MetroFocus: November 30, 2020

Tonight as we review this week’s upcoming headlines, including the big decision to reopen NYC schools, we’ll discuss the life and legacy of New York City’s first Black Mayor David Dinkins. He was elected at a time of turmoil- after two high-profile racially charged cases involving the rape of a white jogger in Central Park and the bias murder of a Black teen in Bensonhurst. But the late Mayor rose to be a unifying force whose legacy is still strong today. From his fight for safe streets across the city and the revitalizing of Harlem’s economy to his work to create grants and educational assistance for low-income students. Tonight, our panel- attorney and political commentator JC Polanco, political commentator and President of the Brooklyn NAACP, L. Joy Williams and Senior Editor of Race and Justice at WNYC radio Jami Floyd- join the New York City officials and community members who gathered this Thanksgiving weekend in celebrating the legacy of our 106th Mayor.

TRANSCRIPT

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

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METROFOCUS.

THIS IS OUR WEEKLY FRONT PAGE FORECAST WHERE WE'RE GOING TO BRING YOU A LOOK AHEAD AT THE NEWS MAKING LOCAL AND NATIONAL HEADLINES THIS WEEK.

TONIGHT WE'LL TALK ABOUT REOPENING NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

THE MAYOR ANNOUNCES A NEW PLAN TO GET KIDS BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM AND WE'LL ALSO DISCUSS THE LEGACY.

A LOOK BACK AT HOW THE TRAIL BLAZING MAYOR HELPED SHAPE THE CITY WE LIVE IN TODAY.

LET'S GET INTO IT.

TONIGHT WE HAVE L. JOY WILLIAMS PRESIDENT OF THE BROOKLYN CHAPTER OF THE NAACP, CREATOR AND HOST OF THE SUNDAY CIVICS PODCAST, AND CHAIR OF THE HIGHER HEIGHTS PAC.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

WE ARE ALSO JOINED BY JAMIE FLOYD SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE RACE AND JUSTICE UNIT AT NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO AND THE LEGAL EDITOR IN THE WNYC NEWSROOM.

WELCOME TO METROFOCUS.

PLEASED TO BE HERE.

WE ARE JOINED AGAIN BY J.C., ATTORNEY, FACULTY MEMBER, AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS.

WELCOME BACK, J.C.

SO HAPPY TO BE HERE.

HOPE EVERYONE HAD A GREAT THANKSGIVING.

ABSOLUTELY.

I GUESS WHAT MIGHT MAKE THIS A GREAT POST THANKSGIVING FOR A LOT OF PARENTS IS OF COURSE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT THAT CAME ON SUNDAY THAT STARTING DECEMBER 7th NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO REOPEN.

OF COURSE, THERE ARE A LOT OF MOVING PIECES WITH THIS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT THE PLAN REALLY ONLY WORKS FOR STUDENTS WHO HAD ALREADY SIGNED UP FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING AND I BELIEVE THAT'S JUST UNDER 200,000 KIDS AND THAT'S OF COURSE ONLY GOING TO BE IN SPECIFIC EARLY GRADES NOT FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLERS, NOT FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS.

ABOUT 335,000 STUDENTS I BELIEVE IN TOTAL HAVE CHOSEN FOR IN-PERSON LEARNING.

SO IN A SCHOOL DISTRICT OF OVER A MILLION STUDENTS IT IS REALLY JUST A SMALL FRACTION.

I'D LIKE TO START MY FIRST QUESTION.

I'D LOVE TO GET YOUR TAKE ON WHETHER OR NOT THIS WAS THE RIGHT DECISION FOR THE MAYOR TO BE MAKING IN TERMS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION.

BEFORE WE GET TO THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THIS WAS A RIGHT DECISION LET'S TALK ABOUT THE UNPRECEDENTED TIME WE ARE DEALING WITH.

AS A PARENT, A FOSTER PARENT, AND THE CHILDREN THAT ARE RETURNING TO SCHOOL FIT THE AGE RANGE OF MY CHILDREN AT THIS TIME, AND, YOU KNOW, THERE'S BEEN AN OVERALL LACK OF COMMUNICATION AND ALSO MANAGEMENT OF THIS PROCESS.

