NEW YORK – A citywide coalition of New Yorkers gathered at the steps of City Hall Jan. 2 to voice their concerns and present a set of demands to Michael Bloomberg, the city’s new mayor. At the event, dubbed the “People’s Inauguration,” they presented four demands: schools, not jails; jobs, not corporate tax breaks; social services that serve the people; and quality of life for all communities.

“This is an opportunity for a new beginning. We’re hopeful that the new mayor and the new council members will put people first. We’re excited to work with everyone in City Hall to build a better future for all New Yorkers,” said Estevan Nembhard of the Black Radical Congress.

The demonstrators pointed out that while the education budgets are too small, there is $64.6 million in the budget dedicated to build jail facilities in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Dana Kaplan from the Prison Moratorium Project pointed out that it has become a common sight in the Bronx to have juvenile detention centers next to schools and playgrounds.

June McMillan, of Concerned Parents of the Bronx, said that there are a lot of problems in the city’s public education system. She said that administrators need to be held accountable and the problems need to be fixed. “It is not enough to test the students,” McMillan said. “What do you do with the students who have failed for three or four times on the same test?” She added that what is needed is “parental involvement … where parents are really heard.”

A representative from Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment, told the World, “There isn’t a lot of programs for queer youth, especially homeless youth.” Christopher Street Piers was seen as a safe haven for many, she said, but after Giuliani’s quality-of-life “improvement” of Hudson River Park, youth need new safe spaces.

Joseph Capestany from NYC AIDS Housing Network welcomed the new administration but pointed out that Mike Bloomberg is on “probation” for 100 days. He recalled that Giuliani shut down hospitals and clinics for the homeless within the first 100 days of his administration. Capestany said that the Bloomberg administration needs to provide work experience programs.

At the beginning of his press conference, Bloomberg said he would meet with the coalition and address their concerns. The coalition said it will be monitoring Bloomberg’s first 100 days to ensure that he and the new city council address the people’s agenda.