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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

October 3, 2023

Video available at:

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. When Mayor Adams asked me to serve in this role he made it clear that his priority was providing New Yorkers with a better line of sight into how their city government and its employees are dressing important issues and delivering results.

As Mayor Adams likes to say, we're going to pivot and shift from time to time, and that's why we're experimenting with another way to talk with all of you. This morning the Mayor has convened some of the senior leadership from City Hall to answer your questions and speak to pressing issues because, as the Mayor always says, this administration is comprised of more than just him.

We have senior leaders here with decades of experience in public safety, health, economics, operations, law and so much more. These are the experts, and the mayor and New Yorkers trusts those experts. So, today, by bringing the broad expertise of city government into one room we are hopeful that we can break down silos and deliver vital information to New Yorkers in a clear, reliable and accessible way.

The goal is to give all of you in the press corps a day where you know off topics can be asked. You don't have to travel to the deep parts of Queens or Staten Island, we can literally walk 100 feet down the hall. And to be clear, we'll still be conducting press conferences at sites across the city and right here at City Hall where you'll still be able to ask plenty of other questions, including if something breaking happens you can talk about it and ask about it there.

But these media availabilities will be about giving you the chance to ask questions with a little less structure. That's what today's event is all about. So, this morning, joining us we have Mayor Eric Adams, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Adviser to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar, and New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.

From time to time we may add more people to answer your questions. So, without further delay, I'm pleased to turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much. And I want to thank you and the chancellor, on one of our morning briefings you both stated that we should try to do these briefings one day a week and bring all of the senior leadership, the DMs and whatever topics are present.

And as the Deputy Mayor Levy stated, that this does not stop if there's something breaking in the city, where we have to answer questions off topics we would do so. But we just want to be extremely timely to allow you to plan your calendar to have the joy of seeing me every Tuesday. Some of you — and I emphasize some of you — I enjoy seeing a lot, and so we will have an opportunity to do this.

And I want to be clear. It's not that I like my administration, I love the hell out of my administration. These are real New Yorkers. You know, and sometimes because of our authentic approach we are not AI — as in artificial intelligence — we are AI as Authentically Intelligent. These are real, real New Yorkers.

You know, hey, and we have a New York attitude. I can't say it any clearer. We, you know, we are opinionated. We bring a lot of passion to this conversation. And to a lot of people, that's uncomfortable, because they're used to rigid, politically correct, always trying to worry about what you say and what you do. That is not how we flow. This is a body of people that are sincere in the work they're doing, and it's expressed every day.

And New Yorkers need to see them. They need to see the diversity of my senior team, they need to see how experienced they are and what we have done for this city and its recovery. We cycled through Covid    these are the people who got us through Covid. These are the people who are driving down crime. These are the people who got us through the financial challenges that we faced in this city.

These are the people who put in place initiative of taking trash bags off our streets — and many of you don't know it, but I hate rats — that are helping me get rid of the rats on the street. You know, these are the people. New Yorkers, this is Team NYC, and our goal here is to be as transparent as possible, to allow you to do your job as much as possible and be as acceptable as possible.

But we have a city to run. And no one can say that when you call this administration to get answers that Deputy Mayor Levy and his team don't return calls and don't give you the information that you're looking for. We know how transparent we are, and we want you to know what we're doing and the job that this team is doing every single day.

And so, deputy mayor, we'll turn it over and answer as many questions as possible, and what we can't answer, we'll get back to folks.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Yep, and I apologize, I didn't mention Chancellor David Banks, who helped come up with this idea. So, thanks very much, chancellor, for joining us today.

Mayor Adams: You know those teachers… 

Question: Mr. Mayor… 

Mayor Adams: How are you, Marcia?

Question: So, the question I'm really interested in is your trip to Mexico, to Central and South America. I want to know what you want to accomplish and if you are going to have a message on the [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: When we traveled to El Paso, I brought a team of members down to El Paso, it was an eye opener for me. I was able to make connection with the mayor of El Paso and the city manager. I was able to see what they were doing, the influx.

