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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

May 7, 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. Thank you all for joining us today whether it's keeping people safe, rebuilding our economy, or making our city more livable. Our administration is working every day to get stuff done for New Yorkers. 

To provide people with a clearer picture of the work we are doing for them, and to speak to the issues that are top of mind for New Yorkers, the mayor has once again convened senior leadership here at City Hall to answer your questions. 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 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 Anna Almanzar and Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg.

Without further delay, I'll turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: Thanks so much, Fabien. Thanks for all of you for coming today, and as always we're very clear on our mission. Protect public safety, rebuild our economy, and make this city more livable for all New Yorkers in general, but specifically our working-class people. Again, I want to congratulate the New York City Police Department for continuously bringing down crime, another month of driving down crime as we announced this morning both overall crime above ground and transit crime, they both are down while managing the large amount and number of protests that are taking place in this city, they continue to carry out their primary function of keeping our cities today. Today I want to talk about the proliferation of illegal smoke shops. 

Last month we got Albany to give us the power to finally shut down illegal shops. Many important components and there's still some pieces that we have to do to make sure that they can get closed down as rapidly as we like. There are procedures internally that we continue to work on to make sure we accomplish our task, but we have more tools to do so and we're going to move forward in carrying out the job. 

This morning I met with members of the Sheriff’s Office, NYPD and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection in Long Island City as we launch the start of an operation that is going to tackle the illegal smoke shop problem that is a plague in every community in our city. The illegal shops hurt the safety of New Yorker They have become a magnet for crime, they have become a magnet for quality of life issues that we have faced in this city. Right now, Sheriff Miranda and his team are undergoing an operation in Lower Manhattan and he's joining us remotely. Sheriff?

Can you hear us, Sheriff?

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think it's a little bit of a delay.

Sheriff Anthony Miranda: Mayor, can you hear me?

Mayor Adams: Yes. We can hear you, Sheriff. We had a nice visual of you. We hear your voice. Tell us what's going on at that location. Why don't we go off-camera if we…

Sheriff Miranda: … at 110 Church Street in Manhattan, it is [inaudible] here at this location including…

Deputy Mayor Levy: Robby, why don't we get him on a cell phone right now?

Sheriff Miranda: We have him…

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: You all better not get angry with us and tell us we didn't do a dry run. We don't want to hear it. Our hearts are in the right place. Don't start. My… 

Mayor Adams: Yes, Sheriff. Hold on folks. Sheriff, why don't you go just on audio? Go on the audio because the visual is not intact.

Sheriff Miranda: It must have lost me for a second.

Mayor Adams: You could go on audio, just audio only. Take off your visual. Let him get on the phone.

But as you see from the background, this is one of the illegal shops where they're selling illegal products and you can look at how many are there in that location as well. Sheriff, how are you?

Sheriff Miranda: Good, mayor. We have illegal mushrooms, packaging to children. We have cannabis at the shop, illegal cigarettes, pre-rolls. This is a danger location. It is one block away from a church at this location as well. Again, all this packaging is gearing toward our young adult population that [inaudible] they have violated every statute that we have in terms of the new laws for protection that we have. This is just one shop in the five borough operation that we've conducted today. We had teams in all five borough executing inspections as we speak, and we'll be sealing these locations after the inspection.

Mayor Adams: Are all those items we are seeing behind you, are they illegal, or this is a normal bodega where they're selling incorporated illegal products?

Sheriff Miranda: These are all illegal products that are being displayed behind us right now in a corner shop that opened up. It's called Big City Smoke Shop, and it's at 110 Church Street, one block away from the church down the block as well.

Mayor Adams: How many operations are we doing today? How many locations?

Sheriff Miranda: We're doing 20 locations today.

Mayor Adams: 20 locations, and the team is already out in the streets?

Sheriff Miranda: All the teams are executing in all five counties in all five boroughs as we speak right now.

Mayor Adams: What I learned today when I was with you this morning was very interesting, that there are sophisticated camera set-ups with more than one owner, and he warns them when an action takes place in one of his shops.

Sheriff Miranda: That's correct. The communication system that they have to be able to talk to each other once you hit a location. They'll send a message out and a number of shops near us will begin to process the closing down. That's how we have more than one team in operations so that they can hit several locations simultaneously.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Great job. Let's close these shops down. Thank you very much.

Sheriff Miranda: Thank you, mayor.

