MetroFocus: December 8, 2021

Encore: December 31, 2021

2021 METROFOCUS YEAR IN REVIEW

Tonight we’re looking back at the major stories of 2021 and exploring what’s ahead for the tristate as we get ready to ring in the New Year. Now 2021 is ending much like it started under the cloud of a pandemic. Roughly 70 percent of the region is fully vaccinated but the Omicron variant is posing a new threat, arriving during a period of massive transition. Mayor-elect Eric Adams takes over in just a matter of days and the New York City Council will soon decide its next speaker. In Albany, Kathy Hochul made history this summer as the first woman to become governor. But she’s facing a bruising primary after inheriting the job from Andrew Cuomo, whose resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal rocked the world of politics. This evening we’ll also re-visit the fight against racial injustice and climate change with our panel of tristate experts- Rutgers University political science professor and senior scholar Saladin Ambar, political commentator and former NYC Board of Elections president JC Polanco and The City deputy editor, Alyssa Katz.

TRANSCRIPT

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> 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.

WELCOME TO THIS 'METROFOCUS' YEAR IN REVIEW SPECIAL.

I'M JACK FORD.

TONIGHT, WE'RE LOOKING BACK AT THE MAJOR STORY LINES OF 2021 AND EXPLORING WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE TRISTATE AS WE RING IN THE NEW YEAR.

NOW, 2021 IS ENDING, MUCH LIKE IT STARTED.

UNDER THE CLOUD OF A PANDEMIC.

ROUGHLY 70% TO HAVE REGION IS FULLY VACCINATED, BUT THE OMICRON VARIANT IS POSING A NEW THREAT, ARRIVING DURING A PERIOD OF MASSIVE TRANSITION.

MAYOR ELECT ERIC ADAMS TAKES OVER IN A FEW DAYS AND A CITY COUNCIL WILL DECIDE ITS NEXT SPEAKER.

CATHY HOCHUL MADE HISTORY AS THE FIRST WOMAN GOVERNOR.

AFTER SHE INHERITED THE JOB FROM ANDREW CUOMO.

THIS EVENING, WE'LL REVISIT THE FIGHT AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICE, SEEING IF WE'VE MADE ANY PROGRESS, LOOK AT CLIMATE CHANGE.

ALSO, ARE WE MAKING ANY PROGRESS AND WHERE THE NATION STANDS ALMOST A YEAR AFTER THE ATTACK ON THE CAPITOL.

LET'S WELCOME IN OUR PANEL OF TRISTATE EXPERTS WHO ARE ALWAYS DELIGHTED TO HAVE JOINED US HERE.

FIRST OF ALL, WE WELCOME PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY.

JC PLANKO, A POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, NOW TEACHES AT BMCC.

AND ALYSSA KATZ, THE DEPUTY EDITOR AT 'THE CITY' COVERING NEW YORK.

AND AS ALWAYS, WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE THREE OF YOU JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES.

I SAID THIS BEFORE, WE ALWAYS FEEL A LOT SMARTER AFTER WE HAVE A CHANCE TO TALK TO THE THREE OF YOU ABOUT ALL THIS.

THAT BEING SAID, LET'S KICK OFF OUR CONVERSATION.

WE CAN'T BEGIN WITHOUT TALKING, AGAIN, AS I MENTIONED, ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON WITH COVID.

NOW, WE MADE EXTRAORDINARY PROGRESS.

IT'S BEEN A YEAR OF EXTRAORDINARY SCIENTIFIC SUCCESS, IF YOU WILL, IN TERMS OH OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS VACCINE, HOW QUICKLY IT WAS DEVELOPED, HOW EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE IT HAS BECOME.

BUT WE ALSO KNOW THAT THERE'S STILL AN EXTRAORDINARY LEVEL OF VACCINE HESITANCY.

SO ALYSSA, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE UPCOMING STORIES THAT WILL BE LOOKING AT THESE ISSUES IN TERMS OF THE MANDATES YOU HEAR IN NEW YORK CITY, ACROSS THE NATION, AND WHAT SORT OF RESPONSE THEY'RE GOING TO GENERATE.

