First Deputy Mayor Shorris was introduced by Professor Sandler, the Director of the Center for City Law, and Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School. Professor Sandler introduced Shorris as both a progressive and a budget expert.
First Deputy Mayor Shorris began his lecture by reflecting on his long career in City government. Shorris says he has found meaning in the hard work of making change. He believes in the mission of government to improve people’s lives. Shorris spoke of the importance of localities standing up to federal policy—he noted that to deal with cynicism of government, City Hall should not argue with the opposition, but prove them wrong through policy.
The push for economic opportunity and civic equality has been at the center of crafting the Mayor’s policies, such as IDNYC, promotion of MWBEs, and affordable housing. First Deputy Mayor Shorris says the City is working towards these goals through improving the infrastructure of City government. Infrastructure improvements include technology, procurement, and human capital management in NYC operations.
Most importantly, First Deputy Mayor Shorris discussed the effect office culture has on policy initiatives. Shorris stressed that this administration has worked to create a climate of shared values among officials that government should expand opportunity and improve lives. This administration has debated the “means” and not the “ends” of their policy goals; Shorris says that when we have the same end goal, the conversation changes and is much more productive. For example, this administration is taking a holistic approach to criminal justice by not only improving police presence, but also implementing youth programs and mental health initiatives to keep more people from interacting with the criminal justice system.
During the question and answer session, Shorris responded to many questions with where he thinks the government can improve. In response to a question about FOIA requests, Shorris says the government can always do better to improve responsiveness, and is increasing transparency by publishing more data. When asked about property tax reform, Shorris says the government will look at the tax structure in its entirety and look to places to improve City and State deductions. When asked about balancing development and preservation, Shorris noted that city growth inevitably increases density, but the government will help this City grow smartly. When asked about school safety, Shorris discussed the interagency coordination between the Department of Education, homeless shelters, and the NYPD to meet all children’s needs. When asked about funding for Universal 3-K, Shorris stressed the need for State funding for full implementation. When asked about the possibility of electric buses, Shorris emphasized the City’s commitment to the Paris Accord, and discussed City efforts to decrease building emissions and improve mass transit options. Shorris also spoke of our sister city relationship with San Juan, and that the government is preparing for potential relocations of Puerto Ricans effected by the recent hurricanes.
First Deputy Mayor Shorris spoke highly of his colleagues in government, ending his speech by saying that most government officials come to work every day trying to do the right thing.
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