And we have to solve this problem. Let's be clear. We can't sit back and just, you know, continue to expect that are we going to get the relief that we deserve. We want help from the federal government, we're going to need help from the state. The governor and I, we have been communicating and we're going to continue to do that. We are in court on several cases.

But I've always been the person that I need to go on the ground. That's why in the beginning of this administration I responded to crime scenes, because I have to see what's taking place. I want to see the filth of our city. I'm going to be on the subway system to see the crisis of homelessness. So, I need to go on the ground.

My goal is threefold: to go to, we're going to Ecuador, we're going to Colombia and we're going to Mexico. The goal is, number one, I want to see what's happening in the Darién Gap to see what that flow looks like. I was told by the world leaders who came here during UNGA that there's a heavy flow that's coming through.

Number two, I want to give the people of those areas a real story of what is happening in New York City. There's a public relations campaign that people use in these areas to state that if you come to New York that you're going to get whatever you need. I want to give them a true picture of what's taking place. This country has always been a country that allowed immigrants to come in, we want to make sure we do it in a responsible way with a real decompression strategy.

And then we want partnerships. I want to talk with those, the leaders, I believe we're going to be able to meet with the President of Colombia, I spoke with the ambassador the other day, we're going to meet with leaders in Ecuador, leaders in Mexico and really start having a conversation as cities of what can we do better to deal with this crisis.

Question: But I'm also, you know, [inaudible] be carrying the message that are on some of your flyers that there's really no room here in New York City, there's no free lunch, there's no...we've run out of space. But in addition to that, will you be able to harness the local media to help you carry that message? And you know, in all three countries so that it might dissuade people from coming to New York and maybe go to other places in the country.

Mayor Adams: Well, Deputy Mayor Levy and his team, they are going to attempt to get me on as many of the stations, of newspapers, radios, TV in these areas to give people the honest truth of, there is a body of people who are there that are giving them false hopes and false promises. We want to give people a true picture of what is here.

And Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom has made it clear over and over again, of we are at capacity. And the buses that...we're witnessing a surge now, and the buses are continuing to come and they're also coming in the other means. A lot of people think buses are the only way, but they're coming in other means, through airports, through people driving in.

And so we want to give an honest assessment of what we are experiencing here in this city. We are at capacity, over 117,000. We're still getting, at one time it was 10,000 a month but I think in the last few days we're looking at almost 600 a day. These are real numbers, and I must have a local, I must have a statewide plan, a federal plan and I must have an international plan of how do I speak with people in South and Central America.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Just…

Mayor Adams: This is Marcia. There's a couple more people you can stop.


Question: Tell me what [inaudible] you're going to give people there and tell us in New York what the true picture you're going to give the people there.

Mayor Adams: We're going to tell them that coming to New York doesn't mean you're going to stay in a 5 star hotel. It doesn't mean that that mere fact you come here you automatically are going to be allowed to work, which as you understand, TPS was only given to those Venezuelans.

We're going to tell them what the real conditions are, the large number of thousands of people are living in congregate settings. We know that there's a propaganda machine that basically it has given the false promise of what life is like of being a migrant and asylum seeker, and we want to be honest with those who live in these regions.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Marcia, just to add to your last question. We will have local media on the ground that we're going to be inviting to all of our events. I've heard from a number of your colleagues in the press corps including you that you might want to go down to some of these locations, so we'll have open press events each day. And then just like we did when we were in Israel, we'll have media availability...virtual media availabilities with the folks back here at home to answer questions every single day.

Mayor Adams: And we hope some of you will, you know, I think that having someone like yourself, an experienced journalist, you know, that's part and see what's going on, I think would give New Yorkers a real understanding that we believe that this is going to trickle off and what we're seeing is actually elevated.

And having some of you go down and be a part of us and travel with us, you know, we're going into, you know, the jungle area to see firsthand. Having you there I think is going to help you even as you report on this story.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. So, I know, you know, on the campaign side, you know, I've heard from the campaign and you've talked about this, the campaign has checks and balances in place when it comes to political contributions. That said, you know, you have this indictment with the straw donor issue. We've reported and the city's reported inconsistencies between kind of the public record with campaign finance and some of the things, people listed as donors have said about donations.

