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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

April 23, 2024

Deputy Mayor Levy: Good morning everybody, my name is Fabien Levy and I serve as deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. How is this day different than all other days? Well, it's Tuesday and the mayor has once again convened senior leadership… I appreciate the people that got the Passover joke. 

It's Tuesday and the mayor has once again convened senior leadership to answer your questions and address important issues. By bringing together leaders from across city government, we've been able to provide New Yorkers with a clearer and more comprehensive picture of our work. We look forward to continuing that process this morning. 

Joining us today are Mayor Eric Adams, Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar, Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Tiffany Raspberry. Without further delay, I'll turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: Thanks so much, DM Levy, and good morning to everyone. Last week, and as I say every week, our mission is clear: protect public safety, rebuild our economy, and make our city more livable. In the areas of public safety, the line, public safety and justice are the prerequisite to prosperity. Overall crime continues to go down here in New York City as we continue to be the safest big city in America. Robby, you should show that bar. I always like seeing that bar graph. Homicide, shootings, burglary, and car thefts are still down by double digits. See that little orange over there? That is New York City. Out of all those other big cities, we are the safest big city in America. 

As we are going to build on that success, because we can't go backwards, and I'm not going to let that happen. This weekend, we announced an investment in public safety by adding two additional NYPD Police Academy classes this year. Each of the new classes will add 600 new police officers to our streets. When you add the two police classes that have already started, that brings the total number of NYPD recruits to 2,400 this year. That will mean more officers on the street and on subways ready to respond and drive crime down even further. It is a critical investment. Nothing brings us a greater level of comfort than having that blue uniform. It's a symbol of safety and stability, and we're looking forward to this. 

This administration, as I always state, we take a holistic approach to public safety, and that's why we're looking at what we can do to help victims of crime, including crimes that do not happen in public view. Last week, we were very proud to announce a new pilot program to provide housing for domestic violence survivors. The initiative is called Project Home, something that Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom has advocated for quite some time. The pilot program provides housing assistance to 100 domestic violence survivors and their families living in shelters. We also announced expansion to eligibility for supportive and affordable housing units for survivors of domestic violence, minimizing the amount of time they spend in shelter and significantly increasing the permanent housing options available to them. That's our commitment to public safety, and we will continue to do so, preventing and driving down crime, increasing officers out on patrol and supporting victims and survivors who have experienced trauma. 

When you look at the economy, we know if crime is down, you know the other sentence. Katie, you want to say it together? Jobs are up. [Laughter.] Crime is down. Jobs are up. And way up. When we say up, we just hit a new record high for total jobs in the city's history once again, 4.72 million total jobs. We have a record high of 62 percent participation in the labor force. That means more people are looking for jobs and more people are succeeding in finding jobs. There are more jobs in our city now than before the pandemic or any other time in New York City's history. 

I hope people watching this right now realize this isn't a rerun. We're not saying something over and over again, but these are the new records you're seeing. This is a new episode of our weekly media availability because we continue to break the record for jobs again and again and again. What will help us beat the record once again is our Jobs NYC initiative, Deputy Mayor Almanzar has been leading this initiative. We've been on the ground with this initiative. This month is the second month we will have held Jobs NYC hiring hall events throughout the five boroughs. We were on Staten Island last Friday and will be hitting up each additional borough over the next week with these hiring halls. It was in a great partnership, started out with the Executive Director Henry Garrido over at DC 37, something that he shared with me on the campaign trail. We continue to focus on these events. Don't just offer opportunities for work for the city, but access to employment with private employers. Workforce development, training and connection to resources, including public benefits. Jobs are up. We're going to continue driving those numbers up by bringing these resources directly to the people who need them the most. 

Lastly, livability. Yesterday, I like to say it was Mother's Day. Some of you may say Earth Day. Mother's Day is because Mother Earth must receive the love and nurturing that we receive, our mothers that gave birth to us. Earth sustains us. We had outstanding news from TLC about how we are making our city cleaner, safer and more sustainable. We were the first U.S. city to commit to making our rideshare fleet entirely zero emission by 2030 with our Green Rides program. We are ahead of schedule. Our goal was 5 percent of the rideshare fleet in January and we're already at 17 percent and growing and we surpassed two million electric vehicle trips in March. That's double the number of EV trips from February and five times as many as last November. 

Let's put this in perspective. EV trips from January through March of this year have saved about 6,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission and completing more than 25 million trip miles in neighborhoods across the city, making our city cleaner and better for those areas where we used to call Asthma Alley. That's equivalent to one year's worth of emission from 1,500 gas powered passenger cars or emissions from more than 7 million pounds of burning coal. That makes our city cleaner, more livable and shows this electric vehicle program is one of many innovative ways we are continuing to deliver for all New Yorkers. 

