Bloomberg Staunchly Defends ‘Stop & Frisk,’ Outlines Ambitious Agenda For Last Year In Office
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In his final State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is stronger than ever but there is still plenty of unfinished business he wants to get done in his last year of office.
“Each of the five boroughs, I think it’s fair to say, is better off today than ever before and our state and the state of our city has never been stronger,” Bloomberg said during his speech Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The mayor said murders, shootings and incarcerations are at a record low, graduation rates are up by 41 percent – compared to nine percent in the rest of the state, and there is a record number of jobs in the city.
Bloomberg even had banners proclaiming those milestones hanging from the rafters of the Barclays Center.
“Again and again, we have defied the conventional wisdom,” Bloomberg said.
WATCH: The Mayor’s Full Address
The mayor still has a big agenda and is not giving up on one of the most controversial programs of his administration — stop and frisk.
“Make no mistake, we have a responsibility to conduct them, and as long as I am mayor, we will not shirk from that responsibility,” Bloomberg said. “Is there anyone here who would sacrifice his or her life and the lives of their families and friends to end stops? I don’t think so.”
And in rare interruption, Councilman Jumaane Williams screamed out at the mayor when he was talking about stop and frisk.
“Basically I said ‘It’s not true, that’s wrong and it doesn’t work — it’s a failed policy,’” Williams told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
Williams wasn’t the only one one upset by the mayor’s statements.
“I don’t agree with his perspective that the way it’s being implemented is the centerpiece, if you will, of our criminal justice safety,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg said one of the most important pieces of unfinished business is rebuilding communities hardest-hit by Superstorm Sandy and building a more resilient and sustainable city.
“This year, we’ll develop a long-term plan so that when extreme weather hits – we’ll be able to get the lights back on quickly and ensure that the heat keeps working, the gas stations stay open, the hospitals maintain power and the transportation system keeps operating,” the mayor said.
Aides are expected to deliver a key report by the end of May on how to better protect the city from extreme weather.
“We will build back stronger. We will build back safer. We will build back more sustainably,” Bloomberg said.
The city will also focus on expanding education by opening new high schools focused on health care and the energy industry, as well as 26 new charter schools.
During his address, Bloomberg laid out a new “green” plan for the city that would increase the number of parking spaces for electric cars and begin recycling more plastics and food waste.
He proposed changing building codes requiring 20 percent of the 10,000 new parking spaces created this year to be equipped with electric car charging stations.
The city also has plans to pilot a curbside charging station that allows drivers to refill the battery in just 30 minutes rather than the standard eight hours.
The mayor also talked about banning Styrofoam food packaging from stores and restaurants.
“One product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. Something that we know is environmentally destructive and that may be hazardous to our health, that is costing taxpayers money and that we can easily do without, and is something that should go the way of lead paint,” Bloomberg said.
The Styrofoam ban did open the mayor up to ridicule from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who shares the same Valentine’s Day birthday as the mayor.
Markwoitz joked that the Styrofoam cup he held up was the perfect gift for Bloomberg because since it’s not biodegradable, it was the only thing that could outlast the mayor’s legacy.
There is an estimated 20,000 tons of Styrofoam in the city’s waste stream each year. Similar bans have been adopted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
New York would be the first major East Coast city to enact such a policy, but a similar proposal has stalled in City Council in recent years.
City Council would have to approve a Styrofoam ban and parking proposal.
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