NEW YORK—On his 71st birthday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his 12th and final State of the City speech in front of elected officials at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, a project he helped get approved.
During the 50 minute speech, the mayor received warm applause as he listed the accomplishments of his three terms. He received one standing ovation—when he passionately urged Congress to pass common sense gun reform.
The applause stopped however when, in the next paragraph of his speech, the Mayor addressed Stop, Question, and Frisk, the controversial policy used by the NYPD.
“I understand that innocent people don’t like to be stopped,” Bloomberg said. “But innocent people don’t like to be shot and killed either. Stops take hundreds of guns off the street each year.”
As the mayor compared New York City’s murder rate to Detroit and praised NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Council Member Jumaane Williams called out, saying the mayor was lying and passing on misinformation.
The comments did not stop the speech, and Mayor Bloomberg did not address Williams—who said afterwards that his comments came out of frustration.
“He made it a point to double down on stop-and-frisk. I think he spent an inordinate amount of time on that and that was frustrating,” Williams said.
Williams has been an outspoken opponent and main sponsor of a package of bills to heavily reform the practice. He said the mayor’s reasons behind using stop-and-frisk have changed as the statistics have changed. “They keep moving the goalposts,” he said.
Williams did praise the mayor for changing the arrest policy regarding small amounts of marijuana. Beginning March, anyone arrested with small amounts of marijuana, who have an ID and pass a warrant check, will not be held overnight.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a statement following the speech saying: “In spite of the welcome news on marijuana arrests, I was disappointed by the mayor’s delusional defense of the city’s stop and frisk policy. The suggestion that without our current stop and frisk policy New York’s murder rate would equal Detroit’s is absurd and unfounded. It is time to stop irresponsibly cultivating fear as a way of drumming up support for this policy.
While the mayor’s comments on stop-and-frisk were not warmly received, several of the his green initiatives went over well with council members.
The mayor announced he will launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste for composting. Council Member Brad Lander, district 39 in Brooklyn, was very supportive of the measure, saying composting was the number two most voted on item during last year’s participatory budgeting in his district.
The mayor said if the pilot program, which will take place in Staten Island, is successful, it will be rolled out citywide.
The mayor announced a proposal to ban styrofoam.
“Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg said he would work with Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council to get it passed, in his remaining 320 days, if possible.
Council Member Lander said he was hopeful the bill would be passed by the end of the session, which is December 31, 2013.
Council Member David Greenfield said the styrofoam ban sounds like something he might support, but would like to see the details before formally supporting it. When asked about getting it passed before the end of the session Council Member Greenfield said with a smile, “I have—potentially—12 years and 320 days, so I am not in quite the same rush he (Bloomberg) is.”
Greenfield did say he was in a rush to end the bus strike, something that has impacted his Brooklyn district more than other areas.
“I would like to see the mayor and his staff be directly involved in those negotiations to end the strike,” Greenfield said.
During his speech, the mayor did not speak at all about ending the bus strike, however touted how putting the bus contracts out for bid, something not done in 30 years, would save the city money.
Much of the beginning of the Mayor’s speech recapped the economic development of the city during his tenure.For some council members, whose districts have not reaped the economic benefits of Bloomberg’s plans, the speech received mix reviews.
“What about the rest of the city?” said Council Member Letitia James, of Brooklyn’s 35th district. “I wish he would have had the State of the City in East New York or Brownsville, in neighborhoods that desperately need economic development.”