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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

February 5, 2024

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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. We appreciate everyone joining us today for our weekly in‑person media availability.

While we normally hold these forums on Tuesday, the mayor and our team could not contain our excitement of last night's announcement that New York/New Jersey has won the 2026 FIFA World Cup Final, so the world's game is coming to the world's biggest stage.

Without question, we are the best region to hold the final, and we cannot wait for 2026 to come. So, we just want to congratulate the team here and in New Jersey that worked tirelessly to secure the finals.

Tomorrow, the mayor will be traveling to Albany to discuss Governor Kathy Hochul's executive budget and New York City's priorities for the year ahead. As the mayor said in the State of the City speech, we are incredibly proud of the work we have done with our partners at the state level over the past two years.

We look forward to strengthening that partnership in 2024 and working with Albany to build more affordable housing, extend mayoral accountability, get the resources to manage the asylum seeker crisis, shut down illegal smoke shops and more.

But first we have today's media availability. These forums continue to be a valuable opportunity for New Yorkers to learn about the work their city government is doing for them every day.

So, joining us this morning, we have Mayor Eric Adams, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis‑Martin, Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres‑Springer, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams‑Isom, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar, Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg, and New York City Police Department Crime Control Strategies Deputy Chief Frank Giordano.

So I'm pleased to turn it now over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: Thanks so much, DM Levy and the entire team. And you know, you heard me say it over and over again, New Yorkers know it: jobs are up, crime is down and tourists are back, 62 million to be exact. And we're really proud of our success, and success continued last month.

In January, 2024, overall crime was down by almost 3 percent — 2.9 percent to be exact — and five of the seven major crime categories were down. Numbers are clear: murders down 25 percent, shootings were down nearly 11 percent, and for the second month in a row, grand larceny auto was down almost 4 percent.

With GLAs on the rise, when you look across the country, grand larceny auto is on the rise nationally. Our administration, we got together, put in place a comprehensive plan and strategy, because one of the biggest investments a New Yorker will make is in their vehicle, and we wanted to make sure those vehicles are secured, everything from using devices to track, to using drones and other technology to go after those who steal cars.

But in addition to the decrease in the grand larcenies, we have witnessed a real effort on our part on grand larceny arrests, as the chief is going to go into some of those numbers. We have an increase in the number of arrests because our apprehension methods are working.

And a couple of areas concern in crime is real, and we're not going to ignore them and pretend as though they don't exist. Hate crime numbers are increasing, driven by the increase in antisemitism and other forms of hate crime, including Islamophobia. And this is part of a trend we've seen going back since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, we witnessed this increase in hate crime.

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force remains focused on reversing this trend, and I also want to commend Chancellor Banks for some of the action he's taken in our New York City public school system.

We know we have to focus on transit crime. Our transit system must remain safe. We had a shift in a number of offices we had underground. The funding ran out, but we're looking to refocus our attention. And hats off to the chief of Transit, Chief Kemper. He's doing an amazing job of ensuring the four million riders, daily riders, are moving through our system in a safe manner.

And so although transit crime remains just two percent of the major crime in our city, we do not dismiss that as something to walk away from any time crime ticks up there, we're going to make sure that we respond accordingly, and that's two percent of all major crime in the city.

The NYPD continues to develop timely data‑driven deployment plans with expanded uniform presence in hot spots, and we will continue to move officers from administrative duty onto patrol in our transit system and throughout the city. Better deployment of our police personnel is going to allow us to do a more effective job, and embracing technology as part of our transit and our city‑wide police operation makes our job easier and allow our manpower to be used better.

But let's be clear: New York City remains the safest big city in America. And thanks to the men and women of the Police Department, we're going to continue to do so. But that's not at all due to just a guesswork, it's due to proper deployment. And like I said in the beginning, crime is down, jobs are up.

Tourism is up as well. Last year, we had the fourth-most tourists visit New York City in history, and now we're going to build on it in a big way. As Fabien mentioned, last night, we won the hosting of the World Cup here in the city and New Jersey, New York in this region.

This is just huge for us: $2 billion predicted in economic revenue. We're looking at 14,000 jobs, over one million tourists. And the beauty of that, not every tourist or visitor goes to the game. Something that many people don't realize when you talk about the World Cup, it is the fan experience.

When I was in Qatar to look and see how they handled that large volume of people, it was about the fans. The fans enjoy, they come out, they spend money. We want them to go to Broadway, to visit some of our beautiful sites and to interact with our city.

So, we are really, really excited, hats off to a good partner across the bridge to Governor Murphy. He has been an amazing partner throughout this entire venture. We have been speaking with FIFA personnel to make sure that we have the most attractive product.

They made it clear: they wanted here in this region, a safe city. They were extremely impressed with our law enforcement apparatus. They clearly saw the fan experience here. And they know that this is because of you in this room, this is the world capital of media production. No one does it better or more brutal, I don't know which one to pick.
But this is it. When you want to play on the world stage, you have to be here in New York City, so we're excited about this. And we all know since the pandemic New York City and this region has been receiving so much negative press about the pandemic. We were ground zero for the pandemic.

Now it's time for us to show what's great about this region, New York and New Jersey, and I'm excited about it and we're going to continue to move in the last and right direction, hosting eight games including the finals will generate a substantial amount of revenue, activity, energy.

And really because we planted the seed earlier. This city is one of the most diverse cities on the globe, and our brothers and sisters and citizens and those who live in here coming from South America, Central America, European countries — places where soccer was already popular — now they're able to see it here in the city that they adopted and now they currently call home.

So, I'm excited about this, and we're looking forward to the future in this great City of New York. So, open it up to a few questions.

Question: Good morning, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Number one, they’re still negotiating an immigration deal in Washington, and I'm curious what you're hoping to see from that. And then second, a campaign question. I believe your friend Dwayne Montgomery pleaded guilty this morning to conspiring to draw straw donors to your campaign. We also saw some reporting last week about more alleged straw donors. Do your campaigns, did your campaigns have a straw donor problem? There seems to be a lot of evidence of this.

