J.R. Giddings: New York City Mayor Adams is with us this morning. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Eric Adams: Quite well. Good morning. Good morning to all your listeners. You know, one of my favorite times of the month is hopping on, doing the check‑ins with the show. And it’s good to see you at City Hall at many of our press briefings that we take place.
And if I can, J.R., there’s two pressing items that are on I think the agenda that I really just want to just give an overview to your audience. One was of this out‑of‑nowhere lawsuit that was filed by a woman making accusations. I don’t recall who this person is or if I ever met them. I really don’t know.
But I am extremely clear on how I live my life, and at no time did anything like that happen. It absolutely never happened. It’s not who I am. I would never harm anyone. I spent my life protecting the people of this city, and I’m going to continue to do so. And so the Corporation Counsel will take the necessary steps, and I’m going to stay focused on what I have to do to run the city.
And the second is the investigation that seems to be around the feds, federal agencies are looking at assisting the Turkish consulate to get their building open. And you know, this is what we do as lawmakers and as legislators. I think every elected official in this city and state, if not the country, would tell you when individuals reach out to them because they’re having problems in bureaucracy, in government, that we reach out to the agencies and attempt them.
And my sole communication with the Fire Department commissioner was a text I sent to him, when the consul general reached out to me, I sent the commissioner of the Fire Department, as the borough president, I sent him a text asking him can he look into the matter.
And we learned later that several elected officials in the previous administration was also doing the same thing. The president of Turkey was coming here, there seems to have been some difficulties in opening their main new building and a series of elected officials and other governmental administrators were trying to navigate what was holding it up, and my role in that was just asking the Fire Department to look into it.
And so we don’t know what is the substance of what was done incorrect there, but again, I retained a great law firm. They are handling it. They’re communicating back and forth to find out what’s going on. I want to make sure I keep my focus on navigating us through, you know, many of the crises that we’re facing.
And these happen in government. You know previous administrations have gone through similar issues like this. But it’s just important that as a chief executive that I stay focused and do the job that I have to do. And I’ve got a great team, and the team is doing that as well. But I just wanted to discuss those at the top of our conversation.
Giddings: Well, I’m glad you did, because as, you know, once the audience knows that you’re on, I get all the phone calls to ask you all the tough questions. And you addressed two tough… Two of the three tough questions that’s out there.
But Mr. Mayor, you know when you try to bring about change you make yourself a target, so I know you’re prepared for this.
Mayor Adams: And I have… You know to me, no question is a tough question if you come from a position of honesty and truth. And so I welcome any questions. I don’t filter my communications, that’s why I like speaking directly to New Yorkers. And I told the team January 1st, 2022, that during our years in office there are going to be many moments. This is a complex city, complex time, and I have been an extremely aggressive policy of turning around how New Yorkers have been betrayed in the delivery of services.
And I’m one of the first blue collar mayors in the history of this city; and you know, it comes with doing what’s right. And so, you know, we just have to stay… I tell the team stay focused, no distractions and continue to grind and get this city where it ought to be.
Giddings: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. Mayor, we applaud you for the work that you do and the city do for the asylum seekers in New York. And in light of the new short‑term rental law in New York which prohibits homeowners from registering more than one short‑term rental, can you make a comment on whether the city is considering utilizing these short‑term rentals for the asylum seekers?
Mayor Adams: A great question, JR. First of all, we have been communicating with the short‑term renters on several different issues like registration, et cetera. I met with the group after they shared some concerns when I was at a town hall. I told them let’s do a follow‑up conversation, we did just that. Deputy Mayor Banks, he has been assisting them in some of the issues that they had around registration, backlog in registration, et cetera, and we made some great headways.
But to specifically deal with can we use these short‑term rentals for our asylum seekers, everything is on the table. You know, when you have to deal with over 140,000 different asylum seekers coming to the city, you have to find housing continuously. And I am trying to find ways how do we put the money back into the pockets of New Yorkers, the money that we’re spending, everything from food service to cleaning to security to housing.
