|Release: Transcript of de Blasio, Carranza press conference January 28, 2020 on improvements in academic outcomes in NYC schools. Other question on virus, public charge rule, impeachment.|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2020
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 788-2958
TRANSCRIPT: MAYOR DE BLASIO, CHANCELLOR CARRANZA ANNOUNCE SUCCESS OF COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: INCREASED ACADEMIC OUTCOMES ACROSS CITY
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I can tell you – Latoya, you really like P. S. 67.
That is the message I'm getting. Good things are happening at P. S. 67 and it's a real community and that is amazing. Latoya, thank you for everything you do as a leader in this school to build that community, to make sure that parents are engaged and involved, helping their kids to grow. Thank you for helping make sure that people who need food get food, and that's what neighbors do, right? So this is an amazing school community, but it takes amazing people to be leaders among the parents of this school and to make it what it is. Let's thank Latoya for everything she’s doing.
I think the principal, Principal Jackson, deserves some support as well and thanks for all she is doing.
To everyone here, thank you. Everybody is a part of this [inaudible] –
And these signs say it better than I ever could. All the amazing things that are part of community schools and why they work so well. I want to thank everyone at the Department of Education. You'll hear from the Chancellor in a moment, but two folks who have been crucially involved in building out this vision, making it come to life – Chris Caruso, the Executive Director of New York City Community Schools. Thank you, Chris.
And Matt Klein, the Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity. Thank you.
We are going to talk about the study that has just come out, an independent study to really evaluate if this vision was working and what it means for this city and the future, what it means beyond this city. And we turned to a renowned institution to do that, the RAND Corporation, and I want to thank the lead researcher on this effort who has put together this report with his colleagues to help us really understand where we can go going forward, Bill Johnson of the RAND Corporation. Thank you so much.
So, let me just say this quickly, but it's really important to tell you, for me, there's an origin story here. So, I was a public school kid. My wife, Chirlane, was a public school kid. Our kids went to New York City public schools all the way through. So we have always believed in the power of public education. But in 2012 I got invited on a trip to see something that at the time was considered pretty revolutionary. It was a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, where their school system was fully devoted to community schools. And I had heard it was something special, but I really didn't know what to expect. I went into schools in some communities that really had a tough time and what I found was a tremendous amount of engagement. Parents deeply involved in the surrounding community, senior citizens who came in to tutor kids, a deep connection between the school and the neighborhood, and a lot of innovation about how to figure out what parents needed, what families needed, and that was important for them to do better to help them.
But it was also important to bond the families to the school, to bond the parents to the school, to encourage the parents to get more deeply involved. We got to remember parents are really, really stressed in modern society, particularly in a city like this. Parents have so much to do. A lot of parents are not just working one job, they're working two jobs. A lot of parents struggle to find any time to put into their local school, but we also have to remember for many, many years, schools didn't necessarily do a great job of welcoming parents in. So you have to be smart about it. You have to be welcoming, you have to make it relevant to parents. You have to show them that their engagement, their involvement will make a difference for their child. You have to give them reasons to believe that taking some of their precious time and applying it to their school is going to make a difference. And community schools do that so powerfully and they engage the whole community, including folks who don't happen to have kids but care deeply about our future and want to be part of helping our schools and our children forward.
So, I went to Cincinnati and I saw something that really struck me. It struck me as a way forward. And when I ran for mayor, I said we should have 100 community schools in New York City and a lot of people said that that was not going to be possible, but I want to let you know when I said that I knew that if we had a hundred community schools in New York City that would be more than all of the school system of Cincinnati where I visited, that that would be a huge step in the direction of really establishing the power of community schools to make a difference. So, we said we were going to do 100 and even though a lot of folks said it could not be done, with such great support in schools like this, the 100 schools came together and they were working and we said we're going to go farther. And today in New York City there are 267 community schools.
267 schools – in case you want to know how that compares to big school systems around the country, if you took all the kids in the schools of Seattle and all the kids in the schools in Baltimore and you combine them, it would be fewer kids than are in our community schools. So this is a vast, vast endeavor what we're doing here and it is clearly by far the largest in the nation. But remember this is about schools that needed the extra support and the extra help. This is about parents who often were struggling economically and needed as much help as they could get for their families and to be engaged in their kids' education effectively.
So what do community schools do? Well, I think you get a – hold up your signs, everyone. Hold them up, hold them up. There we go. Get those visuals up. Look at what you see. Social and emotional learning, arts therapy, free eyeglasses, summer programs, restorative practices, food pantry. What community schools do is pretty much everything. They look at the whole child and the whole family and figure out how can you support that child and that family with more learning time. That could mean afterschool. That could mean on weekends. That could mean summer. With some of the special programs that really excite kids – robotics, arts, things that kids want more and more of. What does it mean? It means also understanding the whole child.
So, every single community school has a vision program to screen kids and make sure they get the eyeglasses they need. Every community school finds ways to support a child's physical and mental health. Many have dental services, many have mental health professionals in the school on a regular basis. So it's really looking at all the ways to elevate and strengthen our kids. Our kids – one thing we know – one thing we know, our kids have endless potential. If we help them to tap it, they have endless potential. Do you think these kids have endless potential right here?
The people have spoken.
So, we saw if you add all these pieces together, it could make a huge difference, but we couldn't just say, well, it feels that way, we think it's that way, feels like the right thing to do. We had to evaluate it and we had to do it with an independent and very smart, thoughtful study. We turned to the RAND Corporation, nationally respected for the work they do, and we said to the RAND Corporation, take a hard look at this, tell it like it is, tell us what you see so we can figure out how to make this as strong as possible and where to go in the future. And the RAND Corporation took that hard look over years and now we can say for sure the verdict is in. Community schools work.
I’ll try to think of a good example to give you. Maybe P. S. 67? What do you think? Good example? Okay, we'll use that. Math scores are up, English scores are up, we have more and more kids who enjoy school and can't wait to get to school because there's so much happening here. That's what we see in this school, a school that is getting stronger all the time. What do we see across all our community schools? We see better graduation rates than we're seeing in comparable schools that don't have the Community Schools Initiative. What do we see? Particular progress in math. What do we see? And this one's really important to all of us – decidedly lower absentee rate. This one is crucial, every parent, every educator will tell you. Fewer and fewer absences. You know, something, I’m going to state a powerful truth, you cannot educate a child if they are not in the classroom to begin with. If they show up, all things are possible. So when more and more kids are showing up more and more of the time, something powerful starts to happen.
This powerful idea of community schools is not standing alone, it's standing in combination with pre-K and 3-K and Computer Science for All and Advanced Placement Courses for All. It is part of why with all these pieces working together, we see across the school system test scores starting to go up, graduation rates going up, college enrollment going up. It's proving what's possible in New York City public schools and we're seeing something – I've talked to Richard about this a lot – that a lot of educators doubted whether they could find that combination that would actually start to structurally close the achievement gap. But it is starting to happen here in New York City and community schools are a big part of it.
So we have something special to celebrate today and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of it, but I want to remind you when you're changing the city, when you're changing our school system, when you're changing the world, it's one student at a time, one parent at a time, one educator at a time. These big changes wouldn't be happening if it weren't for people in P. S. 67 and schools like it believing that change could happen and making it so. Thank you.
