Bloomberg’s last speech

During his State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg promised big initiatives. We’re glad to hear that those projects include opening new schools to relieve overcrowding, pushing for approval of a state Dream Act and making possession of small amounts of marihuana a violation instead of a misdemeanor, which will prevent more young Latinos from having criminal records.

However, the mayor failed to include in his agenda several crucial issues that impact our community. For one, he insists on maintaining Stop & Frisk, despite the fact that many elected and community leaders have urged him for years to change this controversial policy. It’s hard to speak kindly about the reality that the Bloomberg administration has stopped and frisked more innocent Latinos and African-Americans in a questionable, and possibly unconstitutional, way than any other previous administration. This includes the Giuliani administration, notoriously remembered for its discriminatory police policies.

Bloomberg also left out the paid sick leave bill. Currently, more than 1 million low-income workers in the city, many of them Latinos, can’t take time off to go to the doctor without risking their jobs. This happens even though authorities ask people not to go to work if they have flu symptoms. The situation is inhumane and harmful to the health care system. There has been progress with this bill, and evidence from other places with similar laws shows that companies can absorb the impact of the expense without putting jobs at risk. However, the mayor is against it. If he changes his mind, his support could be the push needed for the City Council to vote on and pass this legislation.

And last, to signal that the mayor understands the complexity of educating thousands of English learners, he should strategically change the way that bilingual education is taught in public schools. The countdown begins. We hope the mayor is able to make the most of each one of the 319 days he has left, by focusing on the issues that really deserve attention.