Check Against Delivery:
Freeing the Economy from Organized Crime and Restoring Open, Competitive
Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani
Thursday, October 23, 1997
Over the past four years, we've worked hard to create a climate in which New York City's businesses can thrive. We've realized that government's role is to ensure that there are open and competitive markets and to give businesses the freedom and the confidence to grow on their own. When businesses flourish, they create jobs, and the City becomes a stronger place.
Under this philosophy, a City that had lost over 320,000 private sector jobs during the previous administration has created over 170,000 private sector jobs in the last four years. The growth rate in private sector employment over the last four years is greater than it's been over any other four year period in the City's history, and private sector job growth this year is projected to be the largest the City has seen in 13 years. We've turned the direction of the City around.
We've been able to move forward together because, block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood, people are no longer afraid to open businesses. Businesspeople are no longer afraid that every investment they make in their communities will be fundamentally jeopardized by crime.
New York City has turned around. Between 1990 and 1993, over 2,000 people were murdered in the City on average every year. Now, fewer than 1,000 New Yorkers are victims of homicide each year -- that's still far too many, but the difference means that literally thousands of people who would have been murdered are instead walking the streets and leading productive lives. Just four years ago, we were known as one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Now, that's all changed. The F.B.I. recently named us the safest city in the nation with a population over 1 million people. Just four years ago, hardworking New Yorkers were forced to live with harassment by people trying to squeegee their windshields, streets that had become overcrowded by street vendors, too many sex shops too close to schools and churches, and dozens of other problems that greatly compromised our quality of life.
We've proven that reducing crime and improving the quality of life -- besides being the right things to do -- are also the keys to stimulating New York City's economy. When New York City is free to show its strengths to the rest of the country and the rest of the world, we do not disappoint. We excel.
To give businesses the freedom they need to flourish, we've reduced taxes more than any administration in the history of New York City -- lifting the government-imposed burdens that have stifled our growth. We eliminated or significantly reduced the commercial rent tax, and reduced the hotel occupancy tax -- which was previously the highest in the nation. We offered two highly successful "sales tax vacations" on clothing purchases, which allowed us to lobby successfully in Albany for a permanent exemption from the tax on all items under $100, excluding footwear, beginning in 1999. Over the next few years we will continue fighting to eliminate this regressive tax for all items of clothing under $500, including footwear.
And just last week, I proposed two additional tax reform initiatives to ease the government's burden on businesses and families. We will lobby Albany to provide more targeted tax relief for small corporations by reducing the unfair double taxation on owners of "S" corporations. And we'll also seek a "Child and Dependent Care Credit" for mothers and fathers who must pay for child care or dependent care while they work or look for work.
With each of these reductions, City government is getting out of the way of business and reinvesting in the hardworking New Yorkers who make this the most successful city in the nation.
We've also tackled another type of tax, one that had become a way of life in New York City -- the "mob tax" imposed on our businesses. For decades, key industries in New York City had been deeply tainted by the presence of organized crime -- intimidating legitimate, law-abiding businesspeople and driving up prices for the entire City. Organized crime exacted a profound toll on the vitality of those industries and created the perception here and around the country that New York City was not serious about creating fair, open, and sustainable markets.
The mob tax inflated prices for everyone, lowered the quality of goods and services, and forced too many honest people to live in fear. The perception and reality of this problem provided yet another reason for businesses and investors -- and jobs -- to stay away from New York City.
It wasn't that the organized crime leaders weren't being prosecuted -- I know they were, because I was among those doing the prosecuting -- but that people had come to accept the presence and influence of organized crime as intractable.
The day before yesterday, a jury convicted two of the leaders of the Mafia cartel and four corporate defendants for their roles in holding New York City's private carting industry hostage. The organized crime leaders, Joseph Francolino, Sr., and Alphonse Malangone, were found guilty of 44 criminal counts between them, including the top charge of Enterprise Corruption. They could each face up to 25 years in prison. These convictions are the culmination of a five-year investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney and the N.Y.P.D. -- an investigation that has now resulted in 16 organized crime associates, 23 corporations, and four trade associations pleading guilty to crimes including grand larceny by extortion, coercion, anti-trust violations.
In the past, cynics looked at similar rulings and said, "That's just the way New York City is." They thought that the carting industry, and great and important institutions like the Fulton Fish Market and the San Gennaro Festival, would always be under mob influence. To make matters worse, City government helped create this perception and effectively perpetuated organized crime's control through inaction, neglect, or ineffective regulation that hindered competition.