WE UNDERSTAND AND PARENTS COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS UNDERSTAND WE'RE IN A PANDEMIC IN A TIME FRAME THAT YOU CANNOT PREDICT.

YOU CAN'T PREDICT WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, WHERE THE NUMBERS ARE GOING TO GO.

SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE NIMBLE AND BELIEVE ME PARENTS ARE LOOKING AT MESSAGES ALL THE TIME TO DETERMINE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN DAY AFTER DAY AND WEEK AFTER WEEK.

BUT THERE IS ALSO THIS LACK OF MANAGEMENT IN TERMS OF HAVING INCLUSIVE VOICES AT THE TABLE AND MAKING THE DECISIONS ON WHEN DO WE CLOSE, WHAT ARE THE METRICS, AND THEN WHEN ARE WE GOING TO REOPEN AND WHAT ARE THE METRICS FROM THERE?

NOT TO MENTION THE FOCUS, THERE'S A SMALL POPULATION, MY CHILDREN INCLUDED, THAT SIGNED UP FOR IN-PERSON SCHOOL, BUT THERE'S THE MAJORITY THAT ARE STILL LEARNING FROM HOME THAT STILL DON'T HAVE THE TOOLS AND RESOURCES THEY NEED TO COMPLETE THAT EDUCATION.

THERE REALLY DOESN'T SEEM TO BE, AND PARENTS DON'T FEEL THIS, EVEN TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM THAT ARE PINGPONGING BACK AND FORTH QUITE OFTEN THEY'RE FINDING OUT FROM PARENTS WHO ARE WATCHING THE NEWS WHAT'S HAPPENING.

AND SO THAT MANAGEMENT OF THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO RECOGNIZING THAT WE NEED TO BE NIMBLE IN THIS PANDEMIC SITUATION, BUT THE MANAGEMENT OF THIS PROCESS HAS BEEN LACK LUSTER AND HAS REALLY FRUSTRATED PARENTS.

WELL, IN THE TIME THAT WE'VE HAD YOU ON THE ROUND TABLE WE'VE TALKED BACK AND FORTH ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN TERMS OF HOW IT WAS GOING TO BE HANDLING THE PANDEMIC AND THE COMMUNICATION PARENTS SEEM TO BE LACKING.

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS LATEST DECISION?

I AM A PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IS INDEFENSIBLE.

THE MISMANAGEMENT HAS BEEN HORRENDOUS.

WE HAD PROBLEMS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC.

WE HAD PROBLEMS AS FAR AS DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM, UNDER FUNDING, STUDENTS THAT AREN'T ACHIEVING WHERE THEY SHOULD BE.

AND THEN TO SEE THIS HAPPEN AND NOT HAVE TEACHERS FULLY TRAINED FOR ONLINE TEACHING, FOR STUDENTS TO HAVE ALL OF THE EQUIPMENT THEY NEED AND ALSO TO BE TRAINED ON HOW TO RECEIVE THAT ONLINE LEARNING HAS BEEN A REAL INDEFENSIBLE MOMENT FOR NEW YORK CITY, A REAL LET DOWN.

WHAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW IS WE HAVEN'T BEEN COMMUNICATED TO.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING.

THE FACT IS THAT THIS FLY BY NIGHT DECISION MAKING THAT IS HAPPENING, THE STUDENTS -- IT DOES AN INCREDIBLE DISSERVICE.

IT IS UNSTABLE.

THERE ARE SO MANY HARD WORKING PARENTS WHO HAVE TO FIGURE OUT DAYCARE FOR THOSE STUDENTS NOT GOING TO SCHOOL.

HOW ARE THEY JUGGLING DAYCARE WITH THEIR JOB AND ONLINE LEARNING.

YOU KNOW, WE BEAT UP ON THE FEDERAL ADMINISTRATION AND RIGHTFULLY SO FOR THEIR LACK OF PERFORMANCE DURING THIS PANDEMIC.

BUT SOMEHOW THIS MAYOR AND HIS ADMINISTRATION AND THE SCHOOL'S CHANCELLOR NEED TO REALLY GET SOMETHING GOING ON AS FAR AS THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL.

WE EITHER GET SOME REVIEWS, SOME HEARINGS, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED?

HOW DID THEY DROP THE BALL FOR SO LONG SO THE NEXT PANDEMIC THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN FOR OUR CHILDREN AGAIN.