So, my question is, is it… Are you considering, is the campaign considering, I mean, I guess it would be you, you know, engaging in kind of a more robust, comprehensive audit of what happened in 2021 to kind of get to the bottom of that? And if so, what kind of like obstacles does that present from like a logistical and practical perspective for you in the campaign?

Mayor Adams: Well, and the campaign team can really dig into the crevices of what we do, but it is impressive the level of scrutiny that we do beyond campaign finance boards rules. Every person that contributes to the campaign, the signatures are compared. Then we pay an additional compliance attorney that before anything is deposited in the bank, there's another level of scrutiny to look at the check.

We have sent back thousands of dollars of those items that our compliance attorney stated, it does not fit the muster. And so the inconsistency is not in the records. Out of the thousands of contributions we receive of, there are reports that individuals have stated they don't recall making a contribution.

I don't know of those who stated that they didn't. And whenever someone indicates that there's a problem with their contribution, we send their contribution back. I strongly believe that any records that are done is going to be scrutinized, so I'm...I've built out our compliance system to make sure that we could withstand any scrutiny.

And I have not heard one report from a reviewer that stated the Adams campaign in any way did anything that was inappropriate. I've heard just the opposite. You know, so you're always trying to review, you're always trying to do better to find different ways. But I'm clear at every fundraiser, you must make a contribution in your name, and it must be based on records.

We don't play those games here, and we're never going to play those games here. And I think that so if there are inconsistencies, it's not in our records. The person who said they made the contribution compares to the application that they filled out    because everyone must fill out an application    the signatures match and we double check and triple check. It goes through three levels of vetting to check. And so we're following the rules to the letter, because I always want to be able to say we could take the scrutiny.

Question: Just following up on the migrant. Did you invite anybody from the city, the state or the federal government to go on this trip with you? What was their response? And can we get an update on Floyd Bennett Field, what's going on there?

Mayor Adams: Yes. We invited Congressman Espaillat, he was going down already. He had to shift because of what's happened in Washington right now. We would have loved for him to join us. We will also… Francisco Moya is from Ecuador, he was going to join us as well, and then at the last minute he had to change because of a concerning family matter. He was looking forward to joining us, he was excited about us going down to Ecuador. But those were the two individuals that we reached out to and said that they wanted to join us on the trip.

Question: And then an update on Floyd Bennett Field, do you know what's going on...

Mayor Adams: Lisa?

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: ...take it. I don't know if this is on here. Okay. It doesn't matter. On Floyd Bennett, I'm not sure if you're talking about operationally or legally, so I'll just address both very briefly. Operationally plans are proceeding to build the structures that are part of the very important step in agreements reached among the feds, the state and the city regarding putting structures there. And it is an important step to acknowledge that there are very limited spaces and that agreement is a really important one and was the first of its kind.

In terms of the legal suit that was filed by some in the state to stop Floyd Bennett from proceeding, the update there is that the lawsuit has been removed to federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Magistrate Judge Cho was assigned, I believe today, and no District Court judge has yet been assigned. So, we're waiting for that and there's no scheduled court date yet. We're waiting for a federal district judge.

Question: Mr. Mayor, people have discussed this public campaign down in Mexico or other South American countries, Central and South American countries. Could you detail what this campaign is painting this rosy picture of migrating to New York City and what the expectations are and provide some… Is it coming through on WhatsApp, is it coming through as these flyers being handed… How is this being transmitted to people?

Mayor Adams: To those who are coming to… 

Question: Yes, and what you're trying to counter on… 

Mayor Adams: Okay. Got it. Got it.

Question: And we reported yesterday on this potential wave coming of possibly 500 to 600 migrants a day which would put us up to like 4,200 a week, which is a record big number. So, with that, I was told you need more hotel rooms or more sites. How many more sites would the city need, and where would you be finding them?

Mayor Adams: Okay. Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom will go into… Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack will go into the build out. What we learned when we were in El Paso is that there are Facebooks, social media sites, everything that you can think of that is used now to communicate with people that they were real campaigns of sending people to New York.

