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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability – Video

Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, Communications: Good morning, everybody. My name is Fabien Levy and I serve as deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. I hope everyone who celebrated had a Merry Christmas and everyone who is celebrating has a Happy Kwanzaa. Again, like Katie said, it’s about unity, so remember that.

Thank you for joining us again for our weekly in person media availability, and I’m glad that Mayor Adams, our colleagues and I have been able to answer your questions and give New Yorkers a better picture of the work our government is doing for the city. So, like Mayor Adams likes to say, we’re a team here, and it’s a team I’m proud to be a part of.

So, joining us today we have Mayor Eric Adams, Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams‑Isom, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar, and Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg. So, without further delay, I’ll pass it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thanks so much, Fabien. It’s hard to believe we are on the verge of two years, and I know it’s hard to imagine, but about two years ago this city was in a freefall. Crime was moving in the wrong direction. No one wanted to be on the subway system.

Covid had engulfed this entire city. As a matter of fact, if you were sitting in this room, you had a mask on for the most part even if you were allowed to sit in the room because of the new terminology of social distancing. We were dealing with a real employment crisis, housing crisis. People were looking to just flee to New York, anywhere but New York City.

But look at us two years later. I say it over and over again, crime is down, jobs are up. We recovered more private sector jobs in the history of the city. We managed the financial and fiscal crises and cliffs that we were facing. Even those who monitor how well cities are doing, the bond raters, gave us a AA bond rating last year.

We had all of our agencies respond appropriately to the crises that we were facing so we could be prepared for the rainy day. We thought we were going to have probably a few showers, but we were hit with a typhoon called the migrant and asylum seekers.

Managing over 160,000 migrants and asylum seekers, 1.5 times of Albany, the entire city dropped into our city. The difference in Albany, New York, is they were allowed to work. We were not allowed to have those migrant and asylum seekers work.

Instead, 10 trips to Washington, D.C. asking and pleading for help. We did not get that help, but we still did the job anyway, and had walked away with real victories and W’s, received assistance from Albany to reduce the cost of childcare, raise the Earned Income Tax Credit.

NYCHA for the first time got the NYCHA Land Trust. Administrations tried before and they were unsuccessful, but we got it done. Willets Point — so many people attempted to put a shovel in the ground at Willets Point. Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer and her team, we got it done.

You go down the list and you see what others have tried from summer youth employment to other areas we were successful in doing so because we had the right team to do. 24 months later — only two years — and we are humming: 11 percent decrease in homicides, 25 percent decrease in shootings, 13,000 guns we removed off our street. And what we are really happy about is how we are continuing to invest in people, public safety and public spaces, reshaping our streets and making it easier for New Yorkers to use.

And so we’re looking forward to 2024. And you know, there are many moments in front of us. There’s a high level of uncertainty as we continue to navigate these crises that we’re facing. Governor Abbott has made it clear he wants to destabilize cities and send thousands of migrant and asylum seekers here to the city.

We have to address… I have to navigate this city out of it. The bottom line is I’m the mayor, and it’s my obligation and responsibility to find the solutions, even if we’re not getting the help that we deserve from Washington, D.C. and we need more help from our partners in Albany as well as they go into this legislative session.

We’re up for the task; and you know, GSD is not just three letters, it’s what we do. And we got stuff done in 2022 and 2023, I’m looking forward to 2024 as we continue to press forward. Fabien, I’m going to turn it to you for a few questions.

Question: Two questions, mayor. The HPD has announced a new city initiative to build affordable housing in, quote‑unquote, affluent neighborhoods. I’m wondering if you picture neighborhoods in New York City, specific neighborhoods when you’re driving around in your motorcade, where you think to yourself, there should be more affordable housing here, and where would that be?

Mayor Adams: Yes, great question. And one of them is what we did, what we pushed hard on, Bruckner… The Bruckner project. When you do an analysis and you look at the Bruckner project and where it’s located, you had a large number of people who were saying no affordable housing there, and some of them were extremely hostile. But they had little or no affordable housing throughout the years.

And there are many areas. I could look at Manhattan, there are parts of Manhattan that I think is ripe for affordable housing to be built. If you take a look on going from 11th Avenue going all the way over to Park Avenue, you know, and going, you know, in our central business district, there’s a great opportunity to reconvert office space.

We have [138] square feet of office space that’s vacant. That’s prime real estate, close to hospitals, close to transportation, close to food, close to employment. It’s a real win. We did it on September 11th when we changed Wall Street area, we made it into a live/work community. That is what people looking for right now.

And you know, I think that what Deputy Mayor Torres‑Springer is going to do is do an analysis of where we don’t have affordable housing. What I find fascinating, I see people demonstrating about “we need more housing” and then they demonstrate that, don’t build it on my block. Can’t have it both ways.

Question: One quick follow up is about what you envision for 2024. Even though you started today with a list of all your accomplishments, it has been discussed that your approval rating is much lower than it was when you took office. If you were to forecast a few months from now, do you predict that your approval rating will be significantly higher; or, are you worried that this is the reality for Eric Adams heading into 2024?

Mayor Adams: Well, you know, when these polls come out, the mayors call me, previous mayors, and they share a conversation with me of their low points, their high points, you know, what’s going on. And you know, many of them are amazed. They said, you know, with the incoming you’re getting, you know, that you are still chocking up W’s. They said, this is part of the job.

Being mayor of the City of New York people are going to feel their pain. You know, I always make the joke, the guy said I’m getting divorced, Eric. It’s your fault. You know, I am the person that people see. I’m a visible mayor. I’m on the trains, I’m on the streets, I’m in all of these communities. And I’m a visible mayor. And people are angry about the asylum and migrants. I’ve never seen New Yorkers as angry as they are now about a particular topic that they have all rallied behind.

