MetroFocus: September 13, 2021

Tonight our Front page forecast panel features Rutgers University professor of political science and author of “American Cicero: Mario Cuomo and the Defense of American Liberalism” Saladin Ambar, Conservative Color Coalition chair Joseph Pinion and City Limits executive editor Jeanmarie Evelly with the latest headlines across the tristate and the nation.

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.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- 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 FRONT PAGE FOCUS.

THIS IS A LOOK AHEAD AT THE HEADLINES.

WHAT A WEEK IT'S ALREADY SHAPING UP TO BE.

AROUND 1 MILLION NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS JUST FINISHED THEIR FIRST DAY BACK IN THE CLASSROOM.

MAYOR de BLASIO PUSHED AHEAD WITH A RETURN TO IN PERSON LEARNING AS THE DELTA VARIANT CONTINUES TO CAUSE SOME CONCERNS AND SOME PARENTS CONTINUE TO DEMAND REVOTE LEARNING OPTIONS.

NEW YORK IS STARTING TO ENFORCE PROOF OF VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR RESTAURANTS, GYMS AND ENTERTAINMENT VENUES.

THIS AS BUSINESSES ALSO TRY TO MAKE SENSE OF PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SWEEPING NEW FEDERAL VACCINE MANDATES.

AND NOW FOR MORE ON THESE AND OTHER STORIES, LET'S WELCOME TONIGHT'S PANEL.

THEY ARE SHAWN DEAN AND BAR PROFESSIONAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY AND SENIOR SCHOLAR AT THE SCHOOL'S CENTER ON THE AMERICAN GOVERNOR, JOSEPH PINION, GOP STRATEGIST, CHAIR OF THE CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION AND HOST OF 'SATURDAY AGENDA.'

AND AN EXECUTIVE EDITOR AT 'CITY LIMITS,' AN INVESTIGATOR NEWS OUTLET COVERING NEW YORK.

THANK YOU, ALL.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

AS I SAID THE INTRODUCTION, AS WE KNOW, NEW YORK CITY'S PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS ARE GOING BACK TO VIRTUALLY 100% IN PERSON SCHOOL TODAY.

WITH THE DELTA VARIANT STILL ON THE LOOSE, IS IT SAFE FOR KIDS TO RETURN TO ON SITE SCHOOLING?

WHAT ARE THE EXPERTS SAYING?

YOU KNOW, I THINK IT IS A MIX.

BUT AS YOU NOTED, THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR THAT IT'S BEEN BACK TO SCHOOL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR THE FALL, AND I THINK IN TERMS OF SAFETY, THERE ARE KIND OF MIXED KIND OF CONCERNS THERE DEPENDING ON WHO YOU ASK.

I KNOW THAT MAYOR BILL de BLASIO AND THE EXPERTS HE'S BEEN WORKING WITH AT THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT TO CRAFT THE REGULATIONS FOR SCHOOLS REOPENING, THEY SAY THAT IT IS VERY SAFE, AND THEY DO POINT TO LAST YEAR, LAST SCHOOL YEAR THE INFECTION RATE IN NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS REMAIN EED QUITE LOW.

IT WAS NOT INDICATED AS A MAJOR SOURCE OF INFECTION OR SPREAD.

THERE WERE CLOSURES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

THAT WAS NOT THE FULL STUDENT BODY GOING BACK LAST YEAR.

LAST YEAR THERE WAS THE REMOTE OPTION FOR PARENTS AND FAMILIES AND A LOT OF FAMILIES TO TAKE THAT OPTION.

BUT THIS YEAR MAYOR de BLASIO POINTED OUT THAT HE HAD A PRESS CONFERENCE TALKING ABOUT THIS AND WAS TALKING ABOUT THAT LOW INFECTION RATE LAST YEAR AS EVIDENCE THAT THIS YEAR CAN BE, YOU KNOW, CONDUCTED SAFELY EVEN WITH DELTA, MAINLY BECAUSE THIS YEAR WE HAVE THE VACCINE AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE 1 AND OLDER, WHICH HE SAYS IS SORT OF LIKE THE BIGGEST SCHOOL HE'S KEEPING SAFE IN ADDITION TO OTHER REGULATIONS LIKE MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING REQUIREMENTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

AND A TESTING REGULARMENT THAT SOME FOLKS SAY IS NOT STRINGENT ENOUGH BUT SOME SAY IS APPROPRIATE FOR THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR.