I will be remiss if I didn't mention the partnership we announced last week with the Mayor's Office of Food Policy with several leading national and New York City-based institutions to reduce related carbon emission, something that no one else is looking at like we are. 20 percent of New York City's overall emission comes from the population production and consumption of food, which is why our Plant-Powered Carbon Challenge challenges our city's private sector to join our administration's goal of reducing carbon emissions by one third by 2030. This is something totally new. We don't realize that we talk about buildings emissions, car emissions. What we eat and the food we have on our plate, it contributes to our environment as well. We believe that New York City is leading the way and reimagining our food system. We can't do it alone. We wanted to bring our partners on board. That is what we've done. Turn it over to you, DM?

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you. We won't do the wicked son or the wise one but we'll go to questions.

Question: Two questions. First, right before, I guess, like an hour or two ago, the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus put out a release saying they would not support Randy Mastro for corp counsel. I'm just curious, what's your next move? Then secondly, given the arrival of yet another suit against Tim Pearson alleging retaliation and discrimination, I'm wondering, have you launched any sort of internal investigation into him?

Mayor Adams: The suits, in any legal process, we will follow the process. We respect the process. We're going to do that. The area of your first question was about…

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: We are going to follow the process. As we always said, I must, we must have stated this a million times that until a confirmation or until an appointment is made, we won’t go into it. Lisa, you want to respond to this as well? 

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Sure. As the mayor said, until any nomination is put out formally, that will be the time to comment on when a nomination is officially made. 
I do want to take a moment to speak about Randy Mastro because of some of the really imbalanced things I've seen stated about him in the media. What's the main criticism you read is that Randy Mastro represented Chevron. Just as a fellow lawyer and someone who has taken hard cases. It can never be the case in the United States of America that lawyers are criticized and condemned for taking on hard cases for their clients. John Adams, one of the forefathers of this country in 1770, defended British officers accused of murder after the Boston Massacre. He didn't hesitate to take on that case because he believed in upholding the rule of law. That is what makes the United States spectacular, our credible justice system. 

In the Chevron case, I'll just point out from the public record. That was a case where Randy Mastro and his law firm represented a company in litigating the claim that that company had been victimized by an extensive litigation fraud. A federal judge sitting here in Manhattan after a trial agreed and the individual who had masterminded that litigation fraud against the company was held in criminal contempt. That ruling was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. So you can't possibly criticize an attorney for taking a hard case and exposing a massive litigation fraud. 

I'll also just point out that Randy Mastro's service, pro bono work, civic engagement has been vast. He chairs the Citizens Union, a very long time cherished good government group in New York City. He has been the vice chair, formerly, of the Legal Aid Society. He has done a ton of pro bono work, including racial justice cases, some that are highly in the news and some that are less in the news. It was Randy Mastro who represented the racial justice demonstrators who were abruptly cleared from Lafayette Park outside the White House. He was one of the lead advocates in Black Lives Matter v. Trump. He represented 9/11 families in recouping money for their families. 

That just scratches the surface. When he served in the Giuliani administration, he's best known for what? Cleaning up the mob, getting the mob out of the Fulton Fish Market. He was called when he left that administration, the conscience of the administration and the highest-ranking Democrat in the administration. This is all to say that the process will be followed, as the mayor noted. Randy's an incredibly top notch, world-renowned lawyer who's given tremendous service already in the past to New York City and to the people of New York.

Mayor Adams: Where did that quote come from about the social conscience? What paper was that in? 

Deputy Mayor Levy: I believe it was The New York Times. 

Mayor Adams: Okay. You know what, Lisa? You just touched on something that is really interesting. To go after an attorney based on the cases they represent is a slippery slope. We cannot say everyone has the right to due process and that it is important that they have their day to be represented. It's a slippery slope to go after attorneys for representing their clients. We're going to let the process move forward.

Question: Hi, how are you? 

Mayor Adams: Good to see you. 

Question: Nice to see you. Your administration changed the policy on survivor benefits in July of 2022. For years, ACS diverted money meant for foster children to the agency. There are now calls to give that money back. What is your position?

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: You want me to jump in? 

Mayor Adams: Can you please, Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom?

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Hi, Sarah. Nice to meet you. First, I want to say that I think this administration has been really clear in our support to families and to children to make sure that children don't have to come into foster care if they don't need to, to make sure that we're really doing and giving the highest quality of care for children that are in care. Also, which a lot of people don't pay attention to, when children leave foster care and especially young adults who leave foster care, making sure that we have what they need, whether that's access to college or whether that's support, medical help, all of those things.

Before this administration, we were paying attention to the policy, which was that young people didn't have access to their Social Security benefits. We didn't think that was fair. We changed the policy because we believed that young people, we should conserve those funds so that they could have access to them when they left foster care. We believe that ACS is leading the nation in this. We're proud of that policy decision that we made. We are going to continue to work with Legal Aid to see what their points are. If and when they present us with something, we'll review it and then we'll let what we think about it.