I think ideally if we can get some of the short‑term renters or those who are everyday homeowners who have open rooms at their house that they’re willing to rent out, this is allowing people who are dealing with financial crisis, it’s allowing them to get some of the dollars that we’re spending on this crisis that we’re facing.
But it doesn’t take away from we need help from the national and state government. This should not fall on the backs of the taxpayers and New York City, and that’s what we’re going to continue to state. The federal government has an obligation to pay for this national crisis.
Giddings: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Now I just want to bring in Pastor Straker for a quick question. Good morning, Pastor Straker. Again, we have our mayor here.
Pastor Louis Straker, Jr.: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Thank you so much for joining us.
Yes, great in this Thanksgiving season, you know, I just want to say how grateful we are for your leadership in these difficult times. And I really pray that you do not get wary in what God has called you to do.
There are so many topics we could talk about. Your name is in the news a lot. And I thank you for honestly answering those two major areas that have been circulating in terms of controversy. And I can tell you, you know, it’s when you look at what’s happening in the city, it’s infuriating, it really is, to watch our city, one of most prominent cities in the world, financial capital of America, bearing this financial burden and load management of the asylum seeker crisis which really is a federal problem.
And to have our federal and state government doing, in my opinion very little about it, even some of our members of Congress have seemed to conveniently caught a case of laryngitis when it comes to the asylum seekers here in New York City.
And you know, when you look at all of the pressure financially, load management, all of these things, inevitably we had to have these cuts in our budget and we’re feeling the financial pressure. One of the things that concerns me, Mr. Mayor, is the cut to education.
Now, I believe it was Dr. King that said that our budgets are a moral document, and they reflect the heart and the soul and the values of the ones who created it. You’ve often shared that, you know, if we fail to educate, we will inevitably incarcerate.
And with school enrollments, class sizes increasing especially due to the asylum seeker children coming in, what is the rationale, I’d love to hear from you, in cutting the DOE’s budget $547 million. I understand $600 million is on the way projected for next year. And while every department is going to feel the weight of the budget cuts, what is your administration’s order of priorities when it comes to these cuts?
Mayor Adams: That’s a great question, pastor, because we did not do this with a butcher knife, we did it with a surgical scalpel because we know that certain cuts would impact people who are really struggling. Like we did not take away from the cash assistance programs, things like that. We know it would be foolish to do.
And when you look at what we had to do in education, we’re not going to do anything that’s going to impact on the quality of educating and educating our students. We were able to look at some areas where there was some efficiencies that we could do.
And we need to keep in mind the budget gap that we’re looking at is really being fed by three things: one, the migrant and asylum seekers, which is a huge cost of billions of dollars. The second is that many of the Covid dollars they came into our city, they’re drying up. We’re no longer going to have it. And the previous administration put in place permanent programs with temporary dollars that is no longer going to come from the federal government.
And third, we had to settle long outstanding union contracts, over 300,000 city employees that were going without their contracts. And these are middle income, moderate income New Yorkers who were struggling due to inflation, and we wanted to be fair to those city employees who found themselves no longer able to live here.
And so when you do an analysis of our educational cuts, such as, let’s look at if we say we trim down some of the pre-K seats, some of the pre-K, 3-K seats, you will look at them, these seats were not being utilized. They were empty seats that we were paying for without children in the seats.
So, a real analysis of the cuts we did in the Department of Education with Chancellor Banks and his team, we did not take away from the quality of education itself in our schools and we’re never going to do that. Just as I would never do anything that’s going to impact on our public safety, I’m never going to do anything that’s going to impact on our children receiving a quality education.
Pastor Straker: Thank you, sir.
Giddings: Thank you, Pastor Straker. Excellent question, as always. Now, let’s bring in Nicole Jordan-Martin. Good morning, Nicole. How are you?
Nicole Jordan-Martin: [Inaudible.]
Giddings: Okay, so Mayor Adams. Let’s talk a little bit about something that’s more uplifting for now before we get into some more tough questions. Could you talk a little bit about the city’s intention to electrify the downtown heliports in Manhattan.