We divide on public safety, we divide on transportation issues, we divide on a lot of issues. But the byproduct of the migrant and asylum seekers crisis and the economic impact has hit every New Yorker in places that they feel it.

And so what I must do is to continue to manage, manage 161,000 people; and at the same time, I’m going to show New Yorkers how to point that anger in the right direction and turn that anger into energy. And I don’t wake up every day looking at the polls, I don’t wake up every day worrying about reelection. I don’t wake up every day worrying about, you know, what people think of me.

I wake up every day thinking that I’ve got to navigate the city out of this or it’s going to be long‑term impact. And so I’m looking forward to further driving down crime. That’s my number one issue I ran on, the prerequisite to prosperity is public safety. I’m looking forward to continue to recover our economy and making sure that we can stop this onslaught of anywhere from 4,000 to 2,500 migrants a week.

The federal government must stop this, because there’s a lot of people on the sideline that talk about this issue. Trust me, they don’t want to be in the seat right now. A lot of people saying, you know, all the ideas, what they would do and how do we fix this. They don’t want to be here. They are hoping that Eric can fix this and this team can get this done.

No one wants this problem. You know, when I was in Washington, the people said to me that met me there, they said, I thank God I’m not you, Eric.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Just to add to the first question you asked about, Andrew. If Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer were here she would talk to you about the housing vision plan that we released a few months ago, and one of the key factors in bringing housing… Making it more affordable across the city is building a little bit more housing in every neighborhood across the city, because when you build a little bit more housing, it will bring down the total cost across the entire city. So, that’s one of things I would point you back to.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: How are you? Thank you so much. Okay. As you mentioned about the migration crisis, and there’s a report, many reports came there, also blaming federal government. The report came that you tried to meet with our President Joe Biden many times, but it’s not happening. What is the reason you think?

And then talk about the Queens, we’re the capital of the asylum issue and also the Hispanic people and [Rubert] Avenue, Jackson Heights area where the [both] sidewalk is almost occupied by the, you know, illegal vendors. And a lot of crime happening. People who are paying the rent for the business they can’t do and they are complaining again and again but nothing happens. So, this is [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Yes. The first question was why you feel we have not received help on the migrant and asylum… 

Question: And then you want to see president but you can’t, you know, reach him.

Mayor Adams: Yes. You know, I met with the President several times on this issue in ’21, I think early ’22, the dates, you know, they get confused. Like I keep saying, when you’re the mayor you live dog years, every day is, you know, many years.

It baffles me. New York City is the economic engine of the state and the country. And I don’t have the answer. My role, as I did when I was a state senator, people came to visit me several times to get initiatives passed, I have to keep hammering away at this issue.

And I’m really pleased that we are now getting a chorus of other cities that are joining us who are now part of our coalition. Back in April of last year, I was alone on this topic, but now you’re seeing others are coming forward and saying, you know, hold on, Eric is right, and they’re joining us.

And that coalition is going to continue to grow, because these cities deserve better. And I’m not only talking about New York; Chicago, Los Angeles, El Paso, Brownsville, you know, all of these cities, Houston. Cities should not be handling national problems.

And so I don’t have the real understanding of… I’m hoping that our national leaders understand that and come up with real immigration reform, a decompression strategy, pick up the price tag of this issue. And allow people to work. I sound like almost a broken record. It’s the same thing. People should be allowed to work in this country.

The illegal vending is something that is important to me and we have to get it under control because brick and mortar businesses should not hurt. We should have enough vending licenses that are distributed so people should be able to vend. I think we need to get it right.

And there is, I keep saying this. There is two schools of thought in this city. We put an initiative in place to clean up the Brooklyn Bridge. I don’t know if you traveled past the Brooklyn Bridge. I think the Post rightfully did an analysis of what was happening on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Councilwoman Brewer came and said, let the vendors stay. That is an unsafe environment there. So, there’s like there’s two schools of thoughts that you’re seeing in this city. You know, you see the school of thought that police officers should be filling out documentations every time they stop people. There are those who say that, no, police officers should do policing.

People say that we should do the… What’s happening with punitive segregation. There are those who feel one way, we feel… There are others who feel another. I think the majority of New Yorkers line up to we need a well‑managed, peaceful, orderly city.

It’s unfortunate that a large number of them have become apathetic to voting, that we’re letting a numerical minority hijack the philosophies and the management of our cities. And I’m hoping that this is going to encourage New Yorkers to engage in politics more, because some of these things that are passing through, people think they’re attractive. I challenge you, go visit other cities that these initiatives have come in place.

You need to go see other cities, and you will realize my school of thinking of having a well‑managed, organized city because of how diverse we are and practices. This city has to be maintained and it has to be orderly. And having vending everywhere, having prostitution. People believe in legalizing prostitution. People believe in legalizing the use of letting people to shoot drugs in front of your home, sleeping in front of your home.

New York can’t run that way. This city is too complicated to have an any and everything goes city. And that’s my concern. And so we’re going to get the vending under control, but we’re getting a lot of pushback from people who believe that you should be able to set up a table anywhere in the city and sell whatever you want, even if that brick and mortar business is selling the same thing.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: How are you? Same to you.

Question: We had the two teens stabbed in Grand Central yesterday. I raise that to talk about subway crime, transit crime in general, but if you have an update on that, it would be appreciated.

You have these hard‑fought gains on crime that you outlined at the top. How sustainable do you think they are amidst the backdrop of this continued onslaught of migrants that’s costing money, canceled police classes. So, bottom line, how sustainable are these crime gains that you identify as your top priority heading into 2024?

Mayor Adams: You know, I think your question is so important, because when I talk about the devastation impact of the migrant and asylum seekers, people only think about the volume of people that are coming in. There are byproducts to this: cutting services, like we had to postpone the police class; looking at some of the budgetary cuts; having a body of people, many young, who can’t work.

