COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice
Mayor Bill de Blasio with Queens Courier co-publishers Vicki Schneps-Yunis and Joshua Schneps.

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Queens Courier office in Bayside on Thursday morning for an editorial board interview focused on the important issues of Queens residents.

The mayor highlighted the overcrowding of schools, specifically in School Districts 24 and 25; the NYPD’s ongoing efforts to decrease crime throughout the borough and city; the five-borough ferry system; and the rising concern of the homeless across Queens.

During his tenure as mayor, de Blasio has made education one of his top priorities, creating the Universal Pre-K (UPK) Program, which provides free, high-quality, full-day pre-K for 4-year-olds.

For years now, School Districts 24 and 25 have been notoriously overcrowded, with high student-to-teacher ratios and students being forced to have classes inside of trailers. De Blasio plans on creating more seats for these students, to allow them to get the highest level of education in an environment that can foster learning.

“The bottom line is, we’re going to be doing a lot to expand the number of seats,” de Blasio said. “We definitely need the seats, and there is a real overcrowding issue in those two districts and we’ve put a lot of money in the budget to address overcrowding.”

Queens, and New York as a whole, saw a decrease in the number of stop and frisks taking place, as well as a drop in serious crimes.

“The numbers speak for themselves. Stops are down 93 percent over the last few years. Crime is also down consistently,” de Blasio said. “In the first two years I’ve been in office, overall serious crime is down 6 percent, almost.”

As of Feb. 29, there have been only 17 murders for the year, the lowest number for the first two months of any year since CompStat began in 1994, de Blasio announced. The mayor credits this dip in crime to the way police officers are being trained and the regular training officers now receive.

“So the point is, the new approach to policing, which is much more neighborhood-focused, much more use of technology, much more focused on what we achieve in the training, is showing very promising results,” de Blasio said.

Regarding transportation, the mayor is confident that the new five-borough ferry service scheduled to launch next year will be able to reach places that have been underserved while creating more accessibility along the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront.

“Our focus has been both about moving people and building the economy,” de Blasio said. “What we are trying to do with the ferry system is maximize people’s options while growing the economy simultaneously, and we have to make sure we can make it work and support it.”

Another major issue for Queens is the increasing number of homeless throughout the borough and where these people will be housed. Many communities have shown reluctance to shelters and other buildings coming into their neighborhoods, and the mayor feels this is because of a lack of knowledge of who would be at these locations.

“What I hear in communities all over the city is they’re concerned about safety,” de Blasio said. “That’s what it’s about. They want to know that if there is any kind of facility that they will be safe. I don’t find, broadly, a lack of compassion for their fellow man and woman … what’s happening more and more is homelessness is economic … it is families who fell out of their housing for economic reasons.”

The mayor feels that in order to combat this, the public needs to be more educated on who is in these shelters — about 40 percent of the families in shelters have either had a member who is currently working or has worked in the last few months, de Blasio said.

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joe March 05, 2016 / 12:46PM
I always hear Democrat leaders, especially left leaning and progressive Dems, talk about “equality”, but when it comes to communities of color, it seems that talk is just that, TALK, but very little seems to get done when it comes to so many issues from homeless shelters to waste facilities getting dumped in the Greater Jamaica Area. SE Queens and the Greater Jamaica area has been the dumping ground for decades, yet, NOTHING is being done about that and De Blasio coming out to SE Queens to speak to the staff of Queens Press about something that is already fact (which seems more like a publicity stunt to the tune of “I CARE”), the inequitable distribution of supportive housing, especially for the homeless. Southeast Queens, which holds 53 percent of the supportive housing burden in the borough – with 32 percent concentrated in Community Board 12 – has been the dumping ground of these facilities, while neighborhoods like Bayside, Hollis Hills and surrounding neighborhoods have none, His talk means absolutely NOTHING. This community has been hearing talk for decades, what this community needs is action, something that the majority Democratic leaders are NOT PROPERLY DOING. Here was the response from the mayor on this issue and I must say the typical BS political response: “Look at affordable housing and what that’s going to mean for the community,” he said. “[Look at our policies] on Pre-K, on neighborhood policing. I would argue that many things that are a part of our overall policies that are having a very positive impact on Southeast Queens.” Okay my readers and folks who live in Southeast Queens, tell me if you have actually seen ANY positive impacts on Jamaica or SE Queens, just ONE example. In my five years (and I keep saying this, hopefully the last), I have yet to see any overall positive impact with any quality of life issues. Homeless shelters still continue to be dumped right here in Jamaica and SE Queens at high alarming rates, there is no talk anymore about the waste facilities that are dumped right in the middle of the downtown section and right near housing including a NYCHA senior citizen building, waste facilities that pollute the surrounding area (both land and air), the pollutants that are dumped into the air by the hundreds of diesel fuel trucks that travel into the residential areas and still continue to use residential streets illegally causing safety and noise issues. Royal Waste trucks still travels on my residential streets in the evenings every night, yet little is being done about that. I guess they figured they stopped most of the truck driving on my street during the daytime, which is a very good thing, but at night they are lax about enforcing the law. I am baffled by Democratic political leaders, especially in NYC, who talk a good game about inequality, yet still to this day, are doing little in helping the quality of life in communities of color like Jamaica on actual issues that they can do something about, like giving the okay on homeless shelters being put here or enforcing laws on illegal truck driving, yet, if things were “very positive” like the mayor said, why are issues in this community still issues. The majority of NYC Democratic leaders talk a good game, but the old saying applies here, TALK IS CHEAP. https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
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john luby October 26, 2016 / 11:37AM
The mayor needs to be more transparent rather then acting like he is a member of facist regime


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