FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS 2010 STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS DETAILING HIS PLANS FOR THE RECOVERY AHEAD AND THE STRATEGY BEHIND IT
Strategy Focuses on Answering Four Key Challenges:
The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s State of the City address as prepared for delivery at Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts in Astoria
“Thank you all so much.
“And thank you, Tony Benedetto of Astoria, for those kind words. I hope he meant them – and isn’t just trying to be a guest on my new late night show on NBC. Tony and his wife Susan really are amazingly loyal and generous New Yorkers. They’ve done so much for this school and this City. I don’t care what Tony said about leaving his heart in San Francisco, he’s always saved his greatest love for his hometown. And we couldn’t be more proud or more grateful.
“Speaker Quinn, Public Advocate de Blasio, Comptroller Liu, borough presidents – especially our host Helen Marshall – our District Attorneys, and distinguished guests: It’s great to be here today – at the new home of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Led by a dynamic principal, Donna Finn, this building really is filled with the kind of bright, talented students who can make it here, or make it anywhere.
“Among those joining us on the stage today are some people from the local neighborhood who are as responsible for the progress in this community as anyone. And really, the progress that we see here in Astoria and northwest Queens exemplifies how far our entire City has come over the past eight years. Not only is there a beautiful new school here with a graduation rate of 97 percent, crime in the local precinct is down 41 percent thanks to the dedication of officers like Chief Diana Pizzuti of Queens North. There are new jobs at new shops and businesses in the neighborhood, from Kristie’s Fashions, owned by Kristie Foster to Water Lillies Food, a manufacturing firm owned by Taiwanese immigrants and represented here today by Tina Lee.
“Of course, there are also new jobs at Kaufman Studios, just down the street. Thank you, George. There are new ball fields and facilities at Queensbridge Park, new housing will be going up at Hunters Point South, and there is even a new charter school in Long Island City, named Growing Up Green.
“Across the City, we’ve seen similar progress, and more: Record low murders and fire fatalities, record high life expectancy, record high graduation rates, record amounts of affordable housing being built, record investments in job-creating infrastructure. We’re even planting a record number of trees.
“But in talking with the residents of Astoria and in talking with New Yorkers across the City and listening to their concerns, I know how much work still lies ahead of us. The national recession has hit hard all across America and it has not spared us. I know how worried people are, worried about losing their homes to foreclosure or finding a good-paying job, or keeping their kids out of trouble.
“The faces up on the banner behind me are people I’ve met in visiting every community and every borough. Their stories reflect the unequaled progress we’ve made and the unfinished business that we still face.
“That’s the State of our City.
“Strong in a time of struggle, and determined to keep charging ahead. And that’s how the people I’ve met feel. We’re proud of our progress but fully aware that it’s not enough.
“We are New Yorkers, always striving, and we know we have more work to do.
“And that’s how the people I’ve met feel: Proud of our progress but fully aware that it’s not enough. We are New Yorkers, always striving, and we know we have more work to do.
“So let me make this commitment to you, as we begin this new term: We will continue demanding and achieving progress in every area – every day. We will continue going full tilt – full time. And, even as we face difficult budget choices, which will require painful cuts, we will continue insisting that government remain on the side of every hard-working New Yorker. And we will not forget our responsibilities to our less fortunate neighbors.
“The sobering cuts the City faces in the proposed State budget released yesterday are not going to make our job any easier. The fact is, because we prepared for the national recession by saving for the future and making the hard decisions, we are now an easy target for the State, which faces a much more severe fiscal deficit. But we cannot be penalized for making the right and responsible decisions leading up to this moment.
“We understand the challenges our State leaders face, but it’s critical that the Democrats and Republicans, in both the Senate and the Assembly, protect our City. That's their job. And we've got to help them do it, and hold them to it. New York City residents deserve to be treated with fairness and foresight. We are the state’s economic engine, and balancing the budget on the backs of the five boroughs will only run the entire state into the ground.
“The school we’re at today – like all our schools – represents the future of our City. And that’s where I’d like to focus my remarks today. Not on what we’ve done in the past, but what we’ll do in the year ahead.