Before I turn to the Chancellor. Just a few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I want to turn to the Chancellor. He is a believer – that says so much of who he is – he is a believer in public education and if we keep trying new powerful initiatives we can really move forward and he is leading the way. Chancellor Richard Carranza –
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And I want to say congratulations to everyone that is here today, but I also want to again thank the incredible principal here, Kyesha Jackson, thank you for your leadership.
Principal Jackson was a leader in believing in the community schools model when many people didn't know what it was and because of that, you know, I know a lot about what that journey was like. She had to agree to partner with somebody else called the Community Schools Director and say, okay, we're going to work together and where some of the things may be my decision, it's going to be our decision, but it's in the service of our students and I think you are proof that this makes a difference. So, congratulations. This is a big day for you and for this community.
Mr. Mayor, I also want to take this opportunity to thank and welcome, to sit here with us, Council Member Treyger, who, as a teacher, former teacher, understands the power of the community schools model. Thank you for being here as well, sir.
And just a point of personal privilege, I want to recognize our deputy chancellors that are here. Deputy Chancellor LaShawn Robinson, Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark, and our First Deputy Chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harris, thank you for being here in support.
And two people as well that have had a great role in helping to make sure that this continues. Our Executive Superintendent, Karen Watts, thank you for being here. And our Superintendent Kamar Samuels. Thank you for your leadership.
Everybody that's here and you're going to hear from Margaret Crotty in just a minute and you're going to hear [inaudible] for their work, but again, one final thanks. This would not have happened without the strategic dogged dedication of Chris Caruso. And I just want to give him a public shout out [inaudible] –
Okay my thank yous are done. But before I say anything else, I also want to wish everyone, very quickly, a Happy Lunar New Year for those who celebrated this past weekend, the Year of the Rat. May you have a prosperous new year.
So as an educator, when I was living and working in San Francisco and then later in Houston, I looked longingly east to what New York City was doing in the community schools realm. And while we were working to really establish community schools and identifying what is it that we wanted to do, New York City was knocking it out of the park. They weren't just taking one or two community schools or partnering with one or two community-based organizations, they were taking this on in a systemic way. They were connecting with our community-based partners. They were connecting with municipal agencies. They were taking a hard look at what are the issues that are prevalent in the community and then building around that a support system to make sure that our students get all of the signs that you see here – glasses, mental health, physical health, medical care, food pantries. And they were doing it in an organic way, not to the community but with the community.
So now – and I remember many of our conversations when Mayor de Blasio and I were having those conversations about the chancellorship, that I said to him, one of the jewels in the crown of New York City is your community schools model. And we readily agreed it was one of the things we first bonded on. And here we are today with a third party evaluation that says, yes, the implementation in the largest school system in America is actually a strong implementation. So it's an honor as Chancellor to be here celebrating the success of the community school initiative. And I can just say that as I talk to and communicate with my colleagues across the country, other superintendents, other systems’ leaders, the report that's being released today is going to reverberate across the country. So I want to thank the RAND Corporation as well for giving us a report that will help us do that.
The Mayor mentioned 267 schools across the city – that's a big deal. So, why do we do this? Because if you asked any educator, how do you maximize learning for our students? They're going to tell you that it starts way before students pick up a pencil or get to a keyboard. In order for students to learn, students need to be healthy, they need to be supported. And schools are a microcosm of society. So, the ills that we deal with in society are the same things that students bring with them as they walk through our schoolhouse doors. And that's why it's important that community schools provide dental care and mental health, not somewhere else, but right here in the school. It's important that as a teacher, when you recognize that something isn't right with a student, your first response is there's nothing I can do, but your response is let get with the people that I work with as part of our community schools, let's figure out what they need and let's connect students and their families with the supports that they need.
We don't expect our teachers to be crisis counselors or social workers or housing specialists, but we do know that as teachers really get to know their students and accept where they are, there are things that we as a community can do to make sure that they are loved, they are recognized, and they are supported in their academic pursuits. So, in order for students to learn, they have to have basic needs met. Maslow spoke about this and it's absolutely true as part of our community schools approach. That's why you will notice that this school and at other schools that are community schools, students are getting warm coats and shoes – not just shoes, but shoes that fit and shoes that are new and unused. At some of our community schools, students bring their laundry in and it gets washed, they get food where there are food pantries. We believe that giving students what they need to succeed will make that equity, in Equity and Excellence, real and vibrant and very much felt by our students.
We also bring schools together with community-based organizations like Partnership With Children. And in this partnership we've been able to provide health and social services in school. Schools become community hubs where families can get the support they need. Teachers can focus on making sure students are learning to their full potential, but they also have the wraparound supports that they need to be successful. And here at P. S. 67 Partnership With Children's team of social workers and counselors earn the trust of parents and they provide one on one counseling to students who need it. They also offer a food pantry, tutoring, and other incredible experiences.
So this is proof, my friends, that when New York sets out to take care of its children, there's nothing that gets in our way and what we're seeing as a result of this approach are, as the Mayor has mentioned and you're going to hear us mention over and over, increases in graduation rates, on-time matriculation to the next grade level, more students are advancing and prepared for the next grade, early signs of increases in math achievement, significant reductions in chronic absenteeism because we know that in order for students to learn they have to be in the school. We're also seeing decreases in school-based disciplinary incidents, particularly for students that have comprised that opportunity gap which are our brown and black students and students with disabilities as well.
This is big news, make no mistake, and our community schools are working. And thanks to the vision and leadership of our Mayor who came out of the gate saying, we're going to invest in this process so that we have community schools across our country. I want to publicly thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for being a leader in this movement around our country. So, thank you.
I will also say to you that one of the goals that we have with our community schools is to actually amplify this movement. So we've recently seen the work that we're doing around supporting our students in temporary housing, which we know is at a crisis level in every community across the country, that work now is part of our community schools work. And you may ask, well, why? Because we know it works and we know that connecting those resources and those work strands with other groups and other relationships we already have, make a difference. So again, thank you to Principal Jackson and the incredible team here at P. S. 67 for having us here today –
And we look forward to celebrating your results as we go forward.
[Chancellor Carranza speaks in Spanish]
Mayor: So, to all the students, there's going to be two more speakers and then you're going back to class, okay? So you may say, hey, I really want to stick around to hear the speakers, or maybe you can't wait to get back to class – but you're about to go back to class. So everybody, I want you to hear next from a key, key partner in this work. So, again, one of the things community schools means is that a community-based nonprofit organization works with the school to support parents and students and engage them and work closely with the whole school community. So one of the crucial organizations that does this for the city all over is the Partnership with Children. It also happens to be P. S. 67’s partner in all of their success. My pleasure to introduce the CEO of Partnership with Children, Margaret Crotty.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Margaret, thank you to you and your whole team. Obviously it is clear listening to you this is a labor of love for you and for everyone you work with. I also want to give you special credit for quoting the Eagles. It doesn’t happen at a lot of our press conferences, but the full quote: “you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.” You’ve got to give it its dignity.
It’s one of the greatest quotes in Rock n’ Roll history so thank you. I don’t think they mean it as benevolently as you mean it, though, but that’s okay.
Our last speaker, and I want to thank him for really supporting the Community School Initiative and all of the changes that we are making in the DOE and he plays a crucial role as chair of the Education Committee in the City Council, but especially bringing his knowledge from having been at the front line as a public school teacher. My pleasure to introduce Councilmember Mark Treyger.