You don’t even need an imagination to figure out that if you have someone for four, five months and say you cannot work, you cannot feed your family, you cannot provide for yourself, what happens? You know, lack of opportunities, you know, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, as they say.

And so there are a lot of things that are feeding off of the migrant policy, that as I said a few months ago, we’re going to start seeing the physical aspects of this crisis. We’ve done a good job of keeping that physical aspect away from New Yorkers, but the dam has burst.

And so, and the Police Department has done an amazing job from Commissioner Sewell to now Commissioner Caban. They have deployed the resources. You know, we have shifted, there’s a lot of things we’ve done around resources that has not been done before.

Let me give you two examples. After an incident, police stay on the incident too long. You’ll see hundreds of cops after the incident is under control. You’ll see hundreds of cops there just waiting there. We’ve now shifted to a policy where you leave the… You keep in place the minimum amount of personnel there and everyone else goes back to patrol. That has never been done before. That’s a culture shift in the Police Department.

We had an attempted suicide jumper the other day, we only had ESU that stayed there. We didn’t have hundreds of police officers just waiting and looking up at the jumper. What’s the role of that?

The second is parades. We used to have thousands of cops assigned to parades that you did not need the personnel. So, instead of having those cops inside there, we’ve now shifted them back into high crime areas. We’re utilizing our manpower smarter and better. We’re using technology like drones.

You’re seeing a smarter police department that’s allowing us to do a better job with a smaller number. But that’s not sustainable forever. We need to continue to bring in our police classes, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Now, what hurts us is when you have a stop… A bill that states every action Officer Johnson carries out, he has to document it. If you’re talking about just one person, then that’s not a problem. But if Officer Johnson is looking for a missing person and he speaks to 20, 30 people, multiply that by five minutes. Officer Johnson’s off patrol.

So, when we should be calling for more time for Officer Johnson to be on patrol, less time for spending overtime, we’re doing just the opposite. And that’s going to have a major impact. This bill that was passed is going to have a major impact on what is going to happen in our city.

And so we’ve been successful. Transit crime is down over I think 2.3 percent. Ridership is up. People are back on the subway system. We’re doing a good job of dealing with those who have severe mental health illness. And so the plans that we put in place, we see the success of those plans.

Question: Just to follow on my opening question, if you have an update, sir, because I don’t see any of your public safety officials here with you, on the high‑profile Grand Central incident. Do you have an update on that?

Mayor Adams: Commissioner Caban is going to give me a briefing on that, exactly what happened. And any time you have incidents in these high‑profile locations it sends the feeling of, you know, people don’t feel safe. And that’s why we have to make sure we, you know, zero in, make the arrest as soon as possible and make sure we get those repeated offenders off our streets.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Good morning, Mona. How are you?

Question: I’m well, sir. So, I have a question for Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom. Are there any updated numbers on the amount of asylum seekers who have actually applied for asylum as well as those who have applied for work permits, especially those that are eligible under TPS. And what are the latest numbers of people in the city’s care? And last but not least, are there still single adult male and female migrants in hotels or are they all out of hotels?

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams‑Isom, Health and Human Services: Okay. So, let’s start with the legal services. To date, we have filed over 23,537 applications. That’s over almost 8,000 asylum applications, 9,400 work authorization applications, and TPS is 6,100 TPS applications. Was that… Was there something else on the legal front?

Question: No. The other was… 

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: So, just to let you also know, from what we’re hearing from the White House, there’s about 2,200 people who have actually gotten their work authorization approved, and so they are connecting with the State Department of Labor and our department here to see how to get people connected to work, because that’s the next really… I mean, obviously, the most important thing, Mona.

The next is that all, yes, all singles have been moved out of hotels for a couple… For a while now. I think there’s, sometimes when there’s surge you understand that we’re in the middle of a surge right now. Let me start with the numbers. Last week I think… My notes say 3,800 but I think it was more like 4,000 people that we got last week, which is kind of insane when you think about what these numbers are.

We’ve had over 161,000 people who have come to us for care. I think we’re at 6,800…

Deputy Mayor Levy: 68…

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: 68,000 who are in our care right now. But also remember at the same time we have our indigenous New Yorkers who are here who are homeless and in shelters also.

The only time you would have a single person in a hotel would be if there’s a reasonable accommodation that they need, also sometimes have some elderly non-asylum folks who are in hotel rooms. I think that was it, right?

Mayor Adams: And just think about that for a moment: 4,000 people came to our city last week. We have to food, house, clothe, educate, 4,000. Week before, I think it was 3,900.

Almost 4,000 a week, 8,000 every two weeks, 16,000 a month. And so when I read, Dana, your piece in the Times that you state that, you know, we did like 90 percent of the people we took care… 

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: 99.

Mayor Adams: 99. 99, we took care of. And that we would have probably got people out of the system faster if we would have done A, B, C and D. That’s the federal government’s job. The federal government said to New York City, we’re not going to do our job, you do our job. You take care of 4,000 people a week, Eric, you and your team.

And so when people look back at this crisis, everyone is looking at us and say no one did better than New York. We’re almost a victim of our success. They’re using our model as the model. And we had to learn it on the job. It was like there was no… There was no blueprint for this. On the job while buses were rolling in.

Camille and Zach and Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom. We had to learn this while we were flying. We had to fuel while flying. And what’s fascinating is that those who should have been helping us in government every step of the way just critiqued us. Instead of saying, listen, man, this city is in a crisis, we’ve got to all come together around this, they just spent every ounce of energy.

Like Brad went to Washington, we came up in Washington not saying I demand the federal government does something, he said, we’re going to take away the emergency powers. When you got 4,000 people coming into your city in a week, you need emergency power. You’ve got to make some quick calls.

