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Transcript: Mayor Adams Calls In For Live Interview On 77 WABC’s “Cats & Cosby”

January 15, 2024

Rita Cosby: And on this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so much to talk about including the state of New York City. And joining us is New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Mr. Mayor, great to talk with you and great to have you here on Cats & Cosby. 

Mayor Eric Adams: Rita and Brother Cats, all of you, it's just great to speak with you. And you know, you had one of my mentors and a person I have deep respect for, a great American, served in the military, served in congress, They called him the Lion of Lenox Avenue. I was 13 points behind in the poll in the mayor's race, and he called me up. I'll never forget that day I was home, and he called me up and said that you have served us well, Eric, and I need to make sure I stand beside you and endorse you. 

I don't care that you're behind in the polls, 13 points. I'm going to be there with you. And I cannot thank him enough for his mentorship, his guidance and just for being a great New York and a great American, Congressman Charlie Rangel. 

John Catsimatidis: And he's one of my mentors, too, and...  

Cosby: He's great. 

Catsimatidis: ...I love him and I miss him and we don't see him enough. And I said to him, we've got to go, we used to go to dinner all the time, with Bill Fugazy to the Columbus Club along with David Dinkins. And we're bringing in David Patterson into that club. And Mr. Mayor, we'd love to have you as part of that club to go to dinner one night. 

Mayor Adams: Just let me know when you go to dinner with him I want to be a part of that dinner because I can only imagine the war stories the two of you…  

Catsimatidis: Oh, many, many war stories…  

Cosby: Many war stories. Speaking of sort of where the city is headed. Mr. Mayor, where do you...wWhat is the state of the city and what, can you kind of give us an update? Because people are concerned about some of the cuts. What's the truth about will there be cuts to cops, will there be cuts to fire? Where do we stand? What's the truth? 

Mayor Adams: So, and let's do a real analysis of the city and what I inherited in 2022. I inherited a city where crime was trending in the wrong direction, where our businesses were, we were hemorrhaging those businesses. Tourism was not here. No one wanted to be on the subway system. There was no real housing momentum. We were seeing that bond raters had us a lower bond rating. 

Two years later — two years, Rita, later — we have more private sector jobs in the history of the city. Double‑digit decrease in homicides, double‑digit decrease in shootings. We have witnessed a resurgence, we have built more affordable housing for formerly homeless New Yorkers in the history of the city, the second largest in the history of the city of affordable units we have built, put more people who needed FHEPS vouchers into housing, right in alignment with Dr. King as he pushed for a real housing agenda. 

4 million people back on our subway system. People, tourists are back, over 62 million tourists are back in the city. Bond raters looked at our city and said, the way this guy's managing the city, we're going to increase his bond rating, and they increased the bond rating. 

They told me it was going to take me four to five years to turn the city around. We did it in two years, turned the city around. And we navigated through Covid and now we're hit with 168,000 migrants and asylum seekers that are in our city, 1.5 the size of Albany. An entire city was dropped in our city. 

So, let me tell you what we did last year. When I saw that this flow was endless, I told the team we may get 100,000 people, migrants and asylum seekers in our city, so we need to start budgeting for that and start figuring out how to get people out of our system because we can't sustain taking care of people for the rest of their lives. 

Not only did we get 100,000, we had 168,000. But we were able to keep… Over 57 percent of the people we cycled out of the system so we would not have that large dollar amount that we were projected. And because of that, we were able to put money back into our police academy classes. We're going to have four classes graduating, two are in already, two more are going to come in. 

We were able to restore money to our schools, restore money to the FDNY, restore money to DSNY, because we did the right thing in getting people out of our system. But we're still getting anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 a week…  

Cosby: Wow. 

Mayor Adams: ...that are coming into our city. 

But we've managed this better than any other municipality, and we're going to continue to do the right thing for New Yorkers because I have to navigate us through this. 