Question: Why not [inaudible]? Why not remediate for those children that $18.8 million dollars that they that ACS took over the years? Shouldn't those children be entitled to it? I understand that it was a prior administration but there are past wrongs that are now righted by administrations.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I feel very good and confident about the policy that we've taken right now to make sure that young people have access to those funds. If and when we get information and we decide that we want to do something different, we'll review that and then we'll come back and we'll talk about it.

Mayor Adams: We have done unprecedented things around foster care children. On the campaign trail, when I met with foster care children, they shared with me what happens when they age out at 18, they slip through the cracks, more likely to be unemployed, homeless, mental health issues, victims of crime, commit crimes. We immediately put in place Fair Futures. They advocated this for years. We put in place Fair Futures that gives them life coaches until they're 21. We're paying their college tuition and giving them a stipend and the support we're giving. When you speak to the advocates around this, they say Eric has been a hero around foster care children. And I believe we're seeing and you may be able to answer for me our numbers in college.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: The numbers are definitely up, mayor. You're right. These used to be the forgotten children. Right? There were young people, we would call it independent living. We would give them some independent living and act like they didn't need connections to adults still. That we all know that the key to somebody having a good life is to be connected to a caring adult. That's not going to just end when you're 21. I don't know if you all have children that are over 21. Right. My 28-year-old, my 31-year-old need me in a different way. The mindset about what should be happening and I don't call them foster children. I call them children and young people who happen to have been in foster care, that this mindset that we were going to do something different for them, connect them and be with them, is what this administration has not just looked at the ideology, but has really put it into practice.

Question: I got, I think, three questions. You'll like these. On the Mastro thing, I understand exactly what you're saying about the slippery slope and who Randy represents. It seems like what the Council's BLAC is doing is saying, look, you guys are going to have the votes for this. Right? Maybe you think you could persuade or whatever, I don't know. Given that, is there an alternate plan on the Mastro nomination? 

The second thing I want to ask is Politico had an item, I believe it was today, about comments you made about… I don't want to characterize exactly what you said, but it was a meeting of socialists in DC who were out to get you, like they were hatching a plan. It sounded very sinister. Who were these people in this meeting? How did you hear about them? The story is very interesting, but I feel like you don't want more details on that. 

The last question, it seemed like you had a lot of fun this weekend at Inner Circle. They know what my favorite line is, but I'm not going to say it. What was your favorite part of that moment?

Mayor Adams: Let's peel it back. Number one, I'm not going to reveal my sources because they're very much engaged on what's going on. I'm not going to reveal my sources, but I'm very knowledgeable of the fact that people believe that my pro-business, pro-law enforcement, pro-removing those who are have severe mental health issues, all the things that I do seem to be in contrast to folks who don't realize how we move the city forward. My source is very clear. 

The issue around… I'm hoping that anyone we put up for any nomination, they have an opportunity to sell their story and let them know their real story, not what's printed about them. I think it's very healthy for people to be able to sit down and be able to say we're willing to answer questions no matter who we put up. Lastly, my favorite part of Inner Circle, the whole show or just on my presentation?

Question: You had a pretty good stand up there.

Mayor Adams: I don't think there's one particular part about it. I know you guys think I don't like the media. I actually do. I think that you have a job to do. I have a job to do. I think that many of you try to do the best you can. Then you have people who, for whatever reason, I think they take shortcuts sometimes. I enjoyed coming in, doing my little bit and bouncing.

Question: You feel like you can persuade on Mastro, like that's not like a dead in the water thing, given what the BLAC put out.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: On Mastro. That's still something you guys are pursuing as far as nominating.

Mayor Adams: We have to fill our positions and we think whatever position we have to fill, we are going to… I hope that people say, well, sell why you should be any position? Why you should be the corp counsel, any position. I think that's what he should have an opportunity or whomever we put up should have an opportunity to do, sell why you should be… And answer questions. That's the beauty of this. Oftentimes someone asks a question and you have a moment of, okay, I didn't know that. I think what Lisa just rattled off, it's pretty impressive, that's a pretty impressive list of things that he has done.

Zornberg: I didn't even cover the full list. In addition,you have to just understand, in addition to being former vice chair of Legal Aid Society, he's a former board member of CUNY, of YMCA, of Sanctuary for Families, of the Children's Museum, of Hale House. It just goes on. It's just there's just a tremendous record.

Deputy Mayor Levy: The first one that you just said was pretty important. Vice chair of Legal Aid.

Zornberg: Yes.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. 

Mayor Adams: Hi. How are you? 

Question: Good. How are you today? 

Mayor Adams: Quite well. 

Question: My question, also a follow up. Did you expect so much pushback to the Randy Mastro nomination? Are you going to talk to City Councilmembers about that? I also wanted to ask about the pro-Palestine protests happening on college campuses across the city. I know there's a lot happening today. It looks like the NYPD is taking a different strategy for crowd control. Is there a task force related to that? Can you speak to that? 

