Who We Are
As New Yorkers, whether natives, commuters or settlers, we share a set of values that has defined our great City for centuries — through times of goodness, greatness, heartache and despair. We have proven ourselves over and over again — making the difficult look easy and the impossible become a way of life. As the crossroads of the world, we bear a responsibility to demonstrate what IS possible, not despite our diverse citizenship but BECAUSE of it… We, the people of New York City — who we are and what we stand for — are our greatest strength.
It is in this spirit, at this moment of dire need, that I write these words today… Much more joins us than separates us as New Yorkers. These are but a few of our shared values — let us reimagine, recover, restore and reform our future together.
** We know that the road to resilience and recovery is paved with public-private partnerships and regional collaboration … We embrace an “all of city” approach to reopening our schools, saving our small businesses, restoring safety and security, and keeping faith with working families and all who love our city.
** We believe in paying our fair share of city taxes — but not more — and want to ensure that those dollars are equitably invested for a strong future.
** We accept that democracy is loud, messy and at times unruly, inefficient and impolite… That’s ok, we’re New Yorkers, we will NEVER quit, nor will we be shy about raising our voices and weighing in on matters large and small. We don’t enjoy wearing face masks in public, yet we do it to protect the health and wellbeing of our fellow New Yorkers, our families AND ourselves. Further, we don’t disparage individuals and industries nor do we face challenges with knee-jerk reactivity, demeaning rhetoric and zero-sum thinking. We don’t believe that NYC politics should be a “spectator sport” yet 3 out of 4 New Yorkers fail to show up for city elections. In 2021, we must vote as though our lives depend upon it. In today’s world, they most certainly do.
** We know that unless black lives matter to every New Yorker, all lives are diminished by this stain of ignorance and hate. We embrace this moment in history, which is preceded by centuries of historic wrongs, including a shameful legacy of slavery; society-sanctioned murders; relentless miscarriage of justice; rampant discrimination with respect to housing, employment, and voter rights; and ongoing structural and systemic obstacles which block citizenship as well as everyday racist behaviors which demean and diminish personhood.
** We know that the pandemic has laid bare our tattered social contract, the impact of which falls disproportionately upon the lives of people and communities of color. What is needed is a true covenant which ensures access to affordable housing; quality healthcare; accountable education; healthy nutrition; safe and reliable transit; and good paying jobs which lead to careers. Tough economic and budget choices which lie ahead must prioritize renewing and reforming a true City Covenant.
** We reject the acceptance of homeless encampments and unsanitary practices and conditions, which threaten the health, safety and property of all New Yorkers, as an inevitability at a time of crisis. Community based organizations led by peers and professionals, in coordination with law enforcement officials, must intervene early to prevent these dangerous, but completely avoidable conditions from occurring within city parks, streets, sidewalks and neighborhoods.
** We do insist that embedding justice within our current criminal legal system requires inviting all stakeholders to the table. Mass incarceration is unconscionable. We further recognize that, left untreated, seriously mentally ill individuals are a risk to themselves and others; their pressing needs require a “team of teams” — advocates, peers and families; clinicians and hospitals; judges and law enforcement; long-term residential diversion programs outside of jails and prisons; and legislators and elected leaders who must provide sound law, policies, programs and practices to ensure and enforce necessary treatment. New York has pioneered Kendra’s Law, a national model, as well as Fountain House, the city-founded clubhouse which has now been replicated in over 300 settings around the nation and throughout the world. Now is the time for proven leadership to fully invest in the potential of all New Yorkers.
** We believe that policing in our city and country needs to be reimagined, rethought and reformed with a respectful, reasoned and inclusive process. There are many duties that would be better performed by social workers, nurses and counselors, thus freeing up police to prevent crimes, enforce the law and solve criminal cases.
** While we do count on NYPD to protect ALL New Yorkers — with courtesy, professionalism and respect — we also recognize this must be a two-way street balancing protecting the constitutional right of New Yorkers to protest with supporting those who are responsible for preserving public safety. Partnerships joining NYPD precincts with “Cure Violence” credible messengers, clergy leaders and community stakeholders are essential to get guns off the street. Successful collaborations such as the 67th Precinct “God Squad” Clergy Council are already working and must be replicated. Make no mistake, we do need the NYPD — and must work in partnership to restore trust as together we reform practices and exercise mutual respect.
** We are eager to unleash our unequalled New York spirit of resilience and recovery which brought us through the 1970’s city bankruptcy, blackout, AIDS crisis, 9/11 attacks, 2008 financial meltdown, superstorm Sandy and now the COVID-19 pandemic… Creative policymaking, pragmatic leadership, robust public-private partnerships and constructive cross-sector relationships linking unions, business, real estate and civic leaders are the essential building blocks to renewing and restoring our beloved city.
Let’s dream and do BIG things together, as a city and region. Here are a few ideas to get started – stay tuned for further details:
Let’s make NYC the Accessibility and Inclusion Capital of the World
Let’s resource NYC as the Global Tech Hub for Reimagining Ethics and Employment in an AI/IOT World
Let’s establish NYC as the Center for All-Sector Cyber-Security and Continuity of Municipal Operations
Let’s design NYC as the Gotham Global Hub for Green Technology, Recycling, Resilience and Innovation
Let’s create the NYC Gotham Learning Center for Citizen Service and Career Success
Lastly, let’s come together — as liberals, conservatives, progressives, libertarians and hybrids — in this spirited conversation about we as New Yorkers can forge our shared future. Together, we CAN do this — and more — let our work begin.