Today, we can look at this Tuesday's convictions with the confidence that these organized crime leaders will not be replaced by other mobsters who will keep the basic structure of corruption in place.
Why? Because over the past four years, we've changed the attitude of City government. We've accepted accountability for creating and maintaining open, free and fair markets, refusing to accept the mindset that New Yorkers have to settle for less.
We have taken aggressive action to end the mob tax all across the city and replace closed cartels with open competition. In the place of these cartels, we have set up lasting regulatory and enforcement frameworks that allow honest businesspeople to compete without being beset by organized crime.
We're sending the clear and unequivocal message that we do not tolerate organized crime -- in the Fulton Fish Market, the carting industry, the San Gennaro Festival, or anywhere.
In stark contrast to four years ago, New York City's markets are beginning to function free of the debilitating mob tax... with legitimate competition reflected in the lower prices and higher quality of goods and services.
We are once again attracting investment rather than driving it away, because people have regained the confidence to do business, and to have their businesses grow, in New York City. And that has strengthened us immeasurably by creating jobs, which are opening doors of opportunity for thousands and thousands of New Yorkers.
Today, I want to talk about the areas in which we have already had success in rooting out organized crime, and our upcoming initiatives to address the formidable challenges that remain. We have already made great strides -- including the Fulton Fish Market, the private carting industry, and the San Gennaro Festival. One part of our agenda over the next few years will address other key industries and markets with entrenched mob influence, building on what we have already achieved and using what we have learned by fighting this fight so far.
Once again, the cynics will say we can't make more progress. But we have proven them wrong in the past -- by reducing crime, restoring accountability to City government, getting our schools on the right track, and cleaning our streets and parks.
And we are prepared to prove them wrong again by offering further targeted tax relief, addressing the problem of gang violence, and most importantly confronting the scourge of drug abuse in our neighborhoods and schools. With the confidence that we have turned the city around in so many ways together, we must be vigilant in facing organized crime in all its remaining forms as well. We must continue to move forward instead of turning back the clock to the policies of the past. Those policies restricted business growth and failed to stop organized crime from using fear and intimidation to raise costs and restrict competition.
FULTON FISH MARKET
- The Problem
We started our assault on the mob tax with the Fulton Fish Market, where for seventy years organized crime dictated business practices. It's the nation's largest wholesale market for the distribution of fresh fish and seafood, and the vital center of a very important sector of our economy -- it is a landmark of which New Yorkers should be proud. Instead, the Fulton Fish Market was known in part for corruption, violence, extortion, property damage, and theft.
To City government, this was a particular disgrace, because the Fulton Fish Market sat on City-owned property and was supposedly regulated by City government. Despite sporadic attempts at reform, City government made no headway in changing the market's fundamentally corrupt business practices. In fact, David Dinkins actually eliminated the position of Market Manager, effectively abandoning any effort to regulate the market.
As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York City, I prosecuted a racketeering case involving the Fulton Fish Market. In 1988, the lead defendants, including operatives of the Genovese crime family, were permanently barred from the market. In addition, the Court appointed an administrator with extensive investigative and disciplinary powers to monitor the market, enforce the injunctions, and sanction violations by businesses.
The Court-appointed administrator determined early on that organized crime had extensive influence on the fish market, and that aggressive action by City government was required to root it out.
According to the administrator, the unloading businesses were a cartel. If trucks delivering perishable fish or seafood did not go to their assigned unloading zones, their fish would not be unloaded and suppliers could be out thousands of dollars in just one night. Companies performing the "loading" function also engaged in illegal activities, extorting a fee from retailers and restaurateurs who came to the market to keep their vehicles and merchandise safe. A failure to pay the loaders would lead to slashed tires, stolen fish, vandalism, and violence.
- The City's Response
I'm proud to say that we've made these practices a thing of the past. In early 1995, we proposed sweeping reforms to uproot mob influence in the fish market.
In March 1995, shortly after we introduced our legislation, called Local Law 50, an arson fire damaged the Tin Building -- the market's oldest structure. We were undeterred. If anything, our resolve was strengthened. We repaired the damage immediately and kept the market operating without interruption.
We won the necessary reforms. As a result, the City's Department of Business Services now has the regulatory authority to manage the market and root out corruption. DBS now issues licenses to unloading and loading businesses in the market, and requires background checks of principals, employees, and agents of all prospective licensees. Wholesale businesses must register with DBS, which has the discretion to conduct background checks on employees of wholesalers. All market workers are required to carry photo identification cards at all times to ensure that criminals from the outside cannot interfere with market business.