Mayor Adams: I am really excited about that. There’s some projects that we’re doing that are going to become legacy projects, and this is one of them. Another legacy project is that we’re going to containerize our garbage. It is unimaginable. People told me it was going to take four years, but within a little over two years all of our garbage is going to go into containers. And that means no more plastic bags and no more rats. You know, those are the type of legacy projects that we’re doing.
But the heliports is another one. Just the thought of the noise, the pollution from coming from helicopters is something that’s going to be of the distant past. We are looking to electrify our heliports. We’re going to be putting out a request for proposal to determine which company’s going to run it.
The other day, we did a press conference, you know, a little over a week ago showing the type of helicopters that could be electrified, and it’s really impressive. It starts out as a helicopter and then it can have their wings change shape and turn into a plane that can move I think close to 200 miles an hour.
And so we are watching the new form of transportation, and New York City is going to lead the way with this technology. You know, I’m a big technology guy, and New York City is going to lead the way with this. So, you’re going to have quieter, more efficient helicopter service.
And one of the helicopters that I saw, JR, is clearly showing that in the not too distant future you’re going to see personal ownership of helicopters. It is a small helicopter with two seaters where you’re just using a joystick to fly up, down, you know, go right, go left. This is something straight out of the Jetsons age that we are embarking on.
And we have partnered with Aviation High School. The principal was there with us. We’re going to be teaching our young people this new technology, how to build, run, manufacture, all the things that are associated with these electric helicopters our young people are going to know firsthand. So, this is a real exciting moment for us all the way around.
Giddings: Well, Mayor Adams, I’ve got to say, you are definitely a tech guy, because you’re the only one to come on here without a problem, 1‑2‑3 and you’re in, 1‑2‑3 and you’re out. Everybody else… I have a little technical problem. But let’s get to the contentious part of this interview. Mayor Adams, following the raid of your top fundraiser, your campaign conducted a review of records to determine if there were any kind of wrongdoings. What were the findings?
Mayor Adams: We have, I have something that I don’t know how many people have, and I had it since Borough Hall. I have a compliance person. I had a compliance person, a former prosecutor, Ama Dwimoh. She became my chief compliance person. I was not required to do it. But you know, I think that you always have to have someone in checking the documents and the records. She was amazing. She was in the Kings County DA’s office for over 20‑something years.
And the same with my campaign. My campaign, one of the first hires I made was a compliance attorney. We were not allowed to deposit a check in our account from any donor until he looked at it. We had three levels of reviews, and he would look at it, make sure the signatures match, make sure the check on the… The check and the signature on the check matches the form, because every form had to be filled out, whoever did any form of donation.
And he would inspect everything. And so he looked over and he did a preliminary review, and we do not see any indicators that there was something done improper from the campaign team. And we’re going to continue to modify what we do. We want to be thorough, because we know we’re dealing with records, the actions of people who contribute to us, and we want to remain as thorough as possible.
And that’s why I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my compliance operation. We’re not doing it for free. It’s not a volunteer. It is, we’re spending money to make sure we have a real good compliance team, because I believe in that. And I did it as a borough president and I did it as the mayor as well and I did it in my campaigns.
Giddings: Pastor Straker, would you like to ask the mayor a question on the campaign probe?
Pastor Straker: Not really on the campaign probe, you know, I want to go back to, and my thing is with the asylum seekers. We had gone to a group of clergy to call on President Biden to really do something about the asylum seekers, and really our state government as well.
But Mr. Mayor, we’re looking at New York City getting squeezed, and the federal government, you know, the work that needs to be done to give them work authorization to all of the migrants, all of the asylum seekers — we’re talking about from West Africa, you name it — needs to happen.
Funds needs to come into New York not only from the federal government but from the state government as well. New York City’s bearing the weight of all these migrants coming here. We only have so much room. Now they’re in Floyd Bennett Field, that is not the most ideal place and there’s a lot of pushback there.