Mayor Adams: Well, okay, first let's deal with the good stuff. We need to look through, and Tiffany Raspberry, our Intergovernmental Affairs and our legal team is looking through, the deal that is going through, it went through the Senate, now it's going to go into Congress.

I spoke with the White House chief of staff yesterday. The areas of focus for us, we have not been unclear. The areas of focus that we believe are important, decompression strategy. We think it is crucial that we fund those cities that are impacted. We see what's happening to Chicago, what's happening to New York City, Boston, so we need to see what the dollars amount. We haven't received clarity on that at all.

And we need to really dig into how do we deal with allowing people to work. The byproduct of not allowing working-age residents here to work is really problematic and it creates a lot of issues, and so we need to really look into that.

And so we haven't seen the full flow of the deal, but I think it's moving in a direction that we believe it needs to move into. But there are things that we want to know, how does it impact New York and those cities that are impacted.

Dealing with the question around Dwayne Montgomery, the DA is handling that case. I think the DA clearly reported that there was nothing our campaign did that was a part of what was done wrong, and I say let the DA handle the situation. We have a process, and many people don't understand, I think, when they think about hearing this concept of straw donors.

I think just about, I had around 16,000, 17,000 donors. And I think all of them received a call by everyone in this room, because you know, the level of scrutiny of calling all of my donors, you know, when you look at those volumes of donors, the donors did what they were supposed to do.

If someone did not, one, hear our verbal instructions, no straw donors, it has to be your own money. It was in writing, people had to read it before they signed the donor form or after contributing online. Then I added an additional layer of spending thousands of dollars on a compliance attorney who matched signatures, who matched information and made sure things were done with a level of scrutiny that deserved. And we returned back tens of thousands of donations that did not follow that muster.

And so the campaign did its job. We did the review that we're supposed to review. And I've always told you from the beginning, I'm confident that I know we did the internal scrutiny we're supposed to do.

Question: I have two questions that are sort of related. The first has to do, they're both having to do with migrants, but today there was a press conference, members of Congress, members of the City Council and the head of ICE in New York are calling on you to take the handcuffs off federal agents to allow them to go after migrants who break the law.

They want you to undo legislation that was enacted by your former predecessor Bill de Blasio that would allow more cooperation with ICE. I wonder if you could tell us if you are willing to do that and to try to make it easier for federal agents to arrest migrants and deport them who have been in trouble with the law.

And the second question has to do with the raid in the 49th Precinct where there was migrants and I think you participated in it. If you could tell us something more about it, break up a robbery squad, the...

Mayor Adams: Who did the press conference? I didn't catch that. I probably was in the Bronx. Who did?

Question: It was Congresswoman Malliotakis.

Question: Malliotakis, the head of ICE in New York, members of the congress.

Mayor Adams: The head of who in New York? Okay.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Republican delegation.

Question[Republican [inaudible] caucus, [inaudible] Republicans [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Right. Got it. Got it. Got it. 

Deputy Mayor Levy: Marcia just said it, the issue was...

Mayor Adams: So… I strongly believe that the overwhelming number, the 175,000 we're up to about, they're here trying to take the next step in the American dream. And I see them, I speak with them, I think they come from the rich tradition of those who come from immigrant backgrounds, who contribute to the society and the tax base.

If there ever was a time we realized the importance of our immigrant population, I think it was during Covid. I saw them out delivering for New Yorkers. They could not shelter in place. They did the jobs that caused them to be in a place and work for us.

But those numerical minority that believe they could come to our city and get the benefits that the city has to offer and commit a crime — even if they were migrants or asylum seekers or any New Yorker that think they're going to commit a crime in this city — that's not acceptable and that is what we're seeing.

And so we all have a role here. The role of the Police Department is to arrest, the role of the prosecutors is to prosecute, and the role of the federal government, if a person is found guilty of a crime, is to deport, and I think deport after they serve their sentence here for the crime that they committed.

So, I don't have the power. There's a law in the city. And you know my rule, follow the law. There's a law in the city that states what we can do with migrants and asylum seekers and undocumented. That's the law. I didn't pass that law.

Question: [Inaudible] propose something to the City Council that would undo the law which is handcuffing federal agents right now.

Mayor Adams: Well, that's the City Council. I think that question should be presented to the City Council. And here's the only area of the law that I think should be examined, and I made it clear. You repeatedly commit felonies, dangerous crimes, if you're found guilty, you should not be in our city. That's what I believe.

And ICE can execute warrants. ICE can have a role here. You know, they can… No one is stopping ICE from doing their job. They have a job to do when you deal with dangerous people such as that. I cannot use city resources based on existing law. And so I think that's a question that should be presented to the Council, how do they want to move forward on this issue?

Question: ...the Council given the fact that you as the mayor of the City of New York City have to deal with the blowback when people should be deported or commit crimes and are convicted of crimes and are not deported. So, it causes a criminal justice issue for you. So, as mayor, what's your advice?

Mayor Adams: My advice to them is that we should never do anything that will allow dangerous people to stay on our streets whether not only dealing with undocumented, documented, but also with a revolving door criminal justice system. So, I think this is the totality of how we deal with public safety.

I think there's a different view by some in this city and some in the City Council that, you know, people who commit serious crimes should be held accountable. I say this over and over again. And this doesn't only fall with migrant and asylum seekers. You know, when we see some of these repeated offenders, they're not migrants, they're not asylum seekers, and they are repeatedly committing crimes.

And we need to stop that thought process that those who commit dangerous crimes in the City of New York should be held accountable.

Question: [Inaudible.]
Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, could… 

Question: So you would support rolling back...

Mayor Adams: No. No. No. What I support is all of our lawmakers… 

That's all right, I had some bad songs on my phone also. It's all good.

