Mayor de Blasio visited Soundview and took questions from local residents at a town hall at the Adlai E. Stevenson campus.
As part of the mayor’s ‘City Hall in Your Borough’ election-year strategy that saw de Blasio in the Bronx for a week with his commissioners, the town hall meeting was hosted by Councilwoman Annabel Palma on Wednesday, May 24.
The mayor fielded questions for a couple of hours on a wide variety of topics, and spoke about what he sees as his accomplishments.
The issues included better relations between the community and NYPD, curbing ‘stop and frisk,’ putting more police officers on the beat in the borough (including 84 from the most recent police academy class), reducing crime rates in 43rd and 45th precincts, increasing high school graduation rates and decreasing unemployment.
“The status quo was not acceptable to so many people in the Bronx, and we had to change it,” said de Blasio at one point in the meeting, before running through a list of his accomplishments as mayor.
Palma called the town hall with the mayor an “incredible success,” adding that it filled Stevenson’s gym with people.
“The town hall gave residents the opportunity to direct their questions to the commissioners of specific agencies or even Mayor de Blasio himself,” said the councilwoman.
She added: “Residents offered insightful outlooks and posed questions, which concerned not only themselves, but many of their neighbors.”
Many of his commissioners were present and also took public questions when asked by the mayor to elaborate on his response.
The crowd was concerned about housing, overdevelopment, Universal Pre-K and day care, after-school programs and school lunch, possible hospital cuts, hate crimes and speech, asthma, affordable housing for seniors and closing homeless cluster sites.
In some cases, the mayor referred the residents to commissioners or representatives from the appropriate city agencies after the meeting.
William Rivera, Community Board 9 district manager, said that the community members who stayed to ask questions as the meeting went past 10 p.m. impressed him, as did the officials who stayed to listen.
“I thought it was going to be cut shorter,” said Rivera, adding that he was pleasantly surprised and that in public forums, he believes that the best questions are usually the ones that are the most specific.
He noted that in some cases, people asking questions were asked to speak to the representatives of city agencies on the side, and that CB 9 had several questions that were still in process of being answered.
“Most important, which we won’t know (yet) is the follow up,” said Rivera.
One attendee who asked a question, CB 10 member Bob Bieder, said he was still waiting days after the event for a response from the mayor’s office on his query about the procedures for establishing ‘community schools.’
Community schools, which have their facilities open to the surrounding neighborhood when school is not in session, exist elsewhere in the borough but he would like to bring them to the east Bronx.
Bieder said he ultimately reached out to Palma’s office, and her staff is working on his request.