November 20, 2017
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good afternoon, everybody. So as we do before all major events in New York City we just wanted to give you a rundown of some of the things that people can expect to see and experience as we head into Thanksgiving week. In a moment the Mayor will speak and then Susan Tercero the Vice President for Macy’s, she’ll have some remarks. Then Terry Monahan, Chief of Patrol, will give you the overview of what we’re doing on Wednesday night and Thursday. He’ll go through the specifics of Wednesday’s balloon inflation event which always draws more than 200,000 spectators and then he’ll talk about the millions of people who will attend the Thursday’s Thanksgivings Day Parade and what we’re doing.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank the 36,000 uniformed members of the New York City Police Department for what they do every day, and especially the police officers assigned to the events this week. They’ll be away from their families making sure the rest of us are safe and secure. The NYPD is ready for this week. One thing I have learned since I have become the Police Commissioner is that New Yorkers – and I’ve known this for a long time but it’s reinforced, New Yorkers are strong and resilient and they don’t make decisions based on fear. We’ve had a couple of tough months as a nation, and you know among other incidents I’m specifically talking about the shooting in Las Vegas and the terror attack in Lower Manhattan on Halloween. As I’ve said before we won’t ever accept such acts of hate and cowardice as inevitable in our society, certainly not here in New York. And I want to ensure the people that we swore to protect that any time something happens anywhere in the world, the NYPD works with our law enforcement partners and studies it, and we learn from it, and it informs our decision making going forward.
In terms of deployment and other security measures, what you’ll see this year at the Thanksgiving Day Parade will be in addition to what we did last year. You’ll see every intersection there’ll be more blocker cars and there will be sand-filled sanitation trucks. And this is the third year in a row we’ll be using our critical response command cops who are specially assigned to counterterrorism duties. We’ll be working alongside our strategic response group officers, our patrol cops, and our emergency service unit too. And there will be much the public won’t see as well. The bottom line is we want everyone to come out and enjoy what is really a great tradition in New York City every Thanksgiving. And know that the layers of security and protection every – and know that the layers of security and protection we will provide again this year have been in the planning stages since the end of last year’s parade. We’re all looking forward to another great holiday again this year, and we know all New Yorkers are as well. We’ll see you out there on Thursday and on Wednesday night too, thank you very much.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you Commissioner. Commissioner, thank you to you and your team for the exceptional work that has been done to prepare for the Thanksgiving Parade and for the night before. I have to say I’m particularly proud of the NYPD in the last few weeks given what this city experienced last month. To see the resolve of our officers to make sure that people are kept safe sends a very powerful message to people of this city that no matter what the event, what the occasion, the NYPD will be there in force and will get the job done. And this is one of the great occasions each year in this city, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. One of the events everyone looks forward to all year, one of the events most associated with the city, it’s been 91 years now. This is literally one of the symbols of why New York City is great and that’s why it is so important to protect this parade and make sure that everyone can enjoy it.
We have the finest police force in the world. They have proven time and again that they can make this great event and other huge events work seamlessly. And we saw that also recently with the New York City Marathon. So, we are very, very clear about the pain that still hangs in the air because of the attack last month, the eight innocent people who lost their lives. And all eight and a half million New Yorkers mourn for their families. But, we said right away after that horrible tragedy New York’s response is to remain strong and resilient. We do not back down in the face of terror threats and we don’t back down in the face of terrorism itself. We saw that most powerfully on 9/11 and the months after. This city is filled with resolved. And one of the things we show the world is the fact that we will keep going and that our great annual events that symbolize everything about this city we’re proud of, that they will never be changed.
So, that will be on display this week. And the numbers that will come out will be exceptional, hundreds of thousands on Wednesday and well over a million could be expected on Thursday. This means of course, there’ll be inconveniences as always, there will be street closures, there’ll be things that we have to grapple with but as New Yorkers we can deal with that because we’re also proud of the fact that we have these kinds of events that literally the eyes of the entire world are on. And people love coming out on Wednesday to see the balloons being put together and prepared. And they love coming out on Thursday. But I will remind people there are going to be a lot of street closures, definitely pay attention to the specifics about where you’re going and what the impact will be. Take mass transit if you can. And that’s the best way to enjoy this wonderful day ahead.
Look what you can rely upon is that there will be a very strong presence of the NYPD. Stronger than ever in fact. I want to emphasize – this is the most important thing I’ll say, there are no credible and specific threats against New York City at this time. There are no credible and specific threats against these events. That being said, we will have a very forceful NYPD presences, we will be prepared for any eventuality. There’s a lot of presence you will see, and as we always there will be presence you don’t see that helps to protect all New Yorkers. And I think people understand when they see that visible presence they are reassured by it, they appreciate it. I hear that from my fellow New Yorkers all the time.
Now I remind everyone, every New Yorker can help the NYPD. The phrase ‘if you see something, say something’ is more meaningful than ever. And it comes down to this, if you don’t like the look of a situation, if something seems out of place, you see a package unattended, please don’t take time to think about it just go to an NYPD officer and report it. That’s something everyone can do to help.
So, look, as we prepare for these great events, we take stock and we particularly take stock at Thanksgiving of who we are. We’re very proud as New Yorkers. We’re proud of the fact that people of all backgrounds, all faiths live in harmony here. We’re proud of the fact we’re the safest big city in America. We are, in fact, the terrorists worst nightmare because we reflect a positive, successful, pluralistic society. Everything the terrorists are trying to stop we show every day works here in New York City. That means we are, in the bigger scheme of things, always going to be facing threats but we know how to handle it. And I am so proud of the fact that New Yorkers never even think about changing who we are or changing our values in the face of these threats.
I just want to say a few words in Spanish about the parade.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that I want to bring forward a representative of a company that makes this parade possible, and we’re so appreciative to Macy’s for all they do for New York City. It’s my pleasure to introduce Susan Tercero, Vice President of Macy’s.
Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan, NYPD: Alright good afternoon everyone. First I’m going to go over the balloon inflation on Wednesday night and the public viewing. We reevaluated how we were looking at this and we came up with some changes to the security to make it an even safer venue. First and foremost, we’re changing the times of the viewing. It will be from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm for the public viewing of the balloon inflation. We are going to be shutting down Central Park West from 72nd Street up to 86th Street. There will be no traffic allowed there after 12:00 pm. We’re going to be dropping concrete barriers along Columbus Avenue going from 77th Street on East Side to 81st Street. When people arrive to come to do the viewing, you’re going to be entering from Columbus Avenue eastbound on 74th Street and you’re going to walk down to Central Park West. Once on Central Park West you’re going to go through a screening. We will not be allowing any large backpacks, umbrellas, coolers, or chairs in the area. Once you go through that screening process, you’ll walk up to 77th Street, you’ll go westbound on 77th Street to view the balloons there, go northbound on Columbus, south on 81st Street – east on 81st Street and then exit on 81st Street on Central Park West.
