MAYOR DE BLASIO HOLDS MEDIA AVAILABILITY

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Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. When we wake up to news that’s almost impossible to comprehend, and today is one of those days, and I’m going to talk about this and I’m going to talk about how troubling it is, but I’m also going to remind us that we’re going to have to fight through everything that’s being thrown at us, just like generations before. This is an extraordinarily difficult time, layer upon layer of crisis, but we won’t give up in the midst of this. And I have to say, sometimes you see things that just are astounding, even with all the shocks we’ve experienced recently. So, the news this morning, the single largest drop in the gross domestic product of this nation in its history. That’s what we’ve lived through over these last five months. It’s almost impossible to comprehend. As recently as February, a thriving economy, this city, in many ways, the strongest it’s ever been, and look what we all have been put through. And look at the human cost, look what’s happening in every neighborhood of the city to hardworking families. Look how much people have been through, and there’s so much more ahead. That’s the honest truth. We, of course, need to recognize, first of all, the impact on lives, the impact on families in terms of those we’ve lost. Our nation now has lost over 150,000 people. And as people are grappling with that pain, as people are trying to find a way forward in their lives. One of the few things that helped was that unemployment support from the federal government – that is expiring tomorrow. People depended on those $600 checks, and now they’re gone. So, it’s sobering. It’s painful. We cannot be defeated by it, but we have to look at it squarely in the eye and deal with it.

What we need right now more than ever is the federal government to remember the lessons of history and step up and invest in the American people, invest in people here in New York City, do something decisive. And instead, we see the exact opposite. The Senate majority, blocking a new stimulus bill. This is – you know, we often talk about paralysis and Washington, gridlock in Washington – this is not gridlock, this is sabotage. Literally standing in the way of a stimulus when people in this country are in desperate, desperate shape, and it can’t go on like this. We all, every one of us, regardless of our party affiliation, regardless of what our lifestyle is, our place in the economy, where we live, whatever it is, we all with one voice need to say the federal government must provide a stimulus immediately to save this country and save this city. And we are not seeing that from the U.S. Senate. So, now, this is where I would normally call upon the chief executive officer of our country to do something. That’s exactly what it would take. Literally, a few sentences out of Donald Trump’s mouth would change the reality in the U.S. Senate. All he would have to do is care enough to say the Senate must provide that unemployment support to every-day Americans. The Senate must put the money in to revive our economy, bring us back, help cities and states be whole. If he just said that, it would happen – and he will not say a word. But is he saying today? He’s suggesting that the fall election should be postponed. Now, let’s be plain. This is the act of a tyrant, a president who in the midst of crisis has not taken responsibility for the lives of his people – the fact that folks are losing jobs right and left, people are hurting, he’s taken no responsibility for that, he’s only trying to save his own skin. And he knows he’s going to lose the election, so he’s calling for it to be postponed, which has never happened in the history of the United States in times of war or peace, depression, you name it. We do not postpone our national elections.

So, I think a lot of people, even some people had supported President Trump are going to look at that and say, no, that is abrogation of responsibly, but, more importantly, that’s in the assault on our democracy and it cannot stand. We need to have that election on time. We need to have the election so the American people can make their decision. That election has less than a hundred days away. A new government is less than six months away, potentially, that could help us to move forward. So, that election must happen. But, in the meantime, every one of us needs to fight for that stimulus. And think about, again, the human reality for so many families, what it’s going to mean to no longer have the support they were getting. Just to think about what people will not be able to afford. There are families right now, working class families, even middle-class families trying to choose between food or medicine or the basics of life. And those choices are going to get tougher and tougher. We’re going to be there – we’re always going to be there for the people that city, so we’re always going to provide free food for anyone who needs it, we’re going to provide free health care for anyone who needs it. But the burdens are getting greater and greater. So, what can we rely on? We can rely on each other in New York City, because we’ve proven time again that New Yorkers stand by each other, support each other. This city will do everything we possibly can to help the people in the city. And I know in every neighborhood there are people helping, helping each other through. And we’re going to have to lean hard on each other to get through this crisis.

