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tv   Eyewitness News Upclose  ABC  August 9, 2015 11:00am-11:30am EDT

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we want our patients to survive their cancer but we also want them to maintain independence and quality of life is so important. >> this is "eyewitness news upclose with diana williams." >> this morning, an "upclose" exclusive, a one-on-one interview with chirlane mccray, new york city's first lady, the woman who has been called the most important adviser to mayor de blasio. she talks about her role in the administration and about the has faced. >> she was very sad. she was very sad. she was in her bed and i was sitting beside her. said, "mom, you know, i've been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and addiction," and i just -- i wanted to cry. "upclose." i'm sade baderinwa in for diana williams. this morning we're here at gracie mansion with an exclusive interview with the first lady of new york city, chirlane mccray.
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and, chirlane, thank you so much for inviting us to gracie mansion. >> oh, you're quite welcome. is. you know, coming from park slope, where you're in a single-family home, everybody sharing one bathroom, to all of a sudden you're here. >> it's marvelous. [ laughs ] we are loving having so much space. and it is such a great place to do work and entertain. it's been wonderful. >> three years ago, you were outside politics. now you're front and center in the midst of power. difficult being center stage? >> it's been a transition. i certainly have had a transition. but i don't really feel like i've been -- i was ever outside of politics. you know, bill and i have been together for more than 21 years. we've been married 21 years on wednesday, may 14th, and it's been quite a journey. i think that ever since we met in city hall during the dinkins administration, we've been on this journey together, working
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together. and has really seemed like a natural -- it's been a natural progression for us. >> so, i just heard you say 21 years. your anniversary is coming up. >> yes. >> are you guys having a date night? >> yes, we are. [ both laugh ] >> what are you guys doing? >> oh, i think we're just gonna have a lovely dinner somewhere, somewhere private. [ laughs ] >> you have been a first lady of new york city for a year and a half now. what do you think has been the biggest surprise in this role for you? >> i think the biggest surprise for me has been how amazing people are, because -- and i say this because, as the chair of the mayor's fund to advance new york city, i'm always out, you know, getting people to support the programs of the city and the initiatives of the fund, and so many people want to help. they want to donate. they want to support. and i love the enthusiasm. i love the generosity. and i thought it would be harder.
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and it really has been a revelation. >> you know, for the past, i guess, really for this entire time you've been in the role as first lady, you've kept a relatively low profile until now. some people in the city feel that they just don't really know you. what do you say? what should they know about you? >> well, i think that i've been out quite a bit. i've been in schools, especially with my work in mental health, the research i've been doing. i have been visiting with veterans. i've been visiting with all kinds of community leaders. and it's just -- i think it's a process of me getting to know new yorkers and new yorkers will get to know me as time goes on. >> michelle obama delivered a commencement speech last week. and she was brutally honest about being an african-american woman in that role, also about the criticism and pressure of being first lady. is there anything in there that you can relate to?
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>> well, i think that it's -- a first lady. eye. but -- and it's also tough to be african-american and woman, and when all those things come together, yes, it can be a rocky ride. but i think that we also have a position of privilege and a position where we can do so much for people, so i'm very focused on giving because i feel like i have a lot to give. bill and i have a lot to give, and we just got to keep moving. >> clearly you guys are so close. and your husband has called you many things. in fact, in front of the media, he has gushed over his love for you. >> [ laughs ] >> personally, you know, i think love is a good thing. there's nothing wrong with that. but he has called you his "guiding light," "the chief architect of his approach," and his "most important adviser." so, how much advice are you giving him on a day to day basis? >> oh, i like to give him advice, but, sade, i want you to know that my husband has many advisers, and he doesn't always
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listen to me. [ laughs ] but i think that it's important that we live our lives the way we always have. we've always been partners. and my reference point is truly my parents. when i was growing up, my parents worked so hard together. there was no way they could have achieved all that they did in not just raising us, but working as landlords in addition to their 9-to-5 jobs. they could not have done everything they did unless they were true partners. you know, they worked at night, they worked on weekends, they wallpapered together, they plastered, and that's my reference point. >> but some critics will say that's fine for a marriage. it's all about partnership. some people are saying that you're running the show and that they didn't elect you. they elected your husband. >> oh, sade, clearly the mayor is the mayor, and as i said, the mayor, he has many advisers. i'm just one of them. and he doesn't always listen to me. >> but is there any, you know, one policy thing that you said,