Then a final question. I know you have a housing announcement with the governor later today. This week, the City Council and some housing advocates have responded to the city's response to the CityFHEPS ongoing litigation. I wanted to know, you've been renewing or reversing some of the previous budget cuts. One of the arguments from the administration is that there's not enough funding to expand CityFHEPS to all the other eligible groups. I'm wondering if you're reversing budgets, why can't you then implement some of those changes? Why continue this litigation if the state now has passed a housing package that includes more housing? Wouldn't then the CityFHEPS expanding it be able to get those people into the affordable units?

Mayor Adams: Just to answer that one first, the corp council is handling that based on their beliefs. They're determining the strategy around that, why we should or shouldn't move forward. I respect the Law Department in handling that. I don't want to get in the way of ongoing litigation. We know we have a 1.4 percent vacancy rate. We have to address that. We need to be clear on that. 
With the protests that you're seeing, there's a couple of things that, and we should have showed the video of what happened, particularly at NYU. What I learned during the Black Lives Matter protests when I was notified under the previous administration that there were those anarchists that came into the city with the determination of really disrupting and tearing our city apart. I remember meeting with some of the organizers telling them you have to start policing yourself because there are people who are embedded that are not part of the Black Lives Matter movement. They came into our city. Remember some of the arrests we made? You looked at some of the people. They were from outside our city. 

We strongly believe that is the case right now, that there are people who are here, they latch on to any protests. To see our police officers having bottles thrown at them, chairs. I looked at a helmet of one of our… Is that the… 

Deputy Mayor Levy: Bottles. 

Mayor Adams: Yes, to see — you can turn it around, it's sort of a lengthy — the number of bottles that were thrown, chairs thrown at them. People who peacefully protest for an issue, they're not throwing bottles and chairs. We know that we have acknowledged and saw across the country there are people who come, have nothing to do with the issue, and they want to aggravate. Now, if those police officers didn't show a high level of discipline, this could have been an ugly situation. When you look at the helmet, I hope they show the helmet of one of the officers. This officer was wearing a helmet when he was hit with the chair. The chair dented the helmet. Can you imagine if he didn't have the helmet on? When the Police Department called me and said, many people look down on officers wearing their helmets. Should they wear the helmets? I said, you're darn right they are. 

They're going to protect themselves from what I believe is a number of people who are really trying to use this to cause violence in our city. We're going to seek them out. We're going to identify them. I think Commissioner Daughtry made a good point when I saw one of the interviews he did. Why is everybody's tent the same? Was there a fire sale on those tents? There's some organizing going on. There's a well-concerted organizing effort. What's the goal of that organizing? That's what we need to be asking ourselves. And using disgusting terminology, it's just, you shouldn't do it. I protested before for the South African, ending Apartheid. I know what it is to march the streets. I know what it is to protect protesters as the police officers. 

This is a different energy that I'm seeing… No, there was very similar tents at Columbia. The green ones were very similar. Yes. Those orange, look at those orange and look at what they had over at. 

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: Yes, okay, all right. But I say that to say that we can't have outside agitators come in and be destructive to our city. There was someone wanted something to happen at that protest at NYU that police officers didn't respond to.

Question: Is there a specific response the NYPD is having to these protests? 

Mayor Adams: Yes. 

Question: What is that like? What's the specific directive when the NYPD is called in? What are they told? What does that look like?

Mayor Adams: It depends. If it's on private property like NYU or Columbia, they're told to send communications that you want us to come in and address the issue. If it's on the streets, they have to abide by the rules and regulations of how to protest on the street. When it comes to private property, we get communications from the schools to handle it and give us the permission to come on. Because you can't come on to private property. They're consistent about that.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. 

Mayor Adams: How are you? 

Question: Good. I have two questions. One on Randy Mastro. I gave Joe Lhota a call about Randy because they work together in the Giuliani administration. He had very complimentary things to say about him as a chief of staff and also as a deputy mayor. It made me think, would you consider appointing him as a deputy mayor, as a member of the administration that didn't have to go through the Council? My second question is the remark you made on CNN yesterday about how you would send in NYPD if there was a, quote, imminent threat. Can you define what an imminent threat would look like?

Mayor Adams: Okay. First, I'm going to make sure that Ingrid puts you on the nomination committee for our next deputy mayor position, so that you can give us some feedback. You can scan the city and come up with some great recommendations. In all seriousness, when we make the determination, there's an internal process that the team looks at and we make the determination. Once we decide who we're putting forward, we're going to announce it publicly. 

Seeing an imminent threat is starting a fire. Examples. Starting a fire, assaulting someone, placing someone's life in imminent danger. things like that, destroying property. We're going to go in. Because if you are creating an imminent threat, we're going to respond. Hey, what's happening? How are you?

