De Blasio Delivers State of the City Address
Mayor Takes Humanist, Social Science Approach to Solving NYC Problems
NYC Crime Down, Stop N’ Frisk Down 97%, NYC Public School Graduation Rate Up, H.S. Drop Out Rate Down, College Bound Graduates Up, 70,000 Children Enrolled in Universal Pre-K, Financing Initiated on 62,000 Units of Affordable Housing, NYC Budget Surplus
See Related Analysis of Reporting by Multi-Billionaire Owned NY Post
I attended Mayor de Blasio’s third State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday. The beautiful old theater, built in 1904, didn’t admit African Americans until thirty years later. And it was in 1934 that the historic theater began earning the fame it has today, by becoming the showcase for African American musical and theatrical legends.
In the photo at right is the Apollo Theater as seen from one of the balcony booths prior to the beginning of Mayor de Blasio's 2017 State of the City Address.
Fighting Tyranny & Thomas Paine: These are the Times that Try Men’s Souls
There were a number of performances and speeches leading up to the Mayor’s address, including a performance by the Dorothy Maynor Choir of Harlem and an operatic delivery of the Star Spangled National Anthem by FDNY’s Regina Wilson. Recently deceased Detective Steven McDonald’s son, Conor, gave a speech, as did NYC First Lady Chirlane McRay, the Reverend David Ramos, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Imam Souleimane Konate.
The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by Jian ‘John’ Yuan Lin, Chyna Huertas and Eva Lin. And the Reverend Michael Walrond, of the First Corinthian Baptist Church, gave a fiery, inspirational speech talking comparing the national state of affairs today to the American colonists fighting to shake off the shackles of tyranny. He cited the words of American Revolutionary Thomas Paine, who in 1776 said,
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Just before the Mayor came on stage was a video highlighting the de Blasio Administration accomplishments.
Mayor de Blasio Standing Big & Tall for All New Yorkers
The Mayor came onto the stage, beginning by thanking the various people and departments that helped make his Administration’s accomplishments possible. His thanks always include his wife, Chirlane McCray, who has been evolving in her role as NYC’s First Lady.
Here’s a sampling of the de Blasio’s efforts to make New York a better place for all New Yorkers. Some of the information came from the video presentation referenced above, which I have augmented with some additional research and information obtained in prior reporting efforts.
In the photo at right stands a weary, but determined, Mayor Bill de Blasio at his 2017 State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
I. De Blasio Administration NYC Public School Achievements
A. Social Science & Humanist Approach to Education
• Universal Pre-K Enrollment 70,000
The slide at right shows some of the gains made by the de Blasio Administration with the NYC public school system over the past three plus years.
1. Stop the Bleeding – Stop the 'CORPORATE' run Charter Schools from Maximizing Profit at the Expense of Maximizing Human Potential
Editor's Note: There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the NON-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOLS and FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS. Non profit charters are generally older organizations, designed as an alternative in response to failing public schools decades ago, and whose focus is on improving education - not improving profits.
By contrast the FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS generally arose in the 21st century, and this group appears to be pillaging the public school system by recruiting and siphoning off the good [low cost / high performing] students so they can maximize profits – not enhance public education.
The despicable consequence of this for-profit charter school strategy is that they are simultaneously robbing the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children of anything resembling an opportunity in life as promised in the founding documents of this nation.
Family background continues to be the highest determinant [have the highest correlation] of a student’s academic achievement.
So the de Blasio Administration has significantly slowed the corporate charter school assault on the public education system.
Corporate Charter School Business Strategy Comparable to Old Health Insurance 'Gaming the System'
Recruit the Academic Achievers, 'the Healthy Ones', Because They're Most Profitable & Shun the Rest
It appears the charter school corporations have employed a strategy designed to recruit and retain the best students to their schools, while leaving the rest behind. They appear to recruit the kids who are already performing well, because the performing children cost the least to educate, thus providing the highest return to the hedge fund profiteers because the funding is allocated on a per capital / per student basis. High performing student enrollments also enable corporate charter schools to claim they are ‘performing well’ because they've recruited the highest scoring students.
The recruitment and retention strategy referenced above resembles the old health insurance strategy of recruiting the healthy people to buy health insurance as they are the most profitable, while denying those who aren’t blessed with good health because they cost the most to keep healthy. This was a systemic inequity Obamacare attempted to eradicate.
In the photo at right stand an Imam [Islam], a Rabbi [Jewish] and a Reverend [Christian] all sharing the same podium with a message of love, peace, respect and understanding.
2. Help the Youngsters & Maximize Human Potential – Not Profits
The De Blasio Administration pushed through universal Pre-K, which has enrolled 70,000 students since its inception in the Fall of 2014.
When this first came out I, and a number of people I know, didn’t really grasp the importance of this effort. As family support is the highest determinant in a child’s success, many youngsters were entering the public school system at a significant disadvantage vis a vis their better parented peers.