Mayor Adams: Very sophisticated operation. When I was out this morning at one of the locations, but we are clear. We walk around with this lock, keep it with us all the time. Our message is clear, we want to close them down. And if you're out there, we have a lock with your name on it. These smoke shops have really become a quality of life issue in our city, and every town hall we attend, this issue comes up over and over again. We want to thank our partners in Albany for giving us additional tools. We're going to continue to modify as they continue to modify… These are smart people who are carrying out this illegal action. 

Economy. As we make our city safer, we're also making it easier for businesses to hire workers and for New Yorkers to have a job. May is Small Business Month and supporting small businesses legally operating. Business is something we have focused on. We have continued to improve our employment in the city. As you know, we have more jobs in the history.

Finally, livability. We announced completion of our commitment to expand composting into every single New York City public school, and we've done this three months ahead of schedule. So that’s scraps and other items that we can compose. We're looking forward to continuing this operation. Due to this, we're seeing success in our rat mitigation. Sightings are nearly down 14 percent in city's rat mitigation location. They're falling incredibly 55 percent in Hamilton Heights’ Residential Containerization Pilot Zone. Let's turn it over to some questions that we have at this time. Look forward to answering.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I have a question about this. Campus protests. We spoke with Columbia students yesterday who told us they felt like they had been lied to, that the university said, "We need to clear the encampment so we can hold commencement." You cleared the encampment and then they're not holding commencement. My question to you is, do you feel like Columbia lied to you as well, or do you feel like conditions on the ground changed and that's why they canceled commencement?

Mayor Adams: No, I think Columbia and all of these presidents were hit out of nowhere with something that no one could have thought about. I really take my hat off to them. It was a very difficult time. They coordinated with us, they communicated, they showed real leadership, and once they perceived that the danger reached a level that they no longer could take care of it, they requested the Police Department to come in and the Police Department, they did what they they do best. They resolved the issues, and look across the country. We see what's happening across the country and how it's being handled and how it's being handled here.

I really thank these college presidents for what they did. I don't think our people really understand how much was taking place behind the scene. Chief of Staff Joseph Varlack, she was communicating with them. Kaz Daugherty, Chief of Patrol Chell. There was a lot of collaboration and communication to make sure these children were not hurt and use a minimum amount of force. My hat's off to them and they are going to make the right decision on ceremonies or not.

Question: Mr. Mayor, Politico reported this morning about multiple residents of Riis Houses in Manhattan, the Jacob Riis Houses NYCHA in Manhattan falling ill with symptoms of arsenic poisoning. One was even treated for that. You addressed this a couple years ago when there was a scare, but I'm wondering if you'll commit to another investigation to make sure that the water and the apartments actually are safe.

Additionally, I want to ask you about the letter about Lincoln Restler. I watched that hearing. It didn't seem crazy aggressive, based on what we do in politics every day. I'm wondering if that was retaliation against Restler or if that's needlessly raising the tensions with the Council at a time like this? 

Mayor Adams: First, I'm going to go over to Riis and drink some water. That's the best test I know. If I'm willing to drink it, we showed that before and the water is safe. 

I'm really surprised that you found that hearing not to be disrespectful to Melody Ruiz. I'm really surprised. I spoke with Melody right after the hearing. Hours later, she was hyperventilating, crying. Her name was maligned, it was full of falsehood, and if you saw nothing wrong with that, that really surprises me. She was devastated. 

She's a professional that served under Howard Golden, served under Marty Markowitz, served under me. And for what he did to her, similar to what he did with Tiffany Raspberry, cutting her off, talking down to her, being disrespectful. Because you are a Council person does not give you the authority to degrade people and use your power to be disrespectful. There should be a level of decorum that's expected as you question, and if that's normal behavior based on your observation, something is wrong.

Question: [Inaudible] …following such decorum?

Mayor Adams: Yes, they do. I think we are the kindest and the gentlest and the most loving police department on the globe.

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: If I could just add more information about Riis Houses. Of course, we take our water supply quality in the city very, very seriously, whether it is across NYCHA developments or anywhere in the city. I just want to be very clear that there is no arsenic in the water. There has never been in the city's housing supply.

As folks might remember back in 2022 with a false positive due to a lab error, since then, more than 500 water test samples have been taken from roof tanks to inside apartments to other locations, though that testing has shown conclusively no water quality concerns at Riis Houses.

The last of those tests happened as recently as last month, and so the results of the 500 test samples are available publicly. We just want to make sure that the residents of Riis Houses and all New Yorkers know that we take any and all questions about water quality seriously, but there is no arsenic at Riis Houses. 