WELL, I THINK IT'S UNFORTUNATELY A FAIR ASSUMPTION WE WILL CONTINUE TO SEE A LOT OF VACCINE RESISTANCE, I THINK HESITANCY IS TOO POLITE A WORD FOR IT, AMONG SEVERAL GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELD OUT THIS LONG.

THIS IS ALMOST A YEAR NOW THAT THE VACCINE HAS BEEN PHASED IN, AND AVAILABLE.

AND IT WAS AVAILABLE TO THE ENTIRE PUBLIC AS OF MARCH OR APRIL 2021.

THE PEOPLE WHO -- BROADLY WE CAN GROUP THEM INTO THE POLITICAL FACTION THAT IS VERY IN DEEP WITH THE IDEA OF RESISTING GOVERNMENT MANDATES, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ALLIED POINT OF VIEW THAT THESE MANDATES ARE ILLEGITIMATE, MANDATES FOR MASKING ARE ILLEGITIMATE AND SO ON.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE KIND OF HAVE A PARTICULAR VIEW OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS WHO ARE THE CLASSIC ANTI-VAXERS.

AND YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUST BEEN PURE VICTIMS OF MISINFORMATION, PARTICULARLY AROUND THESE FABRICATED CLAIMS ABOUT IMPACTS ON FERTILITY THAT HAVE BEEN REALLY WIDELY PROMOTED.

NOT JUST FERTILITY, OF COURSE, BUT HEALTH ISSUES IN GENERAL.

BUT THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES WHAT DOES THAT MISINFORMATION LOOK LIKE?

AND PART OF THE PROBLEM IS WE HAVE INCREDIBLY OPEN, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET, BECAUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, AND JUST BECAUSE WE'RE HUMAN, AND BECAUSE WE HAVE FREEDOM IN THIS COUNTRY, WE HAVE INCREDIBLY OPEN CHANNELS FOR INFORMATION AND MISINFORMATION, AND I THINK ONE PARADOX OF THE VACCINE MANDATES IS, THEY CAN BE VERY POWERFUL IN GETTING SOME PEOPLE TO BE VACCINATED BY THE EMPLOYER MANDATE, FOR EXAMPLE.

BUT PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CHEAT THEIR WAY AROUND IT OR SO ON, THOSE KIND OF MANDATES CAN ALSO, I THINK, BE POTENTIALLY CHALLENGING TO EFFORTS THAT BUILD IN MORE TRUST, BECAUSE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEIR CONCERNS ARE NOT BEING HEARD.

SO I THINK IT'S JUST CONTINUING THE DRUMBEAT OF THE MESSAGING THAT'S KEY.

I THINK WHATEVER FIGHTS MAY HAPPEN IN THE COURTS ARE GOING TO BE CRUCIAL, BECAUSE ULTIMATELY THAT WILL HOLD SWAY.

AND IT'S GOING TO BE AN ONGOING BATTLE, THE BATTLE AGAINST THE VIRUS AND MISINFORMATION IS AS SERIOUS AS THE BATTLE AGAINST THE VIRUS ITSELF.

DO YOU THINK THAT THE POSITIONS THAT ALYSSA JUST OUTLINED HAVE BECOME SO HARDENED, THAT THERE IS REALLY NO REALISTIC PROSPECT OF EVEN WITH AN ONSLAUGHT OF ACCURATE INFORMATION, NEW SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS, EVEN WITH ALL OF THAT, THAT THE PROSPECT OF GETTING PEOPLE TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT REALLY IS GOING TO BE A REALISTIC POSSIBILITY FOR US?

WELL, I THINK FOR A SELECT GROUP, I THINK IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

WE ARE INCREDIBLY PARTISAN TODAY.

AND WE CAN ACTUALLY LOOK AT SOME OF THE NUMBERS AND SEE THE DISTRUST IN GOVERNMENT, HOW IT'S ACTUALLY IMPACTED OUR PERCEPTION OF THIS VACCINE.

