It may have been Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last opportunity to deliver the State of the City address, but one thing was clear, it was no swan song.
Addressing a crowd at downtown Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — arguably the largest development to come to fruition while he occupied City Hall – the mayor spent a full hour going over the achievements of his nearly 12 years at the helm of the city of New York, and promised to keep pushing forward during the last 320 days of his administration.
There was definitely a feel of theatricality to the entire event, with performances by the Brooklynettes and their junior counterparts.
Thus setting the stage, the mayor primed the pump for both his elaborate recap and his announcements, which ranged from the clearly popular (support for gun control, immigration reform and the DREAM Act – all of which engendered loud applause) to the considerably less so (a long defense of stop and frisk as well as of the city’s position in the protracted school bus strike).
Probably the most discussed announcement beforehand was a proposed ban on Styrofoam take-out containers, something that the mayor said he would work on with the City Council. Explaining that the material as “virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades,” Bloomberg contended, “it’s not just terrible for the environment. It’s terrible for taxpayers,” increasing the cost of recycling by some $20 per ton, “because it has to be removed.”
Another major announcement was the administration’s decision to promote electric cars, adding 50 to the city’s fleet of vehicles and pushing for a third of New York’s taxis to be electric by 2020. In addition, Bloomberg said the city would “pilot curbside vehicle chargers that will allow drivers to fill their battery in as little as 30 minutes.” The goal, he said, is to “create up to 10,000 parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years.”
The mayor also announced “an executive order waiving all city fees for Sandy-related repair work,” and the creation of a panel to “design eight new high schools based on the most promising college readiness strategies” for students mostly from neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and low rates of college readiness.
“Over the past 11 years,” Bloomberg contended, “we have beaten the odds, and the obstructionists, over and over again, not just here in Brooklyn, but in neighborhoods all across the city.” The result, he said, includes projects such as Barclays Center, as well as a “record low” number of murders and shootings, as well as record low “incarceration rates,” “job growth…exceed[ing] the national average in all five boroughs,” and the addition of 750 acres to the city’s parkland.
But, he added, his administration will not rest on its laurels.
“Our goal,” Bloomberg said, “is not to spend the year cutting ribbons. It’s much bigger than that. Our goal is to advance projects – and start new ones – that will keep our city on the right course for decades to come.”