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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Releases One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City

April 22, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you, Kelly. I want to thank everyone at The Point for what you do. And I’m going to talk about their great work in this strong and resilient neighborhood in just a moment. But first, I just want to hold up the plan of the hour. I want to hold up our One New York plan. This is not just a book. This is a real blueprint for change in this city. This is going to be a game changer in this city.  I’m going to talk in a moment about all the people who work so hard to bring us to this day. But one thing they could say about this administration – we take our plan very, very seriously. We apply them very literally. We keep to our commitments. And this is the blueprint for the future of New York City. So, we’re very excited about this day and we’re thrilled so many good friends are here to join with us to announce it.

Kelly and everyone at The Point – we’re here because you epitomize the efforts to create a fairer city, a better city for all residents, for all neighborhood members – a city that really addresses both our environmental challenges and our economic challenges and realizes that we have to do those both at the same time. And in fact, the very process of addressing our environmental challenges is part of how we do address our economic challenges. The process of addressing the sustainability needs of our city is how we also battle inequality. That is the underlying idea behind this plan. And that’s what happens every day at The Point. You are fighting to make a neighborhood that often got less than its fair share – you’re fighting to make it a better neighborhood. You’re fighting to mobilize people, to strengthen the neighborhood, to address the environmental challenges, and the economic challenges simultaneously. Let’s thank everyone at The Point.


Now, we said at the beginning of the administration – literally the first day – the idea was to create one city – one city that rises together. The antidote to the tale of two cities is to work always towards greater unity and fairness. And we have to do that in a lot of ways. What was unacceptable, I felt, was to see the growing divisions just fester. And again, so many people who have fought for economic justice have also fought for environmental justice, because these challenges go hand in hand. So many people in the city have for so long recognized that inequality takes many forms. And the way forward is to create a vision for one city, where there’s opportunity for all, fairness for all, sustainability for all. That’s what animated the work that led to One New York.

Now, this title says it all – OneNYC, the plan for a strong and just city. The idea here is that our strength derives from our fairness. Our strength derives not just from growth, but growth that creates opportunity and growth that is sustainable. Our strength derives from the notion that we’re a city constantly working to stay ahead of the curve in the face of climate change and other challenges. Strength is about everything from economic growth to resiliency and sustainability, to economic inclusion. Strength is about a community of people that believe they belong and that they have real opportunity. Justice is about people knowing fairness is there for them. This is what animates this report.

And we took the platform of PlaNYC, and it is a very strong and very positive platform and we built this on it. PlaNYC looked at growth. PlaNYC looked at sustainability, looked at resiliency. These were crucial, crucial issues to address and it did it very well. But we needed – we knew we needed to go farther. We knew we need to address inequality at the same time. We knew that our vision had to be bolder. It had to be more inclusive of the realities of the lives of our people. And that’s what brought us to OneNYC. And this plan – for the first time in New York City – makes very clear that we’re going to fight income inequality in a very specific and tangible way and we’re going to hold ourselves accountable for getting our people out of poverty. This plan sets a literal numerical goal on how many people we will get out of poverty and how quickly we can do it. Because fighting income inequality means helping so many of our fellow New Yorkers finally being able to make ends meet, finally be able to know they can keep living in their own neighborhood, that they’re not going to be forced out, that they’re not always going to be underwater economically. So this plan not only says we’re going to create an economically fair city – we offer a clear standard for what that means and we hold ourselves accountable to it.

I’m going to go into detail on that in just a moment. But let me just thank the folks who brought us to this day and I want to thank everyone who has joined with us here today. You’re going to hear from a few my colleagues in just a moment. But let me thank a lot of the folks who made this possible. We asked a lot of folks to help us find this path because this is one of the most ambitious plans, I think, anywhere in the nation for addressing this combination of challenges – it’s certainly the most ambitious plan in the nation by any city for addressing poverty. So we had a lot of people who were part of this process. I want to particularly thank our first deputy mayor, Tony Shorris, who led this process so well with our director of the office of sustainability, Nilda Mesa. I want to thank them. They worked incessantly to bring us to this day. I want to thank Michael Berkowitz, the president of 100 Resilient Cities. I want to thank Judith Enck, the U.S EPA regional administrator – the EPA being such an important partner with the city of New York. We had a sustainability advisory board that offered so much in this process. People put so much time and energy into getting us to this day. I want to thank the co-chairs – Larisa Ortiz of the City Planning Commission; Donovan Richards, the chair of our City Council environmental protection committee; and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at  Columbia University. Our steering committee included First Duty Tony Shorris; Richard Buery, our deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives; Mindy Tarlow, our director of operations. So many people contributed, obviously including Bill Goldstein, our senior advisor for recovery, resiliency, and infrastructure; Carl Weisbrod, the chair of the planning commission; Dan Zarrilli, the director of our Office of Recovery and Resiliency; Larian Angelo, our first deputy director of OMB.

All were on the front line – we had a lot of meetings to get to this day. A lot of thinking went into literally putting on paper the plan we’re going to live by and hold ourselves accountable to. All of them did extraordinary work to get us to this day. And so many of the other commissioners and leaders of this administration who are here today, I want to thank them all. Everyone contributed. Every agency was a part of this process and they did so with great energy and heart to get us to this day. So, thank you to all the commissioners. I also want to thank the many, many community leaders, faith leaders, environmentalists, advocates, and labor leaders who helped us build out this vision. We’re joined by George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16. I want to particularly thank him for his efforts to bring us to this day. Thank you very much to all. Let’s give them all a round of applause.