“This is a new term, and as someone once said: ‘We’re going to make a brand new start of it.’ We’re going to do more than ever – more than any City has ever done – to find innovative new ways to improve people’s everyday lives.
“Our goal is simple: To make the strongest possible recovery from the most severe national recession our country has faced in the post-war era.
“As we all know, a strong and speedy recovery is not inevitable. It won’t happen on its own. But with the right strategy, there is no doubt in my mind that we can help lead the national recovery, and lift our City to new heights. That is the great challenge facing us, and you have my word: We will not fail.
“Today, I want to tell you about the ambitious strategy we’re going to follow to make it happen. To begin with, we’ll continue doing the fundamentals well. Just like our Super Bowl bound New York Jets. Hey, those kids weren’t even born the last time the Jets were in the Super Bowl.
“Doing the fundamentals well means doing all the things that support and strengthen our economy, and that starts with finding even more new ways to make our City safer.
“This year, we’ll continue finding new ways to target high-crime areas, illegal guns, domestic batterers. as well as the repeat low-level offenders who threaten our quality of life. We’ve come so far in creating the safest big City in the nation, and we aren’t going to let anything or anyone stop our progress. No way.
“We’ll also expand the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative into Midtown. The NYPD and its federal partners have thwarted more than a dozen terrorist plots over the years, but 2009 saw more domestic plots than in any recent year. So we must continue giving our officers the best possible tools for protecting our City and our country.
“And at the same time, we’ll continue pushing to keep redevelopment of the World Trade Center site moving ahead and keep the memorial on schedule to open next year.
“Doing the fundamentals well also means improving our mass transit system by working with and helping Jay Walder, the new head of the MTA, implement the reform agenda we share.
“It means making our air cleaner by greening the heating fuels used by schools and large buildings. It means expanding our arts and cultural community by opening new facilities in all five boroughs, including a major expansion of the Museum of the Moving Image, right across the street.
“It means fighting poverty and homelessness with more innovative new ideas. It means working with our partners in labor and in Albany to achieve the budget reforms necessary to save our children from debts they won’t be able to pay, and that our City can’t afford.
“It means finding new ways to improve the services we offer New Yorkers, which is exactly why we’ve re-assigned every first deputy commissioner to another agency for the next three weeks, something no government has ever done before. And it means continuing to lead the nation with innovative education reforms that give parents more first-rate public school options and give all children the skills they’ll need to get their diplomas, and follow their dreams.
“Of course, these are not the only fundamental responsibilities of government, and in mapping out a strategy for the strongest and fastest possible recovery, we’re going to zero in on some of the most pressing challenges that these men and women, and millions more New Yorkers, confront every day.
“The challenges center on four questions that – with the economy still so uncertain – cry out for answers now more than ever. They may not be the four questions that some of us had to ask at Passover seder when we were growing up, and they certainly aren’t the only ones we’ll concentrate on during 2010. But they are essential to our recovery, and we’re going to confront them head-on.
“The first of the four questions is the one that communities across the country are asking: How can we help those who’ve been hit hardest by these hard times?
“We’ll do it by connecting more people to good-paying jobs, helping more people get their finances in order, and providing more housing assistance to troubled homeowners.
“But let me start answering that question by telling you about Inna Goldshteyn. Inna is 45 years old and lives in the one and only Coney Island. She was laid off last May from a bookkeeping job that paid $15.75 an hour. After several months of searching for work without any luck, she visited our Workforce1 Center and enrolled in a computer training program. After six weeks, she earned her certificate, and we placed her in a bookkeeping job that pays $24 an hour, plus benefits – a more than 50 percent salary increase. Inna, congratulations.