Governor Abbott primed the pump, and that pump is now flowing freely from all over the globe: West Africa, Eastern European countries, South and Central America. The flow is just… Has increased and intensified. And so we need to counteract those forms of communications that are basically saying you come to the City of New York, you're going to automatically have a job. You're going to be into a 5 star hotel, all of those things that those who we believe are part of these smugglers, you know, are just encouraging people to come to the city. We just want to give them a real narrative of the congregant settings of, you are not going to automatically find employment, and give people the honest truth.

Question: [Inaudible] specifically, have you worked with the feds at all? If this is smuggling groups, obviously illegal activities, so have you worked with federal government and worked with Facebook or X or whatever to take these down? And have you shared these as false flyers?

Mayor Adams: All of these items that you mentioned from our communication with the federal government, to reaching out to social media groups of, you know, [inaudible] series, you know, there's a lot of things on social media, you guys have heard me wailing about it over and over again, that they're slow on dealing with how I think these platforms are playing roles in social conditions.

There's a reluctancy to do so, and so we need to counteract that. And I was with the command...that was what the role that Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom put together to communicate with people in any manner possible to give them the true picture. Can we talk about the numbers...

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: Yes. Can I… I'll start, Camille, and then you could add. I want to start with I can't believe that we're still in the situation that we are talking about how many more sites we want to open. We have 118,000 people that have come to New York City. This is a national and an international crisis.

And so I am frustrated that we are still talking about what's happening. We are very, very concerned. I'm concerned about families with children. I'm concerned about the people that are coming here. We say, you know, Marcia, you were talking about, well, what's the condition? It's not good to have, trying to raise your children in a hotel room.

And everyone seems to think that that's okay, and you're asking how many more hotel rooms we're going to need. And this is why we really need a decompression strategy, so that as people are coming over, we can send them to other parts of the United States where there's more room.

So, I just wanted to say, Craig, I am very concerned. We have seen an increase already. Again, I cannot believe that we're here again 17 months into this when we're talking about 600 people a day, 800 people a day. The Roosevelt, I think right now has 412 people who are waiting for a placement.

So, yes, we're trying to do everything as we can. I think we've the nation what a humanitarian response looks like. But clearly we cannot be asked to sustain this. Camille, is there anything you want to add?

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: Sure. I think the only other thing that I would add is we've already seen the uptick. I think many of you will have seen a surge that's happening at the border, last week received I think in excess of 15 to 17 buses. The State of Texas has consolidated their bus operation, so they're not giving us, they're not sharing the information that we would have received previously.

We received I think six buses yesterday, we're expecting to get eight buses today. We have no idea how many folks are going to be on those buses. So, we continue to plan. We meet several times a day looking at our capacity. The folks that have left our system, the folks that we expect to leave our system. We have a robust case management program where we encourage families and individuals to really think about what their next steps are going to be and try to help them to get there in addition to reticketing.

So, all of those things remain in place and we are all closely aligned to many of the folks that are here as well as many other teams, other New York City employees who have been working on this crisis 24/7 to make sure that we have the capacity that we need.

But we may see lines, right? We may see folks that are waiting on lines, because when it comes down to it separate from the buses, and again, we're receiving on average about six a day, we're still not at the height. I think at our height we received maybe 15 buses in one day. We still have many, many people that are coming in in every other way that you can think of. And so it's hard to predict what the numbers are going to be, but we continue to do as best we can to be prepared.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would just add also to that, you know, Camille was talking about the uptick in buses we're having. Remember, we still are getting people by planes, by trains, by automobile, by walking in. So, we're still getting thousands of people every single week that are not just coming on chartered buses. So, that's not the only way people are coming in.

And I would also remind people, you know, we've been saying this for a while, we're passed our breaking point at this, you know, we have opened 210 sites, 17 large scale humanitarian relief centers. Every single day our team is doing a herculean job trying to accommodate folks and do what we can.

