FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2013
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS 2013 STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's 2013 State of the City address as prepared for delivery at Barclays Center. Please check against delivery.
"Thank you, Marty - and happy 36th birthday to you, too. Speaker Quinn and members of the City Council, Public Advocate de Blasio, Comptroller Liu, Borough Presidents, District Attorneys, Mayor Dinkins and distinguished guests, let me begin by acknowledging someone who is here with us in spirit: the mayor who redefined the job and restored the arc of our city's history: my friend and yours, Ed Koch.
"The state of our city would certainly not be the same without him. Let me also thank everyone here on staff at the Barclays Center. Of the 2,000 people employed here, our Workforce One Centers helped 1,100 of them find their jobs. Nearly 75 percent of them are Brooklyn residents and because of the outreach we did, about one-third are NYCHA residents. That's only right - because after all, one of the owners here grew up in Marcy Houses. His name is Shawn Carter, and if you don't recognize that name, you may know him by what he's been called since the Super Bowl: Beyoncé's husband.
"Now, the Barclays Center is the latest sign of just how hot Brooklyn has become. Of course, not long ago, this arena was nothing more than a glimmer in Marty Markowitz's eye. NBA basketball and NHL hockey? In Brooklyn? According to Marty, everyone told him 'Fuhgeddaboudit!'
"But not us. And here we are. Against all the odds, despite all the legal challenges, despite all the naysayers and NIMBYers, here we are. And as we speak, the first residential tower at Atlantic Yards is rising, and it will have nearly 200 affordable apartments. Marty - Mr. Brooklyn - and Bruce Ratner, who made it all happen, stand up for a well-deserved round of applause.
"Over the past eleven years, we have beaten the odds, and the obstructionists, over and over again, not just here in Brooklyn, but in neighborhoods all across the city. For instance, back in 2002, we were told that you couldn't bring crime down any further without locking up more people. But today, murders and shootings are at new record lows - and, so are incarceration rates.
"Back then, we were told businesses would flee the city after 9/11. Today, there are a record number of jobs in our city - and Lower Manhattan is more full of life than ever.
"Back then, we were told the school system could never be fixed. Today, graduation rates are up by 41 percent - compared to just nine percent in the rest of the state.
"Back then, we were told that Manhattan would always be the prime driver of job growth. But today, job growth is happening fastest outside of Manhattan, and it exceeds the national average in all five boroughs.
"Again and again, we have defied the conventional wisdom. We've gone from having the sixth highest poverty rate among the 20 largest cities to having the eighth lowest - and we've reduced the welfare rolls by 22 percent. We went into the recent national recession later than the rest of the country, and we came out sooner and stronger. We've added more than 750 acres to our parks and turned New York City into an international leader on green growth and climate change.
"We've raised life expectancy to record highs - far outpacing the national average - and we've cut teen pregnancy to record lows. We've reduced fire fatalities and traffic fatalities and emergency response times to record lows. And we've built the largest and most sophisticated counter-terrorism operation of any police department in the country.
"As a result of all this work, even though we're still recovering from the most devastating natural disaster in our entire history, each of the five boroughs is better off today than ever before and the state of our city has never been stronger!
"But as far as we've come, our work is not done. We have unfinished business - and only 320 days to complete it. As the countdown clock in City Hall says: we're going to Make Every Day Count.
"Our goal is not to spend the year cutting ribbons. It's much bigger than that: Our goal is to advance projects - and start new ones - that will keep our city on the right course for decades to come. And to do that, we'll take on the toughest jobs - and the most politically difficult jobs.
"The special interests and campaign donors have never had less power than they've had over the past 11 years. And this year, we're going to show just how true that is.
"That's why 2013 will be our busiest - and most important - year yet.
"Today, I'd like to share our plans for how we'll keep New York City on course for a brighter future. And this is the perfect place to do it, here at Atlantic Yards - the largest development project in Brooklyn's history.
"Remember: after the courts stopped the Westway highway project in the early 1980s, you'd often hear people say that big projects like this were no longer possible in New York City. And for a long time, that certainly seemed to be largely true. But not anymore. Over the past 11 years, working with our partners in the City Council and in Albany, we have overcome the defeatists and shown that this big city of big dreams can still get big things done.