You know, I support laws that prevent repeated offenders committing crimes in our city. And I don't want to separate this from migrants and asylum seekers. We need, residents need to be safe. And there's no consolation prize that I go to a resident who was the victim of a robbery, victim of a homicide, or what have you, and I say, oh, it was not a migrant and asylum seeker. People don't care about that, they want to be safe.

And so those small number of migrants and asylum seekers who are victimizing New Yorkers should be treated the same way as long‑term New Yorkers who are victimizing New Yorkers.
Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: Yes. Today, the New York City Police Department executed an action. They're going to be going through the details of it later this afternoon. I really want to commend them on their speedy actions, and I think once everyone looks at what they did and the thoroughness of their investigation, it's going to show one of the challenges that we are facing on those small number of people who want to commit crimes in the city.

And I take my hat off to the detectives who are involved in bringing this case to closure, and they're going go into the full detail. And I wanted to be there, because generals lead from the front. You know, if it's doing a ride‑along, if it's going into the subway system, that's just my style. My style is, you know, leading from the front.

If it's leading from the front by being with my DSS employees going to our HERRCs, if it's spending a night in a shelter, if it's walking through a school system… You know, you can't solve these problems by being in the sterilized environment of your office in City Hall, you must lead from the front. And that is what I brought to this administration from the beginning, and I'm going to continue to do that.

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I'm great. Last week my colleagues wrote a story, sorry, about straw donors, alleged straw donors to your current campaign.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: And there was a piece of information that I wanted to get your take on it. So, one of the alleged straw donor owns a bunch of hotels including one in Queens that is contracted by the city to be used as a shelter. But your Asian Affairs liaison, Winnie Greco, spent nine months living there recuperating from surgery.

So, I wanted to know when you first found out that she was living in that hotel, and what do you make of the arrangement? And then, I guess, is it even allowed for a city official to live in a hotel while it's under contract to serve as a shelter?

I don't know if there's, do you just submit forms or anything? I don't know if you want to react. And mainly when you [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: All of that, whenever someone carries out an action that is a question raised, we have an amazing body called DOI. They do the reviews to determine if actions were inappropriate or not. And I have a great deal of respect for that, and so let's let that process run its course. Lisa, if there's anything you want to add to that?

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: The mayor's correct. So, DOI has publicly indicated that they have an inquiry, and we're going to let them run the course with their review.

Question: So, this is actually separate? This was, I want to know when he knew that Winnie e was living in a hotel. This is separate to what DOI is.

[Cell phone plays.]

Deputy Mayor Levy: Can we make sure to... Everyone silence their cell phones. Sorry, I just want to, like, this is, can we make sure cell phone is silenced? Or turn it off.

Question: ...unless you are...

Deputy Mayor Levy: Or turn it off.

Question: ...confirm that DOI has opened a second inquiry into what's happening.

Mayor Adams: No, I'm not confirming anything. I'm saying that DOI is conducting a review. Whenever there's a question of actions of anyone that's a city employee, DOI conducts a review. Let them do their review. They're going to come out with the finding of their review.

And as I always say this, I'm not going to interfere in any reviews that take place. I participate, cooperate in whatever questions are asked. And so let DOI do their job and do their review.
Question: Yes. Hi, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. How you doing?

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: So, you went over the crime numbers, major crimes are down, but we do have these incidents with the migrants, the officers that were beaten in Times Square, the three migrants arrested in the Bronx for the muggings. How do you defend the city's policy as a sanctuary city when you have this going on?

And the perception — of course, it's become political with the press conference in Times Square this morning — that things are under control in the city or that, you know, migrants aren't taking over and running amok and creating havoc and crime in the city.

Mayor Adams: And that's a great question, because I'm asked from New Yorkers all the time about this. As I said last week, our branches of government, we all have a role. This bill was passed by the City Council. This is the City Council's role.

I know my role and I share with New Yorkers what my views are and use my power either to veto or whatever actions or to support bills. But this is a City Council bill that was passed, and so the City Council must review that.

My job, if someone breaks the law, is to make sure the New York City Police Department, our Police Department is carrying out their job. I think that anyone that there's a repeated offender of a violent crime, a felony, should not remain on our streets. And if they are part of the migrant and asylum seekers, if they are found guilty, I think that the federal government should do their job of deporting that person.

Question: Can you put pressure on the district attorney to up the charges or increase the charges against the migrants in Times Square?

Mayor Adams: I communicated with the DA over the weekend. He's been extremely thorough on this case. He wants to make sure that the persons who are responsible are held accountable, and I have confidence that he's going to do just that.

And it's important that, you know, you can easily bring someone to justice, but you have to complete the task of making sure the evidence is right so they can be held accountable for the action because you don't want to make a mistake in this case. And I think that's what he's doing in his level of thoroughness.
Question: Hi, yes, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good, how are you?

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: So, tomorrow you're headed up to Albany. I wanted to know, what are your top priorities? How is this year different than before where many people said you might have failed on getting some things through? And then I wanted to...

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, they said people say what?

Question: That you failed on getting part of your agenda completed successfully last year when it came to...

Mayor Adams: When? When?

Question: In bail reform. I want to talk about this year [inaudible] priorities, how is it different than last year? What's top on your list? What are you going to be asking for?

And then I want to talk about your Mayor's Management Report. You recently dropped it. There were some concerning trends on there, including higher emergency response times and significant decrease in processing of applications for cash assistance. You know, many struggling New Yorkers need these types of services. Many see this as maybe failed policies under your administration right now. What's your response to that?

Mayor Adams: Okay, first I'll go back to Albany. Every year since I've been mayor for those two years, people talked about my bad relationship with Albany. Yet at the end of the legislative session, we walk away with just about everything we want.

So, I don't know how there's an analysis that we are unable o to deliver when we go to Albany when it's been just the opposite, from Earned Income Tax Credit, retaining mayoral control to what we have done around childcare. You just go through the list, MWBE, increasing the discretionary dollars.

