I am Bill de Blasio, Democratic Candidate for Mayor of New York City. AMA.
Hey Redditors -- I'm Bill de Blasio, Progressive Democrat running for mayor of New York City. Really looking forward to your questions -- thanks for giving me a space here. And sorry for the delay. I just finished giving a speech about the importance of universal early education and how we can achieve it in New York City, and will get started very soon. I'll be taking your questions for an hour, and want to make sure I can get to as many as I can. Ask me anything.
EDIT 1: Proof it's really me: https://twitter.com/deBlasioNYC/status/387653115958149120
EDIT 2: Verification photo (Still tall): https://twitter.com/deBlasioNYC/status/387659922357637120
FINAL EDIT: I'm really excited to have participated today. My nephew Ben and his wife Natalie told me glowingly how important Reddit is to them and how much news and insight they get from it. So it's really cool to finally experience it, and I appreciate everyone's passion and concern on these issues. If you like what i stand for, I hope I'll win your vote on November 5th. Then I look forward to coming back and communicating more with you as your mayor.
STAFF EDIT: http://my.billdeblasio.com/page/s/join-redditors-for-de-blasio
I am working in my secret laboratory on a new land creation machine! Just kidding. My focus is on greatly increasing the amount of affordable housing — 200,000 units over the next 10 years. I want to see much more aggressive policies in terms of how the city works with the real estate industry. We don't have a methodology for lowering rents, but we can focus on creating more affordability, and strengthening our current rent regulation laws to protect the affordable housing we now have.
Hi Bill, Thanks for taking the time to stop by reddit. Three questions for you.
As a Washington Heights resident, hailing a cab is no easy task. The addition of green outer borough cabs has been an incredibly welcome addition to the neighborhood. Previously you have opposed the city's plan for street-hail livery cabs. Do you still oppose the green cab system, or have you come around now after seeing the success?
Second, can you speak to your plans around the second avenue subway, extending the 7 to the west side, and a potential hudson crossing of a NYC subway? What transit initiatives are most important to you?
Finally, You have opposed the planned NYCFC stadium in Queens, if you could put a new stadium in the 5 boros, where would it be? Is there any chance at an additional stadium in Manhattan, either in upper manhattan or on the water?
I think the notion of more street hails in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan is correct -- what I opposed was specific elements of the legislation that would undermine the economic structure of the industry that I thought were bad policy, but i think we can take the concept of the green cabs and utilize it effectively with a different set of rules. I also, as a question of democracy, thought the mayor purposefully did an end run around the City Council to force the outcome he wanted and I believe that was unconstitutional.
On the second question, my central focus, which is made clear in my platform at www.billdeblasio.com, is on expanding transit options in underserved neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, particularly through bus rapid transit. I also think a central mission as mayor will be to protect the state payroll tax that is keeping the MTA viable at this point.
On the third question, I have not heard any viable plan for a stadium in Manhattan and I don't foresee that. The only way there could be a status in Queens is if the conditions I've laid down are on complete parkland replacement and sufficient subsidies for surrounding parkland. I wouldn't be shocked if a soccer team ended up using Yankee Stadium or CitiField.
Bill, congrats on winning the democratic primary and I hope you will be our next mayor. That being said I am a lifelong NYC resident, hailing from the forgotten borough of Staten Island. In what ways does your administration plan on handling the hurdles that Staten Islanders have to conquer to get to Manhattan? As you may know all other boroughs have a direct subway connection to Manhattan, while we in Staten Island are still sailing the high seas to commute to Manhattan, or paying ridiculous bus fares ($6 each way). Is it not possible in the 21st century for there to be a better way for Staten Islanders to commute?
First, thanks for your support. I come from your sister borough of Brooklyn, and I've spent a lot of time on The Rock! So I really do understand your frustration. I wish I had a better answer than the free ferry service we currently provide, but I will say that we have a possibility of really improving transportation for Staten Islanders with bus rapid transit on the North Shore, and maybe even light rail on that line one day. And the very exciting possibility of linking the West Shore by light rail to New Jersey and connecting to other train lines there. So that's what I'll be focused on.
How does Dante keep the shape of his hair so perfect?
Dante works conscientiously on his hair. VERY conscientiously. He does not leave the house in the morning without carefully using his pick to strike a perfect geometric balance. I witnessed with my own eyes the President of the United States evaluating Dante’s Afro up close, and even the president admitted that the Afro of his youth was not as full and perfectly proportioned. So Dante has achieved something spectacular.
Mr. De Blasio
Congratulations on your primary victory. I look forward to your coming term.
My question involves airBNB. What are your opinions on airBNB and similar short term apartment rental services, and the subpoena that the state AG just served on airBNB to turn over the information on all NYC hosts?
As you are no doubt aware, as it was a central message of your campaign, New York is an increasingly difficult city for middle class people to survive. While I understand the hotel tax issue, and the safety concerns, people rent private residences for short stays all over the world. Why should New York City be any different? While I wholly agree that "slumlords" and "bad actors" who are abusing the airBNB system by holding property solely to re-let on short term rentals should be stopped, do you think that normal hard working New Yorkers should be able to rent out their apartmetns when they go away on vacation, or otherwise?
