Episode 144: City Council Speaker Corey Johnson
From Saint Albans to Saint George from Morris heights, Manhattan valley and right here in the Republic of Brooklyn. It's five pm, the fiber, rose and the two counties of New York state. And so it's time for maximum fee. Your interview and call in show about the policies, politics and people of New York, I'm Jared Murphy from city limits dot org and his Ben max from news that Jarod good to see how you doing. So there's a lot going on as usual. But today we had have a really good episode here. Extra-long sit down with one key newsmaker city council speaker Cory Johnson, we had a chance earlier today to sit with him at city hall and have a good long conversation. That's right. This is prerecorded conversational be hearing shortly. And so it means we can't take your calls, which is downside. But the upside is wide ranging conversation with the speaker right now, Ben I think we've been spending the better part of this year so far focused on the state all the issues around the state budget policy discussions in the state congestion pricing marijuana last week. We talked about some things that are in the state's budget. I should say docket Nahla rent regulations. But now the focus really does move to the city as the city's budget process gets going in earnest, we just had the council issuing its response to the mayor's budget. And this is really where the focus is and not just because of the budget right in. And you know, this conversation with speaker, Cory Johnson comes in both the context of, you know, some granular stuff on the city budget, and some of that is they have to react now to the state budget being enacted, and they they have several months where this process still plays out. The city budget is not doing until July first so they'll come to an agreement sometime in June. But now the city budget process can really get moving because the city knows basically what the state is imposing on sending its way in funding and things like that. But also this conversation is happening as the mayor continues traveling around the country exploring, even it seems inching towards an announcement of a presidential bid, which is fascinating. And I did not think I mean, I've said it on these airwaves. I did not think he was gonna run. And now, I think he is going to run and also on a walk your side. There is charter revision conversation, we talked about surreal you had this past present future. You have multiple dimension the time playing out in terms of the city thinking to the charter revision commission about for the. I maybe twenty years, but it's government's gonna look like at least. So a lot of talk about we back after the conversation. But right now, listen to our talk with city council speaker, Cory Johnson. We're joined now by city council speaker Cory Johnson, thanks for taking some time with us here at city hall. It's good to get out of the studio and chat in the wilderness. How you doing? I'm good thanks for being here. Thanks for being in the red room. The all so we just want to start off with just a couple recent things in the news. But then we want to zoom out and ask you sort of generally about how it's going in the council and some other things, but this measles outbreak. As far as I can tell the city was a little bit slow here to to really get out there and declared an emergency. Is that your perspective as well? Well, I think that we should have declared an emergency before it hit almost three hundred children and the first sign of measles being in New York City in a substantial way in Brooklyn predominantly was last October. So this is been almost six months, it really didn't begin to blow up and explode in hit more folks in the last few weeks is what we know after Jewish families were gathering for Perot is only think that's when this really took on a more sizable population of people being infected, and we're really concerned about Passover coming up next week and people re congregating families and as a community, and if more children and folks are now going to be infected because of its. The real messages. And I think the media has been doing a great job is getting people vaccinated, especially children. This isn't a religious issue. It's I guess centering in the ultra orthodox community in Brooklyn. But you've seen the biggest rabbis and community leaders come out and say get your children vaccinated. This is not against any type of religious taxed. So I'm glad the health Commissioner gave an emergency order. I'm glad the mayor had a press conference yesterday. But just like when we were dealing with Ebola and legionaires and other issues that are public health crisis in New York City, we have to be fast nimble and factual on how we get information out to protect as many New Yorkers as possible. Since the removal withdrawal of Amazon from propose. There's been a narrative that this has damaged city stain the city in terms of its appeal the businesses it's going to have a long lasting hangover effect on New York's ability to attract new technology industries or other industries, especially to the outer boroughs. What do you think the long term impact of John, and that deals collapse is the city, and how can we manage it? This could take up the entire time that we have today because I think that it is a complicated subject. And I think that it wasn't handled in a nuanced way. Probably by maybe all folks involved, and I think that Amazon didn't leave because there were too difficult city council hearings on this subject, or because there were certain legislators who pointed out deficiencies in what they saw the deal being struck that was put on the table. Amazon could have come here. They still could come. Here. The real question was around the package that was put together for them the two and a half billion dollars in as of right subsidies in the five hundred million dollars in direct cash grant to build their campus and headquarters in Long Island city, and I don't think that this portends to larger trend issue that's anti-business in the city of New York last year in twenty eighteen the city gained almost eighty thousand private sector jobs. The Amazon job proposal was going to gain twenty five thousand jobs over ten years, so two and a half thousand jobs year twenty five hundred jobs a year for ten years and since the great recession in two thousand nine the city's created seven hundred seventy thousand private sector jobs on employment at three point nine percent. The lowest ever recorded where at four point four million private sector jobs tech companies are coming year in my district. The biggest employer is Google. I live on the same block as Google. They've created almost fifteen thousand jobs since he decided. To by that building. And Chelsea the port authority building. Move. Your Facebook has a presence here Twitter as a presence year, you've seen smaller tech startups move here. So I don't think that you can draw a larger narrative in conclusion this