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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live On FOX5's “Good Day New York"

May 20, 2024

Curt Menefee: We've got some good news this morning about the city's latest economic data. Jobs are up and overall crime is down, but city leaders believe even more progress can be made in New York's economic recovery.

Rosanna Scotto: City of Yes is the name of Mayor Adams' sweeping plan to change decades-old zoning rules in order to further stimulate economic growth. Joining us right now with details from City Hall, Mayor Adams, along with Dan Garodnick, director of the New York City Department of City Planning. Good morning. Nice to have you both here with us this morning.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. It's great to be here. When you think about it, think about 1961, the last time we made these major changes, we were having a rotary phone, rotary phone. Now we have a smartphone. Yet, our business and local businesses cannot adjust properly to the type of businesses that came out of that. That's what we're going after.

Scotto: Mr. Garodnick, what exactly do you want to say yes to? What are some things that are irking you that we're still stuck in the past with?

Dan Garodnick, Director, Department of City Planning: Yes, well, if you look at the current set of rules that were made in 1961, they call out things like taxidermy and typewriter repair shops, but make no reference to modern manufacturing, things 3D printing or even virtual reality or a cell phone store. 

You, on a commercial corridor today, there are real limitations to what you can do if you want to grow and evolve your business. New York City today, even though we're hitting record job numbers, we're also holding ourselves back. We want to make sure that people have flexibility to innovate, to be able to create jobs and to be able to support their own families. Because these 1961 rules are not really relevant for a 2024 or 21st century economy.

Menefee: Before we move to the next topic, why not just change it? What's the process here?

Garodnick: Yes. That's exactly what we're doing. We have proposed as part of the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity to change the rules in a way that make it a lot easier for people to do business in New York City. We have the support of all five borough chambers of commerce. Today, 31 Business Improvement Districts came out in support. We've got smart growth groups calling for this. We're really excited. We hope the City Council passes these changes in the near term.

Menefee: All right. We're with you on that. Thank you so much, mayor. While we have you here, I want to ask you about a couple of other topics addressing concerns around the city. I want to start with an incident that happened over the weekend in Brooklyn in Bay Ridge with the pro-Palestinian protesters. That's an annual parade event that they have there. 

This year we saw 40 arrests and the video that has been released that we're showing right now. According to New York Times, three protesters were beaten by the Police Department. Then the police say that bottles were thrown at them. Can you clarify exactly what happened this weekend in Brooklyn for everybody?

Mayor Adams: Clearly, listen, I am not pleased that people can yell out death to America, destroy America. I'm not pleased that people can have flags of Hamas and ISIS and terrorist groups. But those are constitutionally protective rights that you have to use those type of time and terminologies. We're going to protect those rights. 

What you don't have a right to do is to ride up on top of city buses, to hold up almost 68 calls for emergency services. Those vehicles couldn't get through. You don’t have a right to spit in the face of police officers and destroy property. You don't have that right. 

When people take an isolated encounter of a police officer and not the totality of what happened before and after of those who attempted to resist arrest, those who attempted to disobey lawful orders and take those who are under arrest away from the police officers. That's not acceptable. It's not going to happen. We're going to protect the right to protest, but you don't have the right to destroy the city.

Menefee: Are you saying those incidents happened that people spat in the face of police officers, et cetera.?

Mayor Adams: Yes. And when you look at the videos, the NYPD released a video of many of these incidents, of items being thrown at police officers, of some of the actions that was taking place. This is unacceptable. 38 people that were arrested, many of them came from outside the city and outside the Bay Ridge area. You could have the right to protest, celebrate, do those things in the city. You don't have the right to destroy our city with violence or reckless behavior.

Scotto: Why does the public advocate and the city councilman from that area have a different view on this and have gotten on social media to like rile things up a little bit more?

Mayor Adams: Which I am really surprised, particularly coming from the councilman in that area. That community is a community made up of veterans, is a community made up of civil servants and professionals. They don't want their lives disrupted in the manner that we saw in the streets. You can protest, but look at the tapes and video of the actions that took place. Unlawful disorder is not going to happen and we're not going to sit back and allow it to happen.

Scotto: There is this article in The Washington Post saying that you got a lot of pressure from billionaires to cut down on protests at college campuses. Did that happen?

Mayor Adams: First of all, I think that article was antisemitic in its core. The mere fact that someone is indicating that we waited as we were supposed to get calls from the college presidents to tell us when to come in. 

