Rosanna Scotto: Alright, so let’s talk about subways right away. You had a big announcement. You talked about funding, taxing the one percent for a little bit more to fund the MTA.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: That’s right.
Scotto: As you know, Albany is not so crazy about the idea. They’re talking about resurrecting congestion pricing – our feeling on that?
Mayor: Well, first, on why we should have a millionaire’s tax, because everyone knows the MTA’s in trouble. It’s been decades, I think, since the MTA was this bad, and it’s been a crisis particularly the last few months. I hear it from New Yorkers all the time that they’re late to everything. They’re late to work. They’re late to a job interview, to get their kids after school, to a doctor appointment. We’ve got a crisis on our hands. Now, the State runs the MTA. This has been something I’ve talked about a lot, and I think people are really getting the message. State is responsible for the MTA. The Governor is responsible for the MTA. They need to step up more in my opinion, but we do have a long term problem we gotta to fix. The MTA needs a lot of investment. I think those who have done really well – the 1% – the folks who – individuals make half-a-million or more, married couples make a million or more can pay a little bit more so that the subway can work for everyone. That’s the way forward. Now, I know there’s been other things talked about in Albany.
Scotto: Would you be in favor of congestion pricing?
Mayor: I’ve always had a lot of concerns about it to be honest with you. I’ve never been in favor of those proposals because I haven’t seen one that I thought was fair particularly to folks in the outer boroughs. Now the other fact is that these proposals to-date never had any political viability. The last time I think it was attempted was 10, 15 years ago and went nowhere in Albany. So I don’t really see a scenario where that gets taken seriously, but we know something like a millionaire’s tax could pass because there already is a State version, and this would be adding on.
Scotto: I know, but they’re not – there’s a lot of people who are not saying that they’re going to, you know, support this. Joe Lhota, first of all, says – and he’s running the MTA right now – he’s saying basically I need the money now. I can’t wait for a year from now.
Mayor: And Joe Lhota does need the money now, and he can get that money from the State of New York that took literally $456 million dollars of MTA money they took from the MTA and put into the State budget for other uses in the clear light of day. The State of New York needs to just give that money back. That would literally solve Joe Lhota’s immediate problem, according to Joe Lhota’s own numbers. So look, we’re not fools here in New York City. When we see someone take money they’re not supposed to take, they’ve got to give it back.
Scotto: You know, some people say the City has $4 billion in surplus. Why not use part of that money right now to solve the problem?
Mayor: Because if we give away more City money to the State of New York, and then we have huge budget cuts from Washington, which unfortunately are very likely, we’re going to be left holding the bag. We’re going to have to make tough choices on what to cut then in this city. I don’t buy that. I think if the City of New York is managing our resources very responsibly and carefully, and we’re making smart investments in police, in education, and in things that make this city better for everyone, I’m not going to give away money to the State when the State in fact – once again – took money from the MTA. This was tax money meant specifically for the MTA. It was literally mandated to go to the MTA, and they diverted it to other things.
Sotto: I’m sure that you want to probably just put this to rest – big article today about you taking a nap after the gym.
Mayor: Ridiculous. Ridiculous.
Sotto: Is it that true? Do you take a nap after the gym?
Mayor: No, it’s ridiculous. And by the way –
Sotto: Maybe you’re meditating.
Mayor: No, I don’t have a chance to meditate.
Sotto: Is there a couch that you like that you like to put the newspaper over your head?
Mayor: No, this is, look – I’ve spoken many times about the problem with New York Post, and they just make things up, and they’re a right wing propaganda operation – and here they go again. You know, nameless sources, which is always a giveaway, it’s ridiculous. It’s sad. It’s sad how much they want to focus on everything negative even when it’s not true. That’s what they do. I’m ignoring it because it’s not true.
Rosanna Scotto: Let’s talk about you and the Governor.
Scotto: Do you see – foresee any time in the future maybe getting along a little bit better?
Mayor: I’ve always said that it is about each issue that comes down the pike. For example, we did work very closely at the end of the legislative session in Albany on mayoral control of education. But it’s issue by issue.