"In fact, this year we'll complete the second stage of the single largest construction project in the City's entire history: the Third Water Tunnel. When we open it, it will be a dramatic reflection of our commitment to funding vital infrastructure projects in good times and bad and an incredible testament to all the sandhogs who built it and deserve our thanks for the dangerous work that they do every day.
"The Third Water Tunnel is just one of many big projects that are supporting our economy, growing our tax base, and making our communities better places to live. On Staten Island, thanks to support from Borough President Molinaro and Minority Leader Oddo, we're building the largest new park since the 1930s at Fresh Kills.
"At Ocean Breeze on Staten Island, we'll finish construction of one of the largest track and field complexes on the East Coast - and our largest PlaNYC recreational center.
"Across the bay in Lower Manhattan, next to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the Port Authority is completing 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the
"In midtown, we're helping the New York Public Library build the largest circulating and research library in the world.
"At Hudson Yards, the MTA will finish construction on the Number 7 train extension, the first new subway track to be funded by the City in 50 years - and the catalyst to the most ambitious development ever undertaken in our City.
"Next door, the High Line - once slated for demolition - will complete its third leg next year.
"All of these projects will strengthen our economy and our communities. All over the city, we're renewing our landscape in ways that create good jobs for New Yorkers today, and position us to lead the innovation economy of tomorrow.
"On Roosevelt Island, we've set the stage for Cornell University to build an entirely new applied science and engineering campus, maybe the most exciting economic development project
"In West Harlem, we've set the stage for Columbia University to build an entirely new campus, which will increase the size of its engineering faculty by 50 percent. And we've helped New York University, Fordham University, and the City University of New York all embark on major expansions of their campuses.
"Never before in our city's history has there been so much university expansion and never before has there been so much scientific investment. This year, we'll finish construction on the next phase of the BioBat Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We'll open a $50 million Genome Research Center in Lower Manhattan. At the East River Science Park, not only will we complete the next major phase of construction, a major pharmaceutical company, Roche, will move 200 research jobs from New Jersey there. And we'll move forward with our plans for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility and a new health science center for CUNY's Hunter College. All of this university and scientific investment is generating jobs - not only for those who will work in the labs, but for all those who will build and operate them and for all of the small businesses that will surround them.
"As you know, many of the biggest economic and community renewal projects we've undertaken have been along our waterfront. Just look at the East River. From Long Island City and Hunters Point South - where Borough President Helen Marshall has helped us create new housing and jobs to Greenpoint and Williamsburg and DUMBO we have re-zoned old industrial areas and brought them back to life.
"The old piers below Brooklyn Bridge - largely abandoned for decades - are now a spectacular park. This year, we'll open two new sections of the park and we'll transform two 19th century warehouses within the park into modern spaces for culture and commerce.
"Governors Island - closed to the public for two centuries - has become one of the most popular getaways in the city. And now we'll open a beautiful new 30-acre park on the island. We've also invited businesses and nonprofits to establish a year-round presence there and help restore and adapt the island's historic buildings.
"At the Homeport on Staten Island - mostly unused since 1994 - we'll finally break ground this year on a new community that will create housing and jobs for local residents. Not far away at Saint George, we'll move forward with our plan to build the world's largest Ferris wheel, and a major shopping complex, bringing more visitors - and jobs - to Staten Island.
"We'll bring more people and jobs to another great island - Coney Island. Neglected for decades, Coney has undergone a dramatic comeback - thanks our partnership with Marty and Councilman Dominic Recchia. This summer will be the best one yet, as we open the new Steeplechase Plaza.
"Now, let me ask you: is there anyone who still believes that New York City can't get big things done? Since we're here in Brooklyn, I'll say it again: Fuhgeddaboudit.
"For the first time since La Guardia was mayor and FDR created the WPA, we're not only conceiving big plans that fundamentally change the landscape of our city, we're achieving them. We're taking a city built mostly before World War II and renewing it for the needs of New Yorkers today and tomorrow. But we still have plenty of unfinished business in all five boroughs.
"In the Bronx, we'll work with Borough President Diaz to bring new life - and good jobs - back to the Kingsbridge Armory. In Queens, we'll work with Major League Soccer to bring soccer back to our city for the first time since the Cosmos left in 1977.
"At Willets Point - ignored by the City since Robert Moses failed to turn it into parkland - we'll work with Borough President Marshall to begin the process of cleaning it up and bringing jobs and open space to the community - and down the road, hopefully even a convention center.