And so I think that if we took care of 99 percent of the people came to this city, that’s a darned good stat. 99 percent of 161,000 people. That’s… Many didn’t even speak English. West African countries, South and Central America, China, Russian-speaking. Didn’t even speak English.

We had to navigate that. Many of them came through trauma from coming through the Darién Gap, we had to navigate their pain of coming through trauma. All of that, we took care of 99 percent of those who came to this city. We lived up to what we said we were as a city.

And so we managed this crisis like no other city in this country would have been able to manage this crisis. And you don’t see that. You know, I was really pleased to see that The New York Times acknowledged that we took care of 99 percent of the people who came here.

And I’m hoping others will start acknowledging what this team has done. History is going to be kind to this administration. When you write, when I finish my book, you know, and you read what this administration has done under these circumstances, history is going to look back and say, this was one heck of an administration, managing the city out of this.

Question: Mr. Mayor, Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: Merry Christmas to you.

Question: Thank you, sir. A new year means new laws coming on the books in 2024.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Aside from the increase in the minimum wage, what particular new legislation are you excited about that will have a significant impact on New Yorkers?

Mayor Adams: The minimum wage is a huge one. The trickling impact of the increase in minimum wage is just moving people closer and closer out of poverty. I think that was important. The law that we were able to get substantiated with our deliveristas, our delivery workers, very important.

They did an admirable job during Covid while many people were sheltered in place, they were putting their lives on the line, delivering food. Those are two that comes to mind for me. Do any of you have any that’s come to mind to you?

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think your focus is going to be on Albany with the housing is going to be a big one and smoke shops.

Mayor Adams: Yes. We have to get Albany on the same page with us with housing. And we have to deal with smoke shops, cannabis. We need the enforcement power. I will clean up our crisis of cannabis in 30 days if they give me the enforcement power.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And then just on housing also, City of Yes Housing Opportunity here in New York City as well.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor, Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Fine. Let me go back to the immigrant issue. What today, December 26, what’s the real status of the federal help that the city requested. You are specific… 

Mayor Adams: The what help?

Question: Yes, that the city requested federal help. What happened?

Mayor Adams: I know they’re now negotiating a few items, funding packages dealing with Ukraine, Israel. There’s supposed to be some money for the bordering states. From the last time I heard, I think it was $1.3 billion. That is not just enough.

We’re looking at, you all know the numbers, $5 billion this fiscal year, $7 billion over the next two, $12 billion. And the last time, $800 million was allocated. New York only got $30‑something million on the first round.

So, we need to be talking about real numbers that are impacting real New Yorkers. So, I am not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel from the federal government. And I think we can’t treat this as a policy. We have to treat it as an urgency. I’m just not seeing that energy.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. Thank you. I wanted to follow up on something that you said about the migrants almost kind of seeming to reference that there might be some crime among migrants. I know there has been some reports about crime in migrant shelters.

I was wondering if you guys are keeping track of that. Have you seen that there’s been an increase, an uptick in crime among migrants? And then, I was just wondering if you plan to veto those… The How Many Stops bill and then the solitary confinement bill.

Mayor Adams: So, let me peel them back. Chief LiPetri and Commissioner Caban is doing an analysis always around crime. They will be able to give you the exact numbers on if there’s any uptick in any particular area or group in how they analyze that. Chief LiPetri and Commissioner Caban will do so. We’re keeping a close eye on where exactly there are crime trends. They always do that and they’re going to continue to do that.

In the area of the two bills, we are really looking at all of our options on exactly what we could do, what we should do. I’ve made it clear that I’m concerned about both of them. And we’re looking at our final options on how we’re going to move forward.

Question: Hey, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

Mayor Adams: What’s happening?

Question: I wanted to ask you about security concerns surrounding New Year’s Eve. And I know the NYPD will be doing their briefing later on in the week, but I just wanted to ask, are there any sort of increased threat levels here? And I know that naturally because it’s New Year’s Eve, because it’s Times Square, the terror threat naturally rises.

But is there anything new this year, anything that gives any concern, any new strategies, more deployment of officers, anything that you could say about what’s going to be going on down there?

Mayor Adams: We’re going to use technology a lot this year, number one. Number two, as you know, there’s always a serious concern around safety on New Year’s Eve, because there’s a large number of people. Everyone looks for events like this if they want to do bad things. And the Police Department is on top of it.

There’s an added concern because of some of the protests you have been seeing, and there was an attempt to disrupt the tree lighting, and we’re sure that there’s going to be some type of attempt this year to use that stage for some other concerns that people are having. The Police Department did an amazing job during the tree lighting to mitigate any form of major disruptions, and they’re going to do it this year.

And I just think last year, many people don’t recall, in the midst of that, we had that assault on the two police officers. And NYPD analyzed our response to that, and we’re making sure that we don’t use distractions to get in the way of staying on our posts, staying on our locations and making sure we not allow someone to pull us off.

There’s something that’s known in policing, particularly when there’s some type of terrorist action, of secondary devices, things like that, they want to draw attention from one area to go to a specific target area, we’re really exercising our mental muscles to make sure that does not happen.

People have to maintain their locations and use minimum deployment from where a particular incident is happening so that we do not allow people to take us off our goal. So, there’s some different strategies we’ll put into place this year to take into account some of these circumstances. And as always we’re monitoring the chatter, you know, monitoring the chatter out there so we can be prepared.

Question: Is there anything to that chatter? I know you mentioned the protest, and that’s certainly a concern. But any lone wolf, anything on this chatter, anything that’s being picked up by anybody.

Mayor Adams: I wouldn’t… You know, if we did, we wouldn’t mention that. It’s important for us for our Intel Division under Deputy Commissioner Weiner to determine, to let the police know so they could deploy it correctly.