Scotto: But – I know but I feel like in general people feel that you and the Governor don’t get along, and it may be to the detriment of the people of New York City –
Mayor: I disagree.
Scotto: Even on the subway situation?
Mayor: No. I disagree, and I’ll tell you why. It’s true that there are times where we don’t get along because I follow an idea that Ed Koch first laid out. When the Governor of New York does something good for New York City, praise him, support him, thank him. When the Governor of New York does something that hurts New York City, call him out, oppose it, take it on. And that’s what I’ve been doing.
Scotto: But wouldn’t you like to have a relationship with the Governor where you sit down and have a glass of wine, a slice of pizza, and kind of talk things over?
Mayor: Yes, and look, he and I have known each other a long time, and I’ve said it very clearly to him, and I’ve said it publicly, do right by New York City, do the right thing for New York City, and that kind of relationship can happen more and more. But I would not be doing my job for the people of this city if I saw our interests affronted and didn’t do something about it.
I – look, New Yorkers don’t want a mayor who’s going to be a pushover when dealing with Albany, and, by the way, again I’m using the example of Ed Koch who I think did a lot of great things and stood up to Albany when he thought they were doing the wrong thing for New York City. If you don’t stand up to Albany, if you don’t stand up to Washington when they’re hurting your own people what good are you? And so yes, it’d be great to have a wonderful relationship, here’s the way to have a wonderful relationship – be fair to the people of New York City.
Scotto: So, Cynthia Nixon really wants to run for Governor?
Mayor: Well, you’ll have to ask Cynthia Nixon that. I don’t know.
Sotto: But did you encourage her because –
Mayor: I have not talked to her about it at all.
Sotto: Because I know you don’t get along so well with the Governor.
Mayor: Well, that’s a true statement. And again I‘d like to get along better with him, but that means I want him to be fair to New York City.
Sotto: So, but Cynthia Nixon’s wife works for you right?
Sotto: Okay, and you’re not encouraging through back doors –
Mayor: I have not talked to –
Sotto: – Cynthia Nixon to run for Governor?
Mayor: – her, her wife, anyone about it. Cynthia Nixon, if you know her work, has got very strong view and has been an activist for many, many years on LGBT rights, on education, on a host of issues. I respect her immensely; I think she’s a really smart and effective advocate.
Sotto: Can she be Governor of New York?
Mayor: She has to decide what she wants to do. I’m only saying I think she’s a great person, I think she’s a great New Yorker who has done a lot for this city.
Scotto: Okay, let’s talk about the emails that were recently –
Scotto: – released from your organization. Some of them, a lot of people say – reporters are looking into them very, very closely and say there looks like, on the surface, a pay for play scenario that happens in City Hall – some of the emails for example with NYCLASS. Basically, “you were there for so long. We were there for you, to tell us this now after just spent $500K is totally ridiculous, puts us in an impossible situation, we are very upset.”
Scott: Do they have access to people who volunteer, who give you money for your campaigns – do they have special access and favor with you?
Mayor: No, and I’ll tell you why. This whole notion is wrong. The portrayal of it is wrong –
Scotto: In what way?
Mayor: Because it ignores the outcome which is the thing that people care about the most. How are the decisions made? Are they made fairly? Is someone who you have a relationship with going to get their point across but also someone you don’t have a relationship with going to get their across? Are you going to weigh them fairly? And the answer is yes.
There’s a particular group that didn’t like the outcome of something. We did what we thought was right. And if they didn’t like the outcome, it didn’t matter how much money they gave or where they were politically – and a lot of the situations where the emails have been released.
Well, first of all, the emails were requested and they were released. That shows there’s transparency –
Scotto: But it took some time to get those emails.
Mayor: Sure but there’s a process with anything like that and there’s a law that says, here’s how you ask for emails and it has to go through a process and then you get them and here they are.
And all the folks who donated money, that’s public record. So [inaudible] people are complaining a lot of times that they didn’t get something they wanted. I think that shows that we’re actually making the decisions based on the merit.
Scotto: So, will you be doing things differently this time around? You’re running for re-election. The people who donate to your campaign, will they have that special email to, you know, try and get in touch with you?