was a proposal that I've called sort of the hunger games in some way. Because Amazon created something that pitted city after city against each other and the real questions here was do. Did they need this incentive package subsidy package and direct cash grant to actually be able to come to New York City. I want those jobs, I think we all want those jobs, and there are lots of companies that come here that don't have great labor records, but they're not companies that are getting public parcels of land and huge amounts of money. Michael Bloomberg who is one of the most pro business people in the city of New York said that they didn't need the subsidy package to come here his philosophy. And then guess is actually a good philosophy on attracting business is if you want business to come here create a safe seat. With low crime create a city with good schools. Create a city with good parks, creative and attractive city. That is going to be a city that businesses and people want to come to an Amazon should still want to come here. But they also they're going to come here. They do have to answer difficult questions. And it seemed like they didn't want to do that. Well, right. I'm glad you said at the end because I mean, those hearings did seem to matter. I mean, and it wasn't just about the incentives. There was the unionisation the ice stuff. I mean, you guys gave them some tough questions that you said, and they should certainly be ready and able to answer those and they were not that great at answering them, but those hearings mattered. I mean, you guys put them up there for a pretty big grilling. Yes. And part of the reason why thought it was important to have that type of debate. Not the city council is because the way the deal was announced the land use process that's existed. For many decades was subverted. By the city and the state the Blasi of ministration and the Cuomo administration and doing the general project plan, you know, the vast majority of land-use applications that come here rezoning come here individual site rezoning come here, they come here through a negotiated process where the community has a chance to weigh in. And at the end ninety nine percent of all Euler bes. Make it to the end that wasn't the case here. And so we didn't have the thority we typically had and councilmembers were of course, upset about that. But also there were difficult questions that the public didn't have answers to and when the deal was announced and in the aftermath of the deal. No, one in public, setting fashion was asking the questions, the press was talking about some of these issues and many of the questions that were asked questions that came up through investigative reporting through outlets who were pointing out these issues that Amazon had and council members one off of that. So I mean, I don't think it's good that the city of New York lost. Twenty five thousand jobs, but I also don't think portends to a larger issue we could have an economic recession. We could have a downturn doesn't look like it's happening in the next year. But we had a very volatile December January in the stock market which affected the city's revenue and the budget that we're negotiating right now. And I do I do still think New York is a safe and healthy place for business to come to. When we see that every single day, you mentioned the Budget Council just released his response to the mayor's. Preliminary. What you see is the highlights of that. I think that there are three main issues that we're looking at the first is really not a sexy one, but it of tails on the conversation, we just had about ensuring that the city is going to be in a good financial place. If things do slowdown in the near future. And that's we put in a request for two hundred and fifty million dollars in budget reserves. Last year, the council was able to secure two hundred twenty five million dollars in the adopted budget. And. In the last few years. The council's been the main driver in one said additional money aside for when the downturn comes our budget reserves right now are pretty high, but they're not as high as they need to be from what the controller is said from what the system's budget Commissioner's said from the independent budget office said and other outside groups, so we're working to get there. The other thing that is really important to me. And I've said this since my election as speaker is I think we have to strengthen the social safety net in New York City that means social service programs should we fought for fair fares. And that was one of the main signature achievements of the budget last year this year, we call for an investment all types of similar programs campaign that was put together by advocates for children in the foster care system called fair futures. We are asking for more money in education last year. We got an increase of one hundred twenty five million dollars in student funding, which goes directly to schools that really need new money to hire guidance councilors and teachers and do additional programming. We ask for two hundred million dollars. Year and the list goes on a variety of other important programs. And the last thing that is a running theme of the preliminary budget response is pay parody p parody for certain sectors of the workforce in New York City right now childcare providers in New York City are really not making the money that they need and there's been a competition between pre-k going up and running and the childcare providers being poached to work in pre K, and they're losing all sorts of money from the daycare council, which goes heats the contract. So we put in a request for eighty nine million dollars to create pay parody for those childcare workers that have really been suffering. And then we asked for additional money for parody for disagree attorneys and defense providers that are doing indigent defense work. So that's sort of a running theme of budget, reserves enhancing and strengthening the social safety net and looking at greater pay parody across municipal workforce. In New York City is part of the general. Team. There's no sort of the signature thing this you're like fair fares. But there's these key investments that you know, the budget can't keep growing too much. I mean, there's can't keep being this budget. Are you are you how concerned are you? I mean, even if there's more savings, but aside this budgets growing by a few billion dollars. Again, how concerned are you? You're going to be getting into place in the next couple of years. We're your speakers wrapping up the mayor's tenures, wrapping up are you concerned about the fiscal health. You'll be leaving the city in at that juncture. How worried are you there because this budget is really growing? Yeah. I think when you are negotiating a budget and looking at the current fiscal year that we're in and the next fiscal year, which we're negotiating you actually can't just look at those two years. You have to look three years out five years out. You have