“Inna is not alone. She is one of 25,000 New Yorkers our Career Centers placed in jobs last year – a record – but this year, we aim to top it. People like Inna are the essence of our City, and this year we’ll find more ways to create more middle-class job opportunities for them. For instance, our Health Care Career Center at LaGuardia Community College, which is just down the road, will give hundreds of New Yorkers the chance to begin careers as medical technicians, nurses, and EMTs. Our Manufacturing Career Center in Brooklyn, which just opened this month, will serve machinists and metalworkers, who, in today’s market, need math and computer skills as sharp as their power tools. And all of our Career Centers in all five boroughs will provide a level of training and support that no other City in the country is offering.
“The job market can be particularly tough for entry-level workers and those with limited English skills, and that means many immigrants have been hit particularly hard by the national recession. So as we push for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, we’ll also do more to help struggling immigrants right here in our own backyard because all of us have an interest in seeing immigrants succeed.
“So, we’ll expand job-preparation classes in English-as-a-second-language for an additional 5,000 of our newest New Yorkers. We’ll increase summer job placements for students who are learning English. We’ll help immigrant small business owners weather the economic downturn by holding financing fairs with lenders who speak their language. And, most urgently, because of the terrible tragedy that has recently shocked the world, we’ll create a public-private partnership – with law firms, philanthropies, and community organizations – to provide the legal and administrative support that Haitian New Yorkers will need in applying for Temporary Protected Status. That will allow them to find legal employment here, and allow more money to find its way back home to their loved ones.
“So many New Yorkers have given generously over the past week. In fact, the
Mayor’s Fund has collected more than half a million dollars – most of it coming from people calling 311 and asking how they can help. All of us can help this Friday, when just across the street at Kaufman Astoria studios, Wyclef Jean will host a Hope for Haiti Global Telethon on all the major networks. And in the weeks and months ahead, I promise you that the City of New York will continue doing everything possible to help with the recovery in Haiti, and to heal the wounds that have broken our hearts.
“Even as we give thanks for our good fortune, there are other ways we will help struggling New Yorkers. All of us know people who are stressed out about their finances. Many are drowning in credit card debt at huge interest rates, or turning to payday lenders and loan sharks, or being hit with steep overdraft fees.
“The City can’t manage anyone’s personal finances, but we can make it easier for New Yorkers to manage their own –and we will. We’ll start by helping more New Yorkers get out of debt with a new public-private loan pool that will offer them a fresh start if they commit to sound financial practices. And to help more families protect their earnings and build savings, our Department of Consumer Affairs has found five banks and five credits unions that have volunteered to launch bank accounts that will be the first of their kind in the nation.
“We’re calling them ‘NYC Safe Start’ because they won’t require minimum balances, and they won’t charge hidden fees. If you want overdraft protection or other services, you can opt for a traditional account, but with NYC Safe Start, you can’t withdraw more than you’ve got so you can’t be penalized for forgetting your balance.
“With Albany’s approval, we’ll also strengthen neighborhood-friendly credit unions, which reach out to customers who may have never had a bank account. We’ll seek to deposit $25 million in City tax dollars in federally insured and regulated credit unions that pay the same interest rate as commercial banks.
“It’s a relatively small amount of City resources, but it will have a big impact by allowing credit unions to make more loans to more low-income families. We’ll also help open credit unions serving public housing residents, like the one Bishop Taylor is opening in Long Island City this spring. Bishop: You are one banker who truly is doing God’s work.
“As we help New Yorkers keep more of their money in their pockets, we’ll also help more families keep their homes. Thankfully, the level of foreclosures here is much lower than in many other Cities, and our Center for New York City Neighborhoods has played a critical role in keeping that number low.
“This year, we’ll go even further, by launching the most ambitious home foreclosure prevention effort of any city in the nation. We’ll start by setting up a $10 million mortgage assistance fund that will help up to 1,000 middle-class families refinance their mortgages on reasonable terms. The fund – half of which will come from private sources, and half from the Battery Park City Authority – will provide those families with a one-time grant, which we will recover when they sell their homes.
“This will make them eligible for more of the loan modifications that are essential to stabilizing the housing market and allow them to keep their homes. We’re the first City in the country doing this.