WE'VE SEEN INCREDIBLE MISINFORMATION, NOT ONLY FROM ANECDOTAL DATA THAT WE MAY GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA FROM FACEBOOK DOCTORS.

BUT WE'RE GETTING MISINFORMATION FROM GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, AND WE SAW THAT IN NEW YORK UNDER FORMER GOVERNOR CUOMO, AND IT REALLY LED TO INCREDIBLE DISTRUST AMONG MANY GROUPS HERE IN NEW YORK.

WE HAVE LARGE GROUPS OF BLACKS AND LATINOS IN NEW YORK CITY WHO ARE NOT GETTING VACCINATED.

WE'RE LEADING THESE NUMBERS IN MANY PARTS OF OUR CITY.

THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT.

THERE'S SOME HISTORICAL REASONS FOR THAT.

BUT A LOT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT WE HAVE OUR OWN LEADERS GIVING US MISINFORMATION.

SO I REALLY HOPE THAT AT SOME POINT, WE START FOCUSING ON MAKING SURE THAT THE MESSAGES BEING PROVIDED BY DOCTORS AND DOCTORS ALONE.

I SEE A LOT OF BLACK AND LATINO DOCTORS ARE ON TELEVISION TALKS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS VACCINE.

AND I'M THINKING THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT ANY NEW VARIANTS, AND NOT BEING ABLE TO GO TO THE MOVIES, TO THE GYM, TO RESTAURANTS.

HOPEFULLY THAT WILL INCENTIVIZE EVEN THE MOST HARDENED FOLKS.

BUT I HOPE SOMETHING HAPPENS SOON.

WE CAN TRACE THIS HESITANCY BACK TO MISINFORMATION AND INCREDIBLE PARTISANSHIP AMONG NEW YORKERS TODAY.

PROFESSOR, HOW ABOUT THAT, THAT THIS NOTION THAT ISSUES OF QUITE LITERALLY LIFE AND DEATH HAVE BECOME SO POLITICIZED.

YOU'RE SOMEBODY WHO STUDIES HISTORY AND POLITICAL HISTORY.

I GUESS THE QUESTION IS, SHOULD WE BE SURPRISED THAT IN THIS ERA THAT EVEN ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH ASSUME A POLITICAL NATURE?

WELL, YOU KNOW, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

WE SHOULD NOT BE SURPRISED, BUT LISTENING TO ALYSSA AND JC, I HAD A RARE OCCURRENCE OF HOPE A AND HOPEFULNESS.

IT REMINDED ME OF ANOTHER ISSUE OF LIFE AND DEATH, AND I HATE TO GO BACK TO ANCIENT TIMES FOR OUR VIEWERS.

MAYBE 2010, TALKING ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND HOW DEATH PANELS WERE GOING TO BE A FORCE TO RECKON WITH, AND HOW OBAMA WAS GOING TO BANKRUPT THE COUNTRY AND PEOPLE WERE GOING TO BE DYING AND GOING, YOU KNOW, TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET.

WELL, IT TURNED OUT THAT AS TIME WENT ON, A VERY UNPOPULAR ACT BECAME SLIGHTLY MORE POPULAR AND THEN SLIGHTLY MORE POPULAR, AND OVER TIME, PEOPLE BEGAN TO SEE THE EFFICACY AND BENEFITS OF OBAMACARE.

AND YOU HAD REPUBLICANS AT ONE POINT SAYING, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY OBAMACARE.

NOW, THAT IS WHAT COULD BE POSSIBLE HERE, IF THE VACCINES CONTINUE TO WORK.

IF MORE PEOPLE TAKE THEM.