Once this all over at 8:00 pm, you’re going to see rolling closures throughout the day, different traffic closures, shutting down traffic on the entire route. DCPI can give you the times of each and every one of those closings at the end of this press conference. By 7:00 am everything will be shut along the route of the parade, there will be no crosstown traffic going from 86th Street down to 34th Street.
On the parade route itself we’re going to have seven locations with anemometers, this is to check the wind speed for the balloons. We will have a police officer assigned to each and every one of the balloons that goes along the route. And they will adjust the levels of the balloon based on the wind speed at those locations. We will have our typical counterterrorism overlay for both the balloon inflation and for the parade. You can expect to see numerous sand trucks, blocker vehicles protecting the entire venues. You will see heavy weapon teams deployed at both the balloons and during the parade. They will be all over the parade route. We will have observation teams located at various locations along the route also. You will see our Vaper Wake dogs and other canine dogs on both the balloons and during the route. We will have mounted officers assigned. We will have teams assigned with our radiation detective devices. We will have aviation assigned to both venues. A ship assigned to each one of the venues to make sure everything – check on rooftops.
This has been a real combined effort, putting this together, security effort between Manhattan North operations, Manhattan South operations, and our counterterrorism forces. We are working closely with all our law enforcement partners that work in New York. Together, with a lot of various City agencies that have combined, we have sat down together with Macy’s – numerous meetings starting since last year to make sure that this is a safe, safe venue.
Come out, enjoy the day, but once you’re out there if you see anything, anything suspicious there will be a cop on every block, go to that cop, say something. Don’t be afraid, say maybe it’s nothing. Let us investigate it. So, I can’t end it any better than saying if you see something, say something. Thank you.
Commissioner O’Neill: Any questions about Thanksgiving? Juliet?
Question: Yes. The people who come – will they still be able to get their spots on the street as early as, I see them sometimes, you know, at four or five in the morning. Can they still do that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, that’s not going to be an issue. I mean, we are there at 5 o’clock and there people lining up already. I don’t know how they do it but they do it but they do it so. Lisa?
Question: Commissioner, will there be any type of bag checks or additional bag checks for people going into the parade route?
Chief Monahan: Not on the parade route itself but if you are sitting in any of the seats along the parade route then, that, they will go through bag check.
Question: [inaudible] during the blow up [inaudible] strollers.
Commissioner O’Neill: Strollers, you mean strollers?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, strollers can go into the balloon viewing area. Rich.
Question: Can you give us some idea of what, how many officers are going to be involved? Either like a percentage of increase or you can give us raw numbers?
Commissioner O’Neill: Many, many, many.
Commissioner O’Neill: Come on, I haven’t answered that yet – it’s been 14 months. Yeah ok, you can keep asking.
Mayor: Can we just do a clarification, Terry step up on the – the difference between Wednesday and Thursday in terms of bag checks.
Chief Monahan: Wednesday, everyone that goes to view the balloons is going to go through a bag check. It’s going to go through the checkpoint. On Thursday, if you are sitting in the grand stands, along the route, then you are going to go through a bag check but if you are just sit, standing on the route itself, somewhere you don’t go through a bag check.
Question: Commissioner, obviously the threat of a vehicle ramming attack is not new. You were prepared for it in years pass. We just recently had an incident though in the city— what if anything, has changed from this year’s parade to last as far as any, any preparations for that specifically?
Commissioner O’Neill: Well obviously we consistently monitor the threat stream. We work with the Joint-Terrorist Task Force, we work with the FBI. But last year we had every intersection covered and no crosstown traffic so there will be no unauthorized vehicles on the route. Anything else about the parade? Yeah
Question: You said that you were changing the time for the balloon viewing compared to last year. What went into that decision, how’s that different?
Commissioner O’Neill: Terry, want to talk about that?
Chief Monahan: Keeping it up to 10 o’clock is just is a little bit too late with the other closures and the idea that we are going to have Central Park West closed, the barriers along Columbus – so it just makes things a lot easier for the parade to be able to get going if we are finished with public viewing by 8 o’clock. We did the same amount of time so it’s still seven hours’ worth of
Question: [inaudible] anything aerial, you know sharp shooters on roofs and along the route or where are they going to be or?
Commissioner O’Neill: Aviation is going to be up there.
Question: Aviation on the rooftops?
Commissioner O’Neill: There is going to be rooftop coverage also.
Question: [inaudible] stands [inaudible] blocking views standing there or?
Commissioner O’Neill: No, they are not blocking views, its, you still have open views. It is just to prevent unauthorized vehicle from the route. So we do it at every parade now. Yes, any other questions about the parade?
Unknown: Okay we can take a few questions, if you will on other current [inaudible] thank you very much.
Commissioner O’Neill: Tim.
Question: Sir there was a suspect that you have arrested that has been caught in an online ticket scam involving Broadway shows. One of the victims of that decided to step up a scam on his own, a set up of his own to get pictures of it and then he was arrested. What would you tell people who want to take, if you will, the law into your hands?
Commissioner O’Neill: Bob, you want to talk about that?
Chief Boyce: Just to your question immediately – people who do this, we have met numerous gang members in the past who have been arrested for this ticket scam, setting up these things using high-end, high resolution type of copiers to do this.
I was just, nobody does what you just said. So right now we have a perp, [inaudible] who – male 34-years-old – who had sold victims two tickets to a Broadway show, Dear Evan Hansen. We, Midtown South made the arrest and immediately thereafter so I don’t have too much more to give you other than that.
Question: [inaudible] lie.
Chief Boyce: I, I think I just said that. It’s very dangerous – we personally arrested gang members from various parts of the city who pull off this scam all the time. No violence has come of it but we have had issues prior in the past, those persons who do it have a long arrest history. This is very similar to the ticket scam now in Lower Manhattan as well, getting on the ferries. Time and time again we see people with enormous criminal histories doing this and to a certain extent. So I would suggest no one do this at all. Let police to their job, next.
Commissioner O’Neill: If you have any other crime, have any other crime related issues while Bob is up here. Miles.
Question: [inaudible] two home invasions, one family has been hit like multiple times.
Chief Boyce: Sure, actually there are three instances all together, all in Queens South and three different precincts. So on Sunday morning we have and incident at 105 Precinct – three males break into a house and then they actually strike a female who lives there in the head and they steal electronics and cash.
Contemporaneous to that, they had abducted his, her husband on the street and were holding him alright so he was a – several lacerations, small wounds looked like they were trying to get something from him. He basically says, I don’t have a lot of money, I don’t know why they did this.
Later on that day we have the incident that is well documented. People come up with a box, try to force their way in – a male shot in the leg. We have very good images of that Miles. We are putting that out right now, good facial shot of the perp. We have some, some video of them getting away in a car as well. We have a lot on this case.
Now that case, where they walk up with a parcel and try to get their way into the house like that, happened night before in the 113 Precinct, so we think those two are linked – unclear if the 105 is linked to it at all, alright but again we have a lot of, a lot of leads in the case and will push forward in them.
Home invasions down city wide are down, down very dramatically. It looks like this a pattern emerging out of Queens South this past weekend.