We walk up with the list and we normally get eight out of the 10 items on the list. As a former legislator, that's a huge good year, both years. The two years we've been up there, we walked away at the end of the sessions with all of these Ws. So, I'm not quite sure where we failed in Albany.

Our plan has been excellent. Tiffany Raspberry, Intergovernmental Affairs, now we have a real superstar in Diane Savino, who has joined our team, former state senator, my chief advisor's relationship in Albany, being able to bring this over the top. So, I'm hoping we can change the narrative and say that... Stop saying that we failed when we go to Albany.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think you forgot NYCHA Trust.

Mayor Adams: NYCHA Trust, there's a whole list.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Community Hire.

Mayor Adams: Community Hire.

Deputy Mayor Levy: MWBEs.

Mayor Adams: I can't even get them all. You know, so like where's the failure? Where's the failure, you know?

Question: One of the top priorities for housing was one that you weren't able to...

Mayor Adams: One, okay. One.

Question: And then you had to [inaudible] bail reform [inaudible]. I mean [inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Levy: That was changed, Kelly.

Mayor Adams: But you know bail reform was changed, right? You know there was a modification of bail reform, right?

Question: [Inaudible] asking you a question and I'm responding to your question.

Mayor Adams: Well, I'm responding to your question. You said that we failed the last two years.

Ingrid Lewis‑Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: 80 percent, when you take a math test and you score 80 percent, that is not a failure.

So, I mean, to say it's a failure, that's not really right. You know, we didn't get 100 percent, but we got 80 percent, and that's really great.

Mayor Adams: You know, so would you agree we had two good years up in Albany?

Question: I don't know, that's up to you to make the decision, not me.

Mayor Adams: All right. All right. Okay. Okay.

Question: And then on the mayor's management report.

Mayor Adams: No, wait, first this year before we go to mayor's management report. So this year, we're clear on what we want. We need housing, we have to build more; and if we don't build more, the mayor didn't fail, we failed the people of the city, because the people of the city all agree we need to build more housing. And so if I go up there speaking on behalf of the people of the city and the determination is not to build more housing when we have an inventory problem, I didn't fail, we failed the people of the city.

And of course, mayoral control of, you know, when you look at mayoral control not only my administration but prior to mayoral control we were having a 50‑something percent graduation rate, we're now up to 80‑something percent. And under Chancellor Banks, not only are we doing dyslexia screening, not only are we feeding our children healthier foods, not only do we have a real career path for our young people going into employment, but we are outpacing the state in reading and writing, and the governor is embracing our phonics‑based learning.

So, you have an administration where with this chancellor, if there was ever a case of, okay, should we keep mayoral control, I think the case is very clear, and so we're going to go up there and present the case.

And so we are also going to look at housing. It's crucial that we have to build more housing. And then, cannabis control. Every community in this city is talking about the over‑proliferation of illegal cannabis shops. Hats off to Jenifer Rajkumar, the assemblywoman, even the governor has alluded to the cannabis issue. And it's not only impacting New York City but across the entire state they're talking about the problem of cannabis. It has… Whatever dreams we had, they have gone up in smoke. You know, there's, it's a real problem.

And lastly, asylum seekers money. You know, this is a state issue. We're the economic engine of the entire state. We need help to make sure that it's properly funded.

And lastly, if I didn't mention, we need to lift the cap. We have some real things we have to pay for in capital, from the building the jails to class sizes, to BQE, there's some real issues. And so we need to make sure we lift the cap. What is… Jacques, we're trying to get it, what, 13, 12, 13… 

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: $33 billion is the goal.

Mayor Adams: $33 billion, because we have to pay for this stuff. So, those are our top priorities. And at the end of the session, we're going to sit down once again, and we're going to share the Ws we have. And then in 2025, you're going to ask me a question, based on your losses in Albany, you know? So, no. But listen, we've done great in Albany, and I thank my partners up there.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think you forgot, mayor, EITC and 24/7 speed cameras as well.

Mayor Adams: Yes, speed cameras, EITC, you know, it's been a good, good year.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Did you want… 

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams‑Isom, Health and Human Services: Oh, yes, I wanted to talk a little bit, Kelly, about the management report. And I think you are absolutely right, we want to make sure to get New Yorkers the support that they need. And it's not surprising that I think last fall, there was an increase of the 70 percent of the amount of people who are actually getting cash assistance.

So, in spite of the fact that the amount of people that are getting benefits right now, which I think is the largest amount in history, we are really making a lot of progress on the backlog. I will say that we have to work on speeding up the process. There's two reasons for that: one is, again, because of the unprecedented amount of people that are applying, but we kept some of the technological processes that we had in place during Covid where people could apply online to make it easier, and so that now is causing more people to apply and so we want to make sure to get that down.

One of the things I've been happy about is people who are working on the backlog and this whole issue have been exempt from the hiring freezes. And Commissioner Park and her team are working weekly all the time in order to get this down.

I want to say, I don't think that this is about failed policies of this administration, this is what we've inherited. I'm not complaining about it, but I'm saying that we want to make sure that, as the song says, not some New Yorkers are able to make it here, we want all New Yorkers to make it here.

And in order to do that, this is why our policies have been about housing, have been about food insecurity, have been about access to good health, have been about connecting people to a livable wage so that we don't see New Yorkers who are suffering. So, we are working on it. It is an important issue, and the mayor has asked us to really focus on it and we report on it all the time to him.

First Deputy Mayor Wright: And I think the other item is emergency response times. So, that's, again, data you have to look at in context. There are more people on the streets, there's more traffic, there are more cars, so it actually takes more time for our responders to respond. So, if you look at it from 2020 and 2021, obviously the roads were open, and so we have to look at things in context as we're looking at performance and progress.

Mayor Adams: Right. And so the execution of the delivery of services, because I was, you know, I'm glad you picked up on that Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom, our policies are firm. You know, investing in young people, investing in those who are in need, those are policies.

