. This is a hugely important issue, helping young people in foster care deal with the many challenges they face, helping them on a path to a life after foster care. And it's a particular obligation we have as public servants to make that pathway better for our young people. 

We're committed to doing that, and we're committed to making sure that each and every child in foster care is helped on a good path. We have very strong partners in the City Council, and in the public advocate, in this work, and a lot of unity between us on how important this is. 

Let's go over each of these bills. Intro 104-A requires ACS to report on the outcomes for youth aging out. The report will provide information on education, housing, employment and other indicators, in terms of each young person and how they fare. The information will guide the work of ACS and contracted providers. It's sponsored by Public Advocate Tish James. I want to thank her for her focus. I was honored to work on these issues, again, when I was advocate. I want to thank her for making it such a high priority of her work. 

Intro 137-A requires annual reports on ACS's efforts to help youth in foster care obtain government-issued identification, including the new municipal ID card. This is sponsored by Council Member Danny Dromm. Everyone knows how important identification is in society, for every member of this society, but it's especially important for young people aging out of foster care, to make sure they have access to the services they need. So, this is an important step towards ensuring that. 

And then we have Intro 187-A, which requires a report on graduation rates for young people in foster care. This is sponsored by Council Member Laurie Cumbo. And it speaks to the fact that we have to continue to work to raise graduation rates for young people in foster care to help them on the next steps in their lives. This bill will help us to do a better job of tracking the situation and acting on it. 

Together the three bills will help ACS and provider agencies prepare our young people for the challenges ahead. I want to thank everyone involved, starting with Commissioner Gladys Carrion at ACS. I want to thank her and her staff for the extraordinary work they do to support our young people. Again, I want to thank the public advocate. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. She couldn't be with us today, but thank her for her great support in this. I thank the now-chairman of the General Welfare Committee – I warmed up the seat for you, Steve Levin, and you have done a fine job continuing the work of general welfare, thank you so much, Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Laurie Cumbo, thanks to all of your for what you've done to take us to this day.

Let's hear from several of the leading lights, starting with Commissioner Gladys Carrion.

And I think you will benefit from this step.

[Laughter]

Really, that's just a decision on my part. 

[Commissioner Gladys Carrion speaks]

[Mayor de Blasio introduces various elected officials; elected officials deliver remarks]

Mayor: They love excitement at bill signings. [Laughter] Congratulations to Tish James. Congratulations to Laurie Cumbo. It is a very special moment when you pass the first piece of legislation in your new role. I am reminded of a day about 12 years ago, when I passed my first piece of legislation in the council. I was here for a signing. I brought Chiara and Dante with me. They were about seven and four years old at the time, and they could not have been more unimpressed by –

[Laughter]

So I was having this really important spiritual moment, and they were like, why are we sitting here. So, I'm glad you guys are getting to enjoy it.

I'd like to hear from some citizens who have come to speak on these issues. First, Jessica Maxwell of the Children's Aid Society.

[Citizens deliver remarks]

Mayor: Just a few words in Spanish before we sign these pieces of legislation.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, let us step to the table and sign.

[Mayor de Blasio signs legislation]

Mayor: Okay. These bills are now law.

[Applause]

Mayor: Okay. Okay, are we going to do some more legislation now? 

Unknown: Yes, please.

Mayor: The fun never stops. Here we go. The next set of bills relate to tenants in our city and provide vital information to tenants and owners of multiple housing dwellings, and they protect tenants from harassment by landlords.

Intro 48-A requires the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to maintain a housing information guide publicly for tenants and for owners of buildings alike, sponsored by Council Member Fernando Cabrera. The guide will include information on responsibilities of owners, and it will touch upon issues like eviction levels, and heat and hot water, repairs and maintenance, rental assistance for elderly or disabled tenants, and housing discrimination. Owners will be required to post notice of availability of the guide for all tenants. 