YOU AREN'T GOING TO GET THIRD GRADE BACK.

YOU AREN'T GOING TO GET FOURTH GRADE BACK.

OUR STUDENTS ARE REALLY LOSING OUT.

I ALWAYS WANT TO MAKE SURE NEW YORKERS REMEMBER THAT WE HAD INCREDIBLE ISSUES BEFORE HAND.

I MENTIONED DIVERSITY IN OUR CLASSROOMS AS A PROBLEM.

SCHOOL SEGREGATION IS A REAL ISSUE WE HAD TO DEAL WITH BEFORE.

YOU CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE KIND OF PROBLEMS AS STUDENTS FAIL TO HAVE THE PERSONAL CONTACT IN CLASS AND THE INSTABILITY TO GO ALONG WITH THAT.

THIS HAS BEEN A YEAR THEY'RE NEVER GOING TO GET BACK.

SHAME ON THE MAYOR AND CHANCELLOR FOR NOT HAVING A BETTER PLAN AND INCLUDING US PARENTS IN IT.

JAMIE FLOYD?

WELL, I AGREE WITH ALL THAT'S BEEN SAID.

I FEEL THAT AS WITH SO MANY THINGS IN THIS PANDEMIC MUCH HAS BEEN REVEALED ABOUT THE REALITIES OF THE DYSFUNCTION IN OUR SYSTEM AND THAT IS THE CASE WITH EDUCATION AS WELL.

WE'VE SEEN THE DYSFUNCTION IN OUR DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE MAYOR AND THE GOVERNOR.

WE KNEW IT WAS THERE.

BUT IT'S BEEN PLAINLY REVEALED IN THIS EDUCATIONAL CRISIS.

WE SEE AS J.C. POINTS OUT THE SEGREGATION OF OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM.

I MEAN, BROWN V. BOARD WAS MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO.

ALMOST 60 YEARS AGO.

BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION AND PEOPLE SAW SCHOOL SEGREGATION AS A SOUTHERN PROBLEM BUT THE NEW YORK CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM IS ONE OF THE MOST SEGREGATED IN THE COUNTRY.

THAT MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO RETHINK HOW WE EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN TOGETHER IN A UNIFIED AND INTEGRATED SYSTEM THAT HAS BEEN REVEALED THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC TO BE SEGREGATED.

AND NOW THE DIGITAL DIVIDE ANOTHER THING WE KNEW EXISTED THAT HAS BEEN REVEALED COULD BE A HORRIFIC PROBLEM FOR OUR CHILDREN.

J.C. IS RIGHT.

A YEAR LOST, FOR EVERY CHILD THROUGH KINDERGARTEN TO THE SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL, SOME SMALLER SCHOOL DISTRICTS AROUND THE COUNTRY ARE SIMPLY REPEATING.

IN BERKELEY THEY'RE JUST GOING TO REPEAT.

AT LEAST THE SCHOOL BOARD IS CONSIDERING THAT.

I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO THAT WITH A BOARD AND SCHOOL SYSTEM SO LARGE AS NEW YORK'S BUT FOR SO MANY CHILDREN ALREADY BEING LEFT BEHIND IN OUR SYSTEM, ALREADY NOT GETTING THE SAME LEVEL OF EDUCATION AS WEALTHIER SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOLS WITHIN NEW YORK CITY, WEALTHIER SCHOOLS WITHIN NEW YORK CITY.

YOU HAVE THESE PARENTS PLAY GAMES.

AND WE'RE NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

SO WE HAVE A STRATIFIED SCHOOL SYSTEM.

WE ALL KNOW IT AND ARE AWARE OF IT AND ALL MUST LEAN IN TO FIX IT.

WELL, THEN, ALL THREE OF YOU HAVE DEFINITELY BROUGHT UP THE, WHAT SEEMS TO BE REALLY THE CRITICAL ISSUE THAT EX-UFTED BEFORE AND CONTINUES TO EXIST AND THAT IS THE TWO-TIER OR TWO DIFFERENT TRACKS OF EDUCATION POSSIBLE IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT SOUNDS AS IF ALL OF YOU ARE VERY CONCERNED THIS DECISION, EVEN THIS DECISION IS GOING TO FURTHER EXACERBATE THAT.

