Category Archives: Carmen Farina

Eid al-Fitr & Eid al-Adha Added To School Holiday Calendar

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, to the New York City school system’s calendar.  They are the first Muslim holidays included on the City school calendar.  It’s a change long-sought by New York’s Muslim community and reflects a Muslim population in the City and it’s schools growing in both number and political influence.

Here are highlights of the press conference:

The full press conference Q&A is available here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Eid-al Fitr Edition

At a press conference this morning in Bay Ridge Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays to the New York City public school calendar.  Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha will be added as school holidays for the 2015-16 school year.

On topic Q&A:

On topic question topics included how the school schedule will accommodate the two additional holidays, who will the City look to to determine the exact date of Eid al-Fitr each year, how many religious and cultural holidays are currently on the City school calendar and whether the mayor believes there should be a set limit on the number of such holidays, whether the mayor considered a possible backlash and why he concluded that now is an appropriate time to add these holidays, the status of adding Lunar New Year as a school holiday, whether this applies to private schools and the New York State Department of Education’s position on adding these holidays.

Off-topic Q&A:

Off topic question topics included the mayor’s favored candidate in the Chicago mayoral runoff election, how he’s going to try to convince the state legislature to block Governor Cuomo’s plans to increase reliance on student testing in teacher evaluations, his speech tomorrow to ABNY, Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for government business and his own use of private and government email, current numbers on the issuance of municipal IDs, Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte’s letter concerning a recent sexual assault on a correction officer on Rikers Island and the Corizon healthcare contract, de Blasio’s planned trip to Israel, the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at Gracie Mansion and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and City efforts at protecting residents from “growing islamophobia”.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The School Cellphone Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina today announced the reversal of the City’s prohibition on students having cellphones in public schools.  Rules of usage will be established on a school by school basis, but all schools will allow them.

On Topic Q&A:

Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina addressed numerous detailed questions on the new policy and its implementation.

Off Topic Q&A:

Off topic question topics included whether the mayor and his wife have smoked marijuana inside Gracie Mansion, a Daily News call for the mayor to “accept responsibility for inflaming the police”, whether the mayor believes he should apologize for comments on the police, whether the Democratic National Committee has expressed concerns about current mayoral/police friction as it considers Brooklyn as a site for the 2016 Democratic Convention, whether the mayor supports the recent Cuomo/Christie veto of legislation on the Port Authority, a pending state legislative bill on police disability pensions, the expected  special election in the 11th Congressional District, whether the mayor believes there is a police slowdown, the dismay of the recently shot and wounded police officers at Mayor de Blasio’s hospital visit, the possible change in the Staten Island Chuck/Groundhog Day ceremony, the meeting today between Police Commissioner Bratton and union leaders and how Mayor de Blasio envisions the current mayoral/police friction ending.

Separate clips of the questions on mayoral mansion marijuana and Staten Island Chuck are here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Freestyle edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Friday afternoon visit to a middle school after school program included being serenaded, freestyle.  The mayor, joined by his wife Chirlane McCray and several City officials, visited Gramercy Park’s M.S. 255 to promote the lesser publicized part of his universal pre-K/middle school after school program initiative and urge parents and students to enroll.

Press Q&A:

Press questions were primarily “off topic,” with on topic questions covering the enrollment statistics and remaining available seats and whether legislative changes to the common core state standards will be an improvement for students, teachers and parents.  Off topic questions included city enforcement efforts around Airbnb and Airbnb’s hiring of de Blasio’s campaign manager, why a proposed ban on carriage horses has taken far longer than initially promised by the mayor, Tim Wu’s comments on the mayor’s central role on defeating Wu and Zephyr Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, revised statistics on NYPD chokehold incidents, charter school co-locations, the mayor’s lack of a federal security clearance and resulting inability to receive classified information, school bus drivers movement toward a strike, his relationship with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state senate.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Middle School Summer Enrichment Edition

