Metrofocus: May 2, 2022

COVID CASES CLIMB:

NYC RAISES COVID RISK ALERT LEVEL

New York State has also become a hot spot for a rising number of coronavirus cases. And today New York City upgraded the official COVID risk level to medium- a sign that the virus is spreading faster through the five boroughs. The rate increases the city’s risk alert from the “low” level it stood at for months after the omicron wave in the winter. The City’s Alyssa Katz, Rutgers political science professor Saladin Ambar and political commentator JC Polanco join us with the latest on this and other emerging news making headlines this week.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, ON THE FRONT PAGE FORECAST, COVID ALERT.

THE CITY RAISES ITS RISK LEVEL WITH CASES RISING, BUT WILL IT MEAN NEW RESTRICTIONS?

PLUS, ELECTION CHAOS.

WHY WE MAY SOON HAVE TWO PRIMARY DAYS INSTEAD OF ONE.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

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

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO THIS 'METROFOCUS' 'FRONT PAGE FORECAST'. I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

IN THIS WEEK'S LOOK AHEAD AT THE MAJOR HEADLINES, TODAY NEW YORK CITY RAISED ITS COVID RISK LEVEL FROM LOW TO MEDIUM.

WILL THIS MEAN A RETURN TO MASK MANDATES AND HOW WILL THIS IMPACT THE STITT AND STATE'S RECOVERY?

> NEW YORK STATE PRIMARIES ARE IN CHAOS AFTER THE STATE'S HIGHEST COURT RULED THAT DEMOCRATS GERRYMANDERED CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS AND ORDERED THAT NEW LINES SHOULD BE DRAWN.

WILL WE HAVE TWO NEW PRIMARIES INSTEAD OF ONE?

AND HOW BIG A BLOW IS THIS TO DEMOCRATS WHO WERE HOPING TO RETAIN CONTROL OF CONGRESS?

AND MAYOR ADAMS TALKS THROUGH TRAFFIC SAFETY MEASURES AMID A CITYWIDE SPIKE IN FATALITIES.

WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

FOR MUCH MORE THAN THOSE STORIES AND WHAT ELSE COULD DRIVE THE NEWS THIS WEEK, I'D LIKE TO WELCOME BACK ELISSA KATZ, WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME BACK.

I'D ALSO LIKE TO WELCOME BACK PROF SALLADIN AMBAR, SENIOR SCHOLAR AT THE EAGLETON CENTER ON AMERICAN GOVERNOR.

PROFESSOR AMBAR, WELCOME BACK.

HI, JENNA, THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

COULDN'T HAVE OUR ROUND TABLE ALL STARS WITHOUT JC BLANCO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF ELECTIONS WHO NEW TEACHES AT CUNYBMCC.

SO HAPPY TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF YOU.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S START WITH THE PRIMARIES, WHICH SEEMS TO BE A CONCERNING -- I DON'T KNOW, IT SEEMS TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE FOR EVERYBODY.

SO ELISSA, FIRST TELL US, WHAT DID THE COURT RULE?

NEW YORK STATE'S TOP COURT UNANIMOUSLY RULES THAT THE DISTRICT LINES THAT WERE DRAWN BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE, WHICH IS MAJORITY DEMOCRATIC CONTROLLED, ARE INVALID.

THE REASON THEY SAID THEY WERE SPECIFICALLY INVALID IS BECAUSE THEY WERE DRAWN WITH ILLEGAL PARTISAN.

IN INTENT, AND THAT'S ALL BECAUSE IN 2014, THE VOTERS OF THE STATE APPROVED A CHANGE IN HOW WE DRAW DISTRICT LINES FOLLOWING EACH CE CENSUS.

THE IDEA WAS TO SET A HIGH BAR, TO CREATE A SUPPOSEDLY INDEPENDENT BUT NOT REALLY INDEPENDENT COMMISSION TO DRAW THE LINES, AND THEN TO SET THEM TO A STANDARD WHERE YOU REALLY COULDN'T HAVE PARTISAN LINES.

ACCORDING TO THE JUSTICES, AND CERTAINLY THERE'S EVIDENCE BEHIND WHAT THEY HAVE RULED, THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

INSTEAD, WE HAD THIS COMMISSION DEADLOCK BECAUSE THERE ARE MEMBERS FROM REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES COULD NOT AGREE ONLINES.

