METROFOCUS: DECEMBER 5, 2019

New York City’s empty storefronts have doubled in the last ten years. Is the demise of the mom and pop shops a full-blown crisis or a sign of the times? A veteran hoping to adopt a child has made allegations that she faced bias from adoption agencies. She’ll share the story of her struggle to build a family and shed light on how she overcame the obstacles.  We’ll talk to a former gang member who’s now helping to bring an end to the violence plaguing Long Island.

Aired on December 5, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' RETAIL VACANCIES.

NEW YORK CITY STORE FRONTS HAVE DECLINED IN THE LAST FEW YEARS.

CITY CONSOLER SCOTT STRONGER WILL TELL US WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR THE CITY.

THEN ADOPTION IN THE MILITARY.

A VETERAN HOPING TO ADOPT A CHILD ALLEGES SHE FACED BIAS BY ADOPTION AGENCIES.

SHE'LL SHARE HER STRUGGLES ON BUILDING A FAMILY.

PLUS COMBATTING MS-13.

WE'LL TALK TO A FORMAL GANG MEMBER WHO'S NOW HELPING TO BRING AN END TO THE VIOLENCE.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'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, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

EMPTY STORE FRONTS ARE BECOMING A COMMON PART OF THE NEW YORK LANDSCAPE.

BETWEEN 2007 AND 2017, THE NUMBER OF RETAIL VACANCIES HAS RISEN BY NEARLY 50%. THE CITY CONTROLLERS OFFICE IS NOW REFERRING TO THIS AS THE AMAZON EFFECT OR MORE SIMPLY PUT THE DEMISE OF RETAIL STORES AND THE FLOURISHING OF SERVICE-ORIENTED BUSINESSES LIKE RESTAURANTS, BARBERS, AND BOUTIQUE GYMS.

RETAIL VACANCY IS CHANGING THE FACE OF NEW YORK, BUT IS IT FOR THE BETTER.

CONTROLLER SCOTT STRINGER IS HERE WITH HIS REPORT SHOWING THE FULL SCALE OF THIS PRESSING SITUATION.

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

NICE TO BE WITH YOU AS ALWAYS.

OH, THANK YOU.

YEAH, SO TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS PROBLEM BECAUSE WE ALL SEE THE INCREASED NUMBER OF VACANCIES AND THIS USED TO BE A CITY THAT WAS FULL OF MOM AND POPS AND SMALL BUSINESSES AND THAT'S NOT THE CASE ANYMORE.

THAT'S FOR SURE.

LOOK, I GREW UP IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, AND I CAN TELL YOU AS A KID I KNEW A LOT OF THE LOCAL STORE OWNERS BY NAME.

THEY KNEW ME.

FAMILIES KNEW LOCAL STORE OWNER, AND THAT WAS SORT OF A WAY OF LIFE WALKING DOWN DIKEMAN STREET AND OTHER PARTS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

TODAY YOU GO INTO YOUR LOCAL STORES AND IT'S NOT ABOUT MOM AND POP.

IT'S ABOUT WALKING INTO THE SAME DWAYNE REED OR CHASE BANK.

THE ONLY OUTLETS THAT CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD TO BE HERE.

SO, I DID THIS REPORT BECAUSE I REALLY WANTED TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THE VACANCY CRISIS THAT WE HAVE.

AND YES, WE SHOW CASE VACANCIES IN LOWER MANHATTAN, UPPER WEST SIDE, SOHO, TRIBECA.

WE SEE THOSE EMPTY STORES.

THE UPPER EAST SIDE HAS SO MANY BLOCKS WHERE THE STORE SPACE DOESN'T EXIST.

BUT WE ALSO NOUND THE CRISIS BEYOND MANHATTAN IN STATEN ISLAND AND QUEENS.

THIS IS A CITY-WIDE CRISIS.

PART OF WHAT WE NOW KNOW IS VACANCY HAS GROWN FROM 5.7 MILLION SQUARE FEET TO CLOSE TO 12 MILLION SQUARE FEET IN JUST THE LAST TEN YEARS OR FROM 2007 TO 2017, THIS IS THE DATA WE LOOKED AT.

SO, THIS IS A CRISIS.