On Tuesday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an expansion of middle school summer enrichment programs, along with the selection of 271 providers for those services.  He described the expanded after school programs as, together with universal pre-K and the community schools program, part of his efforts at broadly improving the school system.  de Blasio was joined by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Press Q&A:

On topic questions included: what defines a “community school”, whether community schools are only located in low-income neighborhoods, whether there is a plan to extend universal pre-K to three year olds, how much more expensive community schools are to operate than “regular” schools, why was the UFT not at this announcement, whether academic gains are expected from community schools and how will such gains be measured, what programs are added to “regular” schools as they are converted into “community” schools, potential changes to the admissions process for specialized high schools and whether the seats announced today are new programs or new spaces.

Off topic questions included: the ISIS in Iraq and potential threats to New York, his hair color in a World Cup themed picture, the City’s negotiations with CW Capital concerning Stuyvesant Town, whether he concerned that religion-affiliated CBO’s pre-K programs will involve some religious instruction or indoctrination, the Rent Guidelines Board and a possible rent increase, rating his administration on it’s FOIL responsiveness, whether subway dancers are a “sign of urban decay”, whether he is contemplating a special district for failing schools and whether there is symbolism is seeking to bring the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn rather than Manhattan and whether he has coordinated that effort with Hillary Clinton.

Here is the full Q&A:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The PS 69 Q Edition (Updated)

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited PS 69 Q in Jackson Heights this afternoon, promoting the changes to city schools incorporated in his proposed budget and proposed UFT contract.

Citywide Debriefing Team:

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Jill Colvin of The New York Observer asked the mayor for his reaction, and whether he approved, to a NY Times report that the NYPD has a “Citywide Debriefing Team [that] has combed the city’s jails for immigrants — predominantly Muslims — who might be persuaded to become police informants.”  Here’s how the mayor responded:

Full Press Q&A:

On topic question topics included the mayor’s proposed $20 million allocation for arts programs and whether this is all new spending, whether it’s typical for elementary schools to have arts teachers, the mayor’s proposed $4.4 billion capital spending to address classroom overcrowding, how many new classroom seats that spending would produce and where they would be located, whether all trailers used by schools would be eliminated, the definition of “problematic behavior” used in dealing with the Absent Teacher Reserve, what the state funding to be used for middle school after school programs would have otherwise been used for and DoE support for schools that will participate in the program providing increased school autonomy.  Mayor de Blasio interrupted the on topic portion of the press conference to introduce “parent activist” Laverne Maison (sp?).  We have omitted that portion of the Q&A, presenting only the portion with actual questions and answers.

Off topic question topics included Vision Zero, the NYPD’s plan to stop seizing condoms from sex workers, the NYPD’s “Citywide Debriefing Team”, the Working Families Party and whether it will nominate Andrew Cuomo as its candidate for governor, the 9/11 Museum and the total spending through 2020 for the proposed UFT contract.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The UFT Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a preliminary agreement on a new contract with the United Federation of Teachers.  The agreement covers nine years, retroactive from November 1, 2009, through October 31, 2018, with total pay increases of approximately 18%.  Other provisions include an agreement to implement yet to be finalized changes in employee health care intended to save at least $3.4 billion, a loosening of regulations intended to allow greater control by individual principals and teachers, an increase in parent/teacher interactions, changes in teacher professional development and evaluations and an enhanced ability of the City to terminate teachers who behave inappropriately and teachers who are in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

Here is the mayor’s full press Q&A, addressing on-topic questions only.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Ridgewood Pre-K Edition (Updated)

Fresh off of securing pre-K funding in the state budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio pivoted to the next phase of his pre-K initiative with a visit to Ridgewood’s P.S. 239 aimed at encouraging parents to register for fall 2014 enrollment.  Among those joining de Blasio for a press conference following the mayor’s tour of the school; Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Mike Gianaris, Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

Bratton & Police Morale:

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Newsday’s Emily Ngo asked de Blasio about Police Commissioner Bratton’s recent statement on NYPD morale and his attribution of responsibility for it to former Commissioner Ray Kelly.  Here’s how de Blasio responded:

Update – Full Q&A:

On topic questions included the application process for admission to the pre-K program, whether the website and other enrollment tools have been sufficiently tested, how applicants will be chosen or assigned to specific pre-K spots, how the public schools hosting expanded pre-K will be chosen, how the space sharing arrangements between new pre-K classes and existing classes will be managed, the role of charter schools in providing new pre-K seats, whether pre-K students may also enroll in after school programs and whether parents applying for public school pre-K spots should refrain from also applying for community based organization pre-K spots.  Off topic questions included Commissioner Bratton’s statement regarding NYPD morale, whether the mayor agrees with parents opting out of Common Core testing and whether such opt outs may skew the test data, the process for parents wishing to opt out of Common Core testing, specialized high school entrance exams and the mayor’s actions concerning raising the minimum wage.

Here is the full press Q&A:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Ready To Launch Edition (Updated x 2)

This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded his “Ready to Launch” effort on universal full day pre-K, issuing an update on the substantial logistics required for a September 2014 implementation.  Speaking at P.S. 130 in Little Italy, de Blasio was joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, OMB Director Dean Fuleihan, ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion, Executive Director of the DOE Office of Early Childhood Education Sophia Pappas and DOE Chief Strategy Officer Josh Wallack.

de Blasio made a statement and issued a report describing his administration’s efforts at identifying potential sites for new or expanded pre-K classes throughout the city.  He appeared to be energetically continuing his efforts at funding his pre-K program by obtaining state approval of an income tax surcharge on high earners, despite Governor Cuomo’s public rejection.

Q&A topics include: why the mayor and Governor Cuomo appear friendly and cooperative on pre-K  when together but express different views when apart, will the city fund a single year of full day pre-K if the state does not, how many of the prospective new pre-K seats are in traditional public schools v. charter schools, what is the greatest challenge in converting existing 1/2 day pre-K sites into full day sites, how can the mayor assure that proceeds of his proposed income tax surcharge would remain dedicated solely to the pre-K/middle school program, regulatory issues around pre-K operators, how there can be space available in neighborhoods where schools are overcrowded, how many of the prospective new sites are in schools v. other locations, why the mayor is so opposed to co-locations of charter schools while seeking to co-locate new pre-K programs, the newly-announced ad campaign by charter school supporters, his views on academically screened high schools, his view on the school bus contracts, why he refused off-topic questions Friday evening despite saying on Friday morning that he would take such questions, the status of 28 charter schools expecting to open in fall 2014 in locations approved by the Bloomberg administration, his upcoming appearance on the TV series The Good Wife and his view on city employees marching in the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade in uniform/with banners.

Update – Standing Apart:

A brief clip of Mayor de Blasio and a reporter who chose to “stand apart from everyone.”

Update #2 – The Good Wife:

Mayor de Blasio discussed his upcoming appearance on the CBS TV series The Good Wife, saying that he and his wife “are deeply obsessed with The Good Wife.”

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Snow School Edition (Updated x 4)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio faced extensive, skeptical questions from the press on two topics: His decision to keep city schools open today despite a major winter storm and his late night call Monday to the NYPD concerning the arrest of locally prominent bishop and friend of de Blasio.

Toward the end of a lengthy series of questions on his decision to open city schools today, de Blasio offered this broad reasoning:

Update – Al v. Bill:

Mayor de Blasio addressed critical twitter comments on his school opening decision from well-known weatherman Al Roker. The question was posed by Newsday’s Matthew Chayes.

Update #2 – Parking Meters:

Mayor de Blasio addressed a lingering New York City snow mystery – why do parking meters remain in effect during major storms, even as alternate side of the street parking regulations are suspended.  The mayor made that announcement today, as he has at every snow press conference.  The question came from Dana Arschin of News 12.

Update #3 – Full Snow Q&A:

The mayor faced a barrage of skeptical press questions on his decision to open city schools today.  Here is the full portion of his press Q&A devoted to snow-related questions.

