In Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final State of the City address, he focused on industry and education as he looked to the future of New York.
He addressed the city from one of the more recently completed projects, the Barclays Center, where banners hung from the ceiling sporting positive facts about New York City over the past year, like 52 million visitors, a record low for homicides and a record low for fire fatalities, 58.
“Our goal is not to spend the year cutting ribbons,” Bloomberg said, “It’s much bigger than that.”
Throughout his speech the mayor discussed specific plans for the outer boroughs to create jobs and boost local economies. For Brooklyn, the mayor discussed a project called Greenpoint Landing, which he said will generate an estimated 5,000 new homes, parks and open spaces, a marina public school and shops.
One of the policies that Bloomberg discussed was a new way to deal with marijuana offenses. “Right now those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana are often held in custody overnight,” he said. “We’re changing that.”
Beginning next month, the mayor plans to create a policy in which anyone who is caught possessing a small amount of marijuana will be checked for warrants. If none are attached to the individual, they will be presented with a desk appearance ticket to return to court.
However, it was Bloomberg’s strong stance on the controversial stop-and-frisk policy that caused tension among elected officials in the audience, including those who want the mayor’s seat once he leaves office at the end of the year.
“I understand that innocent people don’t like to be stopped,” said the mayor, “but innocent people don’t like to be shot and killed either.”
“The mayor and I disagree about stop, question and frisk,” said mayoral candidate and current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Following the mayor’s speech, she said, “I don’t agree with his perspective of the way it’s being implemented.”
However, Quinn went on to praise the mayor for a “strong call for immigration reform, and I’m excited about moving forward on a lot of the economic development projects the mayor put out there.”
Another candidate for mayor, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, wasn’t as kind as Quinn when discussing Bloomberg’s State of the City. He called the speech “out of touch.”
“He doesn’t understand what’s happening on the ground and in our neighborhoods,” he said of the mayor. “If you talk to people in the communities that have had problems with overuse of stop and frisk, I think you’ll find people are astounded that he seems to want to increase it again.
“I didn’t hear something that was going to put back to work thousands of New Yorkers who haven’t done well in this economy,” continued de Blasio, adding that the mayor sounded like he had no willingness to tax the wealthy or address early childhood education. “To me, this was a business-as-usual speech.”
Comptroller John Liu, another possible candidate for mayor, also had harsh words following Bloomberg’s speech. He called stop and a frisk, “a tactic that doesn’t work and distracts resources from strategies that actually do.”
“[Bloomberg] didn’t talk about the record numbers of claims and lawsuits against the NYPD,” said Liu.