THERE IS DEFINITELY STILL CONCERN.

STUDENTS AND PARENTS WERE FEELING NERVOUS GOING BACK.

PLENTY WERE EXCITED, TOO.

IT IS KIND OF A MIX DEPENDING ON WHO SUITS YOU.

AND OBVIOUSLY THERE IS A LOT OF DIFFERENT FACTORS AT PLAY.

SO, PROFESSOR, THIS YEAR WE DO HAVE THE VACCINE BUT WE ALSO HAVE THE DELTA VARIANT.

ALTHOUGH IT'S PLATEAUING OUT, IT IS STILL A BIG CONCERN.

AND WE ALSO -- AND WHAT WE DON'T HAVE IS MORE OF THE REMOTE OPTION.

WE HAVE A SMALL REMOTE OPTION.

CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, JEAN MA MARCH, WHICH IS STRICTLY LIMITED TO CHILDREN WITH SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS.

BUT THE VARIANT IS THERE.

THE OPTIONS ARE NOT THERE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

ARE PARENTS -- ARE PARENTS CRAZY, OR ARE THEY JUST BEING RATIONAL WHEN THEY SAY, NO, WE WANT SOME OF THESE REMOTE OPTIONS UNDER THESE CONDITIONS?

RIGHT.

WELL, I THINK PARENTS ARE, YOU KNOW, RIGHT AND WELL INTENDED TO BE CONCERNED AND CAUTIOUS ABOUT SENDING THEIR CHILDREN BACK TO SCHOOL.

PARTICULARLY NOT, YOU KNOW, CERTAIN OF WHETHER OR NOT EVERYONE HAS BEEN FULLY VACCINATED, WHAT THOSE AIR VENT CONDITIONS ARE GOING TO BE.

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED.

AND, OF COURSE, AS JEAN MARIE SAID EARLIER, THERE IS A BIT OF A MIXED MESSAGE ABOUT HOW SAFE SCHOOLS WILL BE.

YOU KNOW, ECONOMISTS USED TO JOKE ABOUT OR A FAMOUS POLITICIAN ONCE JOKED ABOUT TWO-HANDED ECONOMISTS.

ON THE ONE HAND, HERE IS ONE OPTION.

ON THE OTHER HAND AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT IS FDR OR SOMEBODY SAID, I NEED A ONE HANDED ECONOMIST.

I FEEL WE NEED THAT ABOUT EPIDEMIOLOGISTS.

BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS WE REALLY CAN'T SAY FOR CERTAIN MUCH ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN GETTING VACCINATED WILL PREVENT MOST LIKELY YOU FROM GETTING SEVERELY SICK AND/OR HOSPITALIZED AND/OR DYING.

SO I THINK THAT HAS TO CONTINUE TO BE THE MESSAGE.

NEW YORK CITY HAS PUSHED ITS CHIPS IF YOU WILL AND THE MAYOR PUSHED HIS CHIPS INTO THE IDEA OF HAVING A FULLY ACCESSIBLE IN PERSON LEARNING IS GOING TO BE WHAT'S BEST FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK, BEST FOR CHILDREN, RATHER THAN HAVING THE REMOTE OPTION.

AND OBVIOUSLY THE PROOF IN THE PUDDING WILL BE IN THE EATING.

WE WILL SEE HOW THAT PLAYS OUT.

BUT IT IS HARD ALSO TO FAULT HIM, GIVEN THE FACT THAT WE KNOW HOW MUCH IS LOST AND HOW MUCH HAS BEEN LOST THESE PAST 18 MONTHS WHERE STUDENTS HAVE NOT BEEN IN SCHOOL.

SO I DON'T EVNVY THE DECISION MAKERS ONE BIT.

I MISSED THE MAYOR'S PRESS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING.

HE MIGHT HAVE MENTIONED THIS.

BUT IN HIS CALCULATIONS, THIS HAS TO BE THE CASE.

WE SEE OTHER VARIANTS ON THE WAY OVER HERE ALREADY FROM PERU OR FROM HERE OR FROM THERE.

THIS THING IS ALWAYS -- IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS GOING TO BE WITH US.

IT IS GOING TO BE ENDEMIC.

IT IS GOING TO BE THE FLU.

SO WHY NOT NOW?

SO BE CLEAR, VIRUSES MUTATE.

THAT'S WHAT THEY DO BY THEIR DEFINITION.

EVERY VIRUS IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY IS GOING TO MUTATE.