Question: On the same topic. Do those appear to be random, do you think? Or are they targeted?
Chief Boyce: There is something to it that I want to release right now. There is some connectivity to it right now with some of the accents on the perpetrators – that’s where we are going. I said there was some connectivity to the two – 113 and the 103, unknown the second one. I’m sorry the third one in the 105 so there is a lot here and it just happened and we’re – my detectives are working the case now.
Question: [inaudible] earlier, with the, the –
Chief Boyce: The 113?
Question: Yes. No the 106 yesterday. The victims, the victim’s cousin was robbed, had the same kind of thing happen to him.
Chief Boyce: Same last name. Very common name so it’s unclear right now if they are related.
Question: Is the department planning to release any police body camera video that was taken in two recent police involved shootings?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, we worked, yes, yes we should be releasing that soon. We worked with the Cy in Manhattan and Darcel up in the Bronx so we just had to confer with them but we are releasing that shortly.
Question: This week, do you expect?
Commissioner O’Neill: Not sure. We have to work on some technical issues. But they will both be released. Yes.
Question: Commissioner, do you have a response for Brooklyn College not allowing officers to use the bathroom because students don’t want to see them on campus?
Commissioner O’Neill: Sure, sure. Now is not the time for, now is the time for everyone to get together. I mean if you just take a look at what is going around the city – now’s the time for people to get to know their police officers, not to push them away. God forbid anything does happen, in Brooklyn College we want to make sure our cops, not only from the 70 but from whatever other divisions or bureaus might respond to that – we want them to know they lay out of Brooklyn College so now is the time to get to know police officers, not to push them away.
Question: [inaudible] Commissioner Ward’s response to a situation?
Commissioner O’Neill: Well he went to Brooklyn College so I’m sure he wouldn’t be real happy about it. Yes.
Question: You’ve made changes with the security of the balloon blow up. Are you planning to make changes for all holiday venues this holiday season?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes and we will talk about that working up to each of those events – to the tree lighting and to New Year’s Eve. Of course we make changes and I talk about that all the time. We have to pay attention to what’s going around in the world. And that’s how we keep people safe.
And as Terry said, you know, to everybody who comes to that parade or to the balloon inflation – pay attention to what is going on and if you see something that doesn’t look right – you have, I think you have an obligation to come forward and let us know about it so we can properly investigate it. Juliette.
Question: There have been any other credible cases that have come, people coming forward related to the Harvey Weinstein investigation?
Commissioner O’Neill: Bob.
Chief Boyce: Right now we are still actively investigating the one complaint, the one complaint we do about the young lady, the actress. So far, we are going to keep everything else confidential at this point but it is an active investigation and we will go forward in that venue. And as I said right now there is still a lot of evidence to be collected before we make any announcements.
Unknown: [inaudible] we could we get a [inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: Hold on, you just ignored Rich. He had his hand up.
Question: Are you going to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner, Commissioner? Or are you going to be out there on the route the whole time?
Commissioner O’Neill: I’m going to have a turkey sandwich with some cranberry on it. No, of course I am. I’ m going to go to my mom’s house so I’ll be able to enjoy that. Thank you, Rich.
Mayor: You have got your priorities straight. Okay. So we are going to go to other topics now and I want to just get the run of show here right – I’ll take off topic in a moment but I want to address the situation at the Housing Authority first. And I want to share my questions on what’s happening on this issue, [inaudible]my views on what’s happening on this issue. We will take questions about the situation at the Housing Authority after my statement then we will move to other topics.
So let’s talk about the most fundamental reality here. Any time you talk about children and you talk about lead in the same sentence there is cause for concern. And I feel that very deeply as a parent and as a public servant. When you hear that there may be a problem, there may be a challenge, it deserves our full attention.
And my view, and the view of everyone in my administration is that one child exposed to lead is one child too many. That is the attitude we take, that is the approach we take. And I want everyone to know that in the city and I particularly want the 400,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing to know that.
We now have more information about what happened over the last few years and what happened was unacceptable. We have been able to get a fuller picture and what happened should not have happened and will not happen again.
I need everyone to understand that this occurred over two administrations and over multiple years. And that bears remembering in this situation. But the bottom line is the same – it never should have happened to begin with. It should have been caught sooner and now we have to make sure things are right going forward.
Now I think a lot of people are frustrated right now. I think a lot of people are angry, I’m angry too. And I am frustrated too – never want to see anything like this happen during my administration.
The team we have in place at NYCHA, over all, has made a series of very important changes to the Housing Authority. They came into a very, very tough situation. They came into a situation where the Housing Authority for decades had not been invested in properly. They came into a situation where a whole host of health and safety issues had not been addressed.
My team came in with the goal of changing things fundamentally. And the vast majority of areas, that’s exactly what’s happened. And the change will be accelerated going forward.
And I want to make that clear. The people I have entrusted to fundamentally change and reform NYCHA are the right people – I’m convinced of that. They have done important work over four years, there’s a lot more work to be done. That doesn’t mean what happened in this case is acceptable to me, it’s not. But I also have think about the overall needs of the 400,000 people who live in NYCHA and I am convinced that the leadership we have now is part of the solution to the problems that plague NYCHA.
It’s important to recognize as troubling as this story is that when you dig in to the facts, thank God there is less here than appears. Thank God there has not been harm done to any child because of the mistakes that were made. I want to give you a context for that.
NYCHA has about 175,000 apartments. Between 2014 and 2016 – so the beginning of our administration and then the time when it became clear that these inspections have not been handled properly. In that time frame four children in NYCHA tested positive for elevated lead levels and they were in NYCHA apartments where physical fixes had to be achieved. Department of Health followed up with these children and their families regularly. And no additional medical consequences have been observed in these children, thank God.
Now, again the timeline is important. Now I believe you all have been given this timeline. I am going to refer to it in the course of this discussion. But I want to make sure that everyone has seen it. Because we – and if anyone hasn’t raise your hand and we’ll get it out to you right now. It was very important to me that everyone involved put the facts together in plain English and make them available publically to all of you. Because the people of this city deserve to understand exactly what happened. And here is what we know.
The lapse in inspections took place it occurred in 2012 in the previous administration. Should not have occurred, it’s as simple as that. The City law, Local Law One made abundantly clear what inspections had to happen. They should never have changed under City law in 2012. The previous leadership of NYCHA in the previous administration stopped the inspections. There was a precipitating event in that HUD – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development changed some of their standards. But even though HUD changed their standards it did not change the obligation of NYCHA to follow Local Law One. That’s where the problem begins.
This administration became fully aware of the problem in the spring of 2016 and understood fully that the inspections that we had previously believed were happening were not happening. And we quickly restarted them and we made senior HUD officials aware of what happened immediately. There was no attempt to deceive the administration, and the NYCHA leadership were upfront with HUD as soon as the situation become clear.
I will also note that the U.S. Attorney for the southern district has been looking into the NYCHA situation now for two years. And we have fully cooperated with that investigation and we will continue to.
