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Friday, February 3, 2023

Mayor Adams Announces Roadmap for Nation's Largest Compost Collection Program, Including Achieving Decades-Long Goal of Providing Curbside Service to Every New York City Resident

 – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch on Wednesday February 1st, announced a roadmap to implement the nation's largest composting program, a long-delayed win for cleanliness and sustainability. After highlighting the program in his State of the City address last week, Mayor Adams laid out details, over the coming 20 months, for weekly collection of compostable material that will become an automatic, guaranteed, free, year-round service for every single resident across all five boroughs. While curbside composting programs have existed in New York City for the last decade, none have ever served more than approximately 40 percent of the city. This will be the first-ever specific plan and commitment to reach 100 percent coverage citywide, providing residents with simple, universal weekly collection of leaf and yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper products. It is also the first program designed as a service for “mass market” use by all New Yorkers. 

The Adams administration developed an effective, cost-effective pilot plan for curbside composting that began in Queens on October 3, 2022. This program — designed to be the easiest-to-use, most efficient curbside composting program ever — exceeded expectations in Queens as it diverted three times the material at less than a third of the cost on average per district compared to old programs. This model will now be expanded citywide.

“Today, we are going where no one has gone before. By the end of 2024, every New York City resident will have access to clean, convenient, curbside compost pickup from the Department of Sanitation,” said Mayor Adams. “For more than two decades, past administrations have been working to achieve citywide composting — and today, I’m proud to announce we are getting it done. By reducing the food waste that we put into trash bags, our streets will look better, smell better, and best of all, will be dealing a blow to New York City’s number one enemy: rats.”  

“For decades, New York City has been one of the nation’s largest takeout food offenders, sending billions of tons of food out of state, hundreds of miles away to be dumped in landfills,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Building on the commonsense approach used in the Queens organics pilot, today we are announcing the reversal of this costly and carbon producing activity. Instead of creating more landfill, our food scraps will be separated, contained from rats, and turned into renewable energy, biosolids, and compost.”

Full details on the 12.7 million pounds of compostable material diverted from landfill in the first three months of the Queens pilot program are available on DSNY’s website.

The new program is built on a number of efficiencies that drive costs down, including the use of dual-bin trucks and a right-sizing of the workforce to reduce overtime. The leaf-and-yard-waste-first approach was designed based on an analysis of successful programs in other cities, including Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto. 

Unlike past composting programs, there will be no sign-up required for this new program. Residents will simply set out anything from their kitchen or their garden in a separate bin on their recycling day and DSNY will pick up those materials to turn them into usable compost or clean, renewable energy. While DSNY will make its own Brown Bins available, this program also includes the flexibility for New Yorkers to use ANY bin of 55 gallons or less with a secure lid.

Service will begin on the following timeline:

  • March 27, 2023: Service restarts in Queens following a brief winter pause and becomes year-round. There will be no further seasonal breaks in any borough.
  • October 2, 2023: Service begins in Brooklyn.
  • March 25, 2024: Service begins in Staten Island and the Bronx.
  • October 7, 2024: Service comes to Manhattan, marking the first citywide curbside composting program ever.

As Manhattan will receive service last, Mayor Adams also announced that the borough will receive an additional 150 Smart Composting Bins this spring to help residents separate their compostable material. These orange bins are an example of a successful pilot scaling broadly. From an initial group of 25 in Astoria, Mayor Adams previously announced a plan to place 100 bins across all five boroughs, which, based on popularity, was later expanded to 250, in every part of the city. As of today, those bins have all been installed and are accessible 24 hours per day via a newly-designed app for iOS and Android called NYC Compost. The additional Manhattan bins announced today will bring the total number bins to 400.

New Smart Composting Bin service covers a number of traditionally underserved communities, including Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Castle Hill, Harlem, Highbridge, the North Shore of Staten Island, Parkchester, the area around Queensbridge Houses, and Washington Heights. Across these communities, the bins have been greeted by enthusiastic usage and have diverted pristine compostable material from landfill. The additional 150 bins announced today will be placed in central business districts and residential sections of Manhattan.

Today’s announcement additionally comes on the heels of historic investments in other DSNY sustainability efforts by the Adams administration, nearly $31 million in further funding in Fiscal Year 2023 since last April. This funding includes investments in a number of exciting programs — not just curbside composting and the Smart Composting Bins, but a previously-announced expansion of school composting to every New York City public school by next school year, a comprehensive waste characterization study, and expanded funding for community composting.

Finally, today's announcement includes a plan to thank the people of Queens for their role in making curbside composting a success. This spring, all Queens residents will be able to pick up 40-pound bags of New York City compost for use in their yards and gardens. A full schedule of giveback events will be mailed to Queens residents and posted on DSNY’s website. The department will conduct more compost giveback events in every borough as the program proceeds, where the material that residents put out for composting is given back to them the following year as usable soil.


President Marcos Gets US Pledge to Aid AFP Modernization, Enhance US-PH Military Forces Interoperability

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday February 2nd, promised to help the Philippines modernize its defense capabilities as well as increase the interoperability of American and Filipino military forces.

“From defense perspective, we will continue to work together with our great partners and to build and modernize your capabilities as well as increase our interoperability,” Austin said in his opening remarks prior to his meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Malacañang.

“So we are very, very happy to be here once again and I look forward to a great discussion with you, Mr. President,” the US defense chief said.

In a separate remark, President Marcos said he sees the future of the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific tied up with the United States because of the Philippines’ and the region’s strong and historic partnership with the US.

“And again, I have always said that it seems to me that the future of the Philippines and, for that matter, the Asia Pacific will always have to involve the United States simply because those partnerships are so strong and so historically embedded in our common psyches that can only be an advantage to both our countries,” the President said.

“So thank you once again for coming to visit with us and to give us the opportunity to discuss with you and through you, the American government, our own outlook on this situation as it stands at the present,” Marcos added.

President Marcos thanked the US defense chief for visiting the Philippines amid a “very complicated situation” in the region to exchange some ideas, thoughts and information with him on the current situation in the Asia-Pacific.

The Philippines, Marcos said, can only navigate properly in this environment with the help of its partners and allies in the international sphere.

“As we traverse these rather troubled waters — geopolitical waters, the economic waters — that we are facing, I again put great importance on that partnerships, specifically with the United States… all partnerships and alliances that we are able to make with our friends around the world,” the chief executive said. 


Thursday, February 2, 2023

US Defense Chief Austin Vows to Extend Aid to Davao de Oro Quake Victims in Meeting with President Marcos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday received a commitment from United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the tremor that rocked a Davao de Oro town on Wednesday evening.

“And let me begin by saying that we are very sorry to learn yesterday that there was an earthquake down in Mindanao,” Austin told President Marcos in their meeting in Malacañang.

“And I’m relieved to hear from my team that the damage was not significant, at least, that’s what we understand thus far, and of course, we have not heard of significant injuries being reported as well, but we know how these things develop,” the senior US official said.

Austin paid a courtesy call on President Marcos on Thursday at the President’s Hall in Malacañan Palace.

“We stand ready to help in any way that we can. And again I think our AID (Agency for International Development) personnel are in the area, and they stand ready to help to provide humanitarian assistance when and where possible. So please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s a need,” Austin told the President.

The magnitude 6 earthquake, which was tectonic in origin, struck New Bataan in Davao de Oro at 6:44 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said aftershocks are expected.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ambassador Lagdameo Articulates ASEAN Statement Promoting Rule of Law at U.N. Security Council Open Debate

Ambassador and Permanent Representative Antonio M. Lagdameo delivers the ASEAN and Philippine statements at the Ministerial Level Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council On "The Rule of Law among Nations" at the UN Headquarters in New York on 12 January 2023. (Photo Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

– Ambassador and Permanent Representative (PR) Antonio M. Lagdameo of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York delivered the statements of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Philippines at the Ministerial Level Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council on "The Rule of Law among Nations" at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The high-level meeting was convened by the Government of Japan, current President of the Security Council, under the agenda item “the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security.” H.E. Mr. Hayashi Yoshimasa, Foreign Minister of Japan, chaired the open debate which focused on the role of the rule of law among nations in fulfilling the purposes of the United Nations and the Charter of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security.