to look towards the future on what the trends are for the city of New York. These things are imprecise, and it's sort of an art not a science when you're trying to predict what the economy's gonna look like. But I do think that it's really important that we set aside additional money in the budget reserves. And one thing I didn't just mention, but it's is equally. As important is we came up the council on our own separate from the seven hundred and fifty million dollar program to eliminate the gap savings plan that the administration announced a couple of months ago, we came up on our own in this budget response with over a billion dollars in saving in the current fiscal year that we're in in the next fiscal year. That's coming up, we're negotiating so we. Dented over a billion dollars over two fiscal years separate from the seven hundred fifty million dollars and wanting to hundred and fifty million dollars in reserves. So this isn't just a spend spend spend put more money into new programs. It's a robust document that looks at the revenue side the capital budget, the expense budget budget reserves, all of these different things and budget forecasts where we don't entirely agree with the office of management and budget. We have different numbers than them that sort of always the case more conservative and the revenues. They're more conservative IBO is typically a little more of you want to say liberal, and what they think, and we're sort of in in between we think the porridges sorta just right on this not two hundred not cold. So those numbers at the end of the day, we have to come to some type of agreement a lot of it depends on the revenue that comes in over the next couple of months, and that will inform the final number that we have to work towards when we adopt the budget engine folks just know quickly that your preliminary budget responsible then influence negotiations with the mayor is he then releases an executive budget plan. The process keeps going 'til sometime in June. You'll agree on budget for the next fiscal year. That's right. You're listening to max v. The speaking with speaker, Cory Johnson, and the housing crisis, obviously still on big topic conversation to city take you lead perceive mismatch between the mayor's housing plan and that is reflected in homeless shelter count. There's been discussion in the council proposed by. The Monica required set-aside subsidize properties fifty percent of UNICEF for people coming out of the shelter system. The budget response mentioned is that issue, but doesn't impose far as I can read a strict set aside. What do you think the trajectory of that issues? I support counselor Salamanca's Bill on the fifteen percent set aside. It has a veto proof. Majority of sponsors in the council. The administration that Blasi administration has concerns about the curtailment of mayor powers and being able to set housing policy, and that's one of their arguments. We don't have a legal concern, we think we do have the legal right as a body to be able to do this. I think the administration is coming along not coming along where I think they're going to outright support the Bill, but they're looking for ways to increase the set-aside through the housing, preservation and development agent. Sees term sheets term sheets are the documents that are used on every single deal, and where they lay these things out and they're saying that project-by-project they could actually increase to fifteen percent to thirteen percent to someplace as more than fifteen percent, depending on the deal. I think that we're in a homeless crisis. That's not news me saying that here today, you see it with the numbers every night. I think last night the shelter system at sixty one thousand people in New York City shelters twenty three thousand of whom are children under the age of sixteen years old you have somewhere between four and seven thousand people living unsheltered on the streets of New York City and those numbers don't include runaway homeless youth shelters, domestic violence, shelters and other shelters. So when you had all those numbers together, you get almost seventy five thousand people who are considered homeless, and that doesn't count people who are on stably house to our couch surfing and staying with friends and neighbors and family members that number gets much higher. We saw the number last year that one point during the school year. Ten percent of students almost one hundred thousand redeemed homeless one point during the year. So we have a crisis. So that means when you have a crisis you have to come up with multiple strategies to fix that crisis. I think the fifteen percent aside is one major thing that we have to do the mayor's housing plan. It's been ambitious. He went from wanted to create two hundred thousand units to three hundred thousand units of housing, but the number of units going to homeless families is not enough. The administration likes to say they've moved one hundred thousand people out of the shelter system. Even doing that. We still have a crisis. So clearly we have to do more. And I think we have to dig deeper on lower. Lower bands of area. Median income for lower income people a greater set aside for homeless individuals and families the budget document that we've been talking about calls for greater investment in supportive housing. People who are living on the streets of New York City who are difficult time being in the shelter system because they have a dual diagnosis of substance misuse and addiction coupled with untreated mental health issues. And so the off to you have to attack this from multiple sides to be able to solve the issue. I think the campaign that's been waged by the providers. The woman I met Ben sitting in the exact share. She was sitting in two weeks ago, miss flowers who came and confronted the mayor at the Y and park slow by Saturday with her and a bunch of other long-term homeless people in this room two weeks ago, talking about the vouchers that they have landlords on accepting those vouchers so on the budget. We call for the human rights commission to staff up the office too. After landlords who are discriminating on the basis of source of income. So there's a variety of things we have to do. But on the Salamanca Bill. I support it. We're still negotiating with the administration. I'm not sure if we'll get there. But it's something that the council feels very strongly about the mayor of bring Vicky beanbags administration. She's going to be the new deputy mayor for housing comic development, formerly the House Commissioner, and she said at the press conference she was asked about that Bill soom. Maybe somebody mentioned that to you saw. But you know, she said we need more flexibility than that would allow you sorta recapped it that perspective from the administration. But it was interesting to hear her say that but at the same time she in the mayor both said that the housing plans going to get some adjustment. So we'll see what they have in mind