The update for you now is that all at risk apartments, and it’s not all 175,000 apartments that are at risk. It’s a subset of them where there is even the possibility of lead being present. And then the law requires that inspections and remediation occur if it’s one of those subset apartments and if there is a child present under six years old. Once the situation was uncovered, the order was given to inspect all those apartments and to act to ameliorate them. That was done fully by June of this year. Meaning it took about a year to go through the apartments, I believe it was 4,200 – inspect them and make all ameliorations in those apartments.
Immediately following that a new round of inspections occurred. And that second round of inspections will be complete by next month. That then will be follow up amelioration efforts on any apartments that have not already been ameliorated by the end of December. They will be during of the first quarter of 2018. But this point is really important. We just went through a full round of inspections and fixes, and then started another one immediately. We will be in compliance with Local Law One next month. And then we intend to stay in compliance with Local Law One every year thereafter. And that is important because what that means essentially is as soon as inspections and amelioration ends for one year, you start essentially immediately thereafter for the next year. So there will be a continuous inspection cycle from this point on. Any resources that NYCHA needs for that effort will be provided.
I also want to note, you heard the announcement last week that a Chief Compliance Officer will be named for NYCHA starting next month. And I am pleased to announce that our Compliance Officer is someone who has served this city well in many posts already, and she in fact grew up in public housing and has a strong personal commitment to the residents of public housing. The current council to Commissioner O’Neill at the NYPD, Edna Wells Handy will begin next month as the Chief Compliance Officer at NYCHA to address the issues that have been uncovered to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.
So, I’ll sum it up and then just a few words in Spanish before I take your questions on this topic. This was not done right, couldn’t be clear. Was not done right by the previous administration, was not done right by my administration. When it became clear that things have not been handled properly actions were taken immediately to fix the situation. Those actions were followed through on completely. All effected apartments were inspected and were ameliorated and we’re going to do it again, and again. People have been held accountable. You’ve seen the personal actions that were taken. Once situation was thoroughly evaluated, it became clear who we felt should no longer be in the roles they had, those actions were taken. And the bottom line is the health and safety of our public housing residents is absolutely paramount. This is why we have invested over four budgets increasingly in the housing authority. This was not the pattern in the past. We all understand the federal government walked away from the housing authority a long time ago in terms of the kinds of increased funding we needed, the state has played a very minor role. The City of New York has been increasingly putting greater and greater funding into NYCHA focused first and foremost on health and safety issues. $1.3 billion in capital funding in the June budget to address mold, to address leaks from faulty roofs, to address scaffolding issues, and issues of physical plan that might cause danger to the residents of NYCHA. And we intend to keep investing. So we have put our money where our mouth is. It’s going to take a lot of work.
When I came into office NYCHA has $18 billion in physical needs that have gone unmet. So we’re all playing from behind here. But we will remain committed to making the changes we need to making the investments we need to keep the residents of NYCHA safe. Quick in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that I want to take questions on the NYCHA issue first.
Question: Mr. Mayor it’s a two part question, thank you. According to the fact sheet released by your office this morning NYCHA contacted residents in May of 2016 about the lapses. How many residents were contacted? And how were they contacted? Can your office release whatever email or letter they were sent?
Mayor: Yes, yeah I will get you, we will get you the exact number and the method about any materials that were sent out, I will get to you. I want to emphasize again, the universe is not 175,000 apartments. They’ll get the exact fact to you. It’s around 50,000 apartments if I remember that even have the possibility of having lead in them. And the trigger is when there is a child under six. So that’s a – that first universe of the apartments that might even have lead, that’s fixed. But every year we reassess where is there an apartment with a child under six. That’s what the law dictates. So it could literally be different apartments every single year within that universe. But what that exact number was we will get you and the method of the information.
Question: Thank you. The second part of the question is for those four cases in which children were found to have elevated levels of lead – were those children living in apartments that fall under these lapses?
Mayor: To the best of my knowledge, yes, but let me have Dr. Palacio speak to that.
Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio, Health and Human Services: So as you said there were four children in apartments where there was a lead hazard identified. Two of those were paint that were – fall in to this other category. Two of those were sort of non-lead paint hazards that were identified. So, not in that unit of apartments, broader apartments that required re-inspection.
Question: Were those two cases –
Deputy Mayor Palacio: Two.
Question: Those children had elevated blood levels because of lead paint. Were those children living in apartments that were not inspected because the City was out of compliance?
Mayor: Clarify, because you added something there – because of lead paint. So let’s separate from what you know what was lead paint versus not lead paint.
Deputy Mayor Palacio: Yes, two of the children were in apartments that had lead paint that should have been and weren’t in the inspection.
Question: Clarify Deputy Mayor –
Mayor: Deputy Mayor
Question: And the other two – you think they were poisoned some other way? Can you say that again?
Deputy Mayor Palacio: Yes the other two had – were not lead paint related. So it wasn’t that lead paint hazard found in the apartments. They didn’t fall into that category. There were other lead hazards identified with their poisonings.
Mayor: Okay, yeah.
Question: Mr. Mayor, in the May of 2016 you said, you told New Yorkers that the Housing Authority has a very stringent inspection effort, that anytime you find a problem we abate it. So two parts, when you did learn that there was this compliance issue?
Mayor: First of all I am not sure you have the month right. Also, I’m looking to Austin, I believe March, and you said May. March, yeah. In March a question came up because that, as the best of my memory, was when the U.S. Attorney’s work began and it came out publically in some fashion and I was asked. In preparation for whatever press conference I was at I’ve received a briefing and the briefing was that the inspections had been happening. I think consistent with the assumption of everyone in City Hall and NYCHA, that because the inspection regime had been consistent for years that it had continued. Later we had found out, that we have been misinformed.
Question: So when was that later date?
Mayor: I don’t remember the exact date, but somewhere along the time when the Chair notified the residents.
Question: So the month, you don’t recall the month?
Mayor: No, I do not.
Question: Okay, so given that. If eventually you did learn about it. So how is it appropriate for your administration to continue file the same lead paint certifications even after you learned that you –
Mayor: Because the Chair notified HUD immediately and that’s been confirmed by the Regional Director of HUD. And first, most importantly, found a problem notified the federal authorities of the problem, cooperated in every way with the US Attorney as well, notified the residents, and then proceeded to do the work which is most important for people’s lives – get the inspections done and get the fixes done.
The certification process proceeded which governs over everything that we do with HUD with the assumption which I think is an understandable one that HUD had already been alerted to that specific problem but all the other elements of the certification were continuing to be appropriate and binding.
Mayor: Let me, let me – last one for you, then I’ll go over there.
Question: So, you’ve talked about the 4,200 units but the federal rules require that there’s an annual inspection of all 50,000 units –
Mayor: Let’s separate that question. It’s a very good question. Local Law 1, federal rules there. Local Law 1 has been constant now for over a decade. Federal rules have changed over time. I think part of the confusion is the interplay. We are cooperating with the Southern District in terms of determining what would be appropriate compliance with the federal rules.