I want to turn it over to my colleague, DM Joshi, to talk more about the very rigorous testing protocols that DEP and other agencies take to ensure water quality across the city.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: The key role of DEP is to ensure that the water flowing into the building is safe and they do with NYCHA housing as well as all housing, consistent and vigorous tests. The key here is it's multiple tests. Vendor integrity, a qualified professional, a vendor that has a good track record for testing, but also multiple tests. 

The 2022 example is what happens when you rely on a single test versus multiple tests, and it turned out to be a false positive. DEP has done multiple tests in the area. April 2024 was the last batch of testing that they did, and all of the results came out negative.

Question: Good morning guys.

Mayor Adams: What's going on, Mike?

Question: Not much. Got a few questions.

Mayor Adams: That's the plan.

Question: I wanted to follow up on Jeff's question about the whole Restler situation. What do you guys hope to gain from this? I might be wrong in this inference I'm trying, but it doesn't seem to me like the Council's going to censure him on the way he… His tone. It seemed to me like a tone issue you guys were taking exception with. Was this meant to be a public relations thing? Or do you actually expect them to hold hearings about what you view as aggressive questioning during those two hearings? That's the first question. 

Second question, I wonder what your thoughts are on Governor Hochul saying that Black kids in the Bronx don't know what the word computer means. That was yesterday. And I saw you were at the Garden last night.

Mayor Adams: Go Knicks.

Question: I don't know how this works. Who paid for the tickets? How did you… You were courtside, right?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Who were you next to? Did you, by the Yankees? Or…

Mayor Adams: I was next to the crew. We were…

Question: Did you guys get to go [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: Counsel Lisa is going to go over. We make sure we follow all necessary protocols. She'll go over those protocols and in response to the…


Mayor Adams: Listen, I am not the word police. I know the governor's heart. When you make thousands of speeches, when you're in front of the cameras all the time, when you're trying to be authentic and say the things that you're really feeling, one can sit back and do a critical analysis of every sentence you say and say, "Oh, you didn't say this way, that way." 

I know her heart, I know what she was intending to say, and she was not trying to be disrespectful to the people of the Bronx and I thank her for what she's doing and how she's highlighting the issues of technology. We need to have it throughout our entire city and she has been a real partner. Those who want to be the word police in this business, you go right ahead. The people of the Bronx knew where her heart was, and she's sincere about uplifting the people.

We don't always get it right. We don't always say a sentence the way we want. We would love to hit rewind sometimes, but the reality, that's not the way life is. I'm pretty sure that you said some things that you wish you would've said differently.

Question: Actually, before I forget another word, [inaudible] be the next thing and the Restler thing, I'll…

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Mayor, if I could.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Zornberg: It's very simple. When the mayor of New York City or when a senior official is invited to perform a ceremonial role at a sporting event, the view of the Conflict of Interest Board, which we're in close touch with, is that it's not only acceptable but expected that that senior level official would accept a complimentary seat to stay for a portion of the game or the match, whatever it is. The restriction being that in COIB’s view, we've been advised not to take seats in owner's boxes. So that's what we follow.

Here, the mayor last night was invited by MSG to celebrate the Knicks as mayor and to give an interview and to be present and he stayed for a portion of the game.

Mayor Adams: Just the first quarter. I had to bounce.

Question: Just one more thing. 


Mayor Adams: Go ahead, Mike.

Question: A lot of people have used the word genocide to describe what's going on in Gaza. AOC's used it, Jamaal Bowman, a couple of the councilmembers have used it. Do you feel that's an accurate description? Can you offer your thoughts as to why or why not?

Mayor Adams: Why or why not…

Question: Yes. Why or why not you think that is or isn't an accurate description?

Mayor Adams: I think that we are in a place where people are using their words to define what they feel and their interpretation. I have no right to tell people what they feel. I've been very clear of what I felt and what I'm feeling about what I'm seeing taking place across our city, our country, and the globe.

I think people have a right to do that. I'm not going to do to them what they do to me. I'm not going to define their pain. They have a right to define their pain. I'm going to define my pain and I'm going to define my observation.

Question: Regarding the migrant shelters in Clinton Hill, on Hall and Ryerson Street. There was a town hall meeting yesterday. Many of the residents voiced their frustrations with the administration's handling of the two buildings that were turned into shelters. They called for you to end leases at Hall and Ryerson and built more shelters or smaller and spread amongst the five boroughs.