SO WHAT WE REALLY NEED TO FOCUS ON ARE THE BEST FRAKPRACTICES T GET US THROUGH ALL OF THESE MUTATIONS TODAY AND INTO THE FUTURE.

TO THE PROFESSOR'S POINT, THERE HAS BEEN THIS INABILITY TO GET A MESSAGE OUT TO THE PUBLIC THEY CAN TRUST AND THAT IS CONSISTENT.

SO ON ONE HAND, YOU'RE TELLING PEOPLE THAT THE CONDITIONS IN THE SCHOOL ARE SAFE.

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU ARE TELLING PEOPLE THAT FULLY VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS WHO DON'T WEAR MASKS ARE A MENACE TO SOCIETY.

BOTH OF THESE THINGS CANNOT BE TRUE.

ON SOME BASIC LEVEL, WHEN YOU TURN OUR EYES OVERSEAS, WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE ISRAELI PEOPLE, FULLY VACCINATED ISRAELIS TESTING NEGATIVE FOR COVID STILL BEING BARRED ENTRY TO PLACES LIKE SWEDEN BECAUSE OF THE QUOTE, UNQUOTE THREAT OF THE VIRUS, IT SEEMS AS IF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY AND THE PEOPLE ENTRUSTED WITH PUBLIC HEALTH CANNOT FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHERE THEY WANT TO BE ON THIS ISSUE.

AND THAT IN MANY WAYS IS LEADING TO THE CONFUSION WE SEE, TO THE FEAR THAT PARENTS HAVE, TO THE FEAR THAT MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY HAVE BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY PEOPLE JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT ARE THE PARAMETERS THAT WE SHOULD BE CONSIDERING SO THAT WE CAN MAKE THE BEST DECISION FOR OURSELVES AND FOR OUR LOVED ONES.

AND CURRENTLY, IN SPITE OF ALL THE DATA WE HAVE COMPILED, IN SPITE OF ALL THE WORK THAT HAS BEEN DONE, IN SPITE OF ALL THE MONEY THAT HAS BEEN SPENT, WE STILL CAN'T SEEMINGLY GET TO THAT POOR MESSAGE THAT CAN GET PEOPLE THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO FEEL SECURE.

I LOOK AT THE THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE.

A LOT OF THEM I REMEMBER WERE THE THINGS REQUESTED BY THE TEACHERS UNIONS A YEAR AND A HALF AGO.

THEY ALL ARE BEING DONE.

I WON'T GET INTO IT BECAUSE IT IS A LONG LIST.

BUT I WONDER WHAT JOE SAID.

IT IS NOT JUST AN ISSUE OF BEST PRACTICES THAT ARE TROUBLING THE PARENTS, BUT THIS COMMUNICATION PROBLEM.

ON THE ONE HAND YOU HEAR THIS.

AND ON THE OTHER HAND YOU HEAR THAT.

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

YEAH.

I THINK IT IS A LITTLE BIT OF THAT.

I THINK IT IS ALSO THAT AFTER THE YEAR WE'VE HAD THERE IS A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY.

I KNOW THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF PARENTS THAT WE HEARD FROM WHO -- I MEAN PEOPLE I KNOW PERSONALLY IN MY LIFE WHO ARE EXCITED TO SEE CHILDREN GO BACK TO SCHOOL BECAUSE AS THE OTHER PANELS MENTIONED JUST HOW KIND OF BAD OF A YEAR LAST YEAR WAS WITH REMOTE LEARNING.

I THINK THAT THAT'S BEEN THE MAIN MESSAGE THAT THE MAYOR HAS BEEN TRYING TO PUSH, IS THAT SO MUCH GETS LEFT BEHIND AND THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL -- SORRY ABOUT THAT -- LEARNING LOSS.

I MADE A POINT OF LEARNING IT OFF BEFORE.

THE LEARNING LOSS AND USUALLY LIKE THE MOST VULNERABLE STUDENTS WHO ARE THE MOST LEFT BEHIND BY REMOTE LEARNING, RIGHT?

SO STUDENTS WITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS.

NEW STUDENTS.

YOU HAVE INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING PLANS, SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS, FOR EXAMPLE.

AND, SO, I THINK THERE IS THIS KIND OF BALANCE THAT THEY'RE TRYING TO STRIKE BETWEEN TRYING TO BRING PEOPLE BACK.