Thank you very much, Mark. Okay, we’re going to take media questions now on this report today and on the Community Schools program, and obviously other education matters and then we will take questions on other topics. Katie?
Question: I wanted to ask the Chancellor and you what your reaction is to the lack of progress in reading and what the Department of Education is going to do about that.
Chancellor Carranza: Such a positive question to start on such a positive report.
I disagree. We’ve had progress in reading. We are doing it at school, and where others are doing it in onesies and twosies, we’re doing it in hundreds of thousands of kids. So kids in terms of reading ability, they’re moving up. The RAND report also shows that when you have this strong wrap-around kind of a service. You create the conditions for students to be much more successful as well. So we’re going to continue to double down on our universal literacy, we’re going to continue to double down on what we’re doing in terms of our – we call them our art teams, which are strategic teams that go in and look at data indicators. We’re going to continue with our EDUSTAT, where we’re actually looking at our data. We’re going to continue with our periodic assessments so that we actually know are students on track to be able to read. All of those things are things that are in place and we’re just going to continue to double-down.
Mayor: Yeah, and Katie. This is what I have learned doing this job. This is – the most complicated subject matter in all of government is education no question in my mind. And to change a school system that reaches 1.1 million kids, and really change their lives just takes layer, upon layer, upon layer, so this piece is working, it doesn’t mean it can do it alone is really the truth. All these other pieces have to connect with it. What we’re judging by is do we think each piece is sort of carrying its weight, if you will. When you look at Pre-K, 3-K, is that doing what we hoped it would? We certainly were encouraged by the test scores a few months back. You know, has the effort to strengthen high school education with AP for all, is that doing its work? We’re seeing good things in terms of graduation rate and college enrollment. But all these pieces have to come together and I think Mark Treyger said a mouthful – that this is all being done without the court-mandated funding that New York City is supposed to be getting. But what we’re able to now say is, more and more, especially folks who have tried to say, and you hear this all over the country, “oh it’s not about the money.” Damn straight it’s about the money. If you don’t fund education properly, don’t expect to get the outcomes deserve. And that’s what we’re seeing. When you do these things right, it actually starts to add up. On this topic, or other education topics?
Mayor: What’s that?
Question: [Inaudible] gentrifying areas.
Mayor: Okay, I just want to ask, we’re doing media questions right now, I don’t know if you’re media but we’re doing media questions. Okay, thank you.
Question: In last March, Michael Mulgrew was asked about his stance on school discipline, and he called it broken, that was the word he used. The principal’s unit, a few weeks ago, issued a letter sounding the alarm on the state among city classroom. So how’s the parents going to reconcile those on the ground assessments of what’s going on in classrooms and sort of more optimistic sunnier presentations of this sort.
Mayor: Yeah I mean, first of all, I don’t want to take quotes out of context. I will say the last time I had a long conversation with Michael about this was in the lead up to our announcement about social-emotional learning, and he stood with us that day and celebrated that that’s part of how you both reached kids educationally and keep an orderly classroom, because kids are human beings especially when they’re young and they’re dealing with a lot of challenges and as Margaret said, trauma, you know. They need help addressing those issues, productively, positively, and let’s face it, historically schools didn’t necessarily take that approach and when we really focus on social-emotional learning, we provide as we have more social workers, we do things like community schools. Unquestionably it helps the classroom environment, it creates for a more orderly dynamic, so I don’t want to quote Michael either way, I will say I know he believes that this direction is part of how we solve the bigger problems, and I would look at the overall indicators. We know that a lot of the evidence of disorder, crime, violence in our schools has gone down steadily over the years. We know we’re putting a lot more emphasis on providing support to kids, and that is just numerically clear. We know that restorative justice helps to diffuse a lot of problems before they become worse, and that’s been proven so I think we’re using the right tools. There’s going to be some situations we’ve got to do more, obviously. But I think we’re in the right direction on that. Marcia.
Question: Mr. Mayor, since this is about Community Schools, I’d like to talk to you about making – building bridges to communities. There are – the parents in Queens for example, at Marie Curie Middle School, are very upset because they had serious questions they wanted to ask the Chancellor and he fled. Parents in Brooklyn are concerned because of school board member who made derogatory remarks about Asians, calling them “yellow people.” I wonder if you think the Chancellor needs a remedial course in building bridges to communities and if he should have stood and answered the questions—
Question: —answered the questions that these people had.
Mayor: Marcia, obviously these questions are loaded, with all due respect, and you’re just not accurately portraying the reality. First of all, the school board member who said that – it was a mistake, it was insensitive, it was wrong. I’ve condemned it, the Chancellor’s condemned it. That school board member has apologized. Second, on the town hall meeting, the Chancellor and I have talked about it, and he can tell you more detail, but that was a town hall meeting being run by the local community school board, and a situation occurred at that meeting that the community school board leadership thought it was time to end the meeting. The Chancellor only followed the lead of the people running the meeting in their own community. But those issues in that school, Marcia, are very real. And they are being taken very seriously. And I will not jump ahead of the investigatory process but those concerns raised by parents, and I’m saying this as a parent, those are serious, serious concerns and they will be addressed.
Question: Don’t you think that [inaudible] as New Yorker standing up to parents and answering their tough questions has a way of sending a message that you care about their problems?
Question: And I think the parents there felt that him leaving was not the right thing to do, that he wasn’t answering –
Mayor: He’s sitting right here, he’ll speak for himself, but I’ll say this. To your core question, I don’t know anybody who cares more about kids and families than Richard Carranza.
I have seen him take tough questions. I have seen him take plenty of tough questions and he’s very comfortable doing it. I’ve seen him meet with parents in groups large and small, and I think he believes in treating everyone with respect. That specific meeting, and I don’t want to for a second, Marcia, take away from the pain those parents are feeling, I believe it’s 100% genuine. I believe that raising real issues that must be addressed, and I agree with you, there are many times, when even if there’s tension in room, it’s best to address it. But, if the leadership of that school board says, we need to adjourn this meeting, the Chancellor was respecting the people running the meeting, it’s their meeting, it’s their community, and you cannot miss that fact in this equation. I’ve been with him at town hall meetings, he takes all sorts of questions, easy and tough. So I just don’t want – when I see an effort to connect a very few dots, and create some kind of unfair characterization, I’m going to call it out. This is just unfair, some people have it out for the Chancellor because he is ideologically different than them and because he is trying to shake things up. That being said, we are going to take care of this situation and this school 110 percent. I think you should say something now.