WHAT IS IT THAT NEEDS TO BE HAPPENING?

WHAT IS NOT BEING ADDRESSED TO PERHAPS MAKE FOR A MORE EVEN PLAYING FIELD?

SO MANY KIDS, YOU CAN'T GET FOURTH GRADE BACK.

YOU CAN'T GET THIRD GRADE BACK.

NOT JUST FOR EDUCATION BUT ALSO SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG CHILDREN.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT THAT THERE DOESN'T EXIST PLANS AND SUGGESTIONS PUT OUT BY THE CHAIR OF EDUCATION FROM THE CITY COUNCIL, FROM PARENTS ASSOCIATIONS, FROM OTHERS THAT HAVE NOT ONLY CRITIQUED HOW THE MAYOR AND THE CHANCELLOR HAVE MANAGED THIS PROCESS BUT ALSO PUT FORTH ALTERNATE PLANS.

THE PLAN OF OPENING RIGHT NOW WITH JUST -- STAGGERED OPENING RIGHT NOW WITH THE YOUNGER CHILDREN, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS RETURN BACK AS WELL AS DISTRICT 75.

THAT WAS PART OF A PLAN THAT WAS INTRODUCED WITH THE FIRST KIDS RETURNING AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR.

SO BEING INCLUSIVE OF OTHER IDEAS AND BRINGING PEOPLE TO THE TABLE TO HAVE THAT DISCUSSION AND BRINGING PARENTS TO THE TABLE IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATION.

THE FACT THAT WE HAVE TO FIND OUT, AND I'LL USE THIS AS AN EXAMPLE, WHEN THE SCHOOLS OPEN IN THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, WE WERE ON OUR SCHOOL, THE PARENTS WERE ON A ZOOM CONFERENCE WITH THE PRINCIPAL AND ADMINISTRATORS ABOUT WHAT THE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES WERE GOING TO BE FOR KIDS RETURNING TO SCHOOL.

WE HAD TO INTERRUPT THE PRINCIPAL DURING HER PRESENTATION TO TELL HER THAT THE MAYOR WAS ON TV DELAYING OPENING FOR A TIME.

SO IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATION TREAT OUR EDUCATORS LIKE PROFESSIONALS.

INCLUDE THEM IN THE PLANNING AND PROCESS OF HOW THEY'RE REOPENING.

LET THEM -- IS THERE A PROCESS OF WE WERE OPEN FOR A COUPLE WEEKS.

IS THERE A PROCESS WHERE THOSE PRINCIPALS OR THOSE TEACHERS COULD BE ABLE TO GIVE TO THE CHANCELLOR AND TO THE MAYOR, HERE'S WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR SCHOOL BUILDING.

HERE IS WHAT WE WERE ABLE TO DO.

HERE ARE THE CHILDREN THAT ARE STRUGGLING.

HERE IS THE RESOURCES WE NEED TO GET THEM BACK ON TRACK.

FOR SOME KIDS, LIKE MY CHILDREN, BEING IN SCHOOL ACTUALLY WAS SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER FOR THEM THAN DOING REMOTE.

WHILE AT THE SAME TIME THERE ARE STUDENTS THAT ACTUALLY WERE 'C' STUDENTS AND EXCELLED AT DOING REMOTE MORE THAN THEY DID BEING IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.

AND TALKING TO PRINCIPALS AND ADMINISTRATORS AND PARENTS, THEY HAVE REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE TO BE ABLE TO APPLY TO HOW WE CAN REOPEN BUT ALSO HOW WE CAN CONTINUE TO KEEP STUDENTS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION SAFE IN THEIR BUILDINGS.

THAT TWO WAY COMMUNICATION IS NOT HAPPENING.

THE SAME WAY WITH PARENTS.

AND AS J.C. MENTIONED VERY APTLY, WHEN THOSE CHANGES HAPPEN -- AND, LOOK, WE UNDERSTAND GIVEN THIS PANDEMIC DECISIONS MAY HAVE TO BE MADE IF QUICKLY -- BUT WHAT IS THE APPARATUS BESIDES GOING ON TV TO BE ABLE TO PREPARE PARENTS FOR THOSE CHANGES AND THOSE NIMBLE THINGS?

THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATIVE THINGS THAT I DON'T THINK THE ADMINISTRATION HAS GOT A HANDLE ON, THAT THEY NEED TO DO RELATIVELY QUICKLY NOT ONLY FOR THIS SCHOOL YEAR BUT JUST THINKING ABOUT HOW WE GET KIDS BACK ON TRACK AS WE GO INTO THE NEXT YEAR.

WELL, SPEAKING OF MANAGEMENT AND AT LEAST THE DECISIONS IF YOU WILL THAT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE A.K.A. MANAGEMENT FOR THE CITY IS MAKING, J.C., I'M WONDERING ALSO WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WAY THAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS BEEN HANDLED AS OPPOSED TO PRIVATE BUSINESSES?

BECAUSE OF COURSE WE'RE STILL SEEING RESTAURANTS OPEN, SOME BARS, PRIVATE DINING -- EXCUSE ME NOT PRIVATE DINING BUT INDOOR DINING IS STILL VAVAILABLE.

SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING ACTUALLY THE SPREAD OF COVID, THAT'S WHERE IT IS COMING FROM, NOT THE SCHOOLS, AND THERE SHOULD NOT BE THIS BACK AND FORTH WITH THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

I COULDN'T AGREE MORE.

THE PREMISE OF YOUR QUESTION IS CORRECT.

WHAT ARE WE DOING AS FAR AS BUSINESS AND EDUCATION?

THE FACT IS THAT OVER 60,000 RESTAURANTS HAVE CLOSED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF BUSINESSES THAT HAVE JUST CLOSED UP IN NEW YORK SINCE THE PANDEMIC.

THESE BUSINESS OWNERS AREN'T GOING TO GET THEIR BUSINESS BACK.

PEOPLE WITH SWEAT AND TEARS INTO THEIR BUSINESS AND THEY'RE GONE.

OUR CITY WILL LACK ABE INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF TAX REVENUE TO PAY FOR TEACHERS AND COPS AND FIRST RESPONDERS.

WE'LL EXPERIENCE AN ECONOMIC CRISIS IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE BECAUSE OF THE FACT THIS PANDEMIC HAS HURT BUSINESSES SO MUCH.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE REMEMBER THEY ARE INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT.

THE BUSINESS APPROACH AND EDUCATION APPROACH HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

TO COMPARE THE TWO AS THE SUPREME COURT HAS DONE RECENTLY WHEN THEY DECIDED TO COMPARE SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES AND EDUCATION I THINK IS A MISTAKE.

THIS IS COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES.

THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

THEY'VE HIT THOSE INDIVIDUAL AREAS DIFFERENTLY.

AND, SURE.

IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS ESPECIALLY THE YOUNGER ONES ARE LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 THAN ADULTS AT A RESTAURANT BUT WE CAN'T COMPARE THOSE TWO AND SAY WHAT SHOULD BE CLOSED AND WHAT SHOULDN'T BE OPEN IN THE SAME CONVERSATION.

I THINK THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL HOW WE APPROACH THIS BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT.

WE ALSO HAVE TO BE HONEST WITH EACH OTHER.

WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THAT STATES AND BUSINESSES ARE GOING TO NEED SOME SORT OF BAIL OUT.

THEY'RE JUST GOING TO.

OTHERWISE WE'LL EXPERIENCE AN ECONOMIC CRISIS IN OUR REGION THE LIKES OF THE 1970s ALL OVER AGAIN.

IT IS IMPORTANT WE RECOGNIZE WE JUST HAVE TO TREAT THEM DIFF DIFFERENTLY.

KIDS NEED TO GO BACK.

WE NEED TO BE INFORMED.

INCORPORATE DIFFERENT APPROACHES.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME BE READY FOR THAT CONVERSATION AS TO HOW WE'LL BAIL STATES, CITIES, AND BUSINESSES OUT OF THE CRISIS THAT IS SURELY COMING NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOUR VIEWERS KNOW THAT WE'RE SEEING AN INCREDIBLE EXODUS OF SOME OF THE LARGEST TAXPAYERS IN OUR CITY TO OTHER PLACES AND WE'LL FURTHER EXACERBATE THE PROBLEM IF WE DON'T ADDRESS IT SOON.

I AGREE.

I DO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING J.C. SAID.

BUT FOR ONE THING.