AND THEN RATHER THAN DRAWING LINES CAUTIOUSLY OR TRYING TO TAKE ANOTHER COURSE OF ACTION, THE DEMOCRATS IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE MOVED FORWARD LINES THAT WERE PRETTY AGGRESSIVELY PARTISAN.

FOR EXAMPLE, CONNECTING A CURRENTLY REPUBLICAN HOUSE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN STATEN ISLAND WITH VERY, VERY LIBERAL PARK SLOPE, AND IT'S ALL IN THE NATIONAL CONTEXT OF COURSE OF TRYING HELP DEMOCRATS MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE HOUSE.

WHAT WE'VE ENDED UP WITH IS A BIG POLITICAL AND LEGAL MESS IN NEW YORK.

YEAH, A BIG POLITICAL AND LEGAL MESS.

PROFESSOR AMBAR, I THINK THE FIRST THING PARTICULARLY A LOT OF DEMOCRAT NEW YORKERS MAY SAY, WAIT A MINUTE, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, SO WHY ARE DEMOCRATS IN NEW YORK BEING PENALIZED FOR EFFECTIVELY THE STATUS QUO?

WELL, IT'S BECAUSE THE COURT -- THE HIGHEST COURT IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK SAID THAT THEY CAN'T DO IT.

AND UNTIL WE GET MORE OF A UNIVERSAL SET OF RULINGS LIKE THIS ACROSS THE GOVERNMENT, WE'RE GOING TO SORT OF SUFFER FROM THIS PATCH WORK SYSTEM KNOWN AT FEDERALISM WHERE SOME STATES BY BE MORE AGGRESSIVE IN DETERRING A PARTICULAR PARTY, IN THIS CASE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, BUT IN THE SOUTH WE'RE GOING TO SEE MORE OF THE SAME, AND IN THE MIDWEST AND OTHER REPUBLICAN STRONGHOLDS WE'RE GOING SEE THE NEED TO SEE MORE OF THE SAME, AS WAS THE CASE HERE IN NEW YORK.

AND THE CHALLENGE IS, IT'S NOT UNIVERSAL.

DEMOCRATS WERE HOPING TO GAIN FROM THE SAME KINDS OF TACTICS THAT REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES WERE EMPLOYING AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND THEY'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT CLEARLY WAS, I THINK, AND EVIDENTLY WAS, YOU KNOW, GERRYMANDERING.

AND IT'S JUST, YOU KNOW, NOT RIGHT.

IT'S NOT CONSTITUTIONAL.

AND I THINK THE COURT IS PROBABLY RIGHT IN MAKING THE RULING.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT IT'S NOT UNIVERSAL ACROSS THE BOARD.

JC, IF A -- AS I GUESS PROFESSOR AMBAR PUT IT, IF A JUST RULING HAPPENS IN A SYSTEM WHERE YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE ABIDING BY A CERTAIN SET OF RULES, DOES THAT MAKE IT JUST OR IS IT UNFAIR, AS I'M SURE SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING?

IT MAKES IT JUST BECAUSE THE LAW OF NEW YORK ARE VERY CLEAR -- THIS IS NOT ALLOWED.

I THINK IT SPEAKS VOLUMES OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, WHOSE MAJORITY JUDGES WERE APPOINTED BY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS AND APPROVED BY DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATE MAJORITIES TO SIT ON THOSE SEATS IN THE HIGHEST COURT OF NEW YORK AND RULED AGAINST THEIR OWN PARTY.

I THINK THIS IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, WHERE WE NOW HAVE JUDGES LOOKING AT THE LAW AND APPLYING THE LAW FAIRLY, SO I THINK THIS IS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING FOR THE LAW.

IT'S A GOOD THING FOR JUSTICE.

AND THE REALITY IS THAT IF YOU TOOK A LOOK AT THESE DISTRICT LINES, IT'S A GEGREGIOUS WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE IN NEW YORK WITH THESE LINES.

ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.

WE HAVE ONE-PARTY RULE IN NEW YORK.

THAT'S WHY WE WERE ABLE TO SEE SO MANY OF THESE DISTRICTS BE GERRYMANDERED IN THIS WAIT A MINUTE I THINK IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FUTURE, WHETHER OR NOT THESE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION LINES THAT ARE RECOMMENDED WILL BE THEN ACCEPTED BY THE LEGISLATE WHICH YOU REMEMBER I THINK THAT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO SEE.