“Our world today is facing increasingly complex and cross-cutting challenges, including challenges to the rule of law among nations, on almost all fronts. The need to uphold the rule of law has never been as urgent as now,” Ambassador and PR Lagdameo, said on behalf of the ASEAN.

“ASEAN Member States are committed to upholding the principles stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations and on the basis of international law, which is the indispensable foundation of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world,” Ambassador Lagdameo stressed.

He reaffirmed the importance of multilateralism and the significance of ASEAN’s partnerships with other external partners including regional and international organizations, such as the United Nations, to address global concerns, pursue shared goals and promote sustainable development and inclusive growth.

He added, “ASEAN Member States share a commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security, and stability in our region, including in maritime areas such as the South China Sea, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.”

For the Philippine national statement, Ambassador and PR Lagdameo reaffirmed Philippine commitment to the Charter and adherence to the rule of law among nations, noting that it is a founding member of the United Nations.

He highlighted the utmost efforts exerted by the Philippines to reinforce the predictability & stability of international law – a great equalizer among states – in addressing challenges to peace and security.

He also remarked, “With the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, we provided an example of how states should resolve their differences: through reason and through right. The South China Sea Arbitration, along with the Convention, are twin anchors of our positions and actions on the South China Sea.”

The Philippines is not a member of the UN Security Council but delivered the statement pursuant Rule XIV, Rule 137 of the UN General Assembly Rules of Procedure. It may be recalled that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in his first address to the General Assembly cited the Philippine bid to earn a seat at the Security Council for the term 2027-2028.


NYC Kicks Off Tax Season with Free Tax Preparation Services Now Tailored for Self-Employed New Yorkers, More Money for Filers Claiming Newly Enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit

All New Yorkers Who Earned $80,000 or Less Encouraged to File for Free Tax Prep. Expansion of NYC Free Tax Prep to Self-Employed New Yorkers and Small Businesses Fulfills Key Proposal of Mayor’s “Blueprint for Economic Recovery”

NEW YORK, NY – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today kicked off the tax season and encouraged single-filing New Yorkers who earned $56,000 or less in 2022, or families who earned $80,000 or less, to file their taxes for free using NYC Free Tax Prep. NYC Free Tax Prep provides free, professional, tax preparation that can help New Yorkers keep their full refund, including valuable tax credits, like the newly enhanced New York City Earned Income Tax Credit (NYC EITC). The new NYC Free Tax Prep for self-employed New Yorkers will also provide income tax services to freelance workers and small businesses. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began accepting tax returns on Monday, January 23rd and will continue to do so until Tuesday, April 18.

“We know that many New Yorkers are struggling right now, and we want them to know the city is here for them,” said Mayor Adams. “Last year, we went to Albany to secure the first increase in the city’s Earned Income Tax Credit in 20 years. Now, thanks to our administration’s efforts, freelance workers, gig workers, and small businesses can take advantage of free tax prep, along with eligible individuals making less than $56,000 a year or families making less than $80,000. New Yorkers deserve their fair share, and we are putting more money in their pockets this tax season.”

“This administration is committed to delivering on a comprehensive working people’s agenda for New Yorkers,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “Thanks to the partnership and commitment from our colleagues in Albany, last year we were able to secure an increase in the city’s Earned Income Tax Credit for the first time in 20 years, putting more money into low- and middle-income families’ pockets and helping them plan for their financial future. We encourage all eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of Free Tax Prep so they can claim the full value of this credit and keep more of their hard-earned money.”

“The pandemic showed us that too many New Yorkers operate on the brink, living paycheck to paycheck, without sufficient savings to weather crises big or small. These hardships are particularly crippling for gig workers, freelancers, and others hustling from job to job,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “Today, we’re proud to announce that we’re delivering on a commitment made in our Blueprint for New York City's Economic Recovery, expanding the NYC Free Tax Prep program to support freelancers, gig workers, and small and micro-business owners with free business tax prep, accounting, recordkeeping, and other financial support services. This will help keep hard-earned money in their pockets and fuel an equitable, broad-based recovery for all New Yorkers.”

NYC Free Tax Prep for the Self-Employed                                                                                  

Announced as part of Mayor Adams’ “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery,” NYC Free Tax Prep for self-employed individuals seeks to expand the availability of free tax preparation services for gig workers, freelancers, and small business owners who often struggle to file taxes and manage financial record keeping and face limited access to capital, banking services, and loans. Through this new year-round service within NYC Free Tax Prep, self-employed individuals and owners of businesses can work with specially trained preparers on their annual and, later in 2023, quarterly estimated tax filings, including workshops, one-on-one consultations, and other resources on record keeping and tax filing.


The EITC is available to working families and individuals with low and moderate incomes. The enhancement of the NYC EITC — the first increase in New York City in almost 20 years — fulfills a campaign pledge from Mayor Adams and will help 800,000 New Yorkers who qualify to better afford essential items like food, rent, and utilities.

This tax season, the NYC EITC is increasing from a five percent match of the federal EITC levels to 10 to 30 percent, depending on the filers’ income, meaning more money back for more New Yorkers. Under the city’s enhancement of the EITC, a single parent with one child with an income of $14,750 will see the benefit increase from $181 to $905 — a 400 percent increase. A married couple with two children and an income of $25,000 will see their New York City benefit increase from $299 to $897 under the city payment — a 200 percent increase.

NYC Free Tax Prep Services include:

  • In-Person Tax Prep — sit down with a volunteer preparer: At in-person tax prep sites, knowledgeable IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteer preparers help filers complete an accurate tax return. Nearly 140 sites across the city will be opening in the coming weeks.
  • Drop-off Service — drop off documents and pick up completed returns later: With drop-off service, filers can drop off their tax documents and pick up the completed return later.
  • Virtual Tax Prep — like in-person free filing but online: Virtual Tax Prep is an online service where an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will video conference with filers to help prepare their tax return using a secure digital system. Filers can submit photos or scans of tax documents to the preparer, confirm their identity, and complete their return by video call with a preparer. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; and the ability to download secure video conference software.
  • Assisted Self-Preparation — free online tax prep on one’s own or with help: Assisted Self-Preparation allows filers to complete their tax return online on their own and an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will be available by phone or email to answer questions. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; an email address, and their 2021 adjusted gross income or self-select PIN.

Paid Tax Preparers

The city encourages eligible filers to file for free with NYC Free Tax Prep but consumers who use a paid tax preparer should ask the preparer for a Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers (available in multiple languages) and read it carefully before having their taxes prepared. Consumers should also be on alert for predatory tax preparers that overcharge, charge hidden fees, or file their returns without permission.

New Yorkers can call 311 or visit New York City’s tax prep website to choose the best filing option for themselves and find the most convenient location if choosing in-person or drop-off tax prep. A checklist of what documents New Yorkers need to bring with them to file and multilingual information about the services are available online. In-person services are available in English, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu, and other language are yet to come.


President Marcos Cites Importance of Partnerships Amid Present Geopolitical Challenges

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. underscored the importance of forging strong ties with the country’s friends and partners in the United States, Southeast Asia and the entire Asia Pacific in the midst of the present geopolitical challenges.

Speaking with the members of the US-Philippines Society, who paid a courtesy call on him at the Palace on Monday January 30th, President Marcos said the world becomes so much more complicated with the heated rivalry among powerful nations.

Asia Pacific has seen many fundamental changes, President Marcos said, noting the international community also cannot downplay the effects and the shocks brought about by the war in Ukraine.

The situation in the South China Sea also continues to be worrisome, Marcos pointed out.

“And that is when we once again look to our friends and partners in the United States to be our treaty partner, and of course, our neighbors in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the entire Asia Pacific extending up to the Indo Pacific,” the President said.

“So these partnerships have become as important as they have ever been in our entire joint history. And that is why I am very happy to see that the US-Philippines Society is so active,” the President said.

The chief executive thanked the US-Philippines Society for expressing interest in current developments and most especially in the US-Philippines relationship, and strengthening the ties that he described as an “evolving relationship” amid the current changes.

