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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on the Brian Lehrer Show

June 21, 2019

Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Good morning, everyone. We’ll begin as we usually do on Fridays with our weekly Ask the Mayor Segment, my questions and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Our phones our open at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or you can tweet a question – just use the hashtag #AsktheMayor, and good morning, Mr. Mayor – welcome back to WNYC.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian. And Brian, I just want to say something very important upfront. I think you know a 11-year-old young man was shot last night in Crown Heights in Brooklyn and I just want to report to everyone at this moment, thank god, he is stable. He’s still has – there are very serious concerns that have to be addressed in terms of his health situation, but he’s stable, I want all New Yorkers to pray for this young man and his family. I also want to let you know that there is a person of interest in custody. NYPD has found a person of interest and apprehended him, and anyone who has any information that might be pertinent to this incident, we need as much information as possible. We need to ensure we have all information for the prosecution going forward. Anyone who has information please call 1-800-5-7-7-TIPS. That’s T-I-P-S, 1-800-5-7-7-T-I-P-S.

Lehrer: You know we actually have a caller who did want to talk about that shooting and I’m going to go right to that caller. I don’t think he’s calling with tips, as far as I know, but Desmond in Crown Heights, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Good morning, Desmond.

Question: Good morning, Brian, and good morning Mr. Mayor de Blasio. Thank you for taking my call. I did speak with you last week –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: About the urgent need for more resources in our community. I cited a case when – we had resources reallocated from us to Brooklyn South. So, regrettably last night, two people were shot, an 11-year-old boy and a 31-year-old man, neither of whom was the intended target of the shooter. My wife left our house a few – a half an hour ago and she said there was a police action around the corner from us at P.S. 289. We need every manner of resource in our community, increased mental health, intervention services, more detectives, and more policing. And once again, I’m not speaking for the Community Board, even though I am member, I’m speaking as a lifelong resident of Community Board 8. And when I wasn’t there I was in Community Board 3, which are two are the largest districts in Central Brooklyn.

Mayor: Desmond, thank you again. I obviously – your conversation last week that we had was very important. I know the Chief of Brooklyn North at NYPD, Chief Maddrey, met with you this week. We are adding officers. We have been adding officers immediately to this before this incident. This is a horrible incident. We take it very seriously. We’ll continue to add officers and additional resources to the area to make sure people are safe. We need to get more information. Obviously the 11-year-old boy was not a target. It’s a horrible situation and a bystander. We don’t know about the rest of the situation, we need the full investigation to unfold.

But we will keep putting whatever resources are need. Look the – Desmond, your point is very, very well taken and thank you again for your leadership. We – we’re going to keep moving police resources where they are needed in this city. We’ve added 2,000 more officers on patrol. Crime obviously is down overall. Thank God murders have gone down intensely this year. We will move the resources where we need it. We know have 3,600 officers on – in this force. We have the ability to make strategic changes, this is an area that needs more attention, we’re going to move the officers where they are needed.

Lehrer: Desmond, thank you again for your call. Is it an irony that we get a call from Crown Heights asking for more policing when the big announcement that you made yesterday was - included less policing in public schools and to limit in school arrests for low-level offenses or reduce in school arrests for low-level offenses?

Mayor: No, no, it’s a very fair question, Brian, but it’s – I want people to understand the reality. This is something that Bill Bratton and Jimmy O’Neill over the years have talked to me about a lot. That what’s happening in the city today, because of amazing efforts by the NYPD and by community partners, is that there’s really a few thousand individuals in this entire city who are responsible for most of the truly serious and violent crime. It is not a widespread reality anymore and I’m – much of course is gang and crew related. That means that we have to constantly focus on those individuals, disrupt those gangs, take down those gangs, put police resources where they are needed, that’s precision policing, but also there has to be a deep relationship with the community neighborhood policing to get the information and support to identify these folks and stop them and get them off the streets. That is the way we address violent crime.