By accessing these kids while they are younger, and providing access to the guidance and resources of the public school system earlier, the NYC Public School system now has a greater chance of motivating these kids, which will inevitabley empowering them, raising their self esteem, and give them a chance at a far more engaged and productive life.
I now get it. And this seems like it can only be a good thing for all of society, as it will reduce societal costs of failing these people early on.
MAXIMIZE HUMAN POTENTIAL - Good Public Policy Costs Less in Long Haul & Enormously Benefits Society
This approach to education enables us as a society to maximize our human potential, which will benefit all the community - and in some small way - all mankind. Not only is this a more humanistic approach to engaging these children, but it's more cost effective in the long haul, as those left behind will inevitably cost society more through lost opportunities, lost productivity, and increased spending on health, human services and criminal justice programs.
In the photo at right is the Mayor on stage at the Apollo Theater with all of the people working for the city that he honored that night including policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers and educators. The Mayor appears to be one who is very much in touch with the middle & working class rank and file of New York City.
Click here for our report about Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City Address 2017 including an update on crime, the affordable housing crisis, the city's finances, sanitation and social activism.
De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016
Progress Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?
I attended Mayor de Blasio’s second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.
I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.
Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.
Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and a few exchanges with the teachers and students of MS 223 in the Bronx.
Mayor de Blasio & Chancellor Farina in Queens
Mayor & Chancellor in Queens Town Hall about Public Schools
There was a town hall at PS 69 in Jackson Heights Thursday evening where NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Public Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina talked about what they are doing to reform the NYC public school system to improve both teachers’ and students’ performance.
I arrived a bit late, following the coverage of a gig nearby. There was a small crowd of a couple dozen people waiting to get in because the auditorium had been filled to a standing room only crowd. Over the course of the evening all the folks who waited long enough were able to enter, as I confirmed this with the police contingent on my way out.
As I entered the auditorium they had just completed the presentation portion of the program [I think about a half hour, possibly less] and they were moving on to taking questions and answers from the audience.
I video recorded most of the session, and then edited down as much as I could to shorten the viewing time required to get the gist of what they’ve done and are planning for the future.
All in all it was a very interesting and very informative session. I spoke to quite a few folks after the town hall and generally they were pretty positive, including a number of folks who did not vote for de Blasio. Essentially most believed that the Mayor and Chancellor were trying to correct the failings of the system and that they were taking an intelligent approach. Several mentioned that the Mayor seemed pretty honest in his assessments of things.
For me, one of the most important things I learned tonight, was why getting universal Pre-K was so important. Essentially the thinking goes that the earlier you are able to start working with these kids, the more you will be able to prepare them for school, and hopefully reap the benefits of teaching them the joy of learning throughout their stay in the public school system.
Click here to read our full report including a segmented video about Mayor de Blasio on NYC public schools with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm.
Battle For Control Of PS 122 Astoria
Dept of Ed Announces Big Changes & Few Details
Public Education Could Be Defining Issue Of NYC Mayoral Race
The Department of Education announced its intention to make sweeping changes to PS 122 on February 28, 2013 to the PTA of the school. We were told of the general gist of these changes by PS 122 PTA members and parents. We then followed up with the Department of Education, to be sure we understood the Department of Education’s announcement correctly.
Before we discuss the general gist of the Department of Education plans for PS 122, it helps to have a bit of background to better understand what appears to be happening.
There are several important elements that seem to be at the core of the issue: 1) the Department of Education’s plans to reconfigure one of the most successful public elementary / intermediate schools in Queens and the NYC school system, 2) the Department of Education’s sudden interest in providing the school children of PS 122 grades K through 5 with the opportunity to continue matriculation within the same school [building] throughout all eight grades [6 – 8], and 3) Success Academy Charter Schools announcement that they plan to open a new charter school in Queens school district 30 in August of 2014.
Scroll down to read the beginning of our DRAFT report about the Department of Education Plans to reconfigure PS 122 in Astoria which we thus far haven't gotten around to completing [and may never]. Be advised that there is a Community Board One Meeting March 19, Tuesday evening beginning at 6.30 pm at the Astoria World Manor at 25-22 Astoria Blvd in Astoria, Queens and a PEP Meeting on March 20th in Brooklyn. The large top photo above was published with permission by Nigel McKenna and the second photo was taken by Queens Buzz of NYC Comptroller and possible Mayoral candidate John Liu listening to concerned PS 122 parents at a United Community Civic Association meeting in Astoria.
Astoria Moms Defend Children’s Rights
Madmen: Bloomberg Dept of Education Does A Don Draper
I attended a Community Board One Meeting Tuesday evening, following up on the concerns of Astoria parents, regarding the proposed changes to PS 122, which were recently announced by the Department of Education [DOE].