Chancellor Carranza: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I take difficult questions all day long, every single day, in communities that don’t want to hear the message. The message to those communities is we’ve got your back. But the message is also very clear, Equity and Excellence means Equity and Excellence for every student. Not just some students. Not just for some communities that feel that they don’t want to hear the message. Now the meeting that is being referenced, I was there for the entire town hall. I spent 45 minutes prior to that meeting with the elected officials that came to meet with me and express many of the same concerns. I can tell you that the superintendent in that local district spent over three hours in conversation with parents, answering questions, learning more. The executive superintendent, whose job it is to supervise that area, is in almost constant daily communication with my senior leadership team, our First Deputy Chancellor. I was in that community and when the CEC president could not get control of that meeting because there were agitators from outside of that district who were brought in in vans – and I saw that, because I saw that when I was arriving – were brought in from outside of that district to agitate. And she could not get control of that meeting – with five minutes left in that meeting, she adjourned the meeting, at which point I got up and left. I was there. Now, since then, the superintendent has continued to work with that community. Since then, that executive superintendent is working with that community. Since then, there’s been a number of community conversations and we will continue to support that community in resolving those issues. But when you have one or two individuals that will not follow the lead of the presiding officer, elected official, to say please ask your questions in an orderly way, and then proceed to stand in front of an auditorium full of people, shouting out questions that have to do with the personal information of a student alleging they’ve been abused – I’m an educator, I will not – I will not allow that to happen and violate that student’s rights. It was a setup – and I will talk to parents, I will meet with parents, but I will not be set up, especially when that meeting couldn’t be controlled. Now, as it pertains to insensitive comments, I’ve said this before – I’m going to challenge everyone that was part of that email string where these alleged comments were made, release the whole transcript. Let’s see who used insensitive language first. Let’s see, because I’m going to tell you, that isn’t what it’s portrayed to be either. There are other people who used insensitive language that should be held accountable just like they want this person to be held accountable. So, if you believe that CEC’s are democratically elected, they’re independent, then why are you asking the Chancellor to remove people? Especially when there’s problematic conversations happening in that particular email string. So, Mr. Mayor, thank you for your support. This is a children’s agenda. We will continue to fight for children.
Mayor: Okay, other questions. Marcia, let me just see if anyone else has a question, we’ll be back. We will be back.
Mayor: Marcia, we will be back.
Go ahead –
Question: I was wondering about an update on the sexual assault situation going [inaudible] like where are the Title IX coordinators who are supposed to be dealing with these things?
Chancellor Carranza: So there is an ongoing investigation, SCI is involved. So as you know SCI is independent from the DOE so there is an investigation that is occurring. We cannot comment. And I know people want to know hook, line, and sink what’s happening. We cannot comment. What I can tell you is that the superintendent is actively involved in supporting that school community. The executive superintendent is actively involved. We have an additional not only, Title IX, we have crisis counselors that are there and social workers. There is a full blown response helping that community with the issues. And also getting beyond what some of the urban myth is with those issues. There’s a lot happening there and we are working very closely with that school community.
Mayor: Who has not gone? Right back there, go ahead.
Question: [Inaudible] inside schools that obviously [inaudible] school [inaudible] as well.
Question: Just recently, earlier this month, a ten-year-old boy was killed on his way to school. [Inaudible] another boy was seriously injured leaving school. The Chancellor has previously has said that he wanted to [inaudible] –
Mayor: Just a little louder, I’m losing you here.
Question: Okay. The Chancellor previously said that you two hadn’t discussed banning cars in front of the school so that children can get to school safely. Is that something that you would consider?
Mayor: We are going to be talking soon about additional safety measures around schools. We do not have on the agenda right now banning cars. There’s a whole lot of parents in this town who need to drop their kids off or pick up their kids from school. So I do not believe a car ban is the way to do things. I believe we need to continue to address safety measures around schools, starting with the thing we fought for and won in Albany which is the speed cameras. Yes.
Question: I’d like Marcia to be able to ask her follow up question before I ask mine.
Mayor: She will be, I just want to give everyone else a chance –
Question: Okay, well I would like to ask my question –
Mayor: Listen, seriously. We are not doing tag team here. Everyone, I’m trying – you guys have been at my press conferences, I ask everyone to go and get their chance. I am happy to come back to someone else. But, the point is you don’t need to advocate after you know the pattern around here is we get everyone their chance and we go back. So, go ahead.
Question: Okay. I am just wondering, this report was due out at the end of the year. And a local reporter named Alex Zimmerman with Chalkbeat had FOIL’ed for it months ago. He was told on December 27th by DOE FOIL officer Joseph Baranello that the report would not be available to him until February 14th –
Mayor: I have no knowledge of that.
Question: It was released to the Washington Post, does that seem like a violation of FOIL law?
Mayor: I don’t know anything about it and I am not going to comment if I don’t know anything about it. Go ahead.
Question: Yes, on the yeshiva probe, 26 schools were supposed to submit documentation to the DOE by January 15th. We have been trying to get a basic count of how many have met the deadline and the DOE’s only response is most. Most out of 26 could be 15, it could be 25. When it comes to basic factual information like that, why aren’t you guys producing that?
Mayor: I think we have put out constant updates on this topic but if I don’t know the very latest – tell us what we got Chancellor.
Chancellor Carranza: So, again, I just want to remind everyone that the process that we are in is an investigation based on a compliant that was filed on substantial education for students in yeshivas. This is an investigation. So as part of the investigation we are working with the yeshivas, we are working with their communities, we are also triangulating in the ever changing state law situation with SED. It’s very complicated. What I can say is again, part of an investigation – there is a modicum of confidentiality because we are investigating and we are working with folks. What I will say is we have continued to meet with yeshiva representatives. We are continuing to work and push on the educational documents and artifacts that we have been asking for, at the same time we are working with SED and we are working with them on what are the next steps. So this is moving. And we are continuing to move, but again this is part of an investigation based on a complaint. And that’s why you know, people want lots of details, we’re part of an investigation.
Question: [Inaudible] happened to have already made determinations about the level of instruction in each of the schools. What is currently the target of the inquiry?
Chancellor Carranza: So, there are schools as I have said publically that we feel good are on the right path. And there are schools that have a lot of work to do. And we are continuing to work with every one of those schools. So schools that we feel are on a good path, we are continuing to work with them. We’ve asked for more artifacts, we’ve also engaged with them about what the curriculum will look like. For the schools that have a lot of work to do, obviously those are different conversations but we are continuing to engage in those conversations with them as well.
Mayor: Yoav, I also think we have got to put this in perspective. There’s really five schools right now, we’ve been very open about this. There’s about five schools that have really serious problems and need to address them. You know five schools compared to hundreds and hundreds of religious and private schools in New York City and 1,800 public schools. So it’s a valid issue but I also want to note how small the universe has become. And honestly and I’ve said it. I’ll say it to you but I’ve also said it before. They are being given every chance to get right. Because we do believe in a cooperative approach when we don’t have total power over the situation, very important fact. But if they don’t get it right, they are going to end up losing their funding or at least some of their funding. And that’s a pretty serious penalty. Way back.
Question: Mr. Mayor, just to follow up on the CEC 26 meeting, I know you are saying that the CEC chose to the end the meeting but the CEC says that not true. That there was a request made to the CEC President about whether to end the meeting. And the Chief said to the Chancellor that was up to him and his staff. And just related to that, I would also like to know if the Chancellor has met or spoken with the two parents who were trying to ask questions about their children in particular being [inaudible]?
Chancellor Carranza: Yes so I was there. And when you had two individuals, I don’t even know if they are parents. They said they were parents. But there were two individuals who came out of the audience that refused to follow any directions from the Chair. They started riling up the agitators that were not part of that district. And I know they are not part of that district. And I know they are not part of the district because I’ve seen them at other district meetings agitating. And when they refused to follow the directions of the Chair, and they were riling up the rest of the people that are not even from that district, there’s a staff member from our Family FACE office that came to the Chair and myself and said this is really not productive, what do you want to do? She said I am going to adjourn. She adjourned the meeting and I walked out. And in fact, I walked out and said, and gave my I’m leaving to every single one, you can see that on the tape as well. So that’s what happened.