We also talked to some of the migrants at the Hall Street Center, and they talked to some of the conditions particularly with the hygiene and upkeep of the living and shower spaces, and said the food portions were small and sometimes inedible and that they even lacked access to consistent drinking water. What is your plan for the future of the Hall and Ryerson Street Migrant Centers? Is there a plan to address the living conditions at the shelters? What have you discussed with the Biden administration regarding expediting work permits and asylum applications?

Mayor Adams: Thank you. I don't think we could be any clearer, 195,000, 195,000 and we have managed this crisis. I think Camille’s leadership has been amazing with Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom and the entire team. I said last year, probably even longer than that, this is going to start having a visual representation of how large this crisis is. Not like other cities because when you look at other cities sleeping in hospitals, airports on the streets, you're not seeing that here for the most part. But let's be clear, every local and state official must stand up and call for the federal government to do its job.

We are doing our job, but they have to do their job also. I encourage the councilwoman in that area, who seem to have taken a shift in her belief of this crisis now, because now it's local. I encourage her to go to the Port Authority, hop on the bus, go to D.C. like I did 10 times and say the federal government must do their job. We are going to continue to do our job that we have. This is a crisis that we managed and we're going to continue to do so. It's not going to be pretty all the time, but we're going to continue to manage this crisis

Question: There was a stabbing reported at a smoke shop in Harlem yesterday on 125th Street. That same shop, there was a shooting there about a year ago. Why was that shop not shut down already? How many shops has the city shut down since they gained that power from the state?

Mayor Adams: We gained the power under this budget. Let's be clear, the power is not… What we would like ideally to just have the police do an analysis in each. I've explained this before, do an analysis in each precinct and zero in on the shops in their precincts. We don't have that unfettered access and use by the Police Department. They have to be deputized by sheriffs. We have to put a couple of teams in place and then after you close down the shop, there's a process that allows them to reopen after a certain period of time. There's a lot of layers to this and we would give you a play-by-play of the number that we're going to be closing down each day but there's still a procedure.

They can still go to OATH. They can still apply to get reopened again and we have to keep using our authority and power to close them down. That specific location we have to look at and make the determination if actions was taken there or not. 

But you just reinforced what I've been saying. These shops have become magnets for crime and disorder and it has an impact on our quality of life. But we have 2,900 of them in the city, and we had a limited manpower, 10 sheriffs were assigned to do this job, 10. It was not sustainable. Now we have more tools and we're hoping these tools will help us accomplish the task with closing down even more.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you?

Mayor Adams: Yes, I'm good. How are you doing?

Question: I'm doing all right. Do you support the lowering of the city speed limit? If so, to what? Second of all, Chief Chell and some other NYPD officials are giving their opinions just the way 8.5 million New Yorkers do. Is an individual police officer free to tweet out his or her view without retribution or punishment or sanctioned by the Police Department or the city?

Mayor Adams: I was part of the first initial move back when I was state senator that decreased the speeding limit in the city. There was some advocates that I teamed up with that lived in Park Slope and people thought it was impossible. We were able to accomplish that. I like the way this bill is put in place where the local communities would have weigh in particular areas on where they want to decrease speed limit. I think we drive too fast in the city and many of the accidents when I speak with DOT, they talk about reckless driving, speeding, attributes to that.

I do believe as New Yorkers, we need to slow down. We need to stop speeding at the school zones. We need to stop passing school buses. We need to stop being reckless when we make turns at corners. When you do analysis of these accidents, many of them are preventable. I do support a slower speed limit based on the way the law is currently in place.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Can I just add there?

Mayor Adams: Yes, you can. Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Thank you. I think for the mayor and so many people that have been working in this field this has been a long time coming. What is really interesting about the way the law is structured is it gives DOT some individual rights, ability to lower speeds in streets that are less than three lanes. Then it gives the citywide authority to the Council to do a citywide measure. 

It's really important as the mayor points out to understand the context. We have a Vision Zero goal, but we're not at zero. Even this year, the number of deaths that we have because of traffic violence is higher than it's been in the last couple years. This is not a problem that goes away on its own and it doesn't necessarily go away with education. We actually have to redesign our streets and reformulate the laws that apply to people that drive in our city.

Question: Do you have a number…

Deputy Mayor Joshi: A number of?

Question: Lower speed limit.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: That, as the mayor noted, is really going to be based on the deep dive of DOT looking at the data that we have, looking especially at intersections and what the current street designs are. No two streets are the same in New York. We doubt that we'll have one number that applies, especially to the ones that fall within DOT's jurisdiction.

