Bianca Peters: All right. It has been a busy summer so far in New York City and for Mayor Eric Adams. Migrants continue to arrive over 53,000 asylum seekers now in the city’s care with shelters at capacity. And the mayor struggling to find housing for them.
Rosanna Scotto: On the issue of crime, recent stats show a decline in major areas, murder shootings, felony assaults, all down. But many New Yorkers are still uneasy about their safety. And all this comes as the city is without an official police commissioner. Keechant Sewell resigned about just after 18 months on the job and a permanent placement, not named yet. Joining us from City Hall, Mayor Eric Adams. We always appreciate you coming on Good Day New York.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Great to be on with you also.
Scotto: Okay. So can we talk about these crazy scooter shootings last night? Another one in the Bronx. Four people hit, two young kids, over the weekend. Brooklyn and Queens had a scooter shooting, all illegal scooters. Is this like a new trend that we have to deal with in New York City?
Mayor Adams: And we are really proactive. Remember you saw that when we were talking about scooters, scooters, guns illegal on our road, we were clamping down on them and there was pushback from those who pushed back on everything we do when it comes down to public safety. And we did what we normally do, ignore the noise and execute a plan of going after the scooters, thousands removed off our streets, targeting those who have criminal records, and we have confiscated a substantial number of guns and those scooters and made arrests. That’s what’s very important. Our team has been really focused on these illegal scooters and what they’re doing, not only for committing crimes, but also traffic crashes and harming innocent New Yorkers. And we notice a plan that we’ve executed to go after them.
Scotto: Mayor, I know that your administration has been talking about the crime is down in New York City, but there’s a new Siena poll out today, and it says, “Crime is on top of the mind of New Yorkers.” 41 percent of New Yorkers say they have never been so on edge about their own safety. 87 percent of New Yorkers think crime is either a very or somewhat serious problem. Why do New Yorkers feel that way?
Mayor Adams: Well, let’s think about it for a moment. How do they start their day? They start their day picking up the news, the morning papers, they sit down and they see some of the most horrific events that may happen throughout the previous day. It plays on your psyche. We’re clear on that. But my mission is to move people from what they felt to what they’re feeling. And no one can take away the fact this city is humming. As you walk the streets, you go to Times Square, you’re back on our subway, we peak at four million riders. We’re seeing people getting back out enjoying our parks. So we know it’s going to take a time. But if you lead off every day with some of the horrific incidents that take place in the city with 8.5 million people, there’s a feeling that you have. But the officers are back out there. They’re seeing them, they’re conversating. Our restaurants are humming. The city has returned, and we are really proud of what the men and women of the police department are doing.
Peters: Yeah, I totally get what you’re saying, but unfortunately we just report on things that actually happened. So that follows perception. But I do want to ask you about the migrant crisis and the security at shelters because there’s an issue there. The private security that has been there all along saying, “We’re done. We don’t want to work anymore. It’s too dangerous, it’s too volatile. We’re dealing with migrant gang workers. We’re unarmed.” So with the private security who are tough individuals and they’re saying, “We don’t want to be there. We feel unsafe,” yet we have to put these shelters next to paying tax members and private citizens who have no choice on what pops up next to them. Do you think that’s fair?
Mayor Adams: Well, I don’t think it’s fair what’s happening on the national level. We have received over 80,000, I think we’re close to 87,000 migrant asylum seekers that have arrived at our city. We have an obligation that we must fulfill. And finding a location to do so has been extremely challenging. But we’ve lived up to those responsibilities. Just take a peek across this entire country and look at what’s happening in other cities. People are sleeping on the streets and encampments. In this city, we have not had one child sleep on our streets because we did not fulfill our obligation. And we’ve always had security at our shelters.
And if there’s a contractor that states they don’t want to do it, there are other contractors that state they want to do it. So this is not a crisis of finding security. This is a crisis that we’re not receiving the support we should be receiving from the national government. This is unfair to New York. I’ve said this over and over again, and we have been navigating the challenges of having a double population in our shelter system totally.
Peters: Yeah, you are right. It’s unfair to New York, but you’ve been saying that the city has reached a breaking point financially dealing with this migrant crisis. Would you and the city council maybe consider rescinding the right to shelter order when you hit that real breaking point? Because right now we’re at over 85,000 migrants come to the city. But at some point, you’re probably going to have to say, we really can’t take anymore.
Mayor Adams: No, we are already at that breaking point of the mere fact that we’re doing a good job in managing it. But trust me, when I tell you every day is a challenge on so many levels, and we have an awesome leader and Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom, who’s coordinating this entire effort. But our team, we have been spending hours in dealing with this every day. All night, buses are still coming in. We need to be clear with that of to New Yorkers. We’re still receiving several hundred people every week.
Peters: But would you consider rescinding that right to shelter order? I mean, once you do that, you won’t have to deal with what you’re dealing with now.
Mayor Adams: Well, let’s be clear. I do not have that authority. That is a court decision. And we’re going to court to look at several different measures on how to deal with this crisis. But I want New Yorkers to understand the mayor of the city of New York, I do not have the authority to determine what’s going to happen to right to shelter or any other rule that’s dealing with housing in the city.
Scotto: Who does—
Mayor Adams: A judge. A judge.