But in the schools, we’ve seen something very, very different. We’ve seen a constant decrease over the last five years in violence and in serious incidents. We’re going to continue to drive that down. But we have a different reality in schools where a lot of young people need more support. That’s what social-emotional education is all about, social-emotional learning. This is something my wife, Chirlane, has championed as something very much related the philosophy of the Thrive program. We have to help young people to address their needs, their concerns, their emotions to in many ways to stop problems before they happen and the way to do that is with, you know, more guidance counselors, more social workers, a curriculum and training for teachers that helps to address these approaches, restorative justice programs. All these things are meant to defuse and stop problems before they happen, good for the students, good for the teachers, good for the parents, so that can be done with educational approaches and social-emotional learning.

And the NYPD gets it and has been participating fully. Chief Beltran, the Head of School Safety, was at our press conference yesterday and was the first to say the NYPD’s approaching this in a new way, very consistent with neighborhood policing, the approach in schools is going to be very different and focus less on things like arrest and obviously from the DOE perspective, less on things like suspension and more on trying to address problems at the root cause. So I think, Brian, to your very good question there’s two entirely different realities here, there’s a reality that schools where we need much different approaches, less focus on punishment, more focus on addressing root causes and really working with kids and parents and communicating with them. And that’s what a lot of kids and a lot of parents have been calling for rightfully.

Lehrer: But –

Mayor: But on the streets, what we need to do is continually isolate where we’re having serious violence and put more and more police resources on it and work more closely with the community to root it out.

Lehrer: Part of your announcement yesterday was to try to use restorative justice techniques more often rather than suspensions or arrests. Could you describe for people who aren’t familiar what you mean by restorative justice and some examples of how you think it can change behavior by kids that’s bad enough to draw suspensions or even arrests today? 

Mayor: Absolutely, Brian. The – first of all it begins with laying the foundation which is social-emotional learning, and this is something Chancellor Carranza believes in intensely, Chirlane McCray, my wife, believes in intensely as part of the Thrive program – a lot of folks in our team have come together to say this is the breakthrough moment we’re really going to establish social-emotional learning in our school system, more comprehensively than any school system in America. That means helping everyone involved to address the real issues that young people go through, the intense emotional realities that young people experience as part of their growth, related to home life, related to realities in their neighborhood, whatever it is, everyone brings that with them wherever they go. Kids bring that to school with them and what’s happened historically is the focus has been on the academic side but not recognizing the human and emotional side. You can actually train teachers to address that more effectively which teachers want, you can put – what we’re doing now, and great credit to the City Council and Speaker Corey Johnson for their leadership – more social workers, more guidance counselors, to help our educators, to give them more support, to help our young people have more places to turn, training our school safety agents to work with young people, talk to them, and really have a relationship with them.

So that is the foundation we lay and what we think that will do is avert a number of situations, because if young people have somewhere to turn, and if parents also have somewhere to turn to talk stuff through before it becomes a bigger problem, we think a lot of the disciplinary issues, a lot of the conflicts don’t ever happen. And then if something does happen, the crucial point about restorative justice is it involves things like peer mediation. It involves opportunities for young people instead of having an ongoing conflict, to try and work it through, to talk it through, to understand what’s going on, you know, with support from trained folks, and to get to a place where they can resolve their conflicts rather than have them escalate into something worse. A lot of times, we see that there’s problems and they just go unaddressed until they become much worse. This is going to be a citywide approach that says when a problem is starting to emerge between two young people or two groups of young people, we’re going to put them in a room, we’re going try and really mediate it, work it through. And young people play an active role in that, they are empowered to part of the solution, and to be told how important it is to get to a solution.

So Brian, we continue of course to have other measures we can use there, all the things that we have had historically – if we need to give a summons we can, if there’s a truly more serious problem, there is the option of arrest, if it’s a crime situation, obviously there is the option of suspension under some situations, but what we’re trying to do is reduce all of that. Reduce arrests, reduce suspensions, reduce summonses – more and more make that something we won’t need because we’re addressing problems at the root.