“We’ll take an even bigger step by moving $750 million that is already in the capital budget for our New Housing Marketplace plan into a rescue fund for distressed apartment buildings. This will help us reach our goal of constructing or preserving 165,000 units of affordable housing and we’ve already seen how well this approach can work.
“A few months ago in the Bronx, we learned of a landlord who was defaulting on the mortgage and allowing the apartment building to fall into a state of disrepair. This was a very bad situation for the building’s nearly one thousand tenants and it was only going to get worse.
“So we arranged for the building to be sold to a nonprofit developer headed by former New York Met, Mo Vaughn. I’m glad to report that, thanks to him,
repairs are already being made and maintenance at the building has significantly improved.
“Gotta go to Mo! Thank you! So you can’t say the Mets didn’t give us any good news last year!
“As we find new ways to help struggling New Yorkers, we’re also going to stay focused on the bigger economic picture. And that brings us to the second of our four questions: How can we make it easier to open and grow businesses, especially small businesses?
“This is a critically important question for us – because more than any place on Earth, New York is a city for entrepreneurs. People from every corner of the globe come here prepared to risk everything on an idea, an invention, a secret family recipe, and many succeed. In New York, many a thriving business has been built around spicy curries, hot jabeneros, and the perfect pint.
“Speaking of which I want to tell you about Brian McNally and Iain Lake. They put their life savings into opening a friendly neighborhood place called the Black Horse Pub in Brooklyn’s South Slope.
“But before they could open their doors, they first needed an inspection from the Fire Department and the Health Department and the Department of Buildings. As well as a plan review from the Department of Environmental Protection. And, they needed all of that to happen in the right order!
“The utilities couldn’t be turned on until the Fire Department inspection. The Department of Buildings couldn’t issue a certificate of occupancy until Environmental Protection did its review. And so on and so on. It’s enough to drive a new business owner to look for the nearest pub!
“As a pilot initiative we developed with the support of Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council, we stepped in to help. By working with Brian and Iain to coordinate their inspections across all the agencies, we cut at least three months off their waiting time, added three months income to their bottom line and allowed them to start hiring sooner. “I think we can all raise a glass to that! Brian and Iain – here’s to you.
“In 2010, we’re going to take this promising initiative citywide, with a streamlined inspection process that will cut red tape for most new restaurants. And about 4,000 open every year! To help them, we’ll deploy a ‘New Business Acceleration Team’ to help small business owners cut months off their waiting times.
“To make it crystal clear that this is a top priority, this morning I met with the ten commissioners whose agencies interact with small businesses: Small Business Services, Buildings, Fire, Finance, Information Technology, Transportation, Sanitation, Consumer Affairs, Health, and even Environmental Protection! I directed all of the commissioners to work hand-in-glove to begin cutting through the bureaucracy and improving customer service.
“Entrepreneurs are trying to create jobs and business as usual from government is just not acceptable. Almost since the dawn of time, governments have failed to think of the people they serve as customers. People were captive audiences. But now, in an age when people and businesses are more mobile than ever, governments have to be quicker on their feet to keep their customers and attract new ones. Moving generations of bureaucracy won’t be easy, but we’ve never shied away from the tough challenges and we won’t start now!
“New small businesses will also be able to find their own ways to speed up the approval process by visiting our ‘Business Express’ website, which tells you everything you need to know about permits and regulations. This year, we’ll expand it to cover nearly every industry sector in the City.
“Together, these two steps will help more places like the Black Horse Pub start creating jobs and serving New Yorkers more of the world’s most diverse and delicious meals. Hopefully low in salt and with a published calorie count!
“The New Business Acceleration Teams will be part of a broader effort to transform the way all businesses deal with City government, something we’ll again do in partnership with Speaker Quinn and the Council.
“We created 311 to give New Yorkers a single front door to City government and now we’ll begin working to create a similar, single point of contact for small business owners and managers. After all, why should they have to go from one agency to another to fill out different applications for permits and licenses – and to make payments?
“They should be able to do all of those things in one place or electronically, and we’re going to start making it happen.
“We want all New Yorkers, in all communities, to succeed. But to make that a reality, we’ve got to face some very sobering facts about who is succeeding and who is not.
