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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on WNYC

July 14, 2017

Brian Lehrer: It's the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. We will begin as usual on Fridays with our weekly round of Ask the Mayor with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Anything to ask the Mayor from any borough, you can give us a call right now – 2-1-2-4-3-3-W-N-Y-C, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or tweet question just use the hashtag #AsktheMayor and we will see it the most easily that way.

The Mayor is coming to the phone. I'm told he'll be here in just a couple of seconds. Later on we'll talk to Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Progressive Center for American Progress think tank. We'll talk with her about the Senate health care bill, both the policy and the scandal going on in Washington right now. Neera Tanden is relevant to both. She was a major policy advisor on domestic policy especially to Hillary Clinton, and she will definitely have things to say from her perspective about the Senate health care bill.

She was also one of the people who was most embarrassed by the John Podesta email hacks released by Wikileaks during the campaign and presumably done by the Russians. So, she's really got some skin in the game as these revelations about the Trump Jr. meeting and everything else come out. So, we will talk to Neera Tanden after Mayor de Blasio about all of that.

But, good morning, Mr. Mayor. Welcome back to WNYC.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian.

Lehrer: And let me start today with mass transit as calls are coming in. Reports are kind of so far so good on what Governor Cuomo had dubbed the Summer of Hell for the Penn Station track work. Are you keeping tabs on it, and do you have a review?

Mayor: Yeah, we're absolutely – the City is keeping a close eye on the situation. Obviously, the MTA and the State and Amtrak are responsible for that work that is being done around Penn Station and for making accommodations for people who use Penn Station. But we're carefully watching, you know, some of the impact it can have both around Penn Station and on our whole transit system.

And, yes, it certainly seems to be going a little better than expected, and that's a very good thing. We know we got a lot more work to do in terms of improving mass transit in the city, but at least these last few days have been better than I think we feared.

Lehrer: I was thinking this week that New York needs a kind of Robert Moses for mass transit. One of my producers is reading The Power Broker, the classic Moses biography by Robert Caro, and of course back in his day Moses was a power broker who was not so keen on mass transit but cultivated so much power that he used for building up the automobile infrastructure.

So, if you'll indulge me on this notion – maybe we need a Robert Moses for mass transit, someone with enough interest and also enough power to make better mass transit a political priority more than it is. Do you think the MTA region lacks such a person?

Mayor: I don't think it's about one person, first of all. I would never want to see another Robert Moses because in too many ways his actions were racist and classist. He, unfortunately, not only ushered in the era the of the vehicle rather than mass transit in so many ways, but he did it in a way that was clearly prejudiced. That's not to take away from him some very good things he did too. But the last thing I want to see if the kind of engineering of our society we saw with him. I also think that that much power concentrated in one person allowed for a lack accountability. I actually think we need more accountability, and the notion going forward – and I think this would be true of all of the different authorities out there – is to stop this fiction around the authorities whether it's MTA, Port Authority, or anything else and create a clearer responsibility and more transparency.

The idea, for example, that the MTA overwhelmingly serves New York City subway riders – I mean look at the things the MTA does all day. The number one mission by far is providing service for New York City subway riders be that New York City residents or visitors or commuters coming into work. But the budget doesn't reflect that. The priorities don't reflect that. And I think that's partly because there has been a lack of clarity of who is in charge. And I parallel it to other areas where when you have a clear notion of who's in charge who is an elected official not a, you know, official beyond the reach of the people like a Robert Moses but an elected official who is responsible to the people, you're much more likelihood of getting things done.

That being said what I do think we need is a regional approach too, and we've got to figure out that's not a single human being, but we got to figure out a reality, which I'm certainly going to be working on that reflects life as it's lived. It's lived regionally. It's not just lived in boxes. It's sort of geographically. And this is a very important region of the country and of the world, and we have to start planning on a much more regional basis.

Lehrer: Do you think then that we'd be better off if the MTA was not a quasi-independent agency or somewhat independent agency with, you know, the Governor controlling the meaningful share of the appointees, but you having some and the suburban counties having some but if it was a direct gubernatorial agency with the kind of responsibility therefore that you were just describing?

Mayor: Here's what I'd say – I think in these next months we're going to have a chance to figure out a lot of things. I mean the most important thing is to come up with a plan for how to fix the day-to-day operations of the MTA. And I've said repeatedly I think Joe Lhota was a great choice, and, Brian, you'll appreciate how ironic that is considering he ran against me for mayor –

Lehrer: Yep.