Mayor Adams: That's such a good point that DM Joshi raised. We historically tried to treat this driving and speeding issue as a one-size-fits-all. Different communities need different needs and there should be a minimum that everyone should be down to. Then there may be a desire based on what the community represents, based on the neighborhood, that it may be decreased even more. This is a smart way to see it. If we have to tweak it, we go back and the team would show our observation and go back and get it right.

I stood next to Families for Safe Street. No family should go through this. A traffic crash, you relive it every time you walk past that same block, that same neighborhood. I think this is a smart way to do it. Now with the police…

Question: Can I just ask?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: Is it fair to say that everyone's or most places are, most neighborhoods are getting a haircut, but just the extent of the haircut is up in the air?

Mayor Adams: I don't have any hair, so that's hard for me to say.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: I think it's premature to do that. The law just passed. DOT just got a certain amount of power. Also, City Council will get the citywide power. We are a city that prides ourself on gathering a lot of important data around our traffic and using that data to make decisions. That's the process DOT is going through right now. Key locations, as the mayor mentioned, like schools and senior centers, we have to consider those as we roll out the plan.


Mayor Adams: Chief Chell, Commissioner Daughtry, et cetera, they are the leaders of the agency. of the agency, and they set the tone in defending police officers, addressing issues that are important, and speaking on behalf of officers. Like I do here. My team here wants to respond to a whole lot of tweets where people call me fascist and other things, and we say, "No, it comes from me." I am the one that sets the tone for the agency, and Chief Chell and Commissioner Daughtry, they set the tone for the Police Department. That is their responsibility to do it and in a manner that's respectful.


Mayor Adams: Officers do during their off-duty hours. They do.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good morning to the team. Mayor Adams, one of the more trending stories right now is out of Pennsylvania where this armed man walked up to try and execute a pastor. The gun jammed and, fortunately, he's still alive. Are there any security measures for house of worships in New York City?

Mayor Adams: What was this?


Lewis-Martin: Chuck Schumer put millions of dollars into the federal budget, billions of dollars actually, to increase security in the houses of worship throughout the 50 states. Not just New York, not just Pennsylvania, but all 50 states. There will be some added benefit, and we will be able to utilize that money to help the houses of worship with added security.

Mayor Adams: This was an incident that happened outside the city?

Lewis-Martin: Yes. Pennsylvania.

Mayor Adams: Okay.

Question: On my second question, is there an upside for moving the fireworks from the East River to the Hudson River?

Mayor Adams: I would love for our city to have it all, but I believe they're doing dry runs to look at the big celebration for the upcoming years. It’s their show, as long as we have it in New York City, I'm happy.

Question: Hey, mayor. In President Trump's trial they were talking about how he might end up in jail if he continues to violate his court orders. Is Rikers prepared for that? Do you guys have those discussions yet? If so, what would that even look like?

Mayor Adams: Our amazing commissioner, she is prepared for whatever comes on Rikers Island, and I'm pretty sure she would be prepared to manage and deal with the situation, as you see what's happening with Harvey Weinstein. 

We have to adjust. In this business, particularly around law enforcement, we have to adjust whatever comes our way, but we don't want to deal with the hypothetical, but they're professionals, they'll be ready.

Question: You haven't had those discussions with the Corrections yet?

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: You haven't had those discussions with Corrections about that situation you have? 

Mayor Adams: Yes, we have.

What’s happening?

Question: Thanks. I wanted to ask about a couple different topics. The first was a story we did about the Smart City Expo coming up where you'll be speaking. We reported that, and the administration confirmed, that EDC paid $250,000 to sponsor it. I spoke to folks who said that that seemed like a high number. That they weren't aware of the city committing that much to an event ever before, or at least recently. Are you aware of any precedent for this, for the administration paying that much to sponsor a private event? We reported that Frank Carone was involved in organizing for this event at least last year. Did he play any role in getting the administration to sponsor it? 

Then the second topic unrelated, possibly for DM Torres-Springer. We caught a filing by EDC, a zoning application the other day for a life sciences facility at 455 First Avenue. I think it's called Innovation East. It had been in the works before. What caught our eyes was that the application said it was being filed under… They're seeking a special permit under City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, which caught our eye because obviously that hasn't passed yet. Could you explain, is this a case of what you did with FAR cap? Trying to sort of get ahead of something that might happen in the future by saying, "We would be able to build this if City of Yes passes?" Can you just explain what this application is about?