I ALSO THINK IT WOULD BE INTERESTING AS FAR AS ALLOWING FOR INDEPENDENT VOTERS TO HAVE A SAY.

ONE THING WE DON'T TALK ABOUT NORMALLY WHEN IT COMES TO REDISTRICTING IS THE IMPACT THESE LINES HAVE ON INDEPENDENT VOTERS.

BECAUSE SOME OF THESE ELECTIONS ARE DECIDE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN NEW YORK CITY AND THESE LINES ARE DRAWN SPECIFICALLY TO BENEFIT ONE PARTY, OFTEN INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE ICED OUT OF THESE DECISIONS.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT INDEPENDENT VOTERS GET THEIR SAY, AND THIS MAY BE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR -- IN THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS FOR INDEPENDENT VOTERS TO BE RECOGNIZED WHO ARE COMPLETELY ICED OUT OF THE PROCESS.

OF COURSE.

ELISSA, TAKING WHAT JC SAID INTO CONSIDERATION, WHAT ALSO DO WE KNOW ABOUT WHERE THIS LEAVING OUR PRIMARIES?

YOU MENTIONED ONE DISTRICT THAT SEEMED TO BE EGREGIOUSLY DRAWN, BUT ARE THERE OTHERS?

COULD OTHERS FIND THEMSELVES IN A DIFFERENT DISTRICT THAN THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE AND THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE HOW THEY VOTE IN THE PRIMARY?

ABSOLUTELY.

AND WE HAVE THE QUESTION OF WHERE THE CANDIDATES LIVE AND THEREFORE WILL RUN, OR IN SOME CASES THEY CAN MOVE TO A DIFFERENT DISTRICT AFTER THE ELECTION.

BUT STILL IT REALLY DOES CHANGE THE CONTOURS OF THE RACE.

WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THERE WILL NOW BE PRIMARY ELECTION FOR CONGRESS AND STATE SENATE HELD IN LATE AUGUST.

AS WE'RE TAPING THIS ON MONDAY MORNING, YOU KNOW, THE ASSEMBLY AND GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY IS STILL AT LEAST SCHEDULED FOR JUNE.

SO THERE'S A QUESTION OF WHEN VOTERS GO, WHETHER ANYONE WILL TURN OUT FOR AN ELECTION IN LATE AUGU AU AUGUST, RIGHT?

PEOPLE CAN DO ABSENTEE BALLOTS AND SO ON, BUT THIS IS LIKELY TO BE A LOW TURNOUT ELECTION.

AND ON TOP OF THAT, WE HAVE NOW ADDITIONALLY LEGAL CHALLENGES TO THE ASSEMBLY LINE, WHICH HAD NOT BEEN CHALLENGED BEFORE AS PART OF THE APPEAL THAT LED THE HIGH COURT THE OVERTURN THE LIKNES, BUT THERE'S A QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE ASSEMBLY LINES WILL BE UP IN THE AIR AS WELL.

FOR VOTER IT'S A QUESTION OF THEY HAVE TO SIT TIGHT NOW, HAVING ALREADY HEARD FROM CANDIDATES WHO WE MAY HAVE ASKED THEM TO SIGN PETITIONS, WHO MAY ALREADY BE CAMPAIGNING, WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE A CHANCE TO VOTE FOR THOSE CANDIDATES OR OTHERS, OR PERHAPS OTHERS WHO HAVEN'T BEEN IN RACES YET.

BUT WE'LL WAIT AND SEE WHERE THE LINES FALL, AND THEN MAY ENTER THE RACE.

IT'S REALLY UP IN THE AIR, AT A TIME OF VERY TIME LOW VOTER TURNOUT AND VOTER SKEPTICISM.

TAKING EVERYTHING WE'VE JUST HEARD INTO ACCOUNT, JC, YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT HOW YOU SAY IT'S A SHAME AND A CRISIS THAT WE TEND TO SEE LOW VOTER TURNOUT, ESPECIALLY FROM NEW YORK.