I THINK THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IS GOING TO LOOK MORE LIKE THE 1930s THAN THE 1970s.

I THINK WE ARE HEADED INTO BLEAK, DARK, DIFFICULT TIMES AND WHAT WE NEED IN NEW YORK CITY AND IN WASHINGTON IS A TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADER.

AN FDR TYPE.

WELL I DON'T NEED TO NAME THEM.

WE'VE ONLY HAD A FEW OVER THE COURSE OF OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY.

BUT WE NEED SOMEBODY LIKE THAT IN NEW YORK CITY AS OUR NEXT MAYOR.

AND WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO BILL DE BLASIO, YOU KNOW, I DON'T NEED TO MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK HIS MAYORALCY BUT MOVING FORWARD WE NEED SOMEBODY WHO CAN THINK IN BROAD, EXPANSIVE, TRANSFORMATIONAL WAYS ABOUT HOW TO GET THE CITY BACK ON ITS FEET.

ONE OF THE PILLARS IS EDUCATION.

ANOTHER AS J.C. SAID WILL BE THE ECONOMY.

OF COURSE HEALTH CARE, COVID, AND FOR ME JUSTICE REFORM WOULD BE THE FOURTH OF MY TENT POLE.

I'M NOT RUNNING.

I'M JUST SAYING.

THAT IS A VERY PERTINENT QUESTION AND IMPORTANT POINT AND SOMETHING WE'LL BE FOLLOWING AS WE GET INTO THE MAYORAL RACE OF 2021.

BUT SPEAKING OF LEADERS, I DO WANT TO TAKE SOME TIME NOW TO LOOK BACK ON THE LOSS THAT THE CITY EXPERIENCED OF MAYOR DAVID DINKINS.

HE WAS THE CITY'S FIRST AND SO FAR ONLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN LEADER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAYOR.

HE CAME IN AT A VERY DIFFICULT TIME.

IT WAS JUST A FEW MONTHS I BELIEVE AFTER THE MURDER OF USEF HAWKINS.

HE ALSO WAS THE HEAD OF THE CITY DURING THE MURDER OF A WHITE JOGGER WHICH OF COURSE LED TO THE PROSECUTION OF THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE WHO WE HAVE SINCE DISCOVERED WERE IN FACT INNOCENT.

THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER ATTRIBUTES TO HIS TIME AS MAYOR, BUT LOOKING BACK, IS IT FAIR HE WAS SO HARSHLY JUDGED AND SHOULD WE TAKE A DIFFERENT LOOK AT THE DECISIONS THAT HE MADE WITH WHAT HE WAS DEALING WITH DURING THE CITY'S TIME IN THE VERY EARLY 1990s?

JAMIE, RIGHT BACK TO YOU.

IT IS NOT FAIR.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION DIRECTLY I THINK HE HAS BEEN JUDGED UNFAIRLY.

I DON'T THINK YOU CAN REALLY APPRECIATE A LEADER IN THE IMMEDIATE WEIGHT OF HIS LEADERSHIP BE IT EXECUTIVE IN WASHINGTON OR EXECUTIVE IN NEW YORK CITY OR ANYWHERE ELSE AND I THINK WE'RE ABOUT TO FULLY APPRECIATE THE DINKINS MAYORAL TERM IN THE POST GEORGE FLOYD PERIOD.

MEANING IN THE YEARS, THE MOMENT WE'RE LIVING IN AND THE YEARS WE ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A NEW MAYOR IN NEW YORK CITY, WHO HAS TO LEAD IN THE WAKE OF WHAT WE NOW CALL THE RECKONING.

WE BLACK FOLKS HAVE BEEN RECKONING BUT, AND OTHER BROWN PEOPLE, RIGHT?

BUT WHAT WHITE FOLKS LIKE TO CALL THE RACIAL RECKONING.

I THINK THE GROUND WORK MAYOR DINKINS LAID WILL BE FULLY APPRECIATED BY THE NEXT MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION.

LET ME JUST SAY ANOTHER QUICK THING ABOUT THAT.

MAYOR DINKINS IS CONSTANTLY REFERRED TO AND YOU JUST DID IT RIGHTLY SO AS THE FIRST AND ONLY BLACK MAYOR WE'VE EVER HAD.

IT IS SHAMEFUL WE HAVE NOT HAD ANOTHER MAYOR OF COLOR.

AND BY THE WAY, A WOMAN TO LEAD THIS CITY.

WE SHOULD ALL REFLECT ON WHY THAT IS, WHAT THAT SAYS ABOUT WHO WE ARE AS NEW YORKERS.

BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO WHAT HE DID AS MAYOR.

AND HE'S OPENED A DOOR TO BLACK LEADERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP OF COLOR ACROSS THE CITY INSPIRING PEOPLE LIKE ME AND YOU, TO HAVE A VOICE, EVEN IF IT IS NOT IN POLITICS BUT ALSO FOR MANY WHO ARE IN POLITICS THOUGH THEY MAY NOT BE MAYOR.

SO HE WAS AN INSPIRATION FOR THOSE OF US WHO CAME THEREAFTER AND HOPEFULLY FOR A MAYOR OF COLOR IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

I'D LOVE TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW MAYOR DINKINS WAS ABLE TO LEAD THE CITY AND ALSO AGAIN HOW HISTORY LOOKS BACK ON HIM.

I WOULD HAVE TO AGREE WITH JAMIE.

SO BEING A VERY YOUNG PERSON DURING THE DINKINS MAYORAL TERM BUT GROWING UP IN I DON'T KNOW, YOU KNOW, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE WATCHING OR SORT OF EVEN MY FELLOW PANELISTS THAT KNOW MUCH ABOUT ROSEDALE QUEENS AND GROWING UP IN THAT SORT OF MIDDLE CLASS BUT ALSO ETHNIC ENCLAVE OF WORKING CLASS AND MIDDLE CLASS FOLKS IN A DINKINS ADMINISTRATION AND WHAT THAT BROUGHT TO THE CITY NOT ONLY THE SENSE OF PRIDE OF BEING LED BY A BLACK MAN IN OUR FIRST BLACK MAYOR IN THAT CITY BUT THEN ALSO WHAT HE WAS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH, WHAT THE ADMINISTRATION WAS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH NOW BEING AN ADULT AND TO BE ABLE TO LOOK BACK AND SORT OF THAT OVERALL CONTEXT OF NOT ONLY WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN TERMS OF RACIAL TENSIONS IN THE CITY BUT THEN ALSO TALKING ABOUT HOW DO YOU MOVE CITY GOVERNMENT ON REBUILDING THE ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE OF A CITY LIKE NEW YORK, AN OLD CITY AND A LARGE, VERY LARGE CITY.

YOU KNOW, WHAT DO YOU DO IN TERMS OF EDUCATION?

WHAT DO YOU DO IN TERMS OF POLICE AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS?

IT IS INTERESTING THAT ALL OF THOSE POINTS ARE POINTS OF REFERENCE WE WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH IN THIS NEXT ELECTION CYCLE.

AND AS WE MENTIONED, I AM SUPER CONCERNED, YOU KNOW, AS JAMIE SHARED, I DON'T THINK PEOPLE REALLY GRASP NOT ONLY IN NEW YORK CITY BUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY THE ECONOMIC SITUATION THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH ON A FEDERAL LEVEL, ON A STATE LEVEL, AND PARTICULARLY ON A M MUNICIPAL LEVEL.

YOU WANT LEADERSHIP THAT YOU CAN TRUST AND BELIEVE.

WHO DO YOU WANT IN THE ROOM AND AT THE TABLE MAKING THE VERY HARD DECISIONS THAT HAVE TO BE MADE OVER THE NEXT ONE TO TWO YEARS IN THOSE BUDGET CYCLES, WHERE IS INCOME COMING FROM BECAUSE WE'VE LOST THAT.

HOW DO YOU REBUILD, YOU KNOW, BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITIES AS J.C. TALKED ABOUT AND NOT IN A WAY THAT OVERLY INVESTS AND GIVES SO MUCH TO CORPORATE INTERESTS AND OTHERS THAT YOU STRIP AWAY THE VERY NATURE OF NEW YORK CITY WHICH IS SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES THAT REALLY GIVE THE MOST IN TERMS OF JOBS TO PEOPLE AND DEVELOPMENT TO A COMMUNITY.