IF WE ARE ABLE TO TAMP DOWN DEATHS, IF PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK IN GREATER NUMBERS AND THAT WILL LOOK DIFFERENTLY, DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU ARE, BUT IN SHORT, IF THIS PERIOD WE ARE ALL GOING THROUGH CAN IMPROVE, THEN ULTIMATELY, I DO THINK IT'S POSSIBLE, AND WE HAVE SEEP IT WITH SOMEBODY AS UNPOPULAR AND AS PARTISAN AS OBAMACARE, WE CAN SEE PEOPLE CHANGE AND SHIFT TO RECOGNIZE THAT THESE MANDATES ARE NOT SO BAD.

MASKING UP IS NOT SO BAD.

MAYBE MY KID GOING TO SCHOOL VACCINATED IS NOT SO BAD AND SO ON.

MAYBE MY COMPANY REQUIRING THAT PEOPLE BE VACCINATED IS NOT SO BAD.

DIDN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HIS ADMINISTRATION.

BUT ULTIMATELY, THAT LAW HAS MANAGED TO HANG IN THERE, IN PART BECAUSE IT PROVIDED SOME GOOD THINGS THAT VOTERS OF ANY PERSUASION WANTED.

AND THAT MAY BE WHAT WILL HAPPEN HERE BUT IT MAY NOT HAPPEN RIGHT AWAY.

ALYSSA --

JACK, I --

THE INJECTION OF ANY ELEMENT OF HOPE IS WELCOME, TRUST ME.

ALYSSA, I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION THAT AS WE MOVE FORWARD HERE, TRANSITION INTO A NEW MAYOR IN NEW YORK CITY, FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT HERE, HOW DO YOU THINK THE INTRODUCTION OF A NEW PERSONALITY INTO THE MAYOR'S CHAIR, WITH ERIC ADAMS TAKING OVER, WHAT SORT OF IMPACT DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT HAVE?

AND LET'S FOCUS ON THE BATTLE AGAINST COVID IN THE VICINITY.

YEAH, I THINK IT IS TOO SOON TO TELL IN WHAT, IF ANY, WAY HE WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT THAN BILL De BLASIO IN HIS RESPONSE TO COVID.

I SAY THAT IN PART BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE SO FAR WE'VE SEEN ADAMS -- HE'S BEEN PRETTY MUCH CONSISTENTLY SUPPORTIVE OF THE De BLASIO ADMINISTRATION'S ACTIONS, YOU KNOW, COVID RESPONSE ASPECT AS A PUBLIC HEALTH MANNER.

IT WAS NOT LIKE A MAJOR THEME OF HIS CAMPAIGN, IT WASN'T ONE OF THE BIG THINGS HE HAD PROMISED A CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE ON, SUCH AS ON LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PUBLIC SAFETY.

AND I THINK WE'LL LIKELY SEE A CONTINUED VERY KIND OF PROACTIVE PROGRAM.

I WILL SAY I'M UNCLEAR WHEN WE MAY, YOU KNOW, LEARN MORE AND MORE OVER TIME.

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE EMPLOYER MANDATE, AND HOW TO ENFORCE THOSE EMPLOYER MANDATES, I THINK ONE KEY THING TO WATCH WILL BE ASSUMING -- IT WILL SIMPLY BE HOW MUCH IN THE WAY OF ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES WILL ERIC ADAMS PUT INTO THAT?

BECAUSE THAT ONLY WORKS REALLY IF YOU DO IT -- IT WILL WORK SOMEWHAT TO NUDGE PEOPLE, BUT IT WILL REQUIRE POLITICAL CAPITAL, AND WE SHALL SEE IF HE WILL PUT THAT IN.

LET ME STAY WITH POLITICS FOR A MOMENT.

WE CAN'T TALK POLL TAKES WITHOUT LOOKING AT WHAT'S MAKING PLACE IN ALBANY.

THE SEISMIC UPHEAVAL IS A FAIR CHARACTERIZATION.

LET ME START WITH FORMER GOVERNOR CUOMO.

PROFESSOR, YOU HAVE WRITTEN EXPENSIVELY ABOUT HIM AND HIS LIFE.

SO POLITICALLY, DO YOU THINK WE HAVE SEEN THE LAST OF ANDREW CUOMO?