Now, I mentioned the foundation that was laid by PlaNYC. PlaNYC was a groundbreaking effort. It defined our future in a very public and transparent way – and to set goals in place, particularly the environmental sustainability. I commend Michael Bloomberg for what he achieved with PlaNYC. It was pivotal for the future of this city that a plan be put in place that really changed the way we think about our future. And Mayor Bloomberg did something of lasting importance, and, I think, international importance with the [inaudible] PlaNYC. The idea that we felt throughout this – if you believe something is a good model, make it stronger, build upon it, make it even bolder. And that’s what we’ve done.

Some of the extraordinary commitments made in the original PlaNYC are being kept. They’re kept by the previous commission – excuse me, previous mayor – previous administration. We are continuing to keep those commitments. Things like the million trees that are being planted across the city; the reduction of carbon emission, which continues every day; the composting initiative. So much of what we saw in PlaNYC, it was crucial to continue, and to build out. But we knew we had to go farther. We knew we had to bring the challenge of inequality into this plan.

Someone asked me the other day when I said inequality is the crisis of our times – they said, well, wait a minute, how do you juxtapose it with climate change? Isn’t climate change the crisis of our times? I said I have no lack of recognition of how desperate the situation is in terms of our climate, which is why this committee – excuse me, this city committed to 80 by 50, which is why you’re going to see in OneNYC a host of initiatives to go at the challenge of climate change. The difference between climate change and income inequality is, thank God, there are efforts happening finally to address climate change. We saw at the UN summit in September. We see it in the new agreement between the United States and China. We see it in the [inaudible] cities and states around the country. We certainly see it here. The difference is income inequality, which is growing worse all the time, is threatening the very cohesion and stability of our society. In this city, and in this whole country, it’s going fundamentally unaddressed. And that’s why it so crucial to integrate the fight against income inequality into all we do. 

So, for the very first time, New York City will commit to reducing income inequality and reducing poverty – [inaudible] people out of poverty. We pledge to move 800,000 people out of poverty by the year 2025. That’s nearly 10 percent of the population of this city now struggling at the poverty level or near the poverty level – struggling to make ends meet. We’re going to move 800,000 people out of poverty, and we’re going to change the reality of this city, and make it once again a place for everybody. That’s what we’re committed to, and I want to give you a sense of that scale. 800,000 people is the size of the entire population of the booming city of Charlotte, North Carolina. That is the sense of how ambitious and how necessary this plan is. The fact that there are 800,000 people that we have to reach gives you a sense of just how tough the situation is for so many New Yorkers. We’re committed to reaching that goal. 

And it’s as simple as this – you cannot have a successful city if more and more people are falling behind. You can’t have a successful city if people feel they don’t have an economic future. Just as PlaNYC literally asked the question, what would a successful city look like in the future in terms of sustainability, resiliency, economic growth? We ask all those questions, but one more – what will the city look like in the future in terms of economic inclusion? And if there isn’t growing economic inclusion, how can that city be strong? How can it be successful? How can it be a global leader? How can it compete in an ever more globalized world? I believe fundamentally you can’t have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability. Nor can you have economic sustainability without environmental sustainability. One alone doesn’t build a strong future. We know – we know that if we only had environmental sustainability and ended up with a guided city only for the most wealthy, it would no longer be New York. And equally, if we had a city filled with economic opportunity and inclusion but it was not environmentally viable and sustainable, it wouldn’t work. So we’ve got to bring these two pieces together. 

Here in Hunts Point, as I’ve said, residents for a long time have been on the short end of the stick of our economic reality. Median income – less than $26,000. $26,000 – try living on $26,000 or less – family of four in New York City. Just think about the fact that, as I’ve said many times, 46 percent of our city – at or near the poverty level. That is a crisis that cannot go unaddressed. Here at The Point – and I think one of the things I deeply appreciate about the point is it is already playing out this vision here in this neighborhood. The things we’re talking about, bringing these strand together, it’s happening right here in Hunts Point, right now. If you want to find out what it looks like to challenge environmental problems and economic problems simultaneously, just talk to the folks at The Point because they’re doing it, and they never lose sight of the fact they have to address the needs of their entire community. We can’t have people be strong in one way, and weak in another, and be a successful community. Here at The Point, they’re addressing the whole community, the whole family. That concept pervades OneNYC. We target not only the economic challenges, the sustainability challenges, we target things like chronic disease, we target the challenge of violence, we target the challenge of infant mortality, and we make clear we’re going to reduce premature death in this city. A host of measures because we’re losing people we don’t need to lose, and we’re going to do something about it.

Now, people will say rightfully, well, this plan [inaudible] includes some things that you know you can do yourselves as a city, with other things that will require action by the state government, or the federal government, or the MTA, or other entities. That’s true. That’s true, because what we set out to do was show the people of this city what would take us where we need to go; rally the people of our city around a shared vision. And I’m someone who believes what happens in different levels of government, what happens in the political process, the legislative process – it’s never static. It’s ever-changing. It changes with the people.

If you show the people a vision, and the people believe in that vision, a lot of things can change in places like Albany and Washington. So we’re showing the vision of what it’s actually going to take to make this a city for all, and one that can go the distance.