Mayor: But I think he's a very capable guy and I think he's the right choice to run the MTA. But he's got to move quick to present a very different vision. And I mentioned Rahm Emanuel's op-ed the other day, which did point out some really serious differences between Chicago and New York in the sense that Chicago focused on basic infrastructure more.

We've got to get back to that, and I hope Joe Lhota will do that quickly, and I'm going to be pushing for that. And that's going to tell us a lot about whether the MTA can actually be what it should be at this moment in history. In the end, one of other things that Rahm Emanuel pointed out is he has clear responsibility for New York City subways – excuse me, for the Chicago subways – and that has also created an accountability dynamic where he has to produce.

So I think it's kind of a put up or shut up moment for the MTA. If the MTA can address its problems, which means the State stepping up then it could speak to the fact that the current structure could make sense, but if it can't we have to think about what changes need to be made going forward.

Lehrer: One more thing on this – the Times had an editorial yesterday imploring you to take on more of a leadership role called, "Help Fix Transit, Mr. de Blasio, and Be a Hero."

I'm going to read you just a few lines from it. It says, "To his credit, Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed in 2015 to substantially increase the city's contribution to the MTA's $29 billion five-year capital plan to $2.5 billion as the city's contribution. For far too long, under several mayors, City Hall was unconscionably stingy." But then it says, "What's needed from him are money and political will." It says, "One solution is to accelerate the planned expansion of Select Bus Service, a proven winner already in place on 13 routes, cutting travel time by a variety of means. Another is to designate more dedicated bus lanes and to do so with true dedication. That means a sustained crackdown on intruding cars and trucks." And finally it says, "It might help if Mr. de Blasio called more attention to the mass transit crisis – he didn't even show up when an A train derailed last month."

So, what in there would you like to respond to?

Mayor: Well, I think there's a mix of points in there some that I think are fair and some that I think are really off-base. I kind of want to piece it apart.

On Select Bus Service, this is one of the best things happening right now in improving mass transit in the city, and in fact we have been – my administration has been consistently investing in Select Bus Service. It's something we do with the MTA. It's a joint effort, joint investment. And it is working. In fact, we've doubled the rate of increase of Select Bus Service routes compared to the previous administration. Now, that means examples. There's new Select Bus Service routes this year already in Manhattan on 23rd Street; on 79th Street; in the South Bronx; along Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens.

So, that's happening and I expect that to continue to deepen. And I said if you take Select Bus Service plus our new ferry system which is becoming a citywide phenomenon that's really going to relieve some pressure on our streets and on the MTA plus light rail, which is coming to Brooklyn and Queens that we're going to be putting in. Obviously, another thing that started in the previous administration, I commend them and has grown is Citi Bike. These are all alternative ways for people to get around, and they're all actually things you can do a lot quicker than putting in for example obviously a new subway line. So, that's where we're putting both energy and investment.

I think the political will point is fair too. And I've said very clearly we spent a lot of time – I spent a lot of time in the last few months on things like mayoral control of education and on the City budget, but now I'm going to turn my attention to the MTA. I'm going to be out there a lot around the city, and I'm going to be advocating for the big changes we need.

But I disagree with that editorial certainly on the point about how investment works because I think it absolutely ignores the fact that the investment reality is that the money the MTA takes in it does not equitably utilize. And that's something that's been known for decades and decades. The vast majority of the MTA ridership is in the New York City subway system, but that's not where the vast majority of the investment goes. And so, I want to look very closely at the MTA's huge operating budget and capital budget and push for a more equitable distribution and a better set of priorities that will address the lives of everyday people in New York City.

I couldn't disagree more on the notion around what happened with the A-train. I think that's a misunderstanding. First of all, responsibility. Responsibility lies with the State for the MTA but – and then Joe Lhota was there to his credit. But second, what we're trying to focus on is fixing the whole system not the exceptional incident that occurs. And obviously that was a bad incident, and I felt very bad for the people who were affected, but this is about fixing the whole system. On a political will level, I got plenty of will to put into pushing the MTA to be what it should be.

Lehrer: It's Ask the Mayor on the Brian Lehrer Show with Mayor Bill de Blasio. And Ellie in Brooklyn, you're on WNYC. You get to ask the Mayor. Ellie, you there?