Lehrer: Pat, on Staten Island, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Pat.

Question: Hey, good morning Brian, good morning Mr. Mayor. I’m actually calling from Miami right now but – basically I just wanted to talk about the, you know, the rise in pedestrian fatalities in New York. I had a meeting with Kim Wiley [inaudible] earlier in the year [inaudible] New York City social media accounts, to share some information about Dutch Reach, you know, which is – the Dutch Reach is when you use your arm that’s furthest from the door handle, you turn your body, you look and see, to see if there’s bicyclists approaching or traffic or whatever, and it still hasn’t been done. It’s a very simple thing, there’s millions of followers on the social media accounts for all of New York City, and I’m really just asking for a simple thing. A friend of mine died and it still hasn’t been done. It’s now almost July. I mean really, the Dutch Reach information is widely available, it hasn’t been shared yet and I’m just very upset about it. I just don’t know why somebody can’t just hit retweet and share and like when I see all of these other things being shared on the official New York City social media accounts.

Lehrer: Pat, is what is this technique, say it again, I’m not sure people got that clearly and I’m not sure I did.

Question: Okay, so the Dutch Reach: if you’re a driver in a car, instead of using your left hand to reach for your door handle, you should use your right hand. It forces you to turn your body at an angle and your head to look and see if there’s bicyclists approaching from behind.

Lehrer: I see. Alright, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor: Pat, I think you’ve got a really great point. I have never heard of it before either and obviously, you know, this city, I’ve been entirely devoted to Vision Zero, and we’ve reduced fatalities intensely over the last six years and we’re going to reduce them more and, you know, this city has gone farther than any city in America in terms of pedestrian safety, bicyclist safety, but we have more to do, and I think it’s a very good point. I think that sounds like a really good technique. As someone who was a driver myself for many years I can see what you’re saying that it would make you think differently. So I will tell our team to put that out on social media because I think it’s something that would help people to think. Look, Vision Zero is all about changing driver behavior and it has worked in many ways. It’s had a powerful educational and sort of behavioral impact; people are learning that they have to slow down. They’re learning there’s consequences if you speed, especially in speed zones, now that we have so many more school speed zone cameras coming. Drivers are learning they have to yield to pedestrians, which a lot of drivers did not understand but now with the NYPD enforcing that more and more, drivers are learning it’s serious; you’ve got to yield to pedestrians. I think this is a really good example of another thing that would help people to think differently and really focus on safety. So I appreciate you raising it Pat, and I’m going to tell folks to get it out on our social media, all of our different platforms.

Lehrer: And as someone concerned in leading Vision Zero, I’m sure you are watching with great interest as the State Legislature seems to be ending with an e-bikes and e-scooters law. It’s still getting finalized I think, but it looks like it’ll allow every locality in the state to make its own laws. The Daily News today calls on you to regulate the fully motorized bikes like mopeds, that is require driver’s licenses and license plates like are required now for mopeds and their owners. Think that’s a good idea?

Mayor: Well, I think that’s an interesting idea. Again, I always like to tell you, Brian, and all your listeners when something is a new idea that I haven’t heard personally, like that Dutch Reach point, well I haven’t heard people talk a lot about mopeds and regulation of mopeds but I think it’s a good question to raise now, and to examine. Because I think what’s happening – look, everyone out there who’s listening right now understands the New York City reality today, we’re busier, busier, and more crowded than we’ve ever been. And that is because, just, real quick moment of history, as this city got safer and safer, and more and more people wanted to be here, more and more people wanted to stay here, more and more people wanted to create businesses here, you know, 67 million tourists – it has created dynamics that we’ve never seen before. And so we have to make sense of our new reality. You know, we have to address a whole host of challenges and, again, some extent comes from our success creating these challenges but we have to address them. So, when it comes to congestion, you know, we’re going to be doing a number of things. We’ve obviously recently announced that we’re changing the approach to for-hire vehicles that have caused a lot of the congestion, particularly in Manhattan – putting a cap on the number of vehicles, requiring them not to cruise around as much as they’ve been doing. That’s going to speed up traffic, everything we’re doing with bus lanes, and bus lane cameras, and Select Bus Service, a whole host of things that are going to speed up bus times. But there’s a lot more to do. And that also connects to the safety issue and Vision Zero that has all these different forms of transportation are being used more and more, we have to focus on safety first, so when we make sense of the law from Albany in the coming weeks, we’re going to figure out regulations that are fair, that focus on safety, and if mopeds now need to be a part of the discussion, we’ll put them in that discussion.

