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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: October 2010 Archives

October 2010 Archives

Recently, I stood with some of the brave men and women who participated in the rescue and recovery mission during and after 9/11. Together, we urged workers to accept the City's proposed settlement of litigation for 9/11-related health problems. There is a lot of confusion about both the City's proposed settlement and the additional benefits that might become available if Congress passes the Zadroga bill. We have a responsibility to explain all of the options to all those who have suffered, and I'd like to take the opportunity to do that again.

Right now there are two potential avenues of compensation for rescue and recovery workers. The first is the proposed settlement of some 10,000 individual lawsuits brought against the City and contractors. In order to receive compensation from this settlement, two things have to happen. First: you must opt in before the deadline passes on November 8, 2010. And second: 95 percent of the plaintiffs involved in the litigation must also approve the settlement for it to become effective. So far, about 75 percent of plaintiffs have signed on.

Another potential source of compensation is the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which was established by the Federal government in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. The fund will be reopened if the Senate passes the same version of the Zadroga bill that was passed by the House two weeks ago.

Let me be clear: by opting into the City's proposed settlement you are not giving up your rights to apply for future benefits under the Zadroga bill, if and when it becomes law.  And if the bill does pass and the compensation offered to you is more than what you got from your settlement, you will get the difference. Let's say, for example, that you are awarded $1 million in compensation under the City's settlement. If the Zadroga bill passes and you are offered another $1.5 million from the re-opened Victim Compensation Fund, you would be entitled to the entire $1 million from your City settlement and also the half million in Zadroga benefits that is over and above what the City's settlement awarded you.

The Federal judge overseeing the litigation has approved the settlement, calling it "fair and reasonable." Individual awards would range from several thousand dollars to nearly $2 million, depending on the extent of injuries sustained. And almost all plaintiffs would receive an insurance policy that would pay up to $100,000 if they contract certain cancers in the future. Of course, there are a number of other benefits that cannot be measured in dollars. Some of the plaintiffs who joined me last week spoke powerfully about what the settlement would mean for their families - financial stability, closure, a more certain and hopeful future for their children. We in City government also want to see an end to the litigation. We have no desire to be fighting in court with those who acted unselfishly and heroically to help our city in its hour of need.  We hope that at least 95 percent of the plaintiffs accept the settlement before the November 8th deadline, so that we can move forward, together, as a city.


To keep our city growing and thriving, we need to improve the quality of our public schools and to build the infrastructure New York needs in the 21st century. Last week, we took a major step forward in both of these areas.

First -- our schools. Last Monday at an Education Summit hosted by NBC, I announced a new set of reforms governing how we pay some of our best teachers, and how we grant tenure. I think we have the best teachers in the country. They are smart, and dedicated -- and they have a wealth and also a diversity of experience to bring to the classroom. They deserve our respect. And they deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their success. And that's exactly what we intend to do with the $36 million Teacher Incentive Grant we won from the U.S. Department of Education two weeks ago. 

We'll use that funding to increase the number of master teachers. Those are teachers who mentor and support their colleagues, including our newest teachers. And we'll also add to the ranks of our turnaround teachers. Those are highly effective teachers who agree to serve in our lowest-performing schools. Both master and turnaround teachers will receive salary increases that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

Teachers who help our children advance academically deserve every reward we can give them. But those who don't do not deserve a lifetime job. Under the new tenure policy, principals will grant tenure to teachers only after they have achieved two years of academic gains. Schools will continue to provide professional support for teachers who are still developing. And they'll replace ineffective teachers with teachers who can actually help our students advance. 

In education, the measure for every decision should be simple: Is it good for children? Not politicians. Or unions. But children. That's why we're taking steps to change how we grant tenure, starting this year. 

The second major investment we made in our city's future last week involves our infrastructure. Most people think of infrastructure as bridges, subways, and water tunnels -- and in fact, we are making billions of dollars of investments in all of these things, including the extension of the Number 7 Subway line and the construction of the third water tunnel, which is vital to our city's water supply. On Tuesday, we also announced a $2.4 billion investment in what's called "green infrastructure" to improve the quality of our waterways by capturing and retaining storm water to reduce the amount of pollution that flows into our harbor during big storms. Within 20 years, we expect this new plan, which includes the construction of such elements as green roofs and wetlands, to reduce by 40 percent the amount of polluted water that currently flows into our waterways. At the same time, it will save the city about $2.4 billion, helping to keep water bills down. 

Green infrastructure is the best, most cost-effective strategy for reaching a goal that we set in our PlaNYC agenda: opening 90 percent of the city's waterways for boating, fishing, and other forms of recreation by the year 2030. And doing that will ensure a healthier environment and better quality of life for us all.

Last week we received some good news. According to the latest reports from the State Department of Labor, New York City is leading the nation in job growth. Since the beginning of 2010, our city has gained more than 78,000 private-sector jobs, while the nation as a whole has gained about 760,000. That means more than one out of every 10 new jobs in the country was created right here in New York City. One of every 10 new jobs in all 50 states is located in the five boroughs. The city's job gains also account for virtually all of the job gains in New York State.

Luna Park, Coney Island

Image by Paul Lowry via Flickr

I know that many New Yorkers are still struggling to find work. But don't 
lose hope. The national recession has hurt cities across the country, but New York is starting to rebound faster and further than other places. And the job opportunities here are only going to get better.

The growth we're experiencing today is directly tied to the targeted five-borough investments we've continued to make -- even through the deepest months of the recession. Take, for example, Coney Island. As part of the city's Coney Island Revitalization Plan, we invested over $6 million to support the opening of the new Luna Park, which spurred another $30 million in private investment. Already those investments are paying big dividends. Coney Island has emerged as this summer's major blockbuster; the new amusement park drew 400,000 visitors -- making this Coney Island's busiest season since the historic Steeplechase Park closed in 1964.

All told, more than 14 million people visited Coney Island's beach and boardwalk -- that's more than four times the number of visitors last summer. And you can bet that many Coney Island restaurants and businesses saw the impact of the bigger crowds in higher sales and profits.

For those of you who aren't ready to say goodbye to summer -- or to Coney Island -- well guess what? You won't have to! Because of the overwhelming success of the first season, Luna Park has decided to remain open through the end of October. Starting October 15, the park will feature new Halloween-themed programs.

This summer's opening of Luna Park is just the beginning of a dramatic transformation that will establish Coney Island as a world-class, 21st century amusement park and create a vibrant residential area with new retail options and nearly 5,000 new homes, including affordable homes. There are so many people to thank for ushering in this new and hopeful era for Coney Island, and two names that really stand out are Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, and Councilman Domenic Recchia.

Revitalizing Coney Island will also create more than 25,000 new construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs. Our investments there, along with our investments in neighborhoods across the five boroughs, will help keep our city's economy growing for years to come.

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