February 6, 2023
Pat Kiernan: In an effort to deflect criticism of the city by some immigrants and advocates, the mayor slept at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal for one night on the weekend. Mayor Adams spent Friday night in the Red Hook shelter. He was on a cot with several other local officials highlighting the conditions and saying that it is safe to be in these shelter spaces in the 180,000 square foot building. The idea behind moving the men out of hotels was to make room for migrant families with children in the available hotel space. Mayor Adams is with me now this morning after that night's sleep in the shelter. Good morning, Mayor Adams.
Kiernan: Mayor Adams, do you hear me?
Kiernan: Yeah, we're not connected with the mayor. We're going to try to straighten that out. That was Friday night, going into Saturday, and there had been so much criticism about this space being not suitably set up for those.
Jamie Stelter: And a couple of different local officials over the course of the last week or so had toured it and we were reporting that they said the conditions were acceptable, and so it'll be interesting to see the things that stuck out to him in terms of what passes the bar, or right away, after spending a night, is he like, "We got to do X, Y, Z immediately."
John Davitt: Yeah, that's it. What changes once you experience it for yourself? So it'll be interesting. But to go and do it, that's pretty impressive.
Kiernan: He picked Friday night to do it, so if there was going to be a problem with the heating system keeping up.
Davitt: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Temperatures that night were down in the single digits. It was the coldest in four years, so that was the night you were really going to test it because some of the rumors, and a lot of this was rumors, was that there was not adequate heat.
Stelter: Or that they had to go outside to use the showers in that weather as well.
Davitt: That was the big one.
Kiernan: All right. It doesn't look like this is going to be a quick fix on the mayor, so I'll... We do have them now? Okay. Mayor Adams, can you hear me?
Mayor Eric Adams: Yes, I can.
Kiernan: Hey, good morning. I'm sorry for the technical glitch there. I was just talking about the fact that Friday night was such a cold night. You made the decision to sleep with the men who were housed in that shelter at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. How did it go?
Mayor Adams: Went extremely well. People often hear me talk about growing up as a child, our family moved from location to location, staying with our relatives and carrying a garbage bag full of clothing to school every day because mom thought we were going to be thrown out of our homes. So I know what it is to have housing insecurity, and when we walked into the coldest night of the year, I wanted to really have solidarity to those who were seeking the American dream. And we had a good conversation, had a warm place to sleep, and I got up in the morning, had breakfast and talked to the asylum seekers.
Kiernan: What about the rest of the facility? There were criticisms that there weren't enough bathrooms, weren't enough showers, weren't enough things to do. What was your experience there?
Mayor Adams: Well, speaking with the men who were there, we're going to make some additions. Some of them stated they would like English classes. We're going to collaborate to do that. Some of them stated that they just want some type of recreational activity. We're going to really learn from being on the ground. That is why I've always gone on the ground. You can't only listen to what people are saying, you must go there and visit firsthand. They are extremely appreciative. They want to work. That's why we need to expedite work permits. We have a lot of jobs available in this city, and they're extremely appreciative to New Yorkers.
Kiernan: Mayor Adams, how much do you think this was manipulated by advocates who had other agendas here? Was this being driven by the migrants themselves? Clearly, if somebody has a choice between a hotel room and a shelter, they're going to choose the hotel room. But was this being inflamed by third parties?
Mayor Adams: And it was. It is just so unfortunate that there are those who have their own agenda instead of the agenda of watching and seeing and participating in our city, moving through this crisis. Everyone knows New York has done its share. 43,000 people went through our system. When I became mayor in January 1st of 2022, we had 45,000 people in our shelter system. Think about that for a moment. And that was throughout the years. And one year we had an additional 43,000. And so when you hear people state that we have not been humane, it is just wrong, and they really came and agitated the situation at the hotel. We were moving people out of the hotel so we could move children and families inside the hotel. After opening 81 hotels already and several different HERRCS, this was the right thing to do. And the men who were there agreed it was the right thing to do.
Kiernan: I want to switch to this incident that you responded to on Saturday night, the officer who appears to have off-duty been involved in trying to buy a car and instead was shot in a botched robbery attempt of some sort. It once again highlights the problem of guns in the city. And there are really two aspects to that. The governor in her speech last week was talking about stopping the flow of illegal guns. That's a giant challenge in itself, but there are so many guns in this city already. That really has to be part of the solution as well, and that's much harder to solve than stopping guns coming up here from Georgia or South Carolina.
Mayor Adams: And you're so true that it is a very difficult challenge in all of our big cities across America. We have done an amazing job with our anti-gun unit, a modification of police uniform and plain clothes vehicles, thousands of guns removed off our streets. But it zeros in also on what I've been talking about, 1,700 dangerous people are recidivous. I guarantee you when we catch this person, they will have a long track record of violence in our city because that is what is fueling the violence. We will go after those guns. We are going to continue to cooperate and really align ourselves with the ATF and other federal agencies to stop the flow. But once we take a bad guy off the street with a gun, they cannot be back on our streets. And that is why the recidivist challenge is so important. And I'm going to really look forward to partnering with the leadership in Albany and see how we can zero in on these 1,700 dangerous people.
Kiernan: Well, some of that's part of what the governor's been pushing the legislature on, and she's getting some resistance from the leadership in Albany that they don't think it's as much of a problem as you think it is and that the governor says she thinks it is.
Mayor Adams: Well, this is the beginning of the legislative cycle and session. We know it's about conversations and I'm looking forward to going to Albany. We had some real victories last year. People highlighted on one aspect of our agenda, but we walked away with some real victories, and we're looking forward to going up, showing the data, and having a holistic approach to public safety and how we can go after not only the guns on our streets, but the dangerous people, and also, how do we bottleneck our criminal justice system. And we believe that we can have a real holistic approach to doing that.
Kiernan: The City Council's holding this oversight hearing today on your administration's plan to, at times, involuntarily take people out of subways or off of the streets for mental health help. What's your administration's message going to be to that hearing today? Is the program working?
Mayor Adams: Where we are clearly, I believe in alignment with New Yorkers — New Yorkers know, people who have reached the point that they cannot take care of their basic needs and they are in danger to themselves should be given the proper care. If you don't know that you are bipolar, schizophrenic, or you are not taking care of your basic needs, how could you make the right decision? This is a humane program that's not being led by police officers, it's being led by mental health professionals, and it is not something for anyone who's dealing with a mental health issue, it is an individual who has reached a level that they cannot take care of their basic needs and they're in danger to themselves. That is the right thing and a humane thing to do. There are those who subscribe to the theory that these people should be able to live on the streets or in our subway system. I don't believe that and New Yorkers don't believe that.
Kiernan: Okay, Mayor Adams, final question. If City Hall was a professional sports team and you had an employee who gave you as much drama as Kyrie Irving has given the Brooklyn Nets and that employee said, "Could you trade me?" Would you do the trade?
Mayor Adams: I will find a team that beats us the most and send him to that team because then we'll start beating that team. It's about synergy and energy. No matter how much talent you have, your ability to interact with your colleagues is more important. One player can bring down the synergy of the team, and so I will send him to the team that beats us the most so we can start winning better.
Kiernan: All right. Well said. Mayor Adams, apologies again for the audio trouble at the beginning. Appreciate you joining us.
Mayor Adams: Thank you, Pat. Take care.
Kiernan: You too.