Lehrer: One more thing on this, because it came up on yesterday’s show from one of our reporters that throttle-powered e-bikes, the ones you don’t have to pedal at all, would be allowed to go up to 25 miles an hour under the state law. So if I have that stat right, that’s the same as the city’s standard speed for cars – speed limit.

Mayor: That’s a problem.

Lehrer: So my question is if everyone agrees, yes, let the delivery people use these motor vehicles, should they be treated like cars and required to ride in the street, not in bike lanes?

Mayor: That’s exactly that kind of issue we’re going to resolve in the next month, because to the credit of the State Legislature – and our State Legislature did an extraordinary job in this session. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – the most accomplished State Legislature I’ve ever seen in terms of both the progressive initiatives that they passed, and the volume of important legislation they passed. And Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Carl Heastie should be very, very proud, as should the members – and, Brian, very much evidence that elections really, really matter, because this new leadership made a host of important changes and a world of difference.

But the good news is on e-bikes and e-scooters they gave the power to localities to figure out what would work. And I can tell you one thing – we are not going to see folks going 25 miles an hour in bike lanes intermixed with bicyclists. That’s dangerous. We have to figure either a way to reduce the speed capacity of those e-bikes which, you know, the pedal-assist bikes for example which are similar go slower. And there are physical ways to put limitations on the speed or, you know, it’s an interesting thin, I’m not going to comment formally but to say, yeah, there’s a real interesting question. If you’re going to go the kinds of speeds that cars go, should you be in a bike lane or should you be in the middle of traffic?

We have to sort these things out now that there is a legal structure. But what I want to emphasize is safety first, and we’ve got to be clear about for pedestrians who are the most vulnerable – and I’ve heard this from a lot of senior citizens, I really want people to hear this, because I know there is advocates on all sides and I admire them and respect them, but I hear from our seniors constantly in the city, they feel really afraid that they cross the street, and they are used to crossing the street with cars, that, you know, stopped at a light, and they get the walk sign, etcetera, and then there is a whole another reality to deal  with in the bike lanes with different speeds of different kinds of bikes and a lot more activity. We’ve got to create a situation that creates enough order and security for everyone and particularly for seniors, and pedestrians have to be protected first.

So that’s what we’re going to figure out – how to do this legally, how to do this appropriately, how to let people make their livelihood for sure. But the speeds have to be carefully approached. We brought down car speeds in ways that folks said couldn’t be done, Brian. I remember when we talked about the default speed limit going down to 25 that folks thought the sky was going to fall, and in fact New Yorkers made the adjustment. But we’ve got to be careful that whatever we do, particularly with those bike lanes and their proximity to sidewalks, that we do it right.

Lehrer: Tony in the Bronx, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Tony – Tony –

Question: Hello, good morning.

Lehrer: Hi there, we got you Tony, hi.