Mayor: There’s no – this is what the fallacy here is, there’s no special email. Meaning I have people who I know all over the city – community activists, civic leaders, business leaders, elected officials, labor leaders – they all have my email. They all have my phone number – people I’ve known for years and years. And they’ll call me and they’ll make their case and I’ll listen, but I’ll make my decisions based on what I think is right –
Scotto: But maybe these people who think they are giving and donating to your campaign feel like they will have a special relationship with you –
Mayor: Is this about their feelings or is this about how government actually works? I don’t care what their feelings are, with all due respect to them, because I will tell them to their faces, you should be supporting me if you think I’m doing a good job, and if you agree with what I’m trying to do. If you don’t, don’t support me. I’m fine with that.
Scotto: Let’s talk about the next four years. The last four, you came in on Universal Pre-K –
Scotto: You accomplished that. What are your goals for the next four years if you are re-elected?
Mayor: Rosanna, I got to tell you, pre-K has been – I’m so proud of it. It’s been such a big success. And it’s for everyone. It’s for people of all backgrounds, all incomes, all neighborhoods. And it’s really worked. Seventy-thousand kids now each year are getting full-day pre-K for free.
The next step is 3-K. Three-year-olds. Because, you know what’s happening with so many families? People are working longer hours than ever, a lot of two-income families, a lot of people who need help with their kids – a good safe place to be. And also, we want kids to learn earlier because we know that that’s when they can grow intellectually and be ready for the future.
So, we want to do the same thing we did for pre-K with three-year-olds, and I want to build that out over the next four years. That’s one piece.
And then when it comes to policing, look, we’ve had extraordinary success. Four years in a row, crime is going down. I’m very, very proud of that. Relationship between police and community is really starting to improve because of the neighborhood policing strategy that Commissioner O’Neill was really the architect of. I want it to get even better.
We have, actually, the lowest number of complaints from community members against police in 15 years. I want that to go down even more. I want us to get even safer.
Scotto: By the way the Mayor did give a shout out to Ray Kelly, former Police Commissioner –
Greg Kelly: Oh yeah? What did he say?
Scotto: Well, he said that they started the ball rolling on crime going down in New York City.
Scotto: You talked about charter schools and that you got mayoral control of the schools. But there was a little contingency about the charter schools that that was part of the packaged deal of getting mayoral control over the schools. Okay. So, Eva Moskowitz is saying basically she’s still waiting for approval for 27 openings in schools, in already established schools, where you have, I think, over 100 empty classrooms. When will you sit down with – or just sign on off on giving charter schools more space in schools?
Mayor: So, we have given charter schools space consistently. Here’s where I think there’s been a lot of misinformation and obviously I have real differences with Ms. Moskowitz and you know political differences, differences of belief. But you have to look at the charter school movement as a whole.
There’s a lot of different organizations in the charter school movement. A lot of them we work with very, very well. A lot of them we’ve approved space for exactly as they asked. Others have asked for space that we didn’t feel we could give them.
For example, if someone says, ‘I want to put an elementary school in a high school building.’ We’re not going to do that. If they say, ‘Hey, I have a school that I want to end up being 1,000 students.’ But there’s only enough room in the building for 300 students ultimately, we’re not going to let them start something that can’t grow the right way.
So, there are differences is but [inaudible] is if we say, ‘Hey, you’re plan doesn’t work.’ The charter school has a right to go through a very straightforward appeal process and they end up getting funding and they can find private space and use that funding.
And everyone knows that –
Scotto: Yeah, but she wants to go into the public schools. It’s obviously a lot easier to go into already established classrooms.
Mayor: Yes and no. I’ll tell you why I say that. When there’s enough a space to build out properly and when it’s the right kind of school for what’s there – again if it’s the same grade levels or one thing or another – yeah, a lot of times, we’re able to approve that.
But when not, we’re going to say if we don’t think something is going to work for the existing school that’s there, we’re going to say that. But you still get the money. In fact, a lot of charter schools have told us, they’re very comfortable getting the money and getting their own space they could run they want.
So, it’s a lot more nuance. She is particularly extreme. Everyone knows it –
Scotto: But very successful.
