Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live on NY1's "Mornings on 1"

September 20, 2023

Pat Kiernan: It's a new phase in the war on rats: city officials announced yesterday they will require all businesses across the five boroughs to put all of their trash in secure containers with lids rather than in plastic bags. That starts on March 1st if it hasn't started already for certain types of businesses. There will be a one‑month grace period; after that, the fines will begin at $50, $100; a third offense, the fine will go up to $200. 

With us this morning to talk about the new City Hall policy and other city matters is the mayor and the sanitation commissioner, Jessica Tisch. Mayor Adams, Commissioner Tisch, thank you for being with us this morning. 

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Good to be with you. 

Kiernan: What do businesses need to know about what's ahead?  This is a pretty quick timeframe. 

Mayor Adams: Yes, it is. And you know, one thing that we hear often is that the city must be clean. It's part of our overall quality of life initiative. And Commissioner Tisch laid out a very fair but a clear pathway towards getting our garbage off the streets. We should not have garbage in bags that attract rodents as well as just an unsightly condition adds to the feeling that our city is not dealing with the quality of life issue. And we're going to pursue in the right direction. 

Kiernan: Mayor Adams, the first phase of this program for businesses, it was initially just for businesses to deal with food, it's only been fully in effect an enforced for three weeks now. Why are you rushing into this expansion when we've we haven't collected all the data on the first phase? 

Mayor Adams: Well, actually you can see as you move around the city the compliance. We were outside of one business yesterday showing their full compliance. We know this is a cultural shift. The garbage bags are something from the distant past during the sanitation strike during the sixties. We know this is a culture shift, and this is actually, this is not fast. 

March is the next phase. We're doing the first phase now. We're getting some great compliance. We went through a warning period before issuing situations. So, we're not being heavy handed, but we are being very clear that this city is going to be a clean city to deal with the rodent problem and also the unsightliness of garbage bags. 

Kiernan: Commissioner Tisch, we've talked about this before. The good thing about the plastic bags— if there is such a thing as a good thing about them— is that they go away as soon as they're picked up, so they're on the street for a few hours. Granted, they are vulnerable to rats in the time that they are out there. 

The containers are there 24/7. Some businesses will be able to roll the containers inside, some businesses will be permitted to leave them adjacent to their property line. But the containers are going to be an unsightly thing in their own way. Why have you chosen this over the other? 

Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation: So, I would just say, Pat, that we're actually 20 years behind most modern cities. So, New York City right now is playing a massive game of catch up to what other cities around the world have been doing for decades: very simple, putting their trash in a container rather than leaving the rat food sitting on the street. 

And I actually don't think that the containers are unsightly. I sort of reject the premise. You see them in every modern European, most South American cities when you walk through them. They are stored inside or neatly leaned up along the property line. They can't sit out exactly at the curb for too long, when the business opens, they have to come back in toward the property line. 

Kiernan: Yes, we had some pictures up earlier of the pilot program in Harlem where you've got larger containers actually in the street and what would - what would have otherwise been parking spots. When you consider where this program goes from here, is this kind of larger scale containerization something that we're going to see? 

Commissioner Tisch: Absolutely. I mean, Mayor Adams has been very clear with me that he wants all 44 million pounds of trash that is left out on New York City's streets containerized. We want to catch up with the rest of the world. And so on the commercial side, the strategy is the WheelieBins, because of the nature of the private carting industry. 

But on the residential side— in particular, in the mid and high density— containerizing all of that waste only really works if you use these larger, on street, fixed containers, and so that's exactly what we are piloting right now in Hamilton Heights. 

Mayor Adams: And Pat, you see what the commissioner has done even around schools. We know the mounds and mounds of garbage bags around schools, we've rolled out an initiative in the area of schools. And you're going to see this actually continued to transform itself. You're going to see the beautification of some of the way we use decorations to look at the bins. 

This is going to fit into the everyday beautification of our city; and again, we're 20 years behind. New York does not follow, we lead, and we're going to lead in this area. 

Kiernan: Yes. It does seem like you've taken a personal interest in changing this, Mayor Adams. I want to pivot to some other topics in the news while we have you. There was this ugly interaction between protesters and asylum seekers last night on Staten Island. We saw the protesters outside an MTA bus, they surrounded the bus. They were yelling at the adults and children inside that bus. Why has this anger boiled over so much in the past few weeks?  This is not...this is not a good look for New York where there's clear tension on all sides. 

Mayor Adams: No, it [isn’t]. And we have 8.3 million New Yorkers, and we cannot allow the numerical minority that show an ugly display of how we deal with the crisis be used as an example of what New Yorkers are doing. Of course, New Yorkers are frustrated. New Yorkers are really concerned, and even the migrants are really concerned. 

