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Blaz slams the rich and landlords, touts prison reform, ‘3-K’ in State of City

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his sixth State of the City address at Symphony Space, at Broadway and 95th St., on Thursday. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a cornucopia of new plans for the Big Apple in his annual State of the City address on Thursday — including for a mayoral office of tenant protection and free eye exams and glasses for kindergartners and first-graders.

Some of his talking points seemed to speak to the national mood among progressives — like pushing Washington, D.C., to fight for Medicare for All and redistributing wealth — which seemed to reflect what some see as de Blasio’s recently edging toward a 2020 presidential campaign.

The speech came days after he pledged he would pass a law to provide 10 days of paid time off for all workers — expected to impact a half-a-million people — and an expanded healthcare program for uninsured people, as reported in the national media by MSNBC and the Washington Post.

“Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world,” de Blasio said. “There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.

“It’s no accident,” he said. “It’s an agenda — an agenda that’s dominated our politics from Reaganomics to the Trump tax giveaway to the wealthy corporations.”

However, speaking of Long Island City’s new Amazon headquarters offices — for which the company got $3 billion in tax breaks from the city and state — and Google’s expansion on Manhattan’s Lower West Side, de Blasio said it shows “the world’s most innovative companies want to be here, and they want to hire New Yorkers.”

De Blasio had new promises, too.

On the stage at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side, he signed an executive order to establish the Mayor’s Office of Tenants’ Protection.

“We’ll use every tool we have to fine the landlords,” he said. “But when the fines and penalties don’t cut it, we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.”

In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio laid out his plans on everything from healthcare to bus speed. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Another city department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, will be expanded and renamed the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, the mayor announced.

De Blasio said the city’s jail population has dipped below 8,000 for the first time in 40 years — a part of the broader effort to close Rikers Island’s jails and instead have four smaller, neighborhood-based jails.

“Mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end in New York City,” he vowed, echoing his December comments in Chinatown on the matter. He called on Albany to pass bail reform and improved speedy-trial laws, which some experts say is critical to City Hall’s hope to reduce the jail population to 5,000.

For the coming school year, de Blasio said roughly 20,000 children over age 3 will be in free, full-day “3-K,” with expansions this year in Northern Manhattan, the Bronx and East New York, to name a few.

Also for children, a partnership with Warby Parker will be expanded to provide free eye exams and glasses to all kindergartners and first-graders, he said.

The mayor announced new plans to expand ferry service from Staten Island to Manhattan’s West Side, from Coney Island to Lower Manhattan, and in the Bronx from Soundview to Ferry Point. He also said the city would increase bus speeds by 25 percent by the end of 2020, by means such as nearly doubling the pace of bus-lane installation and creating seven tow-truck teams for bus-lane enforcement.

He tasked Albany with saving the subway system.

“Whatever the package of solutions, working people cannot wait,” de Blasio said of funding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “We cannot let 2019 go by without a solution.”

One Response to Blaz slams the rich and landlords, touts prison reform, ‘3-K’ in State of City

  1. Wow, what future gig was this guy auditioning for? It's been a long time since I heard that much pandering. I've never been more disappointed in a State of the City speech and of an NYC mayor. I'm surprised he didn't throw in a lie or 2 about getting CHARAS/El Bohio back. ugh. Every time he calls himself a Progressive he should be struck by a bolt of lightning. Yikes!

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