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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Calls in Live to WABC's "Sid & Friends"

May 25, 2023

Sid Rosenberg: So, with that said, here he is the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams. And Eric, you just missed, I just played the entire song. It's a song by Frank Sinatra that no one knows. No one knows. And it's called Brooklyn Bridge. And I'm telling you, Mr. Mayor, it is a great song. And how apropos after that wonderful day you had yesterday, the 140th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge, and that new park on the Manhattan side. You would love that song, Eric. Trust me.

Mayor Eric Adams: I'm going to definitely download it, that’s what's great of social media, you can find what you needed when you need it.

Rosenberg: That's true. Frank Sinatra, Mr. Mayor, Brooklyn Bridge. So, tell us about this new park on the Manhattan side that opened yesterday celebrating the 140 year anniversary.

Mayor Adams: Some of the best ideas that we implement, they come from everyday people in the city. And I was approached by a team of residents in the area while I was out on the campaign trail. They told me about the bridge being closed for 10 years due to major construction, the park being closed due to major construction. And I had the team look at it and they were right. And so, we made a commitment with the skateboarders. The resident of this park is known by skateboarders all around the city, if not the country. Some of the giants were there.

And we made a commitment with the team there that we would open the park and invest money into getting the park up and operating. And yesterday a deal was sealed. And we brought together the residents, the communities, and a lot of the skateboarders, and made the announcement. We were really excited about it, because it was just really showing how government works, how ideas can come from those who live in the area, having accessibility to everyday electeds, and then going out and executing the plan. That's why it's so important to stay on the ground, Sid.

I think that the uniqueness of this administration is how much we are just out there on the ground talking to everyday people on the subways, walking the streets, doing those basic things of good old fashioned, of being like that, what do you call that, visiting doctor willing to—

Rosenberg: House calls. Yep.

Mayor Adams: But, today's also another exciting day too, if I could just say before you get started, Fleet Week. We have an amazing breakfast this morning. Our sailors are here. Sometimes we think of this important weekend, Memorial Day. We don't realize that what it is all about. It's all about those men and women who water the tree of freedom with their blood. We enjoy living in this country, having a country where you can go from working in the mail room to becoming a mayor. That's what's great about this country. And we need to acknowledge the men and women who are in our armed services that they provide that foundation. That's what made our country great for so many years. And so, let's think about them over this weekend as we acknowledge Memorial Day. It really means a memorial moment for those men and women.

Rosenberg: Couldn't agree more. I said that in fact last hour, Mr. Mayor, that while you're eating your hotdogs and hamburgers and drinking beer, it's going to be a beautiful day. That's right. You're home for a reason. And that is the courage of our men and women. Right now, there's a lonely kid, like I said, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in hundreds and places all over the world, and they deserve to be commended. And certainly the ones that lost their lives deserve to get your respect for the ultimate sacrifice. So, I was going to bring up Fleet Week, but it was kind of funny, Mr. Mayor, because you said, "Before we get started," and I would imagine you're talking about the migrant conversation, but I was going to bring up Fleet Week too and the Brooklyn Bridge was some nice things going on in New York City the last couple of days.

But, the migrant stuff, of course, is what has hijacked the news, you know that. I'm going to say this, and this may sound really stupid, Eric, but that's okay, because I'm just a radio host. People say to me all the time, "Look, in the beginning it was one thing the mayor was maybe even too nice. Come on in." Now those same people, I'll be honest, some of them feel badly for you. They go, "Listen, the guy was too welcoming, to be honest at the very beginning, way too welcoming. But now they've taken advantage and they're killing him." What's stopping Mayor Eric Adams from saying the next time the bus comes, "No, you're not going to a gymnasium. You're not going to Sullivan County. You're not going anywhere in my state. I'm up to 80,000 people. I can't do it anymore. Take that bus and turn it around. Go back to wherever you came from, we are not taking any more people." I get asked that all the time, Mr. Mayor, is that not a possibility?