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"you know what? i disagree with you," and how did you handle it? >> no, there really isn't. >> no? >> no. isn't that amazing? >> yeah. >> yeah. i think, again, that's why we get along so well. we really agree about the issues. we are both very focused on inequality and how that affects our -- how it affects the citizens of new york in terms of housing and education and everything. >> let's talk about race relations here in new york city. we saw all the protests after the eric garner case. and the police union blasted your husband when he said that he was worried about dante's interactions as an african-american with police. where do you think we stand on race relations now in new york city? >> well, i think my husband was right to talk about that conversation that he had with dante. it happens all across our country between parents and
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their children. and i think that no one -- no one appreciates what the nypd does for our city. and the mayor and i, we work with them every day and we know how much they sacrifice to care for us and care for the citizens of our city. but race is something that we have to talk about. it's something that should be more in the public conversation. >> take me back to the day of officer wenjian liu's funeral when all of a sudden, all of the cops turned their backs on the mayor. >> that was a terribly sad day for the city and for those families, and, you know, those families are still grieving. it's going to take them a long, long time to get back to whatever could be called normal. and it was horrible. it really was horrible. i don't know -- i don't know why the officers turned their backs. i believe in protest and i think
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there's a time and place for it, but that wasn't the time. >> what was going through your mind when all of a sudden you see that happening? >> oh, it was just tremendous sadness and, you know, for the disrespect but also just for those families. mostly that's what i was thinking about is those families. we went and met them, talked with them, and, you know, the pain they're experiencing is just -- is just overwhelming. >> what did you say to your husband when that was happening? >> i think that we just sat together silently and just -- 'cause we've been together so long. we knew what each other was feeling. >> eric garner, ferguson, my hometown of baltimore -- all issues surrounding race and policing. your thoughts on it? >> we have way too many black men in prison. way too many. and clearly we have a problem. i don't know, like -- i don't really have all the
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answers, but i know that we have to do something about this. i'm very glad that here in new york city that my husband and commissioner bratton are very strong proponents of community policing. i do think that's the way to go. i believe we should have more women in policing so that we can think of our officers more as peace officers. and we also have to do something about the fact that too many people with mental health issues are being thrown in jail. these people don't belong there. these black men don't belong there. they belong in a treatment program. they belong in rehab. they should not be thrown in jail. that's not the right place for them. >> and when we come back, we're gonna talk to chirlane about her kids, dante and chiara, and about her new mental health
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>> and welcome back to "upclose." so, you tweeted out the photos, dante getting into yale. >> yes. >> you must be so excited. >> i am so proud of him. he has worked so hard, and he's very excited about his next adventure. [ laughs ] >> and chiara -- you're actually going to go see her? >> yes, we are. we are. and bill's actually going to speak at the university which she attends, and she'll actually -- she'll be coming home next month, but i'm looking forward to this visit. >> well, you know, okay, mom, dante's about to leave. are you starting to get that empty-nest syndrome? >> yes, i am. i am. i cannot imagine what it's going to feel like to have both of them out of the home for so many months.
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it won't be for that long. chiara has already warned us that she's really only gone for another year before she graduates. but it will be a new era for us. it really will. and i expect that i'm gonna keep very busy. [ laughs ] >> so, soon you're gonna have both kids in college. that's gonna be really expensive. >> yes, it is going to be quite expensive. >> it's quite a hefty tuition bill. are you guys concerned at all about that? >> yes, we are. [ laughing ] we really are. >> i'm sure a lot of parents can relate to that. >> oh, sure. i mean, you know, we're relatively well-off, but it is a very large bill. the tuition bills are huge, so... >> let's talk about chiara. and she made a stunning admission about her bouts with depression, her use of drugs. can you tell me about that moment when she first told you "mom, something's wrong"? >> it was such a painful moment.
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even now when i think about it, i just -- it just fills me with sadness. i was so shocked and surprised, but i was loving her every moment. it was so hard for her. and i didn't know what to do. i really didn't know what to do because there are no established steps to follow. i didn't know what to do to get her help. you know, i certainly made calls and researched on the internet, and it was a very difficult time for us. >> where were you when she told you this? >> we were in her room, just sitting together. >> what did she say to you? "mom, i need to talk with you"? what were you guys doing? >> she was very sad. she was very sad. she was in her bed and i was sitting beside her. said, "mom, you know, i've been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and addiction." and i just -- i wanted to cry.
