NYC CEOs urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to address public safety, deteriorating life quality to bring back normalcy

Heads of more than 160 top firms, including Lyft and Goldman Sachs, have asked him to address issues like public safety and quality of life that have plummeted over the past few months


                            NYC CEOs urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to address public safety, deteriorating life quality to bring back normalcy
(Getty Images)

Days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the Big Apple’s rich residents who have left the city in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, heads of more than 160 top firms have asked him to address issues like public safety and quality of life that have plummeted over the past few months.

The firms include Lyft, Goldman Sachs, MasterCard, Macy’s and others, and the chief executives signed a letter to the mayor and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, September 10, hoping that NYC would “remain a thriving global center of commerce, innovation and opportunity.”

Even though New York has seen an infection rate of less than one percent for more than a month now, the CEOs said widespread public anxiety still prevails over issues like public safety, cleanliness, and other quality of life issues that are seeing falling standards in commercial districts and neighborhoods in five boroughs. 

A man wearing a mask walks the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 20, 2020 in New York City (Getty Images)

In the letter, the industry leaders appealed to de Blasio and Cuomo to send out a “consistent message” about when the residents in the city could expect to return to a “safe and healthy work environment.”

CEOs want 'strong message' on safe work environment

“There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” they wrote in the letter.

“We need to send a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment. People will be slow to return 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.”

“We look forward to your response and to partnering with you and others who share a commitment to a vibrant recovery and a great future for our city,” the corporate chiefs concluded in the letter. 

Goldman Sachs CEO David M Solomon (Getty Images)

The Partnership for New York City, a business group whose members employ over 1.5 million New Yorkers, was behind the initiative. The two Democratic leaders have been different in their takes on the state of affairs in NYC. While the governor has urged people to return saying the city’s revenue is heavily dependent on them, de Blasio earned a backlash by calling the wealthy residents “fairweather friends.” 

The pandemic has seen life in one of the world’s most celebrated cities deteriorating alarmingly. While crime rates have shot up, the streets have turned dirtier with a budget cut to the sanitation department. The posh areas have also been affected by social unrest and criminal activities and the city administration faced flak over accommodating homeless people in high-end hotels in a bid to control the pandemic’s outbreak. 

The CEOs asked de Blasio to take “immediate action to restore essential services” as the first step towards fixing the complex economic challenges the city was set to encounter in the wake of the pandemic that has claimed more than 191,700 lives in the country and 33,000-plus in the state.

De Blasio responded to the CEOs’ call on Twitter saying he was “grateful for the business community” for helping “rebuild a fairer, better city.” “We’re grateful for our business community and are partnering to rebuild a fairer, better city. Let’s be clear: To restore city services and save jobs, we need long term borrowing and a federal stimulus — we need these leaders to join the fight to move the City forward,” de Blasio, who is facing the biggest challenge of his days as the mayor since he took over in January 2014, said in his tweet.



 

The CEOs’ letter came as less than 10 percent of NY’s office employees returned to public workplaces, putting in peril the city’s financial well-being since office buildings are a source of almost 10 percent of the total annual income. 
 
While a section of people hoped that NYC’s one million office workers would return as the pandemic progressed, the opposite has happened. According to ‘Return to Office Survey’ released by Partnership for New York City, only eight percent of staff members have returned to the office as of the middle of August. The employers now have a low expectation about the staffers’ return by 33 percent compared to May with only 26 percent of the surveyed employees set to return by the end of 2020. It goes up to 54 percent for a July 2021 return schedule.

GOP, Democratic mayoral candidates welcome move

The corporate leaders’ initiative has been welcomed across the political spectrum. Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, also a Republican candidate for next year’s mayoral election, said “these guys and gals in the suites” are addressing the problems the common people are facing each day, the New York Post reported.

“To expect major corporate figures to encourage their workforce to return when the quality of life has fallen so measurably, it’s a wake up call to the mayor. It’s time for the mayor basically to wake up and get this city back on track,” he was quoted as saying by the Post.

Maya Wiley, a civil rights attorney and a Democratic candidate for the 2021 election (de Blasio is serving his final term) who has also worked with the current mayor, praised the move for “taking up the call on basic services that’s already come up from Harlem, Hunts Point and other communities on the frontline of impact and recovery.” 

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all hands on deck from bankers to barber shop owners, everyone has a contribution to make,” he told the Post.

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