Why is it… And I don’t know if you can answer this, but why do you think that the state is not really taking the load of migrants into the entire New York State and just leaving it in New York City’s hands?
Mayor Adams: And that’s a great question, pastor. And you know, the governor has been a partner in so many areas. She’s paying for the Floyd Bennett Field, she’s paying for the Creedmoor site. But we do need all of our state lawmakers to understand that this is a state‑wide problem.
You know, New York City is the economic engine of the entire state — and country, actually — and for us to have to carry the burden when we pay our tax dollars on the state level and on a federal level, it’s just unfair. And when you look at our budget, you know, many people see that it’s $106 billion budget, but there’s only really about 30‑something billion dollars that we could shift and adjust.
So, if you take $5 billion out this fiscal year for the November plan, then another $7 billion out in January, that’s $12 billion out of $30‑something billion. That is a huge chunk.
You know, anyone that’s a homeowner knows when you budget for the year, if all of a sudden your roof caves in and you have to take money out of somewhere, something, it could be a water bill, your gas bill, your food supply, and pay for it, you want insurance to pay for when you have those emergencies because you pay for that. Washington, D.C. and the state should be our insurance policy, and they’re supposed to be paying for this cost, not solely New York City taxpayers.
And there are three or four myths that people really were fed that’s not true. Number one, we cannot deport people. People who come into the City of New York, we do not have the authorization to deport them. We don’t have that authority, so we can’t send people back to other locations like Texas and what have you.
Number two, we’re required to give basic services by law to people that come into New York City. I’m required, you know, by law, and I can’t break the law. And I think the most important thing is that people feel that long‑term New Yorkers, taxpayers, working, et cetera, are receiving less than the migrant and asylum seekers. That’s just not true.
Long‑term New Yorkers have access to housing vouchers and other amenities. But when you go to what we call Humanitarian Relief Centers — like you said, at Floyd Bennett Field — those are just cots, cots with basic services. And you know, we don’t want anyone to live like this. This is unfair to migrant and asylum seekers and it’s unfair to New Yorkers.
But you know, as you alluded to, we can fix this problem by doing one thing: let them work. They want to work. The migrant and asylum seekers want to work, and we have thousands upon thousands of available jobs for them to fill in so many different lines of work from nursing to food service to lifeguards to agriculture upstate to the [inaudible] industry. There are jobs all over this country if they had the authorization to work.
Giddings: Well, I want to jump in for a minute there, Mayor Adams, as we talk about the asylum seekers and Floyd Bennett Field. There’s also pushback about the asylum seekers not wanting to be at Floyd Bennett Field simply because they don’t think it’s central enough for working and for schools. What would you say to that?
Mayor Adams: Well, we’ve run out of good places, that’s what I can say. You know, we thought that the numbers were going to drop. We were getting around 2,500 people a week — a week — we thought those numbers were going to drop.
But just last week, week before last, we got 3,000 in one week. And so if that continues, you’re talking 12,000 a month, and some weeks we get up to 4,000 in a week. And so we’ve run out of space, and the cost factor that’s involved is just too costly, and so yes, we would love for every person that’s in the city to have an apartment where they can live and be able to be gainfully employed, but that’s not the options we have.
We have to use any space that’s available to us, and the governor’s office was able to secure Floyd Bennett Field and we were able to build out a large tent environment. Some of the electeds there did not like that idea, but whenever we ask anyone, JR, where would you want us to put people, no one is coming up with that answer.
Pastor Monrose: Well, Mr. Mayor, New York City is .5 percent of the land mass in New York State. What is the reluctancy of putting people throughout the entire…
Mayor Adams: And pastor, that is the question we’re asking. We got sued by many of the county executives and other local governmental leaders in the northern part of the state. One of the number one things they have stated is that we will take the migrant and asylum seekers, Eric, but the fact that they cannot work is a real problem, because now they’re going to be just sitting around all day doing nothing, and that is something that they are reluctant to do, and that’s why many of them have stated they are unwilling, their unwillingness to allow them to come up in their region.