Now, while our federal government isn’t acting, I want to give credit to New York State, because they’re doing something that’s going to reach a lot of people. And eligible New York State residents will have an opportunity to get additional unemployment benefits, up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits. That’s crucial for a lot of families. So, anyone who qualifies for this, please take advantage of this right away. You can go online at labor.ny.gov and get that support. And we have to, here in the city, keep helping people to survive, to move forward business by business, job by job, person by person. We know that our recovery will depend on building back jobs and it will be painstaking work. Our federal government used to know this. A great New Yorker, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, use that concept of giving people jobs in their hour of need, that was one of the most foundational ideas the New Deal. That’s how we got out of the Great Depression. One day, I want to believe our federal government will get it again and fund a massive jobs program so people can really get the employment they need and their families can come back and our economy can come back. But, in the meantime, what we need to do is prepare people for the jobs that are starting to come back, even if it’s much slower than we want and working toward the day where people get back on their feet. So, our Department of Small Business Services is, right now, providing free training to get people ready to come back into the economy. There are areas of the economy that are still strong and will grow again. There are jobs that need to be filled. We need to get people ready for them. And here to tell you how we’re going to do it, our Commissioner for Small Business Services Jonnel Doris.

Commissioner Jonnel Doris, Small Business Services: Thank you, sir. As you said, Mr. Mayor, New Yorkers have been going through a hard time and many have lost their jobs of no fault of their own. We know that this is in our immigrant community, our people of color, and also our young people who are getting hit the hardest. But we’re here to help at SBS, and we’ve been doing that throughout this pandemic. We’re here to provide the training, the resources that they need. We’ve already connected and worked with 37,000 New Yorkers. We will continue to work with additional New Yorkers as they call into our hotlines and seek the support that they need. We are training them in in-demand skills for our tech industry, health care, industrial, media and entertainment industry. We are working with them in home health aide, in commercial drivers as well. We’re also working with our workforce one centers, 18 workforce one centers across the city who have been working virtually to assist New Yorkers to get jobs that they so critically need.

Since mid-March, we have worked with over 500 employers to fill 9,800 jobs. Whereas we’re currently working with those employers to fill 3,600 jobs. So, listen, if you’re a New Yorker and you need assistance and you need support, please make sure that you visit us on our website nyc.gov/workforce. But before I turn it back to the Mayor, you know, this work is critical work and our essential workers have been doing an amazing job, getting us back to where we are now. We had some job seekers who came into our virtual workforce one centers who were looking for support and help and we were able to help them. John, who was looking for a pivot in his career, didn’t have a job, was seeking help and support, came to our workforce one center. He’s now employed as a transport and nurse – transport- nurse in our Health + Hospital care system – that’s happened. As of April, we’re continuing to do that to hundreds of New Yorker. Also, Maria, at foreign-born New Yorker who was seeking also work, who was out of work because of COVID, was able to come back and get support from my workforce one centers and get a job and is not working in our Health + Hospital systems as well, and also working with patients who are tested positive, the elderly, in particular, for COVID-19. So, look, we’re here to help and assist you no matter what your concerns and needs are. You can call 3-1-1 or you can meet us nyc.gov/workforce.

Mayor: Thank you very much, Jonnel. Appreciate what you and everyone at Small Business Services is doing to help people get back on their feet. So, this is something we’re going to be talking about for a long time – how are we going to bring back New York City, how we’re going to bring back jobs, how we’re going to get people connected to jobs, how are we going to help people get into the industries that will grow again. We have a lot of work to do ahead in the city and we’re going to be talking about a lot over the coming weeks and months. But we continue to face the immediate challenges. And right when we’re dealing with this huge difficult news on a national scale, we’ve got an immediate challenge right here in Brooklyn that I want to bring to your attention. We got a warning this morning from Con Edison, and there is a problem in Southern Brooklyn. I really want to urge people to act quickly. We’ve got to protect our electricity supply for all New Yorkers. We’ve got to make sure we avoid any disruptions in our electricity. Right now, there is a problem with some of the equipment in Southern Brooklyn. And so, if you live in the following neighborhoods, I’m going to you to pay special attention, and I’m going to ask for your help. So, residents of Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, South Park Slope, Greenwood, and Sunset Park. Again, Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, South Park Slope, Greenwood, and Sunset Park. If you live in those neighborhoods, your electric supply is in danger right now. There’s something you can actually do to help us address this, which is to avoid using major appliances, avoid washers, dryers, microwaves, limit air conditioning use as much as possible. Hopefully, this is something that gets resolved in the course of the day, but every-day people can make an impact here and we really want to make sure you did not have your electricity disrupted. So, everyone, please take this warning seriously, please act on it, and we will do everything in our power, and we will push Con Ed hard to resolve this situation quickly.