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Sure, I'd be happy to do that. I can also talk about Smart Cities if you want.

Mayor Adams: Yes, why don't you do that, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: I'd be happy to. The Smart Cities Conference, the Smart Cities World Congress, we've always believed has been a great opportunity to bring the types of attendees, the types of partners. As we've seen in different conferences, it's close to 20,000 attendees from [800] different countries. The investment in that sponsor of $250,000 is modest, in my opinion. If you think about what it means for the city to have this type of conference and this type of strategy to grow tech, if you look at the history of Smart Cities, it's about ensuring that as cities try to become more sustainable, more livable, more resilient.

The facts show, right? 70 percent of the world's population are going to be living in cities in 2050. In many ways, there is no shortage of strategies that cities like New York should take in order to ensure that we are at the forefront of that. Whether it's the Smart Cities Expo or our work in supporting startups in climate tech, for instance, or our work with fellowships or our work to do a climate innovation lab, all of those are strategies… That, by the way, part of the reason if you remember from last week when the mayor showed the chart of the reasons why tech workers are relocating to New York more than any other city in the country. 

It's all part of a strategy. Everyone can take a look at EDC’s own site, there are a number of pages dedicated to Smart Cities. That's why we made that investment. It's a sponsorship in a really great conference. We look forward to seeing it be successful later on in the month.

In terms of life sciences and First Avenue, the mayor has made very clear that we can't do things serially in this city. The housing crisis, for example, when you're talking about the FAR cap is so dire, but also we want to propel our recovery. To the extent, and we hope that the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity will get passed by the City Council this month. Part of what is happening there, it's making it easier clarifying rules around life sciences production space.

As hopefully, that passes, then you have projects in the pipeline, like the one that you mentioned, which will bring hundreds of thousands of square feet of life sciences space to this area of the city, where again, the city's making major investments, including SPARC Kips Bay, to help grow our life sciences capacity. We hope that it will all work together, and we can just accelerate that progress as quickly as we need to because there's really no time to waste either in job recovery or in terms of our housing crisis.

Deputy Mayor Levy: That's the slide that you were…

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: That's right. Yes. That doesn't happen by accident, that happens because we make the types of investments in conferences, in talent, in infrastructure, in real estate, in fellowships, and changing our zoning to make it easier for businesses to start. I would really view Smart Cities, that sponsorship, and everything else we do in the context of the result that we want to see, and that's the result.

Mayor Adams: Well said.

Question: [Inaudible] about Frank Carone, if he played any role in sponsorship or does he…

Mayor Adams: Lisa?

Zornberg: Yes, let me just jump in here. First of all, on the $250,000 investment, in addition to what the DM said, I would just note that that's the same amount of investment that Miami, the city of Miami made when they similarly partnered with Smart City on an expo in that city, which I understand was very successful. 

Regarding Mr. Carone and just to be clear, the expo contract with Smart City occurred after Mr. Carone’s departure from the city and the CEO of Smart City was not employed by Oaktree at the time that the city did that contract. Nevertheless, I understand that Smart City voluntarily ended its relationship with Oaktree last year to avoid even a glimmer of a question such as the one that you're asking now.

Question: Thanks. I wanted to get your reaction to the protest last night in which some statues were vandalized and the flag was burned. Also, there have been reports of protestors being held for too long or being denied food or water. How important is it right now with so many protestors being arrested to make sure they're treated fairly and consistently?

Mayor Adams: Clearly, we're doing just that. The New York City Police Department, they're doing an amazing job. Challenging situation, over a thousand protests in the city, and they're doing that. They're treating people with the humanity and dignity that they deserve under very challenging circumstances. People are throwing objects at them, are doing things that are just really, I believe, a small number of just trying to aggravate the situation. I'm really not happy of the desecration of a war memorial. These memorials mean a lot to our city to vandalize it. Some of this action, this anti-American action, it bothers me.

I'm just not going to sit back and act like it's not wrong. When you have flyers that state destroy America, I thought this was about peace. What am I missing here? We're going to continue to be professionals. We're going to continue to protect the city. Protecting the city is not only from physical damage, it's also protecting what we represent. I'm going to continue to be vociferous about that.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you?

Mayor Adams: What’s happening? How are you doing?