Mayor: Look, she has a model that has achieved certain things. There’s also a critique of that model that in many cases it has excluded kids who do not take tests that well, excluded kids who have problems with special needs or are English-language learners – kids who speak a different language originally.
There’s a big critique of her model. There’s a lot of other charter schools that approach it differently and I want to be really clear about that. I have seen charter schools which I really admire that go out of their way to take on the kids who have some of the biggest challenges –
Scotto: And you think Eva’s academies do not?
Mayor: I think there’s a real critique out there of how they approach it. I think there’s been a lot of documentation of the fact that they don’t look kindly upon kids that don’t take tests well. In the public school system, we take everyone. We don’t care what your situation is. We don’t care how well you take a test. Our job is to help you learn. Some charter schools do that, others don’t.
Scotto: So, do you think Eva Moskowitz should start looking at other places to move in? Because she says she’s waiting on 27 open requests for space.
Mayor: And look, there’s always a certain amount of propaganda to what she says. I would discount it immediately. We will look at every single one. We have certainly granted her organization space in some of our schools where we thought it made sense. Again, in other cases they’ve simply gotten the money to go find space for themselves.
We’ll look at each one individually but I have long since understood she has an axe to grind politically. When she puts out something like that, take it with a grain of salt.
Scotto: When you go to sleep at night do you worry about a possible terrorist attack?
Mayor: I constantly think about the threat of terror and, in fact, when I meet with our police leadership often in this room each week we talk about it pretty much every single time and what we’re doing.
But I’ll tell you what gives me confidence. I think the NYPD has the best anti-terror operation of any police department in the country and we built it up. You know, there was a lot done previously and I want to give Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly credit because they responded properly after 9/11 saying, ‘Wait a minute, we have to have our own capacity for intelligence gathering because obviously our federal government didn’t do enough.’ But then what we added first under Commissioner Bratton and then Commissioner O’Neill is the Critical Response Command and we beefed up that and the other specialized units.
We now have 550-plus officers who do nothing but anti-terror, preventing terror. They’re trained. They’re well-armed to handle that. You see them out there in bigger numbers than ever before with a lot of weaponry, with the vests, the helmets because that’s the world we’re living in today. So, I think we’re very, very well positioned to prevent. And I think the bad guys can see it. They can see how prepared New York City is and that has helped a lot.
So, do I think about it all the time? Of course. But do I feel confident in the NYPD? Absolutely.
Scotto: The President’s coming to town next weekend –
Mayor: Yes – always an adventure.
Scotto: Sometimes when he’s in town, you’re out there protesting. Is there anything planned for next week?
Mayor: We don’t even know what it is yet is the answer.
Scotto: You don’t know when he’s coming to town, yet?
Mayor: We don’t have the details. The NYPD has been talking to the Secret Service but it has not been shaped up. And you know with this President, it’s not surprising he would send out something and then it might change in a lot different ways. So, we don’t really know what it is. There is no plans yet. We’re going to make sure we’re ready as a city and the NYPD is ready to handle whatever he’s doing.
There’s a lot to disagree with him on, in my opinion. But what I’ve been doing more than just protesting is working with mayors around the country – by the way Democrat and Republican alike and this is real interesting. A lot of Republican mayors around the country didn’t agree with the notion of repealing the Affordable Care Act and we all worked together to try and stop that, and I’m thrilled, because of Senator McCain, it was stopped.
We’re going to be working, Democrats and Republicans together, to stop some of the big budget cuts directed at our cities. You know, Rosanna, it’s weird, the cities of America are the economic core of this country more than ever before but a lot of what’s being proposed in Washington would hurt the economies of our cities. So, it’s actually is backwards. It’s going to hurt everyone.
So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m working with folks all over the country who can actually help stop some of these bad ideas. Sometimes there’s a cause for protest. Sometimes the thing to do is roll up the sleeves and we figure out how do we win the votes to protect the cities –
Scotto: So, nothing planned for when the President comes to town?
Mayor: Well, reserving my rights.