All right, going to go now to our daily indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold is 200 – today, 87 patients. Number two, daily number of people in Health + Hospital’s ICU’s, threshold 375 – today, 299. And number three, percentage of people testing citywide for COVID positive, the threshold 15 percent – today, again, this good number we’ve been at for a long time, two percent.

 

A few words in Spanish –

 

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

 

With that, we will turn to our colleagues in the media and please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.

 

Moderator We will now begin our Q&A. As a reminder, we’re also joined today by Commissioner Doris and Senior Advisor Dr. Jay Varma. First question for today goes to Gloria from NY1.

 

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I want to follow up on what you have said about the stimulus just now. What are you doing in terms of working with the congressional delegation, other elected leaders to prevent everything that you were talking about? What have you been doing in terms of reaching out to them? What are they saying? And what is the city’s plan, from you personally, to do whatever is needed so that these benefits can be extended?

Mayor: Yeah, it’s really – what we talked about yesterday in some length, it’s not about our congressional delegation. Our Congress members have been all over this doing everything they can and obviously the House under Speaker Pelosi passed an exemplary stimulus bill months ago. This is about the US Senate. It’s about particular Senators who are really the swing votes here, and it is obviously about President Trump. So what we have seen, it’s been shocking how the President’s been unwilling to call for a serious stimulus, unwilling to call for aid to cities and states. He’s been brushing off the stimulus lately as if it doesn’t matter at all. And again he’s in freefall. He is guilty of so many fundamental errors in this, both the health crisis and in the economic situation, that now he’s trying to distract by talking about canceling an election. So clearly we do not depend on him to do anything. It comes down to the US Senate and so where I’ve put my energies in recent weeks is working with fellow mayors, including Republican mayors, to focus on those key senators, to mobilize mayors in their states, to put pressure on them, to mobilize people in their states, to get the business communities, labor, clergy, everyone pushing those senators because they are the difference makers here. Go ahead, Gloria.

Question: And I want to ask you a question on a separate topic here. It’s my understanding that the officers that were driving the SUV that drove into that crowd of protesters a couple of weeks ago have not been disciplined and that there is no expectation of having a change in their status from the NYPD. So my question is, it seems that there’s been a recent trend, if you will, we have the officer who punched the homeless man in the subway, we have the officers driving the SUV, and the officers that were involved in the arrest of – the unmarked van arrest, all not really facing any kind of accountability or disciplinary action from the –

Mayor: Okay, what is your question, Gloria?

Question: Well you said that there would be a new disciplinary effort, a new disciplinary process that was going to be happening, where has the accountability been? It seems that there is a disconnect between what New Yorkers –

Mayor: Again, Gloria, you got summarize the question, I think I know where you’re going. So it’s very clear to me that we need a fast, clear system that we’ve made some progress, but not enough, talked about this several times in the last week. I want a system that is very clear, very fast, where in the first couple of days, if there is going to be a need for a modification or a suspension of an officer, that’s determined immediately day or two. If there is going to be a larger disciplinary charge that goes to a trial, that’s done through an investigation, that should happen over the following week or two. That’s what I want to be. Occasionally there is a disruption when again, we talked about before, another part of government gets involved, DA, Attorney General, whatever. But when you look back over the last few weeks, there are cases where officers were suspended. There are cases where officers are modified and there’s cases where they were not. There are cases where there will be disciplinary charges that will go to trial as the trial process presumes, and there are cases where there are not. So clearly there’s differentiation case by case. I want to see a much faster, clearer system that everyone can track equally, publicly, and that’s what we’re working on right now.

Moderator: Next is Derick Waller from ABC7.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. This is Derek with Channel Seven. How are you doing?

Mayor: I’m doing good, Derick, how are you?

Question: I’m doing great. And my first time calling in here, very exciting.

Mayor: Well, we’re happy to have you Derick.