Question: I know that there is this whole thing where they have to ask for the NYPD to come in. Is there anything that can be done proactively sort of behind the scenes strategically right now? Is there something where the administration is reaching out to different universities now, coordinating, maybe even setting details there so that they're ready in case something happens? Just to speak about the professional agitators that you were mentioning before. If the NYPD can't go onto a campus until they're invited, how do you make sure that people that come from the outside aren't already on those campuses fueling whatever, stoking any flames?

Mayor Adams: Great question. First, let me deal with the latter one. We have identified individuals who don't attend the schools who are on the campuses. That is part of… We're doing a meeting today with all of our college leaders who would like to participate and give them some best practices and coordination to help them. We should address this while it is just a spark. Let's not wait until it's a blazing fire. That's the goal. That's what we want to do. Because the college campuses are there to educate. Who would have thought they were going to wake up and have to deal with an issue as volatile as this? In fairness to them, they want to create the right atmosphere for students. All of a sudden they're thrown in the middle of this entire role. 

Hats off to them. It's a challenge. This is not easy. They are willing to coordinate. We're going to sit down with them and give them our professional opinion on how to alleviate this from reaching that level. To allow peaceful protest. This is a country that strongly believes in First Amendment rights. This is something we believe in. I would be a hypocrite if I said that people should not protest. I did. Over and over again, as a young person. It has to be done, I believe, number one, you can't break the law. Throwing bottles in chairs. Number two, it's not illegal, but it's immoral to call for the destruction of anyone. I would be furious if someone was marching calling for death to Black people. I would be furious. I would say how dare they're able to do this in our city. In actuality, as much as hateful as it is, you are allowed to do that in the city. That is what this city allows. Now, someone can’t come in your face and harass you and menace you. Now you're breaking the law. You crossed the line.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also point out…

Question: Are you going to give these identification of these folks to the universities?

Mayor Adams: We're going to use intel the best we can. We're going to tell universities to use their security personnel to make sure that people who don't attend their schools are not coming on the campus. We're going to be as informative as possible without crossing the line to make sure the security personnel at the schools prevent those from coming on the campus who are not there. If you're not there for education, then why are you there? You can't be there for disruption.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also point out, Mark, just to reiterate, obviously the mayor said what we're doing today with different universities and colleges. Yesterday, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright was at the university meeting with the president of Columbia and the governor. Chief Counsel Zornberg and I, as well as Commissioner Iscol and our Jewish advisors were there. We were talking to the rabbi of Chabad, of Hillel, to students on campus. We just went around and talked to folks. We are definitely trying to back the channel as well. 

Question: [Inaudible.]

Deputy Mayor Levy: We'll let you know.

Mayor Adams: Hey, how are you? Good to see you.

Question: I'm well. Mr. Mayor, I have two quick questions. First question is, everyone thought mayoral control in the budget was dead. Like it just was not possible for it to come back. I think we all would have lost bets if we had bet on it. It passed. It's in the budget. I just, and congratulations to both Tiffany and Ingrid because they got it done. Thank you. Mr. Mayor, I have a question regarding the part about class sizes. How do you expect the city is going to pay to build? Because that's what you're going to have to do is build new schools to be in compliance with the unfunded mandate. Where is that money going to come from? That's my first question. Then my second question is for Deputy Mayor Almanzar.

Mayor Adams: First of all, I'm glad you are sharing the history. We sat here, I remember people were saying, once again, you're going to have a tough... 

Deputy Mayor Levy: It was that side of the room? Right there. 

Mayor Adams: Was it Jeff? Fabien Levy Coltin? We should play that tape, I said, it's going to be alright. I knew who I was sending to Albany. I knew what they were going to do. I know the capabilities of Ingrid and her ability to land a plane. I know the organizing structure of Tiffany and the relationships of how people will pick up their calls. I know you highlighted mayoral accountability is in the budget. If I'm not mistaken, we got everything we wanted. Housing, cannabis, mayoral accountability, the whole list.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Raising the debt ceiling.

Mayor Adams: Raising the debt ceiling. Right. I forgot about that. 

Deputy Mayor Levy: That's going to help answer your question. 

Mayor Adams: Right. We were able to, and I said this before and I'll continue to say. The governor, Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, they basically said to their teams, you guys have gone through a lot. Not only have you gone through a lot, you brought the city through a lot. We want to help. 

They were very clear. I remember Tiffany telling me, Speaker Heastie saying we're not going to hurt the city. People said it was there. They were playing taps. That was the cavalry. We were able to deliver for the people of the City of New York because the lawmakers up there were able to make these tough decisions. My hat off to them. They did it two times already. I was saying, why wouldn't they do it the third time? They did. 

When you look at this, we have a law to follow. Jacques has to do what he had to do previously. Once we're given our marching orders, we have to follow them. If the lawmakers in Albany made the determination we had to do something, we're creatures of Albany. We're going to follow, and we have to get it done to the best of our abilities and keep asking them for as much help as possible.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: I can just add on class size. One of the wins we got in increasing debt capacity includes an additional $2 billion that is tied to investing in increasing the construction that needs to happen to ensure that we have the right number of classrooms for students. 

