Tag Archives: State of the City

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.

 

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Quinn focuses on middle class in State of the City address


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in her final State of the City address, promised it would become more affordable to live and work in New York in the years to come.

Quinn, who will be term limited out of the Council at the end of this year, is a heavy favorite on the Democratic side as a mayoral candidate.

“Every day, as I travel the five boroughs, I talk to people with those same hopes for the future, with the same incredible work ethic, and the same belief that there is no better place to be than New York City,” Quinn said. “I’m incredibly proud that in the last seven years, this City Council has built a record, not of words and criticisms, but of actions and results.”

In her hour-plus speech, Quinn promised to ensure the working middle class be able to stay and prosper in the city — and will do so through a number of current and future programs.

“Our top priority must be to keep our middle class here, attract new middle class families, and give every New Yorker the opportunity to enter the middle class,” she said. “Simply put, we face an affordability crisis in our city and it cuts right at the fabric of New York. We need to make sure that the people who want to stay in our great city can afford to stay here.”

On a related note, Quinn announced an incentive for residential building owners to convert a certain number of units into affordable housing. In return, the city will cap property taxes on the building based on rental intake.

“It’s a win for them, a win for middle class renters, and a win for the city,” Quinn said. “This is how we retain economic diversity in neighborhoods that have become harder to reach for the middle class.”

 

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Speaker Quinn delivers State of the City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Focusing on ways to improve education and strengthen communities, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn delivered her 2012 State of the City address at City Hall on Thursday, February 9.

In her 6th annual address, Quinn outlined proposals ranging from securing homes for families to providing quality education for children to providing job opportunities for the unemployed to bolstering the five boroughs’ economic potential.

“Now more than ever, we need to tap into the power of our communities,” she said. “We need to restore the promise that everyone can succeed in New York, no matter how humble their origins, with a bit of help and a lot of hard work.”

Quinn said it would take a lot of hard work to help the city’s education system – but to achieve real success in schools, Quinn believes the key is to start young. To that end, Quinn proposed making kindergarten mandatory for all city 5 year olds. Currently, kindergarten is not required and Quinn said that many kids are missing out on critical early education.

“Every year nearly 3,000 5-year-olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten,” she said. “That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom. Many of them are kids who need kindergarten the most. We’re working with the State Legislature to introduce a bill allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory.”

Quinn also touched on the college careers of city school children, calling for the creation of a tuition-free CUNY Honors College for the city’s top students. The proposed college will have a campus, facilities and programs allowing it to compete with the nation’s top institutions.

Beyond education, Quinn spoke about the need to secure healthcare for New Yorkers, announcing an initiative to improve worker health and reduce health care costs. Quinn said the City Council will provide $100,000 in funding to launch the Freelancers Union’s flagship Brooklyn health clinic.

“This kind of creative health care model has the power to connect more New Yorkers to primary care, take some of the burden off of struggling hospitals, and strengthen our non-profit healthcare system,” she said. “That’s how we make good on the promise of New York – by ensuring that every generation has greater opportunity than the ones that came before.”

Watch Mayor Bloomberg dance to Lady Gaga in State of the City intro video


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Bloom

Before Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his way to the podium for his 11th State of the City speech, he was introduced by a short, entertaining video chronicling his “journey” to get to this year’s speech.  Along the way he poked fun at himself — he danced to Lady Gaga who helped him ring in the new year with a kiss — and issues he has fought for over the years, including bike lanes and taxis in the outer boroughs.  Numerous city officials were featured in the video — Chancellor Dennis Walcott, press secretary Stu Loeser, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan all made appearances.  The scene stealer, though, was former Mayor Ed Koch standing at the entrance of the former Queensboro Bridge shouting at drivers welcoming them to “his” bridge.  Watch the full video below.  What do you think of the video?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes his State of the City speech


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his State of the City highlighting ambitious plans to continue his overhaul of the “broken system” he faced when he entered office.

Before the mayor made his way to the podium a short video was played chronicling his “journey” to get to this year’s speech.  Along the way he poked fun at himself — he danced to Lady Gaga who helped him ring in the new year with a kiss — and issues he has fought for over the years, including bike lanes and taxis in the outer boroughs.  It also featured former Mayor Ed Koch welcoming motorists to “his” bridge, the former Queensboro Bridge.

Bloomberg opened up his 11th State of the City speech at Morris High School in the Bronx outlining the successes his administration has had.

“We did” became a running theme through the beginning of the speech.

“We said we’d launch a new East River ferry service, balance the budget and hold the line on taxes. And in partnership with Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council — we did,” Bloomberg said.  ““We said we’d seek to attract a world-class university to build a new science and engineering campus here – the brainchild of EDC President Seth Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Bob Steel — and we did.”

The bulk of the speech focused on education and his commitment to continue improving the system.

“We took on the broken system, and by stressing accountability and innovation and ending social promotion, we’ve made real progress turning it around,” the mayor said.

His plan included retaining top teachers through pay raises, attracting top flight teachers by agreeing to pay student loans and by toughening guidelines for evaluating teachers.

Stay with The Queens Courier for the full story.