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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears on WMCA's Community Matters with Leon Goldenberg

August 6, 2017

Leon Goldenberg: So I’m sitting here this afternoon or this evening since the show is on a Saturday night, but the truth is – I will tell the audience –

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Tell the truth.

Goldenberg: It was not taped on Saturday night. And I am sitting here with somebody that you all recognize I hope and as soon as you hear his voice and that’s non other than really someone I like to consider a very good friend of mine, like a personal friend of mine. And that is Mayor de Blasio – Bill de Blasio. So, welcome to the show.

Mayor: Thank you Leon, and guests our friendship goes back a long way. Way back to the time when I was first running for City Council in a district that included Borough park, Kensington, and my neighborhood Park Slope. And we’ve been together ever since, that was 2001. We’ve been together ever since, and its been a great friendship and I congratulate you again on this show and its been my pleasure to be on it.

Goldenberg: And it’s been my pleasure having you on as always. We’re going to get to some things that are going on in the city some that are [inaudible] our community and some that are really because I always say and I will say it again what happens in the City of New York effects our [inaudible] community and every [inaudible] community that help with vibrancy of New York impacts us more than any of what we can get as a community from the City. Am I correct in that?

Mayor: Yeah, absolutely correct, and look I’ve been blessed to have a close relationship now well over 15 years [inaudible] particularly in Brooklyn but also all over the city. And this statement you’re making is profoundly important. I have leaders of the community and members of community coming to me all the time on issues specific to the community and those are real, and those are important. I think I can give some great examples of improvements we’ve made to help the community. But you’re exactly right, when you think about big, big things happening in the city, our economy is strong, every community benefits including the Jewish Community, if its not, everything suffers. If we reduce crime, if we create a stronger social [inaudible], more unity between the communities in the city, less tension and that’s good for every community, including the Jewish community, if we improve education in the city in every kind of school that creates a stronger city for the future, obviously a better workforce for the future. There’s so many reasons to understand that they’re all interconnected. So, I think [inaudible] this is not true just about the Jewish Community. Every constituency has their own specific issues. But your point is very powerful, come forward with your specific agenda and fight for it, while recognizing that some of these more universal issues may actually have the biggest impact on your day-to-day life.

Goldenberg: Right, so let’s talk about, first let’s talk about some [inaudible] issues and then we’ll get to some of the larger ones. Israel —

Mayor: Yes.

Goldenberg: You’re a progressive –

Mayor: Yes.

Goldenberg: Clearly.

Mayor: Yeah. 

Goldenberg:  And yet a strong supporter of Israel. I was happy and lucky enough to accompany you to Israel a year and a half ago. When you made a visit, when we came during the beginning of [inaudible]. Its critical for our community, its critical for Israel, for people to realize that friends are on the progressive side in the Democratic party are our most important allies. First, I want to thank you for that and just describe a little bit your feelings about Israel.

Mayor: And thank you again Leon for being a part of that. That journey with me was very sensitive very tough time for Israel, and particularly you remember when we went to [inaudible] hospital and we saw the victims of the terror attacks, and made it very personal very real. In fact, just last week the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mayor Barkat was here – was here in the city, and I’ve got to spend time with him. We’ve become dear friends. And we compared notes because our cities are going through so many of the same challenges obviously. But here is the bottom line. I’m a Democrat, I’m a progressive, I am a strong supporter of Israel. I am intensely opposed to the BDS movement and any effort to undermine Israel and it’s economy. And I think that is what Democrats and progressives should feel. We should see Israel for everything it means in history as a beacon of democracy and as an answer to so much history that included oppression and discrimination against the Jewish people and violence against the Jewish people of Israel is an answer to that history and Israel must exist, must survive. Its part of creating a more humane and a decent world that people know that they have homeland and a place that they’re safe. And I wish I could say you know, all those bad things to millennia of crimes perpetrated against the Jewish people are all over. But you and I know they’re not over, there is anti-Semitism all over Europe there is anti-Semitism all over world it’s propping up here in the United States. Israel is more important than ever for that reason. Progressives should understand we cant bring peace in the Middle East if we don’t use economic incentives, economic opportunity as part of the solution. How on earth is undermining Israel’s economy going to help bring about peace? It makes no sense whatsoever. As I’ve gone and spoke about this publicly and I intend to continue, including in front of progressives. So I think you need to hear this message. BDS is taking things exactly in the wrong direction and I am going to stand up and fight against it.

Goldenberg: So BDS is really, and if you speak to them and when we had the hearings at the City Council resolution that did pass, Steve Levine –

Mayor: Levin, Levin

Goldenberg: He is part of that, you know of that sub group – Levine, Levin –

Mayor: Yeah.