We are both stating that this crisis should be dealt with in a manner where the national government carries out the role that is supposed to. It should not be left on the backs of New York City residents. And so the Police Department handled those small number of people, and we are not going to allow ourselves to be bullied into carrying out our responsibilities. But I understand the frustration that New Yorkers are going through, and I understand the frustration that asylum seekers are experiencing as well. 

Kiernan: Mr. Mayor, the president has been in New York this week. He was here for his speech at the U.N. yesterday. He met briefly with Governor Hochul. He did not choose to meet with you. What would you have said to him had he made some time for you this week? 

Mayor Adams: Well, I have not been quiet or secretive or private about what I feel we should be doing. We need a decompression strategy. We need to properly fund this national crisis by calling a state of emergency, is one way of doing so. And we need to allow the asylum seekers to work. 

I believe whomever's here in this country should have the right to work so they can pay into our tax base. And this is wrong for New York City residents to have to pick up a $2 billion thus far, $5 billion this fiscal year and $12 billion are going to have to be found somewhere in the next budgetary cycle. 

Kiernan: Were you disappointed that the president didn't tour the Roosevelt Hotel or spend some time with you? Was this a snub for New York City? 

Mayor Adams: Well, I believe the president is still here. I think there's still an opportunity for him to look at the Roosevelt Hotel, like the Hispanic Congressional Delegation did several days ago. They walked away [with] what I believe is a new admiration of what this administration has done. I really take my hat off to the hardworking civil servants who have been working double time to address this real crisis. 

This is a crisis that is going to impact every New York City resident, and it's going to hurt, and it's going to hurt me personally, because we fought so hard to bring the city back. And we are moving in the right direction, and this should not be happening to our city. 

Kiernan: This has been difficult for the city in so many ways and a challenge for your administration to keep up with it. The company that your administration selected to help with the migrant crisis has been facing a lot of questions. The CEO of DocGo resigned last week. Do you have regrets at this point that you placed so much reliance on DocGo? 

Mayor Adams: Well, you know, I often hear people say, do you regret that you've done something. You do things based on the information in front of you, you don't do things based on predicting what the future information is going to be. We're dealing with an emergency. This was a company we put in place to assist during an emergency. They did work during the pandemic. 

And we're going to continue to monitor all the contracts. There are, you know, over a thousand contracts that we have. We're going to monitor them, we're going to continue. The comptroller gives us information based on their observation. But we are managing a crisis right now, and I really need of the country and the city oversights that we have to understand this crisis is very real for New Yorkers. 

Kiernan: Would you rescind the contract now if you had the hindsight and the ability to do that? 

Mayor Adams: Pat, I'm going to continue to say life is not based on what you don't have information in front of you. We have to continue to move forward, manage the over [113,000] asylum seekers, 10,000 a month, and make sure that we continue to do what we're obligated to do at this current time. And we're going to continue to monitor that contract the way we monitor all contracts that the city is involved in. 

Kiernan: Mr. Mayor, I watched your press conference a couple of nights ago at police headquarters. You, in your time as a police officer, saw a lot, in your time as mayor you have seen a lot. The death of a child in a daycare really seemed to hit you hard, almost as though you were saying to the adults, if you've got to do something bad, at least don't do it around children. It was tragic. 

Mayor Adams: You know, I reflected as I had that press conference, I was sitting in my car outside the hospital before I had to walk into that room. And it was a little emotional for me. There's a lot of joy in being the mayor of the City of New York, but there's some extremely painful moments. That was one of them, walking in that hospital, speaking to that mom and dad and watching that baby in the crib holding on for their lives. And then, having to speak with the father who lost his child. It was extremely painful. 

And you know there's a humanistic aspect to being the mayor of the of the city. You have to live through these traumas, and that is one that is going to stay with me for some time. 

Kiernan: And will you make changes in that there was a city inspector in that daycare center only a week before this incident? 

Mayor Adams: We are doing some evaluations, but I want to be extremely clear: that inspector did their job, and we should not in any way give an impression that inspector failed those children and the families. That inspector went in, there were several inspections, and there was a surprise inspection. They went through, they opened closets, they did all the things that they were supposed to do. 

That inspector did their job and one of the thousands, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are doing the job every day, [ones] who did not do their job are those individuals who were supposed to protect the children there. And we should place blame where they are. We arrested them, now it's up to prosecutors to handle this case. But I want to thank those New Yorkers, civil servants who are doing their job every day. 

Kiernan: Mayor Adams, we covered a lot here this morning. Appreciate your time. My thanks to the sanitation commissioner, Jessica Tisch as well. 



Media Contact
(212) 788-2958