Question: Good. Thank you for choosing Rome for this trip. It's a lot better than going to Mexico and South America. You're meeting with the Pope…


Question: You're meeting with the Pope. What are you going to say to the Pope? Circling back on the Columbia protest and the NYPD response to that, is the NYPD going to stay there through May 17th? I know there were… Columbia University has offered that. You haven't gotten a straight answer on that. You had mentioned on the news that you would be willing to maybe send them a bill for sending the police in or maybe they were staying for the next few weeks. What is the status of that and how much would that bill be?

Mayer Adams: If they stay in for longer, the team is going to do an analysis and make the determinations about public safety. That's what we're going to do. The cost of it, I think there should be a shared course and we're going to engage in those conversations on that. 

My conversation with the Pope, this is a very special moment for me as being a Christian. I think that His Holiness has a role right now as we all are trying to deal with the global conflicts. I'm extremely proud to be able to represent the city and go meet with His Holiness in the process.

Question: Hi, Mayor.

Mayer Adams: What's going on, Mona?

Question: Nothing much. Mr. Mayor, I have two questions. My first question is regarding the student information data leaks. Families, parents are obviously concerned about the data leaks, so I want to know what steps are being taken, because this is not the first time it's happened. It's happened in prior administrations as well, but what steps are being taken to protect the privacy of the students?
My second question, Mr. Mayor, is the Summer Youth Academy, the NYPD does the Summer Youth Academy program, applications open May 1st. It is currently in 13 or 14 locations. I'd like to know, or parents would like to know, families would like to know why hasn't it expanded to more locations? Because the 13, 14 locations are not enough.

Also, in addition to that, the spots for that program really are filled quite quickly. In the past, a few years ago, I even applied for my son and there was no response. My question, Mr. Mayor, is there is a demand for more locations for the summer, the NYPD Summer Youth Program. Is this something that can be explored if not this year or next year? Also, can we increase the number of our young people, 10 to 15, who can attend the program?

Mayor Adams: Yes, great program, and when you have these good programs, it's always trying to have as much space as possible. We're going to do an analysis of that. Thank God we were able to expand our Summer Rising and even our pre-K. These dollars were put in with COVID stimulus dollars, and they are sunsetting and trying to find that money. We were successful in doing so but I love the concept of expanding and being creative of really opening our schools buildings more. 

Camille, you want to talk about the hack? The first thing that former mayor said to me when he sat down to give me a briefing, he says, "Eric, your problem is not so much terrorism but cybersecurity. See, that's going to be potentially your biggest problem that you're going to have." It's a real issue. Cybersecurity is a real issue. Matt Fraser, our CTO, opened a specific training and office to do that. We're encouraging young people to go into the field, but other cities have been hacked, held hostage, sent ransom notes. It's a global problem and we are being inundated every day by outside influences and influence other countries trying to hack our systems. Every day, we are inundated. The state does a great job. When I was a Homeland Security chair, we saw some of the things that we are doing, Matt Frasier's doing a good job here, but we are being hit constantly about our data. Camille you want to go into?

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: Sure, absolutely. Just a couple of additional points. As you are aware, the safety and wellbeing of our students is always the priority. We have been working closely with Illuminate for a while now on this particular breach. Our information is that no financial or social security numbers were impacted and we have, New York City Public Schools is offering two years of free credit and identity monitoring services to any individual who received a letter. That's the students or administrators.

Deputy Mayor Ana Almanzar, Strategic Initiatives: On the Police Academy question, Mona, Department of Youth and Community Development has built a great partnership with NYPD. In fact, it's one of our biggest city agencies accepting our Summer Youth Employment Program last year, close to a thousand or so. We are hoping to replicate that in this year as well.

Question: Would you be the contact person to follow up with with regards to expanding the program to more locations and more children being a part of it because the demand is there?

Deputy Mayor Almanzar: Absolutely. That is one of the beauties of the work that we have been doing with DYCD that the program has gone so well. All of them, including the ones that the mayor mentioned, Summer Rising, Summer Youth Employment Program, and others at DYCD, that the demand is very, very high. Our attempt is always to provide a seat and a slot for every child that applies for it. Obviously we work with limited resources. But yes, absolutely. If you want to send me the names and information, I can help you out.

Question: Thanks, mayor. A couple things. Circling back to a couple topics we touched on earlier on, Columbia, you've mentioned you think they'll make the right decision with regard to commencement, but I think you've said, correct me if I'm wrong, and others, including the governor, said, you would like to see commencements go forward as planned. I wonder if you're at all disappointed whether you think maybe in some way this is surrendering to protestors for Columbia to cancel commencement. 