So, it’s been a fully cooperative process. Obviously, we are looking forward to a resolution of the process in the next few months. That very well may include a federal monitor which is something we would be ready, of course, to accept. We have federal monitors with the NYPD and with the Department of Corrections. We would be ready to accept a federal monitor with NYCHA because there’s a real issue here.
But in terms of determining how the federal rules should be applied in this context that would be a subject of that negotiation and will be resolved in whatever final settlement occurs.
Question: You spoke about holding folks accountable. Last week, when there were calls for the Chair to step down not only from elected officials but also from tenant leaders [inaudible] you called it a cheap stunt. Do you find that these tenant leaders don’t have any merit in saying that she should step down?
Mayor: Look, I think we have to look at everything that’s happened in public housing for four years. There’s 400,000 people who I think were given a raw deal for a long, long time. We came in, in the beginning and Chair Olatoye has been crucial to all the changes and improvements we’ve made. We recognized that NYCHA was on the verge of financial collapse and addressed that through a series of budget actions and investments, addressed that by ending the payments of NYCHA to the NYPD, ending the de facto tax payment that was made to the City, putting all that money back into repairs, putting a huge amount of capital into NYCHA including $1.3 billion in the last budget alone which is unprecedented, the Next Generation NYCHA plan which the Chair was the leader of, is the first blueprint ever to actually the underlying financial and physical problems of NYCHA.
There’s a lot more to do but under her leadership a whole series of reforms and improvement occurred – the M. A. P. initiative, too. We looked at the 15 most dangerous developments working closely with the NYPD. We made huge investments in terms of personnel, in terms of physical improvements, lighting, in terms of youth programs that had a marked impact on reducing crime.
All that happened under the Chair’s leadership. So, she is absolutely part of the solution at NYCHA. This – look, this was a mistake and I’m very frustrated with it. But I want to emphasize – thank God we live in a city with a tremendous focus on public health. Dr. Palacio can speak to that history if you want to hear it.
This city has been focused on addressing lead for decades in different ways which is why as you see in the very beginning we’ve had steadily declining negative impact on kids because of kids, thank God. That’s about the whole of New York City. That’s about the Department of Health, and Health + Hospitals Corporation. That’s everyone.
So, this issue makes me very frustrated but it also, thank God, happens against the backdrop where the problem has been diminishing constantly. As you heard, look, one child is one child too many.
As you heard that final assessment from what we know at this moment, four kids is the universe, two of them specifically about paint and thank God no lasting health impact that we can find at this point.
So, I have to put this in this context, as the leader of this government, that when I see what the chair is doing, it’s so important to the day-to-day life of people NYCHA and the safety of people in NYCHA. I want it to continue.
Question: [Inaudible] series if public failings and [inaudible] what’s –
Mayor: Oh, come on. Every situation is different. Gladys made her decisions for very personal reasons after a long and distinguished career. And we know in the particular moment when that happened that a number of people below her had made very serious mistakes that led to a child’s death. This is a whole different reality. Thank God we’re talking about a few children and they are healthy. Thank God. That’s what matters most here.
But it’s not going to happen again because since this was uncovered every appropriate apartment was inspected and ameliorated and now it’s literally happening again as we speak. So, I have to look at the big picture. The big picture is that chair has done a very good job turning around a broken situation at NYCHA and we’re going to turn around this piece of it too.
Question: Mayor, I just want to go back to the timeline that David was talking about from your office – your office says in April, 2016 the chair informed City Hall of the Local Law 1 lapse. Presumably that’s around when you would have found out. You had just, a month before, said very publicly that all these stringent inspections were happening. Why are we just hearing about this now a year-and-a-half later? Why not a month after you’d said something that later turned out to be incorrect? Why not correct the record in a more public matter?
Mayor: I think that’s a fair point and in retrospect I wish we had. Having heard that the situation was being addressed and that tenants were being notified and that action was being taken, that’s what mattered to me. That’s what really mattered physically, materially for people’s lives.
In retrospect it would have been better to say, hey, we also need to go back and correct that record. But actions speak louder than words. By the Chair informing the residents and starting the inspections and the ameliorations that obviously was the thing that mattered most.
Question: I want to ask about the people at NYCHA – the two resignations, the demotion. You said the people at the NYCHA have been held accountable but those changes only happened last week, about a year-and-a-half after you were aware of these lapses. So, what took so long for people to be held to account at NYCHA because it looks like this was only done in the wake of this DOI report and the public attention to it?
Mayor: Again, the US Attorney has been on this for two years. I can’t emphasize this enough. I understand why DOI’s action is sort of the shiny object that people are focused on. Let’s put the horse before the cart. The US Attorney has been working on this issue for two years. We’ve been cooperating with them for two years.
They’re the ones that brought to light that there was a problem that had to be addressed. We acted on what they found and we then had to figure out exactly what happened, why it happened, who’s responsible. We had to get the whole picture before we decided what to do on the personnel level. And that did not happen overnight. There was a lot that had to be very carefully analyzed.
We also had to make sure that all the work in the meantime continued. So, when we got to the point of having a definitive view of what to do, that’s when we acted.
Question: You’re saying it has nothing to do with the DOI report or the public [inaudible] –
Mayor: I’m saying when it was time to take those personnel actions, we took them.
Question: When you learned about the non-compliance inspections, you launched new inspections, right?
Did you tell the tenants in NYCHA that for four years there hadn’t been inspections and if not, why not?
Mayor: No, it’s very clear. The – and this is why we wanted to put it in black and white for everyone to see – a mistake was made. When the mistake was caught the order was given, go out and inspect these apartments, fix these apartments. The people who needed to know that most were the tenants. They were told these inspections are coming.
I don’t think going back and saying, hey you need to know that back in 2012 something was done wrong in the previous administration, and it’s only been caught now. I don’t think that necessarily helps anyone. I think what helped people was going out and doing the inspections and doing the amelioration.
In the meantime, this is the important part and Dr. Palacio will add if I leave anything out here. The City of New York and the entire health care world of New York City is constantly screening any children under six for any indication of lead whether they’re in NYCHA or anywhere else.
So, the efforts to protect children were going on during this. Do you want to add to that?
Dr. Palacio: So, under State law, physicians are required to do a child’s blood lead levels for children at ages one and two years old and up to six years old if there are additional risks assessed by the clinician. Physicians send those results in, labs send those results into DOHMH, to the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, the Department of Mental Hygiene has actions that they take very swiftly when children with elevated lead levels actually all the way up to age 18 – if they get results that are the results of a clinician identifying something else, and those actions depending on the level of the – if the level is sufficiently high at 15 micrograms, actually, we’ll go in and do a very detailed investigation of the living situation be that NYCHA or another non-NYCHA building or another home. We’ll work with the landlords if there are any lead hazards identified. And we’ll issue commissioner’s orders to have any abatements that are required.
So, the public health apparatus has been working uninterrupted throughout this time period.