So, we need to be different, you know, what are your policies? Our policies are clear. We invested in working class people and it's across the board from increasing the wages to our over 300,000 employees to our focus on healthcare to our focus on women's rights. Those are the policies.

Now, if you're saying that, hey, you didn't deliver the cash assistance at a right amount of time, that's not a policy. That's the execution of the policy, and we inherited a mess in the bureaucracy.

And that is what we're using a new approach to it, and the deputy mayor and her team has, they have done a great job. So, we have sound policies and we're going to execute on them and continue to move this city forward.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: Quite well. How are you doing?

Question: Doing just fine. So, over the weekend rapper 50 Cent had posted on Instagram asking you to call him about the new migrant pilot program to give out the pre‑paid credit cards that will cover the cost of food and living supplies. First, have you called him, and he clearly reads the New York Post, so if you haven't, would you like to say something to him?

And then secondly, on Tin Cup Day, notably missing from this year's kind of agenda is anything on retail theft. I know that was something that was a big push by your administration to upgrade petit larcenies into grand larceny. Obviously, that's still a thing in the city, retail theft is still hurting a lot of New York businesses. Is there anything on your agenda this year to help with that retail theft?

Mayor Adams: Yes, first to Fiddy. I have not had one birthday that I have not played his song, but you know, can you go over this Camille, because we need to dispel the rumor that we gave American Express cards to everyone, you know? That is just not true.

What Camille, Molly and that whole team did around this was really brilliant, because we told everyone we have to find a cheaper, more efficient way to distribute food. Some of you wrote about food waste, although it wasn't it wasn't as much as people stated it was. But what Camille and her team did and the first deputy mayor did is put together a plan. So, Camille, why don't you run through this for us?

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: Sure, absolutely.

Mayor Adams: And look on the big screen. I just love these screens, you know.

Varlack: So, you'll see the card that is up on the screen here that just sort of walks through the top lines. But the fact of the matter is is there is a particular program. This is a pilot program for approximately 500 folks. And what had been happening in this particular program is that every couple of days, we were going to the hotel and we were delivering food. And so what ended up happening is you have the cost for the food itself as well as the cost for delivery services.

What we are pivoting to and trying out as part of this pilot is something that we are estimating is going to save approximately $600,000 a month, $7.2 million a year, where individuals will get a card with a particular allotment. That allotment is, I think, approximately $12.52 per person per day that they can use to purchase food.

And that is also putting money back in the hands of New Yorkers and New York businesses, because they will then be able to use those cards locally. Where they can spend that money is restricted to bodegas, grocery stores and supermarkets. And the cards are supposed to be used for food or baby supplies as necessary.

Mayor Adams: And so here's the key point of what the assignment was when I spoke with Camille. I said, we have to recycle this money back into our local economy, because we're spending this money anyway. So, how do we put it back into our local economy? They hire locally and they stay in the community. So, these cards are going to go to bodegas, grocery stores, supermarkets. Local businesses are going to benefit.

Second, how do we save money? It made no sense delivering the food, and then some of the food that we were delivering, people didn't want. So here, here's your debit card with a dollar amount that is lower dollar amount, smarter way to do it. It's going to save $600,000 a month and $7.2 million a year, avoid food waste and is focused on baby supplies and food.

This was… People were saying we shifted from the emergency to an operation. We had an emergency dropped in our lap. We had to build this while we were going along. And while we were building it, Camille and her team had to sit down and say, okay, how do we make this shift from emergency to actually an operation?

And so I know that on the first brush you look at it and say, oh, wait a minute, what are you doing, you're giving people cards? But once you dig into the numbers and in the line, you'll see that this was a smart policy shift that we're doing on a pilot project with 500 people. If this is successful, we're going to expand it even more so that we can bring down… We've got to bring down the cost, 20 percent we want to bring down the cost and their team are doing their job.

So I told 50 Cent to hit me up. I would love to explain it to him so that he can go out and do another tweet of saying, you know what, Eric is just a smart manager and now we understand why he was elected by the people of this City of New York to be the mayor. He may even write a song about me.
First Deputy Mayor Wright: And I also want to say Joy-Ann Reid did a wonderful response to Fiddy, where she really breaks it down. So, I encourage everybody to look at that. And as the mayor said, this is a part of a $2 billion, up to almost $2 billion reduction in costs that the team has really pushed forward.

Question: I'm sorry, just to follow up on the thing for retail theft.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: Retail theft of part of the agenda of having, you know, [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Chief, do we have any numbers on the retail theft? We did a summit, you know, last year, I think we did it last year, or was it the year before.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Yes, and a retail theft report.

Mayor Adams: Yes, and we did a report and really leaned into that. Chief, why don't you go into some of that stuff? This is the chief, you know, inaugural meeting. You know, I was happy to have you here. 

Deputy Chief Francis Giordano, Crime Control Strategies, Police Department: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, just to create a perspective related to the retail thefts, at the onset of this administration, a task force was created involving all stakeholders from the Police Department to the district attorney's office to the private sector business owners, from the large retailers like Macy's and Target to the smaller bodega associations.

And just the communication amongst everybody involved in the process since the onset of this task force has never been better. We look at retail thefts last year, we were down approximately 5 percent in retail thefts, all three categories, the robberies, the grand larcenies, the petit theft incidents.

At the same time, we were up about 15 percent in arrests, and those trends are continuing. We're on a downward trend this year related to the overall stats, and we're up in arrests as well.

There's continued meetings amongst all stakeholders involved with the mayoral administration and also with the retailers from the private sector companies to the National Supermarket Association and other businesses and people involved in the process. So, we are trending in the right direction related to retail thefts.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And just to add to what the chief said. Last year after we put out our retail theft report, robberies in the City of New York in 2023 actually ended up dropping for the year 3.1 percent. So, that is a direct result of the retail theft report and the work with the NYPD specifically and the work with SBS and so many others.