The fight against inequality – boil that down to taking people out of poverty, rising them up – boil it down to that central goal – fewer and fewer and fewer people in poverty – that strong and just society. We will go to Albany, and we’ll bring the people of New York City with us, to change the minimum wage so it can actually reach the needs of the people. We need to get to a $13 minimum wage next year, which, by 2019, will be a $15 minimum wage. That is how we will rise people out of poverty. We actually give them the wages, the benefits, the opportunities they deserve.

Now, simultaneously, all the other pieces of our plan affect this outcome. When it comes to fighting poverty, when it comes to fighting income inequality, our affordable housing plan – addressing the number one expense in the lives of New Yorker; our pre-k and after-school plans – taking huge expenses out of the budgets of working parents, also opening the door to much greater opportunity for their children in the future; everything we’re doing to increase access to mass transit, increase access to broadband, and all the economic opportunity that comes with that; our municipal ID program – opening opportunity for so many people in this city; our workforce development programs – training people for the actual jobs of today and tomorrow. Everything we’re doing aims at the goal of creating a city where people can actually succeed economically. All of these pieces go together.

And we’re looking far ahead, because it is a more complicated world, where the questions of both environmental sustainability and economic sustainability require not just looking five years or ten years ahead, but decades ahead. It’s a globalized world. It’s a competitive world. If we are going to be a global leader, if we’re going to be all that New York City was meant to be, we have to plan decades over the horizon, and that’s what you see in OneNYC.

We are growing. We will have 9 million people. At some point in the next few decades, we will have 9 million people. We’re already at 8.5 million, which is the largest population we have ever had in the history of New York City. That’s why you see in our plan policies that will add, by 2040, 500,000 units of housing of all types – because we need 500,000 units of housing to be the city we were meant to be.

We, in this plan, project a city with 5 million jobs, because we need to grow in that direction to be the city we can be. We believe all these pieces fit together. And we understand that we are not up against just the globalized economy, and the competition from other cities and countries around the world. We’re also up against a very [inaudible] environmental reality. We understand climate change, because we’ve lived it here in New York City. We understand extreme weather, because it visited us in the form of Sandy, the worst natural disaster in the history of New York City. We understand that climate change is an existential threat to this city and this earth. That’s why you see in this plan not only the bold commitments we’ve made before, but we’re adding others. And we need that for our people. And we need that because New York City has to help lead the way for the rest of the nation, the rest of the globe.

We have to show what it looks like to actually take on climate change head-on.

We started with a commitment to cut greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050 – 80 percent by 2050, making us the largest city in the world to take on that commitment – and that includes a focus especially on our buildings, but also on creating more transit options, reducing solid waste, improving our electrical grid – a whole host of details you’ll see in this plan.

But then we’ve added to it – and there’s no lack of boldness in these choices we’ve made. Zero waste for our landfills – this is an extraordinary commitment and a necessary one, and one that we need to be emulated in other places. We’re going to constantly drive down the amount of waste we create through composting, through better recycling. We’re going to constantly drive that down to the point that nothing goes from New York City to a landfill in the future. It will be a hard effort. It’s going to take a lot of resources. It’s going to take a lot of public education. It’s going to take a lot of community organizing. But this is the way of the future if we’re going to save our earth.

And – third point – we are committed, by 2030, to having the best air quality of any city in this nation. We’re well on our way, but by 2030, we will have the best air quality of any city in this nation. For those of you who lived through the 1960s and 70s in New York City, that is a hard vision to believe, but it’s one we are committed to, and we’ve shown – and I give the previous administration a lot of credit – we’ve shown how much progress we can make in this area, and we’re going to do a lot more.

So, this is not just about metrics, this is not just about dates or programs – this is about human beings, this is about how we’re going to change people’s lives, transform neighborhoods, uplift families – that’s what pervades this plan.

If you were a pessimist, you could look at this moment in history, you could look at climate change, you could look at income inequality, you could say somehow we’ve fallen into an intractable rut, there is no way forward. I believe history is pervaded by examples of people, recognizing their circumstance, and demanding change, and the people leading their leaders. We hope, here in New York City, that the people know this plan responds to them. We’ve heard – we’ve heard their voices. We’ve heard their needs. This plan responds to them, and this plan can set a pace for much greater changes far beyond our borders.

And it’s ever-important to remember, our only danger is complacency. Our only danger is believing we can’t change things or that somehow we’ll muddle through and just keep our policies and our lifestyle the way it is, and somehow come out the other side okay. That has never been true.

One of the strongest voices of the origins of the modern environmental movement – one of the strongest voices was Rachel Carson. Rachel Carson broke through the complacency a half century or more ago, made people think, started a whole chain reaction of a different way of approaching the environmental challenges we face. I want to quote a simple passage from Silent Spring, her master work. “The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy – a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed. But at its end lies disaster.” That statement, over a half-century old, is equally true.

Here in New York City, we don’t buy into the complacency. We don’t accept that our only path is to keep going towards that dangerous endpoint. We believe we can change our course. We believe we can change it fundamentally. We can get ourselves to a very different place if we act together with the people of this city. So we will take the road less traveled. We’ll challenge ourselves to do things differently to lead this city to a fairer and brighter future.

A few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I welcome our Director of the Office of Sustainability Nilda Mesa.