But lone wolves are challenging. Like the individual, the perpetrator last year, he wasn’t on anyone’s radar. His assault on those two police officers, you just, you have to be ready for those unpredictable circumstances. It’s a real herculean task to manage that number of people without being heavy handed but being protective.

Question: Mr. Mayor, earlier this year NYPD entered into a settlement agreement on how it polices protests — Black Lives Matter protests — after that settlement was reached, changing how the NYPD handles protests, now you see protests relating to the Israel Gaza war, including protesters, including people with some radical politics, shut it down, disrupt things.

So, with this new matrix on how NYPD polices protests out, have you been reviewing the reports that are borne out of these protests, and what do you think of the new protesting system the NYPD is operating under?

Mayor Adams: I’m glad you asked that question, because that is what I keep saying about the two schools of thought. And the byproduct of some of the changes that we’ve made, I did not agree the concept of those changes. I pushed back hard, and we’re going to start to see the byproduct of those changes that were negotiated.

The judge basically, you know, said you all need to come to an agreement. I don’t believe that people should be able to just take over our streets and march in our streets. I don’t believe people should be able to take over our bridges. I just don’t believe you can run a city this complex where people can just do whatever they want.

And the decision that came out of that agreement, I thought it put us on a very troubling direction. And now you’re seeing it. You see 1,000 people go to Grand Central station, decided they want to just close down Grand Central station or they want to sit in the street in front of Times Square. We’re seeing the byproduct of that.

Question: You’re saying the reason that’s happening is because the NYPD is operating under this new matrix of policing protest from the settlement; that that is allowing people to, as you said, take over Grand Central station, this is not something that NYPD would have allowed to happen before the settlement?

Mayor Adams: When you look at the agreement, the right to walk in the streets, the right to just basically… It’s more lenient. The Police Department is extremely… Have to be extremely more hesitant in actions that they would have carried out in the past to keep the peace.

And now, what happens, when people peacefully protest it doesn’t become a problem. But now we’re seeing that some of the peaceful protests are being, they’re people who are being embedded in these protests.

We had a person yesterday who started spray painting Starbucks, you know, using hateful terminology, spray painting Starbucks. Riling up the crowd. When police went in to take action, others started joining in. These are very volatile situations.

So, peaceful protesters went in, when you allow violent people to be embedded into peaceful protesters, it moves from a peaceful protest. We had to call a Level 3 yesterday. That’s a high‑level mobilization, when you have to call a Level 3. And we were able to only have six people arrested. Great level of restraint.

But you can’t embolden those people who are watching what’s playing out in New York City. People come from all over the country. A lot of our agitators are outside people who come from all over the country and embed themselves into peaceful protests to rile up the crowd.

And so when you look at, since October 7th we had 400 protests, and unlike other municipalities we’ve been able to monitor that. But you’re seeing a small pocket of people who are now becoming part of the protest who are really trying to rile up the crowd and we can’t tolerate and accept that.

Deputy Mayor Levy:  483.

Mayor Adams: I’m sorry?

Deputy Mayor Levy: 483.

Mayor Adams: 483, wow. Wow, 483.

Question: If you had issues with the settlement terms, why did the city enter the settlement? Why not just fight it and keep the lawsuit going?

Mayor Adams: The signals we got was they were telling us that we could have had a worse outcome if we didn’t come to some type of settlement. That was the signals. As soon as I read the settlement, I said, this is a problem. This is a problem. And you know, you have to go by the advice of your attorneys. But as soon as I read it… Anyone who polices this city should be concerned about what’s in the settlement.

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: I should just add just one other thing on that. The settlement imposes a tiered system for responding to protests, so there’s a lot that depends on the circumstances. It does not allow protesters to block access to critical infrastructure. I just want to be clear on that.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Of the 483 protests, NYPD estimates about over 161,000 participants participating over the last two and a half three months whatever it is. 161,000‑plus. Now, obviously a lot of those are probably the same people but just want that’s the number they estimate.

Mayor Adams: And we have 8.3 million people in this city. Out of… You know, you probably have the largest protest I saw was about 5,000. But when 5,000 people take to a street, it makes it challenging and gives the impression that 8.3 million New Yorkers are doing it. And it’s not. The average person wants to get to and from his place of employment and provide for his or her family.

And when people do things peacefully, it’s fine, but all you need is a small pocket of people, like you saw yesterday, that can disrupt a peaceful protest. And they’re there that go, they go for one reason at all, to disrupt.

Question: Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Yes, sir.

Question: Two questions, please. First question, do you think by being blunt on the need for help from the federal government on this crisis saying the president has failed New York, do you think your frankness on the issue might have made the White House officials a little less politically inclined to provide aid?

And then my second question, Mr. Mayor, after review of your 2025 campaign donations, Politico identified a 19‑year‑old donor listed on your campaign filings as having contributed $2,100. But when we contacted her, she repeatedly told us that she never made a donation and she wasn’t involved and her spokesperson said the same.

And the spokesperson then later said her father, the owner of Marmara Hotels, his name is Kagan Gursel, that he donated the money under his daughter’s name without her involvement. Do you know Mr. Gursel? And what do you think of donors telling us that they never donated at all or that they donated under someone else’s name?

Mayor Adams: First, let me peel back the question. First, there were months that went by of calling for help before we raised the concern of how the administration handled it. And so I don’t think my candidness should get in the way of anyone looking at what New York City was going through and the other municipalities in providing the help that we needed.

And so, I doubt anyone from the White House is saying because Eric was candid on what he felt his city needed, that we’re going to ignore them. And if we do a real analysis, if you look at the dates and compare them, almost a year went by.

You know, and so New Yorkers expect a certain advocacy from their mayor. They’re watching what is playing out — and what I was seeing when we sit down with our team and we did our report — what I was seeing from my team was that this is going to get really bad. We’ve got to bump up our advocacy. We were seeing what was coming to this city. And so I think that I would not have been an advocate for this city if I would have in any way ignored what we saw on the horizon.

