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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

February 27, 2024

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.

Like I say every week, this forum is just one of the ways our administration is delivering information to New Yorkers in an accessible, accurate and transparent way. Combined with conducting announcements across the five boroughs, holding weekly broadcast interviews, elevating so many of our city's incredible ethnic and community media outlets, or any of the many other ways we're communicating to New Yorkers, our administration is working to get you the information you need.

And these efforts are paying off. We've been able to bring together experts from across the administration to keep New Yorkers informed about the work their city government is doing for them. So, we look forward to continuing that process this morning.

Joining us today are 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 Operations Meera Joshi, 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 Mayor's Office of Management and Budget Director Jacques Jiha. So, I'm pleased to now turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thanks so much, DM Levy. The old saying is, everyone has a right to their opinions, but they don't have a right to the facts, and the facts are clear. We faced an unprecedented $7 billion budget gap, and with effective fiscal management, we closed that gap and balanced the budget in January, prioritizing the needs of working class New Yorkers without any layoffs, not a single cent in tax hikes or major service reductions.

And how did we do it? We made tough choices. Today we have $8.2 billion in reserves, a near record number. We were able to restore funding for public safety, public spaces and young people, and we were able to cancel the third round of agency spending cuts planned for April while easing freezes on hiring and agency spending.

As a result, multiple internationally-recognized, independent credit rating agencies have recognized this administration's strong fiscal management by reaffirming our bond ratings. And I often like to remind everyone, our ratings were increased under my first year in office, and they're leaning even harder into showing how well we have done.

Moody's, S&P, Fitch and KBRA are all saying the same things, this administration is making the right decisions today to ensure a better tomorrow for all New Yorkers. Real hats off and kudos to Jacques Jiha for taking all the criticism for those that have done no fiscal management, but all of a sudden they're experts on how to get it right.

The experts are saying we are doing it right. We have accomplished this through proactive fiscal management, the stabilization of the asylum seeker spending and a strong economic recovery.

But what does a strong bond rating mean to everyday New Yorkers? It just doesn't translate, but simply put, it means continuing investment in the city's bonds helps support funding to build and maintain schools, city streets, parks and other critical infrastructure that spans the five boroughs.

While we must remain vigilant, we're not out of the woods, and we have been clear on that. We need to get support from the state and federal partners, but we're not sitting on the sideline. We know we have the obligations and responsibility to navigate the city through the fiscal crisis and through the migrant and asylum seeker crisis.

We are cautiously optimistic about our financial future. The New York City, as we like to say, our word is our bond. This is the strong management of the city's finances. As mayor of the City of New York, I can say with confidence, New York City isn't coming back, New York City is back. And we have a short video that we would like to show you to display how excited we are about what we've always known, that we will bring this city back.

[Video plays.]

Why don't we open to questions, but I cannot emphasize enough. You have experts for reasons: experts analyze, and it removes the opinions and focuses on facts. The experts have raised our bonds year one, in 2022, they raised our bond rating. They reinforced that in year 2024.

Somewhere we have to report that we are doing the job, folks. We managed 179,000 migrants and asylum seekers. No New Yorkers were laid off, no tax increase, minimum cut to services. We're doing it.

And it may be challenging for some people to acknowledge it, but this team is doing it through some of the most difficult times. I tell them all the time, we're going to be a retrospective appreciated administration. Please report that, Katie. Why don't we open to some questions?

Question: Yes. Mr. Mayor, there were at least 40, possibly 80 migrants located in a storefront on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill. Do you know why they were there? Are they squatting? Were they located or placed there? Is it some sort of black market rental? And my understanding is that there was an initial complaint, that's why it was investigated, because there were e‑bikes either in front of or in the premises and we're aware of the dangers of that.

Mayor Adams: I got the call around 12:30, 1 a.m. where I was updated with this sort of situation was taking place in Manhattan for a potential barricaded person. I was also updated on this.

The system did its job. It was first responded by, I believe, FDNY, and then DOB came in and made sure that those who were there were removed and they were given the services that were available. This was not brought to our attention until we had city agencies go out and investigate. We are still investigating exactly what happened here.

When you have situations like what we are facing here, there's some that's going to attempt to exploit it. There's some that are going to attempt to do illegal housing. So, we have an obligation with DOB, FDNY and all of our services to respond and take necessary action. That's what was done last night, and we're still looking at exactly what took place. So, this started with a 311 complaint and the city responded accordingly.

Question: But can you say how long they were there or what led them there in the first place?

Mayor Adams: No, I can't. We're still looking into it. And as soon as we could find out exactly what happened that the owner of, I believe it was a furniture store, were they aware of it, we have to dig into and find out exactly what happened and right now it is real fresh. Like I said, I was updated about 1 a.m last night

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: And I just want to comment. It's two conditions, both the migrant situation and the e‑bikes. And on e‑bikes, we've seen the tragic consequences of illegal e‑bikes. Excuse me.

The city has taken a bold step. We've banned the sale of non‑UL bikes and batteries in the city. The fire department is doing a tremendous job advocating both at the federal and state level for real specifications and authorization to get these illegal bikes and illegal charging infrastructure off the streets.

We've done a lot of education between Department of Health, Fire Department and DOT on storing bikes and where not to store them and how to charge them. And we're consistently evaluating charging infrastructure. And DOT is actually piloting some on‑street charging infrastructure that will be safe and available for people in the industry that are using e‑bikes.