that you mentioned obviously negotiated the mayor in this crisis of homelessness this budget process going on, and there's all sorts of other policy being discussed he aged you feel there's obviously questions about his travel. Do do you feel like he is with you here when you need to be talking about key issues facing the city. I met with the mayor yesterday, and we discussed the budget response and a variety of other issues that are important to the council end of the administration. You know, I think being mayor is probably one of the most difficult jobs elected jobs in the country besides being president. And it's a twenty four seven job. I'm not sure I could comprehend trying to do this job while also traveling to early primary states, but I do think the mayor thinks he has some achievements that he wants to tell low crime decreasing stop and frisk improving. What he considers to be relations across the city, universal pre-k and variety of other measures. I'm not in the position to give the mayor political advice. But you know, it's busy being speaker of the council probably not as busy as being mayor of the city of New York. It's busy in a different way with everything that happens here with fifty of my colleagues and the staff and. All the work that we have to do on a daily basis NBN councilman for district and serving the constituents that elected me. So I don't feel like there's been a level of disengagement from the mayor. I feel very very busy and my staff and his staff staffer in constant touch. I personally, call commissioners all the time. If I have an issue, I don't just go directly to the mayor. I personally call deputy mayor's all the time. And so I don't deal directly just with the mayor. But you know, it's we're in a time where there are a lot of issues you have a housing crisis. We have a homeless crisis is some precariousness around the budget. There are still major major issues across the city as it relates to affordability and needing greater transparency as it relates to police accountability. So all these you still exist. I still think there's a lot to do here in New York City. Gets. Mentioned it, you know, having fifty council members in your district. So let's zoom zoom back for a second. Churton? You've been speaker a little over a year. What are like a lot longer? Well, that's it. Yeah. I mean, that's sort of the question. What are some of the big lessons? What have you learned? You wanted this job? Obviously, you work hard to get the support of your colleagues to get it. What are some of the things that have surprised you about it or that you've learned in the role is crazier than you thought. It would be more demands than you ever imagined or anything like that. I feel like this is a question of my therapists asked me all the time too. What color is your exactly? I would say. The job is a lot harder than I realized. It's a lot more difficult. I'm not sure that and they probably say this for anyone who becomes mayor. I'm not comparing this job to being mayor or president or many jobs. There's nothing that really fully prepares you for it. I don't think any of the work that I did as rank and file counselling before. I was speaker prepared me to come in and be able to balance the interests in needs of fifty members and land, use division and finance division, and the newly created oversight investigations division and the legislative division ago sheeting with the mayor and dealing with the governor and dealing with the advocates and dealing with a very active press corps here in city hall. So those things have been a challenge. But I'll say I love it, even when it's hard and this week was hard to last two months have been hard given everything we've had to deal with your at the city council. I still love it. I still feel extraordinarily grateful. I don't wanna get to sack. Turn on you buy. You know, I say this I moved to New York City at nineteen years old with two bags knowing one person because there was something about this city that I felt like was a major draw to me that spoke to me and to be here less than I moved here in may of two thousand and one so eighteen years to be able to run for the city council and be speaker of this body is really a dream come true, even on the really difficult days. So I've learned a lot I learned that every single day and the thing that I find actually the two things I find the best about this job is number one. When you do things that have a real tangible immediate impact on people's lives. I'll give you an example. I got two nights ago. I was at an event where it was an event for transgender youth, and they gave me this very sweet award. And they're a variety of people bunch of you walked up to me and said to me that Bill that you passed in you, a chair the health committee in two thousand and fourteen. That allowed us to change our birth certificates chill saying to you right now, we change the bursar tickets live so much easier being a New Yorker so to be able to do something like that. And you hear the immediate impact on people's lives is very moving. And then the second thing that is amazing is the staff here. The city council are so talented are so smart, and I learned so much every single day. I could literally probably just pick a single subject and someone who works the council could walk over to me and give me a long exposition on what the subject is. So I am constantly learning. I feel like a sponge in figuring out new strategies and new ways to help improve the city of New York, and those are two of the greatest benefits of this job in the past few months. In the past few months to this. You've had to discipline. Few members Diaz but his community Mr. nigger about Palestine and recently a rib check about personal conduct. How have you what has guided you through those controversies and specific to the allegations in each what is the appropriate place for free speech in a body like this at what is due process. Look like when a person is public official with responsibilities. How do you how do you balance all that these are complicated questions? And I think it's a case by case scenario in some instances. So we have free speech here. The city council, and you all you can say anything you want. But just like there's free speech amongst the general public. There are sometimes consequences to what you say. And I think your health to a higher standard when you're an elected official in your words, take on more meaning and have more gravity. So when. You use language remarks that dehumanizes populations in New York City that creates division that does not come from a place of healing. I think is really problematic and again, there isn't a hard and fast rule here. But both in the instance of councilmember de senior, and in the instance of council member Yegor, I did not immediately say that they should be disciplined. But I immediately said in both instances as I want them to be able to clarify their marks and potentially apologize for what they said