Scotto: A judge.
Mayor Adams: A judge. Yes.
Scotto: And where is Senator Schumer in this? Because he’s one of the most powerful people in D.C. right by the president of the United States. Is he helping you? Is he avoiding the subject with you? Where is he in your wheelhouse?
Mayor Adams: No, he has not avoided the subject. He has been a real partner in this entire fight that we’re having on many levels. Getting money to FEMA. FEMA, I believe failed to allocate that money appropriately. We should not be giving money to those municipalities that are using the dollars to send buses to New York. Here’s three things we need that would really assist us in this issue. Number one, the right to work. Nothing is more anti-American than coming to this country and you don’t have the right to do a job. These asylum seekers want to work. That’s important. Expedite their ability to determine if they could stay or not. The system is totally bottleneck and do a decompression strategy at the border. Don’t have the plan B to come to New York City to deal with this issue. That is what we’re facing in the city right now, and give us the funding that we need. This should not be on taxpayers’ dollars. This should be on the national payment for dealing with this crisis.
Scotto: Can we talk about air quality? Because today’s City Council’s going to take it up. Jumaane Williams, who’s the public advocate, feels like your administration didn’t do enough when we had those Canadian wildfires coming in. We played a little bit of your press conference from that day. Do you feel like you didn’t send the right message?
Mayor Adams: Think about it for a moment. What we should have done, put out the fires? Come on. Let’s see. This is what I want everyone to do in New York City. Whenever we do anything, watch the same usual suspects who are doing nothing. Start talking about what we ought to do. Look at what this administration has done, navigated us through Covid. Remember the same Jumaane Williams that stated we should shut down the city? And I said, “No, our schools are going to open. Our cities are going to move forward.” They criticized us for going after illegal scooters on our streets. They criticize us for removing guns off our streets. They criticized us for every… They criticize us to criticize us. They need sound bites. So let them do the sound bites. I’m going to create a sound city. And that is what we doing. 99 percent of our jobs have returned. You’re watching climb go down. You’re watching tourism come back to this city. So let them keep doing what they’re doing. I’m going to do what I do.
Scotto: So let me ask you about the public advocate, because the public advocate is supposed to be a representation of the city. Do you feel like he doesn’t have his finger on the pulse? He’s going with a fringe?
Mayor Adams: Oh, I think New Yorkers are going to determine if he’s doing his job appropriately or not. I have to stay focused. All of this stuff that you’re hearing from people that are constantly finding ways to criticize an administration that’s producing, I call that noise. If I respond to all of their noise, I would not have gone after severely mental health people on our streets that were committing real issues when they couldn’t take care of themselves. The most difficult job of being mayor is the discipline not to respond to the people who are in the bleachers. I’m on the field, I’m moving the ball down the field, not those who are in the bleachers.
Peters: Mayor, let me get a soundbite from you. Do you think the press has treated you fairly throughout all of this?
Mayor Adams: No, I don’t think the term is fair and unfair. Mayors and elected officials should be criticized and critiqued. I think inaccurate. They’re not accurately reporting what this administration has done over and over again. If you sit back and look at where we were January 1st 2022, and look at what we have accomplished since then; 100,000 summer youth jobs, Summer Rising program, decrease the cost of childcare for low-income New Yorkers, Earned Income Tax Credit, NYCHA Land Trust, bringing down crime. Everything I promised on the campaign trail, I am delivering as the mayor of this city.
Scotto: I know that you have nothing to do with congestion pricing, but I just wondered how you felt about it, because obviously there are some businesses that are concerned in Midtown, that this could really affect the bottom line.
Mayor Adams: And we need to respond to that when we implement it, because it is going to be implemented. We need to make sure that we’re not pushing the pollution issue to the outer boroughs. That’s something Congressman Torres has talked about. But we have to have a first class subway system. I use the subway often and I enjoy it. We need to make sure it remains affordable, and we need to make sure that it’s reliable. One thing we know for sure; we have to deal with congestion on our city streets. It’s a real problem. It’s impacting businesses, and it can take away from our health, how we want to move to deal with the health and the environment in our city.
Scotto: By charging $23 a car?
Mayor Adams: Oh, I don’t know what the dollar amount is going to be. I think all of that is still in conversation. I have an appointment to the board that’s part of this, and we want to make sure that it is going to be fair for New Yorkers, and not being overburdened on New Yorkers, but we have to go after the congestion in the streets. I’m sure you ladies see it—
Scotto: Oh, yeah.
Mayor Adams: … when you come into the office as you move about. We must deal with that.
Scotto: Although, when we come into the office at 5:00 am, streets are pretty clear, but that’s good. It’s good, mayor. Hey, before we go, we won’t tell anybody. Who’s going to be the new police commissioner?
Mayor Adams: Okay, you promise not to tell anybody?
Mayor Adams: Okay. It’s going to be a good, solid person that can continue leading the city.
Peters: Look at that. Look at that!
Scotto: Do we have an idea when we might hear something like that?
Mayor Adams: Yes, I’ll whisper in your ear soon as I see you.
Scotto: Mayor Adams, thank you so much. Thank you for fighting for New Yorkers.
Mayor Adams: Thank you.
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