Catsimatidis: Mr. Mayor, I mean, isn't there a way you could just turn away those buses? I mean, this sanctuary city stuff, there is no real law against it is there? 

Mayor Adams: A great question. You know, because I hear it often, you know, whenever something goes wrong, you know, you go to the mayor and you say that well, you know, it's your job, mayor. Because people did not elect me to tell them the problem, they elected me to fix the problem. 

There are four things that are so misunderstood about this crisis: one, I do not have the legal authority to stop the buses from coming in. I don't have that authority on a state level nor do I have it on a federal level to stop the buses from coming in. Two, I don't have the authority to say whoever is here that cannot take care of themselves, I have by law to take care of them. Three, even those who commit crimes, who repeatedly commit crimes, I don't have the city authority to turn them over to ICE, that is against the law in the City of New York. And I don't have the authority to send people out because only the federal government has deportation [authority]. 

 I inherited the problem. The problem has been dropped in my lap. But I don't have the legal authority to do anything other than what is required by the City of New York. Now…  

Catsimatidis: No, I understand that. But Mr. Mayor, I'll give you my opinion, just strictly my opinion. 

Mayor Adams: But let me give you one point…  

Catsimatidis: I would say the heck with... 

Mayor Adams: Let me give you one point, Cats. 

Catsimatidis: Yes, go ahead. 

Mayor Adams: Let me give you one point. This is very important because you asked a good question. This is so important, that the people have mixed up the term sanctuary cities and asylum seekers. These people are not illegal. We paroled them into the country. They're not illegal. 

A sanctuary city applies to those who are illegal and you can't turn them over. But these are legal people who have been put paroled into the country and the federal government is not fulfilling their responsibilities. These are not illegal immigrants that have arrived here, these are people who are paroled to this country. 

Catsimatidis: No, we realize that, but if you put your foot down I think the people of the City of New York will back you. 

Cosby: Yes. If you said no more, quote, paroling of them. 

Catsimatidis: The people of the City of New York will back you. They're not going to back the other people. 

Mayor Adams: And I agree 100 percent, because I hear it from New Yorkers all the time. But here's what will happen. Legal Aid and others will sue us and we will be sanctioned by the court that can turn out to pay millions of dollars a day based on how we're sanctioned. We're in court right now to try to show that the Right to Shelter does not apply to this, and with Legal Aid has brought this case to court. And so we have to fight the court so that we're not sanctioned daily if we do something that is illegal. 

Catsimatidis: Understood. Judge Weinberg, do you have anything to say? You were in the Supreme Court for so many years. 

Judge Richard Weinberg: Mr. Mayor, good to talk to you again. I agree with…  I agree with the mayor: there's no right to come into the country, and it's a federal responsibility. It's a failure, the mayor is not saying this, I'm saying this. This is a failure of the Biden administration to protect our borders. They have no right to come in here. They shouldn't be paroled into this country. So, presents a problem for all the mayors of all the localities. 

Catsimatidis: It's not the mayor's fault. 

Judge Weinberg: It's not the mayor's fault. But where I take a different point of view is I do not believe as a matter of law there is a right to shelter. There's a Supreme Court case out of Staten Island that said there's no right to shelter. It comes out of a consent decree. I think that consent decree should be applied for modification. There's no obligation on the city to house everybody. It was never intended to house this with this kind of influx in the tens of thousands of people. 

Cosby: Your thoughts, Mr. Mayor? 

Mayor Adams: 100 percent, I agree, and that's why we're in court right now, Judge, because we are saying to the judge that's overseeing this case, the right to shelter was something that was put in place for a small number of New Yorkers. It was never put in place for 168,000 people who are dealing with a humanitarian crisis. 

And you're right, this was never a law, this was the agreement that was settled with the state, not even solely with New York City. And so it is our belief that this does not apply in this situation. And we cannot have any form of rule, law, agreement that states you can come from anywhere on the globe, come to New York and stay for as long as you want on taxpayers' dime. That makes no sense at all. 