“That relationship is extremely important certainly to the Philippines and I believe also to the United States. So thank you for this visit,” Marcos said.

The US-Philippines Society is a private sector initiative organized to broaden and expand interaction and understanding through basic research and/or applied research in the areas of security, trade, investments, tourism, the environment, history, education and culture between the United States and the Philippines which would benefit the American public and the people of the Philippines.

A non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization, its mission is to build on the rich and longstanding historical ties between the two nations and help to bring that unique relationship fully into the 21st century at a junction when U.S. policy interests are increasingly focused on East Asia.


Governor Hochul Rides Inaugural LIRR Train to Grand Central Madison

20-Minute Grand Central Direct Service Between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison Begins Initial Operation, With Full Expansion Coming Soon. Grand Central Madison Enables the First Direct Transfers Between the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad. Historic First Train Arrived at 11:07 a.m.

Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber on Wednesday January 25th, rode the inaugural Long Island Rail Road train to Grand Central Madison, which arrived at the terminal platform at 11:07 a.m. The train was the first of Grand Central Direct trains now operating between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison between 6:15 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on weekends. Trains are running every 30 minutes in both directions during weekday midday periods as well as on weekends, and once per hour during peak periods - arriving in Grand Central between 6:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and departing between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

"Grand Central Madison is a game changer for New Yorkers, and I look forward to welcoming Long Island commuters to our tremendous new terminal," Governor Hochul said. "Infrastructure is all about connections, and this project is an extraordinary step forward to better connect millions of New Yorkers with their homes, their families and their jobs."

During this initial period, the LIRR has customer ambassadors on the Grand Central Madison concourse to greet customers and offer information about the new space. LIRR customers to Grand Central Madison can use their Penn Station tickets, as Penn Station and Grand Central Madison are in the same fare zone. The special Grand Central Direct service will conclude with the initiation of full train service mirroring what was put forward in draft schedules published last June. To enable travel planning, the MTA will provide at least three weeks notice before new, full schedules go into effect.

Grand Central Madison doubles LIRR capacity into Manhattan. In conjunction with the completion of a third track on the LIRR Main Line, the new terminal enables reverse commuting options that were not previously possible. For LIRR customers who work on the east side of Manhattan, this new terminal is expected to save 40 minutes a day of commute time round trip.

The terminal also provides seamless connectivity through the MTA region, with both commuter railroads and the New York City Subway all in one building for the first time. The expansion of CityTicket will provide an additional travel option to Queens communities served by the LIRR, providing easier access to job opportunities. The impending introduction of the Combo Ticket will give New Yorkers, and those visiting New York, more travel options than ever to get to Long Island, the Hudson Valley, or Connecticut from the five boroughs. Customers in Metro-North Railroad territory for example will now have an one-ticket ride to JFK Airport.

Grand Central Madison is the first new major downtown rail terminal in the United States in 67 years and the first expansion of the LIRR in 112 years, since service began to Penn Station on September 8, 1910. The terminal provides Long Island with service to both sides of Manhattan for the first time. The space includes two prominent permanent artworks by internationally renowned artists. An 875-square-foot abstract and figurative glass mosaic by Yayoi Kusama entitled A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe is located on the Madison Concourse at the main ticketing area, between 46th and 47th streets. Four glass mosaics by Kiki Smith totaling approximately 600 square feet will bring nature inspired by Long Island to the Mezzanine level, and a fifth mosaic by Smith on the Madison Concourse totaling 800 square feet was inspired by the way sunlight glints off the surface of the East River.

The beginning of service now enables the possibility of transferring directly between the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad. To encourage riders from each railroad to try the other, when full LIRR service begins to Grand Central Madison, the MTA will introduce the "Combo Ticket" - a single ticket that enables customers to travel between Long Island, Manhattan's northern suburbs and Connecticut all with one fare.

The Combo Ticket will enable riders to buy a LIRR ticket in Huntington for a trip to White Plains or a Metro-North ticket in Poughkeepsie for a trip to Montauk. Riders choose their origin station with Grand Central as their destination and pay the regular fare plus a flat rate of eight dollars for a continuing trip to any destination on the other railroad. The Combo Ticket will go into effect once the Grand Central Madison timetables are implemented.

The Grand Central Madison systemwide timetables are expected to include 274 more trains each weekday than currently operate, a historic 41 percent service increase made possible in part by the completion on October 3 of a new 9.8-mile Main Line third between Floral Park and Hicksville. The timetables represent the first comprehensive rewrite of LIRR schedules in decades and the MTA encourages all riders, no matter when or where they travel, to review their options on the TrainTime app or review the LIRR's service overview to see new options for their travel.

Grand Central Madison and Main Line Third Track are part of an unprecedented $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road with 100 projects throughout the system including construction of a more spacious LIRR Concourse at Penn Station with a new entrance at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue, renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges, elimination of eight at-grade railroad crossings, activation of the Positive Train Control safety system, installation of 13 miles of second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases, and yard expansions.

Additionally, following the opening of Moynihan Train Hall in 2021, the MTA, together with Empire State Development, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, is transforming Penn Station into a world-class, single-level terminal with abundant natural light, high ceilings, increased access to platforms, and enhanced wayfinding. 

The LIRR published draft timetables showing Grand Central Madison service on June 2 for public review and held six virtual information sessions and public meetings between June 23 and August 11 to gather public feedback.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Opinion: R'Bonney Gabriel Legit Miss Universe; Loida Lewis' Book Out in March; Ex-VP Robredo to KeynoteReunion of Fellow U.P. Alumni in America By Manuel L. Caballero




Did you notice our title is about three empowered women?

To us, the most Miss Universe-like candidate in the most recent universal beauty pageant among 80+ contestants was our own R’ Bonney Gabriel of Texas. Why did I bring this topic up? Please read the following which I also wrote.


R’Bonney Gabriel, the first Filipina American Miss Universe, after resigning as Miss USA in order to concentrate on her reported $250,000/year job as Miss Universe, became the object of fraud accusations in her winning the universal beauty contest.


In a statement, Gabriel said, "You know, I have to be honest. It is very hurtful. It's very disheartening because I have put my heart and my soul into it...I know there are always rumors that can start.... There will always be people that try to bring you down."

"I'm focused on being successful," she concluded.

The Miss Universe Organization, defending Gabriel and the Organization, issued a statement saying that instead of focusing on unfounded accusations, they will continue to do their good work.


The wonder Filipina American from New York, businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis  has a new book scheduled to come out by the end of March. It is an autobiography. Title is "Why Should Guys Have All the Fun." If you have not read her flyer, please do so. See below.


The 3rd empowered woman in this week's column needs no introduction, former PH  Vice President Leni Gerona Robredo. This October, she will be the keynote speaker during the Grand Reunion of her fellow alumni from UP in America. The event will be held in NJ.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Mayor Adams Outlines "Working People's Agenda" for NYC in Second State of the City Address

Agenda Rests on Four Pillars That Uphold Strong and Sustainable Society: Jobs, Safety, Housing, and Care

Speech Lays Out Bold Plans to Keep Recidivists Off Streets, Connect 30,000 New Yorkers to Apprenticeships, Launch Country's Largest Curbside Composting Program, Kick Off Community Planning Processes in Midtown and Staten Island's North Shore, Electrify All For-Hire Vehicles, and Provide Free, Comprehensive Health Care to All New Yorkers in City Homeless Shelters

Adams Administration Will Make NYC More Affordable, Safer, Cleaner, and More Livable

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday January 26th, outlined a "Working People's Agenda" in his second State of the City address, delivered at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Mayor Adams' agenda is built on four pillars that are essential to building a city that meets the needs of working New Yorkers and represent the focus of his administration's work in 2023: jobs, safety, housing, and care.

"Without a strong working class, this city cannot survive. That's why, today, I've outlined how we plan to build a city for working people, one that is more affordable, safer, cleaner, and more livable," said Mayor Adams. "You need good jobs and pathways to get those jobs, and those jobs need to be able to support a home for you and a family. You need to be safer, and you need care – not just in crisis but throughout your lives. These are the things that our administration is working for every day to sustain the workers who make this city possible and build a better city for all."


New York City has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the last year, with the city's job growth outpacing both the state and the rest of the nation. But that progress masks a harsh, unequal reality: The unemployment rate for Black New Yorkers is more than three times the rate for white New Yorkers. Mayor Adams' Working People's Agenda will ensure that all New Yorkers have access to family-sustaining jobs with good pay and benefits.

To do so, Mayor Adams will launch a new Apprenticeship Accelerator to connect 30,000 New Yorkers to apprenticeships by 2030. The Accelerator will track all forms of apprenticeship from youth to adults in the workforce – also providing technical assistance to support the expansion of apprenticeship programs by employers, training providers, educational institutions, and labor unions. The administration will also launch a citywide campaign to engage potential apprenticeship program participants by highlighting how these programs are providing a pathway to economic opportunity and financial security while transforming the career trajectory for New Yorkers in industries like information technology, marketing, health care, and finance.

In October 2022, Mayor Adams announced the Science Park and Research Campus (SPARC) Kips Bay project with New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a major step towards establishing New York City as a global leader in life sciences, health care, and public health jobs. Building on that work, Mayor Adams will kickstart a new effort to make New York City the global center of sustainable biotechnology – leveraging the city's growing life sciences and biotechnology industry to meet the city's carbon neutrality goals and create jobs. The Adams administration will open a first-in-the-nation, 50,000-square-foot innovation space that will provide office space, research laboratories, and events and programming space to support the growth of sustainable biotechnology startups and companies, with an emphasis on creating opportunities for women and people of color and bringing greater diversity to the industry. Additionally, the New York City Economic Development Corporation will release a request for expressions of interest for an operator to open a new hub for materials science innovation focusing on early-stage companies.

Under the Working People's Agenda, the Adams administration will also:

  • Create a new Nursing Education Initiative, in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY), to support 30,000 current and aspiring nurses over the next five years to enter the nursing workforce, stay in the profession, and climb the career ladder;
  • Double the city's current rate of contracting with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) and award $25 billion in contracts to M/WBEs over the next four years and $60 billion over the next eight years;
  • Launch the new Center for Workplace Accessibility and Inclusion – a dedicated team that will connect 2,500 people with disabilities to jobs, help employers make their workplaces more accessible, and continue the mission of helping New Yorkers living with disabilities thrive in the workplace and every other aspect of city life;
  • Expand the CUNY2x Tech program to more campuses – including community colleges – with a focus on institutions serving first-generation college students and communities of color;
  • Help 36,000 economically disadvantaged workers and residents of high-poverty communities – including 8,000 construction workers and 28,000 service contract workers – connect to good jobs every year by working with city partners in Albany to finally empower New York City to require companies with city contracts to hire local community members;
  • Support the city's growing legal cannabis industry by launching a new loan fund to help more New Yorkers impacted by the ‘War on Drugs' start new businesses, while increasing enforcement against unlicensed establishments undermining the legal industry;
  • Give every child the support they need to read at or above grade level, building on the success of supplying every elementary school with a phonics-based curriculum rooted in the science of reading by ensuring every school has at least one staff member trained in literacy-based interventions, launching the first district school in city history dedicated solely to supporting students with dyslexia, and making dyslexia screenings available in every public school in New York City;
  • Establish a whole-child approach to education that includes social-emotional learning, rolling out a pioneering student mental health program with telehealth care for every public high school student, community-based counseling for those who need additional support, daily breathing and mindfulness exercises, and expanded nutrition education standards and plant-powered school menus; and
  • Ensure every child graduates high school with a clear pathway for the future – whether that is a job, job training, or continuing education, provide up to 35,000 middle school students in the Summer Rising program with career exposure and college visits, empowering LGBTQ+ youth through a new Summer Youth Employment Program Pride initiative that places students in truly supportive work opportunities, and expanding FutureReadyNYC to 90 schools and 7,000 students to provide a reimagined high school experience with early college and career-connected learning programs.

Safety and Quality of Life

Mayor Adams entered City Hall with a mission and a mandate to reduce gun violence. Having lowered shootings by double digits in its first year in office, and leaving 2022 on an overall downward trend in major crimes, the administration will continue to focus on violent crime while rolling out new and expanded efforts to combat issues from property crime and traffic violence to quality-of-life issues.

The Adams administration will work to get ‘New York's Most Wanted' – roughly 1,700 known offenders responsible for a disproportionate amount of the city's violent crime – off the streets. That means working with Albany on targeted, evidence-based solutions to this crisis and changes to state law to ensure that defendants receive the speedy trial that the Constitution guarantees, that victims and their families are provided justice in a timely manner, and that district attorneys and public defenders have the resources to hire more attorneys and paralegals to remove the bottleneck in the courts while simultaneously investing in technology. The administration will also work to address the overly complex and burdensome discovery process that is consuming innocent people with bureaucracy without getting dangerous people off the streets or providing closure for victims.

Following a promising year for Vision Zero and traffic safety efforts, which included a 25-percent decrease in speeding after Mayor Adams turned on speed cameras 24/7, the Adams administration is focused in 2023 on holding reckless drivers accountable. The administration will work with partners in Albany to advance a package of six bills called Removing Offenders and Aggressive Drivers from Our Streets (ROADS) to increase penalties for serious crashes, running red lights, and impaired driving. The ROADS legislative package would also ensure swift and serious consequences for those who drive with suspended or revoked licenses, including by revoking the privilege of driving on city streets and suspending the registration of vehicles that collect five or more red light camera violations within a 12-month period.

Mayor Adams will also continue to focus on quality of life and provide clean, high-quality public spaces that are essential to the city's comeback. The mayor will take a major step by launching the country's largest curbside composting program, with access for every New Yorker by the end of 2024. He will address the longstanding, pervasive issue of unsightly sidewalk construction sheds by replacing them with newly designed structures that keep our streets vibrant and strengthening enforcement against those who leave sheds up for years. And, building on the "Making New York Work for Everyone" action plan released in December, Mayor Adams will make a game-changing $375 million investment to create extraordinary new public spaces and permanent Open Streets in all five boroughs, including:

  • The Broadway Vision plan to connect Madison Square to Greeley Square between 21st and 33rd Streets;
  • Unlocking two spaces under the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan for public use with a working group to evaluate medium- and long-term concepts for these spaces and others nearby;
  • Additional high-quality pedestrian space around the perimeter of Court Square Park and along Thomson Avenue and Court Square West in Long Island City;
  • A full reconstruction of Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica;
  • Permanent upgrades to the Open Street on Willis Avenue between East 147th Street and Bergen Avenue in the Bronx with a bike lane, pedestrian safety improvements, and public space beautification; and
  • Permanent improvements to the Minthorne Street Open Street on Staten Island, with expanded pedestrian space at Tompkinsville Park and a new plaza at Central Avenue.

Under the Working People's Agenda, the Adams administration will also:

  • Supplement the city's focus on the most violent offenders by redoubling efforts to protect New Yorkers from robberies and burglaries – including increasing the New York City Police Department's (NYPD) crime prevention units' focus on retail theft and working with business owners and business improvement districts on proactive solutions to prevent shoplifting;
  • Expand the community response teams to operate at the borough level and address everything from ghost license plates to noise complaints and property crimes;
  • Continue the fight against gun violence by expanding neighborhood safety teams to additional neighborhoods, investing in more violence-prevention programs in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of violent crime, and launching a new Neighborhood Safety Alliance – a partnership between local precincts, service providers, and community leaders in many of these same neighborhoods;
  • Increase the number of NYPD tow trucks to address the growing number of abandoned or illegally parked cars blocking traffic and visibility, help keep delivery zones and bus and bike lanes clear, and crack down on illegal placards and placard abuse;
  • Bring CompStat meetings to the community level and give New Yorkers direct access to a version of these meetings for the first time, allowing them to interact directly with local and citywide NYPD leaders;
  • Build on efforts to electrify the city vehicle fleet by requiring the 100,000-plus high-volume for-hire vehicles to do the same – requiring them, with the support of Uber and Lyft, to be zero-emissions by 2030, with no new costs for individual drivers;
  • Appoint a new director of the public realm to coordinate across city government, community organizations, and the private sector to ensure we invest in public spaces citywide;
  • Work with the City Council to build on the massive success of the pandemic-era temporary Open Restaurants program and deliver a permanent program that actually works for businesses and residents in all five boroughs;
  • Unveil an updated PlaNYC in April with even more of our sustainability agenda, including new data on how our food choices impact the environment; and
  • Launch a new climate budgeting process – making New York City the first big city in the nation to adopt the approach of aligning financial resources with our sustainability and resiliency goals.