YOU KNOW, PEOPLE FORGET THAT ONE OF THE REASONS WHY WE WANT VIBRANT STORES OPEN IS BECAUSE IT'S ACTUALLY A SAFETY ISSUE.

IT'S NOT JUST ECONOMIC.

IT GIVES THE STREETS THE VITALITY AND EXCITEMENT SO THAT YOU CAN WALK DOWN THE STREET LATER IN THE EVENING OR EARLY IN THE MORNING AND FEEL LIKE YOU'RE ALIVE IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, NEW YORK CITY.

WELL, SO A FEW THINGS.

ONE, LET'S GET INTO THE AMAZON EFFECT FIRST BECAUSE THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU DO BLAME SO MANY VACANCIES ON.

AND IS IT JUST AMAZON?

IS IT AMAZON AND A MIX OF RISING RENT PRICES?

COUPLE OF THINGS.

THERE WAS LAND LORD RETAIL GREED.

WE SAW RENTS SORE 22% IN THE LAST TEN YEARS.

THAT WAS IN SOME CASE ORIS A LOT OF CASES I'M GOING TO GET WHAT I GET REGARDLESS OF THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITIES.

BUT TODAY IT'S EVEN MORE CHALLENGING.

THERE'S ANOTHER STORY TO BE TOLD, AND THAT IS THE AMAZON EFFECT.

PEOPLE ARE ORDERING ONLINE.

THEY'RE NOT GOING INTO RETAIL SHOPS.

THEY'RE ACTUALLY JUST LOOKING AND TAKING A CLICK AND THEN GETTING THE DELIVERY.

SO, THERE'S IMPACT ON THAT.

STORES ARE CONSTRICTING.

DELIVERIES ARE CLOGGING OUR STREETS.

THERE IS AN ONLINE SHOPPING CHALLENGE TO OUR CITY.

SO, I LOOKED AT THE AMAZON EFFECT.

WE ALSO LOOKED AT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

SO, WE'RE GOING TO SEE, I BELIEVE, LESS CLOTHING STORES AND, YOU KNOW, STORES THAT COULD ACTUALLY HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE.

AND WHAT'S REPLACING THOSE STORES ARE CAFES AND RESTAURANTS, MORE SERVICE-ORIENTED BUSINESSES, YOU KNOW, CHILD CARE OR DOGGY DAYCARE.

THERE'S A LOT OF NEW BUSINESSES.

BUT THE CITY IS NOT ALIGNING THE BUREAUCRACY TO MEET THAT CHALLENGE.

AND SO THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THOSE NEW BUSINESSES THAT WILL PERHAPS REPLACE OTHER BUSINES BUSINESSES, THAT WE GIVE THEM THE INFRASTRUCTURE THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

OKAY.

BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE ONE OF THE THINGS PEOPLE MIGHT PUSH BACK AND SAY RESTAURANTS AND CAFES DO KIND OF ADD -- IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF VIBRANCY THAN RETAIL STORES BUT A DO ADD THAT.

YOU HAVE PEOPLE SITTING ON THE STREETS.

IT'S EXCITING TO SEE THAT.

BUT THE PERMIT PROCESS, FINES AND FEES ON SMALL BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY RESTAURANTS, HAVE JUST MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP THOSE BUSINESSES FLOURISHING.

AND YES, ONE BUSINESS GOES OUT.

ANOTHER RESTAURANT WILL OPEN.

BUT REALLY NOT WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING.

WE HAVE TO HELP OUR SMALL BUSINESSES.

IT'S THE LIFE BLOOD OF THE CITY.

WE ASK OUR SMALL BUSINESSES TO DO MORE.

I SUPPORT A $15 MINIMUM WAGE.

THAT'S IMPORTANT.

WE WANT TO GIVE WORKERS MORE SO THEY CAN TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES.

THERE HAS TO BE WAYS THAT AS WE ASK BUSINESSES TO STAND UP ECONOMICALLY, WE HAVE TO ASK THEM TO SURVIVE AS WELL.

SO, THE FINES, THE FEES, THE BUREAUCRACY IS THE STRAW THAT SNAPS THE BUSINESS.

WE SHOULD START LOOKING AT A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH.

AND ALSO DOING AN ANALYSIS OF DOING WHERE IS THE NEXT COMMERCIAL BUSINESSES IN OUR CITY.

THE OTHER THING I WOULD SAY IS THAT AS AN ADVOCATE AND ACTIVIST WHEN YOU SEE A BIG SCALE ENVIRONMENT, THIS DEVELOPMENT IS SO BIG IT'S T OUT OF CONTEXT WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

SO, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT.

AND THEN WE HAVE TO LOOK AT, WAIT, WE WANT AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN OUR COMMUNITY.

SO, THAT'S THE SECOND THING WE ADVOCATE.

THERE ISN'T ENOUGH DISCUSSION OF THE COMMERCIAL SPACE.

BECAUSE YOU'RE FIGHTING LIGHT AIR AND DENSITY AND AFFORDABILITY FROM THE HOUSING PERSPECTIVE, WE'VE GOT TO COME IN AND SAY WHAT'S GOING TO BE IN THAT GROUND FLOOR SPACE?

AND WE HAVE TO HOLD DEVELOPERS AND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION TO A REAL PLAN.

WE CAN'T HAVE JUST A BANK OR A BIG DRUGSTORE ON EVERY BLOCK.

THAT WAS GOING TO BE MY FINAL QUESTION.

IS THIS GOING TO BE GEARED MORE TOWARDS INDEPENDENTLY OWNED MOM AND POPS, IF YOU WILL, VERSUS CORPORATE STORES THAT CAN COME IN AND OPEN AND CLOSE VERY EASILY WITH VERY LITTLE PROBLEM.

WE MUST SUPPORT OUR SMALL BUSINESSES, OUR MOM AND POP.

A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO COME HERE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, A LOT OF WHY THEIR FAMILY GROWS ECONOMICALLY INTO THE MIDDLE CLASS IS BECAUSE ENTREPRENEURS, PEOPLE OF ALL DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS, COME HERE AND SET UP SHOP.

THEY SAVE MONEY.

THEY TAKE THEIR ENTREPRENEURSHIP SERIOUSLY AND A COMMUNITY CREATES WEALTH.

WE CAN'T LOSE THAT IN A CITY.

WE GET FORGET THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THIS MAGICAL CITY, THIS INTEGRATED CITY FROM SO MANY BACKGROUNDS THAT COME HERE AND BECOME THE DESTINATION FOR SOME 65 MILLION TOURISTS.

THEY JUST DON'T WANT TO SEE THE STATUE OF LIBERTY OR THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.

THEY LOVE COMING HERE SEEING OUR DIVERSITY, HOW WE WALK, HOW WE TALK, WHAT WE LOOK LIKE, WHETHER IT'S GOING TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY OR WALKING JACKSON HEIGHTS.

THIS IS THE POWER OF NEW YORK CITY.

AND IT STARTS NOT WITH CHASE BANK BUT WITH THE MOM AND POP.

AND MAYBE THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN THE TIME TO THE VACANCIES ON COLUMBUS AVENUE.

YOUR PASSION FOR THE CITY, WHILE I BELIEVE IT, IT SOUNDS A LITTLE BIT LIKE SOMEBODY THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN ANOTHER OFFICE.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD WANT TO ANNOUNCE WITH US?

I WOULD ONLY ANNOUNCE IT WITH YOU AT THAT CERTAIN TIME.

OKAY.

I'LL TELL YOU THE REASON I LOVE NEW YORK.

YOU KNOW, I WAS BORN AND RAISED HERE AT A TIME WHEN THE CITY WAS UNDER SOME REAL CHALLENGES, ON THE EDGE OF BANKRUPTCY, BRONX REALLY WAS BURNING.

THERE WERE REAL CHALLENGES.

BUT FOR SOME REASON THE CITY JUST HELD TOGETHER.

AND NOW I HAVE REAL SKIN IN THE GAME.

I HAVE A 7 1/2-YEAR-OLD, A 6-YEAR-OLD, MAX AND MILES, THEY GO TO OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

AND A LOT OF MY WORK IS THINKING ABOUT WHAT IS THE CITY GOING TO BE FOR THEM AND ALL OF OUR CHILDREN?

AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING AND KEEPS YOU WORKING THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

SO, TO ME, THAT'S THE MOTIVATION.

AND I'M FORTUNATE BECAUSE I HAVE ONE OF THE OFFICES IN THE CITY THAT CAN HAVE AN IMPACT.

AND TO THE EXTENT I'M IN GOVERNMENT BEYOND CONTROL, IT'S BECAUSE I WANT TO HAVE THAT UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP THIS GENERATION.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, NOT AN OFFICIAL STUMP SPEECH BUT STILL VERY GOOD.

YOU'RE TOUGH.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

> KAYLA AND LISA WERE CLOSE FRIENDS ON LONG ISLAND.

BUT IN SEPTEMBER 2016 ON THE EVE OF NISA'S 16th BIRTHDAY, SUCH A HAPPY TIME IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN, NEITHER OF THEM CAME HOME.

THESE TWO PRECIOUS GIRLS WERE BRUTALLY MURDERED WHILE WALKING TOGETHER IN THEIR HOMETOWN.

SIX MEMBERS OF THE SAVAGE MS-13 GANG HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH KAYLA AND NISA'S MURDERS.

THAT WAS PRESIDENT TRUMP HONORING THE PARENTS OF 16-YEAR-OLD KAYLA AND 15-YEAR-OLD NISA WHO WERE SLAIN BY THE NOTORIOUS MS 13 GANG.

THE TRAGIC STORY HAS BECOME A FLASH POINT FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

APPROXIMATELY 400 PEOPLE SUSPECTED OF GANG ACTIVITY HAVE ARRESTED IN SUFFICIENT FOLK COUNTY AND LOCAL AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES ARE SHOWING NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN.

BUT ONE CONCERN HAS ARISEN.

AS OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO AMP UP EFFORTS TO THE END OF THE VICIOUS GANG, QUESTION IS BEING RAISED COULD THEY BE RISK THE DUE PROCESS OF SOME IMMIGRANTS IN THE COMMUNITY?

COUNTY EXECUTIVES ARE STEPPING IN AND OFFERING A NEW AND PERHAPS LESS ABRASIVE WAY TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF GANG VIOLENCE.

AND THAT IS PREVENTION PROGRAMS.

IN BRENTWOOD, THE STRONG YOUTH ORGANIZATION HAS WORKED TO KEEP CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AWAY FROM GANGS.

THEY WILL CONTINUE THIS EFFORT ALONGSIDE THE COUNTY NOW $500,0.

WE'RE PLEASED TO BE JOINED BY E ACTIVIST SERGIO ARQUETTE WHO USED TO BE A EASTMEMBER OF A GA HIMSELF.

HOW WAS IT THAT YOU GOT INVOLVED IN A GANG AS A YOUNG PERSON?

AS A YOUNG PERSON GROWING UP IN EL MENTALLY SCHOOL, I WAS LIKE EVERY OTHER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KID, WANTING TO DO GOOD AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE.

IF YOU ASKED MY CLASSMATES AND I WHAT WE WANTED TO BE WHEN WE GROW UP, YOU WOULD HEAR THINGS LIKE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND LAWYER AND PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE.

AND WE ALL HAD THESE WONDERFUL DREAMS.

BUT AS WE GOT OLDER AND THE RESOURCES WERE LACKING AND YOU KNOW YOU START SEEING SOME OF THE DEFICITS IN TERMS OF WHAT EXISTS IN THE COMMUNITY, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO CERTAIN THINGS.

AND FOR ME, THERE WAS A LOT OF VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY AND UNFORTUNATELY I THOUGHT THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS GROUP OF FRIENDS, INDIVIDUALS THAT LITERALLY I HAD GROWN UP, WE WERE GOING TO PROTECT ONE ANOTHER AND SORT OF NOT BE VICTIMS TO THIS VIOLENCE.

AND THEN BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, YOU TOO START PERPETUATING THAT VIOLENCE.

THAT'S REALLY WHAT HAPPENED IN MY LIFE.

WHAT IS THE LURE, DO YOU THINK, TODAY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE IN SOME WAYS BEING SEDUCED INTO JOINING THESE GANGS?