Mayor: Okay, we are going to do on-topic questions, followed by off-topic questions. Let’s start with on-topic questions.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, obviously, the ten-year timeframe, which is similar to the ten-year timeframe we’ve laid out in the affordable housing plan, but the vast majority of that we hope we are around for. The people have to decide if they want to renew my employment contract, but if they do we’re around for most of that. And I think, as you see with PlaNYC evolving now into OneNYC, the work of the administration should live on in many, many ways. If we do this right, if we’re continuing to make progress, whoever comes next, I think, will want to continue it. But I emphasize again, this is predicated – my contribution, I hope, to this process was a recognition that changing people’s minds, making the people a partner in this process is how we really move forward. So, this plan depends on the people. It depends on the people to demand some of the changes we need and to sustain this vision. It’s going to go on not just into the administration that follows mine, but many more thereafter. But, I think if the people believe, if it becomes a consensus in this city, it will have the support it needs.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’ll – I’m going to start then if Tony Shorris or Nilda Mesa want to chime in anytime I either don’t say enough, leave out something, don’t know the answer – they will be available. Again, we’re being very explicit here about the fact that this – the set of decisions made here were in close coordination with our ten-year capital plan, which will be unveiled on May 7. So, we didn’t put something in here with a price tag and then not account for it in the budget. It is accounted for, but we’re going to unveil it all together, so you’re going to see the whole picture. There are some things where we have more to say even after the May 7 budget. There’s some pieces that we will be fleshing out further after the budget announcement. There’s some ideas that we’re going to put forward, and some actions we’re going to put forward that go beyond even what you’re going to see in the plan and what you’re going to see in the budget. This is an ongoing effort, but the specific things that cost city money – either capital or expense money – will be accounted for May 7.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, they’re more than nice – they are necessary. They are necessary for our people. Look, I don’t blame anyone that’s cynical. I represent 8.5 million jaded people.


Mayor: I – you know, I go around the city trying to find a wide-eyed optimist, but I haven’t found them yet. But – but, here’s what’s different – first of all, there’s absolute and total commitment by City Hall to achieve these goals. But, this is what I ran on, this is what I care about, this is what I believe in, this is what the people what me to do – and I think the same is felt over at the City Council to the great credit of my colleagues. We push each other to go farther. So, when you have the chief executive officer of the city and the legislature of the city speaking with one voice on the need to achieve these goals, and willing to put the resources in, a lot can happen. It’s clear when it comes to fighting income inequality, we need the state, first of all, to step up on the minimum wage. We are going to put a lot of energy into that. I believe you see all over the country this issue has been engaged in a whole new way just in the last year. 200 cities around the country had demonstrations last week, simultaneously, calling for the $15 minimum wage – 200 cities in America. You see major corporations deciding to raise their wages because of the pressure they felt from their consumers and their workers. You see a minimum wage referenda passing in red states such as the state of Nebraska, which I was in last week. Something is changing and changing rapidly, because it’s become abundantly clear that the income inequality crisis is out of control. I believe when we continue our fight in Albany that Albany will change. It may not happen in the first instance, but I believe it will happen in time for us to achieve these goals. When it comes to the waste reduction, I’m going to have Nilda flesh that a little bit more for you. But, the fact is that so much of what we’re doing wrong now is because we’re not showing our people a better way. We’re not making it easy for them to recycle. We haven’t given them the education and the support to recycle better. We haven’t used technology to the extent we could. In fact, the whole system was built on a bankrupt idea – that you produce a huge amount of waste and you go send it to a landfill in another state. That is ludicrous. The whole notion of a society based on constantly increasing waste and then putting it into a truck or a barge or a train and sending it somewhere else – you dig a big hole in the ground, you put the waste in the ground – that is outrageous and is outdated, and we’re not going to be party to it. I would also say this is another area where the people are already moving. Look at how many people – particularly in the generations coming up – want a greener society and are willing to do things differently. I will tell you a simple story – yes, I used to sin.


I used to use that other kind of water bottle, and Chiara would not lay off. It was like, when you’re going to stop using that? When you’re going to stop using that? When you’re going to stop using that? I see you’re using that still. When you’re going to stop – why is your water bottle [inaudible]? I mean, it went on for like weeks and weeks and weeks, and it’s finally like this is the best kind of [inaudible] – it was like, okay, I’ll be environmentally correct if you just stop.


So, the fact is I do believe generational change is a big part of that. I think the generations coming up get – because they’ve lived with extreme weather and they’ve seen the outrageous waste of this society, and they want to do something about it. So, I think the table is set for the changes we need to make, but it’s also about constantly driving them. What will you add to explain how it works [inaudible]?

Nilda Mesa, Director, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability: Hats off to the Sanitation Department, actually, for doing a very comprehensive and thoughtful study with – involving a lot of people – on how we get to the path to zero waste to landfills. So, some of the – and it’s not going to happen overnight for sure – but, some of the strategies that I heard – there’s more detail in the plan – that some of the strategies that are in there are increasing organic collection, and also building up the capacity to make sure that, you know, if we’re picking up, we have some place to take it to turn it into either – you know, to take it to the waste water treatment plant or, you know, take it to some place where it’s turned into compost. We have other items in there, such as expanding the current programs on textile and electronic waste recycling. We’re going to be looking at what to do about plastic bags, and working with the City Council on that, which we’re already doing [inaudible]. And then we’re also going to be looking at developing what they call, like, a [inaudible] program, so that people get rewarded for actually not putting stuff into the trash. So those are – those are kind of the main items. There’s more details in the plan – we can get you more, if you’d like.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: So I’d say two things – we – like the City Council, we want to find a way to end or greatly reduce the use of plastic bags. We are in negotiation as to the best way to do that. And I think the negotiations are going well, and I think we’ll have something to say on that soon, but the good news is I think it’s absolute unity on the fact that just, you know, an endless supply of free plastic bags given out in stores all over the city is not healthy for the environment, and we have to change. I think we’ll have something soon to fill in the blank on that.