Mayor Adams: And Commissioner Kavanagh has led the national charge on this. She started in '22, and I remember the first video she showed me, and she has been the leading national voice on these bikes. We don't know if this was one of the concerns that took place last night.

But we are very focused on these batteries and they're extremely dangerous and so we want to make sure that it won't cause fires that we have witnessed, and the increaseing number of these fires and the number of deaths associated with it.

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: If I could just remind everyone as well that the incident, what we discovered last night, in some ways, is also symptomatic of a larger crisis that the city is facing that we've talked about repeatedly in terms of the housing shortage in the city. It is not a new thing that too many people make desperate choices about where to live and what to pay for, and at the root of that is the fact that we haven't built enough housing.

And so as we manage the humanitarian migrant crisis, we also can't lose sight of the fact that over the long term, we really do need to make a dent in terms of the number of homes — safe, decent, affordable homes — available to New Yorkers.

And that has animated so much of what we've done on the city level with the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity that is going through an engagement process right now, will come to the City Council in the fall. Of course, all of our advocacy in Albany to get the tools that we need to boost supply, as well as our advocacy at the federal level to get the tools that we need to have more resources to build more affordable housing.

And so I think it's important to connect those dots so that we can manage not just the current situation, but really build for the type of city where New Yorkers don't have to make these types of choices.

Mayor Adams: And so important, and I'm glad you raised that, deputy mayor, because people are not connecting the dots. We got nothing out of Albany last year around housing. 51 percent of the housing we built came through 421-a. We didn't have a renewal of 421-a. We're trying to raise FAR. We're attempting to do accessory dwellings.

We have to build more. And when you have a failure to have vacancy rates, I think we're down to one percent, that failure is going to produce desperate situations, and we cannot create those desperate situations. And so the DM is right, we have to build more. We have an inventory issue in the city and people should be living in unsafe environments.

We're going to do our job to investigate them, give them the appropriate shelter system. But the reality is, with 180,000 people entering the city also looking for housing, over 65,000 currently in our system, if we don't build more, we are going to be building more problems.

Question: Last February, you named Michelle Paige to head the Mayor's Office of Child Care, a brand‑new office, which was supposed to be a sign of how this is a priority for your administration, but she left an October, hasn't been replaced and there's a 5BORO Institute study out today showing the childcare industry is in crisis.

So, I guess I have two questions. When do you anticipate replacing her; and then, what more could the city be doing to stabilize the industry and make it easier for families to live here?

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, we want to thank her for her leadership and really for just acknowledging the generational problems we've had with childcare, generational problems we've had with childcare. We went to Albany in 2022 with a clear agenda, to bring down the cost. Families were paying $55 a week in childcare, we got it down to less than $5 a week. We put in place our MyCity plan and portal to make it easier for people to sign on. These are the things that we've advocated, and I thank the 5BORO Institute for drawing attention to that we have to do more.

One of the greatest inhibitors for women getting into the workforce is dealing with childcare. And we have focused on that, and we want to find the right person to fill that position, and the goal is to do that. I don't know if DM Almanzar or if Sheena, if you want to add to this.

Deputy Mayor Ana Almanzar, Strategic Initiatives: Yes, and I echo the mayor's sentiment about our thanks to Dr. Paige's contribution to the office and helping us build that from scratch, was the first, as you stated, executive director of that office.

And we are in active search for the new executive. We have a great team that's leading the charge in constant communication with the sector, listening to their concerns, some of which were reported on the report that you quoted. And we are addressing those issues with a group that we've met in the past few months in organizing conversations about what's happening.

But we can discuss about many other things that the administration has been able to accomplish since 2022. As the mayor mentioned, securing $4 billion for childcare from the state to the city. And with that, we had 32,000 children who were able to access a childcare seat. That's a number from, that was 7,000 in 2022 to now being a year later, over 32,000.

We also continue to work with our nonprofit partners in the system to look at some of the questions they have about the progress we have made in the payment system. And the same way, as the mayor mentioned in his answer about moving the application online for the service recipients, to move that online for our providers to be able to bring them to prompt payment.

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: And I will just add that we also… This has got to be a full court press. And we understood the urgency of childcare as an issue coming into the administration that it cuts across, you know, every deputy mayor's portfolio, quite frankly. And one of the things that we want to also have employers engaged, so one of the things that we did was create a tax credit to really incentivize employers to create childcare as well.

And so we've done a lot in the first couple of years, but as you acknowledge, the system itself was in freefall because of a lot of factors nationally. And that, you know, was the front‑page story today in the Times.

So, there's a lot of work that needs to do. It needs the federal government, the state government. There's some policy changes that we still need fixed. One that is pretty egregious is that it sets, there's actually a floor, you can make too little money to qualify for subsidized care. So, that cuts out a lot of New Yorkers in need.

So, there's a lot of work that needs to be done at the federal level, at the state level and the city level. And we are just all guns blazing just in terms of all of the things, all of the tools that we're trying to use to increase affordable quality childcare in the city.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And just DM Almanzar, if you want to maybe talk about the cost of childcare when we came into office and versus now?

Deputy Mayor Almanzar: Absolutely. And I'll give you the exact number. It was about $1,300 a year for one child. It's now $22 a year… I'm sorry, $220 a year. So, $1,300 to $220.

Mayor Adams: Think about that. That's a real, real change. When you add that with increase in Earned Income Tax Credit, when you add that with free broadband for NYCHA, there's been a real working class people's agenda that all adds up going from, you know, $55 a week to less than $5 a week, that's significant.