Question: Hi, good morning, Brian, and good morning, Mr. Mayor. My name is Tony Carter and I’m the member of the Bronx Health REACH coalition, and in April of last year we spoke with the Mayor at the Bronx town hall meeting. We we’re calling his attention to the Bronx being ranked 62 out of 62 counties in New York State as an unhealthy county. So at the town hall meeting the Mayor made a verbal commitment to meet with us, but so far we’ve made several calls and emails to the Mayor’s staff, but we have not been able to obtain a meeting date. So, Mr. Mayor, I am asking you to have this meeting scheduled with us. As you know it’s unacceptable for the Bronx, one of the five counties of New York City, to be ranked dead last in the entire New York State. So we’re asking for a meeting.

Mayor:  Tony, I remember our conversation at the town hall meeting and I’m going to have my team follow up with you today, please give your information to the folks at WNYC, and we will set up that meeting. I do remember distinctly talking to you about it. You’re right, that we cannot accept the status quo in the Bronx, and there is a lot of things that we’re doing that are focused particularly on the Bronx to improve health care across the board. Look, we now are guaranteeing all New Yorkers access directly to health care.  I mean this is a major, major change and Bronxites are going to benefit in particular. For the first time in the City’s history, even folks who do not have health insurance will be guaranteed health care with the NYC Care card. And that is being rolled out, in fact, in the Bronx, and it’s going to be a major new effort to get people to the kind of support that they need and we’re doing a lot more to help people not end up in emergency rooms, which as you know, Tony, is where so many folks go for their health care, but to actually get a primary care doctor, and it’s going to be whatever they can afford. And that includes everyone, whether they’re documented or not.

That’s going to be a game changer on physical health care, on mental healthcare obviously as well – and all the things we’re doing with the Thrive initiative, a lot of which is focused on the Bronx to improve mental health care. And we have a very big initiative also to address substance misuse, particularly opioid misuse in the Bronx that we put a lot of resources into. So even since you and I talked, a lot of energy and focus and resources have been put on the Bronx. So, I don’t accept that status quo, nor do you. But I very much look forward, with my team, to following up with you and seeing what next steps we can take.

Lehrer: Tony, can I ask you what do you consider, and what does you group consider the number one public health problem in the Bronx that you want the City to do a better job addressing?

Question: Well, there is not one particular. We have a lot diabetes, we have a lot of heart disease and hypertension. So there is quite a few [inaudible] going on in the Bronx at this time. And of course health care is again one of the issues.

Lehrer: Tony, thank you so much. And we will take your information off the air. Hope in Greenwich Village, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Hope.

Question: Oh, hello, B and B – Brian and Bill, happy Friday.

Mayor: Happy Friday, Hope. Hope, you sound very positive.

Question: Thank you, well, you know, it’s my eponymous destiny so – anyhow, Mr. de Blasio, as Mayor you are clearly a thoughtful, solution-oriented informed leader who is as aware of our city’s past as you are I would think plans for the futures. Rikers Island is closing. I was personally kind of surprised about that decision as the problem there would seem to be how the inmates are treated not where. I actually know someone who was a social worker, therapist there, and he confirmed it’s not the architecture, which can always be renovated if need be but rather the management. My guess, the island is a prime piece of real estate ripe for realtors, and revenue for New York. And so my question – what are the plans for Rikers Island, and do any of the possibilities that have come across your desk include real estate development be it for business or residential use? Okay, I’m done.

Mayor: Hope, thank you.

Lehrer: Thank you, and I will just point out for listeners for whom it went by too fast and you didn’t get that Hope – when the Mayor said the she sounded very upbeat – her name is Hope and she said that’s my eponymous destiny. So if you don’t know what that means, look it up. Hope, thank you very much. Mr. Mayor.

Mayor: Yes, that’s the word of the day, Brian. Okay Hope, the answer is – to the last part of your question, no. Just plain and simple, no. The – there is not a plan yet for the future of Rikers Island but I’ll tell you in all the internal discussions at City Hall, all the initial reviews of options, real estate development is not on the table because it’s a site that wouldn’t work for it. And again, this is me speaking very bluntly, very openly but knowing there’s going to be a whole process going forward. But I think it’s just good to put this on the table so people don’t have any mistaken assumptions.