First of all, define the word "normal" in terms of New Yorkers. :)
I appreciate the appropriately nuanced way you framed the questioned, and I'll give you an equally nuanced answer. While I appreciate the potential of the sharing economy, and I do think there's some historical precedent, the challenges posed by AirBnB today are real, in terms of safety, public tax revenue, etc.
I'm just beginning to learn about the extent of these challenges, and I plan on meeting with the various stakeholders, but I really want to emphasize that the safety issue is very different when you're talking about a million visitors a year versus the much smaller reality that used to exist of people renting out their apartments individually.
Tale of two broke 20 somethings:
I consider myself a middle-class NYC resident with a combined household income of about $80,000, with my partner and I both making 40k/year. In any other city, this would be a comfortable income to live on, but in NYC I can barely afford to pay rent on a small, out of date one bedroom. Of course, I expect a higher cost of living here because of the popularity of living in NYC, but the continuously increasing costs of rent has gotten completely out of control. What are some policies you plan on installing as mayor that would make it easier to live here for middle-class residents making under 100k a year? Will I ever be able to realistically plan on having kids while living in this city?
My focus is on building an extensive new supply of affordable housing which will reach families who are struggling economically. My goal is 200,000 units over 10 years, enough to house 400,000 to 500,000 New Yorkers. I also want to speed the development of more market rate rental housing in hopes that a greater supply will start to bring costs down meaningfully. So I will do everything I know how to do to help make sure that couples like you can stay in this city.
Under Bloomberg, we lost countless mom-and-pop shops, some several decades old, and we gained way too many chain stores. Where do you stand on rent regulation for small businesses, especially those that have been around a long time, and what will you do to stop the spread of chains?
I have been shocked by how negative many Bloomberg policies have been towards small business. Some people think of him as a businessman mayor, but they need to understand he never owned a small business and doesn't have that perspective. From my point of view, small businesses are the ultimate grassroots job creation engine and also incredibly important to the character and strength of our neighborhoods. I considered years ago the concept of commercial rent control, and don't believe it's workable, but what we can do is end policies that hurt mom and pop stores like the constant and arbitrary fines the city government has levied and we can use zoning laws and tax policy over time to support family owned businesses. Very good example on upper west side over the last few years where changes in zoning made it harder for certain chain stores to develop and easier for mom and pop shops to survive, so that's a model I want to follow.
Great that you're doing an AMA. Will you keep doing them once you're mayor?
Hi Bill. Thanks for doing this! You have been a strong advocate for public schools. Of course, it’s not just the children leaving for charter schools, but often the best teachers, as well. How will you approach the task of keeping the best teachers invested in our public schools?
I am a public school parent myself and have been for the last 14 years. That is one of the reasons I made early child hood education and after school a centerpiece of my campaign. I think these investments will encourage many talented people to choose the teaching profession and stick with it. The question of teacher retention is getting far too little attention in the public debate. I think a strategy of greater investment plus more overt respect for teachers from public officials plus increasing promotional opportunities within the school system plus more pathways for teacher training is the pathway to greater retention.
Where's the best Pizza in New York?
Di Fara Pizzeria in Midwood, Brooklyn. And to all the Manhattan foodies out there: it's not even close. This is clearly the best. And yes I'm from Brooklyn. PS: They use buffalo milk mozzarella, which is beloved in my grandfather's provence in Italy.
In a race where many large tech companies backed Christine Quinn because they saw her as an extension of Mayor Bloomberg (who championed growing tech/bringing tech talent to NYC), how do you plan to gain the tech community’s support?
I really believe in the tech community, and think its growth potential in this city is huge. I've met with a number of folks in the community over the last few weeks and think we've found a lot of common ground. I think the City can do a lot more to facilitate the tech sector, starting with making sure we get fully wired for high-speed internet citywide as quickly as possible. So I can feel already that there's going to be a good and close working relationship between my administration and tech community if the people choose me.
Many progressives are very concerned with your recent meetings with business elites and your self-branding as "a fiscally responsible progressive". Andrew Cuomo said similar things in his run for governor, but what we ended up with was a conservative Democrat who was incredibly hostile to labor unions in an effort to please big business.
How do you reconcile your progressive alliances among those who are entirely fine with raising taxes and spending more in order to achieve a greater net social utility over recent rhetoric involving pedantic economic efficiency?
The centerpiece of my campaign is my plan to tax the wealthy to fix our schools. I would tax those who make a half million or more so we can have full day pre-k and after school programs for middle school kids. I have not wavered and I will not waver on this point. I‘ve also made clear that I believe in a progressive and activist use of the tools of government to address income inequality and the affordability crisis. Of course I will meet with business leaders because the City should work with them, but I made very clear my philosophical outlook. As for fiscal matters, I believe progressives have to balance budgets and run effective governments in order to achieve the social change we seek.
