Mayor Bill de Blasio waded into somewhat unfriendly territory Monday night, holding a town hall meeting in Bayside, Queens. He faced pointed questions about rising property tax bills, pay raises for public officials and homeless shelters. Our Grace Rauh was there and has the story.
Mayor de Blasio took his town hall tour to Bayside, holding court in a City Council district won by his Republican rival in the mayor's race, Joe Lhota, in 2013.
Despite that history the crowd at the town hall was largely respectful, although there were moments of friction.
"How do you respond to civic leaders like myself who perceive a completely tone-deaf administration to our community concerns?" asked Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Co-op.
"It is not tone-deaf to increase the NYPD by 2,000 officers, that is something I have heard people want in communities across this city," the mayor said in response. "It is not tone-deaf to give pre-k full day to every child for free.
"I'd like you to know I am looking out for the interests of the people I represent."
One New Yorker balked at the 32% pay raises the mayor recently approved for City Council members. He argued that the salary boost was fair and deserved since local officials do not have a typical 9 to 5 job.
"I was a City Councilman in Brooklyn," de Blasio said. "You have an obligation to each of those 160,000 people. Each of them can walk up to you and demand follow up on any kind of issue."
Rising property tax bills were also a top concern. The city's property tax rate has not changed but tax bills are soaring because property values are increasing.
"We have to come up with a solution that goes across the entire property tax system, which means an incredibly challenging mission," de Blasio said.
The mayor says he is not interested in raising the city's property tax rate.