“Just think about this: Across the five boroughs, Black and Hispanic young men have a poverty rate that is 50 percent higher than White and Asian young men. Their rate of unemployment is 60 percent higher. They are two times more likely to not graduate from high school, far more likely to become a teen father and – most troubling of all – more than 90 percent of all young murder victims and perpetrators are Black and Hispanic.
“These statistics aren’t so different from those in other cities, but they are totally unacceptable here. We don’t and won’t accept them! This is New York! We can do better and we will!
“As far as we’ve come in creating an equal opportunity society, we still have plenty of work to do in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream of making the promise of that society a reality in the communities where it is too often viewed as a fantasy.
“So today, our third question is: How can we connect Black and Hispanic young people – especially young men – to the opportunities and support that can lead them to success and allow them to participate in our recovery?
“Over the past four years, our Center for Economic Opportunity has redefined the fight against poverty – and this question is the latest outgrowth of it. To begin answering it, let me tell you the story of one of those young men: Amin Jones, who is 16 years old.
“Amin had been chronically absent from school, arrested for drug possession and he recently became a father. Too often, this story does not end well.
“But last summer, as part of his probation Amin was ordered to participate in our groundbreaking Juvenile Justice Initiative, which provides intensive services for youth offenders. For Amin, that has meant enrolling in a ‘Learning to Work’ vocational program.
“He’s also enrolled in our ‘Fatherhood Initiative’ – a mentoring and support group for new fathers and soon, he’ll be starting culinary training classes.
“Amin, we want you to succeed – and we know you can succeed and you can be a role model to your son and to others. Good luck and thanks for joining us.
“There are many young men like Amin in our City and this year, we’ll bring together business, philanthropic, government, and community leaders to identify new ways to help them get their lives back on track.
“We’ll start by conducting a detailed assessment of all city, state, and federal funding for youth services and we’ll work to connect the people and organizations that are tackling these issues so we can better coordinate our efforts. After all, the New Yorkers in groups like Million Moms Against Gun Violence want the same thing as the cop on the beat and the social worker and by bringing these groups and other groups closer together, we believe we can make a real difference.
“Today, I’m glad to announce that two outstanding New Yorkers – with a tremendous reputation for getting things done, not just talking about them – will help lead our efforts: David Banks, the President and Founding Principal of the Eagle Academy, an all-boys high school, and Ana Oliveira, the President of the New York Women’s Foundation.
“David and Ana will help develop new strategies and public-private partnerships to tackle the problems of unemployment, teen pregnancy, high school dropouts, and crime.
“For instance, we’ll tap into federal stimulus funds in order to place 2,000 young people in private and non-profit jobs this year and, as they earn, we’ll also require them to learn. That means completing programs that will improve their career prospects at the same time that they add valuable work experience to their résumés.
“We’ll also lead a new attack on teen pregnancy taking a more comprehensive and aggressive approach to prevention. Since 2001, teen births in New York City have fallen 14 percent. Now – working with community partners – we’ll broaden our education efforts.
“We’ll improve access to contraceptives in school and community-based clinics and we’ll expand our support of young mothers, so babies like Amin’s grow up in healthy and nurturing environments.
“The most important challenge of all, however, in helping at-risk youth and the toughest challenge – is keeping them away from violence. The stray bullets that killed Kevin Miller in Queens and that – but for a miracle – almost took Vada Vazquez’s life in the Bronx were also warning shots for us all.
“We’re proud to be the nation’s safest big city but we’re far from satisfied. And if we’re going to continue driving down crime, we must help more Black and Hispanic youth reject guns and gangs. We must!
“There are thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds who walk into, and out of, Rikers Island every year and right back to their old ways. This year, we’ll expand our ‘Justice Corps’ to provide more jobs for these young ex-offenders and we’ll get them the mental health attention many of them need.
“But our goal is to reach them earlier – before they end up in jail. And the reality is, staying out of trouble starts with staying in school.
