Mayor's WINS Address
Hear the Mayor's Message
On Thursday, I delivered the State of the City address - a chance for us to look ahead to the challenges New York City faces in the coming year and beyond.
At the forefront of our efforts must be working to improve our schools so that our students are better prepared for the increasingly challenging, competitive world. That's why I announced that we will work to change school governance by restructuring the Board of Education. Chancellor Rudy Crew and his team have accomplished remarkable things over the past three or four years - but that is in spite of, not because of, the structure of the school system, which too frequently resists constructive change.
To enable ongoing progress, we need to restructure the system so that it is based on principles of accountability and performance, and so that all resources, and all energy, are focused solely on improving student achievement.
To that end, I also made what I believe is another very important proposal - the creation of a parental school choice pilot program in one New York City community school district. We will model our program after a program in Milwaukee that is giving up to 15,000 underprivileged students vouchers to pay for either public, private, or parochial education - with necessary protections in place to maintain the Constitutional separation between church and state. Which school a child attends is the family's choice, not the government's. It's an idea that offers real promise for improving student performance - and in a school system as large as ours, the more ideas we implement that have a chance to reach more children, the better.
Those are just two of the many, many proposals I discussed on Thursday. I also announced a very exciting new public-private partnership between GHI and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation that will offer extremely low cost health insurance to up to 26,000 small businesses in Northern Brooklyn, the South Bronx and East Harlem.
I introduced an innovative new way of organizing City billing that will consolidate all City bills into a single consolidated account. Every New Yorker who owes the government money on anything ranging from traffic tickets to property taxes will get a single clear, hassle-free, consumer-friendly Citizen's Account Statement detailing what they owe and giving them a phone number or website where they can pay it.
I announced our plans to privatize Kennedy and LaGuardia airports so that they will be run to New York City's benefit as the world-class transportation hubs that they should be - rather than being mismanaged, as they have been for too long, by the Port Authority.
And we discussed the possibility of building a domed or retractable domed football stadium in an underdeveloped area on the West Side of Manhattan to give New York City world-class convention facilities - which would be a major boon for business - as well as to give us a chance to bid for the New York Jets. A West Side development would also enable the Jacob Javits Center to expand, and potentially give Madison Square Garden the chance to build a new arena.
And so that in the midst of all these plans and proposals for the future, we never forget one of our greatest heroes, I suggested that we rename the West Side Highway after a New York City hero and an American hero, Joe DiMaggio - and that we do it now to convey our gratitude and respect to the Yankee clipper.
And two final notes. I want to remind everyone that starting today you should shop 'till you drop because we have a week of tax-free clothes shopping - and I want to wish the New York Jets the best of luck in what should be a great AFC Championship game in Denver. I think that, 30 years after winning Superbowl III, they'll make it back to Miami for Superbowl XXXIII. From City Hall, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.