Question: I have a question because some neighbors who live on the Upper West side reached out to me and I understand that the Department of Homeless Services has, you know, rented out a number of hotels. I know the reason is for social distancing, certainly nobody wants to have an outbreak of coronavirus in a homeless shelter, we understand that. The concern that was raised to me was that there was a lack of community involvement in placing some of these shelters, and specifically the issue is that someone learned, I guess, did some research and found out that there were some level two sex offenders staying at least at one property, and you know, neighbors were concerned about that, basically that they feel like they were left out of the process. And my question is, was there any way, you know, without, you know, dealing with privacy laws, I guess, was there any way to make neighbors feel like they had more of a say in that process? And –

Mayor: Okay, Derick. Okay. Let’s – look again, I want everyone to try and get to the question. So look, you started, I think exactly at the right place. God forbid that anyone ends up homeless, but people are both homeless and dealing with the reality of this disease in a shelter system that was meant, obviously, to be able to have a certain number of people and we’ve months ago decided we had to spread people out because of social distancing. That meant we had to have more space. We should always work with communities, but in a crisis environment, there’s not always time to do, you know, the idealized community outreach, but any community concerns must be addressed. And so what I’ve always instructed Department of Homeless Services to do is when communities raise concern, meet with people, hear their concerns, make adjustments, address the issue. Now there’s one case, I don’t know if it’s where you’re referring to here or somewhere else, there was one case this week where a really bad mistake was made and someone who was a sex offender who should not have been in a shelter was, and that was caught quickly and immediately fixed. That’s not acceptable. We can’t have that happen. It must be avoided at all costs. So anyone who’s concerned that that happened, they are have a right to be concerned and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But in terms of hearing communities, I think the best that we can do in a crisis atmosphere like this is get people into safe shelter settings, where we’re not going to run the risk of spreading the coronavirus and then work with communities to make it as fair and appropriate for the community as possible. Go ahead, Derick.

Question: I think that really answered my question. Yeah, I think that people were just concerned that they didn’t have a say here, so thank you very much.

Mayor: Thank you, Derick.

Moderator: The next is Marcia from CBS.

Question: Mayor, I know you made an impassioned plea to President Trump to deliver money for local aid to localities and stimulus money, but when talking to Congressman Peter King about the inability of the delegation to deliver for New York, he said it’s a very tough sell with Republican Senators because they’re very upset about a number of things in New York City, including the fact that you painted the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower. I wonder if you regret that and if you think that the President is regarding it as provocative, that the Republican Senators are regarding it as provocative, and if maybe you think you shouldn’t have done it?

Mayor: No Marcia, not at all. Respecting millions of our fellow New Yorkers, people of African descent who have been disrespected for so long, this is necessary in this moment. It was exactly the right thing to do to paint that mural and we’re going to keep sending that message constantly that Black Lives Matter in New York City. They need to matter all over the country. That has nothing to do with the stimulus. The stimulus should be acted on for every part of this country. You heard the statistic this morning, as scary as all hell that our economy is going through a such decline, has nothing to do with politics anymore, who likes who. This should be, from my point of view, the Republican Senators should be thinking about the self-preservation of this country, not politics and pass that stimulus for everyone. Go ahead.

Question: My second question, Mr. Mayor has to do with the barricades that are up around Carl Schurz Park in your backyard. A number of people have complained that they can’t get to the park and that there haven’t been any protests there for a long time and they wonder why they can’t be taken down. Would you consider asking the NYPD to take them down so people can use the park?

Mayor: I’ve had the conversation with NYPD, Marcia, that they should balance all the factors. We want to make sure that, yeah, as much as possible, people can use all spaces, we got to make sure it’s safe and done the right way, and I know they’re working to sort that out. So we’ll keep working on that over the next few days.

Moderator: The next is Emma Fitzsimmons from the New York Times.

Question: Good morning, Mayor. First I wanted to ask you about Maya Wiley. It looks like she’s going to be running for Mayor. Would you vote for her?

Mayor: Emma, first of all, as you know, from today’s news, we are dealing with right now crises and challenges. So I am certainly not thinking about next year’s election. I am thinking about the election coming up in less than a hundred days and what it means for New York City, but not next year. We’ll get to that in the meantime. Maya did a great job serving in this administration. I respect her greatly, like her a lot. Haven’t spoken to her about it, when the time comes I will. But right now my focus is on dealing with the really profound challenges that New Yorkers are facing right now.

Question: And second question. The video of the arrest at the protest yesterday, Cuomo, said it was obnoxious, looked like something out of Portland. Did you speak with Commissioner Shea? Does he agree that it was unacceptable to do it at that time in place?

