De Blasio talks economy at Courier Power breakfast

Business and community leaders from throughout the borough descended on Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City to hear Public Advocate Bill de Blasio talk about a wide range of topics that included the city’s economy, education and healthcare.
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De Blasio, who represented Brooklyn in the City Council for eight years before becoming Public Advocate in January of this year, was the featured speaker at The Queens Courier “Power Breakfast,” on Thursday, December 9.

During his initial remarks, de Blasio talked about what the Public Advocate actually does; addressing how the position serves as a watchdog for the mayor, city agencies and all levels of government.

“In the final analysis what it is a bully-pulpit – an opportunity to speak on issues and make sure the needs of the people are being attended to,” de Blasio said.

Jack Rainey, Senior Vice President, Government and Community Banking for TD Bank, moderated a discussion with de Blasio where he answered questions from a panel that included leaders from many different sectors in Queens.

The panel consisted of Carol Ann Conslato, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce; Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor of the City University of New York (CUNY); Joseph Mattone of The Mattone Group; Nayibe Nunez-Berger, president of the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens, Inc; and Philippa L. Karteron, executive director of the Council for Airport Opportunity.

One of the topics that de Blasio addressed during his opening remarks – as well as during the panel discussion – was the need to improve the conditions for small businesses who are trying to do business with the city.

“The amount of confusion and contradiction they face every day in dealing with New York City agencies is overwhelming,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio also addressed the speech Mayor Michael Bloomberg made on Wednesday, December 8, which primarily focused on things that leaders could do to stimulate the economy and create jobs on a national level. De Blasio said he agreed with some of the ideas Bloomberg outlined, but he would have liked to see him focus on a plan for the city.

In addition, de Blasio talked about the challenges and opportunities ahead for city residents and businesses.

“I am absolutely convinced that we have tremendous days ahead, but I also know that it’s the era where we’re going to have to be a lot more careful with how we spend our money,” he said. “We have tough issues ahead we have to grapple with in terms of the city budget, the state budget and the pension system.”

Prior to de Blasio’s keynote address and panel discussion, attendees had the opportunity to network with existing business contacts and also meet new people to do business with. Attendees also could visit expo tables that were set up and learn more about some Queens businesses.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, former City Councilmember Eric Gioia and current Long Island City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer also attended the event.

“I’m so glad that Vicki Schneps and The Queens Courier chose this location, this wonderful, wonderful restaurant and facility for their Power Breakfast,” said Van Bramer, who also attended the previous Power Breakfast held earlier this year with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The event was presented by The Queens Courier, NY1, The New York Daily News, TD Bank, CUNY, The Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Water’s Edge Restaurant.