By introducing and implementing Local Law 50, we've gotten organized crime out of the market and allowed honest businesses to compete. The vast majority of the wholesalers who had been in the market have been registered and continue to operate. But now, instead of responding to the organized crime cartel out of fear, trucks delivering fresh fish and seafood are unloaded on a first-come, first-served basis.
That represents a sea change for the honest businesspeople of New York City.
In an October 18, 1995 editorial supporting our efforts, The New York Times said, "The bully boys of the market have had their way for too long, at everyone else's expense. Ending the atmosphere of intimidation is critical not just for the Market's economic future but for the city's business climate generally."
- The Results
As we've proven time and time again, when you free a block, a neighborhood, an industry, or a market, of illegal and corrupt influence, and return true control to the people who spend and earn the money -- business flourishes and prices drop.
Since we enacted these reforms, the quantity of fish delivered to the Market has increased by 58 percent, from 125 million pounds in 1991 to 197 million pounds in 1996. We expect as much or more fish deliveries for 1997 as well.
Unloading costs have dropped by 20 percent. Loading costs have dropped by 70 percent. And carting costs in the market have dropped by as much as 80 percent.
In addition, wholesale fish prices have fallen. Last year, prices for the top 20 fin fish by sales volume declined by over four percent and, adjusted for the national producer price index, by over 11 percent. That trend continues this year, with fish prices down by nearly seven percent during the first eight months of the year, compared to the same eight month period in 1995. In essence, we have ended a very significant tax on the fresh fish that comes into New York City.
At the same time, the City has reasserted its control over this public market and reached new agreements with the market's two wholesaler associations, providing the City with rents that reflect the fair market value of the property. Instead of receiving $270,000 per year in rent from these two associations, they now will pay a fair market rent of $2.1 million in 1998 and $2.25 million in 1999.
The final consequence of our reforms cannot be quantified, but it is equally important. We've transformed the very spirit of the Fulton Fish Market, lifting the pall of fear and intimidation that just five years ago caused victims of illegal activities to wear hoods while testifying in public -- as they did during a 1992 City Council public hearing. Business should be about hard work, competition, and cooperation, not illegal manipulation, collusion, and corruption.
- The Problem
The positive effects of our transformation of the Fulton Fish Market have been remarkable, but our clean-up of what was once the mob-dominated private carting industry has had even more profound effects on small and large businesses throughout the City.
Since the industry was privatized in 1956, La Cosa Nostra controlled the carting industry through a cartel system victimizing over 250,000 businesses, dictating routes and rates. Because the cartel artificially inflated prices, its customers -- the owners of small and large businesses throughout the city -- were forced to pay the highest prices of anywhere in the nation.
This is the way it worked. Carting companies "owned" customers and bought or sold customers from one another. They didn't compete against each other for customers, because that was considered "stealing." The lack of competition robbed the cartel's customers, who were forced to pay the inflated prices, and the mob cartel intimidated any legitimate carting companies who sought to enter the market. If they tried to defy the cartel, they suffered the consequences.
In the early 1990s, a national carting company, Browning-Ferris Industries, tried to break into New York City's carting market. A few days after BFI won a contract for the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, a local BFI manager found on his front yard the severed head of a German Shepherd with a note in its mouth that read "Welcome to New York." When a local carting company, Chambers Paper Fibers, tried to offer lower prices to customers who were "owned" by other carters, the cartel responded by beating up and nearly killing a Chambers Paper Fibers driver.
With good reason, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit likened the cartel to "a 'black hole' in New York City's economic life." It was extraordinarily costly for businesses of all sizes all around the city. And the day before yesterday, following the jury's verdict against the two mob leaders and four corporate defendants, the judge referred to the cartel as "a massive criminal organization that held this city in a criminal vise."
Not only did city government fail to act to dismantle the cartel; it effectively perpetuated organized crime's control over the industry by appearing to regulate carting rates and routes, but in reality allowing the cartel to continue controlling the industry.
The City set the maximum rates for carting, and because the cartel suffocated all competition, those became the only rates -- a floor, rather than a ceiling. And every time the city raised its maximum rate, the cartel's rate rose right along with it. By experts' estimates, the City's businesses paid 30 to 35 percent more for carting services than they should have had to pay in this $1.5 billion industry because of the organized crime cartel.
- The City's Response
We're not talking about ancient history. This is the way things in this City worked as recently as two years ago. To end the tyranny of this system, we've responded with a swift, aggressive, and coordinated strategy pairing law enforcement with sweeping regulatory reform.