THERE IS ALSO ALL THE MENTAL HEALTH KIND OF CONCERNS THAT GO INTO THE REMOTE LEARNING.

LAST YEAR WAS A REALLY DIFFICULT YEAR FOR A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR CITY.

THAT'S SOMETHING THE MAYOR HAS BEEN STRESSING A LOT.

BUT OF COURSE YOU HAVE GOT PARENTS WHO ARE VERY CONCERNED AND DON'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT AND, YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY LIKE FAMILIES OF IMMUNOCOMPROMISED MEMBERS, FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL HEALTH RISKS, AND THAT SEEMS TO BE AN ORGANIZED CONTINGENT OF PARENTS WHO ARE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO NOT HAVE THE REMOTE OPTION AND FEEL AT A LOSS RIGHT NOW.

I HEARD, AND WE ACTUALLY TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE WE WENT ON THE AIR, SCREENING WEBSITE, THE SCREENING WEBSITE WHERE PARENTS FILL OUT THE HEALTH SITUATION OF THE CHILDREN CRASHED THIS MORNING.

I THINK YOU TOLD ME IT WAS BACKED UP NOW.

BUT WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

WE'RE TAPING THIS, ACTUALLY IT'S 12:23 AT THIS POINT.

BUT SO FAR WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

ARE THINGS RELATIVELY OKAY OR RELATIVELY CHAOTIC?

YOU KNOW, I THINK THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL BACK IS ALWAYS A LITTLE CHAOTIC, RIGHT?

BUT, YES, THE HEALTH SCREENING PORTAL WEBSITE THAT THE DOE HAS THAT THE PARENTS HAVE TO FILL OUT EVERY DAY TO SHOW THEIR CHILD DOESN'T HAVE A FEVER OR COUGHING, THAT CHECKLIST THAT WE HAVE BECOME FAMILIAR WITH, IT DID CRASH FOR A PERIOD.

A FRIEND OF MINE SAID SHE HAD TO REFRESH IT A FEW TIMES.

THAT DOESN'T INSTILL GREAT CONFIDENCE.

IF IT'S THE FIRST DAY BACK AT SCHOOL, WE WANT THINGS TO GO SMOOTHLY, AND WHEN THE DOE SITE IS NOT WORKING -- THE MAYOR SAID THERE IS ONE MILLION FAMILIES TRYING TO LOG INTO IT, IT'S GOING TO HAVE SOME ISSUES.

BUT I THINK IT WOULD GIVE A MESSAGE OF MORE CONFIDENCE IF THINGS WENT SMOOTHLY LIKE THAT, AND I THINK IT IS THOSE LITTLE SIGNALS THAT DOESN'T HELP WITH THE MESSAGES.

JOE, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE LOOKING AT TO DETERMINE IF THE DECISION TO START THE VIRTUALLY 100% IN PERSON SCHOOLING WAS A WISE ONE?

LOOK, I THINK TWO THINGS HAVE TO BE SAID.

NUMBER ONE, VIRTUAL LEARNING WAS NOT WORKING, PARTICULARLY FOR THOSE VULNERABLE CHILDREN, THOSE AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENTS, THOSE CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY.

FAR TOO MANY STUDENTS IN NEW YORK CITY AND THEN NUMBER TWO, WE HAVE TO BE BUILDING A SOCIETY WHERE WE ARE REESTABLISHING TRUST, NOT SEWING THE SEEDS OF DISSENSION.

SO WHEN YOU ARE SITTING HERE EFFECTIVELY ON A DAILY BASIS, A RECURRING BASIS TRYING TO ASK PEOPLE, DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE COVID SYMPTOMS, ON SOME BASIC LEVEL, IT DEFIES COMMON SENSE AND COMMON CAUSE.

I THINK AT THIS POINT WE WOULD HOPE THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE A DETERMINATION, HEY, MY CHILD IS EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS.

I'M NOT GOING TO SEND THEM INTO A SCHOOL COMMUNITY.

AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE UNWILLING TO DO SO, WHO ARE UNWILLING TO HAVE THAT CONSIDERATION FOR THEIR NEIGHBOR, THEN MOST CERTAINLY THEY'RE NOT GOING TO CARE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATIONS THEY ARE MAKING ON A WEBSITE.

SO, LOOK, I THINK THAT AT THE CORE OF THIS, PARTICULARLY IN THE AFTERMATH OF 9/11, WE SEE A NATION, WE SEE SOCIETY SO COMPLETELY DIVIDED THAT WE CAN'T COME TOGETHER OVER CERTAIN BEST PRACTICES.

