Over 150 business leaders urge NYC mayor to clean up and fight crime in the city

Image: Over 150 business leaders urge NYC mayor to clean up and fight crime in the city
 More than 150 business leaders in New York City have exhorted Mayor Bill De Blasio to address the different issues – such as public safety, quality of life and cleanliness – plaguing the city amid the coronavirus pandemic through a letter. The Sep. 10 letter was posted by the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC), a non-profit organization focusing on research, policy formulation and issue advocacy.

The letter comes after the city experienced a surge in crime rate. According to data from the New York City Police Department, the number of shooting incidents from Jan. 1 to Sep. 6 of this year experienced an 89.6 percent rise compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, the number of shooting victims from Jan. 1 to Sep. 6 of this year had a 97.2 percent rise compared to the same period last year. This crime surge prompted the NYPD to increase its weekend patrols across the city.

In addition, the city’s sanitation department saw its budget slashed by more than $100 million in June – diminishing pickup for public litter baskets by 60 percent. Garbage collection trucks were quickly filled up during their trips as people generated more trash while staying home. New York Department of Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia told CBS2 that while there is no clear plan yet on how their department will keep up with the mounting trash on a reduced budget, collections will continue to adjust as more people return.

Even business leaders agree that NYC must be safe and clean before they return

In the letter, business owners in the city informed Mayor De Blasio that “a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment” should be front and center. It also warned that people will hesitate to return and do business in New York City “unless their concerns about security and the livability of our communities are addressed quickly and with respect and fairness for our city’s diverse populations.”

PFNYC released a study in July warning that a third of the city’s 230,000 may never reopen due to the pandemic. In addition, it mentioned that putting a lid on travel and tourism in New York City hit the hospitality, retail, culture and entertainment sectors hard – particularly the 27,000 restaurants in it. Furthermore, the PFNYC study predicted that the social, cultural and entertainment assets New York City is much known for will remain partially closed until 2021.

PFNYC President Kathryn Wilde said that many executives of companies based in the city were preparing to have some workers return to the office, “but they’re getting pushback from their employees” asking about the city’s safety and cleanliness, the New York Times reported.

“Urgent action” is needed to fix New York City, but will Mayor De Blasio act?

In response to the letter, Mayor de Blasio encouraged business leaders, in a tweet, to “join the fight” for long-term borrowing and a federal stimulus.
The mayor’s spokesperson Bill Neidhart also tweeted his support, saying that the participation of business leaders “would be a boon to every New Yorker.”
Even without asking the help of business leaders, addressing the problems of New York City would have been easy if Mayor De Blasio actually acted on those. But what has he done so far?
He turned a blind eye on the city’s crime problem, even reallocating funds meant for public safety towards social services.

He banned religious gatherings in the city for possibly violating “social distancing” guidelines, but not Black Lives Matter protests that outright disregard proper distance between protesters.

He let New York City restaurants go bankrupt by banning indoor dining, which deals another blow to the already struggling sector. In fact, a group of restaurants in the city filed a class-action suit against Mayor De Blasio and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seeking $2 billion in damages resulting from the mayor’s ban on indoor dining.

RXR Realty chief executive Scott Rechler, one of the signatories of the letter, summed up the root of the problem. “The problem right now is leadership. We need a strong leader to address these problems, to encourage people to feel comfortable coming back to the city.” From the looks of it, Mayor de Blasio is not the strong leader the city needs.
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