Then secondly, on the Pope visit, can you just give a little bit more detail on how the trip came to be? What the meeting with the Pope is going to look like, and also there's always a question that comes up when you're out of town. Why is it good for New York for you to go on a trip like this when obviously there's a lot of pressing issues at home?

Mayor Adams: I want you to give me one day in two years and four months or five, we in the fifth month, right? That there was not a lot of stuff going on. Just one day. Not three, one day. This is New York, and if you don't build a team to be able to manage this city then we are in real trouble. I have an impressive team of people that know how to manage this city and this visit not only spiritually is a once-in-a-lifetime visit for me that I want to talk about when I'm long out of government, but it is just the right thing to do. 

They asked me to come and speak. I'm going to also speak while I'm there and the team will give you a breakdown of all the other activities that are taking place. But if you told me someone in this city or country who's a Christian, and they were allowed to go see the Pope and they're saying no, they need their head examined. I'm going to see the Pope.

Question: Is it a one-on-one meeting?

Mayor Adams: Whatever His Holiness wants, if he wants one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, whatever he wants, all I'm going to do is say, "Thank you."

Question: … On Columbia.

Mayor Adams: Listen, I felt that we should go through, we are able to have any event in this city without distractions, but again, it's up to the school to make that determination. 
Graduation is so important. Remember who these children are. These are the COVID graduation. We took away their graduation during COVID, now we're taking away their graduation this year during the protests. I still remember my graduation, these are moments that we benchmark our lives around. Graduations or proms, promotional ceremonies, these are important events, they're just not ceremonies that disappear. 

I feel for those who lost their graduation because of COVID, now they're losing their graduation because of protests, and I'm just not understanding why people feel they should be disrupting ceremonies of families, of friends, of graduates. I don't know what is the victory of that, I just don't believe it is.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. You've repeatedly said you're not raising taxes on New Yorkers, but you're diverting more than $1.4 billion from the Water Board, and it's getting passed along to taxpayers. How's that not a hidden tax, and why does that make sense to divert money from DEP in the age of climate change?

Mayor Adams: DM Meera Joshi?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Thanks for the question. The water rate proposed recently includes a portion that we call the rental payment and that has been collected historically for the city for the vast majority of years since it was enacted until 2020 and 2021 when it was not collected during COVID. We've reinstated the collection of the rental payment. 

The city, in its capital plan, and specifically DEP's capital plan between 2013 and 2023, put in about $5.7 billion into infrastructure to our storm resilience efforts. We have $10 billion in our 10-year capital plan going forward. We absolutely use the money that we collect for stormwater resilience. This is still one of the lowest water rates, New York City's water rate in the country. We pay about a penny per gallon, and it's the best water in the world. That's a good buy.

I want to point out two other factors that are important to note when it comes to subsidizing the city's infrastructure, whether it's gray or green and we're more increasingly having to focus on green infrastructure. One is fair share. The state has funds available to help localities support their resiliency efforts when it comes to stormwater mitigation and clean water but New York City is not allowed to collect those monies because we are a population of more than 300,000, and the financial cap on the projects that they'll fund is $6 million over two years, which is literally a drop in the bucket for any infrastructure project in New York City.

The other thing that we're seeing is 25 percent of our water bills are delinquent. People are not paying the water bills. We did a successful amnesty program last year, which is unfortunate that we have to get to that point. We're again faced with the problem of not being able to collect all the money due. We've recently done five to six shutoffs, most of them commercial, and a lot of them are people that owe either residentials, tens of thousands of dollars and in commercial, hundreds of thousands of dollars. We really have to look at all of the things that go into the infrastructure, the sources of money that we get, and put it in perspective. Today, the rental payment represents a particular point in DEP's finances, and that is a percentage of what we pay for debt service for our water finance authority bonds.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Those were the general obligation bonds, these are water finance bonds, they’re different.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I have a couple of questions sort of locally focused. Up on the Upper West Side, the West Prep Academy is moving their middle school to a shut-down Catholic school. I’m wondering what the rental and lease arrangement is and if there are any other schools that the city is taking over from the Archdiocese, or the Diocese of Brooklyn, which are shutting down schools, with some of the migrant influx we are experiencing, massive influx of students, especially in the younger grades. 

Mayor Adams: The chancellor does his off topics, Chancellor Banks does his off topics to go over those issues. If Camille, if you have that information in front of you. Chancellor Banks will go over that with you, okay?


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