HEY, BE A GOOD PERSON.

WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH PEOPLE OR NOT, JUST TREAT THEM WITH THE DIGNITY WE ALL DESERVE.

IF WE COULD HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS MORE, WHO IS RIGHT ON THIS ISSUE, WHO ARE THE GOOD PEOPLE ON THIS ISSUE, WHO ARE THE EVIL PEOPLE ON THIS ISSUE.

NOT JUST WRONG, BUT EVIL, I THINK THAT'S WHERE WE NEED TO START GOING.

IF WE START HAVING THOSE CONVERSATIONS STARTING IN THE SCHOOLS WHERE I THINK, AGAIN, IS THE FOCAL POINT WHERE IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU ARE RICH OR POOR, THE CHILDREN ARE ALL FACING THE SAME CHALLENGES, NAMELY THAT THE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS WE HAD BEFORE WEREN'T WORKING.

THAT TO ME WOULD BE A SIGN OF SOMETHING POSITIVE TAKING ROUTE HERE IN NEW YORK.

PROFESSOR, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT PARTICULAR VIABLES TO DETERMINE WHETHER THIS WAS A WISE DECISION OR NOT?

I WILL BE LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS, THE STATISTICS THAT SHOW WHETHER OR NOT MANY OR MORE FAR FEWER STUDENTS ARE BEING SENT HOME, QUARANTINED, YOU KNOW, WHETHER OR NOT PEOPLE ARE INCREASINGLY, INCLUDING TEACHERS AND STAFF, ARE HAVING TO BE HOSPITALIZED, CALL IN SICK.

I WANT TO SEE IF WE CAN MAINTAIN THE KIND OF POPULATION LEVELS OF NORMATIVELY VALUED IN AN ORDINARY SCHOOL YEAR.

CAN WE HAVE 90% ATTENDANCE OR WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE FOR STAFF, FACULTY AND STUDENTS.

SO I WILL BE LOOKING AT THOSE NUMBERS.

PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHETHER OR NOT THOSE NUMBERS ARE APPROACHING LEVELS THAT ARE FAIRLY NORMAL, THAT WILL RESTORE, I'M HOPING, SOME DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE IN GETTING VACCINATED AND THE IDEA THAT IMMUNIZING YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELF AGAINST DISEASES ARE SOMETHING WE HAVE DONE AS AMERICANS FOR MANY DECADES NOW, AND THIS OUGHT TO BE NO DIFFERENT.

SO I'M HOPEFUL THAT THAT WILL BE THE CASE AND THAT THAT LATTER DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE IN SCIENCE AND IN MEDICINE WILL TAKE HOLD.

JUST TO ADD ON THERE QUICKLY, I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HAVE TIME, BUT I THINK TO THE PROFESSOR'S POINT, I THINK THAT AS LONG AS WE DON'T HAVE CHILDREN DYING, AND AS LONG AS WE DON'T HAVE CHILDREN WHO FIND THEMSELVES IN GRAVE MEDICAL CONDITION, I THINK THAT ALONE WILL HOPEFULLY HELP INSTILL THE CONFIDENCE REQUIRED BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY I THINK EVERYONE RECOGNIZES THE GOAL WAS NEVER TO ENSURE THAT NO ONE EVER GOT COVID AGAIN, BUT TO ENSURE WE WERE STAVING OFF THESE WORST CASE SCENARIOS FOR OUR LOVED ONES AND ESPECIALLY FOR OUR CHILDREN.

SO ABSENT THOSE TWO THINGS, I THINK THAT, IN AND OF ITSELF, WILL INSPIRE THE CONFIDENCE WE NEED TO GET BACK TO EVERY DAY LIFE THAT THIS VACCINE WAS SUPPOSED TO PRODUCE.

I HOPE YOU DON'T MIND THAT I WILL MOVE ON FOR TIME SAKE AND TURN TO PRESIDENT BIDEN'S VACCINE MANDATE, WHICH HE OUTLINED IN A SPEECH LAST THURSDAY.

I DON'T WANT TO GET THE RESPONSE OF ALL OF YOU, BUT LET ME SPELL OUT ALL OF THE KEY POINTS.