Question: [inaudible] any point in the future where New Yorkers will be required to compost?

Mayor: Look, I think, as with everything – and Nilda you’ll jump in after me – the goal – and I want to liken this to what we’re doing in the 80-by-50 commitment – we said, with the private sector buildings of this city, which obviously is the majority, that we were going to do two things. We were going to lead the way – the city government would, by 2025, retrofit all of our buildings – lead the way, lead by example, put your money where your mouth is. And we said we’re going to form a group, which is going to work this year and come up with its recommendations this year, including leaders in the private sector, to figure out what commitments they could make voluntarily to achieve similar goals and get us on the 80-by-50 track. I also said, with love and purpose in my heart, if the private sector does not get there, we will mandate it, because it’s about the survival of the earth. It’s about the survival of the people of our city and their health. But similarly, with composting, I think there’s a lot of ways we can teach people, make it simpler, make it better. I think a lot of people, as they experience it, find it is a great thing. But we’re going to figure out, if we’re not getting where we need to go, what kind of other tools we need. You want to add?

Mesa: So there’s been – there are a couple of pilot composting collection projects in the city. I think it was this morning, the Sanitation Department said they’re going to be – announced that they’re going to be expanding those to more boroughs and more neighborhoods. And so, with what we learn from that, we can really flesh out more.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: [inaudible] pinch hitter [inaudible]. Line-up change. Hold on – Dennis will tell you – [inaudible].

First Deputy Commissioner Dennis Diggins, Department of Sanitation: Hi, I’m Dennis Diggins, First Deputy Director – Diggins – D-I-G-G-I-N-S – I’m the First Deputy Commissioner for Sanitation.

Mayor: Speak loud.

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: [inaudible]. So your questions? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear it from the back.

Question: [inaudible] composting [inaudible]

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: We’re pleased with it. It’s – it’s a constant outreach initiative. We have bins that we’ve distributed to the households [inaudible]. The – you’re going to get the greatest impact by making it as easy as possible for the – for the residents, and that’s what we’ve done. We’re going to be getting back analytical data, because we have [inaudible] tags attached to each of the bins, so it tells us what kind of response we’re getting. So far we’re seeing good response. Of course, we’d always like to see greater, and, again, it’s a constant reminder to – to residents, to community boards, through mailing, through advertising that we do – to increase that. And that we – again, we’re trying to make it easier through drop-offs. In addition to curbside, there are green markets that are available for folks. There was a question earlier about composting. There are about 255 community compost facilities throughout the city that we look to foster ourselves, as well as through not-for-profit groups and GrowNYC. So we’re aggressively looking to foster organics – organics takes up over 30 percent of the waste stream. So, going back to the question earlier about how do you achieve that zero to landfills, you know, when you’re looking at the percentages of each of these commodities that we’re looking to separate out, it’s – it’s achievable. You know, again, I know the mayor is a big proponent of recycling in his house. When you really start looking at what your waste stream is in your house – the amount of food scraps that you have, containers that you wouldn’t think before to recycle – milk containers – those are all recyclables. The only thing – there are very items that aren’t recyclable in your waste stream – diapers, you can get – some household building products aren’t – but most of the items in your waste stream are recyclable.

Question: [inaudible] organics are [inaudible]

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: Sure. It’s food scraps, it’s soiled paper – primarily food scraps. We also take yard waste and grass clippings.

Mayor: Well done. Stick around in case there’s other – hold on – one second. Hold on – so I want to first add to the answer – say, here is an example of how people change – not just me – and thank you – I saw you handed these out to people here, I think, or there’s a lot of them kicking around, at least – but, the – people change – that is used to be this was, you know, who did this? And now everyone’s doing it, right? So, the point is, this is about changing minds, changing practices, making things simpler, showing people ways. I think when people recognize 30 percent of the waste stream is actually those kind of organic items that you can just simply put into a bin, I think people change and I think they start to put the dots together. One other thing – a lot of people are going to ask, how can I get all the details in this exceptionally heavy report? Well, if you don’t want the heavy report version, go to – – that is O-N-E-N-Y-C.

Question: Mr. Mayor, when PlaNYC came out [inaudible]?