Question: Chancellor, can you understand why a parent might be upset if his child –
Chancellor Carranza: I can understand why a parent would want to have – hold on a second. I can understand when a parent has not been addressed. These parents have been addressed by not only the principal, there are some questions about whether they felt supported. Now the superintendent is working closely with these parents. There is an investigation that is happening around this circumstance. The executive superintendent is working around this circumstance. I am getting daily reports of what’s happening. I don’t get it. I’m the Chancellor for the school system that’s 1.1 million students and I have some of my finest people working on this and I am getting daily updates. This is about some voices in the community don’t like me. That’s okay, I’m not running pope. But I will defend kids. And somebody that stands in the middle of a meeting shouting, not asking questions or asking for answers, but shouting about their situation, revealing personal information, as an educator, as a professional, that’s not about getting answers. That’s about creating a show.
Question: But why not try to speak to them in private?
Mayor: Again, I think the Chancellor has spoken to it very clearly when he had some of his top officials address it. Okay.
Question: Could you guys address the [inaudible] allegations that [inaudible] parents are saying [inaudible] their kids haven’t been having good grades or coming to school every day, but they are still being passed to the next level. They are still graduating, can you please address that?
Mayor: Yes, anything like that is unacceptable. And there’s been a concern about one school and that has been handed over to SCI for a formal investigation. Look, when SCI has something that is not just about how do you deal with the education issues or the policy issues, that’s on the way to much stricter disciplinary outcomes. And if someone did certain things, it might even end up in a criminal charge. But we are doing it the right way which is to let the professional investigators look into it. Look, we take – you got to take every allegation seriously. You got to start with the benefit of the doubt. If an allegation is made, you got to honor it, respect it, look into it. We also know sometimes there’s other things going on. But it’s in the right hands with SCI.
Question: Mayor obviously the [inaudible] started in a school in Queens but we’ve talk to parents and teachers from other schools too who are saying it’s happening there [inaudible].
Mayor: Anybody, look I want to separate again. Some stuff that’s happening around this is more political and some is more substantive. Anyone who thinks they have evidence of any kind of fraud in our schools, come forward and we will start a formal investigation. Now I have been at this 20 years, involved in – I was a school board member for God’s sakes, I have not seen this in any widespread way in our school system over the last 20 years. I’ve seen some places where it happened and individuals who did something wrong and every single one of them should have the book thrown at them. They should really suffer the consequences. But it’s got to be based on facts and evidence. So if someone believes it’s happening, come forward so we can go at it, please.
Question: Can the Chancellor weigh in, if this is happening, plans or ways to stop this?
Chancellor Carranza: I agree exactly with what the Mayor has just said. I couldn’t say it any better. If you have evidence, not conjecture, not somebody wanting to – have an axe to grind. Evidence, bring it forward, put your name to a compliant, we will make sure the investigators investigate. There is zero tolerance for any kind of fraud in any of our schools. So come forward, we will make sure it gets investigated.
Mayor: Okay who has not gone yet, go ahead.
Question: [Inaudible] Trump administration and the public charge rule –
Mayor: Okay, we are still on schools, so just –
Question: This is a schools question. I want to know what is the – do you see any potential impact on schools, students or parents? I know a while back the City Council had passed some legislation [inaudible] public schools to provide information to students. How are you dealing with that?
Mayor: Okay well, maybe Chair Treyger can speak to that as well. I am not specifically clear about the information to students. But, look the public charge rule is meant to inhibit immigrants from pursuing citizenship. And that’s what’s going on. And I find it very strange that we have had Democratic and Republican administrations for decades and decades, from all different viewpoints, but never thought it was right to interfere with people going through the legal citizenship process and getting a green card. I think that’s what we are supposing to be encouraging with immigration that people go through that process. So, this is really a horrible step. It will simply end up meaning that families will not get food for their kids from food stamps and a lot other basic benefits they deserve. It’s just going to hurt human beings. But I also want to remind you that we’re still fighting it in court. So I think this one ultimately will be found illegal and unconstitutional. Anyone who has not gone? Going back around. Okay.
Question: I wanted to ask, you know, another form of community schools were renewal schools and I know the city and the DOE had disappointing results from those. So I guess how do you – what do you learn from that program and then how do you make sure that with this community school program, you’re not making those mistakes, especially the cost and that you’re being more successful and for a longer amount of time?
Mayor: Yeah, it’s a very fair question and I want to say that the – so when you initiate a whole host of new programs, new approaches, I don’t think there is a single human being who believes that every single one is going to work the way you want it. You want them all to work really, really well. Some pre-K is an obvious, wonderful example worked as well as we possibly could imagine. Others, renewal schools, did not. What we’re now seeing on community schools is this is definitely working, there’s more to do for sure, but it’s definitely working because we’ve got enough different pieces of evidence, not just helping in one way, it’s helping on absenteeism, it’s helping on the academic side, I mean we really see something very rich here and is independently verified. So this is an area where we are going to keep investing. But you are right about, do you learn from it? Sure, all the time. We learn what worked and what didn’t work within each initiative, even renewals. There were some things that we learned that were very valuable, were carrying on in different forms. But we knew we were not going to continue it the way it was structured. Marcia?
Question: I have a question for the Chancellor. It’s the same question I just asked before. My question is this, do you agree with the Mayor’s assessment that there are people in the community who have attacked you or don’t like you because you are shaking things up?
Chancellor Carranza: Absolutely. I mean, just look at the fire Carranza t-shirts that get worn to these meetings. Just look at the posting that gets posted in – on Twitter and other social media. Just look at the abject racist things that are said about me. Go back where I came from. Taco eating Carranza. Fire Carranza ayayay with exclamation points in Spanish. Absolutely. Their racist. Some of them are – they – but look, that being said, when you have agitators from outside a community district that gets a town hall with the Chancellor every other year and has an opportunity to answer questions, and the reason we have people write those questions is that it’s impossible in an hour to answer every single question but our commitment is that if your question is written and it’s not answered publically, we will give you written answers. There is a methodology to that, to make sure that people’s questions get answered. So when you have agitators that show up in their fire Carranza shirts driving vans full of people who are not from that district, I don’t know what else to call it. So, the Mayor is absolutely right.
Question: [Inaudible] follow up please, I just wonder how you feel when you’re the target of those attacks –
Chancellor Carranza: More motivated than ever. Bring it on because I’m fighting for kids. Kids are my agenda. I’m not running for office. I don’t get elected to office. I work at the pleasure of the Mayor who has an equity agenda at his core. So, I’m an educator. I’ve been a teacher. I’ve been a principal. I’ve been a superintendent. And every city I’ve worked in and lived in, there is a Mexican restaurant, I have a mariachi traje and a guitar, I will not starve. So, bring it on.
Mayor: Hold on, hold on, I want to say something. I want to agree with the Chancellor’s point, one of my mentors said to me long ago, if you haven’t made enemies, you haven’t done anything of consequence in public life. So when you try and change things, yes, opposition comes with it. Go ahead.
Question: How do you know that people are coming in vans? Is that just an assumption? I mean it’s a large district, people might have to drive there. As the Mayor said, school parents have to drive cars, so I’m a little confused how you would know that?
Chancellor Carranza: Because I arrive, I make it a point to arrive early at every appearance that I get. And as I’m sitting my vehicle answering the last of my texts before I go in, I see the person with a fire Carranza t-shirt, driving a group of people with the same signs, by the way, that they’ve had at other meetings and recognized those faces as well. I mean this isn’t rocket science. I can see. I understand. But in spite of that, I showed up, I stayed, I answered questions, by the way, I answered several questions having to do with issues at this one particular school and I will continue to do that. It’s just –we know who you are and I can see.