and use it as a teaching moment and a learning experience, and hopefully he'll and in both instances that's not what happened afterwards. And so that's why the action was taken as it was the council member renchik situation. I can't comment on fully because it's still going through a disciplinary process, but I'll say that we have to make sure that any. Person who works at the city council feel safe and respected, and that is one of my responsibilities speaker, and I'll continue to do that. But these things are difficult. They're painful when you're dealing with colleagues and you have to impose discipline. I said this a couple of weeks ago at a preceded press conference that one of the things that I've done. I'm not saying other speakers haven't done this. I wasn't privy to conversations, but anything that in any way makes it to me that I get tipped off that there's something going on. Or there's a complaint. I immediately say either Senate to standards and ethics if it falls into that category of discipline or violation of council policy, or I say, let's deal with this right away as a body collectively. And so we haven't swept anything under the rug. We haven't said, well, that's not going to go to standards, and by the way, there have been some things that have gone to standards ethics where it was found that didn't you're wrong. So no one. About it. Because there was an investigation people were in viewed and never came out in the public because people got do process, and those those members are happy that they got hurt. Witnesses were interviewed nothing came out about it. It didn't come out in the press because we handled it in a very professional way. But these things are painful, they're difficult. Yesterday wasn't easy here. The council. The middle of February with council DS's wasn't easy. And we have to handle each instance in the most appropriate and sensitive way. A little bit legislatively or just, you know here at the council in terms of upcoming agenda. We talked a little bit about the budget response. And some of the other things that are on your mind. Are there other key things that folks should know that New Yorkers should know that are sort of at the top of your gender coming up, obviously in your state of the city, you pledged legislation to create a master plan for street. So I assume that legislations coming. You want to take a second on that? And then anything else that people should know. Is coming down the road. Yeah. Well, when I had my state of the city, the beginning of March, my vision, and what I focused on was really just on mass transit and transportation. No other issues, even though as we've talked about in this interview. There are many other issues education and homelessness, and housing and development, and jobs and economic activity all these things we could all probably do a single speech on the importance of New York City, and hopefully creating a vision for the future of the city, and I look forward to doing that in the months to come in the years to come. But my state of the city really just focused on how transit is the lifeblood of New York City of our economy. It's what keeps our city moving, and we are at a place where I don't think it's working for the city of New York. So I called municipal control of subways and buses, and I talked about the reason why that is important the set up basically to deflect all accountable, and I have this strange. Cognitive dissonance feeling on congestion pricing where I've always been a huge proponent and supporter. But the way that it was implemented. I think really makes everything worse in what I talked about in the state of the city giving more power to the state giving more power to the MTA giving power to the triborough bridge and tunnel thority, which is now going to control the streets of New York through a six-member transit mobility review board with one person recommended by the mayor and multiple people from the suburbs will set the toll prices where the transponders and gantries go have oversight over the streets of New York City as exemptions is taking us in the wrong direction from what I called for in my state of the city. And so I think transportation is degrade equalizer. The reason why I was a couple of minutes late to this interview is because I took the subway here this morning to city hall, and it was delayed. We sat in the tunnel. Coming down here between canal street and chambers street for a few minutes and so. These are shoes that are very very important. But coupled with that vision spill control, I talked about a master plan for the city of New York. You're going to see legislation introduced here at the city council in the next month or so that detail what that legislation we think should be on creating a master plan for the streets of New York City, and it didn't get any play yet in the budget response. But we call for a very sizable investment in putting more money into bike lanes and bus lanes and pedestrian areas across city. So these are all things that we're going to talk a lot moving forward. And I think pieces of that master plan, right? Was going to be I was gonna mention that in this in this part of the conversation. Yeah. So those are sort of investment you're calling for in your legislation. Maybe pull the pieces together a little bit about how it's all supposed to come together. Exactly. So the legislation will call for the plan. We also call for budget investments that will actually help ensure that that plan could actually be executed in a way on. On bus lanes and bike lanes and pedestrian ising areas. These are things you can't just do through a document into plan. You need the money to do them as well, the charter revision commissions, a lot of different issues, and it's obviously to early relatively early stage of its deliberations. When you look at it. And what's one thing that you you really really want to come out of that this huge menu. They're looking at is there a particular change that you really your heart of hearts hope is is in there or any particulars. This is super walking geeky stuff. And I think the vast majority of people listening to this though, you have informed listeners who love city government. I think we may get very granular in we city charter. But you're right. Sharon, I mean, I do think the menu that's on the table. He's really. Wide and far reaching on what we're looking at and what their commissions looking at. So for folks that don't know the current city constitution city charter were operating under was basically created in nineteen eighty nine when the previous board of estimate was ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court and city government we reorganize. So the city council from thirty five members to fifty one members we abolished the board of estimate the council, then got land use authority and budget thority previously really only had a legislative authority in some oversight authority so government change in big ways. And every mayor since then