ONE OF THEM WAS THAT ALL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYEES OF FEDERAL CONTRACTORS MUST GET VACCINATED WITH NO COVID TESTING OPTION, THAT ALL HEALTH CARE FACILITIES THAT RECEIVE MEDICAID OR MEDICARE FUNDING MUST MANDATE FOR THEIR WORKFORCE, THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS TO CREATE NEW RULES REGARDING COMPANIES OF MORE THAN 100 EMPLOYEES TO MANDATE VACCINATION OF THEIR EMPLOYEES OR WEEKLY COVID TESTS FOR WORKERS, CITING RELIGIOUS OR HEALTH REASONS FOR NOT GETTING VACCINATED.

CONSERVATIVES, BY AND LARGE, WERE NOT HAPPY WITH THE MANDATE.

SOME GOVERNORS SAID THEY WERE GOING TO CHALLENGE IT IN THE COURTS.

OTHERS ARE SAYING IT DIDN'T GO FAR ENOUGH.

I WANT TO TAKE ALL OF YOU WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT IT.

I THINK IT IS GOING TO BE VERY HELPFUL IN BACKING UP WHAT LOCAL LEADERS IN NEW YORK HAVE BEEN PUSHING FOR, RIGHT?

NEW YORK HAS BEEN MORE STRINGENT ABOUT THINGS LIKE VACCINE MANDATES FOR CERTAIN WORKERS AND VACCINE MANDATES FOR TEACHERS.

THEY'RE MANDATED NOW TO DO THAT, AND THIS IS NOW COMING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

SO PUTTING IN THE SAME RULES THAT THE MAYOR HAS PUT IN FOR AND MUCH OF THE WORKFORCE HERE, AT LEAST IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, AND GETTING THAT SORT OF BACKUP IN TERMS OF REINFORCING THOSE POLICIES.

AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, WHETHER OR NOT IT WENT FAR ENOUGH, I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN REALLY SAY THAT EITHER WAY.

I THINK THAT OBVIOUSLY THERE IS GOING TO BE PUSHBACK NO MATTER WHAT PRESIDENT BIDEN DOES IN TERMS OF MANDATES LIKE THIS.

I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, HE COULD HAVE PROBABLY DONE A LESS STRINGENT ONE AND HE'D GET PUSHED BACK.

HE COULD HAVE DONE A MORE STRINGENT ONE AND GOT PUSHBACK.

SO THAT WILL BE THERE NO MATTER WHAT.

IF I WERE MAYOR de BLASIO, I WOULD BE FEELING BETTER NOW THAT YOU HAVE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COMING IN AND GIVING SIMILAR MANDATES TO WHAT THE CITY HAS BEEN DOING.

PROFESSOR?

WELL, I'M INTRIGUED BY THE QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL POWER, WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT HAS THE AUTHORITY, THE WARRANTS, IF YOU WILL, TO MANDATE VACCINATIONS AND/OR TESTING FOR THOSE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

I MEAN, THAT WAS A QUESTION THAT BIDEN HIMSELF KIND OF FUDGED A LITTLE BIT ON.

SO MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, I THINK THAT WITH RESPECT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND THEIR POLICIES, I THINK HE'S ON STRONG CONSTITUTIONAL FWROUGROUND.

AND CAPITALISM REQUIRES CUSTOMERS.

THEY SHOULD BE BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF BECAUSE IN ORDER FOR, YOU KNOW, THE PRODUCTIVITY OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY TO MOVE FORWARD, IT IS GOING TO REQUIRE PEOPLE BEING IN PERSON DOING THE BASIC TASKS THAT WE ALL TAKE FOR GRANTED IN AN ECONOMY SUCH AS OURS ON OUR SCALE.

SO I AM INTRIGUED, HOWEVER, ABOUT WHAT THIS MEANS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL POWER.

I'M BACK AT MY CLASS HERE IN RUTGERS IN MY OFFICE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MARCH OF 2020.

AND IT IS INTRIGUING.

STUDENTS, I THINK, ARE INTRIGUED BY WHETHER OR NOT BIDEN HAS THE AUTHORITY AND TO A GREATER OR LESSER EXTENT APPLAUD HIS USE OF IT WHILE SOME MAY FEAR ITS APPLICATION BY THIS PRESIDENT OR OTHER PRESIDENTS.

SO I THINK IT RAISES A HOST OF IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

BUT I DO THINK HE'S ON STRONG GROUND WITH RESPECT TO FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.

AND I THINK TO THE DEGREE HE'S DOING ALL HE CAN, HE'S REALLY DOING SO IN THAT VENUE.