And when it comes down to donations, the rules are clear. And every donor, we tell every donor, here are the rules. Donate only in your own name. Donate according to the rules. I’m very clear on that. And I don’t think that there’s a campaign that has not probably had one or two people that didn’t do such. But we’re very clear.

I had a great compliance system. We spent tens of thousands of dollars on a compliance attorney to look over to make sure that they’re done right. So, I am very clear. Any donor we receive, you’ve got to follow the rule. And that’s what I tell all donors in doing so.

Question: Good to meet you. [Inaudible] congestion pricing, the head of EMT unit yesterday said it’s going to make recruiting difficult because you’re imposing $4,400 tax on first responders who have to drive to work.

I haven’t heard from the Fire Department union or the police union, but I assume they have the same concerns that people who work and protect people in lower Manhattan are now getting taxed. And I confess I have close relatives who have a vested interest. That’s one question.

The other one is, just… I think 400,000 people live below 60th street, are they going to be taxed every time they drive their car from their house?

Mayor Adams: Well, the final rule is going to be put together. Deputy Mayor Joshi, she will talk about that. But I made it clear that we have to get it right. We can’t be overburdensome on working class New Yorkers.

This is new. So, of course, this is New York City. This is new. There’s going to be some yea’s, some nay’s. This is part of when you institute something new. This is… We have to clean up our environment. We have to deal with congestion, which is killing our economy because of how difficult it is to move around Manhattan.

And so we must come up with the real solutions. And the beauty is you’ll pivot and shift based on the outcomes. So, I’m excited about making sure we get this right and we don’t hurt working class New Yorkers. DM, do you want to add to that?

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: Sure. And I want to echo what the mayor said. You know, this is huge a culture change for the city but a culture change for the better, as it is in every other global city that’s implemented congestion pricing. And as the mayor said, often years later there are shifts because of lessons learned as we adapt to the new normal, which absolutely must be if we’re to really take a dent in the emissions production and transportation sector of our region.

We’re focused on really ensuring school buses and yellow taxes are exempt. We’re also continuing to have discussions with the MTA around government vehicles and how government operations continue, emergency vehicles are specifically exempt, but there are categories of other government vehicles that are integral to our city service and we’ll continue to have those discussions with the MTA to ensure that there’s nothing about the congestion pricing construct that undermines the city’s ability to provide services.

Question: And what about residents who live in there. Is there going to be any kind of code or [inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Joshi: So, there is some tax breaks in the law for residents that live within the district, but other than that there was nothing in the TMBR recommendations that specifically spoke to residents within the district.

Question: Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I’m all right. If we can circle back to the migrant thing real fast.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Why, if you don’t think sort of the vocalness of your complaints is why the Biden administration has denied your repeated pleas for aid, why do you think they have?

Mayor Adams: I am baffled, you know, that why they’re not seeing… Washington on the whole. And oftentimes people talk about the Biden administration, but I’m critical of Congress as well.

New York City, as I said, that we’re the economic engine of this country and state. I don’t believe any of these cities should be going through this. I don’t have the answer. And I think that’s the answer that we need to turn towards Washington. That’s why I talk about New York City residents, that we need to go visit our lawmakers there and say, what’s going on here?

And we have this slow process of educating New York City residents, because many people thought that Eric was in charge of the buses coming in, that Eric was in charge of deportation, that Eric was in charge of making sure that we housed.

We are operating within the law. And I believe that all New Yorkers should join us in saying this should not be happening in New York City. But I don’t have the answer there.

Question: For sort of the culture of the city is, the mayor’s responsible. Your argument is, Washington’s responsible. The polls seem to show voters aren’t buying your argument. Why do you think that is?

Mayor Adams: Well, because when you really think about it, and I’m responsible for navigating us out of this. I want to be clear on that. I do not abdicate my responsibility as the mayor no matter what the city’s hit with, I’m responsible for navigating us out of it. These are the cards that I have been dealt, and I can’t sit back and say, wait, het, if only I had another card. No, these are my cards.

And part of my role as the mayor is to keep pounding those who should be giving us the assistance we deserve. And when you looked at this, the complexity of this, many New Yorkers didn’t get it. I have communicated with some very intelligent New Yorkers.

When I sat down and I have dinner or meet them on the subway or talk with them, they say, wait a minute, I didn’t know that you can’t stop the buses from coming in. I didn’t know that because of some of the laws that we have in this city, that you don’t have the authority to even deport people who are arrested four and five times. I didn’t know that you can’t do this or that.

A lot of New Yorkers, if you go on the street and ask them, they don’t have the answers to the questions. They don’t know that our hands are tied. You show up at our Port Authority or through JFK airport, we have to provide them services. And the average New Yorker did not know that. And part of our job is to articulate to them so they can take the same anger I’m feeling and they can point it in the direction that it ought to.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also add, mayor. To the point that the mayor made earlier, for the first year of this whole crisis we did nothing but just ask for help and not say a word… Offer a word of criticism. And it’s only after we started, you know, being honest about the criticism is that when we started receiving allocations of funding and other resources. So.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Can I do a friendly… Can I just do a friendly amendment? We didn’t just ask for help, we managed the crisis at the time while we were asking for help.

We did both things. I just want everybody to know. We didn’t just sit back and say, can you help us, can you help us. We built an asylum arrival center. We built a legal clinic. We are working on settlement with other states. We’re gathering other cities together. So, all of that was happening at the same time 3,000 people coming through the front door and we advocated for more resources.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Right. If that wasn’t the case, then the Times wouldn’t have complimented us and said 99 percent of the job was perfect.

Mayor Adams: No, no, no. Let her finish. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Question: Sorry, I was just going to ask one more, Mr. Mayor. You talked about all the trips you’ve taken to Washington, D.C., and you acknowledge you haven’t gotten much back. Why should people think that the 13th or the 14th or if 15th trip yields a different result?