New York must remain a place where working people can get a foothold and afford an apartment while simultaneously raising a family in a community. But New York City cannot address its housing shortage and solve its affordable housing crisis simply by continuing the status quo. The city must build more housing, and that's why Mayor Adams has committed to making New York a "City of Yes."

Building on the mayor's "Get Stuff Built" plan and his moonshot goal to meet the need for 500,000 new homes across the city, the Adams administration will work with New York City Councilmembers Erik Bottcher, Keith Powers, and Kamillah Hanks to kick off two major community planning processes. In the coming weeks, community engagement will begin with the goals of creating more housing, including rent-restricted housing – in Midtown Manhattan where current zoning only allows for manufacturing and office space, as well as on the North Shore of Staten Island where the administration will pursue expanded waterfront access and flood resiliency, job creation, and mixed-use development.

Under the Working People's Agenda, the Adams administration will also:

  • Help New Yorkers stay in their homes by investing $22 million in tenant protection programs to provide more staff dedicated to investigating and enforcing against bad landlords, creating stronger partnerships with community groups and legal services providers to protect tenants from being pushed out of rent-regulated apartments and cracking down on landlords who discriminate against tenants based on their source of income;
  • Expand the Big Apple Connect program to reach even more New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments with free broadband and TV for tens of thousands of New Yorkers;
  • Provide free broadband access to households with Section 8 vouchers with a new pilot program in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan;
  • Continue putting money directly in New Yorkers' pockets – including $350 million through the expanded Earned Income Tax credit – with an historic expansion of the city's free tax preparation program in coordination with schools, houses of worship, NYCHA, and community partners to process an additional 26,000 returns next year and save New Yorkers an additional $14.3 million in filing fees and refunds;
  • Broaden access to other public benefits like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, or SNAP by cutting unnecessary red tape and expanding benefit screenings so New Yorkers get every dollar they deserve; and
  • Pursue legislation allowing New Yorkers to keep public benefits for up to six months after they accept a new job, easing the transition to financial independence.


Over the past year, New York City's ability to care was put to the test by an asylum seeker crisis. New Yorkers rose to the occasion, as they always do, and the Adams administration has provided shelter, food, health care, education, legal support, and a host of other services to the more than 42,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in New York City since last spring. The city will continue to do its part, but everyone else must do their part as well – New York City cannot continue to shoulder this cost on its own. The administration will continue to provide care for the newest New Yorkers, while also deepening its commitment to every resident of the five boroughs and fundamentally changing the way it provides care for its residents.

Mayor Adams will undertake an historic effort to provide health care for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. The administration will work with its state and federal partners to allow New Yorkers who have spent more than seven days in the New York City Department of Homeless Services' (DHS) shelter system to become eligible for free, comprehensive health care services through a specialized network of dedicated providers and care management. This would make New York the first city in the country to provide this level of care and support to its residents. Connecting New Yorkers experiencing homelessness to ongoing primary care, behavioral health care, and social services is more cost-efficient than the cycle of hospitalizations and emergency room visits that so many people experience, more effective at supporting the health of a largely vulnerable population, and an important measure to get more New Yorkers into high-quality, permanent housing and ease overcrowding in DHS shelters.

The Adams administration is also developing a three-part mental health plan focused on child and family mental health, severe mental illness, and an upstream approach to the opioid crisis, including investing more than $150 million in opioid settlement funds into proven harm reduction and treatment programs. As part of the plan, the administration will open new Clubhouses for New Yorkers with severe mental illness. Clubhouses provide peer support and access to services, employment, and educational opportunities – offering an alternative to the instability and danger of the streets, hospitals, jails, or subways, while reducing hospitalization and contact with the criminal legal system and improving health and wellness.

Under the Working People's Agenda, the Adams administration will also:

  • Continue to address women's health by hosting an all-hands-on-deck summit in March and putting forward initiatives that will help improve Black maternal mortality while also improving the birthing experience for all New Yorkers, in addition to unveiling a comprehensive women's agenda in the coming months; and
  • Fight the crises of obesity and chronic disease by investing in access to healthier food for lower-income New Yorkers, relaunching the Groceries 2 Go program, and expanding Health Bucks.

The full text of Mayor Adams' remarks, as prepared for delivery, is provided below:

My fellow New Yorkers, thank you.

A year ago, I was sworn in as your mayor. We've climbed a lot of mountains since that day.

One year ago, we were facing crisis after crisis – COVID, crime, an economy in freefall. I was mourning my mother, who transitioned before she could see her son become New York City's second Black mayor. But my mother never rested when there was work to do, and neither did New York City. We hit the ground running and got stuff done.

One year later, our city is on the pathway to being safer, our economy is recovering, and our stores, subways, and hotels are full. Our children are back in school with their teachers and friends. Our theaters are thriving, our restaurants are booked, and New Yorkers are back to work.

I'm proud of our achievements this year. And I want to thank all of you who worked so hard to get us to this moment.

Today, I stand before you here at the Queens Theater, in the borough where I grew up. Home to an international working-class community to say to you, my fellow New Yorkers: The state of our city is strong. As strong as the police officers and first responders who have made this city safer, as strong as the legions of city workers who have laid the groundwork for the future, and, above all, as strong as the working people of this city who make it all possible.

Your early mornings, late nights, and double shifts keep us moving, keep us healthy, keep us safe – especially over the last few years. You have done everything for us, and this city must do more for you.

Today, I want to outline a working people's agenda, based on the four pillars that uphold a strong and sustainable society: jobs, safety, housing, and care. These are the things that our administration is working for every day.

Every New Yorker needs a good-paying job, so we are investing in a new generation of apprenticeships, community hiring, and job training. Every New Yorker needs a safe and welcoming neighborhood, so we are getting New York City's "Most Wanted" off our streets and investing millions to make our city cleaner and greener. Every New Yorker needs an affordable place to live, so we are working to add 500,000 more homes across all five boroughs. And every one of us needs care – not just in crisis but throughout our lives.

That's why we are expanding the social safety net, making it easier to access public benefits and health care, no matter who you are or where you live. We're changing how we get things done for New Yorkers – building success at the source, solving problems upstream instead of reacting to crises downstream, moving beyond recovery into a new era of abundance and equity.

And it starts now, with us. We're getting things done for the people of New York City. And we are not doing it alone. It will take everyone in this room working together.

I want to recognize my colleagues in government who are here today: Attorney General Letitia James, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, City Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, District Attorneys Alvin Bragg, Darcel Clark, and Melinda Katz, Borough Presidents Vito Fossella, Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, and Donovan Richards.

And last but not least, I want to thank Governor Hochul. It's been a long time since the governor of New York has come to a State of the City address. It's a testament not only to our incredible partnership but to your commitment to the people of New York City. I'm grateful to have you here today and to have you fighting for us in Albany.

So as I said, our Working People's Agenda starts with jobs – not side hustles or occasional gigs but jobs with good pay and good benefits, jobs you can support yourself and a family on, jobs you can build a life around. New York City has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the last year, and our employment growth has outpaced the state and the nation.

But that progress masks a harsh reality. The unemployment rate for Black New Yorkers is at least three times as high as for white New Yorkers. This era of inequality must end.

We are going to make sure that all New Yorkers finally have access to good jobs. We're reimagining our city's workforce development system from the bottom up – improving education, expanding job training, and creating employment on-ramps at every stage of the process, so that New Yorkers from all walks of life can benefit from this economic recovery.

People used to move where the jobs were – but in today's economy, jobs come to where the talent is. So we are going to bolster, build, and diversify that talent, creating the best-educated, best-prepared workforce anywhere in this nation.