JOE, YOU KNOW BETTER THAN ANYONE.

YOU KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF REPUBLICANS.

THE HARD LINE REPUBLICANS LIKE DeSANTIS IN FLORIDA, ABBOTT IN TEXAS THAT ARE, YOU KNOW, PUSHING BACK HARD.

BUT THERE ARE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS LIKE HUTCHENSON IN ARKANSAS WHO HAS BEEN PUSHING FOR HIS PEOPLE TO GET VACCINATED.

BUT HE'S SAYING, LOOK, THIS IS COUNTER PRODUCTIVE.

THIS WILL INCREASE THE RESISTANCE IN RED STATES.

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE?

THE REALITY IS THE GOAL WILL GET MORE PEOPLE TO TAKE THE VACCINE.

GOING TO PEOPLE WHO ARE HESITANT AT THIS POINT WITH ALL THE INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED AND TRYING TO TELL THEM NOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS MANDATING YOU INJECT THIS INTO YOU IS ONLY GOING TO LEAD TO MORE PUSHBACK.

I THINK ALSO WE SEE A CHORUS OF VOICES ACROSS THE SPECTRUM, IRRESPECTIVE THEY RECOGNIZE WHAT MOST OF US DO, THAT VACCINES SAVE LIVES UNDERSTAND IT IS DUBIOUS TO HAVE THIS TYPE OF WIDE REACHING MANDATE.

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER WHEN HE FIRST GOT INTO OFFICE, PRESIDENT BIDEN DID INSTITUTE A MANDATE ON THOSE FEDERAL PROPERTIES.

THAT MEANS THE MONUMENTS.

THAT MEANS TRAVEL, AIRLINES, ALL THOSE THINGS BECAUSE SOMEHOW WE UNDERSTOOD IMPLICITLY THAT WAS THE LIMITS OF HIS AUTHORITY.

THIS NOTION THAT I THINK THIS BREATHES A SIGH OF RELIEF I WOULD HAVE TO PUSH BACK BECAUSE MANY BUSINESSES UNDERSTAND IMPLICITLY THAT THIS TYPE OF FRICTION, THIS TYPE OF STRESS BEING INTRODUCED INTO AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU ARE NOW TURNING YOUR WAY TRESS AND YOUR BARTENDERS INTO THE COVID POLICE IS REALLY NOT TENABLE.

ON TOP OF THAT, WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE, THIS IS REALLY ONLY THE BEST WAY I CAN DESCRIBE IT IS ECONOMIC COERCION.

I DON'T KNOW WHEN ANYBODY D DECIDED ECONOMIC COERCION IS GOOD IN SOCIETY.

WHEN WE START ERODING ON PERSONAL LIBERTIES, WHEN WE START TELLING THE MOST VULNERABLE THAT YOU WILL BE DRUMMED OUT OF THE WORKFORCE UNLESS YOU COMPLY WITH WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS TELLING YOU TO DO, I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE TYPE OF SOCIETY THAT WE WANT TO BE BUILDING.

SO I WOULD CAUTION PEOPLE, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE FACT THAT WE DO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC TOGETHER TO BE VERY LEERY OF THIS TYPE OF ACTUAL ATTITUDE BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT STARTS HERE, BUT IT NEVER ENDS HERE.

HISTORY SHOWS US THAT.

SO LET ME JUST ASK YOU THIS, TO PIGGYBACK ON THAT.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE KEY TO NYC?

I THINK THAT'S WHAT IT'S CALLED THAT GO INTO EFFECT TODAY IN NEW YORK CITY.

WHAT EFFECTS DO YOU THINK THAT'S HAVING IN THE BUSINESS THAT WE HAVE TO SHOW VACCINE PROOF TO GET INTO ALL THOSE PLACES.

I DO NOT THINK IT IS A COINCIDENCE THAT WHILE WE HAVE SEEN $6 TRILLION IN COVID RELIEF SPENT, THE $1.5 TRILLION TO STIMULATE THIS ECONOMY, EVERY SINGLE DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP HAS SEEN UNEMPLOYMENT TICK DOWN EXCEPT FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY.

BLACK PEOPLE HAD AN EXPLODING UPTICK IN UNEMPLOYMENT IN THESE LAST NUMBERS.