You know, this summer we used dorms, for example, in order to shelter people while, you know, kids were out of school. You know, that's not the case, obviously, in the fall, so we have to keep, you know, pivoting and reshifting as the Mayor always likes to say.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. I wanted to ask you about the security risks associated with a trip like this. Now, I see that the State Department, it classifies Colombia as a Level 3, which means it's asking Americans to reconsider travel. There are parts of the Darién Gap that it tells Americans not to go to at all. Have you consulted with federal officials on how you'll run your security? How many NYPD officers are you bringing, and who's going to pay for their travel?

Mayor Adams: So, let's peel that back in layers. There is a real safety risk. We are aware of that. And the entire team that decided to be a part of this trip, they are aware of that as well. I believe that the...I trust the NYPD and we have been collaborating with the officials on the ground. The trip would have been canceled if there was a shutdown because it would have interfere with safety apparatus. We have been communicating with the officials on the ground who going to complement our detail.

When it comes down to the number and all those other items, intel handles that. I do not get involved with how intel makes the determination of securing of my safety as the mayor. The cost of this trip, I'm paying my own way, and you know my rule, my dime, my time, don't whine. You know… 

Question: …about the security.

Mayor Adams: Again, intel is going to determine that. And I'm sure you want me to be safe. And so the last thing we should be talking about is how much it costs to keep your mayor safe. You know, you want me to come back here so I could continue doing a great job I'm doing as the mayor of the city of New York. And intel will make sure, to the best of their ability, that I'm safe to get there and to come back as they deal with other locations.

Question: So, Mr. Mayor, you know, in terms of this campaign that you're going to be going on on the media down there, you know, do you really think that's going to convince people not to come here if they've heard, you know, for months and months that they could get a hotel room here, or, you know, New York City is going to take care of them like the city has been doing?

And then also, you know, a couple of groups came out yesterday, New York Immigration Coalition, Working Families Party, and they talked about this trip being kind of a waste of your time. You can't really influence international policy. What's your response to that?

Mayor Adams: Well, one, you know I have a list in my office that no matter what we do, the same names pop up all the time. You know, so who are we kidding? You know, if I buy free food for a child, they're going to stand up and say, you didn't make it plant based. I, you know, we can't get into that.

Mommy always said, nothing beats an effort, but to try. I have a crisis in the city that I love, and I have to face that crisis on a local, state, national, and international level. And if I can start a conversation in these countries that people saying, the mayor of the city of New York is telling us when we go there, we are not going to be in the five star hotel, as many people have told us.

If that can resonate and start that conversation there, I'm going to try, it would be foolish for me to sit back and not try to stop this on a local, state, national and international level.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, two questions. First, can you say who from this table is going with you and who isn't NYPD, you know, who's not part of your security detail is going with you south of the border? And then secondly, do you stand by your chief advisor's contention that the federal government needs to close the borders?

Mayor Adams: The chief of staff will give you the list of who's going. She has been making sure we coordinate all of that. And listen, Ingrid's more than my chief advisor. Ingrid is my sister. She's been with me on this journey, throughout this journey.

And Ingrid, like me, we have a lot of a lot of compassion and passion, when it comes down to the city that we love. Her husband served in New York City Police Department. We were in the police academy together. And one thing I learned from her, she has her ears to the ground, and she knows what New Yorkers are feeling. She's an everyday New Yorker, and I'm just so happy that she has been on this journey with me.

We believe the borders should remain open. That's the official position of this city, but we have made it clear there should be a decompression strategy that we could properly deal with the volumes that's coming into our city, and no cities should have to carry the burden of a nation… Of the national government.

Question: Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Are you planning to bring with you any Spanish literature to convey your message? Because how can people understand in Columbia, Mexico Panama?

Mayor Adams: Yes, we are. And, you know, one of my heroes in this administration is going to be coming with us. Commissioner Castro, former dreamer, you know, as you know, fluent in Spanish. He was here from the start, and he with Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom, they have done just a herculean task of just navigating this complexity.

And so, yes, we are… We're going to try to communicate as much as possible with people to give the real story of what's playing out here. And Commissioner Castro, and we have other Spanish speakers that will be with us on this trip.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Just to answer the previous question.

Mayor Adams: You're good, Kate. We're going to do more.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Commissioner Castro and Commissioner Mermelstein from International Affairs will be traveling. Both will also be paying their own way, so the city taxpayers will not be spending money on their trip.

Mayor Adams: Wait, and we should be clear. This could be done on taxpayers dime. Let's be clear on that. Taxpayers can pay for this trip. We make the determination that during these tough fiscal times, that we're going to pick up our tab, but there's nothing illegal or unethical if we would have charged this to taxpayers. We are not. We are not.

Question: Mayor, just one question on migrants, and then quick question on the topic. As far as migrants, we've heard you from the beginning call for a decompression strategy at the border. What's the latest on that conversation with the federal government, and what's the reason the Biden administration's giving you as far as why they're not doing it?

Okay. Second question. Sorry about that. Unrelated topic. Gale Brewer is asking for you to move the Global Citizen Festival from Central Park because of damage to the great lawn. Just any consideration toward that?

Mayor Adams: I will reach out to Councilwoman Brewer and sort of figure out what is her concerns of, you know, we're not looking to damage the great lawn, but I don't want to damage the lawn in Prospect Park. I don't want to damage the lawns anywhere.

And so the parks belong to the people, and we should all share the use of the parks, and no park is better than the others. And so I will find out exactly what is the reason she wants that done, and I'll communicate and find out.

I don't know the answer to why we are not putting in place a real decompression strategy. I think that, in my conversations with the White House, that we have some ex retired generals that understand deployment and mobilization. I really believe that there should be a national czar that's going to look at how can do a real decompression strategy.

We have over 108,000 city towns and villages in our country. We should...this should not be just on a few cities.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Can I just add, mayor? This morning, I don't know if you all saw on CNN, they were reporting about how the White House specifically was pointing to Illinois and Chicago, and how they should be following the best practices here in New York.

So, our decompression strategy, you know, we haven't seen one for the federal government. We're doing one on our own here, but we still need one from the feds. But they're talking about our best practices here in New York.

And I'd remind you, you know, Massachusetts Governor Healey called for the federal government to act a few weeks back overnight. You saw Illinois Governor Pritzker also ask for the federal government to take action, and this is an unsustainable situation.

Mayor Adams: And everyone… I'm glad you pointed that out. Everyone that visited our intake center, even those who critiqued and criticized it, when they walked through and they saw what we're doing in this city, everyone stated that this is an unbelievable job New York City is doing, unlike any other area in the country of...and that's commendable to this team that's up here.

Moderator: Okay. I think we can wrap up [inaudible]...

Mayor Adams: Not, no, no, no, no, no. Nope. Nope. Don't. If you do, they're going to write about me. Like, give a couple more...

Question: I'm going to ask you, Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks. Going back to Friday's storm, I know there was a story last night, you said on the air during your press conference that there was a shelter in place for schools. But principals at schools, the 1,400 schools around the city said they were not made are of that.

I know even city employees beyond the Department of Education received at like 12:30 p.m. an option to work from home, which felt a little bit too little too late. I wanted to get both you and Chancellor Banks' take, why wasn't there more communications with the schools?

Are teachers and principals expected to like turn on a TV in the middle of the school day an watch a press conference to find out what's going on within their school? Or should there have been better notification at schools and then with city employees perhaps a work from home day could have been instituted.

Mayor Adams: Okay. You said I said there was a shelter in place in schools?

Question: I think on Friday you said shelter in place.

Mayor Adams: No. No, we said that the safest place for children is schools. That's what I said. The safest place for children… 

Question: Someone said shelter in… 

Mayor Adams: Okay. Okay. So, we'll let the chancellor...huh?

Question: You did say, I mean, I could check the transcript… 

Mayor Adams: Okay. I don't know if I used the term shelter in place, I said the safest place was schools. Okay. But anyway, the chancellor made the determination of what should be done. Chancellor, can you go into that?

Chancellor David Banks, Department of Education: We should have had stronger communications on that. Mic?

Mayor Adams: Use the mic.

Chancellor Banks: We should have had clearer communication. Let me say that at the outset. All of our kids were safe. We had no issues with any of our kids. But I think this incident does suggest to us that we needed to have a clearer level of communication all the way through. The term shelter in place itself as a term has a certain… It's a protocol that's attached to Department of Education. And I think what we're trying to say to everybody was stay where you are. Don't send kids, you know, out into the streets.

But shelter in place essentially is a terminology that says nobody's allowed into the school as well, which could in fact create a level of chaos with parents and families who are rushing to the schools to get their kids as well. And so we have to be clearer going forward. We are doing our own internal review of this as we are speaking now.

And the level of communications, City Hall, at Department of Education, all of us working very closely together. The main thing is that we communicated clearly enough with our superintendents and principals where nothing happened. But we can do better and I think we will certainly be working to do better next time.

Mayor Adams: And that's part of the after agency review, and probably using the terminology, just spinning off of what the chancellor was saying about shelter in place. But I really look towards the chancellor to make the determination on what we should do around the schools. We do this on a our eight a.m. calls every morning.

And we should really understand we had record level of rain that we've never witnessed before. Zero serious physical injuries, zero deaths, three rescues from basement apartments, 15 rescues from cars. When you look at an issue of that magnitude, and I was out there, you saw just really the coordination.

Every major incident that happened in the city we go do an after agency review. We sit down and say, hey, what could we have done better, how do we do it better. And we have never proclaimed once that we are perfect. In fact, I've made it clear over and over again that I'm perfectly imperfect.

And the team is going to continuously evolve the product as we come with these unprecedented storms that are hitting us. We're continually learning from other municipalities what they do, we're continually evolving. And I just really, I said it then, I'm going to say it again: I commend the chancellor that it was a tough call.

People were saying close the schools, send children home. The safest place for children, I've said it over and over again, they should be in a school building. And we disrupt the lives of working class people when all of a sudden you close the school and you don't allow them to have that stationary safe place for them.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I think this is also just a good place to plug the NotifyNYC. If you have not signed up for NotifyNYC, please do. You can call 311, download the app or go to This is how we get out our first initial alert, so please sign up for NotifyNYC.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for taking the question. I do have two questions.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: The first one is we're all waiting today for the city to submit its papers in court about the right to shelter, what the latest ask is [inaudible] in terms of how you want to limit the right to shelter. So, my first question is since we may not see you, you'll be away, we may not be able to ask you about it for a few days or maybe a week, can you put into your words what it is that you'll be asking the court to do on the Right to Shelter differently. Will it only apply to migrants? Will… How will it be different from the original submission that you guys made?

And then, should I ask the second question?

Mayor Adams: Yes, please.

Question: Okay. The second question is about a different subject, it's about the situation at Ebbets Field, you and I have talked about this before. The man who is the suspect in that arson case is now in jail.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: He's been charged with hate crimes since our reporting aired. But it was a long road for the people of the neighbors in the building who felt a year of 911 calls had not really produced a law enforcement or a mental health solution. I know it's a tricky, complicated situation. But, you did go visit, and I wonder a) why did you knock on his door when you went to visit? b) you told the tenants that you would help them to try to resolve this and try to get him out. He's also been evicted.

What if anything did you do to help them besides visit, and would you have an after action review on that case? What would you like to see done differently if this were, God forbid, to happen again?

Mayor Adams: First, the courts are going to decide, the corp counsel is going to decide how we're going to deal with the case in court. We've always felt that the issue around migrants is a totally different, this is a crisis, humanitarian crisis, and our legal team is going to play that out. They're turning in a letter to the judge as requested, and they're going to play that out. And I don't want to interfere with the court case at all. We believe we need some form of relief.

The incident that happened at Ebbets Field was an important incident, and it's a real challenge when you're dealing with a person who's dealing with mental health issues, it's a real challenge. The residents of Ebbets Field that I served as the borough president and the senator are individuals that I knew.

When they reached out to me I reached out and I tried to find ways to really resolve the tension and concern that the residents were having. We reached out to our mental health professionals and saw that it was their role that they can play also in this incident. I communicated with the tenants, and I made sure that the police department did a thorough investigation.

I communicated with the district attorney and stated that we should make sure that this person does not harm someone. And I think all the teams came together and they were able to come to the resolution that we are right now. And so no way I wanted to interfere with the processes that were taking place, but I want to let the residents know, like I do often, that I'm an on the ground mayor, and I wanted to come and speak directly with them and find out what happened.

Question: [Inaudible] why did you knock on his door?

Mayor Adams: I would love to have communicated with him also to find out what was happening, you know, what was the whole issue, what's going on. We weren't at the point that there was any criminal charge was filed, and my goal was to try to find out what's going on in the building.

Question: Mr. Mayor...

Mayor Adams: Hold on, we're going to take a few more. I know you're ready to bounce, Charles, but… This is our inaugural get together, you know, and so, you know.

This is our fireside chat, so I'm hoping that I can get Mike Gartland to say at least they wrote, you know, they were very patient during his time...


Mayor Adams: Amen! Amen.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Could you give your name and your outlet?

Question: Yes. I'm Jason Beeferman, I'm with Politico New York. I wanted to ask with the upcoming City Council elections if you're worried about the GOP gaining seats and influence as these elections are coming up.

Mayor Adams: No, I think the people who will speak on behalf of their voters on the ground, it's all about speaking to the voters and that is how you win elections. Go on the ground, speak to voters. And all of those seats that are coming up, we're going to be doing some endorsements in those races. But it's about speaking to the voters. And you know, that is what's going to determine the outcome of these races.

Question: Thank you. I'm wondering, going back to asylum seekers, if you can provide an update on when you last spoke with the White House on what was going on here in New York. I know there was some progress made on some big asks like Floyd Bennett Field and [inaudible] Venezuelans. What is the next priority ask for the federal government on what you need here in the city to deal with the… Being at a breaking point, as you say.

Mayor Adams: International Affairs, Tiffany Raspberry, and the chief of staff, they have been the primary communicators with the White House. And we've been extremely consistent. Even we spoke with corporate leaders yesterday, a decompression strategy, we need a state of emergency that would really free up several things for us, for the state and all those cities that are impacted, proper funding. This should not come out of New York City's budget.

And really TPS, we should extend it. You know, everyone should have the right to work if you are in the city. And those are the primary things. And then we should help of...we need help with, as Deputy Mayor Williams Isom is continually trying to process, is the paperwork, it's unbelievable the amount of paperwork. And we need to clear up the backlog, because to do the paperwork to sit on someone's desk is inefficient.

And so we were extremely thankful for TPS for the number of Venezuelans, but we just want to, we want to be real careful. We don't want folks spiking the ball. We have a long way to go. And when the chief of staff and her team briefed me last night and this morning, New Yorkers are going to start to see visibly that what being out of room means. We are out of room, and we're getting ready to take a real shift in this whole crisis.


Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor and City Hall: [Inaudible] TPS we're also asking them to allow the migrants not have to pay the fee, the $410, if you process it online there's a $410 fee. We want that fee waived.

Mayor Adams: Right.

Deputy Mayor Levy: It's $410 and then $85, actually. So, almost $500, two fees.

Mayor Adams: Right. Good point.

Question: I just want clarification, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said that there were 412 people who were at the Roosevelt Hotel waiting for placement. I wonder what that means in terms of the new busloads of people who are coming in and if we're going to see more lines outside the Roosevelt Hotel or what. So, what does that mean?

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yes, you are going to continue to see lines outside of the Roosevelt. New Yorkers should prepare that you are going to see lines over the next coming weeks and months because again, there is a surge at the border. New York is out of capacity, and we now don't have as much knowledge or insight into the number of buses that are going to be showing up.

So, I think I mentioned earlier there are eight buses that are supposed to come to New York City today. We have no idea how many folks are on those buses or when those buses are going to come here. And again, as the team does every single day, we will work to find a place to shelter folks.

Question: Mayor, do you have a list of haters hanging up in your office?



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