OR DO YOU THINK THERE MIGHT BE SOME SORT OF A COMEBACK IN HIS FUTURE?

WELL, I'M GLAD YOU DID CLARIFY, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE CONFUSED WHETHER I WROTE ABOUT MARIO OR ANDREW OR MAYBE EVEN CHRIS.

YEAH, IT WAS MARIO CUOMO I WROTE ABOUT.

IT'S HARD TO SEE A PATH BACK INTO ELECTORAL POLITICS IN ANY NEAR FUTURE FOR ANDREW CUOMO.

I DON'T SEE IT, IF I HAD TO GO OUT ON A LIMB, NO.

BUT IN BROADCASTING AND THE NEWS WORLD OR ENTERTAINMENT WORLD, INFOTAINMENT WORLD, THAT'S POSSIBLE.

THERE MAY BE A NETWORK THAT WANTS ACCESS TO HIM, BECAUSE HE MAY EXPRESS FEELINGS THAT ARE IN LINE WITH A PARTICULAR COMPANY'S POINT OF VIEW, AND I'M NOT MENTIONING NAMES.

BUT I CAN IMAGINE A SCENARIO WHERE THAT'S FEASIBLE.

BUT IN ELECTORAL POLITICS, I DON'T SEE IT.

FRANKLY BECAUSE THERE WASN'T ENOUGH CONTRITION.

I THINK PEOPLE, VOTERS, AMERICANS, NEW YORKERS ARE VERY FORGIVEN.

PEOPLE KNOW WHEN THEY HAVE MESSED UP IN THEIR LIVES AND THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO SAY I MESSED UP, I WAS DEAD WRONG, AND HERE'S WHY.

HERE'S WHAT I NEED TO DO ABOUT IT.

AND THEN GO DO IT.

THAT'S NOT THE STANCE THAT THE GOVERNOR TOOK.

HE TOOK QUITE THE OPPOSITE STANCE.

HE DIDN'T SHOW CONTRITION, HE DIDN'T SHOW A KIND OF, YOU KNOW, PENTANT HEART.

SO I'VE BEEN WRONG BEFORE, BUT IN THIS INSTANCE, I DON'T SEE A RETURN, NOT ANY THAT I CAN SEE ANY CONFIDENCE IN, NO.

JC, HOW ABOUT WHAT WE CAN EXPECT IN TERMS OF PRIMARY BATTLES LEADING UP TO THE NEXT ELECTION OF A GOVERNOR?

WE MENTIONED GOVERNOR HOCHUL HAS TAKEN OVER.

IF YOU LOOK AT A LOT OF THE REVIEWS OF HER PERFORMANCE, THEY HAVE BEEN POSITIVE.

SHE WAS THROWN IN, IN A DIFFICULT POSITION.

BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS OUT THERE THAT WANT THAT JOB.

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS PRIMARY -- LET'S STAY WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PLAYING OUT?

I THINK THIS IS THE THRILLA IN MANILA.

THIS COULD BE THE BATTLE OF THE TITANS.

THIS IS THE MOST COVETED GOVERNORSHIP IN THE COUNTRY.

PROFESSOR ENBAR WROTE ABOUT IT FOR A REASON.

THE TRUTH, IS YOU'RE GOING SEE SOME REAL SERIOUS HEAVYWEIGHTS GOING INTO THIS PRIMARY FOR THE GOVERNORSHIP.

AND QUITEFRANKLY, THE INCUMBENT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE PRIOR GOVERNMENT BECAUSE OF HIS MISINFORMATION AND CORRUPTION AND HOW HE HAD TO LEAVE.

HIS LACK OF CONTRITION HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE.

HE'S THIRD IN THE LATEST POLLS SITTING ON ALMOST $20 MILLION WORTH OF MONEY ON HIS CAMPAIGN CHEST.

SO I THINK IT'S SOMETHING FOR US TO THINK ABOUT.

THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE SAID, WHEN DEMOCRATS IN NEW YORK ARE STILL CONSIDERING THAT FORMER GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO IS THEIR THIRD CHOICE.

