Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to hold a press briefing, organized by the New York Community Media Alliance, to address journalists from the ethnic press in New York City at CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown on October 8.
It was the first time since the Bloomberg Campaign 2009 was launched that the Mayor spoke to a room full of reporters representing many of the immigrant communities that make up 40 percent of the city’s residents.
Bloomberg fielded several questions from journalists representing New York’s vibrant ethnic and community media. These questions ranged from terrorism-related police raids to education, green jobs, economy and distribution of city ads in the ethnic media.
The Mayor acknowledged criticism of his inability to stay in touch with New York’s ethnic and community media, saying he could do a better job on this count. He promised to improve his contacts with this vital media sector in the future.
The Mayor believed New York offered best hope and opportunity to the immigrants, saying he had brought into public service best brains from the city’s diverse ethnic and immigrant communities. He said his administration had employed the best and the brightest from around the world. “We do, literally, worldwide searches now for people.” He said America could lose in long term if it stayed behind other countries in bringing the best brains from around the world. “We need more immigrants, not less,” he said, adding: “What separates New York from other places is its immigrants.” He said New York was becoming more of a magnet and hoped more people were moving into the city. “Our population is growing whereas most cities in this country, big cities, population is going down.”
Bloomberg said immigrants were contributing to the city’s economy in a big way. He said immigration was necessary for the city’s and the country’s economic progress. The "stronger our immigrant community is, the stronger our city is."
Replying a question, the Mayor said every effort was being made to promote and protect the small businesses. He said the city was giving opportunities and making sure it was easier to do business here. “We reduced the taxes on small business and freelancers and small business owners. When people talk about raising taxes, it is the small business owners that get hurt the most.”
To a question about term limits, he said: “I think that what we have done is a building block that we can continue to do, and I think that if I have the honor of having a third term, we can make a third term even more successful than the second term, and the second term, clearly, was more successful than the first term.” He said the City had made visible progress in key sectors such as education.
Replying a question about terror-related raids in the city, Bloomberg said the NYPD was making sure that the city remained a safe place and it will continue to do its job professionally. Referring to the low attendance in city’s mosques following recent terror raids, the Mayor said it will be victory for terrorists if people stopped going to their places of worship. “If you want to make terrorists win without even firing a shot, stay home. If you want to make terrorists win, stop speaking out, stop going to your temple or your synagogue or your mosque or your church.”
The Mayor promised to consider giving city advertisements to the ethnic and community media as well. He said one reason the mainstream was getting these ads was their circulation.
He rejected charges that he had supported luxury accommodation and not middle class and lower income housing. “We’ve worked very hard on building affordable housing… Our commitment was to build or rehab 165,000 units of affordable housing, which will hold 500,000 people, more than the number of people that live in Atlanta. Last time I checked, we are way ahead of schedule. We’ve got 95,000 out of 165,000 done. And we continue to go ahead and try to create the housing that we desperately need in this city for the people that built the city,” he noted.
In response to a question about poverty in the city, the Mayor said the best way to control it was improve the schools so people have the ability to get better jobs and earn more. He said the city offered several programs such as tax credit, food stamps, Section 8 vouchers, and affordable housing plans etc. to help people come out of economic distress.