YOU KNOW, THE LURE IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THINGS THAT EXISTED WHEN I WAS A CHILD.

OFTEN TIMES VIOLENCE EXISTS IN THE COMMUNITIES, THIS ISN'T NEW.

AND YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL BY JOINING A GANG THEY HAVE A SENSE OF PROTECTION, INDIVIDUALS THAT DON'T HAVE STRONG SUPPORT NETWORKS, NO PUN INTENDED.

THEY DON'T HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE, ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE'S A SOCIAL ASPECT TO THIS.

THERE'S ALSO, YOU KNOW, INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE LOOKING TO BECOME A PART OF SOMETHING.

AND THERE ARE THOSE THAT ARE BULLIED INTO THIS.

THE BELIEF IS, YOU KNOW, I'M BEING BULLIED RIGHT NOW.

IF I JOIN THIS GANG, I'LL BE PROTECTED.

I'LL HAVE FRIENDS.

THEY'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE FUN OF ME AS MUCH.

AND YOU KNOW, UNFORTUNATELY, THERE'S A -- THERE IS SORT OF A PREDATORY BEHAVIOR THAT BEGINS TO PLAY OUT IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW, ONCE YOU BECOME A PART OF A GANG.

LET'S TALK ABOUT -- I MENTIONED THE STRONG YOUTH PROGRAM THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES NOW.

WHAT SORT OF PROGRAMS ARE YOU OFFERING THAT WILL HOPEFULLY DIVERT YOUNG PEOPLE AWAY FROM THE GANG MEMBERSHIP AND ALLOW THEM TO PROCEED IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS?

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A CLINICAL TEAM THAT WORKS WITH THESE INDIVIDUALS IN TERM OF THEIR COUNSELING, YOU KNOW, LOOKING AT THERAPEUTIC APPROACHES TO DEALING WITH THE SISSUES THAT THESE YOUNG PEOPLE MIGHT BE DEALING WITH.

REALLY FOCUSING ON CREATING AN ATMOSPHERE WITH ADOLESCENTS ARE ABLE TO STRENGTHEN THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS.

UNFORTUNATELY MANY OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE MAY BE A LITTLE BIT DISTANT FROM SOME OF THEIR PRIMARY CAREGIVERS.

IT'S ABOUT RECONDITIONING, REP STRENGTHENING FAMILIES.

THAT'S THE MOTTO WE USE.

IT'S CLEAR THIS IS AN ENORMOUSLY CRITICAL PROBLEM FOR US TO DEAL WITH.

AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS TO GET VIOLENT PREDATORS OFF THE STREET, WE NOW KNOW WE CAN'T ARREST OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM.

SO, WE ARE CERTAINLY THANKFUL, SERGIO, TO YOU, YOUR GROUP, ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT THERE WHO ARE DOING SUCH GOOD WORK TO COMBAT THIS.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME AND FILLING US IN ON THE WORK YOU'RE DOING.

YOU CONTINUE TO DO THAT GOOD WORK AND YOU BE WELL.

WE SHALL.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

WE GREATLY APPRECIATE IT.

> TONIGHT ON OUR SERIES ON 9/11 VETERANS, WE'RE ABOUT TO INTRODUCE YOU TO LIEUTENANT COLONEL FROM THE TILLMAN FOUNDATION.

SHE'S HERE TO SHARE HER EXPERIENCE WITH ADOPTION AS A MILITARY PARENT AND HOW THAT PROCESS HAS LED HER TO PURSUE A LAW DEGREE AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.

FIRST WE'LL LOOK AT THE TILLMAN FOUNDATION, ORGANIZATION STARTED BY THE WIDOW OF P.A.T. TILLMAN WHO LOST HIS LIFE SERVING IN AFGHANISTAN.

MY GRANDPARENTS HAVE GONE TO WAR AND I HAVEN'T DONE A DAMN THING IN LAYING MYSELF DOWN LIKE THAT.

I KNEW AFTER PAT WAS KILLED I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING POSITIVE IN HIS MEMORY.

I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO START THE FOUNDATION.

IN STARTING IT, I KNEW I WANTED IT TO BE ABOUT THE WAY HE LIVED HIS LIFE.