Today, I'm proud to announce that we will connect 30,000 New Yorkers to apprenticeships by 2030, thanks to our new Apprenticeship Accelerator. This is on-the-job experience with an opportunity for permanent employment in high-demand careers, and it will ensure employers can tap the talent they need.

We're also going to expand the CUNY2x Tech program to more campuses – including community colleges – with a focus on institutions serving first-generation college students and communities of color.

We're also investing in the jobs of the future. Last year, Governor Hochul and I announced a new life sciences hub in Kips Bay, which will create 10,000 jobs and $25 billion in economic impact. And this year, the city will kickstart a new effort to become the global center of sustainable biotech.

We will start by opening a first-in-the-nation incubator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where biotech startups will transform the way we eat, build, and protect our environment. And as we work to create more jobs, we will also help New Yorkers train for the jobs that are in high demand right now – jobs in tech, renewable energy, and nursing.

Our city and country are already facing a nursing shortage, and the federal government estimates we will need 275,000 more nurses nationally by 2030. So I'm proud to announce a new Nursing Education Initiative – in partnership with CUNY – that will help more New Yorkers enter the nursing workforce, stay in the profession, and climb the career ladder. We will support 30,000 current and aspiring nurses over the next five years with everything from additional training to mentorship and clinical placements. New York City needs our nurses, who did such incredible work during the pandemic. Nurses are the hands, heart, and soul of our health care system, and we will never forget you.

We also need to help more New Yorkers with disabilities enter the workforce – right now, only one in three are employed. Our city will launch the new Center for Workplace Accessibility and Inclusion, which will connect over 2,500 people with disabilities to jobs. We will continue the mission of helping New Yorkers living with disabilities thrive in the workplace and in every other aspect of city life.

We're also looking for new ways to address old injustices, including supporting the largest legal cannabis industry in the nation. This year, we will launch a new loan fund to help more New Yorkers who were impacted by the "War on Drugs" to start new businesses.

At the same time, we will increase enforcement against unlicensed cannabis shops. We're not going to let bad actors undermine the promise we made to New Yorkers who were impacted by marijuana criminalization. If you think you're going to come into our communities without a license, put our kids at risk, and steal jobs away from people trying to do it the right way, you must be smoking something.

We're also going to make sure more of the money that our city spends goes towards creating good jobs for New Yorkers right here at home. That means working with our partners in Albany to finally give New York City the power to require companies that benefit from city contracts to hire local community members. Promoting community hiring will allow us to help 36,000 economically disadvantaged workers connect to good jobs every year.

We also want to make sure even more city dollars go to minority- and women-owned businesses.

We recently hit our M/WBE spending goal three years ahead of schedule. Today, I'm announcing an even more ambitious commitment. Working with Speaker Adams and the City Council, we are committing to award $25 billion in contracts to M/WBE businesses by Fiscal Year 2026. And we will increase that number to $60 billion by 2030 – more than doubling our current rate.

Our support for small businesses does not end there. This week, we announced the Small Business Opportunity Fund, a $75 million loan fund that will be the largest in New York City history. And while our tourism and hospitality industries have recovered substantially since our city shut down in 2020, we cannot take that progress for granted.

We will show the world that New York City is open and ready for visitors, attracting major events like the 2026 FIFA World Cup and – we hope – next year's Democratic National Convention. We'll continue to invest in our cultural and creative sectors across the board – from iconic museums and arts organizations to our legendary film and television production industry.

As I said before, talent is at the center of our jobs strategy, and we know it starts with education. Chancellor Banks and I are united in our vision of giving all of our children a bright start and a bold future.

We are making three fundamental commitments to our young people. One, every child will get the support they need to become a strong reader, at or above grade level. Two, We will establish a whole-child approach to education, factoring in social-emotional learning and other supportive services. And three, every student who graduates from a New York City high school will have a clear pathway to the future – whether that is a job, job training, or continuing education.

Let's start with reading, the foundational skill that every child needs to succeed. This year, we made sure every elementary school was supplied with a phonics-based curriculum built on the science of reading. And going forward, every school leader will be trained in this improved literacy instruction, so they can support the teachers in implementing that curriculum. Next year, every school will also have at least one staff member trained in the most effective reading interventions available, so that every student can access the support they need. We will also launch the first district school in city history dedicated to supporting students with dyslexia, while continuing to expand new dyslexia programs citywide.

Before I took office, there were no consistent dyslexia specific screenings across all our public schools. As of this year, we've rolled out new screenings in nearly 200 schools. And by next year, they will be available in every public school in the city – supporting families like Sanayi Canton's. Three of her sons were diagnosed with dyslexia, but, until recently, our public schools simply didn't have enough support for students facing those challenges. Sanayi worked two jobs to get them extra tutoring, and her oldest son has since earned a full scholarship to Fordham University.

We are inspired by this family, but no parent should have to work two jobs just to provide a basic education for their children. Sanayi, we are proud to be working with you to ensure your youngest son and children like him can get all the services they need right in their school and their neighborhood.

Second, academic success is important, but we must also take a whole-child approach to education – supporting our children with healthy food, physical education, social-emotional learning, and mental health services. This year, we are rolling out a new, comprehensive mental health program for our students. We will provide our high school students with everything from telehealth care to community-based counseling, depending on their individual needs. We'll initiate a new program focused on daily breathing and mindfulness exercises and continue to expand nutrition education standards and plant-powered menus in our schools.

And, this year, we are going to make long-overdue updates to our Fair Student Funding formula, redirecting $90 million towards supporting students in temporary housing and schools with a concentration of high-need students.

That brings me to our third promise: Every student will be ready for what comes after high school. It's not just about connecting them to jobs – it's about planning for the future all along the way.

Starting this summer, up to 35,000 middle school students in our Summer Rising program will receive career exposure, field trips, and college visits. We are also enhancing and diversifying our largest-in-the-nation Summer Youth Employment Program. This year, we will empower our LGBTQ+ youth through a new initiative that places students in truly supportive work opportunities.

Our city is determined to make sure our students graduate from high school with skills, strategy, and purpose. That's why we are expanding our FutureReadyNYC program to 90 schools and 7,000 students next year. We want our students to get the experience and support they need to transition to college and career paths before they graduate. So when you get your hard-earned diploma, you will get more than a handshake – you will get support, direction, and a path to opportunity.

Our children must be educated, but they must be safe, too. Our administration came into City Hall with a mission and a mandate: Reducing gun violence. We've already made real progress.

Shootings are down, murders are down, and major crimes were down last quarter for the first time in six quarters.

New Yorkers can finally see safer days ahead after several years of rising crime.

I want to thank everyone who has supported this effort, especially Governor Hochul and President Biden. They understand that fighting the scourge of illegal guns is a top priority for our city. We will continue to work with all of our colleagues in government to combat gun violence in New York City and across the nation.

That means advocating for common-sense gun reform at every level of government. We're just a few weeks into the New Year, and already this country has seen multiple mass shootings.

Americans have had enough. We must get this done. Because ending gun violence means stopping it before it starts, especially when it comes to our youth. By the time a young person gets a gun, the system has already failed. We're not going to let that keep happening in our city.

We're going to use proven methods and intensive community support to keep gun culture from taking root and taking over. That means more neighborhood safety teams in more places, more violence-prevention programs in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of violent crime, and a new Neighborhood Safety Alliance – a partnership between local precincts, service providers, and community leaders in many of these same neighborhoods.

I want to thank Police Commissioner Sewell for all her work keeping New Yorkers safe this year. She has saved lives and supported the department through a very tough year.

This year, we will build on that work – increasing our efforts to protect New Yorkers from robberies and burglaries as well as violent crime. The NYPD's crime prevention units will expand their focus on retail theft and work with business owners and business improvement districts on solutions to prevent shoplifting. We'll also expand the community response teams to operate at the borough level.

And we will make better use of our most powerful tool in the fight against crime: Our communities. We're bringing CompStat meetings to the community level. These are the monthly meetings where local precincts and NYPD brass go through the data to determine how to address crime block by block. We're going to give New Yorkers direct access to a version of these meetings for the first time, so they can interact directly with local and citywide NYPD leaders. If New Yorkers don't feel like they can engage with the NYPD, we will never be able to fully serve them and keep them safe. Breaking down these barriers will be a big step in the right direction.