Mayor: I spoke with Commissioner Shea about an hour after I think the video came out originally the other night, and then I spoke to him again yesterday. Look, I think it’s clear, again, it was not the right time and place, and we have got to work to make sure people always know that the right to protest is protected in New York City, and that we in fact abhor what the federal government is doing in Portland. We would never allow anything like that here. At the same time when people commit offenses, when they vandalize public property, there will be a consequence, but it was not done the right way. I certainly expressed that to him and we’re going to work on trying to find a better way going forward.

Moderator: The next is Gersh from Streetsblog.

Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor, how are you?

Mayor: Good, Gersh. How you doing?

Question: Fine, can’t complain. I’m just looking at the question here. So this morning your Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg was on a Zoom call with City Law, and she said that your suspension of alternate side of the street parking has actually made it more difficult for the DOT to install bike lanes, and as a result, they’re not being installed as quickly as they might have been in the past. You made the change in alternate side of the street, because in your words, you want it to lighten the burden on car owners. Now with what Trottenberg is saying, it seems that in lightening that burden, you’ve actually endangered cyclists and prevented her from doing her job you say you want, which is to increase cycling. So, A, did you talk to Trottenberg about that? And B, how will you solve this new problem you created?

Mayor: Look, Gersh, this the first I’m hearing. I’ve been with Polly with numerous meetings and calls, and she’s never raised that to me. If that’s a concern, I want to hear about and we’ll work on it. Obviously, one thing that, Gersh, I will constantly remind you is this administration has greatly increased the number of bike lanes in this city, seeing the explosion of Citi Bike usage in our time. We created Vision Zero from scratch in this city, and it’s been working to protect people. We know where we’re going and we want to keep doing more of all of this. There also is a really legitimate problem when people who do own cars have to constantly move those cars around, have to circle around looking for parking. I don’t like that one bit. If we can minimize that we, need to. But we’ll look at all the factors and figure out how to balance them. Go ahead.

Question: Then in a related question, you know, Commissioner Trottenberg in the same Zoom call admitted that compared to London and Paris, New York City has done virtually nothing to expand pedestrian cycling during the coronavirus crisis. Now you and [inaudible] Transportation Committee, members of which clearly recommended efforts on the scale of other world-class cities. So when will we see some of those plans rolling out?

 

Mayor: Again, New York City is just a different place I’ve said to you before. We’re going to make decisions based on our particular reality. I am certain, you are attempting your best to interpret what Polly said, but I’d like to hear it from her respectfully directly, and to not hear your interpretation. I think the fact is we want to keep expanding every conceivable option and alternative, and we’ve seen how effective things like Open Streets have been. We keep expanding that we keep expanding bike lanes. We want to see how far we can take both of them. We’re – obviously did something that I was surprised didn’t get more attention by putting a group of bus ways in place, starting with 14th Street in the new ones we announced. This is the direction we’re moving in. So I think everyday people can see these changes and feel these changes, and my goal is to see how far we can take all of them.

 

Moderator: The next is Katie from the Wall Street Journal.

 

Question: Hey, good morning, Mr. Mayor. So you and Commissioner Shea and other members of the Police Department have repeatedly said that the rise in gun violence in the city is directly related to courts not being physically open, but an article in today’s New York Post finds that firearms cases are making their way through the system at the same rate as last year. So can you explain this difference? And do you have any facts or evidence to back up your claims?

 

Mayor: Yeah. I have not seen the Post article, and I don’t always get accuracy from that publication. We will happily give you our statistics, but again, I think we’ve put out some of them we’ll put them out again. You can, it’s just stands to reason, I don’t know why this is even something to be debated. There is no one claiming the court system is functioning as normal, Katie. There’s just no one doing that. We’ll get you how many fewer cases and trials are happening. It’s just self-evident the court system is not up and running the way it would normally be at this point in the year. This is historically, sadly, the toughest time of the year – summer, the middle of summer is the toughest time of the year in terms of gun violence. We do not have a fully functioning court system that is a profound problem. Anyone can try and manipulate a statistic, but if they want to look me in the eye and say, oh, no, it doesn’t matter that we don’t have a fully functioning court system, then I guess they’re saying we don’t need a fully functioning court system in general. It just doesn’t stand to reason. It’s one of a number of factors, but it’s one that can and must be solved, and the City of New York stands ready to do whatever the Office of Court Administration needs to help get the courts up and running as normal. Go ahead.