Question: Hi. Hi. Can you hear me?

Lehrer: Hi, there. Do I have your name right? Is it Ellie?

Question: Yes, Ellie from Brooklyn. Thank you for taking my call. So on the whole mayoral control has proven really beneficial for city schools, but at some crucial times I think communities sometimes still feel powerless. And it seems like there's another Townsend Harris or Center Park East situation brewing in Brooklyn at P.S. 8.

The community is 100 percent behind our current assistant principal filling in the principal vacancy. The chancellor is blocking her appointment due to a personal history. And you know how important it is to support local schools. We're wondering if you can step in to protect our dynamic and thriving community school.

Mayor: Well, Ellie, I appreciate the question. Let me just say several pieces to this. First of all, you're right P.S. 8 has really done a fantastic job, and there's been ups and down along the way at P.S. 8, but a lot has improved to the credit of everyone involved including the parents.
I think you're hitting on a big point about the juxtaposition of mayoral control of education which really does get things done – obviously things like Pre-K for All and Computer Science for All. Those are the kinds of things that could only happen in a unified system with a single leader that's held accountable. But of course there's local dynamics at the same time that have to be really heard and noted in the decision making process.

The challenge here, Ellie, is – and look, I was a public school parent for the whole time my kids were in school. I was a school board member. I was involved in the PTA. But I wasn't an educator, and I do want to say in the end the decisions about who should lead schools should be up to educators. I have a lot of respect of the chancellor. I think she's done a really good job. I don't know the specific dynamics here at all, so I can't speak to the details, but I can say I do believe the final decision being in the hands of educators is the right way to decide personnel. That being said, I'm certainly happy to look into this situation because I'm not familiar with it and see if there's something to note there. But I do want to emphasize I get it. Because I've been in schools where the principal is very popular, assistant principal is very popular, teacher is very popular. That should be taken into account, but that is not always the same thing as who's the best educator or who is the best manager for the school, and that ultimately is a decision, I believe, should be made by the educators who are in charge of the school system.

Lehrer: Is that fair enough Ellie? I'm curious. Should the parents really get to choose?

Question: I completely agree that educators know what's best and our current assistant principal has 100 percent of her teachers support. Thirty teachers spoke at a PTA meeting once we learned about this block that was in place. Over 900 parents signed a petition sent to our local elected and people in the Department of Education, and she was chosen to lead her school – she was groomed basically by our principal of 14 years to turn our school around in so many ways. You know if this were any other business or – that's the way leadership, that's the way we transition leaders, right? We look, you know, our assistant principal worked in our school for years in other instructional roles through the district [inaudible] for the school she was chosen. She did a remarkable job. We're part of the Algebra for All initiative [inaudible] going in these exciting ways so it seems like the educators who are, you know, her soldiers on the ground we feel like we're [inaudible].

Lehrer: I get it. Ellie, I'm going to move on. I get it, and Mr. Mayor I guess it's a conundrum for leaders. How much the stakeholders get the say – in this case both the employees and the customers if you want to call the parents customers – and how much other professional considerations, whatever they are, management considerations, would outweigh that.

Mayor: It's a big challenge, and it's, look, sometimes those pieces align very neatly, and sometimes they don't. I do think Ellie's point is a very fair one. We need to maximally listen. Those of us who are decision makers on personnel need to maximally listen to what school communities feel and what they've experienced. I'm not pre-judging this case because I just don't know any of the details, but I can say this – I do think a change that matters a lot in this equation is that we have an educator running the school system, and remember the previously chancellors were not educators. We had three previous – four, in fact – previous chancellors to Chancellor Farina who none of whom were educators. Didn't mean everything they did was bad, but they weren't educators. And I think when you have a seasoned educator making the ultimate decisions, and in this case below her superintendents who are educators as well, there has to be respect for a process where people who have done the work are trying to decide who is the best person to lead in each school. You know, sometimes – and Ellie's point is very fair – there's a lot of things she's raising that needs to be paid attention to, but that being said I can also imagine, to you point Brian, I can imagine someone being very popular because they're great with people, but that does not necessarily mean they're the best educational leader or the best manager. So we just need to look at everything very individually and in the end I do believe – to your point Brian – I do believe an accountability system like mayoral control of education where I then choose an educator to lead is the best way to make these decisions.