Goldenberg: And then they also have [inaudible] and [inaudible].

Mayor: Yeah, right. 


Goldenberg: They actually merged. But in the mean time he asked when prior speakers that were pro BDS were anti resolution he asked them a simple question. Do you support a two state solution? They refused to answer, he asked the question – three times he asked that question. And there were five of them sitting up there, and they refused to answer that. So BDS is not about trying to force Israel economically it’s about destroying Israel and ending a two state solution that most of us stand for.

Mayor: Look, I think the central point here is how are we going to foster a peace if we take away the opportunity to create jobs for every kind of person in the region. Right? I mean we know, we know that a lot of times in human history crisis has occurred where there was economic tension and one of the things that helped heal wounds is that there is opportunity for everyone. We’ve got to a have a strong Israeli economy to create that opportunity for Jews and Arabs alike. That’s one of the clearest ways forward. And I sometimes find some people get lost in abstract ideologies and forget the human dynamic. The human dynamic is a way if we can just get to more of a discussion of how to create a future of peace and prosperity for everyone in the region. That’s actually what could finally, finally end this conflict. But no, any effort undermining Israeli economy stands in the way peace and undermines a place that is needed as an ultimate refuge for the Jewish people. And that’s what I say as a progressive. If you, if progressives are supposed to hate oppression, progressives are supposed to hate discrimination, progressives are supposed to look at the reality of people who have been the underdog and have been oppressed throughout history. Well, all of those conditions are met here. But in the case of the Jewish people to their great credit, they did something about it by creating the State of Israel and having one place that they could know is theirs. And again it might be a different discussion if you could say no, no, no you know look at Western Europe where everything is fine there, its not. It’s not, look what’s happening in France – it’s an obvious example that causes French Jews, the third largest Jewish community in the world to feel very, very insecure in a country that many of them been there for generations. So, this is what I would argue with any progressive anywhere, if you really want to stand up, up against oppression then of course everyone needs to know there’s one place where they’re truly safe.

Goldenberg: Lets move to New York City. This week crime statistics came down at 17 percent since last year, eight percent since last month.

Mayor: Yep.

Goldenberg:  A safe city is a safe city for everybody. A safe city which I [inaudible] thank the NYPD who first off – stop and frisk almost completely gone, only used when necessary.

Mayor: Yep.

Goldenberg: I think the height was 600,000 thousand people stopped –

Mayor: Almost 700,000.

Goldenberg: Almost 700,000 people stopped and frisked.

Mayor: In one year.

Goldenberg: In one year. Not one decade. One year.

Mayor: One year.

Goldenberg: How many have been stopped in 2017?

Mayor: At this point, this year I would estimate something like 10,000 or so. And here is what’s so amazing Leon. Crime is down across the board as you referenced. The reduction just from this point last year to this year 17 percent reduction in shootings almost a 17 percent reduction in homicide, overall crime is down, gun seizures are up, and all of this has been achieved with the reduction of stop and frisk, a reduction of tension between community and police. And here is another thing that is amazing; we have the lowest number of complaints against police by community members in fifteen years. So, less stop and frisk, fewer complaints, more dialogue and corporation between police and community. Crime down, gun seizures up, it’s a beautiful picture and I want note because I know a lot of your listeners are in my beloved Brooklyn. If you look at the Precincts in Brooklyn, look at the 6-1 Precinct, which covers the Sheepshead Bay and a lot of the surrounding communities crime is down 14 percent. 6-6 in Borough Park, you and I both know so well, crime is down 14 percent. This is over the last couple of years, consistent reduction in crimes. 7-0 Precinct in Midwood and Flatbush – crime is down 14 percent. It’s very striking and consistent across the city. But look, Leon, here’s the amazing point – we’re not done. I say this every time – Commissioner O’Neill believes this, Commissioner Bratton before him believed it – there is an opportunity here to become even safer.

Goldenberg: Under 300 deaths – you’re heading for this year?

Mayor: Look, we always – but this is something I feel in City Hall and I know all the leadership of the NYPD feels that’s a particular goal that we never talk about publicly out of respect for what a historical, extraordinary achievement is might be, and we’re all very, very careful never to overstate. We will have that discussion on midnight on December 31st, but, I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing how much progress is being made. And I’ll tell you another thing, it’s not just this neighborhood policing philosophy that Commissioner O’Neill really offered, getting police and community to know each other better, communicate more, work together more. It’s also – remember, with the City Council – I give them a lot of credit – we added 2,000 more officers on patrol. It’s amazing how –

Goldenberg: And they’re living in New York?

