September 20, 2023
Bianca Peters: All right. Mayor Adams says New York is going to be the cleanest big city in America.
Rosanna Scotto: The city is tightening its rules on trash. It's the latest phase in the war on rats. We're joined this morning by the mayor and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. Nice to have you both back on Good Day New York.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Good to see you.
Scotto: Mayor, it seems like you're chipping away and trying to give New Yorkers a better quality of life here.
Mayor Adams: We want to move from mean streets to clean streets, as a Commissioner Tisch likes to say over and over again. This is an extremely important part of our overall transformation of our quality of life and our public safety. You know, we're going after scooters, we're going after trash, we're going after those who carry guns. And so we know this is a transformative moment, 21, 22 months in, we are right on target and meeting our benchmarks.
Scotto: Commissioner, listen, nobody wants to see rats on the streets and those ugly big black garbage bags. But I did talk to a small business owner— a bakery in our neighborhood here— and she said, I don't know where I'm going to put that big container. I'm going to have to lock it up, because we're afraid of people stealing it, and there's no way I can store it when it's not, you know, a garbage pickup day. It's going to be costly and cumbersome for a lot of these small business owners.
Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation: So, Rosanna, I have two responses to that, but the first is, as we've discussed before, New York City is not going to be the first city in the world to roll out WheelieBins for businesses; in fact, we're going to be one of the last. And so what we're doing right now isn't novel, it isn't unprecedented, we're just playing a major game of catch up.
But the other response I have to that feedback is that we wrote these rules and we've rolled out this program in phases so we can get the feedback and incorporate that very feedback into the rules. So, as an example, we allow New Yorkers or businesses to store the bins indoors, outdoors along the property line, even within three feet of the property line to directly address that feedback that we got up front.
Mayor Adams: And feedback is not going to be a step back. We are stepping in the right direction. We cannot be 20 years behind other major cities. It's time to get to trash bags off the street.
Peters: Mayor Adams, I want to switch over to the migrant issue. You recently said that you haven't spoken to the president in months. This is the third and final day in the city here, but he is not meeting with you and he's not even touring a migrant shelter. After all the city has done in the face of this migrant crisis, he cannot find five minutes to meet with you or even tour a shelter. Why do you think that is?
Mayor Adams: Well, we are in constant communication with the White House. The goal is to get the items that we have identified, and that includes a decompression strategy at the border, receiving the funding that we deserve, calling a state of emergency, allowing people to work. No one should be in the city without the right and authorization to contribute to our tax base. So, this is unfair to New Yorkers and it's actually unfair to the migrants as well. No one should be going through this, particularly this city and other small municipalities.
Peters: Well, while the president may shy away from meeting you face to face, the White House does not shy away from skewering NYC and their response of the migrant crisis saying that we allegedly have no exit strategy for migrants in shelters. But I know you're trying to change that from a 60‑day ruling to now a 30‑day rolling for the amount of days that migrants can be in shelters. And this is specific for maybe male migrants?
Mayor Adams: Well, we are...everything is on the table, let me say that. Everything is on the table. When you're dealing with a crisis of managing 110,000...over 110,000 migrant and asylum seekers in addition to 10,000 a month. We really need to wrap our heads around that, 10,000 a month. And we've witnessed that a substantial number have left our shelter system, but over 60,000, 70,‑000 are still there. It's just not moving at the right pace. But the question becomes, why aren't we stopping this at the source, and why aren't we dealing with this as a national crisis that it is.
Scotto: So, mayor, the first recipients of that 60‑day eviction notice have a deadline of this weekend. What happens to those people who are in the shelter system who already have been notified, your 60 days are up?
Mayor Adams: Well, we were clear they have to reapply, and based on our availability of space we will allow them back into one of our shelters or HERRCs, but they will have to reapply.
Scotto: That sounds like you're not getting rid of...or moving them on to somewhere else.
Mayor Adams: Well, no. What we're doing is properly putting in place the exit strategies that we talked about, everything from helping individuals apply for the asylum process as well as work. We are going to do everything that's possible, like we have done. Let's be clear on what we did. We were able to manage this crisis without one family or child sleeping on the street.