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i wanted to cry because i knew she was suffering, but i had no idea that it was so serious and that there was an actual diagnosis for what she was going through. >> so you knew something was you could tell? >> oh, yes. >> what were the signs for you? >> that her moods would change so dramatically. i didn't know which chiara i would greet in the morning. sometimes it was, you know, happy, bubbly chiara, and sometimes it was sad chiara. there were days when she just couldn't get out of bed in the morning. she wasn't reliable. and this happened over a period of time. it wasn't as though all of a sudden she was a different person. but she was. she really was. >> did she cry when she told you this? >> yes. >> and you? >> yes. >> a lot of tears shed. >> a lot of tears shed. >> that's got to be painful for a mother to see your child hurting.
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>> i don't know what could be more painful. it's -- you know, i just wanted to help her. i just wanted to -- i wanted to hug her and make it all go away, but that wasn't possible. so, you know, i did what any mother would do, and i reached out to people and tried to find the right kind of treatment for her. and i was lucky. i was fortunate. we found the right place, and she received treatment, and now she's kicking butt at recovery. it is a journey. it's not something that's done in six weeks or six months, for that matter. but i'm so proud of her because, you know, she was 18 years old, which meant that i couldn't just say, "you have to be in this place at this time" or "you have to do this now." she had to make her own decisions. she had to be the one to take charge of her recovery. and she wanted to do it. she wanted to be well.
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and she knew it was the right thing to do for her at that time, and i'm just so proud of her because there are young people who are 26, 27, 28 who have not yet found their way to getting the kind of treatment they need for so many reasons. >> she also admitted that she took drugs. what drugs did she admit to taking? >> well, we didn't actually discuss that. i think there's some things she doesn't want to tell mom. i think that it's -- >> did you ask her? >> not at that moment. and, you know, certainly marijuana was one of them. but i don't think that -- i don't think that that's the kind of conversation she wants to have with me. >> so she hasn't admitted to taking anything else beyond marijuana? >> it's not the conversation we've had. we've been very focused on her recovery. >> what did you say to your husband? all of a sudden chiara's telling you this. >> mm-hmm. >> a deeply emotional moment.
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and then you said, "i've got to tell bill." >> yes. yes. >> what did you say to him? >> i don't remember my exact words, but i told him exactly what chiara had told me, and... [ inhales deeply ] i think it was just as much a shock to him as it was to me. 'cause remember, chiara had always been an outstanding young person in terms of getting good grades and having a lot of friends. she's charismatic. and her ability to hide such a serious problem was a surprise to us. teenagers can hide a lot. and that's pretty amazing 'cause i thought i was pretty savvy. [ chuckles ] pretty hip as a mother. but it is possible to hide a lot. >> you know, you guys were right on the cusp of becoming the first family. that's a lot of pressure. >> yes. >> was there a moment where you said, "you know what?
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maybe we need to back out of this"? did you ever have that moment? >> no, i did not have that moment. i think that what this did do, though, was kind of grounded me in, like, what is important. and i knew at that time the most important thing for me was to make sure that chiara got the help she needed, and i knew that i was gonna be beside her whenever she needed me regardless of what was going on in the campaign or the world. and that was my priority. >> so, was this the reason that you decided to pick up the initiative of mental health? >> it is one of the reasons i decided to pick up the initiative of mental health. when i think about my life, when i think about my parents who suffered from depression at times and my extended family and even people i went to school with, you know, it just hit me one day that this is pervasive in our society and no one talks
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about it. and when i learned that so many people -- one in four in new york state has a diagnosable mental health condition -- when i found that number, i was really -- i was really -- i was shocked. it makes sense to me because, as i've gone around new york and talked with people, i've noted that every family is affected. >> so let's talk about the annual funding for this. $78.3 million. >> yes, that's a lot of money, and it's going to help a lot of people. we're so excited. we have nine new initiatives. one is providing mental health clinics in our community schools, every community school that needs one, which is great because, you know, children get into school, and if they're having a problem, then there's no need to call for an ambulance. there's no need for someone to intervene. the health clinic is right there, and children can get the help they need. >> and also you guys are gonna
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have people at rikers island, as well? >> that's right. rikers island. we're going to also have licensed clinical social workers in our shelters and our domestic violence family justice centers that we have -- five of them. we're gonna have mental health services in all of them. we're putting together a plan. this funding, the $78.3 million, is really just a first step to address what we know is the most vulnerable population in our city. we are creating a road map. it's a multi-agency effort, and the road map is really going to be our plan of action. right now i'm going around the city. i'm talking with people about how they see the services we provide, what needs to be fixed, what could be better, where do we need services where we don't have them. >> well, our conversation doesn't end here. stay with us, because next we're gonna get a tour of gracie mansion.