We will also roll out new and expanded efforts to fight everything from property crime to traffic violence and quality-of-life issues. Many of these problems are rooted in the continuing crisis of recidivism.

Time after time, we see crime after crime from a core group of repeat offenders. There are roughly 1,700 known offenders that are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime in our city. These are New York's "Most Wanted." We know who they are, and we need to get them off our streets.

This year, we are going to work with our partners in Albany to find reasonable, evidence-based solutions to this recidivism crisis. We all agree that no one should be in jail simply because they can't afford to post bail. But we should also agree that we cannot allow a small number of violent individuals to continue terrorizing our neighbors over and over again.

We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to make changes in the law that ensure defendants are provided with the speedy trial that our Constitution guarantees and that victims and their families are provided justice in a timely manner. That means making sure our district attorneys and public defenders have the resources they need to clear the backlog of cases and finding ways to expedite the discovery process. Discovery is the process of exchanging legal information before a trial begins, and it has become so complex that it is jamming up the entire system. This must change. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Our legal system must ensure that dangerous people are kept off the streets, innocent people are not consumed by bureaucracy, and victims can obtain resolution. This is something we can all agree on. Let's get it done in 2023.

Our city is also going to escalate our campaign to end another deadly crime that kills far too many innocent people: Traffic violence. 2023 is the year we are going to tighten the screws on reckless drivers – holding them accountable for their actions before they harm others.

We must treat traffic violence the same way we treat other dangerous crimes. We are working with our partners in Albany to advance new legislation called ROADS. That stands for Removing Offenders and Aggressive Drivers from our Streets. These new laws would increase penalties for serious crashes, running red lights, and impaired driving – including revoking the privilege to drive on our city streets.

We will also continue to save lives by expanding protected bike lanes, cracking down on illegal placards and placard abuse, and ensuring swift and serious consequences for those who drive with suspended and revoked licenses.

New Yorkers have had enough of gridlock and scofflaws. Going forward, we are going to deploy more NYPD tow trucks on our streets. We're going to ticket and tow abandoned or illegally parked cars that block traffic and visibility. This will help keep our delivery zones, bus lanes, and bike lanes clear and help us to make driving, biking, and walking easier and safer for everyone.

New Yorkers should not have to fear for their lives every time they cross the street or bike to work. Vision Zero means exactly that: Zero fatalities. That's a goal we take very seriously.

Our administration is also going to invest in improving quality of life for New Yorkers across the board. For far too long, New Yorkers were asked to accept things that should be unacceptable –
crime, rats, trash, traffic. When we allow quality of life to deteriorate, it is working-class New Yorkers that suffer most. It also hurts our economic recovery.

Last year, our administration made significant improvements to more than 75 commercial corridors in all five boroughs. This year, we will build upon that work – especially when it comes to rats. Most people don't know this about me, but I hate rats. And pretty soon, those rats will be hating me.

Hiring our new Rat Czar will be just the beginning of a new era in delivering the best in public services and public spaces. We're going to "Get Stuff Cleaner" by launching the country's largest curbside composting program. By the end of 2024, all 8.5 million New Yorkers will finally have the rat-defying solution they've been waiting for for two decades.

In just three months, a pilot composting program right here in Queens kept nearly 13 million pounds of kitchen and yard waste out of landfills. That's more than the weight of 300 city buses. Imagine how much we will accomplish when every family in the city is participating. A lot of people have talked about this issue, but this administration is getting it done.

Quality of life improvements won't stop there. We're also going to replace unsightly construction sheds – requiring all buildings to use newly designed structures that preserve the vibrancy of our streets – and increase enforcement against those that leave those sheds up for years at a time, blocking sidewalks and windows.

And speaking of sheds, it's time to retire those COVID cabins and replace them with something better. The Open Restaurants program was a massive success that saved so many of our restaurants, bars, and cafés during the pandemic. But now it's time to come together and figure out how New Yorkers can enjoy outdoor dining with a permanent version that works for businesses and residents. I know New Yorkers support this vision, and I look forward to working with Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez and the City Council to achieve it.

Open space is important. The pandemic highlighted the critical role our parks, playgrounds, and waterfronts play in improving the physical and mental health of all New Yorkers. Building on the commitments Governor Hochul and I announced in our "New New York" plan, we are going to create extraordinary new public spaces in every borough. We will invest more than $375 million in new parks and plazas, widened sidewalks, safer intersections, expanded bike lanes, and inviting landscaping. And we will build on the success and popularity of our Open Streets program by creating permanent community spaces where people can gather and enjoy the best in cultural and wellness programming. Our new director of the public realm will ensure we invest in our public spaces citywide, coordinating across city agencies, businesses, and community groups to deliver results for all New Yorkers.

Public safety means more than protecting our streets. It means protecting our environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the future of our children and generations to come. For too long, our working-class neighborhoods have borne the burden of highways and heavy industry, leading to polluted air and the highest asthma rates in the nation. This environmental injustice is not acceptable, especially when the technology we need to change it is already here.

That's why we are committed to reducing building emissions to create a healthier and more sustainable city. We're also electrifying our city vehicle fleet.

And we are going to go even further, requiring for-hire vehicles to do the same. Today, we are announcing that Uber and Lyft will be required to have a zero-emissions fleet by 2030. That's zero emissions for over 100,000 vehicles on our city streets. And it will be achieved with no new costs for individual drivers. We're pleased that both companies are embracing this shift, and we look forward to working with them to get it done. We're also encouraging New Yorkers who drive to make the switch to electric vehicles as well, adding charging stations in all five boroughs.

Our commitment to improving the environment and fighting climate change means reinventing our energy sector across the board. New York will continue to lead the way to our clean-energy future by becoming the wind power hub of the Eastern seaboard.  The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal will soon become one of the largest offshore wind port facilities in the nation. This will create jobs and help New York City meet our goal of 100-percent clean electricity by 2040.

We'll also be unveiling even more of our sustainability agenda this April in our updated PlaNYC, which will include new data on how our food choices impact the environment. And we will be launching a new climate budgeting process that puts sustainability front and center. Going forward, the first question we will ask about new programs and investments is, "Will this help meet our climate goals?"

The future of New York City will be cleaner, greener, and healthier for all, including our wildlife and marine life, like the dolphins who recently visited us in the Bronx River. That's the future of our city. More dolphins, fewer rats.

This is the greatest city in the world. And every day, more people want to come here, work here, and be part of the New York City story. New York must remain a city where everyday people can find an affordable place to live. Young people, immigrants, families, and retired folks all need a place to call their own.

That's why we have continued to support public housing every step of the way. It is the foundation of our affordable housing stock and a pathway out of poverty. For years, public housing was underfunded by the federal government, but we are starting to turn that tide. Last year, we made renovations to more than 8,500 NYCHA apartments through the RAD program.

And we have committed a historic $23 billion for housing, including money for repairs to NYCHA buildings.

We got the NYCHA Trust passed, unlocking billions of dollars for long overdue renovations. But we never would have gotten it done if we didn't have tenant leaders like Barbara McFadden leading the way. She helped organize her neighbors at Sheepshead-Nostrand Houses. Along with so many other NYCHA residents, they took the long ride up to Albany and spent day after day meeting with state legislators. Barbara, you got it done for us. Now we are going to get those repairs done for you.

We need to invest in our public housing. But we also need to build more affordable housing for all New Yorkers. That is why New York has committed to being a "City of Yes" – yes to more housing, in every borough and every neighborhood. Last month, we released our plan to Get Stuff Built and laid out a moonshot goal of building 500,000 additional homes over the next decade – homes for all people, from recent arrivals to lifelong New Yorkers, homes for seniors, families, and veterans.

I said we couldn't do it alone – and the good news is that we don't have to. In her State of the State address, Governor Hochul committed to providing more tools for New York City to build the housing we need. I want to thank the governor for her leadership and support. On so many issues, she has been there for our city right from the start.