"In Manhattan, we'll bring to life two projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades: redeveloping the South Street Seaport and developing the sites around Seward Park on the Lower East Side, and I want to thank the community board and the local elected officials for their great work on that project.
"In Brooklyn, we'll begin creating a new community called Greenpoint Landing - with more than 5,000 new homes, parks and open space, a marina, a public school and shops. Just a little south of there, we'll move forward with a plan to turn the old Domino Sugar Plant into new housing and we'll create the commercial space that Brooklyn's growing tech community needs.
"At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we'll work with the State to help Steiner Studios begin creating a 50-acre new media campus. The campus will eventually provide 2,500 good jobs in film, television and tech - two of the fastest-growing industries in our city.
"We've already turned the Navy Yard into the most successful urban industrial park in the country, but it still has dozens of unused acres with crumbling historic buildings. This media campus will preserve many of those buildings - while also creating the jobs we need for our future.
"We'll take the same approach - historic preservation balanced with new development - in East Midtown. Right now, zoning regulations around Grand Central effectively prohibit development of even a few iconic new buildings - even though the area has the best mass transit links in the entire country. If we do nothing, the area will cease to be a world-class business district, and we'll lose out on good jobs and tax revenues.
"Two weeks ago, we celebrated Grand Central's 100th birthday - thanks to Jackie Kennedy Onassis and so many others who stepped forward and saved it in the 1970s. Now it's up to us to ensure that the area around it remains a vital part of our city's growth for the next 100 years.
"We won't rush the re-zoning - but we won't allow obstructionists to run out the clock, either. This is too important for our future. And given all the politics and special interests, if we don't do it this year, it may never get done. We can't let that happen.
"Our economic development strategy for the year ahead also includes one of our most important industries: arts and culture. We know from experience that the arts revitalize communities and spur investment.
"That's why this year, we'll complete a new gallery and auditorium at the Staten Island Museum, and a new homes for three organizations in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District: The Theater for a New Audience, BRIC and Urban Glass.
"We'll also undertake what may be our most exciting project yet - called Culture Shed. It will be built as part of Related's development at Hudson Yards, and it will be an arts and cultural center like no other in the world.
"Designed by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, with Rockwell Group, it will be a magnet for artists and audiences both from the local neighborhood and from around the world and, as you can see, it's pretty spectacular.
"All the projects I just mentioned will create thousands of jobs - both construction jobs and permanent jobs, entry level jobs and middle class jobs - jobs that will keep our city strong and growing. Even though these projects will take years, and even decades, to be fully realized, there is no time like the present to act - and we will move full steam ahead.
"We'll take the same approach to the single most important piece of unfinished business that lies ahead of us in 2013: rebuilding the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy - and creating a more resilient and sustainable city.
"Forty-three New Yorkers lost their lives in that storm, and it's up to us to do all we can to prevent that from happening again.
"After the storm passed, it was clear that the houses and businesses most damaged by Hurricane Sandy were built decades ago, while those that were built in the last few years, or are now being built, held up pretty well.
"That was no accident. Our administration has fundamentally changed the way we conduct waterfront development. But Sandy raised the bar - and now we must rise to the occasion.
"This year, we'll develop a long-term plan so that when extreme weather hits - we'll be able to get the lights back on quickly and ensure that the heat keeps working, the gas stations stay open, the hospitals maintain power and the transportation system keeps operating.
"By the end of May, Seth Pinsky, who is leading this effort, will deliver a report on how we can better protect our city from extreme weather events. But as I've said: we're a coastal city, so we cannot - and will not - abandon the waterfront.
"We will not cut our city off from the natural asset that has made us great. That was the mistake Robert Moses made - and one that we have been working so hard to undo.
"We will build back stronger. We will build back safer. We will build back more sustainably. But we'll build back here.
"For instance, we're working with the State on an innovative program that will preserve and protect vital wetlands, while also enabling more efficient economic development along our city's waterfront.
"Working with the National Parks Service and the Rockefeller Foundation, we'll develop plans for a world-class science and resilience center on Jamaica Bay that will be the premier institute for the study of coastal environments and climate change.
"To help improve the resiliency of our parks and beaches, we'll launch a Conservation Corps, financed privately through the Mayor's Fund, to train the next generation of Park stewards and leaders.