Question: [Inaudible] have money to build these new buildings.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes, and not all class size requirements are met through building. Sometimes they're met through reallocation of students and resources among schools. 

Question: [Inaudible] Reallocation of students, I'm sorry. 

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Sometimes it's met through understanding where there are class size availability and where there's overcrowding and ensuring that in some cases, not every, it doesn't work out. Most of it is done through construction, but I just want to make the point it's not all done through construction.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: In doing the deliberations, Jacques was very clear. He made a commitment that he would honor our obligation. That isn't new. That was in the bill from before. They just wanted to ensure that we would do exactly what we were obligated to do, and we made every commitment. The mayor was very clear that whatever we say we're going to do, we have to do, and we will keep our word, and we look forward to it.

Question: Thank you. Just a couple... Deputy Mayor Almanzar. The hiring halls. My question is, how is the information about the various hiring rules being relayed to New Yorkers and into our communities? Is it done through City Councilmembers sending the information out, community-based groups? Are you sending it out to media lists? How is this information getting out about these hiring halls?

Deputy Mayor Ana Almanzar, Strategic Initiatives: It's all of the above. We get texts, we send texts. If you register with New York City Emergency or any of the city networks, you get a text about where the hiring halls are happening. We put it on our schedule, public schedules, throughout different agencies. We're working with different partners on the ground, nonprofits, private employers, and putting this information out through flyers as well.

Question: Is there a website that lists…

Deputy Mayor Ana Alamanzar:

Mayor Adams: We're doing robocalls, train stations, lit drops. When you come, we have anywhere from 800, 900 people who are there that just did not know how to get access to jobs and we were clear what the DM has done is just go on the ground and meet people where they are. People are intimidated with the process and we wanted to take the jobs to them, not wait for them to come to us. I also forgot, in Albany, we also got retail theft.

Lewis-Martin: Oh, you had a retail theft.

Mayor Adams: Right, and Sammy's law.

Question: Two quick questions.

Mayor Adams: Yes, sir.

Question: Mr. Mayor, the federal Department of Justice, sent a strongly worded letter to the NYPD, they released it last week, saying that the practice of how police park around police station houses is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They have called on the administration to act or risk a lawsuit by the Department of Justice. I'd love a comment on what you're going to do about that. Then second thing, the one thing we haven't discussed about Randy Mastro is he is the lead attorney on the State of New Jersey's case against congestion pricing. You've traditionally kept a little bit of an arm's length away from congestion pricing. You say it's not your bill, et cetera. Would his appointment have any impact on your plans for implementing and perhaps challenging some elements of congestion pricing?

Mayor Adams: First of all, we have to follow the law. His firm is handling that. Obviously, I'll go back to what I said, we cannot demonize attorneys that represent their clients. That is just something I don't think we can ever do in our city. Again, follow the process. The question… I'm sorry.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Eric Adams: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: I'm happy to take that if you want the Justice Department letter.

Zornberg: Just for a moment, just to be really clear, it happens all the time that if a lawyer is handling a matter, and then comes into government, whether it's at the federal level, the state level, that has any type of conflict, actual or perceived, there's a process for that. You get walled off from that matter. That's just ordinary course that is followed regularly for lawyers who are making any transition from private to public. On the NYPD letter, we have it and we're reviewing it.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: I'll just also note that we're a city that has made a lot of strides in terms of accessibility and mobility. We have the largest accessible for-hire fleet, and we have the only on-demand fleet in the nation. Now the vast majority of dispatch ride requests are met for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle in 10 minutes or under. That's a life-changing service for many. We also have an accessible bus service and the money from congestion pricing will go to increase the number of accessible subway stations we have. On the actual streets, we have put in over 2,500 of the pedestrian signaling so those with disabilities can press a button and get an audible voice that tells them what color the light is and when to cross.

We've done almost 50,000 ped ramp upgrades which again are a real service to people with disabilities as they get from the street crossing the street and up onto the sidewalk. Any vehicle that blocks the path of a pedestrian, especially with those with mobility limitations, that is unacceptable and it's extremely unacceptable when it is a public servant's vehicle. It is a matter that we take seriously, and we will address.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

Mayor Adams: Quite well. How are you doing?

Question: I'm doing just fine. Carrying off of one of your victories in Albany, you did mention the cannabis, the pad-locking. What's the timeline on that now? What does the sheriff have to do? I know they have to go to court. I know they have to get the order. What's the timeline? When can residents see these stores being formally shut down? 

Then just circling back on Randy Mastro here, too, is that what's the political calculus here for pushing out somebody like Sylvia Hinds-Radix that you praised profusely over your time here and putting Randy in this, which clearly you're making a public push, you have to battle against the Council. What does he bring to the job that she didn't have?

