11 Unanswered Questions From Bill de Blasio’s Reddit AMA (and 10 Answered Ones)


In his first Reddit AMA on Tuesday afternoon, Bill de Blasio bashed Bloomberg and “Manhattan foodies,” deflected a question about Airbnb, and explained how he would have handled Occupy Wall Street.

Among the other revelations to come out of the two-hour Q&A? De Blasio loves Di Fara Pizzeria in Midwood, he’s a big fan of Pope Francis, he won’t ever bike to work, and his son, Dante, “does not leave the house in the morning without carefully using his pick to strike a perfect geometric balance. ”

But there were far more questions left unanswered on Tuesday than not.

Here are 11 questions de Blasio didn’t touch:

11. “Have you seen Banksy’s new artwork in the city? What do you think about street art?”

10. “What about rebuilding a trolley system (as there used to be in Queens and Brooklyn)?”

9. “Bill if elected will you shut down the illegal backyard parties in BedStuy that keep me up at night? Thanks.”

8. “Hello, If elected Mayor, will you continue to ignore the Rockaways as you have done throughout your campaign?”

7. “As mayor, would you be open to addressing the unfair burden [$200 permits] that this very specific segment of park users [tennis players] are being asked shoulder?”

6. “Have you heard of Gogo Curry? Would you like to go to Gogo Curry with me one of these days?”

5. “If you had to choose between a purely free market society (in which government directed redistribution and price control schemes were outlawed, and any and all charitable efforts were organized privately), and a purely socialistic one (whereby a one-party centralized state enjoyed 100% ownership and control of means of production, and legitimately had the power to redistribute any and all property as it saw fit), which one would you choose? No grey area, this is an either/or question.”

4. “Will you continue the use of the NYPD as the mayor’s personal army?”

3. “Why on earth did you honeymoon there [in Cuba] and not any of the other countries in that region?”

2. “The first time I ever saw you? Your photo proudly displayed on my barber’s table, Alberto from Astor Place! Isn’t he the best?”

1. “Taxes?”

0. “Also, I call you DeBlaz, hope that’s cool”

The public advocate did answer some questions Redditors posed–several softballs, but a couple substantive ones, too. Here’s a round-up of his most interesting answers.

In no particular order:

What are some policies you plan on installing as mayor that would make it easier to live here for middle-class residents making under 100k a year?

My focus is on building an extensive new supply of affordable housing which will reach families who are struggling economically. My goal is 200,000 units over 10 years, enough to house 400,000 to 500,000 New Yorkers. I also want to speed the development of more market rate rental housing in hopes that a greater supply will start to bring costs down meaningfully. So I will do everything I know how to do to help make sure that couples like you can stay in this city.

What are your opinions on airBNB and similar short term apartment rental services, and the subpoena that the state AG just served on airBNB to turn over the information on all NYC hosts? … [D]o you think that normal hard working New Yorkers should be able to rent out their apartments when they go away on vacation, or otherwise?

First of all, define the word “normal” in terms of New Yorkers.

I appreciate the appropriately nuanced way you framed the questioned, and I’ll give you an equally nuanced answer. While I appreciate the potential of the sharing economy, and I do think there’s some historical precedent, the challenges posed by AirBnB today are real, in terms of safety, public tax revenue, etc.

What religious beliefs do you hold and how does it influence your politics, if at all

Although my mother was raised a Catholic, she did not bring me up in the Church. I considered myself a spiritual person but unaffiliated, and I was definitely vey influenced by the liberation theology movement in Latin America. And BOY am I a fan of Pope Francis!

Where do you stand on rent regulation for small businesses, especially those that have been around a long time, and what will you do to stop the spread of chains?

I have been shocked by how negative many Bloomberg policies have been towards small business. Some people think of him as a businessman mayor, but they need to understand he never owned a small business and doesn’t have that perspective. From my point of view, small businesses are the ultimate grassroots job creation engine and also incredibly important to the character and strength of our neighborhoods. I considered years ago the concept of commercial rent control, and don’t believe it’s workable, but what we can do is end policies that hurt mom and pop stores like the constant and arbitrary fines the city government has levied and we can use zoning laws and tax policy over time to support family owned businesses. Very good example on upper west side over the last few years where changes in zoning made it harder for certain chain stores to develop and easier for mom and pop shops to survive, so that’s a model I want to follow.

Where’s the best Pizza in New York?

Di Fara Pizzeria in Midwood, Brooklyn. And to all the Manhattan foodies out there: it’s not even close. This is clearly the best. And yes I’m from Brooklyn. PS: They use buffalo milk mozzarella, which is beloved in my grandfather’s provence in Italy.

If elected, will you ever bike to work?

Unfortunately not, but let me tell you a story and I’ll explain why I give you that answer. In 1990, I was in Seattle with my brother Steven, and we both bought mountain bikes, and we went on an amazing bike trip through western Montana, which is a really beautiful place… best seen by bike. Then I brought my bike back to Brooklyn, and although there were a few years when the kids were younger when I used it a lot, in recent years I almost never have used my bike. That’s the sad truth. So I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be using it to get to work, although I really appreciate and admire people that do, And I want to make it easier for people who do.

In what ways would you have responded differently to OWS than how Bloomberg did?

First of all, Occupy was and is an important movement focused on the inequalities we must address in our society. I spent time at the protests and came to appreciate what an impact it made. I think the Mayor could have worked with members of Occupy to find an appropriate alternate location even when it was clear that Zuccotti Park couldn’t continue to be a livable space for the protesters and the community. I also think that media access in situations like this must be constant and unquestioned, and i think it was a mistake by this administration to exclude the media when the protesters were removed.

How does Dante keep the shape of his hair so perfect?

Dante works conscientiously on his hair. VERY conscientiously. He does not leave the house in the morning without carefully using his pick to strike a perfect geometric balance. I witnessed with my own eyes the President of the United States evaluating Dante’s Afro up close, and even the president admitted that the Afro of his youth was not as full and perfectly proportioned. So Dante has achieved something spectacular.

What would be your policy on incentives for commercial development? Would job-creation benchmarks play a role in development projects you would support with city money?

I am critical of many government efforts to provide incentives in subsidies — I think too often they turn into corporate welfare. I want a very careful and strict use of subsidies that create obstacles for disadvantaged people and affordable housing. I think too many incentive plans in the past were unenforceable and amounted to nothing more than taxpayer dollar giveaways.

Great that you’re doing an AMA. Will you keep doing them once you’re mayor?

you betcha.

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