Mayor Adams: Because what happened as all of us saw across the city, people threw up their hands. They started locking up the supplies. We saw some of our chains closed down. People thought nothing could be done.

Now, we've never reached the extreme that you saw across the country where folks were just walking and carrying out 25‑inch TVs. But it was a problem. And based on what the chief did and Chief LiPetri, we saw that we had so many repeated offenders. Some of these guys were arrested 30 and 40 times.

And many of the establishments just felt as though this is just a cost of doing business. And we said no to that. We're not going to surrender to that antisocial behavior. And we came up with a plan. We got more layers to it, there's some other stuff we're going to do that I think is going to even drive it down even more.

So, you know, Deputy Mayor Banks convened and this has been something that we've really focused on because we don't want it to get out of control.
Question: Hi, Mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: What's happening?

Question: Two things, both on migrants. First, is there any consideration being given to kicking migrants who commit serious felonies out of the housing the city has generously provided, because we know a number of these individuals even involved in the officer assault, I believe one we've confirmed is at the Roosevelt Hotel. So, is there any consideration being given to that?

And number two, I was at the Times Square event with Congresswoman Malliotakis and so on, it's been referenced a few times. The ICE field supervisor said working with ICE in a limited capacity with a warrant is not as simple as the city's making it seem. It requires a judicial warrant that would need some initial cooperation to then get that judicial warrant. It's not a simple one that they can sign and give to you and say, hey, give us those guys.

So, what, if any relationship does exist right now with ICE? You mentioned you're having conversations with them. What are those conversations like?

Mayor Adams: I didn't say we're having conversations with them. The law is very clear on what I can do and what I can't do. You know, it's clear. And again, this is a conversation for the City Council. That's their law. That wasn't my law. This is a conversation.

I think far too often we leave bodies of government off the hook. And we should be sitting down asking people to show, where do y'all stand on this position? Was that question presented to any of them? Did y'all ask any of them and what did they say?

Lewis-Martin: ...City Councilmembers, four or five City Councilmembers at the press conference calling for you to make the change, according to Marcia. But we spoke to them in advance and we told them that you can't make that change, that they have to make the change.

Question: I think that this point that they're trying to make is that [inaudible] under the mayorship of de Blasio [inaudible] and supported it in the City Council. And [inaudible] there were two different things that were signed by Mayor de Blasio, so therefore they're calling on you as the mayor to undo it.

Mayor Adams: Well, every bill that I support doesn't get passed in the City Council. I mean, we saw that last week, you know? So, I think it's important that the body of government that produces the laws, that's what, they should say, do you believe we need to re‑examine aspect of a law? You know? And that's the question I think that they need to answer. And then New Yorkers should make the determination.

I think that if you commit a crime, it's particularly a violent one, you know, we're not talking about someone that steals an apple. If you assault police officers on the street, I believe if you're found guilty, you should be, the federal government should do their job of deporting that person, you know?

If there should be more collaboration with ICE and others, that's something that the Council has to deliberate on and make that determination. We should make sure that no one, either citizen or non‑citizen, should be harming innocent New Yorkers. I have made that clear.

So, if they were not migrants and they were kicking police officers, they should be arrested and held accountable because an attack on the uniform is not an attack on an individual, it's an attack on the foundation of our safety in our city.

That's our symbol of safety. And you cannot blatantly attack our symbol of safety. No matter what you feel about an individual officer, we should always be surrounding ourselves around the symbol of our safety. And that's what I saw, and that's why this has hit the chord with New Yorkers.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: And can I ask the second… Answer the… 

Question: [Inaudible], yes, please.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Hi, Henry. So, we have always had a code of conduct for shelters, and it also includes that if you do something violent, you can get excluded from the shelter. And it's not my understanding that any of these people right now are in any of our New York City shelters.

Question: So, just so I understand the policy correctly. If someone is arrested for a violent crime, that would go against the current conduct of policy and they would be expelled from a shelter. So, that policy exists?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: That policy exists. It could be things about domestic violence. It could be abuse of children. It could be a whole host of things. But yes, you cannot be violent and stay in our shelter system.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And that applies to both asylum seekers and to longtime New Yorkers.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: 100 percent.

Mayor Adams: Right, everybody.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: It's been, yes. Exactly.

Mayor Adams: Right. And if there's one thing we learned during the last few weeks, we don't make laws, we operationalize them. That is what I do. That is my role of government. Once the body of government makes the law, my responsibility is to operationalize that using the city agencies in this city.

And so give us a law that we can operationalize that would take violent people off the street, citizens or non‑citizens. Violent people should not be left to harm innocent New Yorkers. I've said this over and over again.
Question: So, mayor, even before the attack on the officers last week, we've seen and heard people talk about the migrants, and there just seems to be this, like, thread of, you know, some backlash for them just being there, their presence being felt here, right? So, I'm wondering, with where things are now with the attack, do you anticipate any backlash against law‑abiding immigrants, asylum seekers of any kind in the city? And if so, how, you know, how would you go about addressing such a backlash?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, I don't. That's what's amazing about New York. New York is a city of immigrants. I know when I was borough president I used to walk around with the quote all the time, 47 percent of Brooklynites spoke a language other than English at home.

This is a city of immigrants, and New Yorkers are clear. You coming from another location doesn't matter to New Yorkers, but you're not going to come and break our laws. You're not going to come and attack innocent people. That is what New Yorkers are saying.

New Yorkers want the migrants and asylum seekers to be able to work, to take the next step on their journey, like many New Yorkers have done. And even those of us who are citizens, we come from an ancestry where our family members came from somewhere. That's the only common denominator we have, all of us came from somewhere.

But I can't be clearer, this is a national problem, you know, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Washington. The national government must solve this, and the challenges that we are facing, no city should be facing these challenges.