AND SO WHEN WE ARE MAKING THE DECISION AS VOTERS AS NEW YORKERS ON WHO WE WANT AT THE HELM MAKING THAT DECISION, FROM AN ECONOMIC STANDPOINT, ON AN EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT REALLY MEETS THE MOMENT, NOT ONLY RECOVERING FROM WHAT COVID HAS SAID BUT SAYING WHERE DO WE WANT TO GO IN THE FUTURE?

WE NEED A LEADER AND A CITY COUNCIL AND AN ADMINISTRATOR, ALL OF THOSE POSITIONS THAT REALLY SPEAK TO THAT MOMENT AND OUR THINKING ABOUT VISIONING, WHICH I THINK MAYOR DINKINS WAS REALLY GREAT AT THAT AND TALKING ABOUT WHERE WE -- WHERE HE KNEW WE COULD GO.

AND HE TOOK US THERE.

THAT IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT RATHER THAN JUST PANDERING AND SPEAKING TO THE SWEET SOUNDS PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR IN THEIR EAR, IT IS REALLY BEING ABLE TO BUCKLE DOWN AND MAKE THOSE STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT DECISIONS AND TAKING NEW YORKERS WITH US AND SORT OF NOT JUST GIVING AWAY THE STORE.

WE'RE COMING UP ON THE END OF OUR TIME TOGETHER BUT I WANT TO BRING J.C. IN AGAIN.

YOU HAVE SUCH A WEALTH OF HISTORY WITH THE CITY AND I'D LOVE TO GET YOUR CLOSING THOUGHTS IF YOU WILL ON THE DINKINS MAYORAL TERM.

HE GETS A BAD RAP.

WHEN AN ARTIST PASSES AWAY YOU DISCOVER THEIR BRILLIANCE AFTERWARD.

WHEN THEY'RE ALIVE, OH, WHATEVER.

NOW DA VINCI IS THE BEST THING OVER.

NOW WE LOOK AT THE PROCESS OF STARTING TO DEVELOP TIMES SQUARE, LOWERING CRIME ACROSS THE CITY.

HE CAME IN AT A TIME WHERE THERE WERE OVER 3,000 MURDERS AND RAPES AND ROBBERY IN OUR CITY AND A VERY CRUCIAL TIME AS FAR AS OUR RACIAL HISTORY IN NEW YORK CITY AS WELL.

BUT MAYOR DINKINS, I TEACH IN MY COURSE, HE WAS PART OF A RAINBOW COALITION EXPERIENCE ACROSS THE CITY THAT SAW MANY AFRICAN-AMERICANS ELECTED MAYOR.

HOWARD JOHNSON IN CHICAGO, DAVID DINKINS IN NEW YORK CITY.

HE CALLED IT THE MOSAIC.

I WAS ONLY 11 BUT I REMEMBER VIVIDLY HEARING HIM TALK ABOUT THE CITY MOE SAYIC AND HOW WE SHOULD APPROACH OUR CITY AS DIVERSE WITH ITS BEAUTIFUL CULTURES AND DIVERSITIES COMING TOGETHER AS ONE.

THAT'S WHAT I REMEMBER.

I THINK WE'LL RESPECT HIM A LOT MORE LATER ON.

AS FAR AS SOME OF THE THINGS HE STARTED BEFORE HE WAS DEFEATED IN THE '93 ELECTION.

REST IN PEACE, MAYOR DINKINS, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS.

OF COURSE.

NOT TO BE MISSED OF COURSE WHO HE WAS UNSEATED BY.

THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING ELSE TO CONSIDER IN TERMS OF HOW THE CITY MOVES FORWARD AND WHEN IT DOES WITH ELECTIONS.

I WANT TO THANK MY GUESTS AND OF COURSE THAT IS L. JOY WILLIAMS PRESIDENT OF THE BROOKLYN NAACP, CREATOR AND HOST OF THE SUNDAY CIVICS PODCAST AND CHAIR OF THE HIGHER HEIGHTS PAC.

I ALSO WANT TO THANK JAMIE FLOYD SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE RACE AND JUSTICE UNIT AT NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO AND THE LEGAL EDITOR IN THE WNYC NEWSROOM.

AND OUR RETURNING GUEST, J.C.

POLANCO, ATTORNEY AND CUNEY FACULTY MEMBER AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS.

THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING ME.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

ABSOLUTELY.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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