Scotto: Have you adjusted to living on the Upper East Side? It took you a long time. You were living in Brooklyn and you still have some roots in Brooklyn –
Mayor: I do indeed.
Scotto: Do you like living on the Upper East Side?
Mayor: I like Brooklyn. And look, God bless the Upper East Side and all the other parts of New York City but look, we’re all defined by our neighborhood. My neighborhood is in Brooklyn. It’s where my kids were born. You got to remember – my kids were born about ten blocks from my house. I got married about ten blocks [inaudible] Prospect Park. It’s, like, the last 25 years of my life have been in that neighborhood in Brooklyn and it’s where I’m most comfortable but in the same way everyone is most comfortable –
Scotto: But is there any place you like to go – you and Chirlane – hanging out on the Upper East Side?
Mayor: We like to go everywhere. Well, yeah, there’s some great places on the Upper East Side –
Scotto: Do you have a favorite one that –
Mayor: I very, very, very much like this pizzeria and espresso bar called San Matteo – which the guy’s from Salerno –
Scotto: I know which one.
Mayor: You like it. You know it.
Scotto: Yes, the one on 89th Street – 90th Street –
Mayor: 90th Street. Yes. Yes.
Scotto: The one on 89th Street or the one on 90th Street because there’s two of them now.
Mayor: Yeah, there’s two next to each other. So, I go to the one closer to 90th.
Mayor: And they’re from Salerno, which is not far from where my grandfather comes from. And the pizza is amazing. The espresso is fantastic. They do the pizza dough with the Nutella in it –
Scotto: It’s good.
Mayor: Which is not something I should be eating too often. But if they put it near me, I’m going to eat it.
So, yeah, there’s some great places. The Mansion Diner which is a classic –
Scotto: Very good – they have very good chicken soup there in case you’re ever sick. Do you ever call in? Do you and the Mrs. ever call-in to –
Mayor: Call-in? You mean take-out? Is that what you’re saying?
Scotto: Yes. Like, ‘Hello, the Mrs. and I don’t feel like cooking tonight can you deliver?’
Mayor: We don’t. We usually go over there but that’s a great diner and that family has had that diner for a long, long time. And they make a great raisin bread French toast [inaudible] Orwasher’s raisin bread, they use, which is wonderful.
Scotto: Yes – very good.
Mayor: So, there are great places on the Upper East Side. I’m simply saying to your question, you know, I feel comfortable in the neighborhood that has been like where my family – I mean I coached Little League there, the whole thing. That’s my neighborhood. I like going back there all the time and that’s how I think a lot of people live.
Scotto: So, what does that Y have in Brooklyn that you can’t find at a Y in New York City?
Mayor: It really makes sense if you think about it. You know, you remember the show, Cheers?
Scotto: Yeah, of course.
Mayor: Everybody knows your name? Well, when I go to that Y not only does everybody know my name but everybody just treats me like a regular person because I’ve been going there for 20 years. [Inaudible] have that experience. You know this kind of work can put you in a bubble and you can get very disconnected from the real world and it’s nice to be someplace where you just can be yourself, can be connected to your regular life, and it, to me, it’s part of how I keep grounded. It’s a place I know, a place that knows me. Everything is normal and that counts for a lot.
You go to some other places, of course, people are going to come up and bring up their issues or one thing or another. That’s okay but if you try and just go about your life like a regular person you want to be where you can do that.
Scotto: Obviously, you know, like so many people have criticized you about going to Brooklyn to work out.
Mayor: And I don’t understand that. Because first of all, what people should be concerned about again is the results. This is where – I don’t know if it’s so many people, honestly. I’ve had 30-something town hall meetings and we do call-ins on the radio every week. People don’t talk about it.
The press talks about it. Regular people don’t talk about it. Regular people want to know – are you giving them results? They care about things like pre-K. They care about things like crime going down. They care about getting affordable housing. They care about the subways getting fixed.
They don’t care if you go to the gym. They want to know if you produce for them. And I’m very proud to say this administration has produced for people. If going to the gym is one of the things that allows me to do the best job I can do, I don’t think most people begrudge that.
बिहिबार, साउन २६, २०७४ मा प्रकाशित