Lehrer: Paul in Inwood you're on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi, Paul.

Question: Thanks for taking the call. Congratulations Mayor on your recent housing announcement. This isn't my main question, though it's definitely related, I just wanted to suggest that you're only measuring half the problem. We're not getting the measurement of the downside of where there's displacement of, and I realize those are difficult, but I really think it could be addressed. I've worked for the Office of Operations. I know a lot about performance measurement. I'd really like to help you guys with that.

But my main issue is I'm from Inwood as Brian said, and there's a neighborhood planning process been going on for a while. I've been a part of that, I was a part of [inaudible] called the Working Group last year, I've joined a group that's trying to get a community land trust going here. There's some good things going on but the process that EDC has been running has just been incompetent where it comes to citizen engagement, and so there's a lot more dissention and a lot more opposition than there needs to be. It could be a lot more collaborative. And now they're planning – at the meeting last night they're saying now okay now we're going to go to certification in [inaudible] and EIS, it'll still take a while, you can still participate but that participation is all at public hearings, people get to speak for one minute, people don't get a chance to exchange views with each other –

Lehrer: But Paul, isn't the bottom line that so many people in the neighborhood, and it's the neighborhood I live in so I've been hearing a lot of this from many neighbors, don't like the zoning plan because they think it's going to lead to gentrification that's undesirable?

Question: I – sure, sure a lot of people like that but I'm trying to get – I'm trying to get – I'm trying to make the process better because I think there's also a lot of people here – there's parts of Inwood NYC that aren't so bad. It's not – I'm trying to avoid commenting on the content of it –

Lehrer: Right, okay.

Question: Let the community play with it more –

Lehrer: Right.

Question: The community has never had the whole thing in front of it at one time where they can make tradeoffs between the three – basically three pats. The special districts represented first, then came – then came a library project for –

Lehrer: Right, so I'm going to jump in and it sounds like Mr. Mayor he's saying that the City or the EDC is doing a bad job of getting community buy in, failing to engage.

Mayor: Well a very thoughtful question Paul and I appreciate it. A couple points quick. I don't know specifically how EDC has managed that process; I do think the City of New York as a whole, over the years, has not always done the best job of presenting a vision or listening to feedback. And that was true before us and that's certainly been a problem with some of the things that we've tried to do in this administration. And I've been penitent about that because it's not what I want. I want, you know I was a City Councilmember for God's sakes, I understand what it's like to get in the room with people and talk through a vision. I want to see us do better. And that's not a comment on what happened in Inwood because I don't know the facts, it's a comment on the bigger history of the City needing to learn – the City agencies needing to learn to communicate and listen more effectively.

That being said, Paul, I would argue that the whole process that plays out now on ULURP and Community Boards and with the City Councilmember and all, there's a hell of a lot of democracy in that process. There's a lot of chance for changes and revisions.

I think your point is fair, the more you do on the front end, the more unity you create the better. I think it's real smart, but I also want to say there's a whole lot of democracy ahead. And I would, Paul, like to take you up on your offer to help us think about the displacement question because we want to. So definitely want to get your information via WNYC.

But the other point I'd make is this, look the announcement this week, 78,000 apartments have been financed or preserved in place. The Citizen's Administration started, that is enough people – enough apartments for all the people of Salt Lake City, Utah, literally. And that's been done in the last three years. That's all affordable housing. That is the crux of the challenge when you talk about a rezoning. We believe rezoning allow us to create a lot more affordable housing and to preserve a lot of affordable housing. And if we don't do them, gentrification is happening anyway. And that's certainly the case in Inwood and Washington Heights. It's happening. And I understand people's angst, I really do, but the conversation I think would be healthy in this city is to say, look guys if you just stand back and the government does not invene in the market – intervene and the market continues to dominate the equation, as was true in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn or Bushwick, Brooklyn, or any number of other communities that got very gentrified not because of rezoning but because of market pressures.

I argue the rezoning is how you counter the market pressures and create more balance, and create more affordability, and bring in a lot of other things the community needs. But, to Paul's point, that becomes more vivid to people if they feel their concerns have really been heard. And I want to see us do a better job at that.

Lehrer: I want to ask you about a report from the CCRB, the Civilian Complaint Review Board that examines police officer interference with civilians who are taking videos of police interactions with themselves or others. There are many complaints against officers ordering people to stop recording. The CCRB maintains it is the right of the public to do that, and recommends a new NYPD patrol guide section codifying the rules that say when officers may not interfere with video making. Did you see that report, and will you direct Commissioner O'Neill to update the patrol guide in that way?