"And to show that Sandy can't stop us from enjoying our coastline, I will pledge to you now: we'll open all of our beaches on Memorial Day weekend this year, just as we always do.
"We're doing everything possible to help the hardest-hit communities - and I can't say enough good things about how our workforce responded to Sandy: Sanitation and Transportation; Fire and Police; Buildings and Small Business Services; Health and Homeless Services; Parks and NYC Service.
"I could go on and on, because employees in every agency, and so many volunteers, gallantly rose to the occasion. We have a few members with us today representing their departments, and I think they deserve a big round of applause.
"I also want to thank the private contractors who stepped up and helped us create Rapid Repairs - a program no city had ever created. Since the day we finished our first repair in the Rockaways on November 24, we have restored heat or power to more than 17,000 homes.
"FEMA tells us it's the fastest home recovery program they have ever seen. And I'd like to thank our Rapid Repairs team and construction manager, Kathryn Mallon, and our Director of Housing Recovery, Brad Gair, for their outstanding work on it.
"We'll continue to stand with all the residents affected by the storm, and that goes for public housing residents, as well. Hurricane Sandy made painfully clear just how much NYCHA's aging housing stock is suffering from decades of federal disinvestment.
"Two weeks ago, NYCHA announced a new action plan to virtually eliminate their backlog of work orders. But the fact is: there's just not enough federal money to maintain the buildings.
"We can either allow them to crumble, or knock them down, or find new revenue for repairs and capital investments. I know which is right for New York: our Administration will not walk away from public housing.
"To raise the revenue NYCHA residents deserve, we'll begin the process of developing new housing at underdeveloped NYCHA sites. You know, some people in elected office and in the press have taken cheap shots at NYCHA in recent months. But none of them have offered a plan to fix the revenue problem.
"Many small businesses are also suffering as a result of Sandy. Today, I'm happy to announce that for all businesses in the hardest-hit areas, I will sign an executive order waiving all city fees for Sandy-related repair work and we'll work with Speaker Quinn and the City council to waive all fees that require legislation.
"We need our businesses to recover as quickly as possible, and we'll make sure government doesn't stand in their way.
"Instead, we'll spend our time helping more people in the hardest-hit areas who are out of work find jobs. In Red Hook and other communities, our Workforce One centers helped more than 1,200 residents find jobs cleaning up storm damage in parks and public housing.
"But that's just the beginning. Today, I'm announcing that our Center for Economic Opportunity will spend $1 million to support non-profit groups that will put 1,000 more unemployed New Yorkers immediately to work on hurricane relief and recovery projects.
"As part of our Young Men's Initiative, which is funded with public and private money we'll also hire up to 70 teenaged probation clients to do hurricane recovery work this spring - making a positive difference for our city and for themselves. We'll also encourage construction companies that are repairing and rebuilding storm-struck areas to hire the unemployed from those communities.
"Of course, the best way to reduce unemployment - and keep young people out of trouble is to continue improving our schools. Since 2005, as I mentioned earlier, we've raised high school graduation rates by 40 percent while they've gone up only 9 percent in the rest of the state.
"At the same time, our college readiness rate has doubled even as our dropout rate has been cut in half. But we know how much unfinished business we have - because our goal is empower all of our children to achieve their dreams.
"Success in college and careers requires good writing and critical thinking skills as well as good math and science skills. Unfortunately, the State has never tested for them. I've supported basing standards on those skills for many years and I'm glad to say that the State has now done that, by adopting what's known as the Common Core standards. Starting this spring, State exams for grades 3-8 will test for these critical skills.
"They'll give teachers and parents the information they need to keep students on track for success. Make no mistake: the tests will be different and harder and they will establish an entirely new baseline for measuring student performance. They won't be compared to past years' test results.
"But no matter where the definition of proficiency is arbitrarily set on the new tests I expect that our students' progress will continue outpacing the rest of the State's the only meaningful measurement of progress we have.
"Time and time again over the last decade, we have raised the bar and our students and teachers have cleared it and our black and Hispanic students have helped lead the way. Now, we'll accelerate their progress by selecting 12-15 leaders to design eight new high schools based on the most promising college readiness strategies. It will be a year-long fellowship sponsored by our Young Men's Initiative. And afterwards, the fellows will become leaders at the schools they designed.