I THINK IT'S OBSCENE.

BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS, MOVING FORWARD, YOU HAVE ATTORNEY GENERAL TISH JAMES.

YOU HAVE PUBLIC ADVOCATE JUMANI WILLIAMS, BOTH MAKING THEIR CASE AROUND THE STATE FOR THIS COVETED POSITION.

I THINK THAT GOVERNOR HOCHUL AND CONGRESSMAN SWAZEE AND OTHERS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE IT A POINT FOR DEMOCRATS TO NOT LOOK BEYOND THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ELECTING A TISH JAMES OR JAMANI TO BE GOVERNOR.

IT'S GOING TO BE A HARD CASE FOR OH KATHY HOCHUL TO MAKE TO NEW YORK DEMOCRATS.

I KNOW YOU WANT TO KEEP ON DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY TALK, BUT THERE IS A BIG RED WAVE THAT WENT THROUGH WASSAU COUNTY.

THE REST OF THE STATE IS RED, AND THERE'S TONS OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR REPUBLICANS TO DO WELL IN NEXT YEAR'S GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS, SO I WOULDN'T SLEEP ON THAT.

LET ME USE THAT AS A SPRINGBOARD AND ALYSSA, MIGHT THIS BE THE TIME, YOU KNOW, SINCE GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI, WE HAVEN'T HAD A REPUBLICAN, MIGHT THIS ALL TURMOIL IN ALBANY ACT AS A SPRINGBOARD PERHAPS FOR THE REPUBLICANS?

POTENTIALLY.

I THINK A COUPLE OF REASONS I THINK NOT, FIRST OF ALL, THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE, THE HIGH PROFILE ONES THAT HAVE DECLARED ONE, WE HAVE LEE ZELDON, ANDREW GIULIANI.

FOR THE MOST PART, THEY'RE KIND OF IDENTIFIED WITH THE TRUMP PARTY, RIGHT?

AND TRUMPISM.

AND SO I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE A VERY HARD SELL FOR THE MAJORITY OF NEW YORKERS.

AT THE SAME TIME, ONE SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT, BESIDES HAVING KATHY HOCHUL ALREADY IN THE SEAT AND RUNNING, SHE HISTORICALLY HAS GOVERNED OR RUN FROM THE CENTER, AND EVEN SOMETIMES FROM THE RIGHT OF STATE.

IN ADDITION, THE ENTRY OF TOM SWAZEE, IT SEEMS LIKE AS MUCH AS ANYTHING, HIS ENTRY SYMBOLIZES KIND OF ANOTHER FRONT IN THE NATIONAL BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

AND HE'S OUT THERE AS A REPRESENTATIVE AND LEADER, TRYING TO POSITION HIMSELF AS A LEADER OF THE CENTER.

AGAINST, YOU KNOW, WHILE HE DOESN'T NECESSARILY NAME CALL THEM, BUT DEFINING AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE SQUAD, AND SO ON.

AND SO I DO THINK THAT YOU HAVE -- AGAIN, WE'LL SEE WHO WINS THE PRIMARY.

IT COULD BE THAT THE PRIMARY VOTERS WILL PICK SOMEONE TO THE LEFT.

I THINK TISH JAMES STARTED OUT WITH THE WORKING FAMILIES PARTY, ELECTING HER TO CITY COUNCIL, AND HAS OFTEN BEEN IDENTIFIED WITH THE LEFT, BUT IS VERY POLITICALLY ASTUTE AND HAS OFTEN RUN AND GOVERNED FROM THE CENTER OR CENTER LEFT, AS WELL.

IT REALLY DEPENDS ON WHO THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE IS.

BUT IF IT IS SOMEONE TO THE CENTER, THEN I THINK REPUBLICANS WILL HAVE A VERY HARD TIME WINNING IN NEW YORK.

LET ME SHIFT THE FOCUS TO GET TO SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES HERE.