Mayor: Well, the Utica Avenue proposal is one we think needed to be studied, because it’s a part of our city that is very underserved by mass transit. And one of the things I talked about a lot in 2013 was trying to rationalize our mass transit system to actually go where the people are. We’re obviously an outer-borough city, and yet there are huge swaths of the outer boroughs that don’t get enough service, and this is an example of a line that might make a lot of sense to expand. We want to study that. That’s what we say in there. But I’ve said many times, there is a reckoning that has to happen in terms of where we’re going with the MTA, and that’s going to involve the state, that’s going to involve us, that’s going to involve a lot of other partners in the region to make sense of it. In this plan, we do not provide all those answers, because we don’t have them all yet, but it’s something we’re going to be working on. As I said, you get this plan, you get the capital budget, but then there’s going to be a lot happening after the capital budget, including on the question of the MTA. Really, we need to get the stakeholders in the region to come together and agree on a longer-term vision, and everything should be on the table in that discussion. We haven’t had a particularly regional approach, historically. One of the things we did in the lead-up to this plan is we invited county executives from the surrounding counties in New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut to come and meet with us. We invited in mayors. We wanted to hear what their concerns were and how it connected to what we were doing, because so much of what we’re doing affects them and vice versa. So, bluntly, I think the future of the MTA is hanging in the balance, but it will be solved with some kind of regional consensus about how we’re going to fund it and what each – each entity’s responsibilities are to the MTA. That will not be ready today, that will not be ready by May 7, but it will be something we’ll work on intensely over the coming months.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: That’s what we have to do today.

Question: So – so, I mean [inaudible]

Mayor: No. Let me – let me speak to that, and then Nilda or Tony can jump in. I talked about where we have to go in this city and where we have to go as a society. We are acknowledging that it’s going to take years, and in some cases decades, to achieve some of the things we’re trying to achieve. We have to deal with our waste here and now. And we have to do it in the smartest way, the most resilient way, the way we think is most environmentally appropriate. So, we don’t get to snap our fingers and change everything overnight. We have to plan for today and plan for tomorrow simultaneously. I believe in the solid waste plan – I always have. I voted for it originally. I still stand by it. Either one of you want to add? No? Okay.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, yeah, so let me – first of all, and again, some of this is all in good time. We do things in stages around here, and this plan represents our core vision for the future of New York City. It does not address every single project or every single need in detail in the plan. It shows you the direction we’re going to go in, the goals we’re setting. We’re going to flesh a lot of that out in different ways – the ten-year capital plan, the executive budget, and a host of other things we’ll do thereafter. We obviously announced the ferry plan separately earlier this year. You’ll see lots of other announcements over time. But I think what’s important to recognize is that goal is about ensuring everything from the access to the transportation to the speed with which the transportation moves – meaning, a lot of people could have a bus or subway nearby, but if it goes a long, long – takes a long, long time to get where it’s going, or if the frequency of the service is very slow, that means you have a longer commute. So yes, in some cases, as I mentioned Utica Avenue, there’s going to be places where we have to add new capacity. And other places, it’s about taking the capacity we have and making it more frequent. We’re going to be working on all of those fronts. Some of that we control. Some of that can only be done through the MTA. So this is a beginning to give you a framework and a set of goals, and then we fill in the blanks.

Please –

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I support you for that. Please continue.

Question: [inaudible] Borelli and [inaudible] Ignizio [inaudible]

Mayor: I think I just answered it – we’re going to continue to flesh it out. This is a beginning.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: There – yeah, I think there are already. I think the number of pre-k seats and after-school seats we create, the number of affordable housing units we create, the number of people who get municipal IDs – there’s lot of measures right now as to how we’re doing on immediate pieces of this plan. You’ll note – when you look at the effort to get people out of poverty, the foundation of that – the first 100,000, if you will, in that concept – is all of the things we’re doing right now. How many people are we training who get jobs who didn’t used to get jobs – who get higher paying jobs than they could get? How many people, for example, are getting into the tech industry from neighborhoods like this who can get a better-paying job? I think we have put forward a series of right-now proposals that are very easily measured. I think the larger goals, clearly, need time to fully be evinced. Judge me on how well I do at achieving a different minimum wage. I’m happy to be judged on that standard – even though I don’t control it, if people say, hey, you all fought like hell and other people in Albany didn’t get it, that’s one thing. But we’re going to fight like hell. So I think there’s a lot of ways to judge – and then, again, this is a beginning. We’re going to keep fleshing out these goals. If we didn’t want to put ourselves on the hook, we wouldn’t have pledged to this goal.

Question: [inaudible] poverty [inaudible]

Mayor: Again, I think – I’ve said it’s about the component parts, and we’re going to find ways to flesh it out as we go along.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris: [inaudible] mentioned [inaudible] Michael that, as we have been doing with the prior PlaNYC, we’re going to report each year on each of the over 200 initiatives that are in this book, and we’ll report that publicly, and we’ll report it on the website. So there’ll be accountability each year on each one of these indicators.

Question: [inaudible]

Mesa: So the study, if it hasn’t started yet, is just about to start. It’s with NYU. The – the full scope of it I don’t think we’ve entirely fleshed out at this point, but we’re expecting it to be over the course of the next year.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: You haven’t read the whole plan? That’s obnoxious.


I don’t even know why I’m taking this question.

Question: Just wondering if you or [inaudible]

Mesa: It’s early stages for that. So, at this point, we’re – we have to study it – we really have to do it in a way that’s fair for people, but, you know, stay tuned.

Question: [inaudible]

Mesa: Yeah – committing to it and then – but, we have to – yeah, we have to figure out how to do it in a careful, equitable way.

Mayor: Right. [inaudible] How do you incentivize?

Mesa: So the idea is that people get some sort of an incentive – I don’t know what that looks like yet, but we don’t know what it looks like yet, but they get incentivized to be rewarded for throwing out less. So it could be, you know, some sort of tax thing, it could be some other kind of thing, but there are a couple of different models for this around the country, and we’ll be looking at a number of those models.