"Fellows can come from any field from education experts to entrepreneurs and their new schools will enroll students primarily from five neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and low rates of college readiness: Harlem, East New York, Brownsville, Jamaica and the South Bronx.
"Children in every neighborhood deserve great schools, and no matter who stands in their way, we will fight to deliver for them. We will not give up on any child. One of the reasons we've been able to increase graduation and college readiness rates is that we've created many more high quality school options.
"We've opened 576 new schools over the past 11 years, and we're on track to have added 100,000 new classroom seats by the end of this year. 149 of those new schools have been charters and yet there are still more than 50,000 children who are still on charter school waiting lists. Those children and their parents have waited long enough.
"This September, we'll open 26 new charters and we'll work to approve many more for 2014. Some of them will be located within existing public school buildings even though there are special interests who want to prohibit that from happening.
"But as we all know, charter schools are public schools and their students deserve access to public school facilities. How dare the special interests try to lock out our children. We are one city and one public school system and we will not tolerate those who try to deny resources to some public school children.
"That's why we've also put our bus contracts out to bid. For more than 30 years, the unions and the bus companies have had a virtual monopoly on the contracts. This week, we received the opening bids for the new contracts and there's the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. We will plow that money back into our schools where it belongs.
"I'm glad to report that every day more and more buses are on the road transporting our students to school. I urge all bus drivers to return to work and I urge Local 1181 leaders to recognize their strike is a lost cause, and to stop hurting our children and their members.
"If you notice, we haven't had a lot of political support in taking this issue on. But that's exactly why we're doing it: because it's the right thing to do and if we don't do it now it may never get done. And our children will be worse off for another three decades. We won't let that happen.
"To prepare our students for success, we'll also create new schools that connect students directly to college and work. In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted our partnership with IBM and CUNY to create a high school that includes two years of college which we call grades 13 and 14. When students graduate, they receive an associate's degree - and an interview at IBM. The President wants to see more of these types of schools across the country. And we'll deliver.
"We'll create a high school with grades 9 through 14 in the South Bronx, focused on the health care industry; and we'll create one in Long Island City focused on the energy industry. Both industries are growing in our city.
"And since no industry is growing more rapidly than our tech sector we'll open our second Academy for Software Engineering high school. With private support, we'll also bring computer science classes to 20 more schools next September. And we'll begin giving more adults the chance to learn computer science skills, as well.
"Today, I've directed Deputy Mayor Bob Steel and Small Business Services Commissioner Rob Walsh to work with the tech industry, universities, and the nonprofit sector to develop an intensive computer science training program for our adults who want to learn IT skills. And why not do it right here in Downtown Brooklyn? There are now 500 tech companies just between here and the NAVY Yard. We'll work to connect more New Yorkers to the jobs they're creating.
"And to further expand New York's role as a global tech hub, we'll launch a competition to install Wi-Fi in more of our Business Improvement Districts. Our work to create a tech-friendly city is a big reason we've been leading the nation in job growth and the majority of jobs we've been creating are middle-class jobs that pay good salaries.
"As I mentioned earlier, most of the jobs we've been creating are outside of Manhattan. In fact, over the past decade, the job growth rate in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx has been nearly double that of Manhattan and for every five businesses that existed outside of Manhattan a decade ago, there's now a sixth. The hotel industry is a good example. Over the past six years, 72 new hotels have been built outside of Manhattan alone. The reason is simple: all of our boroughs have great attractions to offer, and we've dramatically increased the number of visitors who want to visit them. Last year, a record 52 million people visited and we're working to make sure all parts of our city benefit from these guests.
"Even though we've become the number one tourism destination in the country we still have unfinished business. Right now, we're missing out on an important piece of the market: the young people who have an itch to get out and see the world on modest budgets. Hotels in our city can be out of their price range.
"So working with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we'll pass legislation to make New York a more youth-friendly tourism destination by legalizing the for-profit youth hostels that are so common in much of Europe. Our goal is to attract 175,000 more young tourists to our city each year which will create more than 1,000 new jobs for New Yorkers.