Mayor Adams: Yeah. And I think that it was reported in our locals that we sent out a message that everyone can come to New York City. And no matter how many times we brought clarity to that, it was just continuously reported. Our position was clear all the time that we have to abide by the law. Eric Adams does not write these laws. We have a New York State constitution, and we have had lawsuits for many years, over 40 years ago, when we were dealing with 2,500 people in our shelter system.

And those laws are in place, and I'm never going to do anything that is going to violate the law. And so, what is taking place right now, as you know, our corporation counsel asked to go back into court and get clarity around those laws. And when you think about it, when laws were written, I don't think anyone thought about a humanitarian crisis of this proportion. So, it's not just as simple for any state in the union to tell people, "No, you cannot enter our state."

Rosenberg: Okay.

Mayor Adams: That is just not that simple. That's not the country that we are. You can only imagine if we've done that throughout the years where many people made their [inaudible] to America to say, "No, you can't come into our state." The question becomes how do you do it correctly? That is what we're saying. And New York City should not be the blueprint for every other state to say, "Send whomever come to the city, as asylum seeker, or any way, it should go to New York City." That is just not right.

Rosenberg: There was a rumor that you were actually in court, Mr. Mayor, my friend Eric Adams, a couple of weeks ago, talking about maybe shutting sanctuary city. But, I think, people got confused and it wasn't the sanctuary city, it was the right to shelter. Now your critics say, "The mayor is confusing right to shelter between the homeless and the migrants. The right to shelter was put in place for Americans and the homeless, not for these illegals that are coming in by the thousands every day." What about that point from your critics?

Mayor Adams: Well, being in New York City is critics. We're a city, and we're a city of 8.5 million people, around that number, and we've got 50 million opinions. But governing a city this complex, you have to be prepared to hear from those who are going to critique you and those who are going agree with you. What it comes down to is that those who are here as asylum seekers, they are not here illegally. They were paroled into the country by the Customs Border Patrol. They're here legally. And that's what people are mixing up. They're mixing up those who are here illegally. That's where the sanctuary city terminology comes from. That has nothing to do with the migrants and asylum seekers.

And again, this is going to play out in court. We will get clarity on many levels because there are many things that we need to get clarity on around this issue. And that's the purpose of the corporation counsel and I'm going to be guided by their decision. But in the interim, we think that the federal government must come up with a real decompression strategy and we need a decompression strategy also here in the state.

Rosenberg: No, no, but, Eric, when you say the federal government, I think you'd make a lot of people in this city happy if you said Joe Biden. Joe Biden did this. Joe Biden, it's his policy. Donald Trump had them remain in Mexico. He had all these things going on. You can say what you want about Republicans, Mr. Mayor, with the immigration reform. The fact is we had a Republican president for four years, we had none of these problems. None of them, zero. Joe Biden takes over, bang, we're getting slaughtered with migrants all over the country. So I think people would really appreciate it if you would just say Joe Biden.

Mayor Adams: Well, the goal is not to find appreciation. The goal is to find a real way to manage the problem. And we did have this problem when President Trump was in office. What happened is that they put in place Title 42 because of the Covid issue. The issue that for far too long the Republicans have pushed against immigration reform, that has been the biggest impediment for years. Not this year, but for years. We need to address their unwillingness to deal with immigration reform. Now, that's the foundational problem we're facing. But that does not take away from the fact that we need the White House to ensure that we have a real decompression strategy and give people the right to work.

That's the only one thing I hear, Sid. When I go and I speak to asylum seekers and migrants, they say, "We don't want your free room and board. We don't want you to do anything for us. We want to work." And we have a large number of jobs that are available. It's not like we don't have jobs. It's not taking away from Americans. These jobs are vacant right now and we need to allow people to work. That's what this country needs.