We drafted Local Law 42, enacted by the City Council in June 1996, which immediately relieved our businesses from the illegally-imposed cartel prices. The law imposed an immediate two-year maximum on all carting contracts and made all existing contracts terminable on 30 days notice.
We established the Trade Waste Commission, an independent agency with extensive power to license private carters and remove corrupt individuals and companies from the industry.
The Trade Waste Commission reviews license applications from all trade waste removal businesses, and denies licenses to applicants who fail to meet established standards of honesty, good character, and integrity. It also has the power to set maximum rates that carting customers can charge their customers. Instead of raising the maximum rate, as previous administrations repeatedly did, the Commission has reduced the maximum rate by about 20 percent. The Commission also has the power to investigate the industry by subpoenaing witnesses and records, and to conduct criminal investigations.
- The Results
In less than a year and a half, we are already seeing remarkable results.
All businesses will now have the freedom to choose their own carter. That is resulting in remarkable savings for the customers of the carters -- the small and large businesses across the City... and, as a result, for all the people of the City, who are the customers of these businesses.
New Yorkers have already saved more than $350 million annually as a result of these changes. And those savings grow each month as more businesses switch carters and get even bigger savings in the newly competitive market.
But that's only the beginning, because when the market is in full swing, the rate reduction and additional decrease due to market competition will total $640 million in annual savings for the people of New York City.
For businesses around the City, trade waste collection rates have fallen by 40 percent on average. In the new competitive market, businesses are saving money -- and that means they can reinvest that money in their communities... hire more people... and grow.
Downtown Manhattan is registering tremendous savings in the new, competitive market. Fifty-five Water Street's annual waste collection bill is dropping 88 percent, from $1.2 million to $150,000. Twenty-six Federal Plaza is saving 65 percent, with their annual costs dropping from $369,000 to $130,000. One Wall Street is saving 64 percent -- they are paying $40,800 instead of $112,000 every year.
And right here in the World Trade Center, trade waste collection costs have plummeted from $3 million to $600,000 -- an 80 percent drop.
This chart alone represents nearly $4.5 million in direct annual savings for legitimate business interests -- money that is no longer going to the corrupt cartel.
Across the city, businesses of every size and type are saving money. A drycleaner in the Bronx has seen his bill drop from $1,007 to $528 annually. A Queens butcher that used to pay $4,676 now pays $2,100 -- direct savings of over $2,500. For a pharmacy in Queens, annual trade waste collection costs have dropped from $1,432 to $300. A restaurant in Brooklyn that used to get an annual bill of $60,396 in the mob-tainted market now pays $36,000 -- $24,000 savings. A golf course in Staten Island used to pay $9,540 per year. Now they pay $4,992.
Two weeks ago, I was walking along Columbus Avenue -- it was after the first mayoral debate. I noticed my signs in the window of a Chinese restaurant, so I stopped in to say hello. The owner of the restaurant and I started talking, and he said to me, "I want to thank you for reducing taxes." I said, "You mean the Commercial Rent Tax?"-- that was my first reaction, because we've reduced or eliminated the commercial rent tax all throughout the city. He said, "No, not that. I mean, thank you for reducing the Commercial Rent Tax. But I'm talking about the mob tax. Because you've ended the mob tax, my carting bill has been reduced from $1000 per month to $150 per month."
And the day before yesterday, I was visiting the Interstate Baking Corporation in Jamaica, Queens -- which is the largest bread manufacturer on the East Coast. I was there to talk about how the City has gained more than 170,000 private sector jobs over the last four years, and how that rate of job growth is accelerating. The manager pulled me aside and told me that before, when the organized crime cartel dominated the carting industry, his company used to pay more than $15 per cubic yard for waste removal. As a result of our reforms and the new, competitive market, he said, they are now paying $5 per cubic yard.
A few months ago, an up-and-coming small-businessman contacted me to thank us for cleaning up the carting industry -- he said his carting costs have dropped from over $7000 per month to just over $1200 per month -- an 83 percent decline.
In the Bronx, businesses entering into new carting contracts are paying 33 percent less than before on average... in Queens, 36 percent less... in Manhattan, 40 percent less... in Staten Island, 34 percent less... in Brooklyn, 38 percent less.
The elimination of the "mob tax" and the replacement of the old way with an intelligent, sustainable, free-market system means that over time small and large businesses will have even lower costs and higher profits, continuing to fuel New York City's record economic growth. The full economic impact of the reduced trade waste collection costs is likely to mean 12,900 new jobs and $44 million in additional taxes to the City.