SO WITH ALL OF THIS CRISIS ABOUT, DO I VOTE WHEN, DO I VOTE WHERE, DO I VOTE ANYMORE -- IS IT FAIR FOR THERE TO BE LOW VOTER TURNOUT, OR IS THIS SOMETHING THAT COULD UNDERSTANDABLY DISENFRANCHISE PEOPLE BY MAKING IT SO HARD TO FOLLOW?

I THINK ELISSA HITS IT ON THE NOSE.

IT'S GOING TO BE MAJOR CONFUSION HERE IN NEW YORK.

AS YOU KNOW, TURNOUT HAS BEEN DISMAL.

I MENTIONED THIS IN THE PAST.

IN THE LAST NEW YORK CITY ELECTION WE HAD ABOUT A 17% TURNOUT.

THAT MEANS 83% OF NEW YORKERS STAYED HOME AND HAD NO SAY.

SO THEY DON'T COUNT AND THEY DIDN'T PARTICIPATE, AND THAT'S A SHAME, BECAUSE NEW YORKERS KNOW WHEN ELECTION DAY IS.

THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SENDS YOU THAT INFORMATION.

YOU'RE AWARE.

UNLESS YOU'RE HIDING UNDER A ROCK, YOU KNOW IT'S ELECTION DAY, AND YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE.

IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE DATE, CALL BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND FIND OUT.

I THINK EVERYONE HAS A DUTY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS.

AND BECAUSE WE HAVE SUCH LOW VOTER TURNOUT IN A GENERAL ELECTION, WE HAVE EVEN WORSE TURNOUT IN PRIMARY ELECTIONS AS ELISSA TALKED ABOUT, AND THAT'S WHERE MOST DECISIONS ARE MADE.

THAT'S WHY IT'S IMPORTANT INDEPENDENT VOTERS BE INCLUDED LIKE IN THE MAJORITY OF JURISDICTIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

MILLIONS OF INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE KEPT OUT OF THE PRIMARY ELECTION COMPLETELY, AND THAT'S A PROBLEM WHEN WE HAVE SUCH LOW VOTER TURNOUT.

PERHAPS IF WE ALLOWED INDEPENDENT VOTERS TO PARTICIPATE, WE COULD HAVE ACTUAL VOTER TURNOUT.

YOU HAVE PEOPLE GETTING ELECTED TO THE LEGISLATURE FOR 19 MILLION PEOPLE WITH BARELY 800 VOTES ON ELECTION DAY.

THAT'S A SHAME.

I THINK IT SPEAKS VOLUMES.

THEY NEED HELP, SUPPORT WITH EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ARE THE LEAST LIKELY TO VOTE.

SHAME ON THEM.

WE NEED TO GET THEM OUT TO VOTE, AND I THINK THIS JUST ADDS TO THE CONFUSION.

MR. AMBAR, DO YOU SHARE THE CONCERN THAT LINES, ET CETERA, IS GOING TO EXACERBATE THE PROBLEM THAT JC IS CORRECT, WE HAVE A LOW VOTER TURNOUT PROBLEM?

I DON'T KNOW IF JC WOULD SUPPORT WHO E.J. DION AND OTHERS HAVE BEEN CALLING FOR, WHICH IS AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION.

YOU GET IT AUTOMATICALLY.

IT COMES WITH BIRTH, IF YOU WILL, WHEN YOU TURN 18, A FEDERAL HOLIDAY.

I REMEMBER BEING A KID RAISE IN THE CONVEQUEENS, AND MY MOM STRUGGLING LIKE MAD TO TRY TO VOTE AFTER HAVING TO MEET ME AT HOME AND DEAL WITH RAISING A KID AND FEEDING ME AND THEN GETTING OUT TO VOTE AGAIN.

I THINK WE OUGHT TO SIMPLIFY THE VOTING PROCESS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, BEGINNING WITH TIME OFF AND A FEDERAL HOLIDAY FOR EVERY SINGLE ELECTION.

LIKE MANY WESTERN DEMOCRACIES AND OTHER DEMOCRACIES DO AROUND THE WORLD.

I WOULD START WITH THAT PREMISE.

YOU KNOW, YES, EVERYBODY HAS -- I AGREE WITH JC -- A CIVIC DUTY TO VOTE, BUT I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE STATE HAVE A DUTY TO THEIR CITIZENS TO MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO DO SO.

SO IT'S NOT WE'RE IN THIS ALONE, WE DO THIS TOGETHER, AND THE STATE AND CITIZENS MAKE IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO DO THIS DUTY.