Having spent a week in pursuit of information from the DOE about the proposed changes – statements regarding the difficulty in obtaining information from them - rang true.
In the photo above, Anastasia Cunningham and her son talk about how the Dept of Ed hasn't put anything in writing, hasn't conducted any impact study, and she talked about how the changes could possibly destroy the learning environment that contributes to the success of PS 122 in Astoria.
Click here to read the rest of our report including news analysis & opinion regarding the Community Board One Meeting regarding the Bloomberg Department of Education proposed changes to Public School 122 in Astoria, Queens NYC.
Bloomberg Administration NYC Public High School Closings
How Are Queens High Schools Performing, Is School [not teacher] Performance Being Evaluated Fairly & How Do Public Schools Perform Vs Charter Schools
Is the Mayor trying to improve NYC school system performance or is he trying to privatize the NYC public school system? When I began a journey to better understand the issues surrounding public school system performance beginning about a year ago, I had no idea I would end this segment of the journey pondering the question articulated above.
Over the course of the past year I've attended a number of meetings and rallies held at public high schools in Queens concerning the performance of public high schools in the Queens school districts. My last visit was on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, when I attended the public hearing at LIC High School regarding the Department of Education recommendation to close it.
As I entered the building I was surprised to see such a large turn out for the meeting. An auditorium that seats nearly a thousand people, was nearly full.
Click here to read our report about the Bloomberg Administration NYC public high school closings in NYC Queens.
York College - Jamaica Queens
Emerging Powerhouse In Central Queens
I had occasion to visit York College to learn more about one of the four CUNY [City University Of New York] colleges in Queens.
The four CUNY colleges in Queens are geographically dispersed throughout the borough, including locations in Long Island City [LaGuardia Community College], Flushing [Queens College], Jamaica [York College] and Bayside [Queens Borough Community College].
York College and Queens College are four year Baccalaureate degree awarding colleges, which also offer several Masters degrees; while LaGuardia and Queens Borough Community Colleges are two year Associates degree awarding colleges. CUNY also has a Law School which will be re-located from Flushing to Long Island City [LIC] in the fall of 2011.
Click here to read our full report, including numerous photos, about York College and the York Performing Arts Center.
Queens College In Flushing
NYC Public Educators Making Things Happen
January 26, 2011 / Flushing / Queens Buzz.
The following report is about a recent visit to Queens College in Flushing. The school is public, but only receives one third of its funding from the state. And so the school has sought help from alumni of the college who have supported many of the college's efforts to enhance its facilities and programs through private donations.
The result is that Queens College provides NYC & Queens residents with a very good college education at affordable prices.
Click here to read our full report about Queens College in Flushing including a look at the Colden Auditorium, LeFrak Concert Hall and the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.
Vaughn College - Queens NY
A Step Back In Time And A Vision Of The Future
Casey Jones School Of Aeronautics
March 4, 2010 / Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz.
Vaughn College was originally the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics, which opened its doors in Newark, NJ in 1932. At the time Newark was New York City’s primary airport. At the time Brooklyn had an airport, Floyd Bennett Field, but its location was inconvenient to travel into and out of the city.
LaGuardia Airport - A Bit Of Queens & NYC History
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia caused quite a stir when he demanded to be taken into New York City by the airline that sold him a ticket which cited ‘New York City’ as its destination. The airline appeased him by taking him to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, which was located south and west of what is now JFK Airport.
Following Mayor LaGuardia’s successful public relations stunt, the city began exploring ways to create its own popular airport. Floyd Bennett Field was plagued with traffic issues along Flatbush Avenue, which combined with its distance from the city, relegated it to the dustbin of history by the end of the 1940’s.
In the late thirties the WPA set about upgrading an airstrip along the northern edge of Queens [North Beach Airport] to accommodate New York City air travel. The airstrip was located close to the city, with good traffic connections via the newly constructed Triborough Bridge [completed in 1936]. Hence, within two years, the newly refurbished airport opened in 1939 as Municipal Airport, which decades later was later renamed La Guardia.
Click here to read more about NYC Colleges & Universities _ Vaughn College / Casey School of Aeronautics in Jackson Heights Queens.
NYPD Commissioner O'Neill on Safety & Cybercrime
City & State Organizes Informative Program About Public Safety in NYC & Cybercrime
February 6, 2017 / Battery Park NYC / Crime & Safety in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended a City & State program dedicated to exploring the many facets of community safety in New York City. The program started with a half hour speech by the new Police Commissioner, James O'Neill. He discussed his background which includes a long line of successive promotions in law enforcement, starting with the transit police in Brooklyn in 1983.