And again, perhaps most importantly, small businesses who play by the rules don't have to live in fear.
HUNTS POINT MARKET
- The Problem
The San Gennaro Festival is a New York City tradition that many New Yorkers look forward to each year. But for far too long it too was inextricably tied to organized crime, which turned this religious and charitable festival into its own personal treasure trove.
Members of La Cosa Nostra extorted from festival vendors and ran illegal gambling operations. Money that was intended for charity instead lined the pockets of organized crime figures. In 1995, these allegations were formalized by a federal grand jury, which charged that the sponsor of the festival was controlled by the mob.
In short, this supposedly charitable feast ended up producing big bucks for the mob and virtually nothing each year for charity.
- The City's Response
The City is asked to issue a permit for this festival each year. We refused to sit idly by while organized crime controlled what should have been a celebration of culture and charity. We suspended permits to the feast and only restored them after the organizers agreed to a City-appointed monitor, to insure the integrity of their operation.
The monitor found that the long-time organizers of the festival engaged in highly questionable practices. Although in 1994 the festival generated revenues of over $324,000, only $7,697 had been donated to charity. Last year, members of the Genovese crime family were indicted for taking money from the coffers of the San Gennaro Festival, among other illegal acts.
We replaced the old festival organizers with new organizers committed to running a clean festival. A new not-for-profit group called "Figli di San Gennaro," consisting of prominent New Yorkers from all five boroughs, is now in charge, and the turnaround has been dramatic.
In 1996, the festival generated $150,000 for charity, and in 1997, that figure rose to $185,000.
Instead of lining the pockets of the mob, that money has gone to Catholic schools on the Lower East Side like the St. James School and St. Joseph's School. It's gone to Hale House... to a charity that creates prosthetic limbs for children... to Covenant House... and other worthy causes. It's even going to help repair the basilica of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, which was damaged in recent tremors.
The sausages and cannoli taste better knowing that the proceeds are going to people and organizations in need.
The same organized crime problems that historically plagued the Fulton Fish Market have also adversely affected the City's other wholesale food markets, including the Hunts Point Produce Market -- the largest wholesale produce market in the nation --, the Gansevoort Meat Market in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Terminal market.
Earlier this year, I signed Local Law 28, which requires all businesses operating or seeking to operate within the Hunts Point Produce Market, or any of the City's other public wholesale food markets, to undergo background review and register with the Department of Business Services, and for all employees of these businesses to do the same in the context of obtaining identification cards to work in the market.
The Hunts Point market is the largest wholesale food market in the country, employing more than 11,000 people and generating over $7 billion in annual sales. It's imperative that this money all go to legitimate businesses, and that customers can spend their money with the confidence that it will.
The Hunts Point reforms are modeled after the Fulton Fish Market legislation, with a similar regulatory framework that gives us the authority to ensure that legitimate competitors are protected and criminal elements are permanently removed. This new law also allows the DBS Commissioner to bar union officials who lack good character, honesty, and integrity from these wholesale markets, as well as the Fulton Fish Market.
Over the next few years, as we continue to implement these reforms in cleaning up the Hunts Point market, we will also target wholesale markets throughout the City -- including the Gansevoort Meat Market, and the Brooklyn Terminal market.
Our work is not done. First, we have to ensure that the competitive structures now in place in the Fulton Fish Market, the private carting industry, and elsewhere survive and thrive. Because city government had failed to adequately address mob influence for decades, cynics doubted that we could ever open these markets to competition.
In addition, we must build on these accomplishments and bring an end to organized crime's stranglehold on other industries throughout the City. For too long, mob corruption has plagued the construction, garment, and air freight industries, subjecting legitimate businesses to extortion, threats of violence, and other illegal acts. We know how to do the job right, and we will prove the cynics wrong again.
One area where for years the City has tried to rid mob influence is the construction industry. I know about mob influence on the construction industry because, during my time as U.S. Attorney, I prosecuted many of the leading members of organized crime and corrupt unions such as the Carpenters and the Teamsters.
For instance, in the "Commission" case, for the first time we proved the existence of the ruling commission of La Cosa Nostra, which served as the de facto "holding company" for illegal business activities. We sent the leaders of three major crime families to prison -- for 100 years -- for bid-rigging and other illegal activities tied to the construction industry.