And then Intro 129-A increases civil penalties assessed to property owners found guilty of tenant harassment, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin. Penalties will significantly increase from the current range of $1,000 - $5,000 dollars, to instead between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars. HPD will also post on its website each instance where a court found an owner had harassed a tenant. This information on the website will stretch back over the last year and into the future. And now tenants will be able to discover easily if an owner of a building has a history of harassment. 

I want to thank everyone who has been a part of bringing these pieces of legislation forward. First of all, of course, Council Member and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, thank her for her leadership; Housing and Buildings Chair Jumaane Williams; as well, of course, as Council Members Chin and Cabrera. I want to thank HPD Commissioner Vicki Been and her whole team for their support of these measures. I'd like to start with some words from Council Member Chin, and thank her for her advocacy on behalf of tenants. 

[Elected officials deliver remarks]

Mayor: Thank you, and I do want to say before I call up Chair Williams, that we really appreciate the partnership of HPD. I mentioned to Vito Mustaciuolo earlier that when I was public advocate and we had the Worst Landlords Watchlist, HPD was a tremendous partner with us in going after the bad actors. And it's very important. There are a lot of good landlords out there, but the ones who don't do the right thing need to feel consequences. And Vito, I want to thank you and every at HPD for standing up for tenants. 

With that, a man who thinks about tenants all day long, as council member and as chair of this committee – Council Member Jumaane Williams. 

[Council Member Jumaane Williams speaks]

Mayor: Okay, we're going to try some Spanish here.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

[Mayor de Blasio signs legislation]

Mayor: All right, congratulations, these bills are law!

[Applause]

It's a legislative marathon over here. Here we go with more. 

Okay, our next bill, Intro 371-A – this is such an important bill, because it speaks to so much of what we're trying to achieve through our Vision Zero program. Intro 371-A allows for civil penalties for drivers who flee the scene of a crash without providing name, residence, license and insurance information to the victim and/or police officer. The bill is sponsored by Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ydanis Rodriguez. These penalties could be in addition to any other criminal or civil penalties that might be assessed under the vehicle and traffic law. The bill provides the NYPD with another tool to encourage drivers to comply with one of the most basic rules of the road, which is if you're involved in a crash, you must stop and report it. The bill also supports, as I said, our Vision Zero effort overall – raising awareness, adding consequences, reminding people to follow the laws and slow down. And the increased penalties for fleeing the scene of a crash are a key component of our initiative. 

I want to thank our Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, our Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, both who have been stalwarts of our Vision Zero effort. I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for all her support, and of course Council Members Van Bramer and Rodriguez for their leadership, and let me bring forward Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. 

[Elected officials deliver remarks]

Mayor: Thank you. Just a few comments in Spanish before we sign the legislation. 

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

Let's go sign the law.

[Mayor de Blasio signs legislation]'

Mayor: That's right. It depends on your idea of excitement. Only two were left.

Finally, the final bills involve amendments to the 2014 New York City construction codes. Intro 472-A is a cleanup bill for the 2014 code sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, revisions – this is quite a striking number, revisions to the 2014 construction codes consist of more than 2500 pages, non-substantive typographical errors and drafting inconsistencies – inevitable with legislation of this size – had to be corrected. The bill addresses 33 of these non-substantive defects, which is actually a remarkably small number, given the magnitude of what was done here – a testament to the diligence of all who worked on the code revision, including 300 committee members of the committee charged with this, and staff from the buildings and law deparments. 

Intro 474 extends the effective date of the 2014 construction codes from October 1st of this year to October 31st 2014. Also sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, the extension allows time for design professionals to prepare plans and specifications, so they'll be in compliance with the new provisions, and also allows for continued stakeholder education. I want to thank again Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support, and Chair Williams, a special thank you to Commissioner Rick Chandler, and everyone at the buildings department, everyone who worked on these complicated but really important codes. With that, I'd like to bring forward Commissioner Chandler.

[Commissioner Rick Chandler speaks]

[Council Member Jumaane Williams speaks]

Mayor: Thank you. Just a few words in Spanish.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

That means everyone did a good job. I commend you. Let's sign these laws. 

[Mayor de Blasio signs legislation]

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