I THINK IT WAS 0.5% OR 0.6%. THAT IS BECAUSE WE HAVE SEEN THE PRESSURE THESE POLICIES HAVE PUT ON MANY OF THOSE ENTRY-LEVEL JOBS, THE BARTENDERS, THE BARISTAS.

ON SOME BASIC LEVEL, YES, WE WANT TO GET THROUGH THIS VACCINE TOGETHER.

BUT LET'S NOT TURN A BLIND EYE TO THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES THIS IS HAVING ON THE VULNERABLE PORTIONS OF YOUR SOCIETY.

IF YOU WANT TO BLAME ALL THE PEOPLE, I WILL REMIND YOU WE HAVE FAR TOO MANY PEOPLE BLACK AND BROWN BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO ARE NOT VACCINATED.

AND THESE NOTIONS WE WILL DRUM THE BAD PEOPLE OUT OF SOCIETY INCLUDES MANY OF THE GOOD PEOPLE THAT PEOPLE CLAIM THEY CARE ABOUT SO DEARLY.

WE ONLY HAVE THREE MINUTES LEFT.

I WANT TO TOUCH ON THAT.

THERE WERE 20,000.

NOW THERE ARE LESS THAN 6,000.

NEVERTHELESS, BY ALL ACCOUNTS OF PEOPLE WHO KNOW, THEY SAY IT IS AN INCREDIBLE UNBELIEVABLE MESS.

TO PUT IT MILDLY, THE GUARDS AND DETAINEES ARE GETTING ATTACKED ROUTINELY.

THERE IS MORE SUICIDE AND OVERDOSES OF DRUGS THAN APPARENTLY IN A LONG TIME, IF EVER.

DETAINEES ARE ACTUALLY POSTING VIDEOS OF THEMSELVES BEATING UP THE DETAINEES OR HAVING PARTIES.

WHAT'S GOING ON?

THE REDUCTION OF THE POPULATION WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAD TO THE OPPOSITE.

PROFESSOR, WHAT'S GOING ON?

WELL, I THINK WE HAVE A POPULATION, HOWEVER REDUCED IN SIZE AND SCALE, THAT'S NEVERTHELESS BEEN LIVING UNDER FRANKLY INHUMANE CIRCUMSTANCES FOR MANY MONTHS UP TO COVID AND PRIOR THE OUTBREAK OF LAST MARCH IN 2020.

WE HAVE A SITUATION WHERE, IF YOU PUT PEOPLE IN CAGES AND IF YOU TREAT THEM LIKE ANIMALS AND IF YOU DEFY ALL BASIC RECOGNITION OF THEIR HUMANITY, DON'T BE SURPRISED WHEN THEY ACT LESS THAN HUMAN OR HUMANE THEMSELVES.

THIS IS NOT TO EXCUSE, INCI INCIDENTALLY, ANY VIOLENT ATTACKS OR ANYBODY, BE THEY CORRECTION OFFICERS OR WHOEVER IS ON STAFF.

BUT I GREW UP IN NEW YORK A STONE'S THROW FROM THERE IN THE 1980s, AND I CAN TELL YOU IT WAS A MESS THEN AND IT REMAINS A MESS.

IT IS AN INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE, BUT A FAILURE ON THE PART OF ALL OF US FOR NOT SHEDDING A LIGHT ON THOSE INHERENT PROBLEMS.

OKAY.

WE HAVE LESS THAN A MINUTE.

LITERALLY 45 SECONDS AND I WANT TO GET BOTH OF YOU.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

YOU KNOW, MAYOR BILL de BLASIO ASKED THAT THIS MORNING AT HIS DAILY PRESS CONFERENCE, AND HE DID NOT HAVE A GOOD ANSWER, UNFORTUNATELY.

HE FUMBLED FOR WORDS.

HE KIND OF REFERENCED MAINLY REFERENCED HIS PLAN TO CLOSE IT, WHICH HAS BEEN ONGOING FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW.

BUT OBVIOUSLY THAT DOES NOTHING TO ADDRESS THE CURRENT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS THAT'S HAPPENING THERE RIGHT NOW.

I DON'T KNOW IF I HAVE A GOOD ANSWER, BUT MOST ADVOCATES ARE PUSHING FOR RELEASING FOLKS WHO ARE INCARCERATED CURRENTLY AND LOWER THAT POPULATION A LOT MORE.

I'M SORRY, JOE.

I HAD TO SKIP YOU.

NO WORRIES.

BECAUSE WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

BUT THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE TODAY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

APPRECIATE IT.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING 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.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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