THAT WHERE I THINK WE NEED TO BE.

IF THAT WOULD BE THE CASE, WE WOULD HAVE FLOATING FEDERAL HOLIDAYS FOR TO BE DETERMINED PRIMARY DATES.

BUT THAT'S AN ISSUE THAT WILL OF COURSE BE FOLLOWING AS WE MOVE ON.

I DO WANT TO PIVOT TO THE OTHER BIG ISSUE THAT PEOPLE ARE EXHAUSTED BY YET PERSISTS, AND THAT IS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC WHICH, I THINK AT ONE POINT WAS CHANGED THE ENDEMIC, BUT BACK TO PANDEMIC.

I WANT TO BE CLEAR, NO ONE ON THE PANEL TODAY IS A MEDICAL EXPERT, BUT THE DECISIONS MADE AROUND HOW TO HANDLE THE SPIKE IN COVID CASES DOES AFFECT SO MANY OTHER FACETS OF LIFE.

SO FIRST, ELISSA, THE FACT THAT NEW YORK CITY HAS GONE FROM LOW CASES TO MEDIUM, OUR WARNING IS NOW AT MEDIUM, AND WE HAVE SEEN CASES SPIKE OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK STATE, AT LEAST, WHERE WE KNOW A FAIR AMOUNT OF NEW YORKERS ARE LIVING PART-TIME.

HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN IS THAT FOR THE RECOVERY PROCESS THAT CASE COUNTS ARE GOING UP?

WELL, I THINK FROM WHEN YOU SAY RECOVERY PROCESS THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND THE REVIVAL OF NEW YORK CITY AS A KIND OF PHYSICAL PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO GATHER AND DO BUSINESS AND GO OUT AND ENGAGE.

I MEAN, I THINK IT'S SERIOUS IN SO FAR AS WE CONTINUE TO HAVE ANY KIND OF CLIMATE OF KIND OF CAUTION OR FEAR THAT'S REALLY DRIVING DECISION-MAKING.

AND I THINK IT'S REALLY INSTRUCTIVE AT THIS POINT TO LOOK AT -- YOU KNOW, WE CERTAINLY HAVE RISING CASES PER 100,000 WHICH IS A CURRENT MEASURE PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES ARE USING TO DETERMINE WHEN WE MOVE TO THE HIGHER LEVELS OF CONCERN.

YOU CAN ALSO SEE HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS HAVE REMAINED VERY LOW, EVEN BEYOND THE SORT OF NORMAL TIME PERIOD OF TWO WEEKS OR SO THAT WE WOULD IN THE PAST HAVE -- ESPECIALLY IN THE PRE-VACCINATION ERA THAT WAITED TO LAX AS SEEING HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS AS A LAGGING INDICATOR.

WE'RE NOT SEEING THOSE.

PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK.

THEY'RE GETTING COVID SYMPTOMOLOGIES, AND THEY HAVE TO ISOLATE, TAKE PRECAUTIONS.

IT CREATES SOCIAL AND BUSINESS DISRUPTION AND KEEPS US AS WE ARE NOW IN THIS ROOM IN A KIND OF VIRTUAL SPACE INSTEAD OF PHYSICALLY ENGAGING, RIDING THE SUBWAYS, GOING OUT, BEING OUT IN THE CITY.

BUT I THINK FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE, THINGS ARE ACTUALLY OKAY, AND I THINK THAT'S A VERY CHALLENGING POINT FOR OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, AS WE'VE SEEN, FOR EXAMPLE WORK ERIC ADAMS CONTINUING THE MASK MANDATE FOR TODDLERS IN PRESCHOOLS AND DAY CARE DESPITE PARENT PROTESTS DESCRIBING THE KINDS OF CONDITIONS THEIR CHILDREN ARE DEALING WITH.

AND WE HAVE TO ASK, IS THAT REALLY THE BEST WAY -- IS THAT SORT OF THE FRONT LINES OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT THIS POINT, OR SIT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL TRYING TO SHOW THAT HE'S DOING SOMETHING, RIGHT?

AND SIMILARLY WITH OUR CONTINUED MASK MANDATES ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

ALL OF IT IS POLITICAL MORE THAN PUBLIC HEALTH AT THIS STAGE.

THAT'S MY OPINION.