Rosenberg: But aren't you worried... But if you do that... I understand that. It makes sense, Mr. Mayor, certainly it does. But aren't you worried that if you do do that, you're going to incentivize more of these people who right now are struggling in Ecuador or Venezuela or who knows where to come here? I don't know about... Look, I'm going to be honest. I don't like it when politicians call me a racist. Because I'm going to tell you right now, Mr... You know where I live, you know exactly where I live, Eric, I don't want these migrants in my community and I don't want to be called a racist for it. I don't. I don't want them there. Especially now because at least right now I'm paying for these people. So I don't want to be called a racist and a bad guy. I don't want to incentivize more of these migrants to come to America. And if you start giving them jobs on top of everything else, aren't we doing that?

Mayor Adams: Well, what's interesting is that, two things, when I hear that, that would it incentivize, people already incentivized.

Rosenberg: That's true. You're right. No, that's true. That's true. That's true.

Mayor Adams: [inaudible] open the flood gates, we've got 70,000 migrant asylum seekers that have come through the city. The flood gate is already open. And the second thing, if you were to... I think everyone should visit the Museum of the City of New York that I was in yesterday. If you were to go to that museum and walk through or just Google the history of all of us, there has not been one ethnic group that people did not say, "I don't want them here." Not one. I don't care who it is, if it's African-American, if it's Chinese-American, if it's Italian-American, Irish-American, all of us heard the sentence, "I don't want them here." If you speak to your grandparents or your parents, they will all tell you what it was like trying to go and pursue the American dream. I want people here that want to work, that want to contribute to the city. The number of immigrants that did not stay home during Covid and made sure the city continued to operate is remarkable.

Rosenberg: Yeah. Yeah.

Mayor Adams: And so we've just got to do this right. We're not doing it right. That's the problem.

Rosenberg: All right, two more and we'll move up with this and then I know you've got a busy day ahead of you. You've got the Fleet Week breakfast, they've got 200 sailors coming to your place there. These county executives that are suing, I know you're going to be in court a lot, starting with Ed Day, who by the way, physically threatened you, what does that look like the next couple of days and weeks moving forward with all these lawsuits from these county executives?

Mayor Adams: Well, call me a little old fashioned, but I just believe in our system of justice in America. I've been all over the globe and no one does it like our country. There are times I disagree with the outcomes and there are times I agree with it, but our process is a clear one. And I think that it's important for us to go to court, present our case, which we think we are on solid ground, and say to the state that we all are responsible here. Sid, New York City is the economic engine of the state and we're the economic engine of the country.

Rosenberg: No doubt.

Mayor Adams: But for years we sent more to Washington and Albany than we've gotten back. And so right now they all need to see the success of New York is invested into the success of this entire state and country. And there's no way we can have our fellow counties say, "We have to be there for New York City," when New York City has been here for the entire state for generations.

Rosenberg: All right, two more in this spirit of time. I know you've got to run. Your chief housing officer, Jessica Katz, yesterday, she decided to leave. All right, you'll appreciate this one, Eric. I know you will. Is she jumping off the Titanic or is she leaving before the good party starts?

Mayor Adams: Well, think about calling this administration the Titanic. Fitch, the bond raters, raised our bond rating to a AA. We recovered 99 percent of the jobs that we lost during the pandemic in our private sector. We are seeing crime decrease. Homicide, shootings, some of the major crimes have decreased. The subway ridership is up. This administration has managed us through Covid, has managed us through crime, managing us now through these asylum seekers. This administration is a successful administration. 

Rosenberg: Now, I want to stop you for a second because I do love, Mr. Mayor, all the people you put in charge. I saw Commissioner Sewell again down by Battery Park on Sunday for the NYPD Running Club 5K Run. She's awesome. I've had Tisch on the show, Sanitation. Just Monday, Eric, I had on Lou Molina from the DOC, the commissioner there. You have put some excellent people in very lofty positions. So congratulations on that.

Mayor Adams: They come and go in government. People come and go in government. Jessica has helped us navigate a very difficult legislative budget around housing. She's in charge of housing. And housing, we have a real shortage of housing and we have to incentivize more development. We are pushing to get 421-a. We were pushing to get some other items. All of these numbers don't mean a lot to New Yorkers by the day to day, but what it means is we are attempting to build more housing. We have a housing shortage in our city and there are ways to build more housing and that's what we're trying to push our partners around the state and country, our national leaders, to make sure that we can incentivize to get more housing. So we're doing a real reshifting of her portfolio and we're excited about the future.