 

Question: You know, I didn’t write the story, but in defense of my colleagues, this is data that’s from the NYPD so maybe before insulting it and insulting the accuracy of it, you could read the article it came out a few hours ago.

 

Mayor: Respectfully, it’s a publication – I’m sorry, Katie. I’m glad you want to defend your colleagues, but it’s a publication historically has provided inaccurate information. It may be accurate statistics in this case, but I’m just not going to be gentle about the point that when there is a history of inaccuracy and an axe to grind, it’s worth saying, but the bottom line is what I’m saying to you – stands to reason you need a fully functioning court system it is a crucial piece of the equation. If you want to argue, you don’t need one, please do, but I know you do. Go ahead.

 

Moderator: We have time for two more today – I’m sorry, Katie, go ahead.

 

Question: Oh, thank you. I have a second. I’m curious the TLC put out a report yesterday that showed just the number of trips that have declined for taxi and for-hire vehicles. I know earlier this year, there was a discussion of some sort of bailout for the taxi industry. I know that there was a panel, it was reported in the Times. I’m curious if you have any update on that considering, you know, I mean the taxi industry was not doing well in January and it’s certainly taken a stronger hit now, so I’m curious—

 

Mayor: Yeah, go ahead. I’m sorry. Okay. Katie, finish your sentence, finish your sentence.

 

Question: Yeah, I mean, how has that panel going? And is there any kind of further plan from you to help be drivers, both taxi and for-hire.

 

Mayor: Okay, clearly you’re absolutely right that before this pandemic, we were dealing with a really profound problem for yellow cab drivers, green cab drivers, for-hire. Everyone had gone through so much and we were making some progress in terms of ways to help people through and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner – the Taxi and Limousine Commission is still trying with every tool. They’ve got to do that. Some of the bigger solutions we were looking at, obviously everything got stopped because of the coronavirus, and obviously we, the City of New York do not have resources for any kind of direct bailout. We should keep working for a federal solution. It’s the kind of thing that would fit beautifully in a stimulus now or even if we can’t get everything we need in the next stimulus. Again, it’s time to start talking about life six months from now, when we might have a different President, different Senate and the potential for much more real support for everyday working people. But we don’t have the resources now [inaudible] least say is anything we can do that we do have within our power. Now we’re going to try and do, and any driver needs help. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is trying to find ways to help people, person by person.

 

Moderator: We time for two more for today. The next two Suzannah from Crain’s.

 

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I wanted to ask about property taxes. When do you think we can expect to see data on how much property tax revenue the city received as of the July deadline?

 

Mayor: I don’t know that answer Suzannah, but we’ll get it for you. Obviously there’s a pretty regular system for when we have that number. We’re all worried about every form of revenue declining obviously, because people are going through so much, there’s so many challenges, but we can get you that information soon. Go ahead.

 

Question: And my follow-up, do you have any sense of whether the revenue was significantly lower than usual?

 

Mayor: I am concerned across the board. I don’t have the specifics on that, but I’m concerned across the board, we see a cascading reality. People are hurting more and more and that’s affecting revenue deeply and that’s affecting our ability to serve people and to employ our workforce, to provide those basic services. This is a really, really tough situation. It’s – again, it’s like – it’s as clear as it could be, why this is exactly the scenario where you need a huge federal stimulus to stop this from continuing to cascade downward, and that’s why I’m so worried right now, you know, the famous historical analogy from Ancient Rome where Emperor Nero was fiddling while Rome burned. That’s what President Trump is doing right now, and he should be the one, the loudest voice for a huge stimulus to save us from this cascading reality, not just New York City, everywhere and again, he is silent and he is dithering in this moment. So I am very, very concerned that we’re going to see declined revenue, especially based on the information that we heard this morning.

 

Moderator: Last question for today goes to Erin from Politico.

 

Question: Hi there, Mr. Mayor. I was wondering in regards to the expiration of the unemployment assistance, do you have anything concrete on how that will affect the city? You know, how many New Yorkers number one are going to lose it. How much money it might take out of the economy and for instance, any estimate of how many more people might be from food insecure or rely on free food when this goes away.