We was clear long before that call took place with those who were advocating their concern about the increase in antisemitism. We took action on college campuses. I think the mere fact that some article is saying some clandestine group came together to pressure us, it's a lie. It did not happen. We meet with all groups throughout this city of different breakdowns and ethnicities. That is who I am and I'm going to continue to do so. I thought there was a hint, a hint of antisemitism that was written in that article.

Scotto: Let me ask you something. Are you getting pressure to rein in these protests which are affecting major arteries in our city? The Manhattan Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Van Wyck near the Kennedy Airport. What's being done about that? Because it seems like some New Yorkers are starting to lose their patience.

Mayor Adams: Listen, how do you define mayor of the City of New York and don't have pressure in that? There's always going to be pressure of running the city of this size. That's why we need a calm hand, a competent hand. That's why we know someone that not only policed these streets, but walked these streets. 

I know how to ensure that people can have their constitutional right without disrupting our city. We've had moments before, all the way from the 60s, where people demonstrated in our streets. What we have not seen before, is people to call for the destruction of a race, of a group of people, or think they're going to destroy our city's properties in a manner that some are attempting to do. 

It's not going to happen. We're managing it. Over 2,000 protests. 2,000 protests. This city still is thriving. Crime is down. Jobs are at a record level. We're still functioning as a city, we will continue to do so.

Scotto: Will you put more pressure to keep these protests in line?

Mayor Adams: Let's keep in mind, we have to follow the law. You can't break the law to follow the law. We're doing that. Those who go outside the law, we've made arrests in spite of the small number of people who are stating they should be allowed to be disrupted to our city. Yes, Commissioner Caban and his team is doing an amazing job of monitoring over 2,000 protests. There will be more over the summer. We're going to continue to take the appropriate action when it's needed.

Menefee: I want to ask you about a statement made by the governor of Texas, Governor Abbott. Governor Abbott. Pardon me. Governor Abbott down there at the NRA convention over the weekend. He said he's going to continue to send more migrants to sanctuary cities, implying New York City as well. Your take on that?

Mayor Adams: First of all, it's unfortunate that he would rather not collaborate with the other municipalities like Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, so that we can have a unified voice to call for the authorization to work and call for the proper funding. That's what we should be doing. For him to take that stance, sanctuary cities, that law has nothing to do with migrants and asylum seekers. I cannot make that clearer. People are paroled into this country legally. They should be able to have the dignity to work, and it should be funded by the national government.

Menefee: I was going to point that out, because that's one point we keep bringing up. Every time we talk to you, it's a federal issue that's been dumped on the states and the cities. You keep saying you need help from the federal government. You talk to them. Are you getting anywhere?

Mayor Adams: Not where we should be getting. Keep in mind, while we're calling for that, we're not sitting on our hands. We were able to handle 194,000 migrants and asylum seekers that came into the city. 

We put in place smart decisions that were down to only a little over 60,000 that are still in our care. A large number have gone on to the next leg of their journey. We're not just sitting back. Yes, we need help from the federal government spending over $4 billion in taxpayers' dollars. While they're making their decisions, we're doing what's right for the people of the city.

Scotto: Senator Gillibrand is going to be on our show in just a few minutes. Anything you want us to tell her?

Mayor Adams: Listen, she's a great senator in the State of New York. She has also added a voice to work authorization. She knows how important this is. We want her to continue to advocate for us in Washington, D.C. with the other delegation.

Scotto: All right. You just got back from Rome. Your halo's a little crooked this morning. What was that meeting like for you?

Mayor Adams: For anyone that's a Christian, you don't have to be a Catholic to understand what it's like to be with His Holiness and the history of the Vatican and the 16 chapels and all that represents and those of us who are Christian. 

Also it was significant for me to go to the ancient Jewish ghetto and learn that history and see the largest mosque in Europe is also in Rome as well. It was a fast pace with the meeting that the pope called for the human fraternity. We have to really start sitting down and looking at these global issues that's impacted us. Everything from the war in Sudan to what's happening in Haiti, to what's happening in the Middle East. We need to come together as human beings again and bring that level of humanity globally.

Menefee: People talked about you coming back sick. I said it's just too much vegan pasta. That's what they asked. While you're over there, you got to eat, right? Thank you, mayor. We appreciate you. Thank you. All right.

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