It’s immediately next to an airport and it’s a location that is isolated by its nature. So, at this moment it is not a place we would think of for any kind of housing development. What we could do – a number of things could be done there. I would offer my own editorial opinion – again, there’s going to be a whole, long careful process. It’s going to happen largely after I have left office because of term limits. The fact is there’s going to be a lot of community input. So, no one, yet, knows the exact outcome. But I’ll tell you what I think is one of the promising options – which is to take a number of City facilities that are now in different neighborhoods but don’t necessarily be in those neighborhoods and move them out to Rikers Island because at some point – look, the day is coming when every inmate will be off Rikers. Those buildings can either be torn down or repurposed depending on the building, and you have an opportunity to potentially take a lot of City facilities like we have all sorts of garages and we have all sorts of staging areas and all sorts of things we have in places that actually are residential neighborhoods.

And for some services, for some of the things the government does, you can move that Rikers Island, then you can free up the space to create affordable housing in neighborhoods. Other things you cannot do that for. There are some neighborhood-based services that, you know, you have to have the government facilities right there where people are. But it’s a very interesting option. If we suddenly had a huge amount of public land to work with, what could we move over there and therefore open up space in neighborhoods that desperately need affordable housing in particular or other types of public facilities. It could really be a game-changer for the city. Now this will play out, Hope, over ten years, fifteen years because we’re talking about still – we have a while to go now before the new community-based jails are opened and then we get everyone off Rikers and get the buildings torn down that need to be torn down, et cetera. But I am very hopeful, if you’ll forgive the play on words there – I’m very hopeful that we can find a new use for Rikers Island that really opens up a world of positive possibilities in other neighborhood locations around the city. Now, that said, the other part of your question – is it just the buildings and location, is it the strategy, what is it?

So, Hope, I think it’s a combination. The history of Rikers Island – it’s 85 years it’s been there, it’s not a good history, it is an isolated location which causes a host of problems for everyone not just logistically but it’s very hard for family members and loved ones to visit inmates. That is not helpful in terms of rehabilitation. The whole goal is rehabilitation. They call it the Department of Correction for a reason. It’s to try and redeem people, get them back on their feet, and make sure they never come back to jail. Being isolated out there is not helping, old facilities are not helping. The facilities were not built for rehabilitation.

The new facilities will be much smaller, much more manageable. They will be built for the kinds of environment that fosters education, training, rehabilitation. They will be built to be more secure for the officers who work in them. We need to change the entire thing. And also by having them be borough-based and near the courthouses and places that are near public transportation, loved ones will be able to visit much more easily which is very important to that turnaround.

So, we’re making the changes that are – that go to all of the strategic issues, and that’s much more important than location per say. But you can’t make all those changes on Rikers Island.

Lehrer: The news organization, The City, has a story this morning about a proposal from the Progressive Caucus of the City Council to end solitary confinement at Rikers following the death of 27-year-old transgender woman Layleen Polanco this month under what was called punitive segregation. They say more than 100 other people at Rikers are in some form of solitary and they point out that you already banned solitary confinement for minors at Rikers. Is it time to take a next step?

Mayor: Brian, look, I would say what we’ve done already which you know leads the country in terms of moving away from solitary confinement – we banned it for minors and we banned it up to 21 – 21 years old. But I want to say we have to figure out what that balance is. With Layleen Polanco – it’s a horrible tragedy and the most important thing to note is Layleen Polanco should not have been in jail to begin with and the new laws passed in Albany will allow us to ensure that someone like her never has to be in a jail. She should not have been there. We need to find out what happened to her. There’s still an investigation going on. I’m very concerned about it and I want her family to get real clear answers.