Mayor: Comes with the territory. Last call, any education – yes?
Mayor: What please?
Question: The car banning outside of schools, for what reason would a parent have to drive their students to school if they are not provided a MetroCard or can be picked up via school bus? Like for what reason would that have to be?
Mayor: There’s lots situations where for a family they – it works for them better, first of all in their life. There are certain situations where the school bus arraignments aren’t as good as other situations. It’s just – look, I don’t think, I’m just – again, I believe you have a philosophy, and God bless it’s a free country, I disagree with you. I do not think we should ban the right of parents to drop off their kids and pick up their kids with their own car. I just don’t believe that.
Mayor: No, I just – again, you’re – respectfully, you’re, I think, not valuing what it means in the life of a parent, their schedule, you know, the real world conditions of where, when the school bus comes, where you pick it up, how long it takes. This is if – there’s plenty of New Yorkers who don’t have a car, I’m going to be one of them in two years. So I love it when people don’t have car, don’t need a car, don’t use a car, but if they do, and they believe the right thing for their family is to drop off or pick up their kid, I’m sorry, that is not the place of the city to stand in the way of that. Go ahead, Jillian.
Question: Chancellor, sorry to come back to this, I was recently a [inaudible] meeting on a diversity plan. There is a gentleman in the audience where every time someone – this gentlemen was against the diversity plan – and every time someone was in favor, this guy said, oh they must be a paid plant. And then today, you were skeptical that these children’s parents were at the District 24 – [inaudible] even their parents. It seems like there’s some really harsh or heated rhetoric going on here on both sides. People aren’t trusting each other, they are skeptical if whether these people live in the district, and I’ve certainly seen out of district people come to [inaudible] meetings too. But, you know, these were people [inaudible] children’s parents. Do you think there is any weight to this sort of I guess [inaudible] tension that seems to be happening at nearly every meeting now in every subject?
Chancellor Carranza: Well, I think if there is a tension happening at every meeting, the question has to be asked how do the same people get to every single meeting? There are people tweeting my schedule and saying make sure you show up. I mean I get it, I’m a public official. I get that. What I can say to you is this, the fact that we have our superintendent working with these parents, working with these situations. The superintendent who supervises that school and is paying attention is an absolute indication of how seriously we are taking this. The additional resources, the counselors, the social workers that are being assigned to this school to help the teachers and the school community around the issues that have been identified.
Another example of how seriously we are taking it, the fact that the executive superintendent who has a number of schools that the superintendent’s responsible for is personally making sure, has personally gone into this school community. I’m getting daily reports. I mean this means that we’re very, very seriously taking any allegations that are contrary to student health and safety. But to have people just stand up in an auditorium full of people, how in the world could I know they are legitimate or not? Especially when they don’t follow the heed and the call of the person running the meeting.
Mayor: And Jillian look, I’ve talked to parents my entire public life. I was a public school parent. What do they want? They want their schools to get better, right? So I can tell you, the folks who do not have a political agenda, what do they want? They want to see their schools get better. They want to see more kids graduate, they want to see more and better teachers in their schools, like the Bronx plan, getting teachers to schools that never could get a science teacher or a math teacher, so now they have one. They want the basics. They want fairness. They don’t want to see that one school gets everything, another school gets nothing. You know, the things that Richard is working on are exactly what parents care about and there is a human cry in this city to work on the question of equity, which is right, which is what I talked about when I ran for Mayor and there is a lot more to do on that front and that’s what he is working on.
So, I just want to get back to – I have no question what the parents of this city, all of them, the parents of 1.1 million kids, get them all in a really big stadium and ask them they think this guy is going in the right direction, overwhelmingly they will say yes. That’s what matters here. And we’re going to keep pursuing that direction. Of course there will be opposition and we can deal with that. But I really believe the question is are the schools getting better? Are the schools getting better? The answer is yes and Richard Carranza is a big part of that, why that’s happening. That’s what we’re going to focus on.
Question: [Inaudible] parents are connected to this push against the diversity plan [inaudible] two parents wanted an answer about a specific incident –
Mayor: Look –
Question: One man’s daughter said she was sexually assaulted in school and the school never told –
Mayor: There’s two different things going on, Jillian. I want to be very clear. I feel for any parent that feels that there child was wronged or hurt. And we take that very, very seriously. I agree as a parent with Richard and as a public official, you are not supposed to get up and talk about confidential matters in front of a whole crowd. I have town – I’ve had 70 town hall meetings, I’ve often had to say to people, please, hold on, we’re going to have someone talk to you but in a private space. So that’s one part that has to be remembered.
But that’s a different question than the point of is there an organized group of people who opposes what Richard is doing. Amazing. It’s New York City, there is 8.6 million people, some of them don’t agree with him and they are organized, and they go to meetings. Oh my God, this has never happened history. Come on. I think the vast majority of people at those meetings like the direction he is going in and appreciate that he’s at those meetings talking to him. I think that’s the reality. A few more and then we will go to other topics.
Question: The Health Commissioner said that the arrival of the coronavirus in New York is inevitable, I can’t remember the language –
Mayor: Yes –
Question: But it’s inevitable. I’m curious [inaudible] let’s say that is the case and the first confirmation comes down, I’m curious if there’s any contingency plan? Obviously there is a larger scaled plan, but in terms of schools, what is the – what’s going to happen when that determination hits?
Mayor: Okay, what I said with the Health Commissioner on Friday is we do expect a case or cases here, absolutely. And now we know even more than we knew on Friday about the way that this disease might have had a delay in manifesting in a lot of people. So, look – and we still don’t even know everything we want to know about the disease, the medical community doesn’t, but what we do know is the second someone shows the symptoms and has a connection to travel to that part of China, we want them to get to medical care right away. If they need to be quarantined, they will be quarantined. We do know that a lot of people do recover, thank God.
So I think this is a situation where the second we see a case, we’re going to work on that case. I don’t think we should assume at this moment that it turns into something bigger, but we’re ready for it. But the real issue is – and this is where I think could be the big difference maker here, is a version of if you see something, say something. If someone might have it, get to a doctor right now and that is the best chance we have of this thing not becoming something bigger. Okay, last call on schools questions?
Question: [Inaudible] Chancellor Carranza and [inaudible] public charge rule –
Chancellor Carranza: So obviously we – we are very concerned about that. This dovetails with a lot of the rhetoric that’s been present in the federal government around immigrant students and immigrant communities, which it has a chilling effect on the very students and communities that need support and resources. It’s a little bit ironic that here we are celebrating our community schools movement yet the possibility of this having a chilling effect on students wanting to even ask or even presenting for the support that they need is something that we’re very concerned on.
So, our response is going – is and will continue to be, we are doubling down on the information. We’re doubling down on making sure parents have information in their home language. We are continuing to make sure that we have information available in all the major languages in our city and we’re going to also work with our parent communities around the census because that’s another big issue for our communities as well. Chairman Treyger?