IT'S NOT A UNANIMOUS ONE, BUT I THINK WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT.

I THINK THE POLITICS OF THE PANDEMIC IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AT THIS MOMENT.

SO PROFESSOR AMBAR, I'D LIKE TO GET YOUR TAKE ON WHERE NEW YORK IS ON DEALING WITH, AS ELISSA JUST PUT IT, THE POLITICS OF THE PANDEMIC.

IT'S STILL THERE.

THERE ARE STILL CASES RISING, BUT IT'S NOT AS BAD AS IT WAS.

I THINK ELISSA'S POINT IS REALLY CRUCIAL, AND THAT IS THAT WE'RE NOT SEEING THE SAME LEVELS OF HOSPITALIZATIONS AND/OR DEATHS AS WE HAD IN PREVIOUS MONTHS AND CERTAINLY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC.

I THINK THAT'S CRUCIAL.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING SICK, BUT NO SO SICK TO DISRUPT THEIR OWN LOAVES, BUT SICK ENOUGH TO PASS ON COVID?

THAT'S A CHALLENGE.

AND I ALSO WORRY ABOUT, FRANKLY, THE POLITICS OF HOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT BE ABUSED BY POLITICIANS, AND I'M SPECIFICALLY TALKING ABOUT THE COLOR CODED SYSTEM.

I'M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN POST 9/11 WE WENT FROM YELLOW TO ORANGE AND SO FORTH.

AND FRANKLY STATES -- INDEED I THINK THE IT WAS THE FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY ADMITTED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION USED THE COLOR CODED SYSTEM -- NOT TO BRING UP OLD DUST IN THE WIND -- BUT USED THE SYSTEM FOR THEIR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE.

I DON'T SEE THAT HAPPENING NOW, BUT I DO WONDER AND AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE POTENTIALITY FOR THAT.

I JUST THINK WE HAVE TO BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT HOW IT'S INTERPRETED OR HOW IT'S POSITIONED VIS-A-VIS MEDIA AND EDUCATION AS FAR AS NEW YORKERS ARE CONCERNED.

BECAUSE ON THE ONE HAND IF YOU WERE OUT AND ABOUT AS I WAS THIS WEEKEND, LIFE SEEMED PRETTY CLOSE TO NORMAL ON A BEAUTIFUL SPRING WEEKEND IN THE CITY, AND YET WE HAVE THIS NEW WARNING.

I JUST -- YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW IF NEW YORKERS KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOVING FROM ONE COLOR TO ANOTHER OTHER THAN TO BE FURTHER ANXIOUS, AND THAT'S NOT HEALTHY IN AND OF ITSELF.

JC, SAME QUESTION TO YOU, BUT ALSO TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT, YEAH, THE ONGOING NATURE OF THE PANDEMIC HAS CREATED -- MAYBE WE'RE NOT HAVING BAD OR DIFFICULT OUTCOMES FROM THE VIRUS, BUT FROM THE EXHAUSTION OF DEALING WITH THE VIRUS.

HOW DO THE POLITICS OF THE PANDEMIC -- HOW DO YOU SEE THE WAY THAT THE CITY HAS HANDLED IT HAS BEEN THUS FAR?

I THINK THE MAYOR IS DOING EVERYTHING HE CAN TO GET US BACK INTO OFFICE, BACK TO WORK AND GET THE CITY GOING.

I TELL ALL NEW YORKERS AND EVERYONE WHO'S WATCHING, IF YOU'RE NOT VACCINATED, YOU'RE CRAZY.

GET YOUR VACCINATION.

IF YOU QUALIFY FOR THE BOOSTER, GET IT IF YOU CAN.

THE PANDEMIC IS GOING TO DISAPPEAR ONE DAY.

IT WILL BECOME ENDEMIC.

IT WILL BECOME LIKE THE FLU.

WE DON'T HAVE TO BE MEDICAL EXHORTS KNOW THIS IS WHERE IT'S HEADING.

THANK GOD FOR THE VACCINES.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THEM.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE GOTTEN COVID AND NOT BEEN HOSPITALIZED BECAUSE OF THE VACCINE.

THE MORE OF US THAT GET THE VACCINE, THE BETTER.

I THINK THE ISSUE OF TODDLERS IN MASKS IS GOING TO BE ONE THAT IS GOING TO BE SOLVED VERY QUICKLY AS WE STUDY THE VACCINES MORE AND MORE AND SEE IF TODDLERS CAN TAKE THE VACCINES.