The mob tax that we all pay for virtually every construction project is not insignificant. Corruption was so commonplace that the organized crime families set up fee structures as if they were legitimate businesses. In the concrete business, kickbacks were one percent of any pouring contract worth less than $2 million. For contracts between $2 and $15 million, the kickback was two percent, plus the contract went to one of the Commission's companies. For contracts worth more than $15 million, your only choice to do the work was Fat Tony Salerno's company.
The prosecutions certainly set back organized crime, but that doesn't mean our work is done. Just as we saw with the Fulton Fish Market, new corrupt figures can move in and maintain the status quo of corruption, extortion and bid-rigging.
We've taken the first steps by cleaning up our own house. City government is using a more rigorous approach to reviewing contractors so that corrupt individuals cannot continue to feed off the public trough. And to make sure that City government isn't paying a mob tax in its construction projects, we are imposing monitors on companies that may have problems in their background but are otherwise deemed qualified and with the integrity to do their job. The contractors themselves pay for the monitors.
Over the next few years, one of my top priorities is to build on these successes. We will model our approach after elements of our Fulton Fish Market reforms, working with a coordinated team of law enforcement officials to remove organized crime's influence in the construction industry from the foundation up.
Second, we must ensure the garment industry is allowed to flourish. New York City is world renowned for our fashion and garment industry, but organized crime has been able to illegitimately seal out competition in this industry as well.
For years, the Gambino crime family controlled segments of trucking for the garment industry. In 1992, after being charged with racketeering and antitrust violations, Joseph and Thomas Gambino entered into a plea agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney in which they agreed to pay $12 million in penalties and to divest themselves of some of their garment trucking interests. Robert McGuire, a former New York City Police Commissioner, was appointed as Special Master to oversee the divestiture of the defendants' control of a portion of the industry. McGuire was successful in reducing trucking costs, but his term expired this past spring.
Fearing a regulatory vacuum, we intend to establish a regulatory scheme modeled after the Special Master's powers and incorporating elements of the Fulton Fish Market model, to ensure that organized crime does recapture this industry.
We're always proud to call New York City the "Capital of the World" and the gateway to the world -- it's true -- but air cargo passing through our airports too frequently ends up in the wrong hands, and organized crime appears to have a hand in making this happen. This is a third area of focus for our future anti-corruption initiatives.
At JFK Airport, one of the world's major air cargo centers, we are losing millions in business, and consumers are paying higher prices because of thefts. Recently, a three-year undercover investigation by federal and state law enforcement officials charged 83 people with stealing $13 million in merchandise from the airport. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Zachary Carter explained: "This undercover investigation confirms what law enforcement officials have known for some time -- that some organized crime groups regard cargo shipped through JFK to be their private supermarket for merchandise to be stolen and then sold in a burgeoning underground economy."
In addition to getting our airports back so that they can be run for the benefit of New York City, rather than for the profit of the Port Authority, we also have to aggressively address the presence of organized crime in JFK and LaGuardia -- because the Port Authority has not successfully addressed this problem. Using elements of a Fulton Fish Market-type reform model, we will confront the corruption and begin restoring confidence to air freight operations in our airports.
Our task over the next few years is to continue the job we have successfully started and free all of New York City's markets of criminal influences. With our experience and determination, we are up to the challenge.
Over the past four years, in so many ways we have given the people of New York City control over their lives and the money they earn. We've shown that when government returns more money to the law-abiding people of the City to spend as they wish -- after all, it is their money -- businesses thrive... jobs are created... and New York City surges forward on the power of the work we do, not restrained by the impediments that have held us back over the past thirty years or more.
No single change is responsible for creating over 170,000 private sector jobs, with job creation accelerating this year. But when you combine cleaner and safer streets, lower taxes, a public school system that is back on track, diminishing welfare rolls, the rapidly shrinking influence of organized crime, and other factors, the end result is a city in which businesses are no longer afraid to put their money on the line and invest in the future.
It's a question of confidence. All New Yorkers need to have the confidence that our economy is run by the men and women who do the hard work -- that, based on the rules of a free market, the quality of goods and services are pushed up, and the prices are pushed down.
And it's a question of courage. We have proven that we have the courage to take this problem on in all of its complexity. Together, we must continue to rid the city of organized crime and to create, in place of collusion and closed doors, a permanent infrastructure in every industry that respects hardworking people, legitimate businesses, and the principles of opportunity.
We've already taken millions of dollars from the pockets of those who scoff at the principle of opportunity and returned it to the people of the city. Now, we will continue this essential task and return New York City, more completely than ever before, to the hardworking people who make us the Capital of the World.