I THINK THAT ALL OF OUR SCHOLARS HAVE A HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE AN IMPACT IN THEIR CHOSEN FIELDS.

AND COLLECTIVELY, WE SEE THEM AS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH, THAT THEY'RE GOING TO GO OUT THERE IN THE WORLD AND HAVE A HUGE IMPACT IN ALL THESE DIFFERENT AREAS AND THERE'S GOING TO BE THIS RIPPLE EFFECT.

THESE MEN AND WOMEN ARE GOING TO CHANGE OUR NATION AND OUR WORLD FOR THE BETTER.

JUST AN EXAMPLE OF SOME OF THE VETERANS WHO GO ON TO BECOME TILLMAN SCHOLARS, AND WE ARE PLEASED AND HONORED TO WELCOME ONE.

RETIRED LIEUTENANT COLONEL ROBIN EVANS WORLITH US.

PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU.

THANK YOU, JACK.

LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU TO TALK ABOUT YOUR MILITARY EXPERIENCE.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE MILITARY?

LIKE MOST PEOPLE, I JOINED THE MILITARY AS AN ENDS TO A MEANS.

I WAS LOOKING FOR COLLEGE MONEY.

I WAS VERY INTERESTED IN PURSUING A COLLEGE DEGREE BUT SIMPLY DIDN'T HAVE THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES TO DO SO.

AND THE ARMY WAS GOING TO GIVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND COLLEGE.

SO, THAT WAS MY INITIAL ENTRY AND INTEREST IN THE MILITARY.

I ENLISTED.

I STARTED THE CHAPLAIN'S ASSISTANT FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS WHICH IS BASICALLY A CHURCH SECRETARY.

YOU WORK ONE ON ONE WITH AN ARMY CHAPLAIN TO PROVIDE RELIGIOUS SERVICES TO SOLDIERS AND SERVICE MEMBERS' FAMILIES.

I ENJOYED THAT.

MY INTERACTIONS WITH MY CHAPLAINS, THEY SAW LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN ME THAT I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I HAD AT THE TIME AND MOTIVATED ME TO SEEK A COMMISSION IN THE ARMY AND BECOME AN ARMY OFFICER.

SOME PEOPLE STAY FIVE YEARS, SEVEN YEARS, SOME LONGER.

YOU STAYED LONG ENOUGH TO BECOME A LIEUTENANT COLONEL.

WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE YOU SAY THIS IS WHERE I WANT TO BE AND THIS IS WHERE I WANT TO GET TO?

I HAVE TO SAY I REALLY JUST HAD TERRIFIC MENTORS WHO CONTINUED TO DEVELOP ME AS A LEADER.

AND THAT MADE ME MORE INTERESTED IN STAYING AND BECOMING A BETTER LEADER.

ONCE YOU GET INTO IT, YOU REALLY DEVELOP A LOVE OF SERVICE AND DUTY AND HONOR.

AND THOSE SEEM LIKE BUZZ WORDS TO MOST PEOPLE, BUT WHEN YOU'RE A MEMBER OF THE ARMED SERVICES.

THEY MEAN SOMETHING.

THEY BECOME YOUR FAMILY.

THE ARMY BECAUSE MY FAMILY FOR SO LONG.

I ENDED UP DOING A LITTLE OVER 22 YEARS.

GOING IN AS AN OFFICER, I SAID I'M DEFINITELY GOING TO STAY UNTIL 30.

LIFE CHANGES.

WANT TO GET TO YOUR LAW SCHOOL EXPERIENCE AND WHAT YOU'RE HOPING TO DO IN A MOMENT.

FIRST BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT AND IT INFORMS WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO, TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE, YOUR SPOUSE WHO WAS ALSO IN THE MILITARY, OF ADOPTING A CHILD.

LATER IN LIFE, MY SPOUSE AND I DECIDED THAT WE WANTED TO PURSUE DOMESTIC ADOPTION.

WE HAD BOTH BEEN GOING FULL STEAM AHEAD IN OUR CAREERS AND HAD NOT MADE TIME TO START A FAMILY.