Question: I understand that there are fail safes with this public health apparatus but I mean, if you’re – you know, put yourself in the parent’s shoes. If you’re a parent and this [inaudible] going on for four years. Don’t you think they have a right to know that there’s this situation that maybe they want to put some extra attention to?
Mayor: I understand the question but I want to combine what Dr. Palacio said with the action then taken by NYCHA. Because children are constantly screened, God forbid a child had exposure, there was going to be a way to catch that and act on it.
But I want to remind you how infrequent it is nowadays that any child has exposure that has a lasting impact. And that most important thing was to do what we could do for the apartments that we knew right then had to be addressed and that happened swiftly. So, I’m absolutely comfortable saying in retrospect I wish I had publicly said what I said in March turned out to be wrong and here’s the plan and we’re doing it.
I’m very happy that NYCHA went and did the most important thing which was to go out and do it. But in the end because there is such a strong public health apparatus focused on protecting kids, I believe that continued to make sure the kids were safe despite the missteps that had happened.
Go ahead, Gloria.
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you talk a little about what the compliance officer is going to be tasked with doing, and then I have another question.
Mayor: Sure. Look, another structural reality – I want to remind people, I think again the lack of investment in NYCHA for a long, long time was a huge mistake. And I think some of the components that should have been in NYCHA a long time ago weren’t including having a Chief Compliance Officer.
This mistake, this problem led us to say, what’s structurally wrong here? How could this have happened? I mean, this is like a city unto itself. It’s 400,000 people. A lot happens every day that does work in NYCHA. It’s a very complex organization to run. How did something like this get missed when all these other things do happen every day?
And what was determined was there needed to be that central compliance officer to be a check and balance. So, that’s why we wanted a compliance officer in place. It would – literally be the role would be for Edna to review everything that is an obligation for NYCHA under federal, state, city law and to make sure that all laws are being complied with and all documentation is being presented to oversight entities so something like this couldn’t happen again.
Question: Mr. Mayor, do you think Chair Olatoye lied – knowingly lied to the federal government?
Mayor: Absolutely not. Again, she runs what is the equivalent of a major American city. She depends on folks who work for her to give her good information. Every one of us in executive office has had moments when we were not provided accurate information by someone down the food chain. It’s not a good situation and it should be addressed every time. But she acted in good faith.
And in further evidence of that, the moment she was given the real facts, she called HUD voluntarily, proactively, and said, “I need to tell you something is wrong here.”
She was the one who called to tell them. She didn’t wait for someone else to reach them. She called them and said something’s wrong here, we need to fix it, we want to report it to you. And the regional director has affirmed that publicly.
So, there’s one or two more and then we will go to other topics.
Question: Mr. Mayor, why is the Chair not here today and also she apparently – she did call HUD proactively but that decision which is addressed in the fact sheet, to then submit the larger, or sign off on the larger compliance – was there a lawyer, an attorney or someone of [inaudible] who advised her to do that?
Mayor: Look, she has already spoken to these issues in numerous interviews, that’s why she’s not here. The – clearly there’s an internal process and the compliance refers to a whole host of issues that the federal government’s concerned about. Something went wrong in this one but in the other areas from everything I’m seeing there was consistency.
Again, all I can say is it was caught, it’s being addressed, we’re going to have a compliance officer to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Question: What was the lead level of the children? Do we have –
Mayor: Say it again.
Question: The lead levels in those two children.
Mayor: We’ll follow up on that. Go ahead.
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you assess for us whether you think that DOI Commissioner Mark Peters [inaudible] call for an outside monitor citing [inaudible] issue –
Mayor: Look, the pertinent authority here is the federal government. Let’s be very clear. The federal government has been on this for two years. I think it’s important that agencies respect their fellow agencies. So, this is the top level of government that is the funder of a lot of NYCHA’s operations and has legal oversight responsibility. And for two years, they’ve been involved in this issue. I think that should be respected.
And again, we are in very collaborative communication with the US Attorney. There will be some kind of resolution over the next few months. As I said, it could include, certainly, a federal monitor. And that we would accept that and work with that monitor. That’s where the real work is happening.
Question: Is there any truth to the report that you’re irritated, annoyed with Commissioner Peters, that you’d like to see him [inaudible]?
Mayor: I’m not going to speak about any personnel matters. I said that when I met with all of you the day after the election. When it’s time to talk about personnel, we’ll talk about personnel but I have nothing to say about personnel today.
Going to do you and Grace, and then we’re going to other topics.
Question: Just to follow-up on two things that you mentioned. Are you currently – is the City involved in [inaudible]?
Mayor: I’m going to speak more broadly. I’m not a lawyer first of all. I can say we’ve been in ongoing discussions with the Southern District. They have been collaborative. We have fully cooperated. There will be some kind of resolution. I’m not going to predict what it is. That’s a question for the Southern District.
But there will be some kind of resolution and we will work for a positive and constructive resolution. I think that’s a few months away.
Question: [Inaudible] apartments. Is it the view of the City that it wasn’t actually the obligation during those four years to have done inspections annually of those 50,000 apartments because that’s what it seems the federal rule says?
Mayor: Well, again, let me separate Local Law 1 from the federal rule. I think it’s important – I’m not going to conjecture on the view of the City because we’re in discussions with the federal government right now.
So, I want to be very clear – that is its own universe at this point. It has been happening for two years. We’re going to complete that process with the federal government. We will come to a common definition of what our obligations are and we will act on that definition.
Local Law 1 is what we control obviously a compliance with and is the definition set forth by our law. That’s what we are complying with now. We did that starting with the initial notice that the Chair gave to residents that led to inspections that led to amelioration. That was complete in June. It’s started again immediately. The inspections will be finished next month. Amelioration will be done by the end of the first quarter ‘18.
We will be in compliance with Local Law 1 again.
Question: So, it’s unclear what the rules are. You’re negotiating what they were both for the past and present. It’s just not clear because the paperwork that gets filed every year – the issue here was that there was a rule that said there had to be annual inspections every 50,000 –
Mayor: The federal – first of all, there were changes in the federal government’s own guidance over time. Second, there’s obviously an effort on both sides to come to a common interpretation which is not unheard of when you’re trying to take rules and laws and put them into action. So, that’s what the discussions are about.
Question: Question about the two children with elevated lead levels from paint or in apartments where there was lead paint – are they still in those same apartments? Have their families been moved [inaudible] –
Mayor: Let me note, obviously for confidentiality, we’re not going to go into too much detail. Most importantly, they’re not showing any health consequences. I don’t know – and we can find out if they’re still in that apartment or other apartments but again all apartments now have gone through that first cycle of inspection and amelioration. If they were still in a NYCHA apartment they would go through it again every year from this point on.
Deputy Mayor Palacio: I can speak in sort of general terms without disclosing any confidentiality. When children are identified with elevated blood lead levels, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene continues to follow those children, works directly with their health care providers, continues to monitor their blood level to make sure that those lead blood levels are declining over time until they decline a certain threshold. And that’s the same case for any child regardless of where they are identified.
