Robert Jackson MBP | Affordable Housing | New York City

2013 NYC MBP Questionnaire

Instructions: Gothamist plans to interview all candidates for citywide and boroughwide office in 2013. This survey will give us and our readers an overview of each candidate’s positions on issues of particular import to our audience of young New York voters. For each question, please give a a short response outlining your candidate’s position. You may include a link to longer position statements at the bottom of each response, which we will include when we publish the piece. If you do not wish to answer any question, please specify “no comment”. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Candidate Overview What are the top challenges facing Manhattan right now? How will you use the limited power of the Manhattan Borough Presidency to solve these problems? Manhattan faces many important challenges – making sure every child gets an excellent education; preserving affordability so older residents can stay here and young people can start here; creating new jobs and opportunities; improving transit and reducing congestion; and making our streets safe from guns and our homes and businesses secure and resilient from natural disasters. I believe we can turn these challenges into opportunities with strong leadership and working together. As someone who rose from poverty, has walked 150 miles to Albany for our school children, run three NYC Marathons and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I do not believe the powers of the office are limited. No one thought a Community School Board President could sue the state and successfully change a funding formula that was cheating our public school children. But I did, and we won $16 billion for our schools. Scott Stringer has done a tremendous job transforming the office and delivering for New York families. I will build on his success and be an advocate for our children; a fighter for our neighborhoods; and a leader for all of Manhattan.

20 Jay Street, Suite 830 • Brooklyn, NY 11201 • Tel (212) 796-4200 • Fax (646) 349-3893 website:

How would you distinguish your future administration from the present one run by MBP Scott Stringer? Borough President Scott Stringer has done a great job revitalizing the office and our Community Boards. I plan to build on the platform he has created. This year we will elect a new Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate and majority of the City Council. This makes it important that we elect people who stand on principle, who fight for what we all believe in and are willing to take on the status quo. I will fight for an excellent education for every child, to strengthen our economy and to keep our borough affordable. I know we can turn these challenges into opportunities, because I have seen how much we as New Yorkers can accomplish when we work together – when we put aside our differences and move forward with a unity of purpose that transcends the differences of race, religion, income or background. We are diverse -- yet we are one. And we must move forward together. I know Manhattan… its people … its problems … and its promise. And I am ready to lead this borough and help build a better future.

Personal Questions Do you rent or own your home? Rent. Do you have a pet? Yes, a cat. If you have children, do/did they attend public schools? All three of my daughters attended public schools, though my youngest daughter finished at a private high school. Have you ever been the victim of a crime? Yes, home burglarized.

Safety and Crime What changes would you like to see in the NYPD's stop and frisk policies? As it is employed now, the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy raises serious concerns about illegal stops and racial profiling. As Chair of the Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, I’ve taken the lead advocating an end to this practice. The Department’s own numbers show that hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year are being stopped, and the vast majority are black and Latino and are innocent. To successfully fight crime and guns, we need to build trust and meaningful partnership between the community and the police. These racial stops prevent this from happening and must be ended. However, done without racial profiling, proper oversight and limited in number, stop and frisk can be part of an anti-crime program. Do you support the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana in New York City? I support decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Recent studies have reported that arrests for small amounts of marijuana have cost the city millions of dollars and not made us safer. At the same time, these arrests have real consequences -- preventing people from getting a job, getting into college and receiving financial aid, or remaining within public housing. However, I do not support legalization, except in the case of medical marijuana. Do you support an independent inspector general for the NYPD?

Yes. Most other large police department and other government agencies all have inspector generals. It will help restore trust, promote efficiency and ultimately improve safety.

Transportation, Bikes and Bike Lanes


How often do you ride a bike? I ride regularly in the nice weather. Do you support expanding or reducing the number of current bike lanes in Manhattan? Before we invest more to expand the program or scale it back, we need a thorough study of what is working and what is not – in terms of safety to bikers and pedestrians, the amount of use and effects on traffic and small businesses, and how to proceed in a smart way that benefits neighborhoods and our city. Do you support congestion pricing? Yes, it is important to reduce traffic congestion and promote better environmental alternatives. It should be combined with a real commitment and significant improvements to mass transit.