THAT'S WHAT THE MAYOR IS WAITING FOR.

HE'S TAKING THE ADVICE OF HIS DOCTOR.

A LOT OF MY CLIENTS TAKE MY ADVICE BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT ATTORNEYS.

WE'VE GOT TO MOVE FORWARD, AND KEEP IT MOVING AND TAKE YOUR VACCINATION, PLEASE.

LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS, I THINK, IS EXCELLENT ADVICE.

I WANT TO TURN AND STAY WITH YOU, JC, AND NOW OF COURSE BRING UP THE MAYOR'S PLAN TO ATTEMPT TO DEAL WITH THE TRAFFIC DEATHS.

AGAIN, THERE'S BEEN A SPIKE IN FATALITIES AND TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, WHICH IS A HUGE PROBLEM IN A CITY THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE SO WALKABLE AND BIKE FRIENDLY LIKE NEW YORK.

WE SEE IT ALL AROUND US, SEE PEOPLE SPEEDING THROUGH YOUR STREETS.

I'VE SEEN PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF WHERE I LIVE GOING 40 MILES PER HOUR WITH KIDS OUTSIDE.

THERE'S A CULTURE OF DRIVING FAST IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE CITY.

THAT NEEDS TO BE RECOGNIZED.

ALSO WE HAVE TWO NEW PROBLEMS.

WE'VE MADE MARIJUANA TRENDY, AND I HAVE YET TO SEE WHAT THE NYPD IS GOING TO DO ABOUT BEING ABLE TO CHECK, NOW THAT THEY CAN'T USE SMELL AS A DETECTOR.

NOW DRINKING TO GO.

THIS IS THE LATEST FAD.

YOU GO TO A RESTAURANT, GET YOUR DRINKS TO GO.

HOW CUTE IS THAT?

WE'RE MAKING IT SO IT'S VERY TOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO WALK THROUGH THE STREETS SAFELY.

IN ADDITION, WE SEE THE ENFORCEMENT PLUMMET BY 53% IN NEW YORK CITY ALONE.

COPS ARE THINKING, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

IF I PULL HIM OVER, HE'S GOING TO BE OUT IN NO TIME.

IT'S NOT AS IF PEOPLE PAY THE PRICE FOR SPEEDING.

WE SEE IT EVERY DAY.

IN OUR STREETS, CERTAIN PARTS OF OUR CITY IT'S BECOME INCREASINGLY DANGEROUS.

WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE CULTURE OF OUR CITY.

WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE, THE POLICE HAVE TO ENFORCE THE LAWS AND DISTRICT ATTORNEYS HAVE TO ENFORCE THEM.

UNTIL THAT HAPPENS IT'S A FREE FOR ALL OUT HERE.

PROFESSOR AMBAR, DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WITH WHATEVER PLAN THE MAYOR MIGHT COME UP WITH WITH THE NYPD SINCE THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH ANXIETY AROUND BRINGING BACK OF SOME OF THE PREVIOUS POLICING TACTICS THAT WERE EXCEPTIONALLY PUNITIVE TO COMMUNITIES OF COLOR?

I WOULD NEVER SAY I'M UNCONCERNED ABOUT, YOU KNOW, AN IDEA LIKE ZERO TOLERANCE, WHY I THINK, YOU KNOW, MAYBE ON THE SURFACE SOWNS BENIGN, BUT WHEN CARRIED OUT CAN BE RATHER EXTREME.

THE POLICE HAVE TO DO THEIR JOB.

THE MAYOR HAS TO DO HIS JOB.

PEOPLE ALSO HAVE TO WATCH THE WATCHMEN, AND I THINK WE'VE GOT TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT OVERREACH ABOUT A SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT ISSUE AS JC SAYS.

I DON'T WANT TO BELIT IT WILL RISKS PEOPLE ARE TAKING WITH THEIR OWN LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

IT'S HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE.

IT'S WRONG.

AND IT NEEDS TO BE MONITORED.

I ALSO THINK PEOPLE HAVE BEEN LIVING RATHER WANTONLY IN THIS COVID PANDEMIC ERA, AND NOW COMING OUT AND ABOUT, THIS IS A SENSE OF LAISSEZ FAIR AND DO WHATEVER YOU LIKE THAT ACCOMPANIES THIS RECKLESS DRIVING THAT WE HAVE TO BE ATTUNED TO.