Mayor Eric Adams: Again, when we roll out and make our announcement official, we're going to let everyone know. Listen, administrations shift, move, people come in and out, but the goal is to keep the success, and that's what we're doing. The issues around your first part.

Question: Cannabis.

Mayor Eric Adams: Cannabis. Yes. Number one, there are layers to it of everything from OATH. There was a change in the law. There were some real good changes in the law. They extended the amount of time before we have to put people in front of OATH. They looked at those grocery store bodegas, et cetera, that are selling illegally, that we're looking at. They could lose their lottery license, their liquor license, their cigarette license. That's very important. I spoke with DM Banks this morning.

Last month, I told the NYPD team, "We need to do the same thing Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom has done around identifying locations in the city." We already have it mapped out. This is what she did with the encampments, and we're looking to do the same thing. I think we have 2,800. The team is going to be ready to go hit those 2,800. Tiffany, is there anything you want to add on that?

Tiffany Raspberry, Director, Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs: On the ground, if there is an imminent threat to safety from an illegal smoke shop, such as being close to a school or a documented instance of selling to a minor, we now have the authority to immediately issue a violation and padlock the shop. In cases where there is not an imminent threat, we can also move swiftly. The city can issue a violation and thousands of dollars in fines. If we go back 10 days later and there's still an issue, we can immediately padlock.

Question: What's the timeline? When can you actually start putting that padlock in?

Mayor Adams: The goal is, they are already building out the operationalizing of this. So as soon as the ink dries, we're going to execute. Really looking at how to deploy the teams, how many members to deploy because when I did an analysis, I saw that the other locations we were having too many people on the scene, we were having six, seven people inside the shop. You don't have to do that. We're going to use our manpower more effectively. I am about mobilization of manpower. We're going to immediately… They're doing the Inner Circle dress rehearsal and then they're going to actually have show night. Right now they're getting ready. What's happening?

Question: I'm good. How are you? Going back to Randy Mastro again. I know your favorite topic.

Deputy Mayor Levy: [Inaudible] also the double dip. That is like a 10-time dip.

Question: We got to hit it from different angles. In terms of a timeline, can you give us an idea of when the current corporation counsel is going to step down and when a nomination might happen? Then going off of Craig's question, are you hoping for someone who's, whether it's Mastro or anyone else, who's more aggressive in their legal approach as more legal matters are piling up around you?

Mayor Adams: Legal battles are piling up around me. Legal matters, that has to be handled by the city that. The corporation counsel deal with, I don't know how many cases, Lisa, they deal with? 

Zornberg: It's unbelievable. I think it's the second. Our Law Department, I think, is the second-largest public law department in the United States. There…

Deputy Mayor Levy: Only DOJ is bigger.

Zornberg: Yes, I think so. Hundreds and hundreds of lawyers and the complexity and variety of matters that come in every day, that's not new. It's a constant.

Mayor Adams: Finding someone that could do that is important. We're going to do the right thing. As the announcements are made we will definitely roll them out.

Question: Hi.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Hi, I'm good. I'm Angie Damlakhi from Allewaa Alarabi newspaper. Okay, so my question is that in regards to your last statement about the protest in Columbia University, it seemed that many officials have been deeming the protest antisemitic since the start a few months ago, which perhaps is leading to a harsher tone coming out from this protest now. How are you making sure that the Muslim and Arab voters in New York City, including these students, are being listened to as they lose all faith in their elected officials? Are you putting an effort in having an honest and unbiased conversation with them?

Mayor Adams: Yes, and we've had several conversations with our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters. I think last week, which I found very interesting, we had meetings with our Arab leaders, which many people don't realize that Arabs are Christian, Jews, and Muslims. We had them in the room. We had meetings with various Muslim leaders. We had meetings with several different groups since October 7th, we've had a series of roundtables with this and we've made it clear that it breaks our heart to see innocent lives lost in Gaza, babies being killed in Gaza. It breaks our heart. We think, as I've made it extremely clear, Hamas as a terrorist dangerous organization, hostages should be released.

I think that's the clear pathway to stopping the violence that we see and we have sat down and communicated with our Arab and Muslim leaders several meetings. I did not have to introduce myself to them. They've known me for years. They know what I stand for and what I represent and what I believe in and I'm clear, hate has no place in our city. We should not be seeing hate in our city and that is what I'm going to continue to be involved in. When I saw some of the specific comments that were being made at Columbia University, it really gets in the way of what people are attempting to highlight and fight for because we cannot fight to say save lives while we are saying let's destroy lives. That just doesn't line up.

Question: Not on Mastro, but on Judge Hinds-Radix. Look, it's been reported that there were some maybe legal disagreements and I just wanted some clarity from the administration on whether she's leaving of her own accord or what the disagreements have been. Then additionally, we're expecting the executive budget announcement tomorrow. Just want to hear what's your mindset going into that. The Council feels really good about their revenue estimates saying that more money is coming in. You've been restoring cuts left and right these past couple of days. Just wondering where we can be expecting, again, more cuts restored and how you're planning to negotiate with the Council which again, feels like they have the upper hand in this negotiation?