"New York City has always been a magnet for visitors and for immigrants. We welcome all immigrants from all countries and from every age group. Whatever you may think of the immigration debate, the children of immigrants who come here or stay here illegally have done nothing wrong. And yet right now, when these children graduate from high school even if they've earned straight as even if they're tops in their classes they're not eligible to receive any State financial aid to go to college. The state is effectively saying to these students: we're not deporting you. But we're not letting you succeed here, either even though our economy wants you and needs you. That's about as dumb a policy as I can think of and we must change it this year.
"Therefore, our top priority in Albany will be passing the DREAM Act which will make college affordable for thousands more young people who deserve the chance to go and who will help build the future of our city and country. New York City has always been the face of immigration to the rest of the country and now we must be the face of immigration reform by passing the DREAM Act in this session.
"We have unfinished business not only in Albany but in Washington. And not only on immigration, but on another issue critical to our survival: illegal guns.
"In recent years, we've built bi-partisan coalitions of mayors and business leaders to support common sense reforms to our immigration and gun laws. We've made some real progress and I'm hopeful that this year we'll see real change. But it won't happen unless all of us make our voices heard. Tell your members of Congress and tell your friends across the country to tell their members: we have had enough.
"Our immigration laws are destroying our economy and our future. Our guns laws are destroying our families and our communities. Tell Congress to stop scapegoating immigrants and coddling criminals. America is better than that. Tell them to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Tell them to pass common sense gun reforms this year.
"No more excuses no more gridlock. We've waited long enough. Let's get it done.
"Attacking illegal guns here in New York City has helped us drive crime down to record lows. And we haven't done it by locking more people up just the opposite. While the incarceration rate across America has increased by 6 percent over the past decade here in New York City, we've reduced it by 32 percent. We've done it through pro-active, targeted policing that prevents crime and that includes stopping and questioning people who are acting suspiciously or who fit the description of a suspect.
"I understand that innocent people don't like to be stopped. But innocent people don't like to be shot and killed, either. Stops take hundreds of guns off the street each year.
"Today, we are collecting fewer guns, but that is not an excuse to stop it - it is a reason to continue it. Because the possibility of a stop is what scares would-be bad guys into not carrying guns. And if we never find a gun again in a stop, wouldn't that be wonderful?
"Commissioner Kelly has adopted training and accountability policies to ensure that police officers conduct stops legally, appropriately, and respectfully but make no mistake: We have a responsibility to conduct them and as long as I am mayor, we will not shirk from it.
"Think about it: if New York City had Detroit's murder rate last year, 4,092 more New Yorkers would have been murdered last year. That's every person in this room and enough to fill up a few thousands seats in the arena behind me. We know stops save lives. Is there anyone here who would sacrifice his or her life, and the lives of their family and friends, to end stops? I don't think so.
"We can't let politics trump public safety and for the next 320 days at least, we won't.
"We'll keep the pressure on criminals this year and we'll do more than ever to help victims, including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Today is not only Valentine's Day - it is a day to raise awareness about violence against women. Here in the city, we've made tackling this terrible problem a special priority. We've cut rape and domestic violence significantly, but not enough.
"This year, we'll open our fourth Family Justice Center where victims of domestic violence can get all the services and support they need in one safe place. We'll work with DA Cy Vance on a new program that will pair police officers with mental health professionals who will work together to help those who are most at-risk.
"Domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes that thrive on secrecy. So we'll intensify efforts to encourage more victims to come forward to give them the support they need, and to stop those heinous crimes from happening to others. Prevention is our number one goal in every area of public safety including juvenile justice.
"Two years ago, as part of our Young Men's Initiative, we helped convince the State to stop sending many juvenile offenders to upstate facilities that were failing them in every possible way. Our Close to Home program keeps these young people connected to their families and communities. It's been a big success so far, and we'll expand it this year.
"But we know that there's more we can do to keep New Yorkers, particularly young men, from ending up with a criminal record. Commissioner Kelly and I support Governor Cuomo's proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor and we'll work to help him pass it this year. But we won't wait for that to happen.
"Right now, those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana are often held in custody overnight. We're changing that. Effective next month, anyone presenting an ID and clearing a warrant check will be released directly from the precinct with a desk appearance ticket to return to court. It's consistent with the law, it's the right thing to do and it will allow us to target police resources where they're needed most.
"We'll also target our resources in helping those who are discharged from jail stay on the right path. For the first time, we'll begin paying nonprofit providers based on their success in helping offenders get jobs, earn GEDs, and stay clean -- instead of just showing up for appointments.