Mayor: Well, I want to say we're already – in not only agreement with that concept but ahead of it. And I'm proud to say that the Police Department has already issued a legal bulletin informing all officers and reminding all officers of civilians' rights to videotape an encounter. That's been clear for a long time, and it's been made very, very clear by Commissioner O'Neill repeatedly, publically but it's also been made clear in official communications to all of our officers.

The right of the people in that case is clear, and if it's violated there are disciplinary actions that the PD will take against officers. Now I want to be clear, Brian, it's very important, if an attempt to videotape interferes with the officer actually doing their job and protecting people, that's a different matter – or if there's an effort to block an officer's view of what they have to see to enforce the law that's a different matter. So, if you're talking about people who are standing back appropriately from the situation and videotaping, that is their right and no officer is allowed to stop that and if they do there are penalties.

Now remember, body cameras will be on all of our patrol officers over the next two years which are going to be the ultimate vehicle for accountability and transparency. And I think in many ways will make this concern moot. But I want to clarify we are in agreement –

Lehrer: Although the officer's – the officer's eye view may be different than the civilian's eye view, but will you – will you take the recommendation that they make per se and update the patrol guide in that way?

Mayor: Not knowing the nuances of the difference between what a legal bulletin achieves verses putting something in the patrol guide, to be very straightforward. I – I'll happily look into that, but I can say all officers have been informed about their legal responsibility, by their department have been told of their legal responsibility to allow people to videotape. So we're in agreement with the CCRB on that. I can look at the mechanics, but I believe that's been done thoroughly.

And I do want to challenge you on the body camera point. If – remember the body camera is video and audio and if someone – if an officer tells someone to stop taping in a situation where they have a right to tape that will be captured on the body camera.

Lehrer: Michael in the Bronx, you're on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello Michael.

Michael, are you there? No. Then let's try Patricia in East – let's see yes, okay Patricia in East Williamsburg you're on WNYC. Hello.

Question: Hi, good morning. Good morning Mayor de Blasio. I live on this block where we're zoned for warehouses and residential, and I've been here for 13 years and that whole time we've had two towing companies on our block and they use the entire block as their parking lot. So, they make a lot of noise for a very long period of time, sometimes 24/7, they put a lot of particulate matter in the air as they run their engines, they block traffic, sometimes they use the parking lot – the sidewalk as their parking lot too, they run two ways down the one way street –

Mayor - Yeah I get you, they're doing a lot of bad things. I appreciate – Patricia I'm jumping in to say you're totally right. This is – this is something I've seen before. And beyond the question of the zoning, companies are not – first of all, you're not allowed to park on the side walk, that's a no brainer. And companies are not allowed to use public parking places essentially for commercial purposes. We know a certain amount of it happens on an informal basis. But what you're describing is systematic, and so I am going have your precinct – make sure the precinct gets in touch with you today. And I'd like to make sure they're enforcing energetically. Have you had, have you seen enforcement from the precinct so far?

Question: This is the history of enforcement. About 10 years ago, there was a lieutenant [inaudible] in the 9-0 precinct. And he created – he ran a March program, multi-agency resource, something, something, something. And they had one day where many city agencies descended on the two companies. They were levied, I understand $80,000 in fines, they were practically put out of business, and we had a good year. But since then, they've come back full force and nothing we've done. We've gone to the 9-0, we've gone to the community board, we've gone to Antonio Reynoso, we called 3-1-1, Department of Environmental Protection. Nothing, nothing does anything.

Mayor: I got it, we will make sure this is a focal point for the precinct and also get other agencies that are pertinent to get involved. Please give your information to WNYC. I really appreciate you raising this, because is this the kind of thing that drives me crazy when a company tries to take advantage of its neighbors. So we will have the precinct come over and meet with you and address this.

Lehrer: Patricia, thank you very much. We'll take your information off the air. Question from twitter, what is the Mayor's position on the 18,000 workers on Spectrum strike that is a strike against the cable company Spectrum? And what can be done to facilitate a resolution?