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we'll be right back. >> and welcome back to here at gracie mansion, where we're about to get a tour. >> yes. >> let's go. >> let's go to the ballroom. >> now, is the ballroom your favorite place? >> oh, i have many favorite places at gracie. this is one of them. >> mm-hmm. >> and it's great for entertaining. >> so, this room here, this is where are the entertaining happens? >> yes, entertaining and meetings. i want you to know that this ballroom is actually where we had our strategy session before the launch of pre-kindergarten. >> really? >> we had all of those agency representatives here at tables, and they were putting it together, because we had five months. there was no way we could have done if they hadn't gotten together and worked out the plan in advance. >> so, you've got this steinway piano. >> yes, and we often use this, guests use this, and, you know,
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sometimes when i'm having a tough day, i'll sit down and play some scales. >> you can play? >> just a little, yeah. >> really? >> yeah, just a little. >> can i hear a little? >> sure. >> okay. >> i wish i could play. >> [ chuckles ] really, i just do scales. >> okay. >> just to burn off some stress. >> all right, let's see. [ piano scales playing ] >> so, now we're leaving the old wing. >> okay. >> that part of gracie was built in 1966, and the historic home was built in 1799. this we call the hyphen. >> the hyphen? >> yes, the hyphen. it connects the newer wing to the older wing. >> so, this room is rich with history. >> yes, it is. it really is. don't you love this floor? >> it's gorgeous! >> yeah, it was remade by the alpha workshop. it's an organization that
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teaches and employs individuals who are hiv-positive. >> hmm. >> and we just love it. everyone remarks on it when they come in through the door. bill and i love these line drawings of robert moses and fiorella la guardia. robert moses was the person who actually made it possible for this to be the residence of the mayor, and fiorella la guardia, who moved here in 1942, is actually using the same desk that bill uses at city hall right now. we love the focus and determination that he shows while he's writing on his papers. >> and he's a progressive. >> and he's a progressive. that's right. >> you must really love this picture. >> that's right. that's right. >> so, who's more liberal between you and your husband? >> i don't know i think it depends on what the subject is. [ both laugh ] >> so, right now you're pretty tied. >> yes, we are pretty tied. so, let me show you this desk, which is a period desk. >> oh, yes.
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>> this desk is the same desk that nelson mandela used upstairs while he was writing his correspondence, while he stayed here during the dinkins administration. into the green parlor, also referred to as the library. >> beautiful. love the colors here. >> yes, this is a great place to sit and read. get some work done. >> mm-hmm. >> and it leads right into the dining room. >> and this is where all the formal dinners are happening? >> dante also gets a lot of homework done here. sometimes his debate team will come. and this is the yellow parlor. >> it's so inviting. >> yes. as well. some people think that when the mayor leaves city hall, that that's it for the day. no, this is where he comes and there are often meetings that go very late into the night, sometimes until midnight. now, this is the most magical view from gracie. >> i believe it. it's wonderful here.
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oh, and the garden here is so nice. >> the flowers have been magnificent. so, this is a magnolia tree, and the blossoms this spring were just glorious. >> aw. it's so lovely out here. so, is this where you go just to have some quiet time? >> yes, we do. we come out to have quiet time. we also like sports, so dante made us get these soccer goals. i've never played soccer before. >> [ chuckles ] >> but dante is so enthusiastic that we're getting a lot of exercise running around this lawn. >> life is so different here. you grew up with very humble beginnings. >> mm-hmm. >> and to now be here. >> it's wonderful. it's just so amazing. i never would have dreamed this for myself or for my family. and i feel like it's just such an honor and a privilege. and i'm very happy to be serving the people of new york city. this is the spot where i like to sit and do my e-mail and check on what's happening. >> so, you sit here? >> yeah, right here.
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>> this is a nice spot to just do e-mails, read a book. >> i was here last night. >> so i think that does it for our tour here at gracie mansion. chirlane, thank you so much for having us here. >> it was a pleasure. >> it was our pleasure. and i think new yorkers have a greater sense of who you are. so, thank you for joining us here at gracie mansion. i'm sade baderinwa.

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