And the position that you talked about, Dana, we created that position. That position did not exist prior to our administration because we understood. We came in and when I looked over, those late nights here in City Hall, I looked over childcare. We had 35,000 children, we had a waitlist from ACS voucher waitlist, we gave out 35,000 children, issued vouchers to over 7,000 children.

Our focus has been clear, and the MyCity website where over 30,000 families have applied for childcare. And when you talk to those families, talk about how simplistic it is. The childcare problem was an historical problem, and in two years and two months, we made major inroads bringing down the cost, making it easier to apply, making sure that every child, 53,000 3K seats are available to families this fall. And we know there's more to do, but we are clearly… We had to turn around the ship and it's sailing in the right direction.

Question: Mr. Mayor, so last week an appeals court struck down the non‑citizen voting law. I know your administration has defended that in the past. It was an appeal that brought it to that court in the first place. Last week, the Law Department said you're weighing your options. I guess, has there been any more thought on what the path forward is?

And then also, on the migrants in the storefront, you said they had been moved. Have they been moved to a specific shelter, number of shelters? You know, I guess, where are they now?

Mayor Adams: Yes, if we don't have the exact location, we'll get it to you. I know they are not in that basement any longer or inside the store. They've been moved to a [inaudible] location.

And the corp counsel made it clear. We are weighing our options and she's going to make the final determination. She's the attorney for the city and they'll make the final determination on what the next steps are.

Question: Did you have any thoughts on the decision itself?

Mayor Adams: Nope.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also just add just on the location of the individuals. We've referred them all to assistance.

Question: The administration's talked a lot about its success moving, I think, around 115,000 migrants from the shelter system into the next steps. But you look at that in the context of what we found in Queens, does the administration have any concern about this success story you're trying to paint? Where these people are going, is there any tracking? Is this truly a success story, or are they just out of shelter?

Mayor Adams: When you say Queens, as in…

Question: As in the migrants found in the storefront.

Mayor Adams: Right. Right.

Question: So, we see a situation like that and we know 110,000 have left. Is there any concern about where they're going? Can the city be doing more in that sort of after‑shelter phase?

Mayor Adams: Right. Well, one thing we know for sure, there was not 110,000 in that store, you know, and…

Deputy Mayor Levy: 115.

Mayor Adams: And we're not seeing what you see in other cities where there are tent cities or where there are people living on the streets, children and families. I keep going back to that over and over again. And we have been successful in our 30‑day program, intense care.

And so when you move that large volume of people, are they going to be a small number that someone is going to do something inappropriate? Yes. We must respond as an agency and let them know that if you are in that setting, there's care, there are ways of placing you in proper setting. And that's what we have been doing.

What we could not do, with 64,000 long‑term New Yorkers in our care, we could not sit back and allow 180,000 more people in our care. We took decisive, clear actions. We didn't vacillate. We knew exactly what we had to do to execute, and that execution is a success story.

No one else has done it. We met with national leaders who came here and walked through what we're doing and they stated, no one is doing what the City of New York is doing, no one. And they said, you are treating people with the humanitarian response and dignity that should be duplicated across the entire country. So, we are very successful in what we are doing.

In those areas where there's a problem like in Queens, we're going to respond and we're going to take the necessary steps. But over 110,000 people have taken the next step in their journey.

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams‑Isom, Health and Human Services: So, Henry, I just wanted to add, I think you allow us to take this moment to really think about the fuller context of this. And so we will deal with what we need to on the locality level, but this makes me think about the federal government's responsibility.

People need to work. People need to get resettled. We need folks to be, the federal government to coordinate so that people can come to jurisdiction so jurisdictions can manage. And I'm really hoping that when the president goes down to the border on Thursday, he will see what more support possibly through executive action that can occur so that we don't have people making desperate decisions.

I think New York City has done what they need to do and has continued to do that, but this gives us the moment to put this in its proper context.

Question: Mayor, can you maybe take us to that moment where someone is asked to leave shelter or decides to leave shelter? Is there a moment where the city says, watch out for this, watch out for that? If you need help, we're here. Can you take us to that moment?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: So, the moment I'll take you to is that there's many moments during that 60‑day period of time or that 30‑day period of time where we're having constant conversations. And one of the most important things, Henry, is connecting people to community‑based organizations and giving support to those community‑based organizations, which is why aid to localities is so important for churches and synagogues and mosques and people who are supporting them.

So, people want to work. People want to be able to find out where they can settle, where they can live, how they can get access to this American dream. So, that's what the intensive case management is about.

Mayor Adams: And this is what… Hold on one moment, because I think what Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom stated is so important. This is what I saw in Ecuador. The community‑based organizations stepped up. They helped people become absorbed into the society. They didn't have them removed from the society.

Community‑based organizations, faith organizations, some of these shelters that we visited in Ecuador, what we saw in Colombia was the same thing. We saw how community‑based organizations and communities came together because they knew when you remove people out of the community, you make them feel as though they're not part of taking that next step on the journey. And that's what we want to accomplish. We've learned from others to see how we adopt what we are doing, and that's where the success is coming from.

And it always surprises me how much we are emphasizing on our response and not focusing on the source of this. Everyone is talking about, you know, what New York City, who has done so much, this city has done so much. We have inconvenienced neighborhoods, communities, services.

You know, everyone is saying, what are New Yorkers doing? What is Ms. Jones doing? What are everyday New Yorkers doing? We're the response to a national crisis, that should be our emphasis. Why aren't we allowing human beings to work? You know, we got… What's our numbers in Creedmoor? How many thousand we have in Creedmoor?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: We have 1,000 in Creedmoor.