Update #4 – NYPD, Findlayter & de Blasio:

Finally, here is the “off-topic” portion of the press conference, which focused solely on de Blasio’s Monday night phone call to the NYPD after he learned that a local clergyman, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, had been arrested.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Endless Snow Edition (Updated)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference addressing the city’s response to the storm that arrived overnight.  The fourth storm of de Blasio’s five weeks as mayor, it brought the new wrinkle of including ice as part of the precipitation.

Rock Salt & Governor Cuomo:

Wednesday morning, Governor Cuomo told reporters that in order to alleviate a shortage of rock salt, he was ordering deliveries of New York State’s rock salt supplies to New York City and other municipalities.  When asked by the NY Times Kate Taylor, Mayor de Blasio described a far less dire supply situation, while seeking to avoid any sort of dispute with the governor.  The question also featured a rare on-camera moment for First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris.  Although he’s frequently at the mayor’s press conferences, Shorris clearly prefers an off-camera role.

Update – Full Press Q&A:

Mayor de Blasio answered storm related “on-topic” questions only.  Among the questions: whether he’ll speed up his move to Gracie Mansion in order to avoid snow shoveling, a reported road salt shortage, the current blood supply shortage and whether he’ll donate blood, whether he would consider allowing boroughs or school districts to make their own decisions on closing for inclement weather, the 911 response times and city overtime costs, what Sanitation Commissioner Doherty learned from the second storm of this administration, the cause of a signal failure this morning on the 1/2/3 subway line and his take on the many snow storms in his brief tenure.  Here is his full press Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Afterschool Edition (Updated x 2)

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon at Middle School 331, on West Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, to promote the middle school portion of his pre-K/middle school after school program initiative.

Jill Colvin of Politicker asked de Blasio about the unfolding scandal enveloping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Here’s how he responded.

The Port Authority, ground zero of the scandal, is a bi-state agency controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey.  Despite the Port Authority operating major elements of New York City’s transportation infrastructure, including the three Hudson River crossings into New York City and the City’s two major airports, the mayor has no control of the agency.  Accordingly, it’s an agency that mayors love to rail against, if not hate.

One possible consequence of the scandal may be an unexpected need for Mayor de Blasio to focus on the structure and operations of the Port Authority and determine whether  to seek any major changes in them.  With no role or control at the Port Authority, he has little leverage and is basically a Port Authority bystander, despite the PA’s importance to the city.  But standing by passively could result in a missed opportunity should Governor Cuomo decide to seek changes in the PA’s structure or operations.  Although mostly silent on the scandal, Cuomo did recently announce a plan, or at least a plan to make a plan, for New York State to take control of the construction operations at the two airports.  Whether he’ll move more aggressively is unclear, but it seems like a fair prospect.  One bright spot for de Blasio is his administration’s in-house expertise on the Port Authority; First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris is a former executive director of the Port Authority.  (updated)


Here is the mayor’s full 37 minute Q&A with the press.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Knockout Edition (Updated)

With 36 hours to being sworn in as mayor, Bill de Blasio announced his selection of Carmen Farina as schools chancellor.

Press Q&A:

Here is the full press Q&A.

The Battle of Brooklyn:

Following the press conference, de Blasio spent a few minutes talking with the students who had dutifully stood behind him.  He described the Battle of Brooklyn, an important Revolutionary War battle that occurred near the site of the press conference, and then took questions from the students.

Farina & de Blasio as Student Tumbles:

As Carmen Farina was speaking, one of those dutifully standing students tumbled off the riser.  The student was reported to be unhurt.  Here’s how Farina and de Blasio reacted.

Update – Horse Carriages:

de Blasio reaffirmed his pledge to eliminate horse carriages.  Although he’s slightly modified his campaign pledge to do so immediately upon taking office, he’s unequivocal in his pledge to do so promptly.  (Watch de Blasio and the other candidates discussing horse carriages at a mayoral forum in May.)  Here’s what he had to say on Monday.