Mayor Adams: I think that’s a legitimate question. And as I always said that when I was in Albany, some of the legislation that we were able to accomplish, even the Kendra’s law, the reduced speed limit law, a lot of these bills, it’s like continuous sessions.

It’s unfortunate that lawmakers take a long time, a lot of advocacy. A lot of parents come up who were the victim of some of these incidents. Family, loved members, members that are part of the family, social setting, and it takes a while before lawmakers see the urgency that’s playing out on the ground.

And so Eric going alone has now turned into Eric going with other executives in other cities, and now we need to move to the next level of Eric going down with faith leaders that are seeing the byproduct of this, Eric going down with everyday New Yorkers that can speak to their electeds.

It’s unfortunate, but our wheels of legislative movement is extremely slow, and under normal circumstances you could wait a year or so or two years before a bill or law is passed. We’re not in that place right now. We have to bump this up in 2024, because when you’re getting 4,000 a week, 8,000 every two weeks, 16,000 a month, we have to kick in gear a little faster right now.

Question: Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good, thank you.

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: Now that you look back for two years, you have inherited “the” worst time in history of New York as a mayor. We need to compliment you more than we do. When we grew up we all had a resolution at the end of the year for next year. What are your three resolutions for next year to make the city better?

Mayor Adams: You know, these two years, legacies are not made from easy things, and anyone who has done an analysis of my life would tell you that things don’t come easy. But like I say, I know what hard is. Hard is raising six children on your own, moving out of Brownsville, Brooklyn, into a little small house and trying to figure out how to keep the lights on.

People used to think we were the luckiest people on the block, Mona, because we barbecued every day. They didn’t know the gas was turned off. You know? And so life prepares you for where you are. And I had a mommy that never gave up and to matter how difficult it was, she just told us, you know, do the best you can.

I wake up every day with one goal, do the best you can, Eric. And all of that, nothing will distract me from that. And so moving to next year, I need to make this city continue to drive down crime. I need to make sure we continue to run this city even with the very serious budget cuts that we have to put in place. And I must navigate us through this migrant and asylum crisis.

And the top resolution for this year is that I’m going to spend some more time with Jordan. We’re not doing enough football games together. We’re not having enough dinners together. And I just want to spend some more time with him because I’ve been doing this for so long that I have not had son/dad time enough. He keeps texting me, hey, dad, let’s catch a game. I need to be more reciprocal on that. That’s my top thing. I want to spend a heck of a lot more time with him.


Mayor Adams: We’re going to do a few more. Since you all came in on the day after Christmas.

Question: How are you? So, Mr. Mayor, going back to the solitary bill and the How Many Stops Act. I know you didn’t say one way or the other whether you’ll veto it. But Speaker Adams said she’s ready to override any veto. Considering earlier this year, council overrode your veto on the CityFHEPS package, is that factoring into your decision at all, the political implications of having another veto overridden by the council?

Mayor Adams: No, no. Listen, we have a great system of government, divided into our legislative and the executive. We don’t want dictatorships in our country. The council has a role, I have a role and our lawmakers have a role. If they determined that they want to pass a bill, override a bill, I need to advocate on what I believe. And then once the action is taken, then we execute to carry it out what the action is. We follow the law.

You know, there’s several things that are coming out of the council that I think that their hearts may be in the right place but it’s going to have long‑term impact, like we were talking about with the protesters. It’s going to have a long‑term impact. This is a complicated city where order is needed.

And I think that sometimes the idealism collides with realism. You hear me say that all the time. And I just have a different philosophy on how you maintain law and order in this city. And some people think differently. And that’s what makes this city what it is. They have a belief. I have a belief. And sometimes that belief collides.

Like a perfect example is the Brooklyn Bridge. Gale Brewer believed people should be able to line up and down the bridge and sell whatever they want. I don’t. You know? I don’t believe people should inject themselves with drugs sitting on your porch. I don’t believe people should sleep on the streets in tents on your block. I can go down the list of things that we just have a philosophical difference in belief.

I don’t believe police should be spending time on every person they provide services to documenting. Level 2 and 3 stops, they should; level 1 stops, they shouldn’t. So, this is just a philosophical difference in belief. And I’m looking at my options. But I don’t wake up and say, okay, they may override me. That doesn’t impact my decision at all.

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: What’s up, Katie?

Question: I have two questions, first is on the HPD housing announcement. Is this in addition to mandatory inclusionary housing mandates, or is it to help fulfill those mandates?

And my second question is, what’s the update on Tim Pearson? I know there was some probe into him. Is he still handling security at the migrant shelters? Is he still visiting migrant shelters? Was there ever any video from that dispute? I know there was a difference in how it was reported what happened based on what your office was saying happened and I know actually the case against the guard was tossed out. So, what’s the latest…

Mayor Adams: The incident is still under review. They’ll make a determination. Everybody has their responsibility. It’s not my job to do those reviews. So, Tim is still doing his job. He’s a valued asset, a 9/11 survivor, an important entity in the New York City Police Department, a good public servant.

And he’s continued to add valuable information to what we need in the city during these tough times. You better have a bench, and you better have people who have gone through some stuff to help us go through this stuff.

And I have been really fortunate by having people who have gone through stuff, and Tim is one of them. Tim, Phil, the people who are up here right now, their personal experiences, they’re just really helping me go through some stuff. I was talking to Camille, Ingrid and Sheena this morning as I was weighing some decisions, and just the value of their personal experiences. It’s like, man, if you don’t have knights of the roundtable, you’re in trouble.

