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De Blasio Announces Task Forces and Special Councils to Help Restart Economy

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference in the Blue Room at City Hall. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

April 27, By Michael Dorgan

Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking steps to restart the economy and has put together two task forces and a number of special councils to guide the reopening.

Eight individual councils, divided by industry and sector, will advise the city on reviving different industries while two task forces will help spur a “fair recovery” that confronts the city’s deep inequities, the mayor said. The New York City Charter will also be revisited as part of a longer-term plan to build a fair recovery, he said.

The councils will address eight areas: small businesses; larger businesses; public health and healthcare; arts, culture and tourism; labor; nonprofits and social services; faith-based; and education and vocational training.

First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson will lead one of two taskforces the mayor announced. The pair will work on the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, which will address economic and racial disparities that the crisis has brought to light, de Blasio said.

“This crisis is not only about a virus; it’s about the fallout from hundreds of thousands of our neighbors losing their jobs and struggling to provide for their families,” de Blasio said. “It’s about the outsized devastation communities of color are facing across the country.”

The second task force, the Fair Recovery Taskforce, will aim to make the reopening as equitable as possible, de Blasio said. This taskforce – comprised of civic leaders from diverse backgrounds – will put forward a preliminary recovery road map at the beginning of June that will inform the city’s recovery efforts. They will continue to support the administration over the course of the recovery, the mayor said.

De Blasio said it would take 20 months to build a long-term fair recovery – the same amount of time he has left in office – and that a revamping of the New York Charter to address the inequities was the last deliverable needed to execute his plan.

Therefore, a Charter Revision Commission will be assembled over the coming few weeks to hold public hearings in order to review and revise the charter, the mayor said.

“I think it is the right time for a Charter Revision Commission because if ever there was a moment, a breakpoint moment in the city’s history, this is it,” de Blasio said.

However, the most controversial aspect of the mayor’s plan was the appointment of his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, to another government agency following her handling of ThriveNYC – a near $1 billion program she created and oversaw to tackle mental health in the city.

Several city council members voiced their concerns about the decision including Queens Councilman Bob Holden, who said Sunday that McCray’s track record was not good and her appointment was political opportunism. McCray is thought to be considering a run for Brooklyn borough president.

De Blasio defended both Thrive and his wife’s role within the program. He said that his wife was a good choice since she has addressed the inequalities in health care while overseeing Thrive.

“So I think what Chirlane has done over these last six years is to take this issue, put it in the light, open up access for millions of people and then continue to build out a structure that could focus on effective delivery and equity,” he said.

 

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