Development Do you support a ban or limit on chain stores in Manhattan, including Walmart? Yes. These big box stores have been destructive to small businesses and neighborhoods and have set off a race to the bottom in terms of workers benefits and rights. Do you support NYCHA's recently announced plans to build market rate apartments on public housing parking lots and playgrounds? No. First, it does not make sense to propose this luxury development in public housing projects without consulting and working with the residents. Second, luxury development with no affordable housing on this land is ridiculous. And third, this simply appears to be a giveaway of public land and public benefits to wealthy developers. Any plan should have significant review and public input and not be rushed through in the remaining months of this Mayor’s term. Do you support the "public-private" model of park development used under the Bloomberg administration? There is no doubt that New Yorkers have benefitted from the financial assistance provided to our parks through “public-private” partnerships. You see it in the restoration of Central Park, the clean-up of Bryant Park and the creation the High Line. This has been particularly important in these times of budget cuts. Parks must be for everyone, and it is unclear whether this model can also sustain parks that do not have wealthy neighbors. We must continue these partnerships, but also restore funding and commitment to parks so all people in all neighborhoods can enjoy the important benefits of clean, safe and enjoyable parks. How would your development policy differ from the one put forward by Scott Stringer? In particular, please comment on your position regarding: East Midtown Rezoning – This rezoning plan is moving much too fast, with talk of buildings far too high with not nearly enough community input. While I support the concept of encouraging the upgrade of office space in this area, this plan must move forward on a timetable that serves the community and all New Yorkers, not one that is guided by Mayor Bloomberg’s term of office. It is important that concerns about infrastructure, open space, sustainability and the preservation of landmarks be addressed and all the stakeholders be brought into the process before a plan is approved. Hudson Yards Redevelopment – I support this project that will transform an under-utilized hole in the ground into a thriving residential and commercial area. It will provide job opportunities and needed assistance for mass transit. SPURA Redevelopment – I support the plan and the process that has enabled the community to move forward in a cooperative way on a development plan, now more than 40 years since


residents were moved out. While I would like to see even more affordable housing, I applaud the work of Community Board 3 to bring opposing sides together and reach a plan that has resulted in a RFP that mandates that affordable housing is built first, that jobs pay prevailing wage and provisions are made for seniors, schools and the community needs. Chelsea Market Expansion – While having significant concerns about the original proposal, I support the compromise plan reached that reduced the size of the development, provided money for affordable housing and for the High Line and preserved the current facade. The current plan provides an important balance between the need for jobs and economic growth and the preservation of the neighborhood.

Columbia and NYU, among other schools, have launched large expansion projects affecting large swaths of Manhattan. What changes, if any, would you like to see in their plans, and what restrictions, if any, should be put on the ability of schools to acquire and redevelop land? The agreements to permit Columbia and NYU expansions were the results of exhaustive negotiations and compromise by all involved. To be sure, there are aspects of both agreements that I would change, but that would undermine the agreements reached. In the Columbia expansion, I was a leader for the community in securing a Community Benefits Agreement that creates affordable housing, provides protection for existing tenants, jobs for local residents and other assistance for the community. What is most important now is to closely monitor the agreements to make sure the universities keep their promises and obligations, rather than undermine the process with new demands. Where do you stand on the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station project? Should it move forward? I support the goals of the Solid Waste Management Plan requiring each borough to handle its own share of waste. At the same, given the impact that this Transfer Station will have on this densely populated residential are, the increasing cost of it and the need to take a new look at projects resiliency to another Sandy, it makes sense to examine if there is a better option, including continuing trucking Manhattan garbage to New Jersey, before it moves forward.

Transparency and Good Government Scott Stringer made transparency and good government signature issues for his administrationwhat will you do to further increase performance in these areas? One of the important roles a Borough President can play is to make city government more accessible for people and making people more part of the process. For starters, I will continue to be accessible – walking every neighborhood in the borough during this campaign and continuing to do that as the Borough President. Second, I will build on the reforms of Community Boards instituted by Scott Stringer and further the outreach to make these boards representative of their communities. And third, I will use technology and the internet to make issues and information more understandable and available to Manhattan families, even looking to live stream Community Board meetings. The more involved its citizens – whether it is in education, fighting crime or land use issues – the better decisions will be made and the better results we will get.


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