from a Dinkins Giuliani to Bloomberg to Blasi, oh, they've all appointed either one or multiple charter vision commissions during their time as mayor, but each of those charter revision commissions that the mayor appointed which they're allowed to do really had a singular focus, and they didn't look at the broad charter itself and how it should be updated. So this commission wanted to take after? Thirty years nine hundred eighty nine now to two thousand nineteen a wide look at the chart or some of the areas, and I'm really interested in again, this is going to get super geeky. But some of the areas I'm interested in is. I think that we need to look at independent budgeting for checks and balances in New York City, I think I was acting public advocate for about seventy five days. And I do think that that office and the controller's office and the community boards and the borough president's office and the conflict of interest board should all probably have an independent budget. That is not tied to the mayor is where the speaker is the campaign finance board has they haven't independent budget. That's pegged to a certain data point in the budget. You guys to love the data point stuff. So I think that's one interesting thing. And then I think we also have to look at looking at budget transparency right now, you of what are talked about his units appropriation. You get out of the unit of appropriation in the police department in the budget. They'll be one line that will say two hundred million dollars with no details of the press and the council can't do its job to understand what's in that two hundred million dollars. The council's calling for in the budget response over one hundred twenty new units of appropriation that we just laid out. But we think you could actually improve this through the city charter and also we we want some some issues on revenue estimates that come in that inform the budget and improving that in the council in the charter commission as well. So those are those are your big ones ring choice voting something I'm interested in potential advise and consent expanding the CR be looking at greater police accountability through the charter itself. These are all things that I'm interested in. Change the land use process the land use process, I think there could be greater transparency on. But I do have some concerns that. There is a fair share issue in the city of New York. You have too many homeless shelters and methadone clinics and waste transfer stations. That are cited in communities of color, but I'm afraid that if you change the charter in a way that's more restrictive it's going to be harder to site places like homeless shelters that we need. And so this is a very tricky balance. I do the needs to be some more community input and community planning needs to be done. But I don't want it done in a way that will empower Nimby ISM in New York City where communities that have already been resistant to these really important facilities will have greater leverage in thority to not let them happen when they're totally necessary in the moment that we're living in. So it's it's tricky and the Euler process is actually sort of worked over the last many years, again, the vast majority of projects make it to the finish line. You have a clock. It goes from the community board the board president to the city planning commission to the council. It's worked are the ways. You could be improved. Yes. The charter vision. She's looking at that. You're listening to maxim Urfi on WB radio. We're joined by city council speaker, Cory Johnson. We've got maybe five or eight more minutes with you long. You appreciate it all the time. All right twenty or thirty. So let's talk a little politics. Did you wanna ask? Let's talk a little politics here. Twenty twenty one is going to be crazy citywide seeds the borough presidencies. All these city so seats, you're cringing. You seem very clearly be set on running for mayor. I know you haven't officially declared. Is there anything you can think of that would make you not run? I mean at this point. Interview. If we have to do these interviews I am outing not running out. I don't get to get the sort of grounds while you're expecting or have you ready gotten that? I mean, I see stuff on social media where it seems like pretty excited. So is there anything that would tip the scales towards, you know, I'm not I'm not going to do this. I in my first year speaker, I did zero fundraising, and I didn't sit up any type of political infrastructure for twenty twenty one other candidates who again have not formally declared controller stringer or president Adams for president junior. They've been raising money and setting up a good political infrastructure for themselves for a few years now more than a few years, and my first year, I really wanted to focus on being good speaker getting some accomplishments under my belt trying to lead the body in a way and actually get some things done for the city of New York and not focus on raising money in the political side. But what I realized was I wanted this. Option I needed to start to put the infrastructure in place and the fundraising strategy in plan that I announced only taking contributions of two hundred and fifty dollars or less not taking contributions from real estate developers. Anyone who work at their firms not taking corporate Pac contributions, not taking? Money from. Folks who do work at lobbying firms. It makes it actually harder to fundraise because all those folks I just named are sitting on millions of dollars some of them. So I needed to start early to even have the option to be able to do this two years from now, I didn't really want to when I was actually the racist really going to start in twenty twenty by the way, I mean, I guess so, but it's going to be hard in the midst of a presidential campaign. And so part of me thinks that with the state legislature moving the primary from September to June. You're going to see a real seven months sprint from November of twenty twenty two June of twenty twenty one in a condensed time frame. So I mean, I love the city of New York. I talked about that earlier. And I think we face big challenges. I think I've done a pretty good job as speaker and my first year, and I think I have a vision I wanna share with the city, and so I look forward to doing that both in my time speaker and on the campaign trail, but. Again, nothing is setting stone things could change the world could change who knows what's going to happen. You can't predict these things I always like to say who thought that Eliot Spitzer would be governor for less than two years who thought Andrew Cuomo would lose to Carl McCall in two thousand and two and come back and be attorney general for years later who thought that Christine Quinn who was a peruta front runner for mayor Bill de Blasios in fourth place who thought it would end up that way. You never know. What's gonna happen? Your politics actually crazier than any political ecosystem