Tim is one of them. Tim is one of my knights of the roundtable. I’ve seen him over 40 years now navigate challenging times. And the reviewers will make a determination. You know, and I thank God, and I think the city is fortunate for having him. Housing, who knows… We don’t have Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer. She’ll get back to you on that. She’s still unwrapping her gifts.

Question: Thanks. On housing, you suggested that you’re open to both good cause and 421, some sort of package that incorporates 421‑a and good cause in Albany. But how real do you think that is? Do you foresee sort of pushing real estate off to accept that sort of thing?

Mayor Adams: No, I’m not open to both. I’m open to a housing solution. That’s what I’m open to. I’m open to a housing solution. Dana, we went through Albany last year with nothing on housing. Everyone tells you, all those lawmakers up there, they’ll all tell you that housing is one of our top issues. Some say one, some say two. But everyone states that.

So, how could we have gone through the last legislative session with nothing on housing? That can’t happen this year. We need to come to a resolution. And if part of that resolution is to sit down and come up with tenant protections, I’m open to that conversation because I believe in tenant protections. It’s not like I’m against tenant protection.

So, the terminology, sometimes I think people get caught up in the terminology. People are caught up in the terminology of 421‑a. You know, just the mere sound of it, people are turned off. People are caught up in the terminology of good cause.

So, we have to move away from the terminologies and say, what are the goals? The goal is to incentivize building, the goal is to make sure we have some form of tenant protections. And I think that reasonable adults can sit down in a room and say how do we accomplish them both? That has been my conversation with everyone.

Question: Thanks, Mr. Mayor, Merry Christmas.

Mayor Adams: Same to you.

Question: Had a couple of questions. I’ll start with the one on SNAP, cash assistance benefits. As you probably remember, last week Legal Aid filed a contempt motion; in response to that, HRA and the deputy mayor was pointing out that the city’s doing the best that it can during…

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: …a time of very high demand and a lot of staff shortages. One thing that was in the contempt motion, though, was that your administration didn’t furnish any data at all on processing rates until September 2023, even though you’re supposed to do it every three months. In addition, there’s actually no data provided, according to Legal Aid, on something called immediate needs [inaudible]. So, I’m just wondering, why is that data not being provided even though it’s mandated by law?

The other part, me and my colleague, Michael Gartland last week reported on Frank Carone and some companies that he had co‑founded that were accused in a civil federal lawsuit of participating in a money laundering scheme. Wondering if those allegations are making you have any pause about putting Frank in a high‑ranking role in your reelection effort?

Mayor Adams: If I do the Frank piece, are you going to do the…

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Want me to start?

Mayor Adams: No, I’ll start because I always like talking to Chris, so.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Okay. Go ahead.

Question: Would you do a sit down [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Why don’t we arrange that?

Deputy Mayor Levy: It will be considered.

Mayor Adams: You know, in civil lawsuits, people hurl accusations at each other. And Frank, as his counsel, he’s not part of this staff, I think you should reach out to his team and they can answer that. That has nothing to do with this administration. But people hurl things at them in civil lawsuits, and we see that often. But his team can respond to that.

Question: In terms of your campaign, though, is he still going to still play a leading role on it?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Frank has been a supporter, and when he served as chief of staff, he has been a good advisor, and I look forward to his assistance in the years to come. Deputy mayor?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: I will end there. I think I said it last time, providing New Yorkers with the assistance that they need is a top priority for us. And I don’t think I did tell you this statistic, Chris, that despite FY ’23 marking the highest volume of cash assistance applications in at least well over two decades — which I didn’t realize it was that high, we came in with a very high need with a pandemic and we continue to see it growing — we still have been making a lot of progress on the backlog.

And we’re committed to getting the information. When you’re talking about the processing rates, let me check with the team on that because I don’t have that down. And it was processing rates and what was the other one?

Question: It’s under that 2005 court order the city, HRA specifically, is supposed to furnish something called quarterly data?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Yes. And it’s just surprising to me because we’ve been working very closely with all those key stakeholders as we’re figuring out how we get the backlog down and how we make the changes, whether it’s technological changes, whether it’s doing things like applications on the telephone, hiring over 700 people, not having that group of people have to deal with the hiring freeze.

We’ve been doing all of those things in order to get the backlog down. We are almost at functional zero on the SNAP and we think that we’re going to be in a very good place at the end of March on the emergency assistance. So, I will give you that data, but we are really not just saying it, but doing it given the really high backlog and where we see ourselves right now on the needs that New Yorkers…

Question: …not really a clear answer on why that data hasn’t been provided to the court.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: So, I wouldn’t say there’s not a clear answer. We have been working really closely with the courts on how we can provide that data and what we should be doing. So, let me get back to you on the specific data you’re asking for.

Mayor Adams: And we have an obligation, and if we in any way did not do that, we’re going to find out why and try to comply as quickly as possible. And let’s be clear that our goal is to make sure that that data is released. We do not deny the fact that we have a real manpower issue, particularly with the hiring freeze, and there’s a real backlog, as the deputy mayor stated, in several decades.

So, listen, we know there’s some challenges. We want to get cash assistance in the hands of people. But we’re finding exactly what the answer is and we’ll tell you the answer. And if we’re wrong, we’re wrong. You know, I’m perfectly imperfect. We’re going to try the best we can.

I wake up every day doing the best I can and more. And there’s no way there are not days that we don’t drop the ball. We all do. Like you dropped the ball the other day when you wrote that story that said we’re not allowing the press in the building. You dropped the ball. That was not your best story that you have ever written. You know? And so it’s all right when you drop the ball, because I still love you anyway, you know? And you know… 


Deputy Mayor Levy: All right, thanks all.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: Look at the numbers! This has been an Aaron Judge year. Look at what we have done this year. We got to get our Ws to him. You’ve got our Ws? This is an Aaron Judge year, as I promised. Some real victories, some real numbers…

December 26, 2023 New York, NY

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December 2023

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