Mayor Adams: How many?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: 1,000.

Mayor Adams: 1,000 people are in Creedmoor that must sit around all day, all day. That is, I don't know if people understand how that is inhumane, all day. We have men that must sit around all day and can't work. It's amazing how calm they have been because the overwhelming number of them want to just work and participate in the American dream.

So, we're going to do our job, but we should be asking the national government, why is this happening to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington? That is the focus that I just don't see enough emphasis on.

Question: Mr. Mayor…

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: I wanted to ask about the no‑bid contracts being dolled out to deal with the migrant crisis. I have a couple of questions. So, how is the city making sure taxpayers are getting the best price in these emergency contracts, and who's responsible for negotiating these deals?

Mayor Adams: Who's…

Question: Who's responsible for negotiating these deals?

Mayor Adams: Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom shares it all the time, which, you know, you hear it over and over again and it resonates with us. We had a shelter system with 64,000 people in it. Within a two‑year period, if less than that, we had to build an entirely new shelter system.

And it came out of nowhere. And in doing that, it's a combination of RFPs and emergency contracts to make these emergency decisions. There are some nights where Zach Iscol and DM Isom and Molly are saying we got 300 people that just came off buses. You have to move accordingly.

And so part of the negotiation is that agencies with negotiation like Health + Hospitals was negotiating their contracts when they were doing so. Thanks for that, 45,000, 45,000 in our shelter system, not 65,000. Thanks a lot, DM.

So, what we must do is that combination of using RFPs when we have the time to do our RFPs. But if I need a security team at a certain location immediately, and a traditional security team that we have is already, the full complement is there, we have to go into an emergency contract to get them there.

And then, as we are now, we're going to a 30 percent decrease in our asylum seeker spending, we're now renegotiating these contracts. We're finding the savings. We're looking differently. We have an opportunity… We're still in emergency state, but we have an opportunity to sit down and renegotiate the contracts from food, from cleaning, from housing, from security.

All of those items, we're renegotiating. But we inherited the constant flow. We were getting thousands a week coming into our city. And you have to go and say, what can we open right away? Because remember, we were in court constantly saying you didn't open things fast enough.

So, while we were getting pressure of people coming in, we were getting also pressure from the advocates saying it's taking you too long, people have been sleeping inside a location for X number of hours. So, that is what the emergency contracts come.

Some was RFPs, and then those emergency contracts that we have to implement based on the incoming that we receive. I don't think people fully respect when you're getting 2,000 people a week, 4,000 every two weeks, 8,000 a month. We have to respond to that. And because of our response, no child, no family sleeps on the streets of the City of New York.

Question: Good afternoon, mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I'm well, thank you. And looking at Randall's Island after two people were taken into custody last night for allegedly assaulting a guard and days after that video surfaced of items being thrown at police officers, is there an immediate need to change some of the policies or security protocols at Randall's Island right now? I know there's a security review underway, but are there more immediate steps that might be taken?

Mayor Adams: Yes. We're placing metal detectors there, and actually I want to take a trip over to Randall's and have a conversation with the people who are there and remind them that there's a privilege to be in this country. And it's unacceptable to disrespect our uniformed personnel, I don't care if it's security guard or what. And the overwhelming number of people who are there are living out that privilege.

But I cannot emphasize enough, you place 1,000 people in one setting and tell them they can't work. All they can do is sit around all day. Tempers flare. That's just the reality of life. And we have done a great job to keep those tempers from flaring. And there's not incidents every day, but those tempers do flare.

And we're going to make sure we have the security that's there and take the appropriate action. Those who violate, we're going to make sure that they are held accountable for the actions. You will follow the rules. But in order to alleviate this, national government, allow people to work.

Let me get those 1,000 people and have them become food service workers, have them become lifeguards, have them become cleaning our streets, have them become nurses and other professionals. How about taking those 1,000 people, training them for all these jobs we have available so they're not sitting around all day every day for months? There's a human element to this. You don't have to be a behavioral scientist to state that we're creating a terrible environment.

Question: Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Yesterday, President Biden visited New York, and we know that throughout the campaign he's sure to come here more often. The deputy mayor mentioned also the hopes for President Biden's visit to the border on Thursday.

I'm wondering have you planned or are you planning to meet with the president during one of his stops in New York and talk about this problem? And how would you need maybe his executive actions he's considering to take them so that New York can feel relief sooner than later.

Mayor Adams: Well, just your first question, no, there's no plan on the calendar of a visit. I think we have been clear on our 10 trips through the White House speaking with his team that we're hoping any policies would include a decompression strategy at the border, proper funding, the right to work. I think we've maxed out on those Venezuelans that were able to get work status and TPS. We need to expand that and our advocacy.

But let's be clear. The conversation you're hearing now on a national level, this is what I was calling for. I mean, everyone, I think I read an article after my friend Tom Suozzi won, that they said, you know, Congressman Suozzi has the right message and he's the only Democrat that's talking about the message. I was like, duh?

This is the message I've been saying for over a year now. The message is clear. New Yorkers, Americans are not anti‑immigration. In fact, they're pro‑immigration, because many of them are immigrants. We were able to absorb the people from Afghanistan, from the Ukraine. We don't even hear about them. We don't hear about the large number of Ukrainian citizens that came to New York, you don't even hear. You know why? They're working.

