De Blasio: 'Lesson Now Is to Go Bigger, Be Bolder' Than 'Too Progressive' Ideas
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared in his State of the City address today that the city is "getting closer every single day to that great day when we will close Rikers Island for good."
"Today the population in our corrections system has dropped to less than 8,000 people for the first time in almost 40 years," he said. "The era of mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end in New York City."
De Blasio also said the city government is "showing public housing residents that we can begin to reverse decades of disinvestment and make their lives better" with the New York City Housing Authority plan "to bring brand new everything to 175,000 NYCHA residents, from new roofs to new kitchens and bathrooms."
"We still grapple with too many people in this town who need our help because they're homeless. I'm proud to say that we moved more than 2,000 homeless New Yorkers off the streets and into a permanent situation where they can be taken care of and they can get the help they need," he said. "And we closed more than 180 shelters that didn't meet our standards for health and safety, and we will close more. Now, making housing better, making it safer, making it affordable is not the only way we become the fairest big city in America."
He said plans by Amazon and Google to locate there "show that the world's most innovative companies want to be here, and they want to hire New Yorkers."
"Now, we have over 4.5 million jobs in this city, for the first time in history. 4.5 million jobs," he said. "Unemployment at a record low, wages rising. Now, all this has happened in a progressive city. All this has happened in a city that made sure there was fairness. So anyone who tells you that there can't be job growth when we ask for fairness – we're going to prove them wrong here in New York City."
On the environment, de Blasio stressed that his government "had to do something that demanded a fight -- we had to fight to ban Styrofoam in this city."
"Some people said to me it's going to be a fight. It's going mean taking on big business. Well, we took on big business. They sued us. And we won in court. And now Styrofoam is banned in New York City," he said. "And let's ban plastic bags and plastic straws while we're at it."
His ideas "were considered too radical or too costly or – shudder – too progressive," de Blasio said, but "the lesson now is to go bigger, be bolder, aim higher. There's more to do in this town."