And I kept saying this over and over again, we're going to start to see the visualization of the failure of the policy. I said this over and over again. I said it last year. I said it from the beginning of this crisis. We're seeing the visual of what a failed national policy is producing. And when I speak to my colleagues in other cities, they're saying the same thing. It's not unique to New York. We have to fix this with a national solution.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: Yes, you can. Yes.

Question: Do you have or track hate crimes against people by national origin by any chance?

Deputy Chief Giordano: So, we don't track crimes by national origin. We handle our crimes and our crime victims, you know, the same way our attention is to the victims. And that's not one of the, you know, the questions that we ask related to how we fight crime. We don't fight crime that way.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: What's happening?

Question: I'm good.

Mayor Adams: That's a nice Christmas sweater you're wearing.

Question: It works all the time. So, you know, speaking of the City Council last week, they defeated your concerted effort to try to stop them from overriding your vetos.

You know, considering how much energy you put into that, obviously it's something you're very passionate about. But do you feel like there's another tactic that you want to use in the future for, you know, pushing what you want to push with the Council?

Mayor Adams: Well, again, I said this over and over again. First of all, there was a misnomer, I believe, out there that there's uniqueness to overriding vetoes. You know, can we use my television screen?

Deputy Mayor Levy: Yes, we can.

Mayor Adams: Okay, thank you. Since 2002 to 2014, City Council voted to override vetoes 68 times, 68 times. Under my administration two years in, three times. Three times. Can you go through that?

Deputy Mayor Levy: Yes. So, as you can see, we have 68 vetoes here during the Bloomberg administration, original vote tally and the override vote tally. And as we go through the slides, go one by one, keep going, Robby, Just keep going all the way toward the end.

45 of those times, 45, the Council speaker gained or maintained their vote total. Of that, of the total as well, 25 of those times, the vote was unanimous. So, 68 total times in 12 years, let's do the math here.

Over one term, that would be what, 22, 23, divide that in half, half a term, that's over 10. Huh? I just divided by three and then I did it in half, so that's about 10, 11 each two years, three versus 10, 11 much… 

Deputy Mayor Levy: No, no, I said… No, the two years are up, Katie. No, Katie. Two years I said.


Question: [Inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Levy: Oh, the gain speed, got it. We have, like we said, we have the dates up here right at the top. It started from, the first one is September 25th, 2002, the next one was November 7th, 2002, kept on going all throughout the whole 12‑year term.

45, like I said, times that the Council speaker gained or maintained their vote total and 25 of those times the vote was unanimous. So, 68 total times.

Question: These are under Mayor Bloomberg.

Deputy Mayor Levy: These were all under… Exactly, under Mayor Bloomberg. There were more under Giuliani before that and others before that and Dinkins and all that. I think it was just de Blasio that didn't have any.

Mayor Adams: Right. Right.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I can't tell you about Mayor Bill de Blasio who's a political… 

Mayor Adams: And so we say that to say, this is a healthy form of our democracy. My job was to communicate with New Yorkers of what I felt the bill challenges were. My job was to do the ride‑alongs. My job was to have my Intergovernmental Affairs to meet with the team and talk about it. And you don't get a W on everything.

I did my job as the mayor, here's why I think this bill was wrong, we had those behind the scenes conversations. We went around the community and city to speak with residents who learned and they heard from both sides in the issue. And many lined up with us, we should not be tying the hands of police officers.

And so just as we had those three vetoes, we cannot miss the point that right in that corner I've signed bills. We've been in alignment on issues. So, we're not in a place where we agree more than we disagree. And I agreed with the Council on this bill. I had one problem with it.

And so, you know, I don't know if…  Democracy is working. We did not elect a dictator, we elected it a mayor. And my job is to have a balance with my partners in Albany, with my partners in the City Council, with my partners in Congress.

And we're seeing democracy work in our city and our country. And I don't see a bad side of it. Even when I don't get the W, I still walk away with this is the greatest city on the globe. We have the greatest system on the globe that withstood time. We don't have uprisings and civil wars. You know, we debate and then we go back to executing our government. I, you know, I am cool.
Question: Mr. Mayor, on sanctuary status, I just want to get clarity on something. You're saying that you, that it's something that the Council needs to do, but I believe sanctuary status was established by executive order under Ed Koch. So, what exactly is it that you want the council to do?

And then on a different topic with Dwayne Montgomery, can you just elaborate a little bit on what your relationship has been like with Dwayne Montgomery and tell us the last time you spoke with him?

Mayor Adams: We should, has been... Like what, I don't understand that.

Question: Did you guys know each other from the NYPD? Did you stay in touch after work?

Mayor Adams: Okay. Gotcha, gotcha. Yes, gotcha.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: Yeah. Dwayne was a inspector in the Police Department. We came up through the ranks, he was a member of the Guardians when I was a member of the Guardians. And I don't know the extent of what the question is.

Listen, in life, people make decisions that they would like to regret. And I think that, you know, a person who has lived a career like his as a law enforcement officer, it appears as though he made a decision that he wanted to regret. He pled guilty, and I'm hoping that he goes on with his life.

That's the great thing about this great country. You know, the worst day of your life, it does not define your life. And everyone has days that I'm sure they would like to take back. And he pled guilty, and I think he should be allowed to go on with his life like so many people go on with their life after making some form of mistake and error.

And this is a city where we constantly talk about, don't hold things over people's heads throughout their entire life. You know, I supported the bills that called for allowing people to go into their life after they make an error. I have not communicated with him since this incident happened. And if I were to see him somewhere I would say, hey, Dwayne, how you doing? I wish the best of you.

Deputy Mayor Levy: So, and on the other piece, Chris, no. Intro. 486 and 487 in November 2014, they prohibited all city law enforcement officials in New York City DOCS and NYPD from honoring federal detainer requests for any alien otherwise eligible for release from custody. And Intro. 1568 in 2016 prohibits any city agency from partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration law. That was the last mayor, not… 

Question: Right, but it was established by executive order that I think has… 

Deputy Mayor Levy: These were laws. These are Intros, Chris. I've literally just told you what the law is.