I can say that those four apartments have been abated.
Mayor: Okay, other topics.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I have a two part question. The first is this – the day after your election you said that education would be the thing that you focused your passion on –
Question: And I wonder if that passion extends to secular education in Yeshivas and what you intend to do about the complaints that many Yeshivas are not in compliance?
Mayor: There’s a full investigation going on and there’s a series of discussions going on with Yeshivas to address that problem. It will be resolved. I can tell you that. I do feel passionately the issue must be resolved but I also want it to happen in a productive way. I want the changes that are necessary to happen and to be bought into and to actually reach children.
And we’re approaching it in a way that we think will achieve that goal. There’s still more facts to uncover too. It’s not going to be too much longer before we’ll be able to give a fuller picture.
Question: The second part of my question is this – the complaint was filed against 39 Yeshivas two years and three months ago. In that time, DOE, despite saying it would take a month, has gone to only six Yeshivas. I wonder if you think that’s really sufficient. And if this was a public school that was out of compliance, would you have found that to be acceptable?
Mayor: Well, they’re apples and oranges. We don’t run the Yeshivas. We don’t run private schools. We need –
Question: [Inaudible] city money –
Mayor: But let me make the point. We want to achieve lasting change. Every Yeshiva is different. Every private school is different. Every religious school is different. We need to come up with an approach that will change this once and for all.
I look at it this way, Marcia, all these children are our children, right. It doesn’t matter if they go to public school, if they go to a religious school, if they go to a private school. They’re the future of New York City.
They all need a strong secular education. And if it’s not happening in some places, we have to fix it but I don’t want a band-aid, I don’t want a superficial fix. I want a lasting fix. And that means we need to come up with a formula that will work, that will be bought into. And even if we’re not there on that day to monitor, it will actually happen consistently.
That is real change not press release change but real change. That’s what we’re trying to put together right now. There’s still more facts to gather but we will have a plan to address this issue.
Question: Why have they only gone to six schools when [inaudible] –
Mayor: Again, I don’t know the facts of how they have proceeded on that.
Question: [Inaudible] years and three months [inaudible] –
Mayor: I believed the approach we’re taking will work.
Question: Kirsten Gillibrand recently said the Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, that if it had happened today there would have been a very different reaction. What are your thoughts on that? Do you agree with that assessment?
Mayor: If it happened today there would have been a very different reaction. There’s no question.
Question: Do you think he should have resigned?
Mayor: I don’t think you can rework history. I think if it happened today – if any president did that today, they would have to resign.
Question: I wanted to get your – the reason for which you asked or rejected I guess the nomination of the state court judge nominated by [inaudible] judicial commission. You rejected the nomination as sort of your purview to do that but I didn’t understand what the reason was for you to do that.
Mayor: We look at a lot of factors. We want a whole range of different experiences. We want diversity in every sense. We put together a committee with a lot of different people and the pieces have to fit. I don’t get into the weeds of that but the group that has been overseeing the whole process of judicial nominations and selection looked at all the facts and decided he didn’t fit. It’s as simple as that.
Question: It’s the first person, I understand, that you’ve rejected [inaudible].
Mayor: It happens.
Question: You recently expanded your goals for affordable housing with the idea of 300,000 units by 2026. The House passed a bill that passed on Thursday [inaudible] bill going to affect your plans and if it passes will you reduce that 300,000 number.
Mayor: I don’t do hypotheticals. Right now our job is to fight this tax plan, and as you know it’s very much up in the air what’s going to happen on this plan, and what’s going to be in it in the final analysis. So there’s two ways to address the issue. One, defeat the thing wholesale which would be my preference. Or two, take some of the worst elements out of it before it’s over. And remember, Chuck Schumer is going to have a bite at this apple, who fully understands how important that financing mechanism is to affordable housing in this city and all over the country. So, there’s a lot to play out here before this is resolved so I’m not going to change any plans until we see what happens. There’s no question if we lost that opportunity to finance it would hurt our plan, but I will tell you the plan has been at other points challenged like when the 421A law was not renewed. We found ways to compensate. So, it’s too early to say. I’m very concerned about it. We’re going to fight hard, but we would be ready to adjust if we had to.
Question: I know you just published an essay talking about upcoming trip to Iowa, but I’m hoping you can talk a little bit more about why you’re going, the purpose of the trip, who’s paying for it, and if we can expect more travel like this –
Mayor: Yes, I mean, I’m going to turn to my witness here, Austin Finan, the Medium post is up for all to see. Thank you, Austin. I really – I will do my damndest, there’s a few things you asked that maybe aren’t in the Medium post. But I really think once and for all I’m trying to say to you guys – and I’ve had this conversation with you for a year or two, this is who I am, this is what I’m going to do. And I’m telling you why as clearly as I possibly can. When there’s something I think that’s important I will do my best to do it, for example, the number one thing will be taking back the House and Senate in 2018. I don’t know what that looks like yet, I just don’t. I am certain people will ask for help in different ways. I’m going to do my best to help because I think its mission critical for New York City. As for this trip it’s being paid for by the organization – the sponsoring organizing.
Question: Mr. Mayor as you may know at 2:00 am of the morning of November 9th there was a very brutal slashing, domestic violence incident inside a non-profit shelter [inaudible]. Can you talk at all about what steps your Department [inaudible] is taking to improve security after a registered sex offender who committed this attack allegedly was sent to the shelter without any warning to staff. [Inaudible] told us – and stop me if you’re familiar, but she basically told us that had they known that this person was a registered sex offender that [inaudible] notify the shelter they might have been able to take steps to help better support this man?
Mayor: I want to caution, I think there’s a lot of facts that are being uncovered in that situation. So I’m not going to speak to who was notified of what when. The big picture question is, how do we make all shelter facilities as secure as possible? The structural thing we did, and you have a good sense of the history here, the NYPD did not used to supervise shelter security, did not used to train shelter staff, that was a major reform we did in the last few years. And I want to thank Commissioner O’Neill and I want to say this is a moment of praise you deserve. He did not hesitate to say even though that’s more work for the NYPD, we’re going to step up and do it. That’s made a big difference, but we’re constantly trying to figure out how to do better. And we want, obviously, information to flow to shelters appropriately, but I can’t speak to the specifics of that until we have more information.
Question: Follow up.
Question: Can you tell me what your general thoughts are about sending registered sex offenders to live in family shelters where there are shelters.
Mayor: Again I’m going to defer with this. There are laws governing how we are supposed to handle things. And we have to abide by those laws. I wish there were no sex offenders anywhere in New York City, but once people have served their time they do have rights under the law and there are specific stipulations about how they can live and where they can live. It’s frustrating for me but that’s the reality. We’ll have more to say on it. I’ll have the Deputy Mayor follow up with you.
Question: Mr. Mayor when we hear of politician going to Iowa we don’t [inaudible] usually –
Mayor: We think of what? A Grant Wood painting?
Question: [Inaudible] you know what I’m talking about.