Rosenberg: Okay.

Mayor Adams: So, brother, we're moving in the direction we should be moving in.

Rosenberg: No, I agree. I just wanted to... I had to make it interesting. It's radio. I've got to be funny. 

Mayor Adams: I want to be clear on this. Jessica worked every day, every day, to ensure that New Yorkers [inaudible] about housing policies. No administration has committed the amount of money that we committed like Jessica did, and including NYCHA. No one did this before. What she has did around NYCHA, the success of NYCHA Land Trust, securing millions of dollars for that. She just had to get stuff done, a mindset, and I cannot thank her enough for coming in and serving with us.

People will try to spin it any way they want. Brendan is leaving this year. My comms person, Max, is going on to do some great things. People come in, sacrifice their lives to be in government and then they transition to other things. This is a grind. Don't let nobody kid you.

Rosenberg: No. It's a tough job. I know. Last two minutes and we'll wrap it up. You've been great and we discussed a lot of serious stuff and you've been terrific as always.

Daniel Penny. This thing started and you were like, "Hey..." Everybody loved what Eric Adams said, "Listen, let's get all the facts. Calm down." And then it seems like you went the other way. No one wanted Jordan Neely to die, including the hero, I'm calling him a hero, the hero Marine, Mr. Mayor. Nobody wanted that kid to die. But the truth is, and you deal with this every day, just a couple of days ago another lady got attacked on the subway, she's paralyzed today, the truth is people like that without a weapon can do stuff like this. 

And we need more New Yorkers to be encouraged to step up because cops can't be everywhere and do what Daniel Penny did. And a lot of folks are saying, "Now the mayor went the other way, and now he's siding with Sharpton and Neely and not Mr. Penny." You want to clarify that here and wrap this up?

Mayor Adams: No. The mayor has been the same way throughout my entire public life, and it's unfortunate that every incident, people want to find a left and right side and everyone goes to their corner and see who's going to duke it out. And then, we spin every sentence that comes out to aggravate an already difficult situation.

The mayor doesn't go different ways. I'm very consistent and I've been consistent throughout my entire life. This is in the hands of the district attorney. The district attorney is now going through the process. This is the criminal justice system that we all believe in. And I will continue to believe in. What I must do is look after the Jordan Neelys that are on our subway system right now, and make sure that we do what I attempted to do last year when I was saying, "How do we deal with those who can't take care of their basic needs and they're a danger to themselves? What do we do?"

A lot of people talk about this issue, but I'm in the subways. I don't see too many people in the subways talking to the people who are dealing with serious mental illness, giving them the care, trying to convince them to go into treatment. And remember when I rolled this out and I came on your show and I talked about it?

Rosenberg: Yes.

Mayor Adams: How people attacked me because they said I'm trying to force everyone with a slight mental illness into a treatment?

Rosenberg: Yes. And by the way, I stuck up on you back then because at least you ought to plan. And I still give you credit for that.

Mayor Adams: Right. And so, those who are saying that I'm going different ways and I'm doing different things, no, I'm not. I'm running a complicated city with many nuances and far too often people think every issue is one way or the other, and it's not. We have to make sure we navigate this city out of the challenging times that we're in, and we need a steady hand at the will. That is what I represent to the city.

Rosenberg: I know you're late for a call. Fabien just texted me, Mr. Mayor. But you were great this morning. I got to tell you, man, and it means a lot because I had this conversation earlier, prior mayors, they wouldn't come on this show. The fact that you're here every couple of weeks speaking to my listeners, it means a lot to me and WABC. And you are great.

Enjoy Fleet Week this morning, Eric. And I'll talk to you later on today. Thank you so much.

Mayor Adams: Okay. Be well. Thank you.

Rosenberg: All right, Mr. Mayor. Take care. There he is. Eric Adams gave us a solid 16 minutes there. 


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