Council Member Mark Treyger: Thank you, Mr. Chancellor and Mr. Mayor, so look I think it’s – there’s no question that the Supreme Court decision seeks to codify cruelty. And that’s just point blank. Now the City – I’ve asked the City Council Committee, the education staff and the attorneys to kind of help us debrief and unpack the ruling. And as the Mayor mentioned, it’s still being contested in courts. The City Council did pass – Council Member Carlina Rivera and my colleagues advanced a measure to require DOE to inform parents, immigrants about their rights and issues to be aware of with public charge. But with regards to the decision yesterday, it’s still a lot to unpack and right now our job is to just kind of deal with the facts and not to raise a full sense of any more alarm that already exists with our communities.
I remind folks that when we heard about attendance in some of our schools, I visited a community school in Queens, that with its extra resources hired a bilingual social worker to help immigrant students in the school to deal with forms of trauma that they were experiencing where they were afraid to even come to school or encounter an authority figure because out of fear that their immigration status might be compromised. So, right now we just want to deal with facts, there is a lot to unpack, and I will say more once we get more information from our attorneys. Thank you very much.
Mayor: I want to thank you Chairman, I also want to thank these incredibly patient adults –
This was a test of your strength, your focus, perseverance. You’ve made New York City proud. We’re going to go onto other questions so you are excused and dismissed.
Mayor: Hang on, one more second. We good to go? Okay, we are good to go.
Question: [Inaudible] Groundhog Day celebration is this Sunday. Are you planning on going?
Mayor: You know, it’s the highlight of my year.
I tried it. It didn't end well. I won't be back.
Question: What else do you have planned? [Inaudible]
Mayor: I think it's good to leave that in the past. It's not about a schedule conflict. I guarantee you it's not about a schedule conflict. I think it's just good to leave it in the past. I think the groundhogs deserve that. They need to be safe. I've been advised by wildlife experts to stay in a five-mile radius away from any groundhogs for their own protection.
Question: Mr. Mayor, the City appears to be taking some action [inaudible] children's community services. Can you explain what you're doing with [inaudible] are you planning to take action and [inaudible]?
Mayor: I only tell you you – Yoav, this has only come forward and less than the last 24 hours for me, and there's two things I know. The one is that homeless services officials last year saw things in their interactions with that organization that they thought were questionable. They reported it to DOI. DOI did investigation. DOI concluded that there are in fact serious problems there that require action and consequences. And the organization also now, because we do depend on them for services to help homeless people, they will be put in a receivership status where new leadership will be brought in to run the work they're doing for the conceivable future. I don't have all the chapter verse beyond that. We can get it to you, but that's what I know.
Question: Just on that same question – if there were concerns about this organization, why did the City go ahead and grant in these contracts if there were questions about –
Mayor: Again, I'm going to tell you what I know and there's plenty of detail that you can get from colleagues who were more directly involved, but I can say two things. One, some of the concerns that not the type that would go to DOI, but were about day-to-day work led to a corrective action plan. So, the agency was asked to do some things differently to address some of the issues. But the second thing I said last night is, I don't want people to labor under the illusion that there's endless organizations that provide homeless services. It's a pretty small sector. We need the services. That's not a choice, we have right to shelter. We're going to work with any organization we think can do the job, but if they prove they can't do the job or there's something wrong, of course we're going to step away. But there really is a limit in that field.
Question: [Inaudible] The Attorney General Bill Barr –
Mayor: Oh, I’m sorry. Freddi, thank you. I said last year was when the report to DOI was, it was the year before, it was 2018. My apology.
Question: Thank you. And I just want to ask you about Attorney General Bill Barr is in town. He's meeting with some of the Jewish leaders in Brooklyn. And I also understand that Tiffany Harris has now been charged with federal crimes. So, I just want to get your reaction on all of that. Do you have any plans to meet with him or if you are in touch? And your thoughts on whether Harris should be charged with federal crimes.
Mayor: Okay, multi-part, let me break it down. You know, yesterday I talked about the Neighborhood Safety Coalitions, which are part of the efforts being made to end this wave of hate crimes and I think they're going to make a big difference. That's making a difference. The efforts in our schools, the intense police presence, I think it's all adding up in the right direction. I think it's great the Attorney General is here to talk to community members. This is a problem obviously not just in Brooklyn, but all over the country. To best of my understanding, he did not invite elected officials. I'd be happy to talk to him any time about what we're doing and particularly offer what we hope will be some real solutions if these Neighborhood Safety Coalitions work as well as we think they can. As for Tiffany Harris, you know, I looked into that issue previously and wanted to make sure that all different agencies were coordinating. And the federal government, sure, they have a role to play. I don't know the intricacies of the federal hate crimes laws, but I think if someone is committing serious hate crimes on a regular basis, I want to make sure there are real consequences.
Question: [Inaudible] when you talk about City agencies working together, you seemed to suggest that maybe [inaudible] of person who had gotten the right kind of care at the beginning of this whole ordeal that she might not have re-offended [inaudible] times that she did. Now she's getting – now she's going to go through this federal process. I mean what happened to what the City was suppose to, or should have done, in terms of getting her to the services?
Mayor: This is an honest conversation about this topic. We’ll acknowledge that this city, this state, this nation are nowhere where we need to be on addressing mental health and the connection between mental health and violence. The difference is, this city is trying because we have an initiative to get mental health services to everyone who needs them and because we are trying to get our agencies to all act as one. But when you really get deep into the criminal justice system and you see the disconnect between judges, prosecutors, police, healthcare agencies, social service agencies, it's pretty troubling and has been going on for a long, long time. We believe – and I think the 30-day review really pointed this out – we believe it can be fixed, but it's going to take a lot of meticulous work and it's going to take a long time. And this is really trying to teach agencies to do something very different than they've ever done before.
So, I think for now, if someone is committing these crimes, of course there have to be consequences, and we want these crimes to stop. But I think your underlying question is a very fair one – what should our society be doing? Our society should be providing mental health early and often – we don't – as a society. The City, I think, can make a difference, but I've also said that the truth is if we're going to get to a day where this is really handled consistently every single time, it will require a universal healthcare system that gives parity to mental health and physical health.
Question: I wanted to ask again about Children's Community Services, the homeless shelter. So, I'm curious if you know which homeless shelter provider will take over their 28 facilities. I know that with the court order [inaudible] is to ask for today. And secondly, I wanted to ask, you know, there are other shelters that are under investigation – the [inaudible] network, which is the top homeless shelter provider, received a billion in contracts over a few years. Still, going off of Gloria’s question, they still receive contracts for services, they still receive – even though they're under investigation by DOI and the State. So, what's – you know, I know it's an investigation until there's closure, but does the City take that into consideration? And what kind of checking is the City doing on these contracts, because reporters found things within two seconds that the City hadn't.
Mayor: Okay. I don't know that last part, I don't want to say you're wrong, but I can't say you're right either because I don't know the specifics. I do know the City of New York is pretty legendary for having a very rigorous contracting process, which came out of decades of bad things being addressed now with an extraordinarily laborious, you know, heavy checks and balances process.