in the United States of America. You cannot predict these things. And so all you can do is put one foot in front of the other plan. B yourself get some accomplishments under your belt. And hopefully when the time comes the moment, meet some good luck in some hard work. And you have the opportunity to make your case, we are as you mentioned, many months out from that moment. But you think you'll now what do you think to twenty one? We'll be about. Referendum on Bill the Blasios or about something else. And you mentioned your vision for the city can talk a little bit about. What is what is the Johnson vision for New York? I think it's hard to predict what that moment in time. We'll be like I think the most animating issue in the twenty thirteen Meryl primary and race was the really blatant overuse. And I would say racist issue of stop question and frisk in the city of New York, and it was an issue that animated not just black and Latino on New Yorkers, but there were many many white New Yorkers who were infuriated by what they saw happening on the streets of New York City as well. I don't know if there's going to be a single defining issue that will come up in twenty twenty one like stop question and frisk was at that time. And I do think that after twelve years of the Bloomberg administration at that moment in time. The city was ready for something new and ready for a change. And so. It's hard to predict what that issue could be two and a half years out, my vision for the city of New York is we have to talk about the affordability crisis. That has been gripping the city of New York we have talked about the homeless crisis. That's been gripping the city of New York. We have to talk about the failure of our buses in our subways. We have to talk about needing a better school system for the one point one million school children of New York City all of these issues, I think are really important issues. And we are the most diversity in the United States of America. Our cities growing rapidly were gonna hit nine million people by twenty forty it looks like now, and she had to be able to plan for the future. I wanna talk about all those issues that matter and a meaningful way. It's funny, you know, their issues, I think New Yorkers in any neighborhood. They look in look at to see is the city doing well. And I give you an example. I think crime is a key indicator of how people feel about the city. But I also think that in a city of hundreds of distinct neighborhoods with their own names, and tens of thousands of individual blocks people. And I mean this in a loving and affectionate way towards New Yorkers people are very parochial about their individual block their individual park their individual subway, stop their individual local school their local small business. And if those things are going, well if there is. Major homelessness on their corner. If they're small business can't survive. If they're local park is in disrepair. They feel the city's not doing well. And I think you have to be able to talk about a broad vision for the city of New York on the issues that I talked about. But also do things neighborhood by neighborhood block by block that people feel like are improving their lives and can do the way to do that. I think Ed Koch were sitting in the red room. We're looking at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge when the transit strike happened. He was standing at the foot of that bridge screaming. I'm with you. I'm with you. How do you know some of this job, whoever the next mayor is a little bit of theater, and that's okay? You had there was a huge fire in sunset park last week. Terrible over fifty families majorly effected some of what I think you have to do is show up at the scene. You have to be there. You have to show the, but the you have to be out there. I ride the subway every single day. I top two New Yorkers and the platform every day. I think these are some of the. Things that whoever the mayor of the city of New York needs to do moving forward. And if I was married that's what I would do. We'll get you out of here on this in that vein. There's a lot made the conventional wisdom, it's very hard to become mayor from being city council speaker, what do you make that? Well, they're Herman many city council. Speakers true. So I'm not sure everybody's trying. I'm not sure this is an exact science. I'll say this. I think that. And I'm not criticizing pundits or prognosticators or the press or political insiders who want to draw conclusions from from history. I think that's actually helpful when you're looking at things, but I would say that I really believe that there are a few things that you need to be able to do you have to be authentic. You have to be yourself to not. BS people. And I think you have to have real accomplishments to point to you have to be accessible. So that's not me criticizing any of the previous speakers who ran for mayor. But they're they're different moments in time. They're different moments in time of what the city's facing and I'm going to just be myself. You know, I'm going to lip sync to lady Gaga on Twitter, and I'm going to take the subway every single day, and I'm going to be a cheerleader for the city of New York City. That's been so good to me. And that I love so much. And I don't know. I mean who was the last president that was mayor David Dinkins who is off to acting public advocate. So that's true. Who was the last controller that was mayor a beam? I mean, these things are not an exact science in any ways. I mean, Guiliani wasn't an elected official. David Dinkins was borough. President and Mike Bloomberg wasn't elected official. No, one Bill de Blasio had a chance to be mayor. You know? So these things Ed Koch Beadman comeback a beam. So these are things it's very hard to predict. I know we want to try to come up with an exact mathematical formula to figure this out. There's no way to figure it out. We'll see what the defining issue is. We'll see what the field of candidates. Are. We see who connects with the broad audience of New Yorkers who was a message that resonates and the voters will make their decision. I look forward to hopefully making my case if I make the final decision to take the plunge, but I'm excited. I think the city does a lot of exciting things we could do in the city of New York and greatest city in the world. And it's still it's still a city of dreams and aspirations for the folks that come here we're gonna have a chance to talk to multiple times before. Oh, yeah. Plenty of other chances sitting speaker Cory Johnson, thanks for joining us that grilling. Innomax Murphy here on WBZ radio ninety nine point five FM, WBAI dot org listener sponsored noncommercial radio with Ben max from gazette and Jared Murray from city limits. You just heard our extended sit down with city council speaker Cory Johnson from earlier today at city hall. We covered a lot Jarrett. Some things that stood out to you. I'll start at the end and him talking about twenty