SO I THINK THE CHALLENGE BECOMES WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.

WE VERY SELDOM PULL BACK WHAT WE GIVE OVER TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OR EXECUTIVE AUTHORITIES.

I KNOW JC SHARES THAT CONCERN AS WELL AS ADO ABOUT OVERREACH ON GOVERNMENT MORE BROADLY.

A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY, I UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS BUT ALSO HOW IT CAN BE MISUSED AND ABUSED FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR AND OTHER FOLKS WHO ARE JUST DOING WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN THEIR DAILY LIVES AND RUNNING INTO TROUBLE.

ELISSA, WHAT DO WE KNOW OF AT LEAST WHAT THE POTENTIAL PLAN MIGHT BE FROM THE MAYOR'S OFFICE AND HOW THAT COULD IN THEORY BE MET BY THE PUBLIC?

IT'S PREVIEWED IN 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' TODAY.

IT'S VERY MUCH AROUND A PUBLIC EDUCATION AND AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, TRYING TO SHOCK RECKLESS DRIVERS INTO SOME CONSCIOUSNESS ABOUT WHAT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY IS AND WHAT KIND OF IMPACT THEY HAVE.

WILL THAT CAMPAIGN REACH ITS INTENDED AUDIENCE WHEN WE'RE IN THE A MAJORITY DRIVER CITY?

RIGHT, AND THE SHARE OF RECKLESS DRIVERS -- IT ONLY TAKES A FEW TO WREAK AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

I'LL WAIT AND SEE WHAT THE CAMPAIGN LOOKS LIKE.

I WANT TO POINT TO COVERAGE THE CITY DID LAST WEEK THAT SPEAKS TO THE ISSUES WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

JC TALKED ABOUT THE REDUCED POLICE ENFORCEMENT, BUT THAT'S STEPPED UP A LOT IS CAMERA ENFORCEMENT.

NEW YORK STATE FOUGHT FOR MANY YEARS TO ROLL OUT SPEED ENFORCEMENT CAMERAS AS WELL AS -- WE HAVE A FEW, NOT ENOUGH -- RED LIGHT ENFORCEMENT CAMERAS AS WELL.

WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN RESPONSE TO TOLLING BEING DONE BY CAMERA, IS YOU HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF -- PROBABLY MORE -- DRIVERS WHO WILL DEFACE THEIR LICENSE PLATES, USE FAKE LICENSE PLATES, JUST DO THINGS RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN, FLAGRANTLY ILLEGAL TO EVADE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT WOMEN FOUND STATISTICS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION THAT FOUND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES DRIVER WORSE EVADING ENFORCEMENT WHO WERE SPEEDING, RUNNING RED LIGHTS.

THIS IS EQUIVALENT TO $75 MILLION IN FINES DURING THE PANDEMIC THAT COULD NOT BE COLLECTED.

AND THE SHARE OF THESE UNREADABLE LICENSE PLATES HAS BEEN GOING UP.

SO I THINK THAT'S SORT OF AN INDICATOR.

BUT STILL IT WAS ONLY STILL TOO MANY, 4% OF THE TOTAL NUMBERS OF SCAN OSAR SPEEDING OR VIOLATING RED LIGHTS LICENSE PLATES THAT ARE UNREADABLE, WHICH TELLS US THE ADAMS CAMPAIGN IS GOING TO HAVE TO REACH AGAIN, SOMEHOW REACH THIS SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO WERE SO RECKLESS THAT WERE DEFACING LICENSE PLATES, COLLECTING SPEEDING TICKETS WITHOUT PAYING THEM.

JUST THE OTHER DETERRENTS WE HAVE ARE NOT WORKING AND THEY'RE TRYING TO GO FURTHER.

OF COURSE.

WE WILL WAIT AND SEE IF THESE DETERRENTS ARE THE THING THAT FINALLY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.

I WANT TO THANK MY ROUND TABLE OF GUESTS FOR JOINING ME FOR THE 'FRONT PAGE' DISCOURSE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US WITH YOUR EXPERTISE FOR THE 'METROFOCUS' FRONT PAGE FORECAST.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, JENNA.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- ♪

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