WE INITIALLY TRIED TO START A FAMILY AND HAD CHALLENGES WITH THAT MEDICALLY AND OPTED FOR ADOPTION.

DOMESTIC ADOPTION WHICH IS WHAT MOST PEOPLE GRAVITATE TO WAS NOT PARTICULARLY HELPFUL OR BENEFICIAL TO US.

THERE'S A LOT OF MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT MILITARY FAMILIES.

WHEN WE INITIALLY DID OUR HOME STUDY, YOU GO IN AND YOU HAVE SOMEWHAT OF A DOSSIER.

YOU TELL ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, WHAT YOU DO.

AND IT WAS NOT FULLY APPRECIATED THAT WE WERE DUAL MILITARY.

A LOT OF BIRTH MOTHERS DID NOT LIKE THE THOUGHT OF ONE OR BOTH PARENTS DEPLOYING.

THEY DID NOT LIKE THE THOUGHT OF THE RIGIDITY OR THE MAYBE OVERDISCIPLINE OF A DUAL MILITARY FAMILY.

I REMEMBER ONE BIRTH MOTHER TELLING ME I THINK YOU'RE VERY LOVELY.

YOUR FAMILY SEEMS VERY NICE, BUT I GREW UP IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE I WENT TO KINDERGARTEN THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL WITH THE SAME KIDS AND I REALLY WANT THAT FOR MY CHILD.

AND YOU SIMPLY CAN'T PROVIDE THAT FOR ME.

YOU WOULD THINK -- COMMON SENSE WOULD SAY, WHAT DO YOU WANT?

YOU WANT STABILITY.

HERE YOU HAVE MILITARY, ACCOMPLISHED MILITARY OFFICERS WHO HAVE SHOWN LEADERSHIP AND THE ABILITY TO PRESENT THE TYPE OF CHARACTERISTICS THAT YOU WOULD THINK YOU WOULD WANT IN A PARENT.

AND YET BECAUSE YOU PUT THE STAMP MILITARY ON IT, PEOPLE LOOK AT IT IN A TROUBLED WAY.

ABSOLUTELY.

I -- YOU KNOW, THERE'S SO MANY TIMES, JACK, THAT I TALK WITH BIRTH MOTHERS ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF MILITARY FAMILIES, ABOUT THE RESOURCES, ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE, ABOUT THE WORLDLY BROAD EDUCATION THAT YOUR CHILD WOULD GET BY BEING AROUND ALL TYPE OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT MILITARY ENVIRONMENTS.

BUT --

SO, TELL ME HOW EVENTUALLY YOU WERE ABLE TO NAVIGATE THAT.

YEAH, SO WE INITIALLY STARTED OUT IN DOMESTIC AND WE HAD TO TRANSITION TO INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION WHERE THE BIRTH PARENTS DON'T GET AS MUCH OF A SAY.

AND IT REALLY BECOMES MUCH MORE OF A BUREAUCRATIC PROCESS.

YOU SUBMIT YOUR DOCUMENTS.

WE CHOSE ETHIOPIA.

AND THE COUNTRY BASICALLY MAKES THE DECISION ON WHO IS ALLOWED TO ADOPT FROM ETHIOPIA VERSUS THE INPUT FROM THE BIRTH PARENTS LIKE THERE IS IN DOMESTIC ADOPTION.

HOW DOES IT WORK OUT?

IT HAS WORKED OUT SO WONDERFULLY.

OUR LITTLE BOY FIN IS 8 YEARS OLD, AND HE'S THRIVING.

HE'S BEEN MUCH OF A BLESSING TO US THAN WE HAVE BEEN TO HIM I'M SURE.

I'M SURE IT GOES BOTH WAYS.

LET ME ASK YOU YOU DECIDE IT'S TIME FOR A TRANSITION IN LIFE.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL?

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN LAW.

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG ADULT, I DIDN'T HAVE THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES OR MAYBE THE DISCIPLINE.

IT TAKES A LOT TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL.

IT'S A TOUGH GIG, AND YOU HAVE TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IT IS THAT YOU'RE IN FOR AND I WASN'T SURE THAT I HAD WHAT IT TOOK WHEN I WAS 21.