“Truancy is the best signal we have that something is very wrong – and about to get worse. Unfortunately, too many parents miss the signal because they’re never told that their children are skipping day after day of school. That’s wrong – and we will fix it.
“We’ve worked hard to get parents more involved in their children’s education but how can they help if they don’t know there’s a problem?
“This year, we’ll work with parents, teachers, principals, social service providers, and our partners in government to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce truancy and as part of that, we’ll pursue a pilot project to send parents text messages whenever their children are absent.
“We recognize that we’re not going to keep every young person out of trouble, but we believe we can do more to prevent a troubled kid from becoming a hardened criminal.
“In the past few years we’ve shown that by introducing a risk assessment into the system, we can increase detention rates for youth who are most likely to re-offend, while, at the same time, keeping lower-risk kids out of detention – and near their families.
“We found that many juveniles who are sentenced to intensive in-home counseling or other alternative programs – instead of to far more costly upstate facilities that we don't control and that everyone recognizes are dangerously dysfunctional – have fewer run-ins with the law.
“Compare that to this fact: Three of every four who get sent to those out-of-city facilities get re-arrested within three years, often for even more serious crimes. Three out of every four! If that’s not a broken system, I don’t know what is.
“In 2010, we’ll conduct a major overhaul of the juvenile justice system with new strategies, new goals, and new measurements for success. We’ll start by merging two agencies that serve overlapping populations: Our Department of Juvenile Justice – which has the capacity to detain young people and our Administration for Children Services – which has the capacity to provide intensive support services.
“By merging the two, and by employing risk-based strategies, we can make our city safer by providing services for those who should be detained and providing stronger supervision for those who may be at risk of being sent upstate and who can be safely maintained in the community.
“Make no mistake: There will be no coddling. This is an anti-crime strategy based on real data and we’ll measure results carefully. If it doesn’t work, we’ll re-assess the merger and evaluate other options. But just as we’ve done in tackling poverty and public health issues, we are not going to shy away from promising ideas just because they’re new.
“Kids like Amin have enormous potential and it’s our job to give them a hand up, not a hand out, so they have the opportunity to fulfill it!
“Finally, as we stare down a multi-billion dollar deficit, every dollar we save is one we won’t have to cut from the core services we rely on every day, whether it’s schools or police or sanitation or parks.
“And that leads us to the fourth question that demands special focus in 2010: How do we find new ways to stretch every dollar to the limit, making City government more highly efficient, and continuing to bring it into the 21st century?
This is a question that prompts other questions, ones that City government has never asked before. Questions like: Does every agency that has a fleet of vehicles really need its own garages and repair shops? Its own maintenance crews? Its own inventory of parts? The answer is no, and this year, we’ll find new ways to consolidate operations, eliminate redundancies, and achieve cost greater cost savings.
“Also: To reduce redundancies in the agencies, can we centralize some of our human resource functions? And information technology resources? And payment and billing systems? The answer is yes, and this year, we will begin centralizing those operations.
“What about space, you ask? City government owns and leases an enormous amount of real estate. Centralizing some operations will help us reduce our footprint, but that’s just the beginning.
“Today, I’m setting an ambitious but achievable goal for reducing the City’s office space: A roughly 10 percent reduction – or 1.2 million square feet – over the next four years. That will save $36 million in lease costs and $4 million in energy costs each year.
“For example, we’ll consolidate two back offices for the Human Resources Administration, saving taxpayers $3.9 million annually beginning in 2012 – without in any way reducing services. In Long Island City, we’ll begin moving 15 scattered Health Department administrative operations to new green offices that are LEED-certified.
“We’ll look for space that will allow us to bring the City’s land-use oversight agencies together under one roof. And we’ll merge the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting with NYC TV, saving taxpayers money on office space and personnel.
“To achieve all of this, I’m directing Deputy Mayor for Operations Ed Skyler to immediately convene an interagency taskforce. He and Jeff Kay, our director of operations, will present me with a concrete strategy for action by June 1st.