Mayor: You mean the farmer with the pitchfork? Yeah, okay.
Question: Right, right. Just, we think that –
Mayor: I didn’t know you were so culturally sophisticated Rich.
Question: Anyway, I think that we begin to think of something beyond just the mayoral – not just the mayoral but something beyond the mayoral seat, maybe the president. Are you thinking of such things –
Mayor: I’ll answer it again, I answered it as recently as yesterday with Gloria and we asked each other how many times more it will be asked. So I’ll answer again. I had one goal, which was get reelected the Mayor of New York City. I’m very honored to have been reelected. I think the results were quite strong and clear. I’m going to be on the job until December 31st of 2021. But I’m going to try and get a lot of other good things done in the meantime that I think have a big impact on New York City.
Gloria I saw your hand up – you done? Okay, go ahead.
Question: Mayor on the topic of police body cameras which you’ve in the pasted touted as a tool for police transparency and accountability, and also to build public trust. The current body camera policy makes it easier for police officers who have been involved in shootings to review footage than it does for civilians involved in those incidences [inaudible] for the CCRB to view that footage. The policy ultimately leaves the decision to release footage in the hands of the Police Department and ultimately the Police Commissioner. And as you heard today the police aren’t planning to release the footage from the last two –
Mayor: Okay wait a minute, this is like a 12 part question. What is the core of what you’re asking?
Question: I’m getting there.
Question: That you have a Police Commissioner saying that they’re planning to release the two – footage from the two shootings –
Question: – that just, that recently happened. But do you think it’s toward your goals of accountability and transparency to leave that decision in the hands of the Police Department?
Mayor: Yes. I do. I think it’s balanced approach. And I think new Yorkers are starting to see the positive effect of footage being put out in close proximity to when an incident occurs. And you’re going to see it a lot more. I think this is the right – you know a lot of work went into determining this policy and Commissioner, obviously if you want to join in to the answer, feel free. It was, I thought, a very thoughtful effort looking at what happened in departments all over country that have had body cameras, what seemed to work best, what seemed to strike the right balance. I’m very comfortable this is the right approach and I think the proof will be, as you regularly see the footage come out that this is going to be a level of accountability and transparency we’ve never seen before in this city.
Let’s see, a couple more.
Question: In a city like New York [inaudible] city with progressive leadership investigators and civilians, it’s pretty – it’s fairly easy to view footage. A civilian, once they file a complaint, does not have to go through a cumbersome FOIL process as a review watchdog doesn’t have to ask the Police Department for footage, they have that access to the footage. And New York doesn’t follow that protocol.
Mayor: Again, we are a city of eight and a half million people so in addition to the moral and legal issues there’s massive logistical issues too. I think we struck the right balance. There is a mechanism for people to see the footage. But again, you’ve already seen the proactive open release of footage in a very major incident. You’re going to see more of that. I think that’s what the core of this issue is.
Question: [Inaudible] after the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light you urged anybody who had accepted money from him to promptly return that money. There are different but sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian Louis C.K. who headlined a fundraiser for your reelection campaign and I’m wondering how comfortable you feel about the money that was raised off of an event where –
Mayor: Oh I don’t think you can say money raised off of an event is that same standard. I understand the question, but a donation from someone who did something wrong is one question. The fact that hundreds of people went to an event that someone appeared at before anyone knew he had done anything inappropriate, I think that’s just not the same standard.
Question: Do you have any reaction to any of the stories that come out – I mean, you seemed friendly –
Mayor: It’s very troubling. It’s very troubling. I’m glad he came forward an admitted it but I don’t understand what he was thinking. You know, that’s not acceptable behavior. It’s as simple as that.
Okay. Melissa and then David and we’re out.
Question: I know that the Police Commissioner addressed the controversy of Brooklyn College, about the –
Question: Sergeant Ed Mullins tweeted – it’s short, I’ll read it “another anti –
Mayor: I always look forward to Mullins’ tweets.
Question: I’m sure you do. “Anti-police campus with no common sense. Active shooters, acts of terrors on campuses and now remove the police. It’s time people get what they ask for”.
Mayor: Well that’s inappropriate. I don’t – I long since gave up trying to understand him. That’s just an inappropriate statement particularly for someone who is supposed to be with protecting people. But here’s the bottom line, our understanding, and we’re checking this is that the action that we’re hearing about was not a formal action of Brooklyn College but of some association within Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College is part of CUNY, controlled by the State of New York, would never – should never ban police officers from any presence on the campus. That makes no sense whatsoever. And I don’t think they did. I think we’re getting a distilled version of the facts that’s not the whole story. But even if it’s a student group for example, I think it’s misguided. I agree with the Commissioner 100 percent, our officers being on campus helps protect people. They need familiarity with campus, and more importantly, and you started to allude to this Commissioner, they need relationships with people who are there – they’re there to serve including students. So, it makes no sense to me.
Question: I want to know what your sort of reaction would be to this – what I assume will be a criticism that you’ll get for the Iowa trip which is you just came back from vacation, you’re making an announcement that you’re going to Iowa in December, in the midst of all this attention to shortcomings at NYCHA that you’ve acknowledged. Why is this the appropriate time to talk about leaving town for you know partisan political reasons when you have this issue at home?
Mayor: I just don’t buy that way of thinking. I was officially on vacation on last week after a reelection campaign but I was working much of everyday. The trip in question is basically a 24 hour trip. I just don’t buy the notion in the 21st century that if you leave the boundaries of the five boroughs the government ceases to work. I would argue – I understand all of you have the mission of finding out the thing that’s wrong and reporting on it and demanding change. I would remind you of everything that’s right every single day in this city. This is a huge apparatus that functions in many ways very well, and has great leaders like those around me. I’m going to go to Washington, I’m going to go to Albany, and sometimes I’ll go other places. And I’ll be constantly in touch with people and we’re going to be addressing a whole range of issues as I do every day from when I get up to the end of the day. And every mayor before me has done the same thing. So, I mean you can ask it 100 times but it doesn’t change the core reality. If you find a problem, we’re going to address the problem. But there’s other things that have to be worked on at the same time. What I tried to say in the essay was if we don’t recognize the danger to New York City coming from Washington and do something about it then we’re leaving our own city at its peril. And the changes in Washington do not occur simply by showing up and lobbying a Senator in the hallway, they have to happen in the states where we can change the very makeup of the Congress. So, I just think that’s the essence of things, and Im’ going to keep working on it.
Marcia, I’ll give you a final one.
Question: This is an easy one –
Question: Do you have plans for your inauguration? Is there going to be a big celebration –
Mayor: No. It’s going to be modest. We don’t have specific plans yet. I have a news flash, breaking news. It will be on January 1st. Yes. It will be at City Hall.
Question: What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
Mayor: Thank you for asking. I’m going to be with family. I’m going to my cousin’s house and we’re going to have turkey, stuffing, all those things. And our annual incredibility aggressive wiffle ball game. We’re going to show that wiffle ball is a contact sport.
Thank you, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving.