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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live on 77 WABC's "Sid & Friends in the Morning"

September 28, 2023

Sid Rosenberg: Been a while, but we've been texting… Now for the last couple of days, and he was actually looking forward to this. He was. So, [inaudible] Trump a couple days ago, Trump will go on CNN, Trump will go on NBC Meet the Press with Kristen Welker, and Eric Adams will do the same. Joe and Mika, Sid Rosenberg. Couldn't be more different, but here he is making his return to the program, my friend, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams. Mr. Mayor, good morning. How are you?

Mayor Eric Adams: Okay. Quite well, quite well. This is not a return, I never went away. I enjoy all of the various communications, opinions and thoughts in this city, and it's part of the fabric of the city. There's nowhere I won't go in New York, nowhere I won't go in America, you know, every block I'm available to.

Rosenberg: And I'm sure you hear from both sides, right? I mean, there's people, Eric I love you in this city. I know that. And there are people that don't like you even a little in this city. But you don't have an issue talking to either one of those folks, do you?

Mayor Adams: No. So, true. And listen, think about it for a moment. People are not saying I hate Eric Adams, they're saying the position that I have as mayor, just as when I was a police officer, people used to walk past me, they would say foul things, nasty things of, you know, people hate the symbols of these positions that we have.

You know, I'm just an everyday New Yorker, and you've got to take the pros and cons. If you're the mayor of the city with 8.3 million people, 35 million opinions, you don't think people are going to like, dislike you? Love? Adore you? You've got to take it. It comes with the territory.

Rosenberg: And I know you mean that, because I know whether you've been listening, which I know you do occasionally or you know, my friends are your friends, we've got the same friends, you know?  And they come back to you and say, boy, Sid was a bit rough on you this morning. And I think you were a little put off. I think you were.

I think you felt a little bad that maybe you thought some of my attacks were personal, and they never are. I like you a lot. I mean, I think you're a terrific guy. I don't like everything going on in the city, but I know some of these things do get back to you. So, was there at any point did you consider not coming on this morning?

Mayor Adams: No. First of all, there's never a time that you have said something, Sid, did something or any other host said or did something that I take it personal...

Rosenberg: Good.

Mayor Adams: ...and say that hey, this is a personal attack. I cannot say it enough how this stuff does not bother me. I get up in the morning, I do the job for the city that I love. And there are people who are going to give you the finger, and there's people who are going to give you a handshake.

Rosenberg: Right.

Mayor Adams: This is the nature of the business. This is a complicated time in the city, and just thank God I'm the mayor of this city right now, because there are a few other folks who would have run for office if they would have won we would have been in a hell of a lot of trouble to make these difficult decisions that I have to make.

Rosenberg: You want to name some of those folks?

Mayor Adams: I'll leave it alone.

Rosenberg: Okay. I do want to get to the president of the United States. And I was guilty of this, too. Just so you know, Eric, because you and I are friends, okay, so I'm going to be honest here. When I say "people say," a lot of the times I'm part of those people. So, I'm not removing myself. I don't want to be a coward here. When I say "people say," oftentimes, I'm one of them.

And there was a while there were I was really angry that you weren't going after President Biden; in fact, I would say enough with the federal government, enough with the national government. Hammer Biden. But to your credit, and I just saw this a couple of days ago in the Gothamist, you have done that. You have come out and said President Joe Biden needs to do more.

Now, he was here for the U.N. last week and never met with you. Is that the reason why? Is there truly a disconnect between Biden and Adams because you have been deservedly critical of the president?

Mayor Adams: Look, think about this one for a moment. When I say the national government, we have governmental leaders that are there. And when you look at this problem of specifically we're talking about the whole migration and immigration reform, there's been a failure on our national government.

And if we point to just the president, we're giving everyone else an out. And I'm not going to do that. There's an obligation to come up with real immigration reform, not allow our city to go through this, taxpayer dollars being spent on something that the national government should go for.

And so I'll point out that we want the president to do more on immediate things like allowing us to have a state of emergency, like a dealing with the course of this. There are things with this that are within his power and there are things that are within Congress' power. And blocking real immigration reform is more than the president, it is our national leaders.

Rosenberg: So, you're calling, I guess, Mayorkas, Kamala Harris. I know you've talked about Republicans, too, but the migrant crisis, as you know, Mr. Mayor, is not about immigration reform. Those are two different arguments. But you're calling all of these people to the carpet, yes? All of them.

Mayor Adams: No, actually it is, the migration is an immigration issue. We need real true immigration reform of how we're going to allow people to cross our borders, how we're going to do a decompression strategy, how do we properly vet to make sure who's coming into our country.

This is a national, and really to be honest with you, Sid, it's a global problem. I spoke with global leaders over at the U.N. General Assembly, and we are hearing across the globe how people are coming into the cities from Belgium, Paris, Italy, all over the globe, this ship is happening, and we need an international response and a response and our national government as well.

Rosenberg: Agreed. Mr. Mayor, Eric Adams, there's also a rumor I've been hearing — you can confirm or deny it — I know you've asked Biden for money about 40 times now and he said no every time. But I've been told that he has already put it out there that he's always going to say no, that there's no money at least until after the 2024 election is over. Is there any truth to that rumor? 

Mayor Adams: I have not been told no about the White House. The problem is we need to get an answer and no one has stated that anything is on pause until after the presidential race.

We cannot wait until after a race that happens next year to deal with the relief this city needs now. I'm elected to represent the city of New York and the people in this city, and I'm going to stay true to the commitment I made when I ran for office.

Rosenberg: Mr. Mayor, Nicole Malliotakis on earlier, you know who she is, congresswoman out of Staten Island and Brooklyn. She asked me a really good question. And she wanted me to pose it to you. If it's okay, I'm going to play the question because I think it's a question we've all asked, including me. I look forward to hearing you answer, are you cool with that?

Mayor Adams: Yep.

Rosenberg: Here's Nicole this morning.

[Playback begins.]

US Representative Nicole Malliotakis: Since you have the mayor coming on you should ask him not to appeal the decision, and I'll explain why. On the one hand, the mayor is saying he's going to court, he wants to roll back right to shelter. He says that, right, but on the other hand here's a victory, a judge's decision, that tells him straight out, right to shelter is meant for New Yorkers, not for the migrants. You have no responsibility to do this. This is his out. Right? This is what he's claimed he was looking for, and yet he's going to appeal the decision. Why? 

[Playback ends.]

Rosenberg: It's a good question, Mr. Mayor, why would you appeal a decision that seemingly is going your way?

Mayor Adams: Well, first, the larger question is, I know Nicole. Nicole knows me. She has my number. Instead of having to get on your station and ask that question, why not pick up the phone and call me and say, hey, Eric, what are you doing around this decision that the court made? 

Let's stop politically posturing when it comes down to saving our city. Nicole should be working with me to get Congress to get our resources that we need. And she should pick up the phone, like you do, and say, hey, Eric, what are your thoughts on this? How do we work together? 

So, when she's talking about appealing the decision, I don't believe the right to shelter applies to a migrant crisis. Our team is looking at exactly what we're going to do with the ruling. Some of this stuff that the judge put in that ruling like this is not an emergency.

He stated that we created this emergency by allowing people to come in. Anyone knows that I cannot deny people from coming in. So, we need to peel apart that entire ruling, the comments that he made, and make sure we don't allow them to stand.

There are parts of the ruling we may, and that's may agree with. We're going to examine that, that's what the council job is to do. I hope you do Sid I will after we get off the call text Nicole we've served with Albany and on Staten Island more than any mayor in history you see me all the time. You don't have to use Sid as the ambassador, speak to me directly.

Rosenberg: That's fair, and I think she would look forward to doing that. Now that you brought that up, Eric. I've got another local politician who would like to talk to you. You know her too, Inna, and she's in Brooklyn grew up we've dined together in that area, pal, and she's scared to death. The city is sending migrants to Manhattan Beach, and she said to me, she said don't let the mayor give out the old answer they're going to go everywhere, everyone is going to get impacted. Get the real answer.

So, you addressed Nicole, what about Inna, should she be nervous that migrants are heading to Manhattan Beach?

Mayor Adams: First of all, I did not know you moved from a radio station host to the communicator of issues. Come on, whatever happened to good old fashioned elected officials that talk to each other? 

You don't govern through tweet. You govern by walking the street. It's not Facebook. It's face to face interaction. It's time for our government officials to really start realizing they're elected not to be activists but to govern the complexities of the city.

Rosenberg: Let me ask you a question. If Nicole and/or Inna, for example, because I agree with you, by the way, anytime I have a question for you, you always get right back to me. You're a man of your word.

Mayor Adams: Exactly.

Rosenberg: If those people reach out to you, are you going to get back to them, talk to them?

Mayor Adams: Yes. There is no elected official in this city that states I shot Eric a text or I called Eric and Eric did not get back to me. No one can say that. People walk down the streets, Sid, and my staff gets infuriated that I give people my personal cell number. I say call me so I can actually find out what your issue is.

I want to answer the councilwoman's question. But I want to tell you something. You know the biggest problem people are having in this city? They're so used to BS elected officials throughout history that they don't know they have a blue-collar mayor.

They have a mayor that has gone through the betrayal of these city agencies and governments. Over 80% of my civil servants got their contracts settled with 90 something percent ratification. I'm fighting for working class people.

So since people are not used to that, all of a sudden they say, well, okay, he's just a BS just like everyone else. No, I'm not. No, I'm not. I'm fighting for working class New Yorkers.

So to the councilmember saying tell Eric we don't want migrants asylum seekers to go here, they're going everywhere in the city, aren't they? When are we going to get through to people that we're getting 10,000 a month? That we have over 120,000 here? So, if one council person says don't put it in my district then what are they saying put it in another person's district? 

We're all in this together, folks. So, you can yack and yell and protest, call me names: bald-headed, earring-wearing mayor, call me whatever. I'm going to govern this city and I'm going to navigate us through this just as I navigated us through Covid, crime, through economic challenges. I'm going to navigate us through this mess that we're in. And every elected official in this city needs to stand up and say, we're going to stand with you Eric to make sure Washington gives us the resources and stop this from happening to New York City taxpayers.

Rosenberg: Last one because I want to get to some other good stuff you're doing housing stuff and bad one target leading. Critics say Mayor Eric Adams frustrated, angry, can't handle the situation. Who could, but he was the same guy, Mayor Eric Adams, same guy yelling screaming we're a sanctuary city, come one, come all. He was the same guy when the buses first got here, was right there online shaking the hands of these people. He's the same guy that is putting these people in forced hotels, why are there still hundreds of people sleeping outside the Roosevelt Hotel, some of our finest establishments. He's that guy. Okay, he's upset now, where was that Eric Adams a year ago? What would you say to that?

Mayor Adams: First, let's be clear on something. I'm passionate. And I find it disrespectful whenever someone shows passion, doesn't have to be me or anyone else, that all of a sudden, he's angry. I'm passionate. I'm a passionate New Yorker. I have a New York attitude.

You try getting on the train and steal someone's seat on the train. You want to see passionate. You may call it anger. No, this is how New Yorkers talk. I don't know what's wrong with people. I'm not going to body… I'm not going to try to be philosophical or theoretical. I'm an opinionated, passionate New Yorker. That's it. If something pisses me off I'm going to let you know.

I'm not going to live with it. You're going to see me walking around upset all the time. I enjoy being mayor, fighting on behalf of working-class people, but I'm going to express it the way I express myself. I'm not going to fit in a box.

What I did is what all of us — we have all done in this city — is the reason there's the Statue of Liberty, folks, sits in our harbor. I don't care if you came from Irish ancestry, if you came from Italian, came from Greece or Caribbean or Africa, all of us wanted an opportunity to pursue the American dream.

And I said I'm not going to treat people in an undignified way. When early groups came here, they had the right to work and to participate in the American dream.

Rosenberg: In all fairness, Mr. Mayor, they were legal and vetted. What's going on here is ridiculous. My kids can't go into school without showing proof of vaccination. You've got little kids, God bless them, not their fault, showing up at schools all over the city not tested for anything. You can't compare what happened at Ellis Island, Eric, to what's going on now. It's insane.

Mayor Adams: I disagree with you, Sid. I disagree a lot. The children who showed up in our schools, the law and the rules require within 30 days they have to get vaccinated, if they meet the status you're just talking about. Let's be clear on this. Let's be clear on this. I can't stop people from crossing the border and I do not have the authorization to deport people.

That is not within my powers as a mayor. What I must do is whoever comes to this city, I must ensure that they treat it with the dignity and respect that our ancestors were treated with. That's what I must do. So, when people came here at the same time, I never said come one come all. People attempted to give that impression, that has never been my impression.

Our hearts are big, but our resources are not in this. I made that clear a year ago. Stated this should not be happening to New York City. How people tried to interpret that and spin that, that is not the reality.

This has never been something that I advocated for. New York City's taxpayers are going through enough already. I have my own crisis that I must deal with: homelessness, educating our children, dealing with these issues. But I'm not going to treat those who came here like our ancestors did in a disrespectful manner with children who are being treated unfairly.

Rosenberg: Let's move to a different topic. I think you did a very good job of explaining the last one. I want to get to Target and turns out they're leaving. You know, Mr. Mayor, we can't afford that. We need big business here.

We need big names here in New York, and the fact that they can't survive, just like it's going on in San Francisco, Los Angeles, because people walk in and rob stuff every day, I mean, come on, man, that is unbelievable.

That's ridiculous. On top of that, you've got the Bronx, you've got day care centers now posing with they've got fentanyl drug dealers in there and they're making these guns which you talked about with Caban yesterday. What's going on in this city that Target is leaving and our day cares are not really day cares, instead they're criminal operations?

Mayor Adams: I think we should peel back each one of those pieces. First let's deal with Target. We're seeing a decrease in shoplifting. I'm a big believer. These habitual shoplifters who are being arrested over and over, we need to ensure that they're prosecuted. Our job is to make the arrests.

Our laws must reflect how we deal with these habitual shoplifters. That's a real problem. Deputy Mayor Banks brought together a large number of retailers, prosecutors, the law enforcement, so we can zero in on it. I believe we're seeing some good results. We have some more things that we want to do to move further.

But, Sid, let's be honest with this. I want all your listeners that are part of the ‘I Hate Eric Adams Club’, I want them to go Google other cities. Go look at what's happening in other cities in this country, and then look at what's happening in New York.

This city has come back. 99 percent of the jobs we lost, we have back. 65 million tourists is coming back to this city for this year. We have AA bond rating. Homicides are down, shootings down, five of the major crime categories are down. You don't see tents all over our city and encampments all over the city. Screenwriters are back, we have reached our height again, 3.6, 3.8 million riders capping out at 4 million. People back in office spaces, major corporations are coming and opening in the city.

Amazon just opened a major headquarters here. This city is humming, and so people who want to wake up every day praying that Eric Adams pilot fails and crashes, you better wake up. You're a passenger on this plane called NYC. You better hope I land this damn plane and stop hoping and praying that I fail.

The city is back. We're resilient. No matter how many things that have been thrown at us from Covid to crime to migrant, we continue to thrive, not just survive. I know how well we're doing as a city because I have a damn good team that is fighting for New Yorkers every day.

Rosenberg: I do want to get to the housing address. I was talking to Fabien Levy about this yesterday, providing housing really in every borough all over New York for folks, I don't know exactly, Eric, when this is going to start but I think it's a great initiative. Tell the folks about that.

Mayor Adams: Yes, it's what we're doing. Listen, we've had housing laws that prevented us from building housing. Dan Garodnick, who's in charge of City Planning, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer and her team, we said enough already. We need more housing.

We have an inventory problem. Our city has grown because of the popularity of being in New York, our city has grown and it is amazing that people want to be here but we don't have enough housing for it. Your son is going to grow up and he's going to have to leave the city because we don't have enough affordable housing for him.

So, our plan rolled out a city wide housing zoning changes, we can convert office spaces to houses, we can build on larger… On footprints of housing built on top of stores and other areas. There was so much restrictions during the sixties that prevented new housing that we are reexamining all of that to say we have to build more so we can allow children and families, our seniors to age in place.

People want to be here in the city, and that's what this plan is about. And we're excited about it. We're going to need the city council to help us. We spoke with the speaker who has been excited about looking at housing. And we're hoping they will line up with us on this important issue of making the city more affordable. If you don't have the stock, then people, supply and demand, people can charge more when you don't have enough of the supply, so we have to put more of the supply.

Rosenberg: Right. Last one, like two minutes and I'll let you go. And this is a really great job, Mr. Mayor. Great job. You talked about other cities, and you know, you know people are going to say we don't care about other cities, Eric. We pay the highest taxes here. I don't care what's going on in Philly or Los Angeles or Atlanta or Chicago. I care about here. So, don't bring up other cities, I want to hear what's going on here.

But on a second note, on that, crime whenever I talk to anybody in your administration, they tell me crime is down in all these categories, and I believe them. I'm not one to argue. But then I speak to other people who go, oh ho oh, hold on, Sid. Cops are not making arrests. They're just not doing it. The qualified immunity, you know, they've made the cops, and you're a former cop yourself, Mr. Mayor, they've made the cops feel like crap in the city.

And if the numbers are down, it's because the truth is the numbers aren't correct. The cops are just not arresting enough people and you see these stories all the time, slashings on the subways, Target closing down, daycare centers led by drug runners and gun makers. So, is really… Is crime really down and people seem to be a little pessimistic about that, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Okay. Well, first of all, any time somebody says you can't compare yourself to other cities, that's silly. You have to compare yourself to certain groups to make a determination how well you're doing. It doesn't mean that if the city's out of control that all of a sudden you could say, well, okay, at least our city's not out of control. No.

What I'm saying to people, go look at what's happening in other cities and then look at this city as it continues to thrive out of Covid. A lot of people don't recall what we were like. The city was shut down… 

Rosenberg: Yes.

Mayor Adams: ...because of Covid. There was uncertainty in our economic recovery. We got a AA bond rating from an AA- because people saw how this team has managed this city. So, we're not going to rest. We're going to continue to push forward, because that's who we are as New Yorkers.

But when you said, when you hear people talk about, well, you know, crime is not really down because we read a story that someone was slashed in their face, and now the city's out of control, stop, folks! Stop. You know, go to Times Square on any night and you want to see the humming in the city.

Go into your own communities. People are back out on the streets. People are back on the subway system. You are seeing this city recover. I know sometimes it's better to deal with the emotions of how terrible life is, but life isn't terrible in New York. Get over it. Stop seeing the way you felt and start opening your eyes to the way you feel. This city is back.

I know it's back. I see it every day as I move through the city. I'm up at five a.m., through the city, throughout the entire evening. You and I, when we went out to eat, that restaurant was humming.

Rosenberg: Yep.

Mayor Adams: You noticed it. This city is… 

Rosenberg: Yes. Hey, look it, and I got news for you, Eric, too. When I join you on those Wednesday nights and we were feeding the homeless, this city was humming.

Mayor Adams: Right. Right. And even the people who were online, and I'm glad you raised that, I'm glad you raised that, Sid. You know, that night when you and I were out feeding hundreds of New Yorkers...not all of them were homeless, some of them were just struggling New Yorkers.

Rosenberg: Right.

Mayor Adams: You know, we need to start asking people who sit at home in their pajamas under their covers criticizing everyone, we need to start asking, what are you doing to help people? What are you doing to go out and help people who are homeless, to help people who are at senior centers who are dealing with loneliness? What are you doing when you go to...when you finish your, you know, having your drink somewhere, what are you doing?

Too many people are complaining about what people who are on the ground working are doing, but they're not doing anything. Doing something is not that you've crafted a nice tweet somewhere. What are you doing every day like the way you volunteer, the way you go out and help different organizations. What are all of these other folks doing?

That's the question we need to start asking. We're not holding people accountable for what they are doing. Michael Jackson said it best: look at the man and the woman in the mirror.

Rosenberg: Yes.

Mayor Adams: And ask, what are you doing to help the city that you love instead of just trying to hurt the city that we all love.

Rosenberg: One of my favorite Michael Jackson songs, Man in the Mirror. Hey, Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming back today. I threw a whole lot at you, and I thought you were great. And whether people agree or disagree, it doesn't matter. You showed up and you answered everything like a gentleman.

And you know I'm rooting for you. I wish you the best of luck. I like you. I think you're a terrific guy, I do. And we may disagree on some of the policies and some of the things you have done. But believe me when I tell you, I'm not rooting for the plane to crash. I want you to land safely.

And I look forward to our next dinner together, okay, buddy? Thank you for hopping on today.

Mayor Adams: Yes. Say hello to your great son and daughter for me, and your other half.

Rosenberg: I will. Thank you. Me, too.

Mayor Adams: Appreciate you. Take care.

Rosenberg: All right, Mr. Mayor. You, too. Thank you very much.


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