Catsimatidis: No sense. 

Judge Weinberg: Absolutely correct, Mr. Mayor. 

Cosby: Yes. 

Catsimatidis: Mr. Mayor, last question of the day, the $64 billion question, what is the $64 billion question. What is the $64 billion question? 

Cosby: Well, I'll give one. I have a $65 billion… What about the protests, Mr. Mayor, too, because you have been great on supporting the Jewish population and really steadfast and taken some heat. We saw what happened in Washington. They were going after even the White House gate. They were pushing it down, shouting horrible things. They may have already reached Gracie Mansion, but they were planning to reach Gracie Mansion today in New York. Can we do more to clamp down on these people? It's getting so out of control. 

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, you know the right to protest, you can do so, but don't try that madness of talking about you gonna break down the gates of Gracie Mansion. That is not going to happen…  

Catsimatidis: No, no, yesterday was the White House. It's okay. 

Mayor Adams: Right. No, no. I'm saying if they want to do that in the White House with the Secret Service and and all the security there, they could go right ahead. It's the wrong thing to do. But you're not gonna pull that type of action here in this city. I have the best police department on the globe. 

Catsimatidis: You do. 

Mayor Adams: And we're very clear: you have a right for peaceful protest, but when you want to start clogging up the bridges, you want to start clogging up the tunnels, you're going to feel the full extent of the law. 

Listen, we had over 400 protests in the city, many of them overwhelmingly peaceful on both sides of the issue. There was a rally to call after the 100 days of the hostages being held to call for the return of the hostages. So, there's protests. This city and this country is known for protest. 

What you can't do is create violence and create disruption in a city. There was a ruling by the court that I think went a little too far on giving people the right to march in the streets, but we've got to abide by the court decision and the agreement that happened. 

I don't want to see these protests any more than anyone else, but we have laws we have to abide by. And that frustration of abiding by some of these laws is what I must do as the mayor and the Police Department must do, must operate within the law. 

Catsimatidis: Mr. Mayor, last question. I found the $64 billion question. 

Cosby: There it is! 

Catsimatidis: If Martin Luther King were here today, would he be proud of the progress of the Black community? 

Mayor Adams: Oh, without a doubt. We owe so much, a debt of gratitude to not only Dr. King, but the men and women who came in a symbol of Dr. King, and some of them are still alive today. I interviewed his attorney and his strategist and his confidante, and he just shared some beautiful stories with me during a meeting, Dr. Clarence Jones. 

And so I think that when you do an analysis of where we are in this great country, and it is the greatest country in the globe, there's no other country where dream is attached to its name but the American dream. No matter how people want to critique it, no one is lining our borders to leave America, they're lining our borders to come into America. 

Catsimatidis: We agree. 

Mayor Adams: The four largest cities in America have mayors of color, and some of the other largest cities in America as well. We have a mayor of color here, we have a public advocate of color, an AG of color, the district attorneys in the Bronx, in Manhattan and in Brooklyn of color, the Southern and Eastern District U.S. attorneys are of color. Letitia James, the AG, the head of the City Council, the head of the Senate, the head of the Assembly. 

So, you go through the list and you see that Dr. King's dream is closer and closer to reality. We can't stop moving. We must ensure the diversity of women, LGBTQ, of all other groups that participate in this great vision of a dream. King had it right. He was a visionary. We may have lost him physically, but his spiritual presence is still among us. And I thank God for the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Cosby: Agreed. 

Catsimatidis: Mr. Mayor Eric Adams, thank you so much, and thank you for coming on and telling all New Yorkers, all Americans about it, and we'll catch up again with you real soon. Thank you so much. 

Cosby: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. 

Mayor Adams: Take care. Great speaking to all of you. 

Cosby: You, too. Thank you. 

Catsimatidis: Thank you. 


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