Last week, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams presented her “State of the City” address to a crowd of people gathered at the Sotomayor Center in the Bronx. During the speech, the Speaker outlined her agenda to recreate New York City in a way that would put “people over everything” and improve the lives of New Yorkers. I must say that although I was encouraged by a number of the Speaker’s proposed initiatives–I do think the proposals regarding public safety and some of the usage of taxpayer dollars are completely off the mark.
First and foremost, I think the stated goal to close Rikers Island is a mistake. Riker’s Island has its problems, sure, but the solution is not to shut the place down and disperse criminals into far smaller “borough-based jails.” Instead, we should be better funding Rikers Island so that it can become a world-class justice center that can serve as a model to others across the country. Invest in the mental health services available to those incarcerated there, invest in hiring more Correction Officers so staffers aren’t overworked and overstressed, and invest in state-of-the-art drug rehabilitation services. Don’t shut the whole thing down and think that somehow dispersing people into smaller facilities with fewer available resources will solve the problem. And certainly, don’t make it so there are fewer beds available to house those awaiting trial.
Under the borough-based jails plan, there would be approximately 3,300 beds available for incarcerated individuals throughout the city. According to the Manhattan Institute, “that figure is 40% lower than the average population recorded at Rikers throughout 2022 (roughly 5,500 through mid-September). It is lower than the lowest daily population (3,809) recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, when jail decarceration was a nationwide priority. It is smaller, in fact than almost any figure recorded since the Rikers jail complex opened.” We as a city are already seeing the effects of a revolving door justice system, with criminals being put back on the street hours after being arrested for an offense. What do you think will happen when we have 40% fewer beds to hold offenders in the future?
Next, let’s talk about the proposal to pour city funding into “mobile healthcare” hubs for delivery workers. If we really want to help New York City’s delivery workers, let’s make sure that the vehicles they’re operating aren’t going to explode from under them, rather than dumping taxpayer money into hubs specifically set aside for one segment of the workforce to utilize. Let’s make sure that more legislation is passed so that only properly certified lithium-ion batteries are available to delivery workers so that their bikes and scooters don’t keep setting fire to apartment buildings and homes across the city. Furthermore, the onus of providing these qualified batteries to delivery workers should fall on the major corporations like GrubHub and UberEats, not on New York’s taxpayers.
Providing delivery people with safe, reliable batteries can dramatically improve their quality of life without causing a major dent in the city’s coffers. We have a spiraling mental health crisis to deal with. Our veterans aren’t getting the services many desperately need. Crime is growing by the day. How does the city think that spending massive amounts of funding to cater to one specific group of workers with “mobile healthcare” is going to be the solution to these issues? And, if the city is really serious about opening “mobile healthcare hubs,” why not make them available to veterans and others in need as well?
It’s time that New Yorkers across the five boroughs take a stand for common sense. In 2021, we expanded the number of Common Sense Legislators in the City Council, and last year we saw one Democratic Councilman switch his party affiliation after recognizing the disastrous policies the progressive far left was pursuing in city government. On top of that, 15 members of the Progressive Caucus resigned from the Caucus because they were mandated to sign a pledge to defund the police, close Rikers, and remove Correction Officers. That exodus ended the super majority the progressives once held. Within just two years, we’ve been able to advance our numbers in the seat of city power and watched as the progressive stranglehold on the city started to erode. We need to keep that momentum moving in 2023 and score some more victories for common sense.
Read here: https://www.rockawave.com/articles/official-point-of-view-214/