Mayor: My position is, first, I am very frustrated with Spectrum. This is the company that has CEO's making an astounding amount of money. I am trying to remember the exact quote, but in the tens of millions of dollars. And we have offered repeatedly, the city has offered repeatedly to help to mediate the situation. And you know, this is to me a dynamic where these workers from the electrical workers are simply trying to ensure on-going decent wages and conditions and benefits. And Spectrum which is newer on the scene is not agreeing to the kind of labor relations that I think we believe in this city. Look, I've always said the people who are in labor unions and have good contracts is good for the whole society. That means families are intact and strong, it's good for the tax payers, it's good for everyone. But Spectrum does not seem to be playing ball. So I will reiterate my offer that Spectrum either resolves this matter with the union or come into city hall and they need our help and our efforts to mediate. But if they're not willing to do that, then that means that they are trying to undermine the rights of working people and then that would be a very different reality in terms of how I would treat them.

Lehrer: Are you taking a position that they're not giving workers fair wages and benefits?

Mayor: I don't know every fact about the situation, Brian. But I can say it's been a long time, this has gone unresolved. And if you look around at other similar industries in this city, which overwhelmingly have union employees and have come to fair contracts, it's increasingly worrisome that Spectrum is not doing that. So, I want to know what the real motivation is here. You know, is it an honest disagreement over the facts or is it an attempt to undermine the union? So this is getting with every passing day more and more worrisome for my point of view. And I want to see Spectrum settle this now; it's not a healthy situation for the city.

Lehrer: Last question, I want to ask you about a class action lawsuit against the city by the NAACP and other groups claiming the city's property tax structure is racially bias. They say for example, that your own $3,500 tax bill on each of your two Park Slope [inaudible] houses is that number, but a homeowner in mostly black Laurelton in Queens is paying $4,500, even though their house is valued 75% percent less than yours. It's not about you; it's about the structure of the tax system. How much do you accept the premise of the suit?

Mayor: I don't accept the notion of this lawsuit for a variety of reasons, and the city does not believe it's an appropriate lawsuit. First and foremost, besides the [inaudible] the legal questions, like who has standing and the right way to proceed even within the legal vein. This should not be settled by our court system. This a dangerous concept to take something as complicated as our tax system and give it over to judges as opposed to having this be the responsibly of elected officials to do this in a transparent open matter. I've said very clearly this administration moved a host of initiatives and now it's time for us to focus on this very big complicated issue of property tax. And if the people continue me in the office in November, we're going to put together a process to reform our property tax system. It will be a very complicated process; it'll probably take several years. But it will result in laws that I will propose at both the city and state level to create more fairness and consistency in the property tax system and much more transparency. The notion that there is strange inequalities across the city is absolutely fair, and that all revolves around the assessments and how quickly property tax can be raised and, you know, there is a lag. Property taxes can only be raised so much on given house, but in some places the value of those houses are shot up in such a matter that the property tax doesn't keep with them. So there is an inequality that needs to be addressed. But this should be done in the full light in the public process, and then ultimately in a legislative process. That's how we should make our laws.

Lehrer: If government policy is racially biased, is that not in general cause in your view for a lawsuit?

Mayor: I don't agree again with that premise. This is about a law that was created with a set of mechanisms that are in many ways arcane. You can look around the city – I've talked to people who feel their property taxes are unfair in every demographic of this city. And you can look at the different ways different neighborhoods that are treated because of the speed with which their values had gone up, different types of buildings, houses versus co-ops versus condos. This is not about race. This is about a system that is now outmoded and has inconstancies and a lack of transparency that have to be do addressed. That being said, I want to remind all property owners, as you said I am a homeowner. You know for four years now we have not increased the property tax rate. Now the assessments are one thing, and clearly the assessments have caused a lot peoples bills to go up because that is connected the value of the home, but we have not increased the property tax rate over the last four years and we do not intend to. And that's an important part of the equation. In fact we're trying to get people some relief as homeowners on their water bills. We've been doing a lot to change the approach of water bills to reduce those cost increases. And I am trying to get a rebate back to homeowners, if we can win the lawsuit against the landlord lobby to allow us to do it. So we're trying to do things to help homeowners. But this big solution Brian, this is a big, big thorny complicated matter. It will take major law changes, it has to do with not just one factor like racial demographics. It has to do with many, many factors and this should be done in an open democratic process.

Lehrer: As always, thanks for doing "Ask the Mayor" with us.

Mayor: Thank you, Brian.

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