Tag Archives: Fiorello LaGuardia

Mayor de Blasio takes on income gap in first State of the City address

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

In his first State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to battle the inequality gap, with plans to raise the city’s minimum wage, provide more affordable housing and further educational opportunities.

Just a month after taking office, de Blasio laid out his ambitious agenda Monday, during the speech at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.

“The state of our city, as we find it today, is a Tale of Two Cities – with an inequality gap that fundamentally threatens our future,” he said, referencing his campaign slogan.

The mayor said the school’s namesake, former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and the college in many ways, represented his own vision for the city.

“[LaGuardia Community College] is a place where New Yorkers from all walks of life can find a path to a future, with a good job and a shot at a better life,” de Blasio said.

Before detailing his plans to help close the income gap, he warned of the budgetary challenges the city is facing, with more than 150 unsettled municipal contracts. But he promised to “navigate towards a future that is progressive and fiscally responsible.”

He also vowed, through a series of measures, to “lift the floor for all New Yorkers.”

“New York will only work when it works as one city,” he said.

De Blasio said he would work with the City Council to increase the number of living wage jobs offered by employers that the city subsidizes.

The city will also ask Albany to give it the power to raise its minimum wage, he said.

In his address, de Blasio pledged to preserve or construct nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing, and said that a newly appointed team of leaders at the city’s housing agencies would release a plan to do so by May 1.

He additionally offered a plan to “protect the city’s almost half-million undocumented New Yorkers,” that would, regardless of immigration status, issue municipal ID cards to all New Yorkers this year.

The mayor also said he his administration would focus on Sandy recovery efforts “with a comprehensive review and updated plan.”

De Blasio’s speech, however, did not waiver much from his message of closing the income gap.

He said education was a key to ending the “Tale of Two Cities,” from pre-kindergarten to higher learning.

The mayor vowed to expand STEM and health care-oriented training programs in high schools and at CUNY, and set other goals to make sure more high-quality jobs in the five boroughs are filled are by those educated in the city’s schools.

He also made his case for his plan for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten that would tax the rich to pay for it.

“We’re simply asking Albany to allow New York City to tax itself – its wealthiest residents… those making a half-million or more a year,” de Blasio said.



Actor Tony Lo Bianco to take Queens stage as Fiorello LaGuardia

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tony Lo Bianco

Tony Award-nominated actor Tony Lo Bianco will transport a Queens audience back to 1945 and three–term mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s last days in office.

Lo Bianco’s one-man show, “The Little Flower,” will take the stage at Queens Theatre on Thursday, June 20.

Lo Bianco has starred in an Academy Award-winning film and acted in television and on stage. “The Little Flower” marks an expansion of his directing and producing talents.

“The play is really a parallel about what is going on in our country today,” he said. “Many things that happened back then reflect what is going to happen.”

A TV version of the play previously won five daytime Emmys. It offers a historic look into the life and career of LaGuardia, who was mayor from 1934 to 1945. Lo Bianco, who discovered the play in 1984, described the mayor as a “man of sacrifice” because of his efforts for the poor and unfortunate.

“He was a very colorful character,” Lo Bianco said. “He really cared about the people, but he was fair and logical.”

The show takes audiences through important moments in LaGuardia’s life, shining a light on how he was able to help shape troubling times during the 20th century.

Lo Bianco now owns the play and has rewritten it to have broader appeal.

He hopes that along with entertaining audiences with its comedic elements, the play will move people to take action and become involved in their country and government.

“Every day is another scandal,” he said. “I think people are so busy dealing with their own problems that they are not paying attention to what is going to affect our future.”

The play is sponsored by mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, who a spokesperson described as an admirer of LaGuardia.

“LaGuardia always used to say there is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage,” Rob Ryan said. “You run the city as a New Yorker.”

“The Little Flower” starts at 7:30 p.m. at Queens Theatre and has a running time of about 100 minutes. For ticket reservations, email queensjune20@gmail.com or call 917-628-5314.