Mayor: Well, and that’s the other thing –

Goldenberg: More and more?

Mayor: So, 2,000 more officers on patrol than just two years ago – the biggest the NYPD has been since 2001. But, yeah, you’re exactly right – the report came out just last week of, for the first time in a long time, over 50 percent of the NYPD is now New York City residents – that’s very healthy for the city. Obviously, any officer that lives in the city, when they’re off-duty, they’re still looking out for their neighborhood, which is great. But also, it means more and more officers who community members see as part of their communities, representing all of the communities of the city. It’s a very promising trend, and we’re getting really talented people. The new generation joining NYPD is the, I would think without question, the most talented we’ve ever seen – lots of military veterans, lots of folks who have gotten a lot of education, and they’re unquestionably the best training by the NYPD, which is putting more and more energy into training to help our officers be the best they can be. So, this s a powerful, powerful moment. But, Leon, I’m telling you, we’re going to get safer still. 

Goldenberg: Okay, we’re ready. We’re ready. One last thing – the economy – that we brought up. 

Mayor: Yes, one little thing, right?

Goldenberg: One little thing, the economy, which is, thank God, humming along. 

Mayor: Yes.

Goldeberg: Where do you see the jobs of the future? Where should all of the communities be heading for for jobs that are not paying minimum wages?

Mayor: Yes. Well, you’re exactly right – it’s one thing to have a lot of jobs, it’s a much better thing to have a lot of jobs that pay a really good wage that are good-paying, solid jobs you can make a career out of – that’s what we’re aiming at. So, I’d say a couple of things – there where is a very important question. All five boroughs is the first answer, if you’re talking about geography. By the way – strongest job growth in the city is now happening in Brooklyn. 

Goldenberg: Wow.

Mayor: Well, I like the way you think, but, you know, once upon a time, no one would have believed that sentence, right? If you said job growth, you would have been saying Manhattan. Manhattan’s doing well too, but Brooklyn is having fantastic job growth, Queens is having fantastic job growth. In the Bronx, they’ve cut the unemployment rate in half in the last four years. There’s amazing things happening – Staten Island, you see a lot of really extraordinary things happening in Staten Island – new development. So, what we want is a five-borough economy that also encourages opportunity for a lot of folks who didn’t have as much economic opportunity. Look, let’s face it, in every community, if the jobs are nearer to you, there’s more chance you’ll get them. If we – now, to the type of job, for example, the tech community, which has already gotten to be very strong n Brooklyn continues to grow. Let’s talk about something you and I both know about, the Jewish communities of Brooklyn having really nearby access to those wonderful tech jobs could be a great opportunity, right? And starting in places like Dumbo, but it’s going to grow throughout the borough. And so, the areas of the economy – tech community, unquestionably – 350,000 jobs right now – could get to as many as a half-a-million jobs in the coming years. Life Sciences – the creation of all sorts of new medical products – huge growing area for the city. Film and television, of course, is booming. Healthcare – more and more opportunity in the healthcare field. Engineering, design – the city has always been a capital – more and more a capital of those fields. So, look – oh, here’s another one – cyber security. We did an announcement the other day – cyber security, more necessary than ever. 

Goldenberg: And now, working with Israel a lot. 

Mayor: Of course, but we want New York City to be the capital of cyber security development here in the United States, and with the financial industry here, and the academic centers here and all, it makes all the sense in the world. So, our vision is 100,000 new, good-paying jobs. I define that as jobs that pay about $50,000 or more. And we want to see them be in all five boroughs. But here’s a wonderful fact – we have the most jobs in the history of the city. We have 4.4 million jobs in New York City – the most we’ve ever had in our history. And why? Because the bad days are over, people want to be here from all over, not only the metropolitan region – the country, the world. The talent is coming here. 

Goldenberg: I can tell you, they’re from all over.

Mayor: Correct. And the great news is, people who want to start businesses, people who want to build businesses and create more and more jobs for everyone else. So, it’s an amazing time. My job – and this is what I ran to do four years ago – is to make sure that that economic opportunity is spread across all five boroughs and to every kind of New Yorker. And I believe that that’s really starting to happen in a big scale and we’ve got a lot more to do. 

Goldenberg: I want to thank you very much. It’s been my pleasure. As always, I look forward to having you again on this show and discuss the half-a-dozen items that I didn’t get to. 

Mayor: Leon, I will always come back for a return visit and I want to thank you, again, for the friendship and for all the good works we’ve had the joy to do together, and many more years ahead. 

Goldenberg: Amen.

Mayor: Amen.

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