Mayor: In other words? No, I'm telling you that in terms of a world in which a lot of people get contracts for all sorts of questionable reasons and there weren't lots of checks and balances. The complaint I get from nonprofits – and this is where the legendary comes in – is you can do everything right, it takes a hell of a long time to get a contract approved in New York City, because there are so many checks and balances and so many verifications that are needed. So, no, again – you guys – and I don't blame you, occupationally, you look at the thing that is the problem or the exception or the thing that's really standing out, but I urge you talk to highly respected nonprofits and they will argue the opposite. They will argue this process takes too long and has too many checks and balances. I've had this conversation with a lot of them. But to your underlying question – look, right to shelter is both a statement of our values as New Yorkers and it's the law. You can't fail to provide the shelter and the services necessary. If an organization is under investigation, you're right, that's not a conclusion – innocent until proven guilty in this nation – but we take it real seriously. Sometimes there's a problem that can be fixed. Sometimes it's one person in an organization who's doing something bad, but the organization itself is sound. It all depends. In this case – and again, others can get you more detail, but a receivership model is being used here because we can't simply pull away the services. So, we need to bring in other leadership to keep the services going while we reset the larger equation.
Question: I was wondering if you could comment on the NYPD officer who has been charged with the murder of his autistic son.
Mayor: It’s incredibly troubling and I don't understand how any human being does that to a child. I especially don't understand how a sworn officer does that. And, you know, I think this is someone when all the facts are proven, this is someone who should burn in hell from my point of view.
Question: Do you have any understanding if he's on admin leave or if he's on just –
Mayor: Suspended, but PD can give you more detail.
Question: Yesterday the Speaker said that the Council investigate [inaudible] pedestrians versus 90 percent jaywalking [inaudible].
Mayor: We’re going to work on any time a question of disparity comes up. I want to see it addressed. And this is a nonstop effort to ensure that policing is fair across all communities. It doesn't mean that there isn't a place for a jaywalking ticket in this world. We've got to figure out with real challenges with busier and busier streets how we use enforcement for everyone the right way, but it has to be fair. So, I think that the Council is trying to ensure that that’s fair. I commend them and we'll work with them.
Question: Two Staten Island Democratic State lawmakers have introduced legislation that would subject homeless shelters to the ULURP process, mostly in response to the City opening a 200-family shelter on the North Shore of Staten Island that elected officials say they didn't know about. What do you think about this bill? Do you think homeless shelters should be subject to ULURP?
Mayor: No, I do not. I respect the two legislators a lot. One of them used to work for me, I respect him greatly. I respect the senator. I understand they're responding to local feelings, but no, no, this is about ensuring people have a roof over their head. I think the current system is right way to go. We work very closely with communities. We've had our folks have spoken to the elected officials incessantly trying to figure out if there was a better alternative that would actually work and we're going to work with them once it's open to make sure it works for the community. But no, if – you know, don't be surprised if you have legislation that makes it really easy to turn down homeless shelters. If they're just turned down everywhere and then there's no place for people to be, and that's not something I can believe in.
Question: [Inaudible] decide to pass this bill. What would you do?
Mayor: I don't deal with hypotheticals, as you know, and we're going to make really clear to the State Legislature how horrible an impact it would have on our ability to provide shelter to people who need it. And I believe – I've talked to a lot of legislators on this – I believe they think right to shelter is the appropriate approach. And they look at – I'm sorry to say California, but I have to – they look at California where there's the opposite reality where the vast majority of homeless people on the street. I don't think anyone wants to run the risk of that happening here. So, I believe the legislators will realize that this process, the way it's done now, is the way to ensure there is shelter.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I know that you're intensely interested in the wildlife in Staten Island.
Mayor: Yes, Marcia, this is one of my key interested. You’re right.
I have personal experience on this, Marcia.
Question: How do you feel about the criticism of Congressman Max Rose, who says your sterilization of deer program is not working and his offer to take up arms as he did when he was in Iraq and go and try to cull the herd himself with a shotgun.
Mayor: So, I'm not going to be able to take them up on his offer. And I'll tell you, I've had this conversation with the NYPD and I would urge the Congressman to talk to the NYPD. They are very much opposed to hunting taking place in a borough with half-a-million people in close proximity to each other and close proximity to the wooded areas. It's as simple as this. I understand that people really want to see the day come where we don't have this problem anymore. I just looked at the numbers again this morning – the approach, the sterilization approach is driving down that population and it's going to drive it down a lot more in the coming months. It is the right way to go to get the job done. And you know what? The last thing we want to do is risk human lives with the wrong kind of approach.
Question: So, back to the coronavirus if you will. Are you surprised that there hasn't been a case here yet? [Inaudible] the Health Department investigating any possible cases that you know of?
Mayor: As of this morning, nothing I've heard from the Health Department about cases here yet. I think given the way the Chinese government did not acknowledge the problem early and act on it early, I think the likelihood again is we're going to feel it here. Probably less than the west coast would be my gut assumption, but I have to imagine eventually we will feel it here. But the good news is, we're right act immediately and if we – it's really very individual, Rich – if we can get people right away, we can both stop the spread and also help them to survive it. So, my only fear right now is folks who are trying to explain away, you know, a sickness and not get medical care, which a lot of people do all the time. And I just say to anyone, if you or someone in your family is experiencing those symptoms and has any nexus to Wuhan and that area, just get care right now. That's our best bet.
Question: Just two quick follow-ups on the Tiffany Harris question and then a question about the PBA lawsuit. An NYPD source told us to the Department is starting to ask the feds to step in regarding cases with repeat offenders who are walking free because of bail reform. Is that something that you know about? Or, what do you think about that?
Mayor: I don't want to comment on something as vague as that. The NYPD can come up with a strategy for anything in terms of our own resources, our own approach, our own justice system. This is the last 25 years of New York City history – the NYPD constantly comes up with new strategies. And Commissioner Shea and I have spoken about this. We're going to address the challenges we face. I have no indication of any effort around the federal side, but I'll certainly have that conversation with them.
Question: [Inaudible] filed the lawsuit today to strike down in its entirety a 2019 City charter revision ballot measure expanding the CCRB’s power and funding because they say a provision violates State law.
Mayor: I have no reason to believe that's true. This was the result of a very public charter revision process. Everything in it was looked at by the Law Department, obviously, and the City Council lawyers. No such complaint – I certainly never heard of such a complaint previously. I have trouble believing it. It was the will of the people and I think we should just move forward.
Question: As a former city Council Member yourself, how do you feel about the push the unionize [inaudible] City Council staffers?
Mayor: It's a matter of what people feel they need. I respect the staff of the Council and, you know, I'm not close to that reality the way I was, but if it's something that they want, it's America.
Last call. Go ahead, Gloria.
Question: Mr. Mayor, what's the process for calling the special – when will you call the special election now that –
Mayor: Real, real soon. I don't know if it's today. I think we have today or tomorrow, but we're going to do it very soon either way.
Question: [Inaudible] 48 hours –
Mayor: I think we have to, and I think we want to, and I think we will. Is that your understanding, Freddi? Freddi's way ahead of me. Yes, real soon.
Last call – Rich?
Question: Mr. Mayor, given the recent revelations out of Washington, what do you think the chances are of witnesses appearing in the trial?
Mayor: I think the Bolton dynamic – hey, look, I love this thing this morning of like, oh, liberals like John Bolton, you know, for the last 24 hours after 20 years of not liking him. I think it's – I think that's not the point, but I was entertained by it. Look, he was the national security advisor, for God's sakes. You know, what, are they going to get someone with a higher position? I mean, if he's saying that there was a quid pro quo and it was not in the interest of this nation, that has to be heard. And I think a lot of Republican Senators still have a conscience and are going to be affected by that and I think some others have a re-election and they're going to be affected by that. So, I would say that the chances are much higher today that witnesses will be called than I would have guessed yesterday.
Thank you, everybody.