twenty one. And I think it was interesting that he he mentioned that it was unclear whether this was going to be a referendum on Bill to blonde or not. But then in his answer about his vision for the city, I think implicit in that at least embedded in that intentionally or not was a real critique about some of the ways the mayor has run the city that's so much on policy points. But on the style of leadership Johnson talking about being this guy who writes the subway who go to fire scenes who do the Koch talking on the bridge thing really a discussion about style which. I think is fascinating. Because obviously we're very early in this potential twenty twenty one race. We only know of the names really afford kind of big candidates all men who were out there. Then assume it's going to change somewhat or evolve someone but on a lot of those points, especially with someone Scott stringer Johnson, ideologically policy points is going to be fairly hard to distinguish. So a lot of it will come down to policy and sari style. Style approach in the personality of being an office, which frankly is something that I think has been one of the points of tension into Blasios handling Verity is not so much what he's done, but sort of how he's done it. And how he's talked about it and how he's director not interacted with New Yorkers. Yeah. I think there's no question that the twenty twenty one race will be in some significant part a referendum unto Blasios, both as you're saying in style and personality and on some policy issues and speaker Johnson talked about what some of those policy issues clearly will be housing and homelessness right at the top. Obviously. I mean, even as ambitious is the current mayor's plans are at least on the affordable housing front. There's lots of criticism and lots of questions around where that plan should be and should head. And I think that will be a central part of the discussion on policy, but yes, style and personality are going to be a big part of it. And we've already seen Cory Johnson set himself up maybe by. Just being who he is. I don't know how much of its calculated. But as sort of a countervailing force on that front to mayor de Blasio, and I think that will be key piece. I mean, you'd put the mayor style or I would at least. Style and personality in the top probably five things that people have problems with him about. Maybe the other four are here is. I thought what he said to about the twenty twenty one race about how everybody's gonna be focused on the presidential election in twenty twenty. And then you're going to basically have seven months bring vibe, I'm fascinating. I mean, I've been thinking about that already. But it was interesting to hear him put it in those terms. I don't think it'll be that clear cut. This may all racist gonna start while the presidential race is ready going, but that seven months stretch will absolutely be the bulk of the primary, right? Certain race behind the scenes at least of. Money insults and things on what shoes happening now, I think his talk. But the charter revision commission was interesting a lot of different topics to talk about I think on the planning, and I both arched eyebrow. I think at least internally when he mentioned the Euler process, and the fed that it works well because nine seven things come through the process without getting stopped. I don't think many people would I think many people might disagree that as an indicator of the fact that you works council member stamps, everything, but it was interesting. You certainly got a sense for him that Twitter riveted re he is directing the charter commission. We don't know how much that is. I wanted to unlikely it seems that they're going to do anything really ambitious about the way the city does it's planning right? No. I think absolutely. There's there's this charter vision commission was called together with he said this idea of taking a real holistic look at the city charter in the way city government is structured in the big processes like budgeting and land use. But I really think that most. Likely. It's not to offer up sweeping changes. We'll see we'll know a lot more soon. But I do agree with you that that we both had that sort of similar reaction on the Euler conversation. But I also think just to sort of sort of play devil's advocate a little bit. You know, he would probably respond to that and say, well, the Euler applications don't go through as originally proposed. So it's about finding the right balance and compromise. And I think that's very much the type of elected official. He is. I mean from my understanding in some of the work, we looked at when he was a rank and file city council member for the one term. He got the the projects through in his district. He negotiated and he believes in development and moving ahead, and he doesn't want to be a roadblock to to those types of proposals. So I think that is indicative perspective and development is clearly going to be an issue in the next mile race because you never race. What did you think of his answer? You'll have about a minute. Let his answer on whether or not this presidential flirtation or plan is distracting the mayor from city. Business. I think as he has been he was fairly measured and somewhat generous to the mayor. I don't think he wants to be out there throwing bombs, especially when there's not a serious crisis at stake, which reminds me, you know, the first thing we started on it seems like he did sort of indicate that you agrees that the city was a little too slow on this measles outbreak, which I think was important take away from the interview at the very beginning. Any any talks from you on the same put, I think his mentioned that he's constantly in touch with deputy mayors and commissioners, but it's just a very important point of the fact that the mayor is incredibly important, obviously that's sets policy, but that there is a huge apparatus in the city. And I think for better or worse things are going to be able to run not auto-pilot. Exactly. But you know, is not as if everyone goes home early for lunch when the Blasios out of the city just something for people to keep in mind. You may not be aware of the fact that this is a huge bureaucracy that interacts with the legislative branch just say quickly, you know, and yes, the mayor can manage some of this stuff from out of town. Like a measles outbreak. But I don't know. I mean when you're making these appearances in Nevada or other places and you're trying to make decisions about whether to call health emergency in the city. I just think even if you're able to have the conference calls the mayor says he's having and beyond your your phone, and your device and all that stuff. It's not quite as simple, and it is as speaker and said very hard to be mayor of New York City and run for president at the same time. Fair point. He's been max, I'm Jared Murphy, get your shots and tune into us next week and to UBA I have a great week in the greatest city in the world.