Full Episode Feb. 20: State of the City, Rockefeller Foundation, Rachel Robinson

February 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

On this edition of MetroFocus, WNYC Reporter Brigid Bergin joins host Rafael Pi Roman to talk politics. Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his State of the City speech on February 7 and talked about raising the minimum wage, creating more affordable housing, and one of his top priorities and challenges, universal pre-kindergarten, which is facing backlash in Albany.

Bergin said, “I think what Mayor de Blasio is trying to do first and foremost is to really draw a line demonstrating how different his administration is from the twelve years we’ve had under Mayor Bloomberg.” She added, “It’s always important when you look at Mayor de Blasio to think about where he comes from and how he got his start. He is first and foremost an organizer and an operative, he worked on Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign. This is someone who knows how to organize around an issue and to keep on it.”

When Hurricane Sandy disabled the city’s buses and subways in October 2012, the city briefly implemented Bus Rapid Transit, a high performance transit option with dedicated lanes to connect Brooklyn to Manhattan. Now, president of the Rockefeller Foundation Judith Rodin wants Mayor Bill de Blasio to seriously consider Bus Rapid Transit as a new solution to an ongoing transportation problem.

“We think that transportation is, at its heart, about equity. People who need to get linked to good jobs don’t all have the equal opportunity to do that.” She also believes Bus Rapid Transit is a sustainable and resilient alternative. “When the subways went down, it was the buses that took over, and so having this kind of flexible option where there really would be more rapid bus routes, I think is about resilience.”

And when Jackie Robinson first signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Since then, he’s paved the way for not only athletes, but for minorities in every profession. And by his side the entire time? His wife.’

Rachel Robinson started the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973, a year after her husband’s death. It now funds college scholarships and support programs for disadvantaged students of color. She spoke with longtime New York sportscaster Len Berman about the organization and what still needs to be done as part of MetroFocus’ series on philanthropy, “Giving Back”. “It does concern me that we are dealing with discrimination of all kinds,” Robinson said. “The fact that we haven’t been able to identify and attract African Americans is a problem I believe. And it’s not just in baseball, it’s in the professions.”

Watch the individual MetroFocus segments below and stay up to date on MetroFocus news from the New York region on Twitter.

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MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.


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