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What They're Saying: State Of The City
New York Daily News
Celeste Katz

January 19, 2011
View the Original Article

Reactions to Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City speech are starting to roll in, so I'll provide you with some samples as they arrive...

Gov. Cuomo:
"Mayor Bloomberg has laid out an innovative and realistic agenda to position his administration to aggressively address the critical challenges facing New Yorkers. He rightly recognizes that government has to do more with less and that during these difficult times, tough choices and sacrifice are required. I look forward to working with him to restore and revitalize the city's economy and put New Yorkers back to work."

City Comptroller John Liu:
“Great to hear of the Mayor's continuous commitment to comprehensive immigration reform. It is badly needed for this country and would be an economic boon for the people of New York City.

“The perfunctory mention of the City's business with minority and women entrepreneurs was disappointing, and the claims of three-fold progress cannot be substantiated. There has been much talk from this Administration about M/WBEs, but any actual progress is hard to pinpoint. Hopefully, the Mayor means to be more serious about better results with opportunities for minorities and women.

“While there was surprisingly no mention of reining-in the cost of expensive consultants, the Mayor did include an important discussion of containing pension costs. I wholeheartedly agree with the Mayor's sentiments that government must live within its means.”

Harry Nespoli, Chair, Municipal Labor Committee:
"The Mayor’s State of the City address usually is one of hope and looking forward to solving some of the City’s problems. That was not the case today with regard to the City’s workforce, the backbone of what makes New York City a wonderful place to live and work.

"The message instead was one of no contracts unless there are concessions, fewer benefits for new hires, and other changes that diminish the value of the job. Lowering benefits, changing layoff seniority for teachers, and returning civil service to the Tammany Hall era, will not produce one job.

"The Unions of this City have always provided assistance to the City when necessary. We will join the Mayor in seeking for the City to be treated fairly by Albany. One way to do that is to prevent the expiration of the state income tax surcharge on high earners.

"The solutions talked about today will only damage the key to making this City work -- its more than 300,000 employees. The goal of shrinking government should not be the driving force of the future. The goal should be the best delivery of services that its citizens deserve."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:
"I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for affirming New York's commitment to commonsense immigration reform and pledging to work with Governor Cuomo to overhaul the troubled juvenile justice system in today's State of the City address. The Mayor also laid out several initiatives to reduce our budget deficit—none more challenging than the proposed reform of the City’s pension system. There can be no question of the need to find a solution that honors our obligations and protects taxpayers from escalating costs that threaten to consume our budget. But the only way the Mayor and City can accomplish this goal is through treating workers as true stakeholders, not adversaries. I look forward to working with Mayor Bloomberg, former Mayor Koch and partners at the State and in the labor community to put our pension obligations back on a footing we can sustain for the long-term.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.:
“While I understand that these are difficult financial times and that tough choices have to be made, any cuts made to the City budget must neither affect the vital services that Bronxites rely on nor do any immediate harm to our hard working City employees, retirees and their families. My office will analyze the specifics of the mayor’s budget proposals as they are made available and judge them on their merits at the appropriate time.

“It is unfortunate that Mayor Bloomberg hardly mentioned the Bronx in his speech, and that when he did so failed to mention any of the major projects that our borough needs his support on. Of particular note is the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, perhaps our borough’s largest economic engine, which we are actively trying to keep in our borough in the face of an uncooperative administration.

“I am also disappointed that the mayor did not speak frankly on the crisis facing our public schools, instead choosing to congratulate himself and the Department of Education on the ‘enormous progress’ he claims to have made. This year’s adjustment of state test scores showed us all just how small those gains really were, and it would have been appreciated by City parents if the mayor had been frank and honest about the performance of the Department of Education and the future of our schools in his speech.

“Not everything in the mayor’s speech is worthy of criticism. His proposal to allow livery cabs in the outer boroughs to pick up street passengers is a great idea, and one that will improve the lives of both passengers and livery cab drivers. It is rare to see a yellow cab in the Bronx, so this new program will give borough residents in many underserved neighborhoods the ability to hail a legal taxi.

“This plan will also give livery cab drivers the ability to have the protection of the law on their side when they do pick up street passengers, preventing them from being subjected to tickets, fines and other penalties that only make their lives and jobs more difficult than they already are.

“In addition, I remain proud of Mayor Bloomberg and his commitment to keep guns off our streets, and I will stand with him in his efforts to change our laws in order to ensure that individuals who should not have guns cannot have guns. The recent tragedy in Arizona has shown us just how ineffective our gun laws can be, and I am ready to stand with the mayor to fight for sensible gun policy that protects innocent Americans. I am also supportive of the mayor’s call for comprehensive immigration reform, which is long-overdue.

“It was mentioned that, in 2010, 48 million visitors came to the City. The Bronx is the only borough that lacks a world-class hotel, and bringing such an amenity to the Bronx is a perfect opportunity for the mayor to work with my office and make this important project a reality, ensuring that the Bronx can welcome as many of these visitors as possible.”

Dan Morris, Living Wage NYC Coalition:
"Working poor New Yorkers are still waiting for the economic recovery the mayor referenced in his speech. His unmatched ability to turn the economy around was how his campaign framed the rationale for a third term but many struggling communities have yet to gain access to decent jobs and would not agree that we are headed in the right direction. The mayor failed to acknowledge that the shared costs of poverty to the city are actually rising as a record number of working poor New Yorkers turn to government for food stamps and other assistance, and contribute less to the tax base and economy. Many of these workers hold jobs in sectors like retail, where some companies are receiving millions in taxpayer subsidies and yet allowed to create low-wage jobs with impunity.

"As the city tries to do more with fewer resources, and reduce costs, the mayor should focus on establishing a living wage standard for jobs created through taxpayer subsidies to ensure that public dollars are more wisely invested. The city simply cannot afford to give companies millions in subsidies and remain silent as corporate leaders laugh all the way to the bank while creating low-wage jobs that weaken our economy and keep working people mired in poverty. The public is paying too high a price for so-called economic development. That’s why there is growing support for the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, a pragmatic bill that would establish a living wage standard for jobs created through taxpayer subsidies and enable more working people to be self-sufficient and contribute greater sums to the tax base and economy, and rely less on costly safety net programs."