Mayor: Let me – let me explain the [inaudible], just to – very clearly – this, again, is – right now, we’re spending a huge amount of money to dispose of waste that we could stop at the point of contact. That’s going to save the taxpayers a lot of money if we figure out how to reduce that, let alone the huge environmental impact. If we’re going to save that money, there may be ways to create an incentive system around that, but again, as we scrupulous do – scrupulously do on this team, when we have a plan and it has specifics, we’re going to tell you. Until that day, we feel comfortable saying this is something we aspire to and we believe we can reach.

Okay. Last call on topic – yes –

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: We’re doing well on the 1 million trees. Can you speak to 1 million trees?

Mesa: We love 1 million trees. So we’re almost – we’re actually expected to hit the 1-million-tree-planted mark at some point this summer, and we’ll be continuing. 


Mayor: On topic? On topic – 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I am a composting trainer. First of all, those of you – this is a good day to remind everyone of the de Blasio family composting video. Will you send it back out to the world today? One of the great dramatic presentations of our time – it’s riveting. It is riveting.


Chiara and Dante showing proper technique for scraping the food scraps off your plate into the compost bin. So, you know, we – we started at my beloved 442 11th Street, and we started – which – that area of the city was one of the earliest to be part of the composting effort. So, yeah, I – I was an active, energetic composter, and when I found others being less active or energetic, I corrected them. And I do that pretty much wherever I go. I’m known to do that at City Hall. I’m known to do that at office buildings when I’m visiting other people. It – I just get a little crazy when I see white paper in the trashcan. That’s one of the things that really gets me. So I – I try to live it – and at Gracie Mansion we have all the bins laid out in a row in our kitchen, and everything needs to go in the right bin.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: It goes into – again, it goes into the composting bin.

Question: Do you also do paper [inaudible]

Mayor: Paper, metal, glass, plastic – you name it, we do it. And the goal is to have the least go into the trash possible.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Because it shouldn’t be in the trash. It’s recyclable! Someone should actually be smart enough to have, like, white paper in a trashcan now and I go do [inaudible]. No, it’s just crazy – it’s crazy. It’s an example of a wasteful society. Why would you take perfectly good paper that can be recycled and put it in a trashcan? Who does that? No.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Thank you.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Right. Right. Yeah. I’m going to start and Nilda will jump in. It’s a challenge. Obviously, it’s a challenge, both in terms of the availability of the bins and also getting people to make the right choices. And so there’s a little bit of a double-edged sword – if you have the bins and everyone throws the wrong thing in the bin. The mother-load here is to get people to do it in their homes, and ultimately in their offices. That’s where, you know, we’re going to have the big impact. But we’re going to look at every tool possible to get people into more recycling. You want to add?

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Come on over. [inaudible]

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: Absolutely. We have over 1,800 public-space recycling bins out throughout the city, and we’re constantly expanding those. And yes, they are picked up on a regular basis. And we put them alongside our refuse, so we are seeing the amount of refuse started to reduce, so it’s – it’s reaching the goal that we want.

Mayor: Okay, last – thank you – last call on topic going once – on topic, media questions only – on topic, going once.

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: Right now, it’s getting over 15 percent for residential; for commercial, somewhere around 30 percent.

Question: [inaudible]

First Deputy Commissioner Diggins: Well, one of the – one of the initiatives of zero waste is to single-stream recyclables. Again, in the effort to make recycling more easy and more efficient for folks, we’re going to combine paper along with metal, glass, and plastic. So that reduces the challenge for us, makes it more efficient for us to collect it, and again, makes it easier for residents to dispose of it and recycle it.

Mayor: Okay, last call, on topic, going once – yes – 

Question: Quick follow-up on [inaudible]

Mayor: I have not, and I’ll say it again – I think it is a productive contribution to the discussion. We are going to sit with all of our partners in the region and talk about a way forward because it has to be dealt with. That will be one of the ideas on the table, but that is a long process, and I can’t conclude anything about the way forward until we have those discussions.

Going once – on topic, going once – going twice. Off topic.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’ve heard that point made. I don’t have the details or the evidence of the situation, but I can say this much – first of all, our goal with Vision Zero is to avoid pedestrian fatalities and to change the way we do things. And we think we’ve seen already extraordinary progress just after the first year – a combination of public education to changing speed limits, adding speed cameras, redesigning streets, etcetera. This work has just begun. As you know, we’re training a lot of people who work for the city of New York in how to be safer and better drivers. The MTA we do not control, but I think there’s an opportunity to work with the MTA to figure out what will help these drivers to do their work more safely. I think that the whole picture should be looked at – the routes that they cover, the schedules they’re on, the kind of training they need, if the equipment creates a problem. Obviously what’s more important than safety? What’s more important than saving people’s lives and avoiding horribly injured people? This is what we come here first to do in government. So, if it turns out that the design of the buses creates a safety problem, can we fix that with different mirrors or some other adjustments? Do we need something bigger than that? That’s a very valid question. But in the here and now, our message to everyone in this city, whether they work for the city or work for the MTA or they’re a private individual, is you have to drive safely, you have to yield to pedestrians, you have to respect that there’s new laws now that clearly penalize those who do not yield to pedestrians. And we’re here to save lives, and everyone has to be a part of that.

