A year into term, NYC mayor to give State of the City address

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 03, 2015 7:02 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is due to give his second State of the City speech on Tuesday after a year in which his fraught relationship with police has often overshadowed his campaign promises to reduce economic and social inequality.

Before the speech at a Manhattan college, de Blasio's office released short videos online of the mayor drafting his remarks in his office with his advisers, describing the points he wants to make.

"Affordable housing will grow, pre-K will grow, police-community relations changes will grow," he says in the video, turning a baseball in his hands as aides type on their laptops and shuffle papers.

De Blasio launched an ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten, or "pre-K," for more than 50,000 young children last year, fulfilling one of his main campaign pledges.

He intends to focus his speech largely on his plans for 2015 to increase the amount of affordable housing in one of the most expensive U.S. cities, local news outlets reported.

Four neighborhoods in the city will be rezoned to allow for taller, denser residential buildings, and the city will make it compulsory for developers to include affordable apartments in their buildings alongside market-rate ones, the New York Times reported.

He will try to lure developers with generous, decades-long tax breaks, NY1 reported.

The city will also triple the amount it spends on providing legal services to tenants in the hope of making it harder for landlords to force out older, poorer tenants in favor of new ones willing to pay more, the Times reported.

The mayor has also been grappling with his campaign promise to mend frayed relations between police and black and Latino New Yorkers, who were stopped and frisked by the police in disproportionate numbers under the previous administration.

An unusually deep rift between City Hall and rank-and-file officers, angered by the mayor's words of support for protesters calling for police reform, deepened in December after a man shot two New York police officers to death in an ambush. The man, who killed himself soon after, had written online that he wanted to avenge the killing of unarmed black men in New York and Missouri by white policemen.

Many police officers took to turning their backs on the mayor at public events, including at the slain officers' funerals, and arrest numbers plummeted for a few weeks beginning in December in a temporary work slowdown.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Mohammad Zargham)