I saw El Paso. I witnessed other cities and municipalities. That did not happen in New York City. So those who are critiquing how we've handled this crisis really don't have a full scope of what this administration has done and what the people of the City of New York [or] New York, they have done.
Scotto: Well, mayor, obviously there are a lot of...
Mayor Adams: They are frustrated, and I believe their frustration is real, and I am also frustrated that this city is going through this.
Scotto: Right. Let's talk about the frustration, because we're seeing these protests pop up. Whether it's in Queens or Staten Island, more and more neighborhoods are saying, enough. You know, we can't handle this in our neighborhood. People are getting arrested because they don't want these migrants in their neighborhood. What do you say to those communities?
Mayor Adams: Well, let's do a real accurate and proper assessment. We have 8.3, 8.3 million New Yorkers. So, if the numerical minority decide to use hateful terms and hateful words, that is not a reflection of who the city is. I'm very clear of the frustration and anger, and New Yorkers have expressed that.
But they're not banging on the doors of buses, they're not spewing hateful words towards ethnic groups. That is not how we're showing our frustration. And I say to those who believe they're going to use violence by throwing bottles at police officers and migrants, we're not going to accept that. That's the message we sent on Staten Island, and I'm going to send it throughout the city. We'll manage this crisis, but we're not going to do it with violence and we're not going to do it with hateful terminologies spewed at individuals.
Scotto: So, mayor, I know at one point you called yourself the Biden of Brooklyn. Do you still consider
yourself the Biden of Brooklyn?
Mayor Adams: Well, you know, listen, we disagree on this. I still believe there should be...President Biden should be the president that continues to move our country in the right direction. I don't believe the Trump administration is going to be able to handle this crisis. I believe the president has done a great job around public safety, a great job around bringing our economy out of the crisis, bringing us out of the pandemic. And we need to continue to move our country forward.
I disagree on this. We need to manage this as the national crisis that it is. It should not go on the backs of everyday New York taxpayers. We were going to take a $5 billion out of our budget, and in next fiscal period, we're going to take a total of $12 billion. That's coming from somewhere. And that's only $30 billion of the amount of dollars that we could use. We have $106 billion budget, but all of that cannot be addressed during this crisis.
Scotto: So, I know that you have lights and sirens when you get around town, but the rest of us have been struggling to get around New York City with the gridlock lately. Did you encounter any travel problems?
Mayor Adams: Yes, but I also believe we have one of the best transportation networks on the globe. And I told all of the heads of states that I met with and the mayors that I met with, swipe a MetroCard and enjoy the full scope and the full experience of New York City.
I wrote on metros in other municipalities, no one does it the way New York is doing it. And remember, the U.N. General Assembly brings in real dollars to the city. This is the center of the world. Everyone wants to be in New York City.
Peters: Hey, well maybe next year you can mandate the fact that they're going to have to take some public transportation ‑‑ after all, climate change is a big deal, so maybe we can get you to weigh in on that.
Mayor Adams: Sounds like a plan.
Scotto: All right. Meanwhile, I'm angry that the governor spoke to the president and you didn't. I'm sorry, I'm a little frustrated with that, mayor.
Mayor Adams: Well, you know, part of the problem is, listen, everyone that knows me, there's an authentic communication style that I have, and sometimes that offends people. But I'm not going to be dishonest to New Yorkers and finding a word in a thesaurus that makes it sound politically correct.
We're in trouble. And I'm going to navigate us out of it, but it's going to be painful when you have to look at those services that we were using to move our city forward. We're going to have to find cuts in our agencies and efficiencies. So, sometimes the way I express with this New York attitude of mine, people take offense to it, but it's only because I love this city that I wore that bulletproof vest for for 22 years to protect it, and I'm not going to turn my back on the residents of this city.
Scotto: Mayor Adams, thank you so much for talking with us this morning. Jessica Tisch, New York Sanitation Commissioner, thank you for trying to clean up the streets of New York City. We appreciate it.