Question: [inaudible] what’s your position [inaudible]

Mayor: I think the Council’s proposals are certainly worthy of discussion, but I want to emphasize my vision of quality of life policing and my vision related to the Broken Windows strategy is the same as Commissioner Bratton’s – we’re very much unified on this point. It is a living, breathing idea, which means it changes with the times. We’re constantly working to update it. That is why we decided to change our approach to marijuana arrests and greatly reduce marijuana arrests. It’s also why we decided to greatly increase police activity related to motorists, and why the Vision Zero approach calls for actually more police enforcement on things like failure to yield. So we’re going to be making adjustments all along. The Council’s put some ideas on the table – we’ll certainly look at them and certainly have a conversation. But I think the core concept of addressing quality of life crimes energetically is important to keeping this a safe city. We’re very proud of the fact that overall crime continues to go down – and it needs to keep going down. We’re very proud of the fact that we’re doing a lot to bring police and community together. But the fundamental notion that we have to address quality of life crimes head-on is one I believe in.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Again, I – it’s a brand new proposal that we’ll have a serious conversation with them about. I’d put it under the rubric of if they’re saying, well, you know, Broken Windows is a living, breathing idea, we’re proposing these changes, we’ll look at it, but I’m not rushing to judgment, because I think we have to be very careful to not undermine the kind of quality of life that helps keep crime down.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I don’t know those particular ads, so I don’t want to comment unduly. Obviously, in this city, we respect all people, all religions, and all faiths. It’s part of why we added the two Eid holidays to our public school calendar. So I – I can’t comment on those particular ads, because I haven’t seen them, but I would discourage anyone who’s trying to be divisive.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: No. No, I – I’ve opposed the death penalty throughout my life, and I think it’s very moving and powerful that the families of the child who was lost – the family has been very clear that they don’t believe the death penalty should be applied. I think the death penalty is in the wrong direction for this country for a long time – and even an act of terrorism as heinous as this, from my point of view, does not merit the death penalty. It merits life in prison.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Again, [inaudible] – if you want to put words in my mouth, you can keep trying, but I won’t let you do it. I said very clearly there is a proposal on the table. It’s brand new. We will review it. But my concern is always to maintain quality of life policing, because it has driven down crime. I believe we all want to keep driving down crime while constantly – while simultaneously bringing police and community together. So we’ll look at it. I think it’s offered in a very positive spirit, but I also believe Commissioner Bratton knows a lot about driving down crime, and I think his first impulse here is to be careful not to lose some of what’s been effective even though we’re constantly going to be looking for ways to update our strategies. Commissioner Bratton and his team came to the conclusion last year, very, very squarely, that a reduction in marijuana arrests would not have a negative impact on public safety. They believe that thoroughly. I’m sure they’ll keep looking at a number of areas, but we’re going to take this one step at a time.

Question: [inaudible] president [inaudible]

Mayor: No.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: No.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: No.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’ve really said no a lot – I’m going to say no again. I am running for re-election as mayor of New York City in 2017. What I’m doing is I’m trying to talk about an issue that I think is a profound national crisis and needs attention, and is going absolutely unaddressed right now in Washington. And I’ll do anything I can to put the issue of income inequality front and center. I think that’s what leaders are supposed to do. I think that mayors in New York City, historically, are supposed to be spokespeople for the needs of cities around the country; are supposed to talk about, you know, what the federal government responsibilities should be towards our people. The federal government is doing nothing about income inequality – nothing. And we have to change that, so I’ll raise my voice every place I can, trying to influence people all over the country, but I got one job – mayor of New York City – and I’m running for re-election.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, I think it’s absolutely right that the governor went on that trade mission, because we’re finally at a moment where we’re going to normalize our relationship with Cuba, something that’s a half-century overdue. I found the meeting between President Obama and President Castro very moving, because it indicated that old enemies could get over their differences and actually start to work together productively. I remind you, here is a nation as close to Miami as, you know, we are to Philadelphia. It’s crazy that – or [inaudible] – it’s crazy that this division has continued for so long. So, I think we have an obligation here to see these two nations come together and figure out a peaceful way forward. I believe that engagement will increase human rights – universal human rights being recognized in Cuba. I believe it will allow for a lot more freedom in Cuba. The more open the situation is, the more chance that Cuba moves forward to a true democracy with true recognition of human rights.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’m – I know a lot about Brooklyn Bridge Park from my previous job as a city councilmember, but I don’t know about the pier house, so, we’ll get back to you.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, I think we think it just sends a clear message that we’re going the extra mile [inaudible] outside resources, going the extra mile to use them. Everything that comes into the Campaign for One New York is disclosed. It will be disclosed in – by the next scheduled time. I believe, absolutely, in disclosure, but we have to promote this agenda. And I want to be clear in [inaudible] I’m going to keep doing it, but if I can find a way to defray the cost, I certainly want to do that as well.

Last call, off topic, going once.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I don’t – we will get back to you. I’d say the broad concept is getting intervention I believe in very fundamentally. I’m a big fan of David Kennedy and the concept he created about how you stop gang violence before it proliferates; how you involve community members, family members, clergy in that effort. We certainly have had some real success with former gang members getting their life together and then being agents of peace. But, I don’t know about this specific situation. We will get you a response on that.

Last call, off topic, going once, going twice – thank you, everyone. 


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