YOU MENTIONED THE IDEA OF SOCIAL JUSTICE.

WE SAW IN HIGH PROFILE CASES, A CONVICTION OF THE FORMER POLICE OFFICER WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, AND A SIGNIFICANT SENTENCE IMPOSED.

WE SAW CONVICTIONS OF THE THREE MEN INVOLVED IN THE DEATH OF AHMAUD ARBERY DOWN SOUTH.

SO MY QUESTION TO YOU IS THIS, AND PROFESSOR, I'LL COME TO YOU FIRST IF I MIGHT.

ARE WE SEEING SOME SIGNS OF PROGRESS IN TERMS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE?

AND EVEN REAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE BASED ON SOME OF THESE INSTANCES?

TO BE SHORT ABOUT IT, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.

I'M GRATEFUL AND I THINK IT'S ALWAYS POSITIVE TO SEE A NEAR ALL-WHITE JURY COME BACK AND, YOU KNOW, PUT OUT A VERDICT THAT RUNS CONTRARY TO ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT RACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THESE KINDS OF CASES.

AS WE SAW.

THEY RETURNED WITH THE CONVICTION, THAT'S POSITIVE.

YES, WE'RE NOT IN 1954 MISSISSIPPI.

BUT I ALSO WANT TO SAY SOME OF THESE CASES, NEARLY ALL OF THEM, SEEM TO BE CONTINGENT UPON VIRAL, VIDEO EVIDENCE THAT TAKE ALL KINDS OF HUMAN DECISION MAKING OUT OF IT.

IF YOU'RE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING AND YOU SEE WHAT'S ON TAPE, YEAH, IT LOOKS PRETTY BAD.

I THINK --

IT'S INTERESTING.

YOU'RE ALMOST SAYING -- AND YOU MENTIONED '54 MISSISSIPPI, EMMETT TILL YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT WHERE YOU HAD A JURY OF 12 WHITE MEN AND THE DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ARGUE TO THE JURY SAYING, YOUR ANCESTORS WOULD ROLL OVER IN THEIR GRAVE IT IS YOU WHITE MEN CONVICT ANOTHER WHITE MAN OF AN ATTACK ON A BLACK MAN THAT WAS A BRUTAL MURDER.

SO IS YOUR SENSE THAT, WITHOUT VIDEO, MAYBE YOU COULD HAVE SEEN A REPRIEVE OF THOSE TYPES OF THINGS?

WE'RE DEALING WITH INDIVIDUALS AND PEOPLE AND ALSO SYSTEMS.

IT TOOK MANY WEEKS BEFORE THESE PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT EVEN TO JAIL, TO BE ARRESTED.

SO WE STILL HAVE THIS SYSTEMIC PROBLEM, AN ONGOING SYSTEMIC PROBLEM.

SO I DON'T WANT TO, YOU KNOW, REDUCE ANY HEAT ON THAT AS AN IMPEDIMENT TO THE KIND OF PROGRESS WE WANT FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.

BUT, YES, THERE HAS BEEN SOME SLOW, GRADUAL, INKREMENTAL PROGRESS ON THESE ISSUES OVER THE YEARS, BUT NOT WITHOUT FIGHTING, NOT WITHOUT PROTEST, NOT WITHOUT VIDEOS, NOT WITHOUT VIDEO CAMS AND THE LIKE.

SO THIS IS CERTAINLY NO TIME FOR THOSE OF US, AND I WOULD HOPE ALL OF US WHO CARE ABOUT THESE ISSUES TO RELENT AND ASSUME WE HAVE MADE IT.

THERE'S A LOT MORE FIGHTING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO RIGHT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, WHICH ALL TOO OFTEN DISEMPOWERED MARGINALIZED GROUPS, AFRICAN AMERICANS FOREMOST AMONG THEM.

JC, I WANT YOU TO WEIGH IN QUICKLY ON THIS.

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE IN OUR AREA HERE THAT WOULD PROVIDE FURTHER EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS IN TERMS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE?