But on the question of solitary for folks above 21, that’s something we’d have to look at carefully. I’m not there yet because we also have to recognize, we’re striking a balance all the time in our Correction system – the rehabilitation I talked about – but we also have to create an atmosphere that is safe and orderly. We have to protect our officers as well. So, I think at this point we’ve struck that balance by moving away from solitary for younger folks. I’m not sure it’s the right time to move away from it entirely. But it’s, you know, the kind of thing we’ll keep looking at.

Lehrer: For people who don’t know the case, why do you say Ms. Polanco should not have been in jail in the first place?

Mayor: Because from my perspective the kinds of offenses that she had been accused of, you know, very clearly under the new laws passed at the State level, she would never have been put in jail. It’s the kind of the things where she would provided – she would have been provided with some kind of alternative rather than being incarcerated. And the goal here is to constantly avoid jail time for people who don’t need and reduce mass incarceration. And look, mass incarceration is down 30 percent in this city in the last five years, I’m very proud of that, but we have to do a lot more. And we’ve proven you can reduce incarceration while making the city safer. So, for any of the folks out there who’s like oh, no, if people are not locked up we won’t be safe – in fact, we’ve proven the city is getting safer consistently while using incarceration less and less. And that’s the future of the city, it’s the future of the country.

But in her case, just based on the charges, you know, they were lower level charges. She should not have been in jail.

Lehrer: We’re almost out of time and we’ve almost done the five-fecta again this week. We’ve taken calls from the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn –

Mayor: Well, from Miami, but yes.

Lehrer: That’s right. That’s right. Well, when I said – I though South Shore, yeah, he’s a caller from Staten Island. I guess it’s the other South Beach. Okay. I’ll do the Queens question myself. Next Tuesday, as you know, is probably the most important election in the city in this off-election year. The Democratic primary for Queens D.A. And I’m curious why you haven’t endorsed yet and if you’re going to. Now, as background for our listeners, much of the debate is over how much of the new progressive prosecutor model to embrace. The New York Times, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have all endorsed a public defender for the job, Tiffany Cabán. While the Daily News and the Post and some law enforcement unions have endorsed the most old-school prosecutor and former judge, Greg Lasak. He’s also highest rated by the Bar Association. And the Queens political establishment plus Governor Cuomo and many unions like the UFT are lining up behind Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Those are generally seen as the most – three most serious candidates and those camps are fairly distinct. You know, your history suggests you would fall into the Times, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, AOC camp but why are you sitting this out?

Mayor: Well, you know, I am at this moment sitting it out and I might change my mind before it’s over but at this point I don’t have a plan to. Look, I think there are some really good candidates in this race. I would say, certainly for the more progressive candidates I think there’s actually a lot that they agree on in terms of the reforms and changes needed. So, I know your job is to sort of try and make things clear and sharp and distinct – I would caution that if you look policy by policy particularly in terms of some of the more progressive candidates you would find a lot of agreement on the kinds of changes we need and that are consistent with what my administration has done.

So, you know, at this moment I want to be smart about when I get involved – because when I think there's a specific reason to get involved, I’ll continue to weigh it. But what I think is very true, Brian, is there’s been an incredible healthy debate in Queens about the future of criminal justice. I think it’s been a debate that clearly is moving that borough in a more progressive direction. I am very satisfied that the outcome here is one – this is what I personally believe – that the outcome will be one that does continue progressive reform in the borough of Queens. And I’ll continue to look at it for the next few days.

Lehrer: Your answer does suggest that you are minimizing the difference between Cabán and Melinda Katz on policy. Did you intend to do that?

Mayor: Well, I would only say – I’ve known Melinda Katz a long time. I don’t know Tiffany Cabán – I hear good things about her. I would say if you – from everything I’ve understood from debates and the different positions people put out, they certainly both seem to be talking about major changes and major reforms. And they – I believe they will take that office in new directions that are consistent with the values of this administration. So, I don’t know chapter and verse but I think in both cases you would see some real change.

Lehrer: Thanks as always, Mr. Mayor – talk to you next week.

Mayor: Thank you.

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