But I say in spite of that, if New York City is doing it, we need them to do it also, because you’re right: over 90 percent of the land mass is upstate. We can find closed army bases to use, closed airports to use. Many of these towns are struggling with populations, we could assist in that area. And I’m with you, we should be using the entire state to house this problem.
Jeff Dismuke: Hey, JR, can I jump in with a question?
Giddings: Sure. Go right ahead, Jeff.
Dismuke: Yes. Good morning, mayor. It’s great to see you this morning, the day after Thanksgiving.
Mayor Adams: Good morning.
Dismuke: And so, you know, my question is just, you know, if there’s one thing that you and Governor Abbot can agree on is that the federal government should be involved in this providing funding. And there’s a lot of ground between there. There’s not much you all are going to agree on.
So, and I know that you’ve made appeals for that, and so what is the reply of the people that you have to talked to at the federal level as to why the federal government doesn’t provide funding and a process that distributes these people not just across the State of New York but across our nation? We have many great cities that could be organized in a way that would ease the burden and put the burden on all of the citizens of the country and so there’s not so felt… So difficult for any one group.
Mayor Adams: And that’s a great question, and you’re right: we have 108,000 different cities, towns, villages and local municipalities, and many of them, ironically, are struggling with a population. You know, there’s a real population issue in the country where, you know, less children are being born, et cetera. And so there’s a real win here, and many of them are struggling for employment.
And so it’s almost like, I see the national government is almost like a deer caught in headlights. Everyone knows this is a problem. Everyone knows it’s being pushed through four or five major cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Houston. You know, everyone realizes that this is something we can’t ignore it and it’s the security of our border.
But there’s just a reluctancy to actually move and operationalize the decompression strategy across the country, putting the right funding in place, establishing this as a state of emergency so FEMA can do its job. All of those things, to me, you know, based on your question to you just seem like a common sense approach to deal with this crisis.
But I think politics has gotten into, in the way, and for whatever reason there’s just a reluctancy to make any real movement, and it’s crippling these cities that are being impacted including El Paso and Brownsville, some of the local cities set along our border. This should not be happening to any city in America, and it’s wrong for it to be happening to the migrants and asylum seekers.
Rabbi Eli Cohen: Mayor, I don’t know if you can hear me now, but just as, you know, they say that…as one of our politicians locally said that when you start with the feds, they have a thousand ways to get to you. Do you think your outspokenness on this issue has something to do with your federal investigation?
Mayor Adams: You know I can’t speculate on that, Rabbi, but I do know the feds must do its job on this migrant and asylum seekers and I must be focused. I have a great legal team. They’re going to peel this back and do everything that needs to be done.
You know, there’s a real pricetag attached to it when you think about it. This can cost me anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars. I just thank God that we were able to open a trust and New Yorkers reached out to me once this happened and asked how could they help, and there was a legal way to do so. And you know, the trust is open and we’re going to continue to do what we have to do to move the city forward.
So, I can’t speculate where this came from, but I do know the federal government must do its job in dealing with this asylum seekers crisis that we’re facing. because it’s going to impact New Yorkers long term and short term, and it’s going to impact on our quality of life.
Giddings: Mr. Mayor, Nicole, are you able to jump in, because the mayor really has to go now. Oh, boy. You can’t get Nicole.
So, Mr. Mayor, once again, thanks for taking time out on Black Friday to be here with us to answer all those tough questions. I hope the listening audience could appreciate who you are, how transparent you are and why we see you as our leader. So, I’m looking forward to seeing you Tuesday at your weekly presser.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Giddings: And I will continue to bring all the information back to the Reset Talk Show.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. I appreciate you all. Listen, have a Happy Thanksgiving season. Like I tell everyone, remember it’s Thanks‑giving and not Thanks‑receiving. So, let’s make sure we go out and give.
Giddings: Ah, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Take care.
November 24, 2023 New York NY
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