Background: NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill
O'Neill has held many positions, including taking charge as the commanding officer of the Vice, Narcotics and Fugitive Enforcement Divisions - each for a period of time. His most recent position was as Police Chief, during which time he oversaw the management of the neighborhood policing program. The neighborhood policing program was implemented in 2014, during Mayor de Blasio's first term, with the intent to build relations and trust between the police and the communities they serve. The concept is that if the community works with the police to ferret out and penalize the perpetrators, crime will continue to stay at all time lows.
Neighborhood Policing: Intelligent Approach to Safety That Works?
Part of the problem with past police / community relations is that most of those interactions with the police came with a negative connotation to them, for example as when being ticketed, or picked up for bad behavior.
The idea with neighborhood policing is to develop positive interactions by facilitating interactions between individual officers and individual members of the community, so that if and when the time comes, there's enough trust between the officer and community member to work collaboratively to round up and penalize law breakers.
O'Neill's speech was followed by a forum of four experts who have had some involvement in the governance of law enforcement in NYC. The panel included NYC Councilman Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn who is the Chairman of the Committee on Housing & Buildings, Elizabeth Glazer who is the Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, and NYS Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol who is the Chairman of the NYS Assembly Committee on [criminal] Codes. The panel was moderated by City & State Features & Opinions Editor, Nick Powell, who has been covering crime in New York for many years.
Stop 'N Frisk - The Facts vs the NY Tabloid Hype?
The panel explored numerous aspects of public safety in NYC, including a number of the successes NYC has been having with neighborhood policing, which is why the police / community clashes you see on the news are coming from other parts of the country - not NYC.
Needless to say, the job of the police force is never done, and challenges remain, but generally the forum had an upbeat tone due to the progress being made under Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioners Bratton & O'Neill. One of the changes that's been helpful in community relations has been the drastic reduction in stop 'n frisk, which in spite of what the NYC tabloids purport, hasn't resulted in a spike in crime [see charts to right].
I did a bit of research, and found a couple of charts published in an April 11, 2016 report by the Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center is a non-partisan, non profit research center at the NYU Law School. The two charts shown here graph the significant reduction in stop 'n frisk, while also showing no attendant spike in crime. In fact it is believed that over the long haul the reduction in unwarranted stop 'n frisk searches will have a positive impact on law enforcement community relations, as vast swaths of the populace that were searched with no result, will no longer feel that their privacy has been unnecessarily violated.
Cybercrime - Anonymous, Stealthy, Cross-Jurisdictional
The second segment of the forum discussed some of the challenges facing the FBI with regard to reigning in cybercrime. The panel included Joel Stashenko who is the Albany Bureau Chief of the New York Law Journal, Nasir Memon who is a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at NYU, Timothy Howard who is the Assistant U.S. Attorney and Cybercrime Coordinator for the NYS Southern District Office, and Prashanth Mekala who is the Supervisory Special Agent of the NY Field Office of the FBI.
The challenges facing law enforcement regarding cyber crime are different than most other criminal activity. For example cyber crime is generally anonymous, more insidious and hence more difficult to detect. And oftentimes the break-ins come through multiple legal jurisdictions which makes gaining access for tracking and prosecuting more challenging.
Budapest Convention of 2001 on Cybercrime Helping
But progress is being made. There was a Budapest Convention on Cybercrime which was passed in 2001 and became effective in 2004. More nations are signing on, as the accords enable law enforcement to move more quickly in multiple jurisdictions in response to cybercrime events.
As in community policing, establishing trust between the victims and law enforcement is critical in enabling governments to catch the criminals. Oftentimes companies victimized by cybercrime are concerned the access they provide to law enforcement may be used against them in other regulatory and civil proceedings. One of the panelists told us that the information they seek is soley for the purposes of catching the criminals, not to share with other regulatory agencies or people. And that the less time between the breach of a system, and obtaining access to analyze it, the greater likelihood that law enforcement can track them down, because in cybercrime the 'digital fingerprints' oftentimes disappear.
Speed of Response Helps Law Enforcement Respond
What's happened recently is that company security has increasingly been delegated to the legal department of a firm, because the company is then protected from disclosures because of attorney client privilege.
But what then happens, because the lawyers seek to mitigate legal risk / blame, is that there's a slow response by the company to enabling law enforcement to do their jobs in track down the criminals. One panelist noted that oftentimes what companies are trying to keep secret [their blame / culpability] comes out in the wash anyhow.
One of the panelists noted that oftentimes the biggest threats come from within an organization. Someone is turned to the dark side, or is careless - resulting in the breach of security. Currently the NSA [National Security Agency], the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], the DOD [Department of Defense] and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] are all working to mitigate the risks associated with cybercrime.
They had a third panel about mitigating disaster risk, like from terrorism or cataclysmic events such as hurricanes, but I didn't stay.
Organized by City & State Magazine, Website & Events
Many thanks to City & State, which is an informative magazine publisher and events organizer. Their work seems to be predominantly in the area of government, politics and social issues. You can visit their website at www.cityandstateny.com.
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