And, in 2023, we are going to accomplish great things together, including building more housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods and near transit hubs. I recently announced plans for 6,000 new homes and 10,000 new jobs around four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, and we are not stopping there.

At Willets Point, just a short walk from where we are now, we are working with Councilmember Francisco Moya to build the largest new 100-percent affordable housing development in 40 years. This visionary new development will feature much more than housing – it will have a world-class soccer stadium, public space, and good jobs, too.

This year, we will pursue opportunities to add even more housing, jobs, and infrastructure in all five boroughs. From the moment I took office, I've said that we want to work in partnership with Councilmembers and communities to build more housing together, and more and more of our Council colleagues are standing up to be part of the solution.

Councilmembers Erik Bottcher and Keith Powers have called on us to help them make Midtown Manhattan a true live-work community. That means creating housing in areas that currently only allow manufacturing and office uses while protecting good jobs in the center of our city's economy.

We've also heard Council Member Kamillah Hanks' call for a master plan for the North Shore of Staten Island, with investments in the waterfront, housing, and job opportunities. Councilmembers, I'm proud to say we are answering your call. The Economic Development Corporation and the Department of City Planning will be working with you and Speaker Adams on plans that address the needs of your communities while tackling our citywide housing crisis. Thank you for demonstrating what real leadership looks like.

Building new housing is essential for our future, but we also need to address the housing crisis in the here and now. That means protecting tenants and helping New Yorkers stay in their homes.  So we are investing over $22 million in tenant protection programs – including more staff to increase investigation and enforcement against bad landlords and stronger partnerships with community groups and legal service providers to protect tenants from being pushed out of rent-regulated apartments.

We're also cracking down on landlords who discriminate based on source of income. If you tell a potential tenant that you don't accept Section 8 vouchers or other rental assistance, guess what? That tenant might be an actor hired by the city, and we are going to take enforcement action against you.

Housing is the biggest cost New Yorkers face, but it's not the only one. In this digital era, access to the internet is essential for work, school, and life, including medical care. We're going to help all New Yorkers get connected, no matter what their income level. We're expanding Big Apple Connect within NYCHA developments, delivering free internet and TV to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. And we will launch a new pilot program providing free broadband to Section 8 households in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

We're committed to fighting for support for working people and actually making sure they get that support. This year, we will make it simpler for New Yorkers to access public benefits like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and SNAP. We will cut unnecessary red tape and expand benefit screenings so New Yorkers in need will get every dollar they deserve. That will include a focus on seniors as well as veterans who may be eligible for newly expanded federal funds.

And we are working to pass legislation that will allow individuals to keep public benefits for up to six months after they take a new job, easing the transition to financial independence.

Last year, we announced we were putting $350 million dollars back into the pockets of working people through our expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. This year, we're making sure working people actually get that tax credit by launching a historic expansion of our free tax prep program. And, beginning tomorrow, we'll be introducing free business tax prep for freelancers and gig workers – another first for New York City.

With an infusion of new funding and unprecedented coordination with schools, houses of worship, NYCHA, and community partners, we'll be able to process an additional 26,000 returns next year and save New Yorkers approximately $14.3 million in filing fees and refunds. As we speak, New Yorkers are applying for and receiving these expanded benefits. A family of four making $25,000 will see their payout increase from $300 to $900.

Let me tell you what a difference these programs can make. Ronald Brown lives in Queensbridge Houses with his two daughters. Like so many New Yorkers, he got laid off during the pandemic and was having a hard time getting back on his feet. Last year, he came to one of our free tax prep centers hoping to get his federal stimulus check for $1,400. By the time he walked out, we had gotten him almost $15,000 – including the expanded state income tax credit we fought for and won.

Ronald, I hope you're coming back this year, because we are going to get you and your family the money you deserve.

Finally, I want to talk about something that doesn't get enough attention: Our responsibility as a city to care for New Yorkers in the greatest need. Over the past year, our ability to care was put to the test by the asylum seeker crisis. New Yorkers rose to the occasion, as they always do. Since last spring, we have had more than 42,000 asylum seekers arrive in our city, and we have provided them with shelter, food, education, health care, and legal support.

We will continue to do our part, but we need everyone else to do their part as well. I want to thank Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader Jeffries, and our tireless New York congressional delegation for everything they have done so far.

But New York City cannot continue to shoulder this cost on our own. We need more help from Albany and Washington, D.C. The asylum seeker crisis is a national issue, not a local one.

While we will continue to provide care for new arrivals, we will also deepen our commitment to every resident of the five boroughs. We are going to fundamentally change the way we provide care for our citizens. We're moving from a system that waits until New Yorkers are in crisis before offering help to one that focuses on upstream solutions. That means eliminating bureaucratic barriers and focusing on the structural challenges that so often force people into crisis.

And we will begin with one of our most vulnerable populations: People experiencing homelessness. This year, we are working with our state and federal partners to offer free comprehensive health care to New Yorkers who have spent more than seven days in our Department of Homeless Services shelters. This would make New York the first city in the country to do so.

We're not going to wait for people in crisis to show up at the ER – we will provide the care they need when they need it. That's progress, that's compassion, that's care in New York City.

We'll also take an upstream approach to our opioid crisis, investing more than $150 million of opioid settlement funds secured by my good friend Attorney General Tish James into proven harm reduction and treatment programs.

And we will move mountains to address the growing problems of untreated serious mental illness and social isolation. A few months ago, we laid out an initial approach for connecting the most severely mentally ill New Yorkers with needed care. This work is driven by the dedicated heroes who are out on our streets and in our subways, night and day, helping New Yorkers in crisis.

People like Richard Arroyo, who works on one of our Health Engagement and Assessment Teams. He grew up in Marcy Houses and studied to become a social worker to help people in need. Richard has spent the last ten months riding our subways, in high-stakes, high-stress situations, helping people in crisis get the services they need. That could be as simple as pointing them to a food pantry or as big as getting them into shelter or treatment.

He says the most important thing is to look people in the eye, show them you see them as human beings, as equals. They may not accept help the first time, but once they see city workers helping others, they're willing to open up the lines of communication. Richard, on behalf of the entire city, thank you for your service.

This year, we will give Richard and his colleagues even more ways to connect people with mental illness to care and compassion. A few months ago, we laid out an initial strategy for connecting the most seriously mentally ill New Yorkers with needed care. And in the next few weeks, we will outline our broader plan around mental health. That will include new Clubhouses for people with serious mental illness – places that provide peer support and community, access to services, and employment and educational opportunities.

We also want to keep New Yorkers healthy by making sure they have access to fresh food, including fruit and vegetables. We will fight the continuing crisis of obesity and chronic disease by expanding city investment in healthy food access for lower income New Yorkers, including the launch of Groceries 2 Go and Green Stands.

And when it comes to care, no one cares for us the way our families do, especially the women in our lives. That's why I was proud to announce a new future for women's health in our city, building on the important work we've already done, including supporting new mothers with doulas and home visits. We'll continue to focus on women's health through an all-hands-on-deck summit in March and other initiatives I announced last week. And in the coming months, we will unveil a comprehensive women's agenda, driven by the amazing women in leadership positions at City Hall and throughout this administration. Because when we support women and families, we are all better for it.

Over the past year, we have spoken about getting things done. We came into office with a "People's Plan," and I'm proud to say we have delivered for the working people of this city.

We are on the pathway to a safer city, with more jobs and more opportunity. And we have laid the cornerstone for a new era of affordable housing. Promises made, promises kept.

This coming year is about expanding that vision of what can get done and what will get done. It means building a strong foundation that supports today's realities and anticipates tomorrow's needs.

City government must work to improve the public good, support an economy that works for all, and care for the working people who make it possible. Jobs, safety, housing, and care – without these pillars of support, cities crumble, institutions fall, society weakens. We will not allow that to happen in New York.

It is the working class that has lifted up this city, built it brick by brick on the bedrock of a free and democratic nation. And, going forward, we will sustain the workers who make this city possible. Working together, we can build a better city for all, keep those pillars of civic power strong, open more golden doors, and inspire others to do the same.

We're just getting started, and there's no stopping the world's greatest city – filled with the best stuff on earth: New Yorkers.