SO, AS AN ADULT, I'M VERY INTERESTED IN REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT, POLITICS, A LOT OF THINGS THAT REALLY NEST WELL WITH LAW SCHOOL.

SO, ONCE I DECIDED TO RETIRE, I KNEW I WAS GOING TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL.

THERE ARE KIND OF TWO TYPES OF LAW SCHOOLS.

THERE ARE THEORETICAL LAW SCHOOLS THAT TEACH THE BLACK LETTER LAW AND YOU KNOW IT BACKWARDS AND FORWARD AND THERE ARE LAW SCHOOLS WHO ARE PRACTICAL LAW SCHOOLS WHERE YOU DO A LOT OF EXTERNAL SHIPS AND A LOT OF ONE ON ONE TRAINING.

THAT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR ME TO LEAVE LAW SCHOOL AND KNOW HOW TO DO THE DAILY WORK OF LAWYERING.

THAT'S HOW I HAPPENED UPON SYRACUSE LAW.

I CAME UPON THE TILLMAN FOUNDATION IN MY DEPARTURE FROM THE MILITARY.

THERE'S A REQUIREMENT TO DO BASICALLY EXODUS TRAINING.

AND IN THE EXODUS TRAINING THEY GIVE YOU A PACKET FOR SCHOLARSHIPS IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN SCHOOLS.

I SAID I DON'T REALLY NEED A SCHOLARSHIP, BUT LET ME LOOK AT IT.

I LOOKED AT THE TILLMAN WEBSITE AND I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

I KNEW WHO PAT TILLMAN WAS, NFL PROFESSIONAL PLAYER, TURNED ARMY RANGER, KILLED IN ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN IN 2004.

I KNEW HIS STORY.

I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW ABOUT THE FOUNDATION AND THE FACT THAT IT'S A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT REALLY PROVIDES EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO VETERANS AND VETERANS' FAMILIES.

THIS IS THE 10th YEAR AND THEY HAVE PROVIDED OVER $16 MILLION WORTH OF SCHOLARSHIPS TO VETERANS.

SO, I'M SUPER EXCITED TO BE A PART OF PAT'S LIVING LEGACY.

HAVE YOU DETERMINED WHAT YOU THINK YOU WANT TO DO WITH A LAW DEGREE?

I'M VERY MUCH INTERESTED IN FAMILY LAW AND ADOPTION LAW.

NEXT YEAR WHEN I HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO A CLINIC, I'LL PARTICIPATE IN SYRACUSE LAW CHILD RIGHT AND FAMILY CLINIC.

I'LL DO WORK IN THAT AND HOPEFULLY THAT'LL ENHANCE MY INTEREST.

I'M ALSO INTERESTED IN AN ORGANIZATION CALLED CONNECTOURKIDS.ORG WHICH IS ANOTHER NONPROFIT LED BY A VETERAN WHO IS TRYING TO USE SOME TECHNOLOGY TO BRING PARENTS TO FOSTER CHILDREN IN THE U.S.

SO, BOTH OF THOSE, I THINK, WILL HAVE ME END UP SOMEWHERE IN ADOPTION LAW, FAMILY LAW.

WANT TO PAY IT FORWARD.

I'VE GOT TO TELL YOU I WAS IN LAW SCHOOL FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS AND I HAD A NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO WERE VETERANS AND I FOUND ROUTINELY THEY WERE EXCEPTIONAL STUDENTS.

SO, I AM SURE YOU'RE GOING TO DO MARVELOUSLY THERE.

GOING BACK TO YOUR PARENTHOOD, I'M SURE YOUR YOUNG CHILD IS VERY FORTUNATE.

THANK YOU, JACK.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S A PLEASURE, ROBIN.

AND AGAIN, THANKS TO YOU AND GOOD LUCK TO YOU.

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONIGHT, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO 'METROFOCUS,' OUR PODCAST WITH ME AS YOUR HOST.

ON IT, WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN DEPTH CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE ON TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE INTIMATE.

ON THE PODCAST, I'LL TALK TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO BROADWAY, ABSOLUTELY FREE.

SO, HEAD ON OVER TO ITUNES OR SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH A UNIQUE METROFOCUS.

I'LL SEE YOU THERE.

> '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, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

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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