 

Mayor: It’s a great question, Erin, and obviously as recently as the last few days, we really were hoping and praying that the federal government was going to avert this. I honestly thought the Republicans would believe it was not only the morally right thing to do, but just out of sheer practicality, they would not want to see the American economy crash more. I’m shocked they can’t get it together to do this. Maybe today’s news will actually force their hand. So we all were working from everything we’re hearing in Washington on the assumption that it would be an extension, and now that you know, the last few days have been very, very troubling. We’ll get you whatever estimates we have. But I would say to you, huge impact on the people in New York City – will definitely stress so many people in terms of their rent and the potential eviction. This is again why we need the leaders in Albany to act on a plan to allow people to stay in their homes and payback that rent later when they are able to get income again, if they’ve lost their income, we have to have that. We need that soon, and I’ll keep talking about that. When the legislature comes back, that’s a priority they have to address, especially because of loss of these benefits, and on the food side, I think undoubtedly more people will become food insecure. We think that’s over 2 million people right now. This will probably mean hundreds of thousands more, and I will only say to every single New Yorker, again, if you need food, we will provide you as much food as you need for your family for free, constantly, all you have to do is call 3-1-1, and we’ll show you where you can get it. Or if you can’t get to a site, we’ll deliver it to you. So that is a pledge the City of New York makes to all his people. No one will go hungry in this city. Go ahead Erin.

 

Question: Okay, great, and then my second question is, is just sort of a broader question. You know, we’re in Phase Four, Phase Four is the last phase. There’s nothing else planned. Obviously a lot of things are still closed. There’s no timeline for things like indoor dining or malls or museums or anything like that. But my question is essentially, are there any milestones on the horizon, any targets, anything that we’re attempting at this point to progress towards now that we’ve gotten through all the phases, but we’re still kind of in a holding pattern?

 

Mayor: Yeah, it’s a great question. Erin, I’d say a couple of things. I think we have a natural inflection point coming up after Labor Day where we expect to see more economic activity, even given today’s very troubling news. It still makes sense that there’s always some pickup after Labor Day people coming off the summer. We know a lot of people were trying to restart their businesses and want to take a little more time. I think you’ll see some of those folks come back now. We’re working hard and we’ve got a lot more to say tomorrow on the opening of schools and that’s going to be an important moment and that will be both important, especially for kids and families, but also will have an impact on the whole economy. So that’s an inflection point. I think the other very obvious inflection point is a vaccine, which, you know, some believe will be the fourth quarter of this year, some believe will be the first or second quarter of next year, but it’s in the scheme of things pretty soon, that will be the profound difference maker. But what we’re going to do in the meantime is start to lay out the vision for how to bring back the New York City economy in stages, and the things that we will have to do before. There’s a vaccine, and then once there is a vaccine to rebuild our economy so not the same boundaries as the phases, but we want to start laying out plans for how each industry can start to come back slowly but surely, and then really have a rebound once there is a vaccine.

 

So with that, look, everyone I’ll just finish on that point because it flows right into it. No one could possibly you can’t overstate this crisis. I, you know, there’s, there’s never been, I mean, it really has never been this much put on the City of New York at one point in the history. We’ve been through wars, we’ve been through depressions, we’ve been through 9/11, Sandy, obviously before this, the Great Recession we’ve been through so much, but we never had so many pieces happening simultaneously, and it could cause anyone to worry that, that there may not be a turnaround up ahead, but I’m going to keep saying, I am absolutely convinced. The history tells us that New York City always comes back because of New Yorkers. There are a lot of places suffering, but there’s no place that has New Yorkers except New York City. There’s no place as this much creativity and ingenuity and entrepreneurship and energy. There’s no place on earth that has what we have, and it is painful that so much of that is being held back by the reality we’re living in now, but it will come forth again and we will rebuild and we will address some of the underlying issues that we should have addressed a long, long time ago. So it’s sometimes hard to have that hope, but I think history gives us some very good examples, but also what we see every single day, give a New Yorker, even the slightest chance to make a comeback and they’ll make that come back. So we’re going to find a way, it will take time, but we’re going to find a way in this city, and anytime you hear people saying that there’s no end in sight and there’s no way out, please remind them. We’ve been through so many challenges before so many times where it actually felt like there was no end in sight, but we found a way forward. That’s what New Yorkers do. Thank you, everybody.

 

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