"Performance-based contracting has helped us drive the welfare caseload down to record levels and we're hopeful this new program can help us drive recidivism down to record lows. We'll also attack recidivism by using data and risk-management strategies to target resources where they are needed most.
"Using data to tackle problems has helped us to improve services across city government. This year, the data analytics team we created at City Hall will launch a new platform that will improve the way all agencies share information. To lead this effort, I'll appoint the city's first ever Chief Analytics Officer, Michael Flowers. And he'll make as much of this data as possible public, so that the tech community can hold us accountable.
"We'll also ask the tech community to join us in tackling data projects that can improve public services, by creating something we call Code Corps.
"We're already the most tech-friendly, transparent government in the country and now we're raising the bar again. We'll make New York City a national leader in another new technology:
"We'll add 50 more electric vehicles to the city's fleet of cars, and we'll put the first six fully electric taxis on the road - with the goal of making one-third of our taxi fleet electric by 2020. We'll also make permanent the East River ferry service that we started in partnership with
"And the biggest change to our transportation network in ages is coming this summer:
"All of these transportation initiatives will help us achieve one of PlaNYC's top goals: giving New York the cleanest air of any big city in the country. Remember: Clean air means you live longer. Even if you don't care about climate change, cleaning our air is good for your health.
"Speaking of climate change, we've reduced our carbon footprint by 16 percent in just five years. Now, we'll challenge the city's leading corporations to join City government in cutting their carbon footprints by 30 percent in ten years.
"We'll also take major new steps toward another important sustainability goal that we've set: Doubling the city's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017. Under Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty's leadership, we've created a comprehensive plan to achieve that goal. It starts with making recycling easier for everyone - by putting 1,000 new recycling containers on streets in all five boroughs this year. We'll also make it possible to recycle more plastics.
"As part of our solid waste management plan, a private company - SIMS - will open the largest household recycling plant in North America on the Sunset Park waterfront. The facility is raised four feet above grade - and came through Sandy just fine. When it opens this spring, it will accept all kinds of plastics - from salad containers to CD cases. It will create up to 100 jobs and have a state of the art education center to teach children about recycling. In addition, the plant will be powered by one of the largest solar installations in our city - and the largest wind turbine to operate here since the Dutch built windmills in New Amsterdam. The CEO of the SIMS recycling center, Bob Kellman, is in the audience today, and I want to thank him for helping us build a greener future.
"As we recycle more plastics, we'll also tackle New York City's final recycling frontier:
"We'll also take food recycling in schools citywide. There is no better way to teach the next generation about the importance of recycling than to make it a part of their school day routine. It has been phenomenally successful where we've tried it - and I want to thank all the parents who were so supportive. I know some of them are with us today - please stand up so we can give you a hand.
"Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it's not just terrible for the environment. It's terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed.
"Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without. So with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don't worry: the doggie bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine.
"As ambitious as our agenda is this year, we'll pursue it with the same fiscal discipline that has helped us to weather the national recession better than most other cities. We'll balance our budget, we'll do more with less, and we will not raise taxes. In my 2009 campaign, I pledged we would not raise taxes on New Yorkers - and we haven't. We will continue living within our means - and we will not burden the next mayor with contracts the city cannot afford. We'll also continue to take the long view, even with only a short amount of time left. And with that approach, we will keep our city on course for success.
"In neighborhoods across every borough, we'll create the new jobs that New Yorkers need today while also building the economy of the future.
"We'll construct the new housing and parks that families need today, while also laying the foundation for entirely new communities. We'll create the top-quality schools and safe streets that every child and every adult deserves today, while also keeping the next generation of young men out of jail and in college and careers. We'll clean our air, open our waterfront, and make our city more sustainable today, while also preparing us for the new world of climate change.
"And we'll push Congress to stand up to the extremists and special interests and to stand with every family who has been affected by gun violence and every person who comes here to pursue the American dream. We've never had a better chance in Washington - and together, we've got to do it this year.
"By working to finish all this work, we can create a new beginning for the city we love. But for now, the unfinished business awaits. Or, in the words of a poet: we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.
"So let's all get back to work. City employees: this is not a half day. We've only got 320 days left and we've got a lot to do.
"Together, let's make our city the very best it can be. Let's go get them. Thank you all for coming."
Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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