Mayor Eric Adams: New York City has the upper hand. We are in this together. Adrianne has made it clear, Speaker Adams has made it clear we want to do what's best for the city of New York and that's what we have done for two budgets. As long as we continue to work together as we announce the restorations, bringing back some of these items that we looked at. We were excited. Like she said she wanted to do a backflip. I wanted to do a backflip also because we want to do this. These are the budgets we want to pass. The announcement tomorrow I got to call Jacques because I told him to make sure he slipped you a copy of our presentation. He didn't follow that direction, I need to find out why not.

We are going to make the announcement tomorrow and I think it is going to show that what we're doing for the city is the right thing to do. Judge Radix is a longtime friend for many many years. I was at her daughter's wedding. There is no disagreement. All of us are dealing with these issues that we are facing and we're all doing the best we can to make them happen.

Question: Hi Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: What's going on?

Question: You know, same old. My question it briefly it just… Two questions. The first is, sorry, it's about the judge and her departure. I'm just curious, as you said there's hundreds… And this question's for Mrs. Zornberg. There's hundreds of cases not just cases against you but is there any disruption when someone leaves? Then my second question is about level-one incidents at migrant shelters, but I don't know. I know there's hundreds of people who work in the Law Department, there's hundreds of cases but when someone at top level leaves is there any disruption? What would that look like?

Zornberg: I'll just say briefly that the Law Department is full of incredible dedicated attorneys who work to represent the city every day in a whole host of complex matters. The strength of any Law Department is the strength of the attorneys and their commitment to the mission all the way through. Having served, for example, I was at the US Attorney's Office during a tumultuous period where Preet Bharara was fired, and then Joon Kim was fired. Then Geoffrey Berman was fired.

I was chief of the criminal division under all three. That's not the situation here but even in that extreme very tumultuous situation when you have dedicated government servants, many who have been at the Law Department years and decades, there is a sense of continuity and commitment that always carries through. I'm sure it's no different with the law department. I see firsthand how many excellent dedicated longtime lawyers are in the Law Department.

Lewis-Martin: I'm going to just add to that. When our administration is over and done after the mayor's administration is done, some of those members will remain. It's something that just keeps going. It's part of permanent government, and they're dedicated so it'll be fine. It's permanent government.

Question: This second question is about my colleague reported on the level one incident of two of the leading centers for asylum seekers St. Brigid’s and Bathgate up in the Bronx. Violence, punching and kicking, overcrowded waiting areas, it increased with the 30 and 60-day shelter limits. I don't know if the city, I don't know if Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom wants to comment on, if there are any changes to that or just comment on concerns about what's going on in the waiting areas.

Mayor Adams: DM Williams-Isom actually could go into it, but again, we pull off a miracle every day. 3,000 people at just Randalls Island alone and they are patiently waiting for the next step on a journey. DM Isom?

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Bathgate I don't think is open anymore. I can double-check that.

Question: This is a reporting from… The FOIL office is [inaudible] Very quickly, I'm just reporting on incidents [inaudible] FOIL.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Okay, so I haven't recently heard of any major incidents that are occurring. I think the mayor says this all the time, I'm always really surprised how humble and how patient people are, and how they're really clear that they're here for a short period of time. We're going to do the best that we can with them to get them settled during that short period of time as they make their way to their next step of their journey. By the way, last week we got 1,400 new migrants into the system.

Question: Hello, Mr. Mayor…

Mayor Eric Adams: How are you?

Question: …and the administration. First thing, I was wondering if you could comment on Donald Trump being in New York and declaring a campaign that he's going to run here and your thoughts on that. Also, I know you traveled to Miami yesterday, and there was many discussions. You met with global leaders, but there was a discussion about migrants. I was wondering if there was anything you brought from Miami and are those people who left from New York to Miami are going to come back here?

Mayor Adams: If they are smart, they will come back. I think it was great to hear from some of the experts in this area comment on what we're doing here. We have become a leading voice under the work of DM Williams-Isom and the entire team, and people recognize what we have done. With the trial, our criminal justice system does not change based on what city or state you're in. This is a system that's built on due process and that's going to take place in the next couple of days.

Question: Do you have any comment on the fact that Donald Trump will make campaign stops, talk to people? He's talking about crime in New York City and that's one of the fuel for his campaign being here.

Mayor Adams: Not at all. As long as he's on the campaign trail, he can look at the bar graph that we showed that we're the safest big city in America. I think that as long as we stay on message with that, we'll be fine. This is campaign season, so people are going to be campaigning throughout the city.

Lewis-Martin: I've been hanging out with you too much because I was thinking the exact same thing. You're giving me the…

Deputy Mayor Levy: All right, thank you.


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