2:16 pm Jan. 30, 2012
This morning, at a press conference in the basement of a Greek Orthodox church in Queens, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed his “conceptual” support for raising the state’s minimum wage, without committing to back Speaker Sheldon Silver’s concrete minimum-wage proposal, which was revealed today.
During his State of the City in mid-January, the mayor made support for raising the minimum wage one of the centerpieces of his speech.
“[T]his year, our administration will join with Speaker Shelly Silver in pushing for a responsible raise in the minimum wage,” he said.
Today, at a press conference about "$aveNYC," a program to encourage poor New Yorkers to save money, a reporter asked the mayor whether he would support a minimum wage that was a little higher than in neighboring states.
If the New York State minimum wage were raised to $8.50, as Silver has proposed, that would make it higher than every surrounding state.
(Vermont's minimum wage is pegged to inflation and so next year will likely pass $8.50 an hour. Other states in the region are considering comparable minimum-wage hikes.*)
“I don’t know,” said the mayor. “I said I would 'support'—conceptually, I did not have a problem and said that I would support Shelly’s idea of a raise ... I haven’t looked at that number yet. You want to make sure that it is competitive with the adjoining states first. Number two, what it’s likely to do is to reduce employment among young people. And so we’ve got to see with the expected decrease in jobs for young people that invariably would come out of an increase in the minimum wage, how we’re going to have funds to create jobs for those kids.”
When asked to elaborate on what he meant by “competitive,” the mayor said, “I have not looked at the numbers yet. This, for the first time today was when I really saw what Shelly was proposing in terms of numerics.”
The mayor, who prides himself on his administration’s use of advanced technology, also defended the city’s recently revealed plan to purchase a bunch of electronic typewriters.
“What’s the story here?” asked the mayor.
“Nobody's using a typewriter because they want to, they’re using a typewriter because they have to," he said. "They still have a function. And your belief that typewriters have gone away is just erroneous. There are companies that make typewriters around the world. It's like books. Some people, believe it or not, still read books in paper.”
The mayor went on to field a query about a recent city-sponsored ad warning New Yorkers that over-eating leads to diabetes, and diabetes leads to amputations. Created by an outside agency, the ad features a heavy man missing much of his leg. As it turns out, the source of the man’s amputation was creative graphic design, not poor health.
“Generally all these ads are made using actors,” he said.
He said he also didn't understand what all the fuss was over Jennifer Lopez appearing in an ad for Fiat in which she appears to be driving through her home borough of the Bronx, when actually she was on the West Coast.
“Big deal that she didn't make the ad in the Bronx,” said the mayor. “She made it in California. What’s the difference? It’s the message that matters. And I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Finally, the mayor once again defended NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, who has come under fire in recent days for his repeated misrepresentation of the events surrounding his boss Ray Kelly’s participation in an inflammatory movie called The Third Jihad.
“Oh come on,” said the mayor. “Anybody that knows Paul Browne knows he gives you the facts always as he knows them at the time, and then later on, if he finds the facts that he gave you were wrong, he’s not shy about standing up and correcting himself. He is as good as you could have representing this city and representing the police department. We’re lucky to have him.”
The mayor made his remarks during a press conference hailing the success of $aveNYC, which aims to encourage poor people to save money by matching some of their savings with private and federal funds. It’s since been expanded to other states under the name, SaveUSA.
“I think from a practical point of view, having a nest egg is very important,” said the mayor. “You never know what's gonna happen. And living within your means has just been the traditional ways to reduce risk.”