Exclusive - Bill de Blasio Extended Interview

March 3, 2016 - Bill de Blasio 03/03/2016 Views: 6,412

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explains his endorsement of Hillary Clinton and why he'll march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade for the first time since taking office. (10:22)

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Hanging out with, uh,Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Chatting aboutincome inequality.

So, that is one thing

that you havealways been at the fore.

You-you truly believe

that peopleneed to earn accordingly

and people needto feel like their money

is able to sustain them.

-Correct. -The systemis not holding them back

or-or suppressing them,you know? But...

It sounds like Bernie Sanders.

Everything you saysounds like Bernie Sanders.

And yet you have come outfor Hillary Clinton.

-Um, Bernie Sanders,to his great credit... -Yeah.

...has a raiseda bunch of issues that-that

need to be addressed.He's been very good

at focusing the national debateon income inequality.

I've been clear that I thatI think Hillary's the person

who can most acton the solutions we need.

Look at Hillary's platform--

higher taxes on the wealthy.

-Mm-hmm.-Making the hedge funders

pay their fair share.

Uh, pre-K for all,paid family leave,

higher wages and benefits.

This is exactlywhat we need to achieve,

but I think Hillaryactually knows more

about how to get it done.

I-I know, I... Peoplewouldn't argue that Hillary

doesn't know more to...about how get it done,

but then people go,"But will she get it done?"

You look atthe Goldman Sachs sage,

with her not releasingthe speeches.

People say, "Well, Hillary, whydon't you show us what you said

when we went aroundto Wall Street?"

That's what people are saying.

I mean, doesn't that maybeconflict a little bit

with...with what the actions are?

Well, it's funny,I don't think too...

I-I don't have a lot of concernabout that issue,

and I'll tell you why.Because, to me,

when you put something in yourplatform-- when you say

this is what I stand for and nowI will be held accountable

and it's as sharpas her platform...

In fact,on controlling Wall Street,

her platformis considered by many

tougher than Bernie Sanders.And I use Paul Krugman,

I think's the-the greatestprogressive economist, uh,

who says very clearly Hillary'ssolutions are more stringent

for reining in Wall Streetand more about the dangers

posed today by Wall Street.Once you say that in writing,

"This is what I stand for"--and you can't take it back--

that's what I look forin a leader.

I want themto go out on that limb

and take that commitment.I-I really don't care

a lot about a speechsix years ago.

I care about what is shetelling the whole world

out in the open she will do.

And if that platformwere achieved,

we would see much more economicfairness in this country

and we would see Wall Streetrestricted in a way

that would avoid a futureeconomic collapse,

and that's what peopleare demanding right now.

And by the way, that would takeall the wind out of the sails

of Donald Trumpand a lot of others

who are tapping intofrom frustration

without offering any actual,meaningful solution.

Donald-Donald Trump lives inyour city, you know that, right?

Yes, I noticed, yeah.

I see his name from time to timeas I go around.

You know, it's-it's reallyinteresting

that he put his nameon everything. It was a... Yeah.

-It was a smart move.-Yeah, promotional.

Just to-just to taunt you,I feel like.

Yeah, I...Sometimes I feel that.

Uh, let's talka little bit about

what's happeningin the prison system.

Uh, you faced...

I won't say a lot of backlash--people use that term,

but there was a timewhen you were butting heads

with the police department--

the New York Citypolice department--

-where they felt like...-Well, the police unions.

The police unions,let's... Yes, okay.

And because you came out

and spoke about having a son

who is black or mixed race

and you-you spokeof the dangers that he may face,

uh, with, the, you know,in the current police climate,

and because of thata lot of police unions

said you were being anti-police.

How do you thenbalance that role?

Because as mayor, you have torun the police force,

essentially,but at the same time

provide for the citizens.

First of all, you know,police unions

versus the rank and file,

the union or the union leaderswill have their own position,

but, you know,we have 35,000 police officers,

um, more and more of whomlive in New York City,

more and more of whomare people of color,

and they have,each and every one of...

all 35,000 havea different view.

I don't thinkthere's any monolithic view,

and I never mistakethe ideas of union leaders

for what the rank and filemay believe.

But second, um,I spoke from the heart about

what my wife Chirlane and I saidto our son Dante.

He is a young man,obviously of African descent,

and there's a heavy overhangof history

-that we all have to overcome.-Yeah.

Police and community togetherhave to overcome.

But I had the same conversationand Chirlane...

we had the same conversationwith our son

that hundreds of thousandsand millions of Americans have

with their child to say

you have to comport yourselfcarefully, smartly.

And it's importantto acknowledge that.

It was not meant to be negativeto anyone,

and I would say it again today.

It is meant to acknowledge thekind of reality that we have to.

And this actually... This year,last year in our history

will be regarded, I think,as times where structural racism

was finally discussed,the mass incarceration problem

was finally put squarelyon the table.

It's the kind of conversationsAmerica's needed

for a long, long time,and it's a blessing

-they're happening now. -Well,let's talk a little bit about...

-(applause)-Yeah. Let's, um...

let's talk a little bitabout the mass incarceration.

Again, you've come outvery strong in that regard,

uh, speaking specificallyabout, let's say, Rikers,

-Yes, -where you came outand said you do not believe

that, uh, young prisoners

age 16 to 21 should suffersolitary confinement.


I mean, it-it makes sense.Everyone goes,

"Yeah, we-we can seewhy that makes sense."

But then there was an attackand...

where the... wherethe-the wardens were attacked

-by some of the young prisoners.-Mm-hmm.

And then it-it seemed likeit wasn't that clear anymore.

I mean, you changed itand you said now,

okay, 16- to, I think,18-year-olds?

-No, 16 to eight...So, for-for... -16 to 18

-would not havesolitary confinement. -Right.

And then for 18 to 21, we're...18 to 20, I'm sorry,

-we're phasing it out this year.-Yes.

No, it's the same exact policy.

First of all,it did not make sense humanly.

But second, it didn't make sensein terms of the outcome,

that when folks are in solitaryconfinement at that young age,

-Yeah.-it does not help them reform.

It doesn't help themovercome their challenges

or become less violent.In fact, it left a lot of them

with real scarsand in worse shape

in terms of rehabilitation.

So we came to the conclusion itwas just not the right approach

and that what we had to figureout is what gets people back

on the right approach--education,

training people for a job,trying to give them a skill.

And, look, the young people,they're at a point

where they have not madea life's decision.

If you're 16, 17, 18, 19,

you have not setyour life's pattern yet.

And it's called the Departmentof Correction for a reason.

It's an opportunityat redemption.

But solitary confinementwasn't achieving that.

How do you... how do you...how do you achieve that balance?

Because, you know, on one hand,it's easy for people to say,

"Oh, no, these are young men,these are young people

who shouldn't bein solitary confinement."

And then you get peoplewho are working in these jobs

as wardens, people who aresaying, "I'm protecting society,

and yet I feellike I'm not protected."

How do you find that balance?

Because we-we learned,

in terms of protectingour officers as well,

that the violent behaviorthat emanated

-from the experience ofsolitary confinement... -Yeah.

...or punitive segregation,as it's called,

um, was... it was a negative.

It was causingultimately more violence.

Look, in the end,

a lot of people in Rikers Islandare in a process

that we hope leadsto redemption and change.

We all knowthere are some people

who ultimatelyprove themselves

-just to be hardened careercriminals. -Yes, yes.

But at that point,

a lot of folksactually get on a better path.

Therefore, there's a wholeconstituency, if you will,

that can be reached,

but if you treat themin a manner

that, unfortunately, playsto the worst impulses,

creates the most frustrationand the most anger,

well, that's going to belashing out at our officers.

That's gonna resultin violence.

That's gonna create, in effect,

an atmosphere ofgreater violence and inhumanity.

We're trying to pull people

towarda more positive direction.

And for many of the inmates,

we believe that not havingsolitary confinement

actually will leadto a more orderly dynamic.

And this is not somethingwe just came up with.

-Studies. Yeah. -This is basedon research and...

All over the country,and more and more

correction systemsare moving away

from solitary confinementfor the youngest inmates.

So, this is,I think, good policy,

morally speaking, but it alsoabout protecting our officers.

It's extremely commendable.

You're a very, very progressiveleader in that regard.

I think a lot of people admirewhat you're doing.

It's not easy,and they don't agree

-with everything that you do...-Yes.

...which is I guess be a leader.-The American way?

Yeah. Um, one last thing.

-I notice your tie.-Yes.

You're gonna be in theSt. Patrick's Day parade?

-This is a good day.-Yeah, yeah.

Very happy dayfor New York City.

And that's the first time,because

some of you may not know this,

but the mayor previouslydidn't participate in the parade

because members of theLGBT community weren't allowed

to participate in the parade.

-Correct. Correct.-(applause)

And now, that has changed, soyou're going to be part of it.

It's a very...

Trevor, for 25 years,

a quarter century in this city,

which is one of the mostcosmopolitan, most tolerant,

most progressive in the world,

this has been a blemishon the city

that a great institution,our St. Patrick's Parade...

-Yeah.-...excluded LGBT folks.

And we said, you know, we've gotto find a way towards unity.

And I gave some credit today.

I said, you know,someone who really helped

pave the wayto this moment today...

Literally today was when we cameto a new vision together

with the folkswho run the parade

that there will be inclusion.

Pope Francisgets a lot of credit,

because the day he said,"Who am I to judge?"

about membersof the LGBT community,

opened up a whole new reality.

So, for the first time,as I sit here today,

this is the first dayin 25 years

the LGBT folks are ableto participate.

-And it's a great moment.-Kudos. -(applause and cheering)

-So I've got my green tie.-Yup.

And, uh, I know you've gota special app that you use

to change the color of theEmpire State Building, so, uh...

-Yes. In my pocket.-Enjoy changing that to green.

Thank you so much.Mayor Bill de Blasio, everybody!

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