Question: Do you know, Lisa, what I'm talking about?

Deputy Mayor Levy: I've literally just read to you the verbatim the law… 

Question: Because it was first established under executive order. I'm pretty sure. right? I'm not… 

Mayor Adams: Yes, but even… I understand what you're saying, Chris. Even if it was established, and I'm not sure, but if it was established by EO, an Executive Order, it became a law. I can't overturn a law.

Zornberg: So, look, there's a difference. The executive orders to which you're referring basically try to express the concept that someone who's a victim to a crime, a witness, someone who's applying for some benefit ought not to be harassed with inquiries about their immigration status. But the executive order to which you're referring has a clear carve out for law enforcement who are investigating illegal activity.

The local laws that were passed under a prior administration go further and explicitly prohibit the use of any city resources in the aid of immigration enforcement. So, there's a difference.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I wanted to follow up on the reporter's question about backlash to them. Are you concerned about backlash to the migrants?

Mayor Adams: From… 

Question: Well, her question was about New Yorkers, but I'm interested if you're thinking about political backlash in terms of the 2024 presidential election. It looks like we might head to a Biden/Trump rematch. Trump himself and his allies have been playing up this, the migrant crisis and now the spate of crimes. Are you worried that this is going to hurt the leader of your own party and whether you need to dial down the rhetoric? I noticed that… 

Mayor Adams: Whether I need to dial the rhetoric...?

Question: Yes.

Mayor Adams: Interesting.

Question: Yes… Kathryn Garcia of the governor's office yesterday put out a letter condemning Republicans, right, that this is something Republicans are standing in the way of immigration reform. And I wanted to hear what you think about it. I mean, you've been fairly, you have been openly critical about Biden needs to do more.

Mayor Adams: Um‑hmm.

Question: And I'm wondering whether you want to maybe start pivoting to the other party given that we have this very critical election in which, as I said, this is [inaudible] of your party.

Mayor Adams: I think that… You know what my problem is? I'm honest. I critique the Republican Party for failing and continue to block immigration reform. The congresswoman was out there today, I didn't hear her talk about immigration reform. I didn't hear her talk about resources to our city.

And where I think once you are elected it's not about party, it's about our city. I believe in New York, and this has hurt us. And where the White House needs to make adjustments, where our congressional and senators need to make adjustments, we all have to make those adjustments.

And so I don't know why there's a belief defending New York City is rhetoric. I was elected to defend and fight for the people of the City of New York, like the mayor of Chicago is doing, like the mayor of Denver is doing, like the mayor of Houston, of Washington, of Los Angeles. We're all doing the same thing.

And I don't think I would be doing my job if I would just sit back and just say, okay, we have 170‑something thousand people here in the city that can't work, that we have to pick up the tab on taxpayers' dollars. And Eric, let's pretend as though it doesn't happen. I'm not doing my job.

My job is to fight on behalf of New Yorkers. And I made it clear. I like the president. I think the president helped us on some of the crime issues that we had to deal with. The president has helped us on some of the capital funding we looked at, cycling us out of Covid and our economy. I think it's brilliant the way he has the economy coming back. But if you really are honest with each other, you're going to say what needs to be corrected.

So, this is not, you know, this is not an anti‑Biden. There are failures on all sides of the aisle, and some people are going to exploit those failures. And that's what I think what the Republicans are doing right now, and we should not give them the tools to do so. We could fix this problem.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Mayor, if I can add, I've heard you say, I don't even know how many times, but the Republicans in Congress need to act. It's been over 40 years or so since comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. The last time we heard of real movement was I think in 2006, George W. Bush, a Republican, was president, and still Republicans in congress, and he had a majority in both the House and the Senate and still couldn't get it done.

So, it is time the Republicans actually do something and show leadership on this issue. And you know, you can see it right now in Washington, republicans are not doing anything to move on immigration reform.

Mayor Adams: I just want to show, I want to show the…  The FIFA, you know, colors. We won the World Cup. Want to make sure everybody knows that.

Deputy Mayor Levy: World Cup Final. We haven't won the World Cup yet.

Mayor Adams: World Cup Final.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Yet.

Mayor Adams: So, everybody see that, while I'm the mayor, we were able to bring it home, like all our other victories, even in the state.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to… 

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good, how are you?

Mayor Adams: Good. You remind me so much of Spike Lee with your Knicks hat.

Question: It's a big year for them.

Mayor Adams: Yes, it is.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: We're excited. I think it's a year we're gonna bring home some rings, you know that?

Question: [Inaudible.] I wanted to ask you about Underhill Avenue, the bike boulevard in Prospect Heights. There have been reports that opponents of that redesign have been going around the neighborhood telling people that you met with them secretly, quietly, outside of the, you know, extra outreach that had been going on on the block. Have you been meeting with those opponents and are you going to let the DOT finish this project?

Mayor Adams: Okay, first, no. And whomever is putting out those rumors of, you know, they are doing just that. You know, some people just like creating chaos. I had DOT, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi do a thorough review to make sure that we were doing the needs of that community.

So, they actually went on the ground with our engagement unit, our Public Engagement Unit to communicate with people. I had them give me reports from FDNY, NYPD to make sure in no way we were going to impede on movement of traffic for emergency vehicles.

We knocked on doors. We communicated with people. We did not have a meeting with this secret, clandestine group in the middle of the night, you know, in somebody's basement. It didn't happen.

I'm going based on the needs of that community. And what I don't want are those outside the community to dictate what is going to happen on a local level. And so the next day or so, I'll make the determination if we're going to move forward or if we're not.

It's going to be based on doing some thorough research and hearing closely, because that was a very emotional issue for people in that area, and I wanted to make sure I respect the voices that were coming.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: In the next day or so… 

Mayor Adams: Yeah, you know, give it a day or so. My definition of day or so may be different from yours, but we'll come up with the answer.


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