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More than 160 executives critique de Blasio's leadership amid pandemic

More than 160 executives critique de Blasio's leadership amid pandemic
© UPI Photo

More than 160 New York City executives penned an open letter this week critiquing Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioMacy's will still hold Thanksgiving Day Parade amid pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday New York City to add COVID-19 checkpoints at bridges, crossings MORE's (D) leadership and handling of the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The business figures underscored the ongoing health and economic impacts of the pandemic in New York, lauding the city's ability to contain the virus while emphasizing that local leaders need to do more to address unemployment and homelessness.

"Despite New York’s success in containing the coronavirus, unprecedented numbers of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk," business leaders wrote in the open letter. "There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs." 

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The executives called on de Blasio to take "immediate action to restore essential services," offering recommendations for kick-starting the city's economy again through a comprehensive strategy report titled "A Call for Action and Collaboration."

Executives and leaders from some of the city's most prolific companies signed their names on the letter, including the heads of Goldman Sachs, JetBlue, Mastercard, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, MetLife and Warby Parker, as well as figures at top law firms and real estate companies.

The report focuses on the impact COVID-19 has had on the city and was published by the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization that aims to "build bridges between the leaders of global industries and government," according to the group's website.

The New York Times reported that business leaders signed on to the letter after feeling that their concerns were being ignored.

De Blasio appeared to respond to the letter on Thursday, urging business leaders to call for federal stimulus money and for an extension to the city's borrowing limit.

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"We need these leaders to join the fight to move the City forward," he tweeted.

A spokesman from de Blasio's office told The Hill they were appreciative of businesses' input to help "rebuild a fairer, better city."

"We want to restore these services and save jobs, and the most direct way to do that is with long term borrowing and a federal stimulus. We ask these leaders to join in this fight because the stakes couldn’t be higher," said Bill Neidhart, press secretary for the mayor's office.

The mayor has pointed toward the city's $9 billion deficit, which has led to cuts in certain services. The city has said that to avoid future cuts, it would need permission granted by the state government for a long-term loan or a stimulus from the federal budget.

New York state by far has the most deaths attributed to COVID-19 at more than 33,000, with more than 23,000 of those deaths in New York City, according to a Times database.

While the pandemic has drastically impacted the livelihoods of thousands living across the city's five boroughs, some conditions have varied depending on the area.

Still, it's estimated that one-third of the city's 240,000 small businesses may never reopen following the pandemic, and roughly 520,000 jobs have been lost.

De Blasio also came under fire from former Mayor Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiKrebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Trump campaign loses appeal over Pennsylvania race Krebs: I'm 'most upset' I didn't get to say goodbye to my team MORE (R) in June amid racial unrest in the city, with Giuliani at the time calling for Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision Vaccine skepticism emerges as early test for Biden MORE (D) to remove the mayor from office.

Giuliani's comments were made following rising crime rates in the city throughout the summer amid protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis policy custody in May.

"He is preventing the NYPD [New York Police Department] from taking the actions that have prevented riots in the past," Giuliani said of de Blasio.

De Blasio is term-limited and slated to leave office at the end of 2021.

“It’s all a chicken-and-egg problem. Until the people come back, the streets aren’t safe. If the streets aren’t safe, the people don’t come back,” Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, told the Times. “So somebody’s got to break the egg.”

Updated 3:30 p.m.