We invited mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota to contribute essays outlining their policy visions for Brooklyn. Both agreed to participate, but we did not receive a response from Lhota. To provide some context on de Blasio’s contribution, we’ve added notes on his record and rhetoric.
Our city is suffering from a crisis of inequality. While nearly half of our neighbors1 live at or near the poverty line, almost 400,000 millionaires2 also call New York City home. Community hospitals are shuttered in favor of luxury condos3 and, over the last twelve years, funding cuts to outer-borough transportation and public spaces have made New Yorkers outside of Manhattan feel increasingly like second-class residents.
During my time as a Brooklyn city council member4 and now as public advocate5, I have led the battle against this inequality crisis: fighting to keep neighborhood hospitals open6; working to build quality public schools in every neighborhood; calling on City Hall to end the overuse and abuse of stop and frisk; and leading the fight to end the war on small business and outer-borough transportation cuts.
As mayor, I will continue this fight. I have lived in Brooklyn for the last 20 years and, as a proud public school parent, I know first hand the challenges facing working families in the outer boroughs. In Brooklyn and across the city, many of our community hospitals are at risk of complete closure or loss of major facilities — falling victim to real estate interests, mismanagement, and predatory consultants that drain millions in fees. Losing these hospitals would mean shuttered emergency rooms, clinics, and doctors’ offices — affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods, including Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, and Bushwick. Over recent months, I have succeeded in staving off the closure of Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center7, and I have a plan that would create a new health authority to oversee Brooklyn hospitals and help them modernize and keep their doors open.8
As I would be the first New York City mayor in history to serve with a child attending our public schools 9, I am also personally invested in preparing New York’s young people for a prosperous and productive future. By asking the wealthiest in our city to pay a little more, we can provide access to pre-K for every child and after-school programs for all middle school students. This modest tax10 on those making $500,000 or more will provide our children with environments that keep them on-task, off the streets, and out of harm’s way.11 This investment is not only critical for those who are struggling, but will help all New Yorkers — because we all benefit when the middle class is growing, and more of our fellow citizens are lifted out of poverty.
Affordable housing is also fundamental to the strength of our city, but too many of our fellow citizens are currently being priced out of their own homes.12 That needs to end. I have called for stabilized rents to be frozen at their current level, and, as mayor, I will mandate affordability from developers to help create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.13 I also have a plan to advocate for better rent laws, so that every resident can live in the neighborhood they love.
Service cuts to outer-borough communities since 2010 have meant longer walks to the nearest bus stop and more time waiting for a bus to arrive.14 As mayor, I will phase in15 the creation of a citywide Bus Rapid Transit network with more than 20 lines16, linking communities underserved by transit to the city’s primary transportation and employment hubs. These routes will offer one-seat commutes from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights and other community centers. This system has the potential to save outer-borough commuters hours off their commute times every week and stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods the subway system doesn’t reach.
As mayor, I will also continue to fight to end the overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk.17 Mayor Bloomberg and my opponent are offering a false choice between public safety and our constitutional rights. To improve upon our current level of public safety while also bringing cops and neighbors closer together, we need a new police commissioner18, an independent inspector general to oversee NYPD policies, and a strong ban on racial profiling. This approach will allow us to further strengthen public safety and restore police-community relations by ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk and divisive racial profiling.
Finally, I will end the dramatic increase in inspections and nuisance fines on small businesses. I have proposed a five-point plan19 for small business fine enforcement, based on public safety and not the need to pad the city’s budget, that creates a tiered system and reduces penalties for nuisance fines. And, to ensure this abuse does not happen again, I would create a group of Red Tape Cutters, whose responsibility it is to track trends in the city’s enforcement of business regulations and collect input on ways government can help businesses add jobs.
These investments won’t simply set Brooklyn on the path for an even brighter future. They will send a signal to families across our city that beyond the skyscrapers and high-rises that paint our magnificent skyline we haven’t forgotten what New York City is really about, a city of neighborhoods.
A city that understands our economic might isn’t measured solely by the number of millionaires who call New York home, but by the promise that every family has a shot at living and working and raising children in our five boroughs.
And most of all we all share a belief: that New York City is the greatest city in the world — not simply because of our economic might and stunning skyline and vibrant culture, but because we are a city that leads the nation and the world in remembering that we are bigger and stronger and better as a city when we make sure everyone has a shot.