Hey Bill, congrats on winning the nomination!
I'm a 25-year old who works in the TV/film industry. Your plans for growing the industry (much less mentioning it) really stood out and it won you my vote in the primary.
While the city is playing an important role in big-budget, network productions, my question for you is how would you work with the Office of Film, Broadcasting and Theatre to make producing low-budget productions in the city more accessible and easier?
P.S. thanks for the follow on Twitter yesterday!
I personally really value the smaller and independent productions. I think that's where some of the greatest creativity we've seen on screen in recent years has come from.
I think the Office of Film and TV can help make life easier for smaller productions too -- cutting red tape and making it easier for folks involved to work with the neighborhood they're filming in. So if I'm elected, I would certainly make sure the office is consistently responsive to independent productions.
In what ways would you have responded differently to OWS than how Bloomberg did?
First of all, Occupy was and is an important movement focused on the inequalities we must address in our society. I spent time at the protests and came to appreciate what an impact it made. I think the Mayor could have worked with members of Occupy to find an appropriate alternate location even when it was clear that Zuccoti Park couldn't continue to be a livable space for the protesters and the community. I also think that media access in situations like this must be constant and unquestioned, and i think it was a mistake by this administration to exclude the media when the protesters were removed.
Hi, Mr. de Blasio.
If elected, will you ever bike to work?
Unfortunately not, but let me tell you a story and I'll explain why I give you that answer. In 1990, I was in Seattle with my brother Steven, and we both bought mountain bikes, and we went on an amazing bike trip through western Montana, which is a really beautiful place… best seen by bike. Then I brought my bike back to Brooklyn, and although there were a few years when the kids were younger when I used it a lot, in recent years I almost never have used my bike. That's the sad truth. So I don't think it's likely I'll be using it to get to work, although I really appreciate and admire people that do, And I want to make it easier for people who do.
What religious beliefs do you hold and how does it influence your politics, if at all?
Although my mother was raised a Catholic, she did not bring me up in the Church. I considered myself a spiritual person but unaffiliated, and I was definitely vey influenced by the liberation theology movement in Latin America. And BOY am I a fan of Pope Francis!
Hi Bill, I voted for you in the primary! How will you help end the HIV/AIDS crisis, stigma, discrimination, and criminalization that help fuel its existence?
Thanks for your support! I think part of the answer is to acknowledge publicly and consistently that the HIV/AIDS crisis continues, that we have to continue to innovate better public health and outreach policies. For folks living with HIV, there's more we can do to provide affordable housing, most notably implement a 30% rent cap for HASA clients. And finally, I want the city government to listen to people with HIV and AIDS in this city more, and learn from what they say about how we can better serve them.
What do you like about Joe Lhota?
Look, I have some serious disagreements with Joe, but I do think he is a smart and affable guy. I also appreciate his wry sense of humor.
Hey Mr. de Blasio, New Yorker here. Glad to see you're on reddit and doing so well in the polls. Rooting for you. How trying has the constant campaigning been for you and your family? How do you deal with your entire life suddenly being under scrutiny? Best of luck and I really do hope you're elected!
Thanks for your support and encouragement! Somehow, my family and I are used to this lifestyle. Yes, it's tiring, but we've all been around it so long that it doesn't feel as invasive as you'd think. I do wish the media was sometimes a little more respectful of family life and gave us a little more space — but by and large this has been an extraordinary experience for all of us, and an incredible growth experience for my kids.
Mr. de Blasio - you made it very clear what practices you would like to see removed from NYPD policy. My question is - what activities should the department ADD in order to increase trust between the NYPD and the community? many thanks
More focus on getting intervention policies that work with community leaders and family members to convince young people to stay away from gang life. This is both an effective crime fighting tool and way of creating real partnership between police and community.
I’m curious about your thoughts on the Bloomberg administration’s use of tax abatements and other incentives to encourage companies to stay in New York City. If elected, what would be your policy on incentives for commercial development? Would job-creation benchmarks play a role in development projects you would support with city money?
I am critical of many government efforts to provide incentives in subsidies -- I think too often they turn into corporate welfare. I want a very careful and strict use of subsidies that create obstacles for disadvantaged people and affordable housing. I think too many incentive plans in the past were unenforceable and amounted to nothing more than taxpayer dollar giveaways.
Hi Mr. de Blasio. Just wanted to say thanks for proving that left-wing solutions still have a place in American political discourse!
My question: What's your favorite book?
Growing up, it was the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I still love that book. More recently, i've taken great inspiration from Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen about the New Deal, and the people who made it happen.
What made you go into politics? Who's your influencer or someone you really admire?
One of the reasons I went into politics is that I sat riveted by my television for the entire Watergate summer. And at the age of 12, watched the greatest morality play in the history of American politics unfold. It was at times depressing but in many ways also inspiring. In terms of influences or people I emulate, I always point to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia as examples of effective progressives who were in touch with the people they serve.
Do you have any thoughts on getting NY rents down to something sane without distorting the market? Rezoning? Added transit? Physically making new land?
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