WELL, THAT'S A VERY COMPLICATED QUESTION.

I DON'T THINK I CAN ANSWER THAT IN FOUR MINUTES OR FOUR FOURS.

I DO WANT TO ASK -- I WANT TO WRAP UP WITH ONE QUICK THING TO ALYSSA WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOW PREPARED WE ARE BASED ON WHAT WE HAVE SEEN.

I THINK WE'LL SEE THAT WHEN MORE COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAVE BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POLICE.

I THINK WE SEE IT ALREADY.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT RACIAL ISSUES HERE IN NEW YORK CITY AND HOW TO IMPROVE THEM.

THAT'S ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

JUST A CAUTION, JUST A CAUTION.

YOU KNOW, UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE GOING TO MUDDY THE WATERS IN THE FUTURE WITH THIS DEBATE ON SO-CALLED CRITICAL RACE THEORY NOT BEING TAUGHT OR BEING TAUGHT.

UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S COMING DOWN THE PIKE AND SOMETHING WE HAVE TO ADDRESS.

YEAH.

ALYSSA, LET ME COME TO YOU THEN.

I'VE GOT ABOUT TWO MINUTES OR SO LEFT.

I DID MENTION IN THE INTRODUCTION THE NOTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE CLIMATE, I THINK WITH ALL THE DISASTERS WE HAVE EXPERIENCED WITH VARIOUS HURRICANES AND EXTRAORDINARY RAINFALL, FLOODING.

ARE WE, AGAIN, FROM YOUR REPORTING, DO YOU SEE THAT WE'RE LEARNING FROM THIS, AND WE'RE BETTER PREPARED NOW THAN WE WERE THEN AND THEN BEING JUST A PERIOD OF A MONTH AGO?

YEAH, IT'S SUCH A CRUCIAL QUESTION.

A LOT OF THE KEY RESPONSES INVOLVE CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE.

AND ALSO, AS WE HAVE SEEN WITH THE EAST SIDE COASTAL RESILIENCY PROJECT IN MANHATTAN, IT'S SPARKING LEGAL BATTLES WHERE YOU END UP HAVING THE INTERVENTIONS DELAYED, RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY, BUT IN THIS CASE, IT WAS TO DELAY CONSTRUCTION.

SO I THINK THE FLOODING THAT WE SAW THAT KILLED MORE THAN A DOZEN PEOPLE IN IDA IS SOMETHING THAT OUR SEWAGE SYSTEMS JUST CAN'T HANDLE, AND WE HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THAT, AND JUST SIMPLY GET PEOPLE TO HIGH LAND AND HOPE FOR LIMITED PROPERTY DAMAGE.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE DECADES AND REQUIRES VERY, VERY COORDINATED PLANNING THAT I HOPE OUR FOUR OR EIGHT-YEAR CYCLE LEADERSHIP CAN TAKE THE VIEW, REALLY LOOK DECADES INTO THE FUTURE AND PLAN THAT WAY.

30 SECONDS HERE, PROFESSOR.

DO YOU THINK WE HAVE THE POLITICAL WILL TO MAKE THOSE TYPES OF CHANGES THAT ALYSSA MENTIONED?

I THINK THE PEOPLE DO.

DO THE POLITICIANS HAVE THE WILL?

YOU KNOW, ARE THEY LISTENING TO FRANKLY CORPORATE DONORS WHO HAVE INCENTIVE TO NOT PUSH FOR SOME OF THESE CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES.

I THINK THAT'S THE REAL QUESTION.

AT THE END OH OF THE DAY, THOUGH, WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

WHETHER IT'S FIRE, RAIN, HURRICANE, YOU NAME IT.

CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS THE SUPER WEALTHY, IT AFFECTS THE DESTITUTE AND DOWNTRODDEN.

WE ALL BREATHE THE SAME AIR, WE HAVE TO MANAGE THIS --

WE ARE INDEED ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

AGAIN, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS.

THE BEST OF THE NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU.

Y'ALL TAKE CARE NOW.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

'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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