March 6, 2023
Susan Richard: Joining us live this morning on 1010 WINS, Mayor Eric Adams to talk about a number of topics. Good morning, sir. Thanks for being here.
Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Great to speak with you this morning.
Richard: Let's start with the latest crime stats from the NYPD. New data released on Friday shows a decrease in almost all major crimes in the month of February compared with 2022, including a 15 percent drop in shootings, which is great news, but it seems the big issue now is shoplifting, including some very brazen, high-end stores getting robbed. What's the plan to deal with that?
Mayor Adams: A number of things. Number one, we are putting out a clear call to all of our shops, do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask. And then once they're inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so. But we need to use the technology we have available to identify those shoplifters and those who are committing serious crimes. When you see these mask-wearing people, oftentimes it's not about being fearful of the pandemic, it's fearful of the police catching them for their deeds, and we're really putting the call out. But we also brought together all of our major stores to sit down and talk about some safety measures that we're going to put in place in partnership with them to zero in on this national phenomena of shoplifting taking place in our country and city.
Richard: It seems that the mask thing is really putting the onus on the stores. What can the NYPD do?
Mayor Adams: Well, we are beefing up our coverage in those BIDs areas, those high shopping areas, and we're also beefing up our surveillance and practices. And we have something called paid detail where uniform officers are allowed during their off duty hours to do some of the security at many of our stores and locations. It has always been successful. I recall, when I was a police officer, it being utilized, and we are calling on those high-end stores to also continue to do so.
Richard: Let's talk about this e-bike fire, yet another one in the city taking out a supermarket and a laundromat. It rose to five alarms very quickly. What do you think at this point? Should these bikes just be banned?
Mayor Adams: No, it's a combination of things we must do. And hats off to Commissioner Kavanagh, when she first brought this to the attention of our team. She showed a few videos, and let me tell you, New York, it is startling to see how these batteries explode, particularly the illegal ones. You think about it, when you are a delivery person or recreational usage, you finish using your bike, you park it by your door, that is the concern. These bikes explode and it ignites the entire area that it is located in. So we must do, one, education. We must tell people not to purchase the illegal batteries, how to charge them, how to store your bikes while you're charging them. Number two, we need to make sure we zero in on those people who are selling these illegal batteries because they can cause harm. So it's about education and proper enforcement that we can get the situation under control.
Richard: So we're three years out from the pandemic now, let's talk about outdoor dining. The Department of Transportation is continuing to take down a bunch of outdoor dining sheds, some, you've called them Covid cabins. What is the status of that? And the question really is, with the added economic value for restaurants which could use it, do you think the city should allow some of those to remain?
Mayor Adams: Well, we're going to do it right. Remember, they were put up during an emergency, and hats off to the de Blasio team for understanding that we had to throw a life raft to the restaurant industry, because not only does it impact our tourism, but also many low-wage employees actually had to keep working during that time. But now we're cycled out of the emergency of Covid, we need to do an evaluation. There's a bill coming out of the City Council, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez is pushing through a bill, and we're going to look over, analyze it. We believe some form of outdoor dining is going to be here in the city, and we want to make sure we get it right this time.
Richard: So maybe depending on the location of the restaurant, whether it's taking up traffic spaces, stuff like that?
Mayor Adams: Yes, and coming up with a real standard. We should have, in my belief, one or three models of different ways it should look. So we shouldn't have those areas that really cause rats to come and fester, the trash, the dirt. We want to make sure the city is clean and we want to be the cleanest big city in America, and you can't do so if you have an unregulated industry of outdoor dining sheds.
Richard: Rats, we're going to spare you that conversation this time, sir, but I do want to talk about a couple of recent controversies for your administration. You personally have been taking a lot of heat in the last week or so for some comments that you made that seem to indicate that you did not believe in the separation of church and state. Then yesterday, you clarified that. Do you think you stepped in it a little bit here in a way you had not intended?
Mayor Adams: No, not at all. And I have not been taking heat. The loudest is not the majority, and I think sometimes people don't realize, because you are trending on social media does not mean the majority of New Yorkers are aligned with you. Listen, let's be clear. On our dollar bill, we have, "In God we trust," every president except for three, placed their hands on a religious book. The last words I made after I swore in, "So help me God." You could not be a citizen in this city without swearing in and saying, "So help me God." Look at our pledge allegiance, one nation under God. Our faith plays a crucial role. And I'm not going to back away from that because some people want to exploit it. And if you look at the same people who have been complaining are the same people that complain about every initiative that we do, I believe in God. I believe in faith. God should not dictate to our government, and government should not dictate to our religious establishment, but my decisions are made in my belief and the principles of my faith. And I'm going to continue to do that. And I enjoy talking about this every day because it gives me an opportunity to continue to say how much I believe in my faith.
Richard: So having said all that, what do you say to faith-based groups who say, if your policy is guided by your faith, then some of your proposed budget cuts are really misguided, for example, to education, to social services?
Mayor Adams: Well, I think that that's why people should understand when I make these tough decisions, I'm doing it based on my faith. I'm not making these tough decisions because I want to be inhumane. When I talk about taking people off the street that are homeless and they can't take care of themselves, that's based on my faith. When I'm talking about making sure that we handle the asylum seekers crisis, that's based on my faith. And so instead of saying, "He's making these tough decisions because he's inhumane," no, I'm making them because I'm compassionate, because I care about people because that's how I was raised to care about people, and my decisions are rooted in caring for people.
Richard: Very quickly onto the FDNY and all the recent demotions and people giving up their titles in protest. Does Laura Kavanagh have a handle on the department?
Mayor Adams: Yes, she does. And I'm really impressed, we're doing the job. And remember, these are professional operations where the men and women who are assigned there, they are doing their job. They get up every day. They don't get caught up in politics. They don't get caught up in who is the mayor, or governor, or president, they get up and respond. When that bell goes off, those men and women, they get on the back of that firetruck and they respond accordingly, and that's what they have been doing.
We knew from the onset that Commissioner Kavanagh was coming in, she was changing a culture that she felt she should have changed, and she wanted those high-ranking individuals to be responsive to her mission moving forward. And that's what she did. And I take my hat off to her being the first woman to become the fire commissioner in one of the largest fire departments on the globe. It's a tough job, but she's up for it. And I'm excited about the FDNY and the men and women that serve us.
Richard: Mayor Eric Adams live on 1010 WINS. Thank you so much.
Mayor Adams: Thank you, take care.