“This is a long-term effort – but we’ll begin realizing savings in the coming fiscal year. Bringing City government into the 21st century also means maximizing the power of technology. We’ve used technology to improve service in every agency, from our Real Time Crime Center, to our electronic health records, to the 911 Emergency Call Center, which has cut fire response times to record lows. Now we’ll roll out a feature on www.nyc.gov that will let New Yorkers with automated meters track and better control how much water they use, saving them real money.
“We’ll help parents save time – and aggravation – by starting a pilot program to install GPS devices on City school buses. I’ve heard from parents how frustrating it can be to wait endlessly for the school bus without knowing where it is. We want them to know exactly where it is, and even to receive text messages when the bus is approaching their stop.
“We’ll also give out bracelets embedded with GPS, so families can locate seniors with Alzheimer’s – or children with special needs – if they ever wander off. Having a loved one go missing is terrifying and potentially tragic. If we can help families avoid it, we should – and we will.
“In the year ahead, we’ll also launch ‘my nyc.gov’, a new feature on our home page that will allow you to customize the information from City agencies that matters most to you. Maybe that’s information on neighborhood crime, or park cleanliness, or housing opportunities, or alternate side parking rules, or the status of your 311 complaints. Whatever the case, this is your City, and your City government, and that’s what this web site is all about.
“We’ll find other ways to integrate new technologies into every area of City government. This year, more City agencies will begin using social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, not to follow the latest tweet from the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’ but to foster an ongoing conversation with New Yorkers and improve the services we deliver.
“In fact, we’re empowering New Yorkers to use technology to improve customer service on their own, through a competition we launched last October called NYC Big Apps. We invited members of the public to use City data to create web or mobile applications that make government services more accessible, and this year, we’ll launch a second round with even more data.
“The contestants this year are competing for cash prizes totaling $20,000 – and dinner with the mayor. Today, I’m pleased to announce the first winning team: NYC Way, which created an iPhone App that allows you to view not only upcoming City events, but also restaurant inspection results, and even live DOT traffic feeds. Several of the team members are here with us today, and I’d like to invite them to stand.
“Now about that dinner… I know a great pub in the South Slope! What do you say?
“The spirit of innovation and enterprise that fuels the Big Apps competition is encoded in the very DNA of this City. And it’s that spirit that gives me confidence we can meet all the challenges we face, including those highlighted by our four questions: helping struggling New Yorkers find jobs and financial security, helping small business owners open their doors, helping our most troubled, at-risk young people build their futures, and the future of our City. And helping City government provide better service –
at lower costs.
“Why am I so sure we can do it? Well, I suppose that’s the fifth question. And that answer is the easiest of all. Simply ask the people behind me, or up above, or the people around you. New Yorkers – the New Yorkers I’ve met in Astoria, and in Bushwick, and New Dorp, and Throgs Neck, and Harlem, and every other neighborhood. We always say we love this City, because we do, with all our hearts.
“But there’s actually two distinct parts to that feeling. We all love our own corners of New York, our communities, our parks, the streets we live on and the neighbors we know. But there’s something else we love about this City, too: the possibilities.
“And that’s a feeling that doesn’t just belong to us.
“A little over 400 years ago, Henry Hudson sailed into our harbor looking for success in a new world, and since that day, the world has never stopped coming. Your ancestors and mine, dreamers from every corner of the earth.
“This City belongs to us – and to them. It belongs to everyone who ever hoped to make a brand new start of it, whether they’ve followed an explorer named Hudson across the Atlantic, or a singer named Sinatra across the Hudson.
“However you arrive, you arrive knowing: this is the place where you can achieve anything, do anything, be anything. And ‘if you can make it here,’ that’s right – say it with me, ‘you’ll make it anywhere!’
“That’s how it’s always been, and I’m telling you, that’s how it will always be. In a City defined by change, the magic of our hometown is the one constant. And we will never let that change.“Now, together let’s rise to the challenges of a new term and a new decade, and keep our City, here it is – you knew this was coming – ‘King of the Hill, Top of the Heap, A-Number-One.’ It’s up to us: New York, New York! Thank you all, and God bless.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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