So why, what we did for those from Afghanistan and Ukraine, we're not doing for South and Central America? Something that's just not adding up to me. I'm hearing about the immigrants coming from West Africa. I'm hearing about the immigrants coming from South and Central America and Venezuela, but I'm not hearing about the others that have come here and we've absorbed.

We could absorb everyone if it's done correctly with a real decompression strategy, paying for the funding, we receive funding, making sure we allow people to work. This city can do its share. I want to be clear, when I say absorb everyone, I don't want everybody writing the headline the next day that Eric is saying, let's absorb all the immigration. No. What I mean, those who are here, we would be able to do better for them if they had the ability, the same thing we did for others.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: And you know what, Mayor? If the federal government did its job, we wouldn't have to absorb all of them in New York City. The governor would be willing to open up upstate. And some of your. partners in government would open up some of their cities. But they need the ability to work.

Question: Mayor, you talk about your look or your desire for Washington. We're facing a government shutdown. I'm wondering if the city is preparing for that and how that could affect your migrant asks.

And then additionally, a question for the deputy mayor that's in charge of Correction. Oh, not here, sorry. But I wanted to ask about Rikers Island, specifically with the city jails. You've raised, I believe, officially the number of beds expected, and I'm wondering what the reasoning for that is, and can we expect the jails to grow even further as they're being built?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Jacques, do you want to talk about the shutdown?

Jacques Jiha, Director, Office of Management and Budget: Yes, at this point in time we do not anticipate in a short term to be impacted by the shutdown. We believe for as long as six months, we'll be okay, but if it lasts longer, then we're going to have to reevaluate.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also just point out, Jeff, two things. One, deputy mayor for Operations is in charge of the BBJ operation — not Deputy Mayor Banks — and Chief Counsel Zornberg is the head of the Rikers Task Force. So, those are the two people that would answer your question here. So, I don't know which one of them want to hit first.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: I can speak on the jail capacity. If you recall, many months ago we registered with the comptroller a construction contract for the Brooklyn facility that had 10,040 beds, and that was reviewed and registered by the comptroller. The additional jails that are coming online will also have an increased capacity of probably 10,040. We are working within an envelope….


Sorry, 1,040. We're all having a number…

Mayor Adams: Our number days.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: 1,040. We're working within an envelope which is consistent with all of the city laws and the environmental reviews And we're able to add some additional beds to each facility, which were originally planned for 880.

And that's just a recognition of the capacity. Today, we do not have the same capacity that we had a few years ago, and we have to be cognizant that if we don't have adequate housing for people, we're actually going to end up doing the opposite of the intention of the borough‑based jail plan and have some people that are in inadequate places, substitute jail orders or other not so good and temporary accommodations to really make sure that everybody in our jail system has housing.

So, one of the ways we can ensure that everybody gets the benefit of a new jail system is to ensure that there are enough beds in that new jail system.

Question: [Inaudible], I mean, do you have plans for like tents or something, or what are you talking about?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: No, absolutely not. But whenever the jail capacity goes over what we have, we have to trade space with other neighboring counties or state facilities.

Question: Hi. Excuse me. Deputy Mayor, a question for you. I was just hoping to confirm that there were four churches, only four churches so far that are so far sheltering migrants. I know the plan was to have 50. So, just trying to confirm that.

And then, mayor, I was just trying to see if the president does issue executive action to deal with the migrant crisis, is that really frustrating for you considering you've been asking for help for almost two years, for him to come in now when he always had this ability to issue executive action?

Mayor Adams: No, it's not frustrating for me. As a member of the legislative body, I know this stuff takes time. We would love to say you make one visit to Washington, you're going to get what you want. That's just not how the process operates.

We just saw what others did not recognize earlier. We saw that this was a national problem that was weighing on Americans because I spoke with my colleagues across the country, and I was hearing from everyday New Yorkers here. Everyday New Yorkers are angry. They're angry.

And they look towards their mayor to solve problems. It's not my job to define a problem, it's my job to solve a problem. And solving that problem is a combination of raising what I thought nationally we should do, but also to implement what we have done of getting over 100,000 people out of our care and making sure we were able to bring down the cost.

So, it's not frustrating for me. If the national leaders are looking to see and responding to what we have been calling for and they continue to do so with a decompression strategy and funding and allowing people to work, I think, like I say over and over again, history is going to be kind to this administration.

We were… We saw the need of things well before, and I think when people look back on this administration, from many of the things we said that people pushed back on nationally. They pushed back on the crime agenda nationally, when I was talking about the issue of crime in 2022 and in 2021. So, that's part of the nature of what we're in. So, no, it's not frustrating to me. We just need to get it done.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Morgan, there are, yes, so you know that the safety and care of the migrants is our priority. So, we've been working really closely with some houses of worship, and I'm looking at my list here. So, it is four that are open and another couple that are on site.

So, what we've been doing is working and going to the churches and making sure that they have what they need. We don't want them to get violations just because they're trying to help us.

And a lot of people during Covid had things that they needed to take care of. We've been working with some foundations so that they can possibly give money to the churches...I keep saying "churches," but synagogues and mosques also, faith‑based organizations to work with them.

We had 50 originally, but you'll remember we've had many more come to us and say that they want to have as many as 5,000 beds. So, we're going to continue to work as well as we can with everyone to make sure that we have places that are safe and that we could also, as we said earlier, have them work with migrants as they're trying to get settled into the community.

Mayor Adams: Because people have to be safe. We are not going to get to the point where there's so much pressure that we're going to put people in unsafe environments. If FDNY, DOB, those entities says we can't do it, we're going to continue to find spaces, but we have to do it right. If we don't, I could just read the headlines that we placed people in unsafe environments, and we're just not going to do that.

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams. I'm going to ask if you had an update. In June, the city received a $25 million emergency grant to build e‑bike charging stations in NYCHA facilities that anyone could use. I don't know if you had an update on that, the timeline of that.

And then secondly, I guess this is a public safety question but I don't know where the deputy mayor is. Is the owner of the Richmond Hill location where the migrants are staying, are there any chargers going to be pressed or anything like that? But I guess first on the e‑bike charging.

Mayor Adams: DM Joshi, do we know, I think that was a federal…

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes. So, it's a federal grant that actually builds on work that NYCHA has already started with ConEd, and that's to build out charging infrastructure. So that, the initial groundwork has already begun. It'll be safe charging and secure bike locking so people aren't bringing the bikes into their residence. And we think the timeline to start bringing those online will be less than a year.

Question: From now or from last year?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: From I think probably six months from now we'll start seeing some more progress.

Question: And do you know how many it will be?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: I can get you those totals.

Mayor Adams: And I think this has opened an entirely new industry of how do you secure these batteries. You know, a lot of people have come forward with proposals on how to secure these batteries, how we wrap them, how we prevent them from exploding. So, there's an entirely new industry that's growing out of this.

And we don't know if charges are going to be levied against the individual where these migrants were, it's still under investigation. We're not clear if they even knew about it. So, let's let the investigation run its course, and we will find out, and if it's appropriate, they would be held accountable.

Question: And where is DM Banks?


Mayor Adams: Oh, look, because Jeff also asked about DM Banks, so y'all must have had some type of little chatter going on among your group, you know?

Question: It's glaringly obvious that he's…

Mayor Adams: I could tell you this, that he misses y'all daily. It is extremely disappointing when he's not here spending time with you. He often tells me how much you mean to him and to communicate with him as much as possible. And he's looking forward to be a part of greeting you in the future, but he has a very busy task that I have him doing at this time.

But trust me when I tell you, he has a strong affection for all of you. He thinks that you're some of the most loving, caring, kind individuals that we have in the city.

Deputy Mayor Levy: You know, almost every single time I talk to DM Banks he talks about how much he does love all of you guys in the press.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would only imagine, Katie.

Question: Thank you so much. I'm standing because I'm a short man, and… Thank you so much. So, as you mentioned, the budget crisis in the city. So, my first question is, how are you going to, I mean, face this crisis, how are you going to solve the problem, budget crisis? And then, is there any service cuts will happen in the future because of the short budget?

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, any what?

Question: Service cuts.

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that what Jacques Jiha and all of the commissioners, what they have done, these commissioners came out and really understood where we were. And they knew that we had… No one wanted to do the PEGs, the Program to Eliminate the Gap. No one wanted to do that. But we knew what the roles were placed in front of us.

And Jacques laid out the plan. He was very clear, spoke with all the DMs, and the DMs communicated with their teams. We were talking about a $7 billion gap. And I remember Jacques saying when I looked at that number, I don't know how we're going to get there, but we did. And at the heart of that was finding $1.7 billion in savings in the migrant crisis in the preliminary budget.

And so our goal is to stop the number of flows that are coming in and make sure we have the right number going out. And without that 30‑day and 60‑day plan, we would not have accomplished that. And so we have to continue to follow the blueprint and the plan that we put in place to make sure that we don't hurt city services.

And that's why we are not doing the April PEG, because we looked at some of the cuts that it would impact and we did not want to really hurt these vital services.

Question: Mr. Mayor, any updates on your efforts to get additional funding for subway safety and any conversations you may have had with the governor in that regard?

Mayor Adams: I'm clear, The subways must be safe. We're over 4 million riders a day, and every time I'm down there, people realize, you know, the importance of doing that. We communicated with the governor's office today. First deputy mayor had conversations. As you know, we surged 1,000 more officers into the system. And we're going to continue to communicate with our partners in Albany. And you know, the subway system is the lifeblood of the entire not only the city, we're the economic engine for the state.

And so we're going to continue to make sure it's safe, and not only in numbers. I said this in the beginning of the administration, we took a lot of heat from it. People have to feel safe also. You know, if you don't feel safe, I can give you as many stats as I want. I can say, oh, we've got 6.2 felony crimes a day with 4 million riders. That means nothing to people if they don't feel safe.

Feeling safe is a clean subway system. Those who are dealing with severe mental health issues are receiving the resources and not using the subway system as a place of where they feel they have to be, and making sure that we have a system that's timely. And that is my goal. I want people to be safe, but they also should feel safe in the subway system. They go together.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And Tim, I would just point out, we have the omnipresence of police going to the subways, and this last month the mayor just talked about thousand shifts. As a result specifically, I believe the NYPD said yesterday that we've seen in February alone a 20 percent decrease in transit crimes in the subways. So, the omnipresence of police, you know, going down there. It really makes a big difference.

Question: So, is that enough, to have that surge of police officers; or, is there additional funding that will be needed still top of that?

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think the mayor will look at all the options on the table and see it, but right now that's one of the tools we're utilizing.

Mayor Adams: Yes, and 12‑hour tours. We do need, you know, we would like more funding. And as I try to share with people, the transit police force took a major shift after Wenjian Liu and Ramos were assassinated. We went to, for the first time, we went to dual patrol out of the fear of assassination.

So, you cut the Police Department in half in the subway system because it was mandatory for everyone to be dual patrol. And we have to now shift because of that and really retrain officers on proper patrol function, walking through the cars, omnipresent.

There's a whole new mindset, and that is what we are doing. But we're going to continue to be the safest big city in America. That's not opinion folks, we're the safest big city in America.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, how are you? Good morning to you.

Mayor Adams: Good morning.

Question: So, Mr. Mayor, I'm glad that you mentioned messaging earlier because I think these Tuesday pressers are great because you're able to speak to all of the topics and speak to all of the challenges that people might be having. I wish the Biden administration would do the same thing as we get ready for this election; the messaging, I think, is a little poor.

But there's one challenge from New Yorkers, and that is the prepaid credit cards. I think we need a little bit more messaging on that, because I hear a lot of people still complaining about why are the migrant families getting all of this prepaid cards so they could do whatever they have to do, eat what they have to eat. But other New Yorkers are just like, just up in arms about that.

Mayor Adams: Yes. No, no, no, no. And you're 100 percent right, because I heard it yesterday as I was walking out of the town hall. And that's why we do these town halls. I think we did 24 town halls. And it is amazing when we walk into town halls, the look people give us, and then when we finish, how they come up to us and say, you know what, we really didn't know this.

And that's why we're going to continue to do these town halls, because we have to speak to New Yorkers and tell them about this good product that we have. We are required to feed people who are in our care. When I spoke with DM Williams‑Isom and the team, I said how do we do it cheaper? How do we bring down the cost? How do we minimize food waste?

That's what we did. $13 a day, able to bring down the cost, making it more efficient, able to invest in local businesses, MWBE. I mean, this is just a W. And so there's some things we're going to do, JR, that we're not going to get real appreciation for until later.

That's just the reality of being the mayor of the City of New York. I was speaking with Michael Bloomberg this morning, and the reality is there's things we're going to do. to do because of the noise of it is going to, people are going to look back later and say, like Moody and these other bond raters that these guys are fiscally responsible.

So, people want to give this image that okay, this mayor doesn't know how to manage this city, but the bond raters who determine how well you're managing are saying this mayor is managing the city and this crisis. And that was a smart move, kudos to the team for making this smart decision. And we want to expand the use of these methods of bringing down the cost and becoming more efficient in running our city. Our city and cities are not being managed in an efficient way.

Question: You know, we have to reach our friend, Stephen A. as well.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: We have to reach our friend, Stephen A. Smith…

Mayor Adams: Right.

Question: From First Take. I mean, he's out there. I love Stephen A., but for him to go out there and say that you're doing a poor job, he has a huge audience, and I think he has access to you. So, we need to talk to Stephen A.

Mayor Adams: Listen, we love talking to everyone, and that's what we will continue to do. We will get our message out. We will continue to speak to New Yorkers and let New Yorkers, you know, that their city is not coming back, their city is back. We're not surviving, we are thriving in this city.

And you do an analysis of cities across America, our children's reading and math scores are outpacing the state, where other cities are dealing with real housing crises, we're building here. Our economy is coming back. Our jobs, more private sector jobs in the history of this city. Our tourism is here.

The article came out, the number one city in America. I'm not sure where everybody's getting their that we're moving in the wrong direction. We're moving in the right direction.

Question: We're all seeing the long lines outside the migrant check‑in center down at St. Brigid's.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: There's been some call, Adrienne Adams they claim, why don't we have more than one check ‑in center? That's one question.

And then I have another one on swimming, the [inaudible] program, I think they said last week the summer camps were opened for the city, but the Parks Department website, the last thing they have about opening was February '23. There's nothing on the website.

The only thing that's on the website is they're hiring counselors but so far they don't have campers because nobody can register. So, what's going on with that? Is that a glitch on the Parks Department or whatever?

Mayor Adams: DM, hold on, let me first talk about the lines. When you leave here today, I want you to go down to the federal building. You want to talk about lines? Those lines are four or five blocks longs going around the corner at the federal building where people go in to apply.

All types of weather. People are standing out there freezing. We do not tell people they have to wait on line. We've done everything that's possible, giving people appointments, letting them know what time to get there.

People are so hungry to participate in the American experience that they make that determination. We do not tell people they have to wait on line. And you see the same thing at the federal building. I walked past there the other day. I couldn't believe how long those lines were, and the weather was inclement. Processing paperwork, documentation, going through the system, people want to be part of the American experience, and they've made those determinations to stand on line to do so.

Question: Any chance that you put other relocation centers? I think the fact that there's only one, and everybody's converging on it. Would you put relocation centers beyond the St. Brigid's school?

Deputy Mayor Levy: So, Keith, I would actually point out, if the councilmember is saying that, that sounds like she has a lot of confidence and is saying that what we're doing is working. So, we appreciate that the councilmember is complimenting what we're doing, and I guess we pivot and shift, as we always say, so.

Mayor Adams: Right. And remember, we have a mandate: 30 percent decrease in spending. Every new place we open, we pay rent, we pay heat, we pay all the other things, 30 percent decrease. I told the team we're going to bring down the cost by 30 percent of taxpayers' dollars.

And so there's some people who call for all these things don't realize we're talking about taxpayers' dollars. And it's good… When you don't have to write the check, it is easy to say spend more. No. We're going to bring down this course by 30 percent; and in the process, some people may take longer to do things, but everyone is going to get the things done. But we have to bring down the cost by 30 percent. The swim, DM?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes. Summer camp will open March 1st, so keep checking on the website.

Question: That means [inaudible] on the website…

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes.

Question: ...and you could register?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes.

Question: Okay. So, they're not open yet but they will open March 1st.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Right. It's days away.

Question: Thank you. Hi, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I'm good, how are you?

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: Your recent comments about the city's sanctuary policies and wanting to modify those. Given that currently the city can transfer to ICE migrants who have been convicted of a serious or violent crime, how exactly do you want to see the current sanctuary policies changed?

And given that the speaker, Adrienne Adams, does not want to, does not plan to change them, how will you go about doing that?

Mayor Adams: Her thoughts on this is, they are her thoughts, and I have my thoughts. And I would love for my counsel to just break down the difference between the original sanctuary city policy under Mayor Koch and the drastic shift under the former administration. I don't believe people who are violent in our city and commit repeated crimes should have the privilege of being in our city. Some people have a different belief than that, that is my belief.

And if I had my way, if you are repeatedly committing crimes in our city, like the individual did a serious crime and then got out and went and assaulted and did a robbery, you don't have the right to be in our city and tarnish those overwhelming number who I hear following the rules. That is what I believe. Lisa, can you go over the [inaudible] policy?

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Sure. So, in 1989, by executive order, then Mayor Koch put in place an order that recognized that law‑abiding individuals in New York City should not be dissuaded from seeking city services because of their immigration status; and likewise, victims of crimes should not be afraid to speak with police because of their immigration status.

And so that original executive order recognized that people's immigration status is confidential and should not be transmitted by city employees to federal immigration authorities unless the individual is suspected of engaging in criminal activity.

So, the longtime standard and exception from that executive order and in later iterations of it was that there's a carve out whenever an individual is suspected of engaging in criminal activity in New York City, New York City employees in law enforcement were not just allowed to share information with federal authorities but encouraged to cooperate with them in the instances that individuals were suspected of engaging in crime.

That same system existed under the Bloomberg administration. He had a set of executive orders. They're still in place. They replaced the Koch executive order. It makes it exceptionally clear that NYPD policy is not to inquire about the immigration status of any crime victim, any witness, any person who's approaching the police seeking assistance. New York City law enforcement is not to ask about any person's immigration status unless they're investigating illegal activity, other than the person perhaps being undocumented.

Like the Koch EO, the mayoral executive orders under Mayor Bloomberg did not restrict New York City law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities as to individuals suspected of criminal activity.

That changed significantly when the City Council enacted laws in 2014 and 2017 that did a few things. The 2014 law prohibits the city from honoring administrative ICE detainers in the event of someone who's suspected of criminal activity or arrested of criminal activity or even convicted of criminal activity unless you meet certain exceptions, like you have to have been convicted of a specific list of serious offenses or you have to be on a terrorist watch list. In 2017, the City Council also enacted a law that expressly prohibits any city resources from being used in furtherance of civil immigration enforcement.

So, there's a bar, and the operation of those two laws essentially placed strong limitations on the city's ability to cooperate or to provide even just notification to federal authorities. And there is an exception for things like participating on federal, local criminal task forces, not primarily for the purpose of immigration enforcement; and of course, NYPD participates on those every day.

So, the bottom line is that there was a serious change in the original policies that had been mayoral policies when the City Council stepped in and passed laws, and those are questions ultimately for the City Council to reexamine.

Question: To clarify, do you want to see the city go back to those previous standards of allowing cooperation when there is not a full conviction but suspected behavior or engagement in the activities being investigated for legal activities, what's the standard you want to go back to?

Mayor Adams: I want to go back to the standards of the previous mayors who I believe subscribe to my belief that people who are suspected of committing serious crimes in the city should be held accountable. We've had a series of migrants and asylum seekers who were doing chains of robberies, the one that took place in the Bronx. This person was a menace to what they were doing.

Now, you want to leave him here, have him have two years before he's actually convicted and continuing to do his criminal behavior? I just philosophically disagree with that.

You know, I think that New Yorkers have a right to be safe. People who are like the many that are here that want to participate in the American experience should not be tarnished by those small numbers that are committing these violent acts. I think that we should make sure that the laws at the top of our laws should be about public safety. New Yorkers have the right to be safe.

And if you were to talk to the average New Yorker, I believe they would line up on the same side with me that we should not be allowing people who are repeated committing crimes to remain here and we cannot collaborate with ICE in the process.

Question: [Inaudible] individuals?

Mayor Adams: Is what?

Question: Does that remove due process for those individuals?

Mayor Adams: They didn't give due process to the person that they shot or punched or killed. There's just a philosophical disagreement here. They could have due process, but we should be communicating with ICE. And with ICE makes the determination of deporting, then they should.

So, no one is taking away from anyone's due process. But the mere fact we cannot share with ICE that this person has committed three robberies, that this person is part of an organized gang crew. The mere fact we can't say that and can't communicate with that, that's problematic for me.

And so no one is saying taking away anyone's due process, but at the same time, we can't have these small number of migrants and asylum seekers that have identified that they're going to be dangerous hide under the law that there's nothing you can do about it because you cannot tell ICE what we're doing, you cannot collaborate with them.

So, there's some people that feel that they should be able to remain here, keep doing the actions until they're eventually convicted. I don't subscribe to that theory. I believe New Yorkers should be safe and the migrants and asylum seekers that are doing the right thing should not be caught up with those who are not doing the right thing.

And some of those who are not doing the right thing are dangerous. One individual who shot at a police officer — shot at a police officer — that's a serious offense. And so when you get arrested on one day, released and then go out and do another robbery, you are televising I don't have respect for your laws. That's what I believe.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you.

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