New Deputy Mayor Dr. Herminia Palacio returned to her hometown to promote Mayor Bill de Blasio’s #OurCity housing, health, homelessness and public safety agenda. Dr. Palacio, the de Blasio administration’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, updated local southwest Bronx community residents and leaders on the Mayor’s State of the City initiatives.
Dr. Palacio offered State Of The City 2016 highlights and participated in 30-minutes Q&A session. In the area of criminal justice reform, she cited that stop-and-frisk arrests and the city jail population are both down, while the city is safer than before.
Deputy Mayor Palacio, who was raised a few miles away at a home on Clay Avenue and East 170th Street, shared personal stories that made the event more of an intimate conversation rather than a stilted presentation. While discussing progress made with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, Dr. Palacio revealed that her eldest brother was struck and killed by a car while crossing Webster Avenue in Claremont Village. She pointed out the success of Vision Zero in reducing fatalities by 22% since 2013 and cited the lower speed limit on Grand Concourse as saving lives. Deputy Mayor Palacio said city streets are the safest since 1910.
While discussing ThriveNYC and dealing with the crisis of mental illness, Dr. Palacio made the poignant revelation that her family had been touched by mental illness. She spoke of her own mother slipping into a “psychiatric depression.” “We need to talk about mental health issues,’ she said. The deputy mayor pointed to the availability of mental health first aid training to enable family, friends and neighbors to assist persons in the throes of mental illness and substance abuse/dependence. Because the Mayor has forged an agreement with city pharmacists, Bronx residents will soon be able to use Naloxone to save the lives of loved ones overdosing on opioids.
Deputy Mayor Palacio ended her remarks describing how the de Blasio administration is using LinkNYC to bridge the digital divide by offering free wi-fi access citywide. She spoke of efforts to bring the new economy to outerborough residents. Dr. Palacio said that in the past two years, the city has added 420,000 with job growth in the outerboroughs outpacing Manhattan.
The presentation and subsequent Q-and-A was held at the Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC) on Tuesday, March 1. Reverend Raymond Rivera, president of LPAC, and Reverend Que English, Citywide Clergy Task Force, emceed Deputy Mayor’s Palacio’s presentation.
Local activist, Jim Fairbanks described Dr. Palacio as “very receptive…she felt at home. That made us feel at home.”
Asked about the evening’s proceedings, Rev. Raymond Rivera said, “We were glad to host her. She reflected the administration’s position well.” He confessed that he liked that the de Blasio administration is reaching out, however, it is the role of the Church to affirm policies when they agree and criticize when they disagree.
“This administration reminds me of the Lindsay administration. Lindsay kinda was [about] decentralizing government. I hoping that’s the model that they are trying to follow. As much contact with the people the better the administration would become. It’s a difference of what we have had in the city before,” Rev. Rivera added.
Highlights of the 20-minute Q & A session: